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Xinguara by Mike Bozart (Agent 33) | APRIL 2017




















Xinguara

by Mike Bozart

© 2017 Mike Bozart 






Xinguara, a remote interior village in northern Brazil, sited where the Amazon rainforest yields to the savanna, some 350 miles (563 km) from the equatorial Atlantic Ocean. It’s a steamy mid-August morning in 2016. Hugo, a lanky, 19-year-old, black-haired, brown-skinned fisherman is buying some tackle at a small general store. As he studies the new spool of monofilament line and brass hooks on the checkout counter, he thinks about the day ahead. I bet I catch over ten kilograms [22 pounds] of fish today in that shady spot. Hope no one else sets up there. Hope I can forget about Lara. [an attractive, svelte, flirtatious, 20-year-old female with long raven hair and light skin]

The prior night at Aldeia’s Beer Rest Pizzaria Choperia, a restaurant and bar on route BR-155 on the east side of town. Hugo and Lara are seated at a small outdoor table. They have just finished a pizza and are sipping on their beers.

Hugo: “Lara, do you have any plans for this Saturday? It’s our big rematch with Germany, [the Olympics men’s football/soccer final] you know. Want to watch it together? Your favorite player, Neymar, will be playing.”

Lara: “Oh, I’d love to, Hugo, but Eduardo has already invited me to go with him to São Paulo. It’s some kind of investment opportunity. We’ll be back Sunday night.” Lovely.

Hugo: “Oh, ok. Are you guys getting romantic?”

Lara: “No, nothing like that, silly.” I bet.

Hugo: “What will be the sleeping arrangements?”

Lara: “Separate hotel rooms. Purely platonic.” Yeah, right.

They hugged for a few seconds, but didn’t kiss. Lara then asked Hugo if he wanted a ride home. He declined. They politely said their goodbyes. Lara then drove off in her 2005 red Honda Accord as darkness settled on the now-noisy crop fields: The cicada cacophony was at full volume.

Hugo walked the three blocks back to his family’s modest dwelling. His mind was as heavy as the humid air. I know that she is already screwing Eduardo. The rich boy always gets the pretty girl. I was never going to win her. Just a ridiculous fantasy. Waste of time.

He paid the elderly female cashier. Then Hugo caught a ride with a male friend to Rio (River) Parauapebas, 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) west of the store on bumpy route PA-279.

After jumping out of the old, dented, gold-colored Jeep, he began marching downstream with his tackle box and fishing rod. In about four hundred meters (1,312 feet), he entered a densely wooded area. The canopy was lush; its shade was much appreciated by an already-sweating Hugo. Fifty meters (164 feet) further, and he had arrived at his desired destination: a 110-degree bend in the stream. Great! No one is here. Hope the fish are biting. Maybe catch enough to sell at the market. Some extra money sure would be nice. Though, it won’t be enough for a São Paulo ‘investment opportunity’.

The fishing didn’t go as well as he had hoped. Hugo had only landed an undersized – sickly looking – arapaima and an alligator gar, which he tossed back after cutting the line, as he didn’t want to risk a finger trying to remove the hook.

When three o’clock passed, Hugo pulled out his silver flask and took his first slug of cachaça (a liquor made from sugarcane juice). With an alcohol-by-volume percentage of 62.5 (125 proof), it was considerably stronger than typical.

At a steaming-hot four o’clock hour, Hugo had downed five-eighths of the flask. He was certifiably intoxicated as he stared at the flies that were alighting on the arapaima. I’m not going to eat that stinking fish, nor is anyone going to buy it. Let’s just throw it back in the water.

<Splash!> The vermilion-on-the-scale-edges arapaima slapped the surface of the dark river. It wiggled a little … and then stopped. It was soon dead, but remained floating. I should have thrown him back much earlier. So sorry, peixe duvidoso. [‘fishy fish’ in Portuguese]

Then, just eighteen seconds later, the recently deceased arapaima was feasted upon by over two dozen piranha. The attack was ferocious. The fish’s mass was rapidly reduced to bones and fin fragments, which then sank. Wow! That was quick. Almost forgot about those little, sharp-toothed, aggressive munchers. Lost an old cow to them at that Araguaia River crossing last year. Such voracious eaters.

By five o’clock the whole flask had been emptied. Hugo was now sprawled-out wasted with his head peering over the ledge of the river bank. His reflection rippled about two meters (6.56 feet) below. Wow! Look at that sad face. What a loser I am. My whole family have always been losers. We’re the ones who always wind up with a low income. Scroungers of crumbs. Not one person in our clan has ever become anything, or gotten anywhere in life. Ever. Uncle Miguel came the closest, I guess. He almost got that football [soccer] contract with Flamengo. [a top-tier Brazilian club] But then, the dumbass fell off a ladder and ruined his back. Why was he on that roof anyway? Looking for a better horizon? Ha! I really did hope to break our dismal streak. Was so sure that all of this would somehow work out. I would be the best fisherman ever from Xinguara. Boy, I sure had high hopes for a life with Lara. But, even if she chose to be with me, could I ever satisfy her materially? I sincerely doubt it. ‘Look Lara, I caught ten fish today.’ I can already see her eyes rolling. Eduardo could buy her 100 fish with a snap of his wallet. And, what’s more, Eduardo can take her to the big city. With me, Xinguara will be it. It’s where we would live and die. And she knows it. With Eduardo, an exciting cosmopolitan life awaits in São Paulo. No, it was never going to happen. Wonder if those piranha are still hungry. If they ate me whole, there would be no burial expenses for my folks. Yeah, let’s make this easy for those ravenous devils.

And with that grisly thought, Hugo took off all of his clothes. He then cut his arms, fingers, legs, toes, face, neck and chest with his pocketknife. Hugo spread the blood all over his body. And then he rolled like a log off the bank’s edge into the eddy pool in the river’s hard left turn. Floating face-down with his arms spread out, Hugo’s mind darkened. Maybe I will just drown. Not sure if I can swim now. So drunk. So done with it all. So ready for heaven. Will I go to heaven? Or, purgatory? Dear God, don’t condemn me to hell.

The piranha assault started in a mere thirteen seconds. Hugo wanted to scream as their teeth ripped into his flesh. But, he didn’t. Ah, this pain is divine. An exquisite fatal torture. The Passion of lowly Hugo. Bye-bye Lara. Bye-bye dear family. Good-bye Mother Earth. Wonder what Lara will think when she finds out. ‘Oh, how sad, but how convenient’.

Note: The preceding tale is based on an actual suicide that occurred in Brazil.


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