JULY 8, 1975 – THE MERMAID

  (Episode 31)

There around noon the sun showed its face in yellow clouds of rags and began to move slowly in the sky toward the end. First, it was like a star in the firmament dissolution, which seemed to rinsed and soaped by rain. Then a cobalt spot extending to the east and finally a red-yellow glow springing up on the horizon.

In the sky Mutum the sun showed his radiant face laughing and everything changed completely, becoming either brown or green or blue. Earth Brown still muddy. Green of the forests still wet from the rain. Blue now sky free of clouds, lightning and thunder.

The cessation of rain allowed the city to return to have the normal movement of the normal vacation days. People returned to walk the streets and the square was again acquiring life.

In the makeshift headquarters at the Municipal Stadium that day, a new concern arose beyond the main, which was to find the bombs: the river.

With the amount of rain in the headwaters of the São Manoel and Mutum rivers, the volume of the water was rising very quickly and there was a good chance that there was a flood of major proportions in the city. What could become a serious problem for the military, as the Municipal Stadium, where was installed the headquarters of the troops, it was always taken by the waters of the Rio Mutum, when filled too and get off your chest.

For determination of the general command of the troops, formed by Major Alfredo, Army, Major Lemos, the Air Force and Captain Frigate Coutinho, Navy, observers were stationed on the river to do the monitoring of the elevation of their level and allow, if necessary, the movement of troops to another safer place.

Whenever there was flood threat, three specific locations in town turned tourist attraction and were filled with people watching the river. The bridge gave way to the corner of the river, the waterfall of Ballet, at the exit to Aimorés and Beach Street, which is actually called  Quintino Bocaiúva Street , where the house where my parents lived when I was a kid. It was there, on Beach Street, which was the Municipal stadium, turned into barracks of troops.

When word got out that the river was rising went to the Beach Street to also see how far had increased. Arriving at your bank, I was invaded by memories of the time that was swimming and playing in its waters. There, feeling the bush smell, hearing the gurgling sound of the stream and the freshness of the water, the thought came to me the many times in my childhood, where I helped my parents to withdraw home everything they had of value before the river to invade the street with its waters.

At such times, the home of my grandparents, who was actually my house served as a guesthouse for my parents and my brothers and two or three families of their friends.

Even without there being a combination, the rising water was followed by a real ritual of change. To the extent that the river was taking street account, residents were leaving their homes one by one. I remember a time when anyone could go home. All had to withdraw. The water rose halfway up the hill leading to the  Benedito Valadares Square . From there we could see that some houses were completely underwater while other one could only see the roofs. Some more experienced people said that the waters on some occasions, came to climb up to ten meters beyond its normal level.

There, the strongest memories that overwhelmed me was the Mermaid.

Oh, how beautiful it was the Mermaid. Of course, this was not his real name. His name was Totonha or Antonia, his real name.

I lived in one of those, leaving the streets Benedito Valadares Square, ended at the river, at a place we called small beach next to the Quintino Bocaiúva Street, we called Beach Street. It was there where stood the wooden boat that was crossing to the other side of the river where there was a kind of continuation of the city. A place with a few houses, which could only be achieved through the river by canoe, since it had no bridge. A cattle farm, in fact.

It was also the small beach, the part of the river where we children and adolescents at the time, we swam. Every day some of us, in my time, it launched the high embankment in a acrobatic jump, plunged into the water and continued swimming to the other side. There, on the other side, about thirty meters later where there was a wide space without weeds and full of sand, we got out of the water, rested and we made our way back to the shore from where we had left.

Ah, but what about the Mermaid? Well, the Mermaid also used this same space of the river to swim. Only she did differently. Not just across the river, as was our custom. She threw the water, swam to the middle of the river and stood there, playing in the stream. Sinking, fading into the background and back, meters below where sunk. Swimming against the current for soon after being carried away by the waters, to a point. There, he plunged again and would start all over again. Spent hours playing. Alone. Even when there was someone in the room, also wanting to swim, she always went alone. Nobody, but nobody, I entered the water when she was there. A kind of respect or tacit agreement, which had never been done, really, but everyone respected.

What was she like? Beautiful simply beautiful. A brunette girl burned sun, which should have at the time, about sixteen, seventeen, with very blue eyes and always showing a smile, truly beautiful, face. His body was curvaceous and swayed lightly with high called sensual, to the floor. The Mermaid was a beautiful woman. Very tasty, the Mermaid.

He dressed always in short dresses, allowing us to see a good part of your legs. It had done well thighs, as if they had been shaped by an artist. Neither thin nor thick. But everyone wanted. And we’d like to see her swimming in the small beach.

The reason the same, so that we liked so much to see her swimming in the river was the fact that to do so, always wore a white, thin dress, which revealed her body. She wore no bra. Only a bold panties protecting their privacy. Her perky titties were a stunning beauty and seemed to want to jump out of the dress. All loved the perky titties Mermaid.

