Categories
Short Stories | Contos

COZY MURDERER

They were all dying gently. No pain whatsoever. They would just fall asleep and die. The victims were all politicians, and there were always a note on paper, capital letters in Time News Roman, on a wall somewhere on the premises.

FOUR MILLION STOLEN FROM THE NHS

FINANCED A BANK INSTEAD OF HIRING MORE TEACHERS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

INVESTED PENSIONS IN REAL ESTATE

            “Pure demagogical rubbish,” said Norman to the Cozy Murderer. “This is the opinion of the Prime Minister about your notes. What do you say about this?”

            “I might say the same if I were him in his place,” was the answer of the distorted voice on the sound speaker, like a robot. “If you, reporters, did your work, you would fact-check my accusations and find them true.”

            “That’s no excuse for murder,” retorted Norman.

            “I would rather call it casualties of war.”

            “How is that?”

            “Dear God…,” the sound speaker muttered. “I thought you were a real reporter, Norman.”

            “What war are you talking about?”

            “The war between politicians and the people. Where the hell have you been?”

            “Give me a break,” shouted Norman. “We had a deal about this interview. No radical speech. You promised to speak the all truth.”

            There was the sound of a deep breath on the sound speaker.

            “Thousands of people are dying because of unemployment, poverty, the bankruptcy of NHS, violent schools, high taxes to be diverted, and low wages. People get chronic physical and mental illnesses because of the abuse from politicians and corporations. This is an ancient war between those who rule and those who work. My mother died in a factory where she worked ten hours a day for an income insufficient for a daily meal.” An even deeper breath taken by the robot voice. “This is a pure slow genocide that lasts for generations. Politicians and corporations kill us massively. Abuse and poverty are their weapons. They are much more violent than myself.”

            Norman stroked his forehead.

            “Hence the Cozy Murderer signature, right?” Getting close to the window of his office, Norman glanced at the people on the street. “Tell me, how do you do it? Forensics says you kill painlessly, with some sort of venom. Your victims just fall asleep and die.”

            “That’s right. I use darts, surfaces in touch with their skin, or simply their food and beverage. The venom takes about four days to have an effect. This makes the poisoned item virtually untraceable.”

            “Why do you bother with killing them painlessly?”

            There was a robot laugh before the answer being given.

            “Finally you get to the point, Norman.”

            “What’s that?,” asked the reporter, now facing the sound speaker as if it were a person. Then, he listened:

            “I’m more human than they are.”

Saturday, September 18th 2021

Categories
Short Stories | Contos

THE OLD CAT

Constable Martin was almost twenty years old and had all the qualities of an undercover cop, which he refined with age. If you paid close attention, you could find the cat everywhere, always making close contact with all kinds of citizens and non citizens of the metropolis’ animal world. To distinguish him from other cats, you should pay attention to his right hip, where a half-circled scar made proof of his wrestle against one German-shepherd of the vice unit. Constable Martin was accidentally covered in cocaine and Bullseye Lady had the nasty habit of biting the packages she sniffed. Her instructor said she was hooked. Constable Martin wouldn’t say otherwise if he could talk.

The old cat still used to jump through the windows of police cars, either patrol or detective vehicles, making his own inquires. No, he never solved any crime or presented evidences to police officers. This is not a TV show. Most times he would find mice, pigeons and burned spoons from drug addicts. Forensics got mad each time he jumped out of the car to run all over the crime scene.

“Cats are home animals, for Christ sake!”

Not Constable Martin. He was savage, a wild cat from trash cans, alleys and rooftops. When a cub, he appeared at the canteen and officers started feeding him. One fat inspector once tried to give him a collar, ending up unrecognizable with zillion scratches on his face. People noticed “Fat” McKenzie became obsessed with making arrests since he was diagnosed with ailurophobia.

