The Irresistible Charm of Insanitity 4

13/03/2020

The Irresistible Charm of Insanity
Ricardo Kelmer – Novel – Miragem Editorial 2019
Translation: Luciano Espírito Santo

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Luca is a musician who likes to have control of everything in his life. He becomes involved with Isadora, a Taoist wanderer who believes he is the reincarnation of her master and lover from the 16th century. He will embark on a strange and adventurous journey that blurs the boundaries of sanity and madness, dream and reality, only to find that he has to figure out his true identity before he deserves the woman he loves.

In this unusual love story that takes place simultaneously in Spain in the 16th century and Brazil in the 21st century, flashes of déjà-vu (the feeling that you have witnessed or experienced a situation previously) are time portals through which we come in contact with past lives.

Blues, sex and double shots of whiskey. Dreams, mystical experiences, and secret societies. Funny and exciting, The Irresistible Charm of Insanity explores the intriguing possibilities of time, space, life and whatever it is that we may call “self.”
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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese/spanish

> In portuguese – blog 

> In spanish – blog (soon)

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CHAPTER 10

“Who are you?”

Luca stared at the strange figure standing in front of him.

“An old friend, don’t you remember me?”

The voice sounded familiar.

“This cave… I’ve been here before…”

He looked around trying to recognize the place.

“How are things going?”

“Pretty bad”, he answered, with a deep sigh. He was very tired.

“I see you don’t want to go back out there. But you have to.”

“Is this real? Or am I dreaming?”

“What isn’t real, Vehdvar?”

Vehdvar… He knew that name.

“I remember… you are…”

“Ihlishhhhhh…”

He fixed his gaze and saw the huge cobra, its brownish skin and glistening, geometrically perfect scales. The serpent raised part of its body and filled its lungs, inflating its neck. Then it opened its mouth and flashed its sharp fangs. He wasn’t afraid.

Naja Hannah, King Cobra…”, he whispered, recalling ancient words.

“Well, well, well! Only the old serpent could cheer you up…” It slithered its way to the rock and coiled around its own body to be next to him.

“I’m a failure, Ihlish.”

“What about Isadora?”

“Isadora is crazy.”

“Love and hate… After so many centuries, they still won’t go apart.”

“Let me die in peace, Ihlish.”

“The lady in white really cast a spell on you, didn’t she? But before you run to her arms, look at this.”

He turned to the dark lake and saw ripples in the water. Little by little, a scene began to form on the surface… From a ship’s quarterdeck, a man watched the ocean. Luca immediately knew his name: Enrique. He had aged, his hair completely gray… Luca felt something strange, like seeing a very dear person again after a long time. But it was so much more than that, he felt an affinity, a strong complicity that he couldn’t explain.

He had the instant knowledge that Enrique was at the end of his life and many years had passed since his departure from a port in Barcelona, in a misty morning, to never return. He knew many more things about his life: the Society of Jesus, the Order of the Guardian, the secret missions, the danger of the Inquisition… His work as a missionary had taken him to distant lands and put him into contact with different cultures. Most of his life had been spent on board ships, roaming through the seas. The Catalan sailors used to call him chamador de vientos because he knew how to chant and wave his hat to bring the winds they needed, and he was sought by people who wanted his blessing and protection of their vessels with sprigs of rosemary on Saint Elmo’s day. He had a sad look on his face, and people used to say it was because of an old love affair. When asked about it, he would recite the verses of March, the Catalan poet: Com se farâ que visca sens dolor tenint perdut lo bé que posseya?

The night, the Chinese sea, the tempest… Enrique was aboard the ship that rocked through giant waves. Earlier that night, a sailor had spotted the tragic caravel of the dead, the translucent vessel that carried the souls of missing persons, and this dreadful omen had stricken their hearts with the worst fears. Now, the sudden storm, the waves washing the deck, everything being violently tossed from side to side. They would have to abandon the ship.

The crew kept throwing lifeboats overboard, but the terror and chaos made the task all the more difficult. At one point, Enrique lost his balance and hit his face against the mast, opening a wound on his right side that soon started to bleed. He was almost knocked out, staggered for a second, and fell in the freezing water. Struggling desperately to emerge and breathe, there was nothing he could do against the masses of water that made him swallow even more water. His body started to freeze and his strength slipped away… When a lifeboat was approaching to rescue him, he drowned. And he disappeared.

