Today at work

Today at work, someone said there was a lot of police outside. I got up to look out the window and hit my head on a flat screen on the wall. My colleague laughed and I said “That’s what I get for being curious”. So I quite my curiosity and went back to work.

A couple of hours later, I went up to the sixth floor balcony to smoke a cigarette and a friend asked me if I already knew what happened. A coworker jumped from that balcony and killed himself.

That’s why there was police outside.

Dying as a part of life

My boyfriend and I used to start our nights by drinking at an old bar in Bairro Alto. It was a cheap looking bar. The walls were yellow from all the cigarette smoke and all the music you’d get would be a mix between some football game on the TV and an old jukebox and pinball machine that had probably been there for decades. Occasionally, some drunk guy might sing as well. We loved it.
Two old men worked there: Fernando stayed at the counter while Ruben took care of the table service.
Ruben was a rude looking man who did his job without ever smiling. He kept control of the room by himself. He kept track of all the tabs, so no one would leave without paying, and anyone trying to play funny or causing any trouble would easily be thrown out. My boyfriend – who knew this place long before I did – told me once he was a lung cancer survivor. Yet, he was always drinking and smoking.
Every night, at around 12.45, he used to clap his hands and yell that it was time to go, so that the place was empty by 1am. We were always the last ones out. He used to give us plastic cops to poor our drinks, so we would leave faster.
A friend once told us he didn’t enjoy going there because he was so rude. We laughed and I explained how I thought he was a nice guy, one just needs to spend some time around him to understand when he is actually being nice.
My boyfriend and I were unemployed for a while and had to take some time off from our bohemian life. Of course, when I finally got a job, we went out to celebrate and started by going to our usual place. “I bet you they missed us,” I said.
When Ruben saw us he told us our usual table was taken, as if we hadn’t been missing for so long. But when he got us our beers he did say “I haven’t seen you in a while,” and walked away. We smiled at each other.
As always, we where the last ones out after the usual clapping and yelling, and went to another bar in Bairro Alto. We asked for a couple of drinks and went outside to sit on the side walk. Ruben showed up after a while, waived his head at us and went inside. After a few minutes he came outside with a beer and said, “Sorry for throwing you guys out. You know the drill,” and clinked his glass with our plastic cops. We said ‘no worries’ and apologized for giving him a hard time at closing time.
We were quite flattered with this. It was a rare sign of affection coming from him. It was also the longest and the last time we ever spoke.
A couple of weeks later, we were shocked to know that Ruben had died. One night, after closing time, he stayed late by himself to clean up. Fernando found him dead the next morning.
It turns out he never cured cancer.

Déjà vu

I was sitting on the couch watching some random series on TV when I had the feeling of déjà vu.

It was taking longer than usual and I felt like I could tell what was going to happen next.

I realized a couple seconds later I was just sitting on the couch like I always do and that that episode was a rerun.

Same story heard twice

In my teenage years I dated a guitar player. One day we went to the studio where a quite famous and mainstream pop rock band rehearsed, to meet the guitarist who was selling my boyfriend an amplifier. This guy was definitely a talker.

He told us he used to play in a heavy metal band, but this is where the money is and now he lived off of music. He told us about a vocalist and actor he knew that told him he didn’t like his music because it was too commercial. He found that ironic, since that actor was known for playing a part in a cheesy – yet quite successful – soap opera.

Three or four years later, between concerts in a music festival, a friend of my date’s – that happened to be an actor – talked about his favorite bands and music. At a certain point he told us how he once told a guy that he didn’t like his music because it was too commercial.

It took me a few minutes to realise that this was the same person I heard about years before I met him. So I told him about the coincidence and how the guitarist thought his statement was ironic since he was just as much of a sell out.

He said his case was different. I asked how. He said, “It’s just different.”

This guy I once knew

I was 18 and had just got into university. I met this 40-something-year-old guy who was also a freshman. He was a bit eccentric and very intelligent. He was taking dramaturgy.

We only spoke a few times but he seemed nice. I don’t remember much of our conversations, but I remember him once telling me something like, “You’re a nice girl, there’s just one thing I don’t like about you: you smoke joints.” I laughed.

One morning, before class, I found him and a friend of mine talking in the lobby. I went to say hello and we spoke a little. After a few minutes he left and my friend told me what they were talking about.

He told him that he was once an heroin addict and had been clean for a while. He had chronic hepatitis. That morning he woke up feeling depressed, and could only think about getting a hit. While on the metro he passed the stop where he used to get it, but kept going and went to class instead.

I never saw him again.

About 8 years later – not too long ago, actually – I dreamed about him. In my dream we bumped into each other on the street, by chance, and talked for a little bit. He told me he had decided to get away for a while and had been traveling all these years.