Though he didn’t solve any crime nor had any role in finding evidence, Constable Martin had the useful habit of sitting on the lap of complainants, witnesses and suspects under interrogation. He let these people stroke him while he purred as noisily as the engine of a paddy wagon. More frequently than you could imagine, he used his hunting skills to protect law enforcement agents from armed suspects, mainly the cut off pigeon technique. Little before having completely grown up, the cat started practicing the intersection of pigeon flight. At least twice a week visitors were startled by his blurred silhouette crossing the sky from some window-sill on the first or second floor and smash a pigeon on the sidewalk. He devoured the bird in front of everyone, much for the delight of wearied personnel. Imagine the same acrobatics on the face of armed thugs.

His old age got noticed when he started missing the pigeons. Sometimes his claws pluck half a dozen feathers, but the gray sky rats managed to zigzag upwards, letting Constable Martin waste his seven lives in dangerous free falls. The stubborn old cat only stopped after having one leg broken. This happened when “Fat” McKenzie was leaving station at dawn, his arm bleeding after being stabbed on his patrol. He was going to the hospital by his own feet. The blurred silhouette of Constable Martin spiraled before him after close contact with one lucky pigeon. Next he saw the cat shaking on the sidewalk, tainted in orange by the sunrise. For the first time in years, “Fat” McKenzie had no fear at all. He freed his hand from the wounded arm and carefully took the old cat with him. They were both treated in the hospital.

That afternoon, everyone stood still when the inspector made his entrance with the wounded arm on his chest sustaining the purring old cat.

“Now you have the chance of putting a collar on his neck,” yelled Forensics, raising her arms. “Please, adopt him out of here!”

“Believe it or not, I gave it a thought, but he wouldn’t let me.” “Fat” McKenzie laid the cat on his desk, who did not move the whole afternoon.

Constable Martin started meowing at night. Inspector “Fat” McKenzie took him to the floor and let him slowly move away. The old cat had some patrolling to do.

Monday, September 6th 2021

Categories
Short Stories | Contos

STUCK IN THE ISLAND

Laura got stuck in the island. Again. We were all worried with her. No one could say she was not doing it on purpose. There was too much stress, noise and isolation.

I one of our awareness campaigns about Laura and thousands like her, we prepared a huge empty dark room with a surround sound system. People were divided into groups and had to communicate with each other the way Laura did. There were individual and community tasks to be made in the darkness and, most relevantly, under the deafening noise.

We design the project too well. Some people developed, for a while, behaviors like Laura’s. Social detachment, numbness, isolation, irritability, anxiety, major depression and suicidal tendencies. One hour in the dark room was enough to make damage. People were aware, some would come back to the dark room for the sake of deepening their knowledge, and the more they did so, the more like Laura they would become.

I’ve been into the dark room for days in a row, both as the chief, author and supervisor of the project, and for the knowledge all off a sudden I was getting. The exposure to noise, darkness and effort to desperately communicate was changing the processing of my emotions and I wanted to know what was happening. Like everyone else, when in the dark room, among drifting silhouettes and the full spectrum of noises, only two things were present in mind. Finishing the task successfully, because others depended on me, and getting the hell out of there.

The disruptive and self-destroying behaviors of the dark room’s regular visitors made authorities take action. The project was canceled after four months. As for the awareness, it didn’t reach the said authorities.

“This was utterly dangerous an a monumental flop!,” shouted Allan to me. “Head office is furious. They want your head on a tray surrounded by sauteed potatoes with garlic and oregon.”

“Tell them we never had so many supporters as in this campaign. We can finally achieve a number capable of some pressure.”

“Are you really from this planet, Jacob?” Allan kicked on my iron desk, already dented by previous arguments. “Listen to me, you dupe. Everyone is aware of the damn problem. Everyone! You don’t need any fancy sensory freak show to make people understand the thing. People know about this. They learn it in school, science documentaries and our damn work for decades. The plain truth is they don’t care and never will.”

“After being in the dark room, they will.”

Another kick on the desk.

“You stubborn bonkers! All you got was a bunch of pretentious college kids turned into fanatics!”