Luca cried, still gazing at the dark lake waters. He knew that Enrique had given up when he could have struggled some more to save his life. He also knew that his final thought was on Catarina, the woman he had never forgotten after abandoning her at the port in Barcelona.

“So Isadora was right?”, Luca whispered, touching the scar on his face. “I was actually Enrique?”

“As much as anyone else”, the serpent answered.

“What do you mean?”

“Enrique’s life, like any other life including yours, can be accessed by anyone since all lives are interwoven in a deeper level through lived experiences, in one single life, one single self.”

“So there is no…”

“… reincarnation. It’s an illusion of the ego, which relates to the other life and assumes it is a memory because the ego exists in the linear time, where past, present and future happen sequentially.”

“And don’t they really?”

“Only to the ego. You and Enrique share a profound identification and your experiences intertwine through the centuries because, to the higher self, time is a network where past, present and future intersect at all points.

“So, all times occur…”

“… simultaneously. And all selves are all the others. That’s why any given life can be influenced by someone else’s life at any given time.”

“In that case, the past can be…”

“… changed. The same applies to present and future, since everything is always happening…”

“… now.”

“But only a profound change of the self can change time. Because, in all actuality, time is within…”

“… the self.”

The serpent moved…

“Everything happens in the mind, Vehdvar.”

… it crawled towards the lake…

“Change yourself and everything will change.”

… and it vanished again in the dark waters.                                                    

*     *     *

A beautiful woman in a white dress. She stood right in front of him and had an alluring look on her face…

“Must be a very beautiful woman to entice you like that…”

That voice… Luca turned around. He saw Isadora.

“What are you doing in my dream?”

“This is our dream.”

“Then it’s a nightmare.”

“I’m here to pick you up. Come on.”

“It’s too late, Isadora.”

“Why?”

“I’m tired, Isadora.”

“You have to try, Luca. You can’t give up.”

“I can and I have.”

“Try just a little more, please…”

He took a step forward towards the woman in white. It was her lap that he needed, her comprehension. He was tired of fighting, fighting life, fighting himself, fighting everything. He just wanted to fade out and never have to wake up again. Nothing else.

“Don’t look at her, Luca”, Isadora said. “Look at me.”

But he had made up his mind.

“Luca, do you hear me?”

He didn’t answer. He moved forward.

“Then I’m going with you.”

He turned to her, surprised.

“You wouldn’t do that.”

“I’m doing it.”

He felt Isadora’s firm grasp on his hand. Then the abyss materialized next to him. A dark, deep abyss whispering his name. If he were to jump into the darkness, he would forever lose control of his own life and everything, and become a helpless idiot in slavery to love. He would no longer be accepted in the Order, he would be kicked out from the band, the Inquisition would burn him at the stake, it would be the end…

The woman in white and his final resting, his never having to wake up again. The dark abyss and his surrendering of control. The two things were calling out his name…

“We are together, Luca…”, Isadora whispered.

And before she could say anything else, he jumped.

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CHAPTER 11

The first thing he saw was a dim, colorful light. He didn’t know where or when he was, but the colors brought him a vague joy, one that came from far, very far…

In another instant, he thought he had sensed a female presence, sweet and caring. He tried to speak, but it required so much effort that he passed out.

He finally opened his eyes. After a short while of confusion, he understood he was lying down face up with a white bed sheet covering his body… He was lying on a bed… in a hospital room… with an intravenous line attached to his arm… The half-opened window in front of him allowed the daylight to come in. Next to him, his mother napped on a chair.

“Mom, what day is today?”, he asked. Gloria almost fell off the chair, awakening from a shock.

“Luca!!!”

She hugged him with great emotion. Luca tried to remember what might have happened to him. But nothing would come to his mind.

“What happened?”

“My son, I’m so glad you…”

“Tell me, mom, what happened?”

“You had an accident, my son”, she answered, wiping a tear from her face. “But don’t think about it now.”

“Accident?…” He couldn’t remember any accident. “When?”

“You were in a coma for a month.”

He tried hard to remember anything at all, but he couldn’t. He insisted he wanted to know about the accident. His mother explained it: a car had crossed his way, a most violent crash, he was very lucky to be alive.

“I was alone?”

