Foot raised on the shoe-box, Senhor Osório sat at the entrance to the tavern enjoying the overdue shine. The question mark of his cane supported his thoughts as he rested his chin on the wrinkled knuckles clasping the wood. His gaze followed the blur of legs striding past.
“Give it a good polish, Armando.”
Armando stopped, wiped the sweat under his beret and brought his wrinkled hand to his kidney, the gesture intending to readjust it to a tolerable position. The few coins in his vest pocket rattled their protest. Armando hoped there would be plenty of time for leisure in the grave, very soon. He sighed, imagining the day he would at last lie still and someone else would polish his leather.
“They don’t make shoes like they used to, Armando. Bought them last Christmas. An import, a treat. Already the seams hang by a thread.”
“There’s nothing like the olden days, when a shoe was a shoe, that’s for sure,” Armando agreed, spreading a layer of black paste over the dull shoes.
Senhor Osório’s eyes followed the trajectory of a mini-skirt to the end of the road. Then to a passing cloud concealing the sunshine. He sighed and lowered his eyes.
“How was she?” asked Armando.
“Divine… truly Divine!”
“It’s all His fault!”
“Whose fault?” blurted Senhor Osório, startled out of his longing.
“The one up there.” Armando half lifted his hand to the sky, and lacking strength, dropped it. “He seized everything from us, our youth, our looks, but left us the idea, the burning desire.”
Across the road, Jorge and Tadeu basked in the sun. They lounged, tilting back their iron patio chairs in a measured way, aiming their half-unbuttoned shirts at the golden rays. The undulating heat generated discomfort, a price they accepted for looking perfect. Loud music made prolonged conversation difficult. Their fingernails’ tapping on the metal table top accompanied the syncopation of the bass. Jorge and Tadeu, there to see and be seen.
The roar of an expensive motorcycle bettered the noise of the loudspeakers and the boys stirred from the patio, strolled their way to the curb to greet their friend. They exchanged nods and smiles. Tadeu kicked the front tire. The friend clenched his fist around the motorcycle handle and revved it. From a nearby house, a girl ran up the road and mounted the two-wheeled machine. The roar spat a few pebbles in the air and then dissipated in the heat of a summer afternoon.
Jorge and Tadeu glanced at the black figures across the road who shook their disapproving heads.
“Crooked noses run far back in your gene pool, I see!” Jorge said as he slid his sunglasses to the tip of his own nose to better evaluate the grandfathers across the road.
“Yepp! Donkey ears in yours!”
“Hah!” chuckled Jorge with a friendly slap on Tadeu’s nape.
From the periphery of their vision, and between the spirals of rising cigarette smoke, the boys watched their grandpas. Grandpas with eyes in perpetual rotation, buzzing with curiosity, holding their grandsons in sight. Annoyed, Jorge and Tadeu acknowledged them the way folk acknowledged the inevitability of flies. They waved their arms in exasperation. The old men mistook the waving arms for a greeting and waved back.
from: The Green and Purple Skin of the World, Freehand Books 2013
Paperback / ebook sold by Freehand Books