To my despair, Allan was spot on.

I was rumbling on this memory while heading full throttle to the beach. I was really scared with the stranding of Laura. As expected, an immense crowd surrounded her, taking pictures while some locals shoveled the sand. A tractor was arriving. I saw her gray bulk on the island shore and her left fin raised for a bit, and I couldn’t help thinking she was saying farewell. There was too much noise in the ocean for her. Too many engines, propellers and sonars. Too many humans. No peace. No rest. No friends to talk to. Only the will to die.

Saturday, September 4th 2021

Categories
Short Stories | Contos

LUCY BREAD

“I got bread!,” shouted a brute in high school while groping Lucy’s buttocks.

“You got toasted!,” she retorted, hitting him right in the eye with Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain.

This is Lucy Bread and the moment was magic indeed. Never more in her all entire life she would be a victim of abuse. The brute got blind, she was expelled for the first in a million times and in all of those she couldn’t care less. Expulsion, sacking and debt became natural in her life. A happy life, believe it or not.

Lucy Bread had the genius of being highly responsible without taking life too seriously. She had her moments of grief, as anybody, and let them go away. Sadness did not deserved to be clinged by her heart.

“I am leaving you,” howled her first husband, “and the kid goes with me. You better stop laughing!”

Smiling widely, Lucy Bread scanned the condescending dimwit expert on money making from crotch to eye.

“Do you really want to fight me, win me over? Are you sure?” When it came to stabbing her heart, Lucy Bread’s voice had the calm, persistence and reach of a deadly epidemic. “Are you really considering destroying your daughter’s childhood out of spite for her mother? Do you really want to drawn your money there?”

“You won’t have a chance!”

“Try me.”

He did. For years. Lucy kept on laughing, as well as her daughter. The kid learned from the best and her dimwit father had to realize no money could depress that woman.

“How can you do it?,” asked one friend at the job center. “How can you be so happy while living in tragedy?”

“Find me a better way to deal with it.”

“You’re a nut case,” said one lover. “Too bad I don’t have the balls to cope with such invulnerable joy.”

“People are taught to solemnly cry and suffer with dignity. I taught myself to let all tears pour fast and laugh it out when I’m done.”

“You’re on denial.”

“And you’re deaf. I just told you I get all the grief and mourning done in one blow. No more annoying and tedious sadness, believe it or not.”

“You should coach people.”

“I’m not that presumptuous. People don’t laugh because they’re chicken.”

The second husband of Lucy Bread had the maturity to make no judgment and learn from her. I’ve never seen a happier man. I envied him hard and my wife noticed that.

“Would you like me to be like her?”

“I would like to be like her,” was my digressive response. “We should all be like her.”

She gave me the glare of immediate divorce and I kept my mouth shut to the moment I widowed. I don’t know if I fell in love with Lucy Bread. I eat a loaf of bread in her honor every night and do my best not to care a thing.

Saturday, August 28th 2021

Categories
Short Stories | Contos

THE DONKEY SITUATION

I was minding my own business when the intercom starts buzzing. This is rare. Actually it would only happen when there was some package or registered letter. There was a donkey on the video screen.

“It’s the mail”, said a voice I knew quite well, but I could only see the donkey’s head nodding. I pressed the button to open the door and went to the bathroom to look at myself by the mirror. There was no donkey looking back at me. One doesn’t know how far hallucinations can go.

After throwing some water to my face I opened the door and stared at the elevators. One of them had the light flashing. This was not Carnival nor Halloween, There was no movement on the extinction and procreation of donkeys right now. Either way, besides donating a few euros there was nothing I could do.

The door of the elevator opened. There was a donkey and the mailman in it.

“Mr Gilberto Inácio?”

“You know very well it’s me. I offered you a coffee last week at Mendes.”

“I wasn’t asking for your name. I was just wondering whether you were expecting a donkey.” Man and beast walked the aisle, as elegantly as possible, hooves echoing on every walls like the rattle of a machine gun. “This donkey is yours. Please sign here,”

“This is a mistake. I’m not signing that.”