Said the gossips that respect everyone showed for her when she was swimming, had been imposed by the Mermaid when, one day, soon after having arrived from moving to the city for the first time entered the river to bathe and was harassed by a baggy boy from a wealthy family. He soon saw when swimming, entered the water behind her and tried to luff his body, first in a discreet way, but becoming more violent and abused when she rebuffed. So, those who watched the scene said she simply gave him a tremendous beating that began in the same water and ended up in the river, on the beach. Beat him mercilessly until the left almost passed out on the floor. No one ever came behind her, in the river, when he went swimming. thus born respect for bath Mermaid. And this regard increased further when he said later that before moving in Rio de Janeiro, where he lived for Mutum, practiced what at the time was known as martial arts. Dominated masterfully some techniques of oriental fights, involving maneuvers used by soldiers when war for self-defense in the melee. The Mermaid has shown in practice to be very capable of defending itself. The boy was never seen on the riverbank.

I admired and was part of the small circle of his friends. I say friends because she had many friends who surrounded her attention, listening to their stories about Rio de Janeiro, then recently transformed into Guanabara State, but had few friends. Not so long before, the wonderful city outside the Federal Capital. Full of spells and trickery.

She said she was born and lived on a hill in one of the most famous slums of the city, the Favela do Vidigal. There had grown up and learned to turn. Nobody, but nobody, she said, she puts her hands without her leave. And if forced the bar so that she did not like, I picked up to see what was good.

Like his friend, he heard his stories sometimes believing, now suspicious that invented everything, now totally disbelieving of saying the absurdities of the facts. But I never told her what I thought. Respect. That was good and she liked.

One day she told me she would get a visit from a cousin, who would come from Rio de Janeiro to spend a few days at his home and he wanted me to meet him. “You will know a little more of me, knowing him,” she told me. No sooner said than done.

The cousin of the Mermaid was called Carlos, but she called him Charlie Main Man. And he just called Totonha.

It was a different subject of people with whom we socialized. Had a marked security concerns, to the point of not sit anywhere with his back to the entrance. I was always front. Very swayed the body to the floor, arms swinging loose on the body, a typical walk of rascals we saw in the movies. Badly burned, he told us that lived on the beach, in the sand in the sun. That was where he worked. With the common people who liked the ocean. Everything about him, from his speech to the way of walking and the weird way of showing frightened by everything indicated, without any doubt, that was a tremendous scoundrel. He was an expert pool player. Second only when wanted. And he played only betting anything. Drink, cigarettes, money. And never go out to wherever he went without one knife that was in one of his pockets. In short, Charlie looked dangerous. And it was dangerous. But told me to be my friend, who had gone with my face, that our saints were beaten. But I confess I was a little afraid of him. Fear is something that we carry within us, that exists within us since we were created. Being afraid is the most normal thing in the world. The important thing is not to allow it to be greater than our will. We should arrest him. Do not allow escape our control. Otherwise, it will be he who will master us. It becomes you and have nothing we can against him. So I never let the Charlie or the Mermaid realized my fear. “Well, if he wants to be my friend, that is,” I thought.

One night, the unbearable heat would not let me sleep and decided to leave a little bit and I walked through the square, now empty. When looking at the street from the river I saw a mermaid walking toward small beach. I do not know why something made me follow her, not to let her notice. I saw when he arrived in the sand, took off all her clothes, tossed it aside and entered the water. The light of light was enough for me to see her going to the meeting of Charlie, who was there, standing, strong, naked, in the middle of the stream. As they hugged I went fast from there before they could notice my presence. After a couple of years later, the mermaid turned bitch at Casa Dulce in Governador Valadares.

This time, although the rivers had been very full, did not cause flooding in Beach Street, although inundate other areas of the city, in its surroundings.

Anyway, the rivers have become an attraction for the entire time they were receiving excess rainwater.

Although the situation in the city has not been quiet all, the Military Command based in Mutum was ordered to carry out the recovery work of the stretch destroyed the road connecting the city to Lajinha. To do the job arrived as early as the early afternoon, helicopter, military engineers specialized in the construction and repair of roads. Thus, the city gained new distractions: the observation of river flooding, the search for pumps and filling the open crater on Lajinha road. I already felt like I was on vacation.

Although feeding news Jornal do Povo, in Belo Horizonte, the biggest reason for my trip to Mutum, who was to accompany the searches of the bombs missed by a military plane, not evolved. Only two bombs had been found and searches the other two was becoming increasingly difficult. I felt, at times when connected to the writing, the tone employed by Manfred Kurt, he was getting angrier hour with the situation . “Shit, man, I know that there are things and you do not discover shit, sô. Turns “ said at the end of each conversation.

It was late at night when trucks carrying the machines that would be used in the work of landfill and road to recovery began arriving in Mutum, coming from Aimorés, where they had been brought to Victoria by train. All trucks and all machines were military.

(To be continued next week)

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