“Do it as you please. I’ll follow the protocol.”

“Do you have a protocol for delivering donkeys?”

“To farm animals in general, yes.”

“This isn’t a farm.”

“According to protocol, once you’re home to receive the package, this is donkey’s wonderland.”

“I will not sign and I will not keep the donkey with me.”

“Very well. I’ll leave the donkey here and flip the receipt under your door. Have a nice day.”

“Wait a minute! What would you do if I weren’t home?”

“We knew you were home.”

“How would you know that?”

The mailman and the donkey looked at me in the eye.

“We are the post offices. We know everything about everybody.”

I felt a chill and got angry.

“How come you leave acknowledgment receipts to withdraw packages on the post office if you know when I’m home?”

“Sometimes we want you to go there.”

“What for?”

“To be checked out.”

“Checked out?”

“Of course. We can’t check out clients and let them know that. It would contaminate our files with wrong data. So we make you go there and check you out while you collect your package.”

“Check me out for what?”

The mailman shrugged his shoulders.

“Who knows?”

“Someone above you, I suppose.”

“Oh, my chief knows nothing. He just runs things.”

“And above your chief?”

“Who knows? That’s nothing of my business.”

I swear to you the donkey was laughing at me.

“I’m not keeping this donkey.”

“I will follow protocol.”

“No, you won’t.”

“One thousand euros fine says you will.”

I was chocked. I considered he was bluffing, but his eyes showed me otherwise. And the donkey’s.

“I must add”, the mailman hushed, “the fine for not signing the receipt is two hundred fifty.” Again, no bluffing in his eyes and the donkey showing its teeth.

“Give me that.”

He handed me the board with the receipt attached for me to sign. I carefully read it. I knew the sender. Too well. It was all explained.

“Have a nice day.” Now the mailman was handing me the rope of the donkey, before turning his back while whistling The Beatles’ She Loves You.

“Hey! Isn’t there any letter?”

“Nope.”

“Not even a note?”

“Zip. Only the donkey.”

He disappeared in the elevator, leaving me with the package from my ex-wife.”

Saturday, August 21st 2021

Categories
Short Stories | Contos

REALLY SHORT PROSE

Once upon a time there was someone somewhere about to do something. This someone bumped against someone else and an explosion of emotions occurred on the caring and erogenous areas of the brain.

Taking in to account most narratives only exist with the overcoming of an obstacle of some sort, this someone else was already erotically and caringly involved with some asshole. This is real frustrating for the protagonist, but happy endings demand the full exposure of assholeness of the someone else’s companion, in order to the protagonist someone get lucky and live happily ever after.

A montage is made to show the boring lives someone and someone else are having while being apart after the asshole exhibition. This pause is always required to mimic real life.

Finally they meet by accident and launch themselves together towards happiness and enlightenment.

Saturday, August 14th 2021

Categories
Short Stories | Contos

LOVE’S MUMBO JAMBO

Gregory sat on the bench, tightly close to Sophie due to the cold. For thirty eight years they would sat there every Saturday afternoon, except on vacations. When occupied, they would lay down on the lawn. The river started to change color as the Sun moved towards the horizon, dimming the stains of pollution to tones of mustard. Some kids were jumping on skateboards, boys and girls. Though he could be their grandfather, the girls were making Gregory horny.

“Good heavens! Things never change!”, muttered Sophie, flashing wide open his overcoat. “With this cold and you having a lump under your trousers. They’re underaged, Gregory!”

“It’s automatic. You hear me saying this for decades. Do you really want to have another argument on this?”

“I thought you’ve learned something.”

“Their boobs are giggling, for crying out loud! There’s no learning to restrain the effect! We could be on the North Pole and my pole would rise still!”

Sophie punched him in the stomach.

“Time to get you distracted, you sperm brain.”

It hurt, but it did not work.

“Honey, come on. You also get aroused when some well dressed Adonis passes by. You blush like a tomato.”

“I do not!”

“You’re blushing right now, in denial!”

“Here we go again.” She rose her arms to the purple clouds. “We know the drill back and forward, and we will repeat it all over again until we die.”

“Even after our death, honey. This is eternal. This is eternity itself.”

“Sure is. The programming of nature, the gods and God. Thou shall have lust and jealousy.”

“Right. The urge for multiple sex encounters and to demand fidelity from each other.” Shivering, Gregory closed his overcoat and rested his head on Sophie’s shoulder. “The darnest thing is knowing all this doesn’t prevent us from lust and jealousy and from blaming each other.”

“I must blame you. I am your wife. I’m the love of your life for almost forty years.”

Taking a deep breath, Gregory growled:

“Their boobs are awesome!”

“Stop that, you pedophile!”

“I bet you’re now remembering the surfer you stalked last Summer. The kid was fifteen!”

“I wasn’t stalking him!” Sophie punched Gregory again. “He just happened to be in all places.”

“You offered him sandwiches and tried to put some cream on his chest.”

“There was a red alert on the weather report! Some people had to go to the hospital with sunburns and dehydration.” Now she rested her head on his shoulder. “God! We really are survivors. The excuses we get to keep our animal selves getting their way.”

“I like being an animal.”

“I noticed that.” She patted his thigh.

“You’re blushing”, he whispered.

The Sun was getting orange. Two skaters kissed. It was damn cold.

Saturday, 12th June 2021

Nuno Neves

Categories
Short Stories | Contos

WHAT HAPPENS AT 4 AM

Insomnia. Hell. For at least a couple of months, Raphael wasn’t capable of having a good night sleep. He tried everything, until the walls and ceiling of his house couldn’t contain him any more. That’s how long walks at 4 AM started.

He didn’t use the elevator. Eight floors down the stairs, echoing through the the corridors as a horror story ritual. In reality, it was worse than that. Pure sadness. The sadness coming from nowhere, revolving your guts for no reason. An immense boredom attacking stomach, lungs and throat, crunching the heart with spikes of ice that bring salt to one’s eyes from the recess of tears. Sea not coming ashore, currents from the depths.

The shower of automatic light in the hallway judged his escape. That instant of spotlight brought up all guilt from all his major and minor sins. Imperfection and delusion scanned, scrutinized by all those he cared for, and, worse than ever, those who were nothing to him. Raphael, the wannabe gentleman and reference of virtue.

A deep breath of cold mountain air was part of the ritual. It calmed him down, but not enough to go back to sleep. Long hesitation before starting the march. All routes were already made. Even the escape walk itself was contaminated with boredom and excruciating sadness. Time to get in to the rescue boat. Observation. Five senses eager for novelty. Look at my red nose! Watch the clouds leaving my mouth. Feel the cold on my eyelids, trying to find its way to my skull. He started walking.

Dampness everywhere. One had to be careful not to slide on the sidewalk. That would be funny, breaking a leg during insomnia. Moss grew between the slabs of concrete. That shouldn’t happen in a polluted city, as far as he could remember from the chitchat of some tourist guide when on vacations. Even paradises were a bore. He had been in a few. Most times they become hell. Too many boring people in them, doing their best to let loose the worst of themselves. Now he got the answer. The moss got fed up with paradise and went to the city, showing at early hours, away from boredom.

Is this why I am awake? He hastened the pace. The stupidity of his thoughts. Insomnia to escape from days of sadness and boredom. As if walking like that was the ultimate ecstasy, a moment of happiness to endure life, a therapeutic journey from a cheap self help guide.

“I just want some sleep, for Christ sake!”, he yelled in the darkness of an alley.

“So do I!”, shouted someone from a window. “Go home, you nuts!”

Raphael kept on walking as fast as he could. Not back home and certainly not from fear. Speed was needed. Speed in darkness. No destiny. Just nothing. Fast.

Saturday, June 5th 2021

Nuno Neves