“Son, you’re very weak, you need to rest…”

She didn’t need to answer. He suddenly remembered Bebel, the weekend on the beach, her face, her sweet smile… Tears rolled down his face. He couldn’t speak anymore and fell asleep sobbing.

*     *     *

On the next day, he remembered other images… A Spanish woman named Catarina… a Portuguese Jesuit… Travels by ship… Everything was a mix of dream and reality, but the images touched him deeply. He felt like many things had happened to him while he was in the coma… Then he slept again.

The next time he woke up, he felt much better. Gloria confirmed the immediate deaths of Bebel and the baby in the accident, and explained that he had been rescued from the accident severely injured and later acquired pneumonia in the hospital, which threatened his life for several days, disheartening everyone, even the doctors. However, he had recovered suddenly, to great surprise.

“The boys from your band brought this cloth as a gift”, Celina told him, happy for having her brother back.

“I hung it on the window to shut off some of the light”, Gloria said. “One day, you opened your eyes, you saw the cloth and smiled. Then you fell asleep again. On that day, I knew you would be back.”

He looked at the cloth and recognized it. It was an old painting with the “Bluz Neon” words written in multiple colors and the five silhouettes of the band members playing. He missed his friends and wondered how they were doing. But there was something else on his mind.

“Does anyone know about Isadora?”, he asked, and had a shiver: maybe she was still waiting for him in that port?

No, nobody had heard from her, so Gloria had no information. Neither did Celina. He felt the sadness taking over his soul. Isadora… Where was she?

“Are you feeling well, brother?”, Celina asked.

“Yes. But I’d like to be alone for a while.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. If you need anything, just call me.”

Celina gave him a hug and left with their mother, closing the door behind.

Luca turned on his side and made himself more comfortable on the bed. And closed his eyes. So was it all true? So Isadora was right? Had he been Enrique, the Portuguese sorcerer, Catarina’s master and lover? What an incredible thing… He hadn’t just remembered it, he had relived everything! Somehow, his soul went back to the 16th century during those weeks he had been in a coma and lived as Enrique. And lived all those emotions, feelings, fears, everything again…

“That’s amazing…”, he kept telling himself, ever more impressed. He finally understood that whole story about remembering another life. And how could he explain it? How? It felt just as real as remembering something that had happened a few years earlier. The clothing, the houses, speaking Portuguese, Spanish and Catalan… How could he feel and know so clearly something that he’d never truly lived? How? What about the contact with Catarina’s skin and her smell?…

Yes, he had been Enrique, a Portuguese man who lived disguised as a missionary of the Society of Jesus so he could be an apprentice in a secret order, the Order of the Guardian. An adventurer with multiple identities who lead his life with caution, secrecy and dissimulation. A religious conspirer and hardcore nationalist. An educated man, devoted to protecting the knowledge of his secret society at any cost, which had turned him into a silent enemy of the Catholic Inquisition. A man divided between his virtues and his vices, taking risks and experimenting with the mysteries. Also, a man who ran away from the most crucial confrontation of his life: his love for Catarina. For he flat out refused to give up the security afforded to him by the Society.

And he would carry the guilt of bailing out like an open wound for the rest of his life. And it was the reason why he had chosen to die in those frozen waters while he still had one last chance to live.

“Or was there another explanation?”, Luca thought, with the vague memory of a dream in which he seemed to figure out that… there was another possible explanation for the phenomenon of remembering another life. Yes, there seemed to be another explanation… Something to do with the self, the notion of individuality, something like that… He tried to remember it, but he couldn’t. Well, if there was another way of understanding what was going on with him, maybe he would find out about it later. Meanwhile, he only knew that he had somehow been in another time. And Isadora was there, too.

“Catarina, my love…”, Luca whispered, looking through the window into the distance. “I’m back.”

*     *     *

On his last night in the hospital, one week after waking up from the coma, it took a long time for Luca to fall asleep, still fixated on the recollections of Enrique’s life. The noisy carriages, the dust in his eyes, the smell of the breweries in Munich, the taste of pepper, ginger and cinnamon brought from India by ships as novel items… Shutting his eyes was all it took for him to experience it all again with great intensity.

Then he felt something like an idea that seemed to try to encroach… Drawing near… A strange idea coming from somewhere in the remotest outskirts of his mind… Then it came like a comet blazing through the heavens of thought and it seemed to light up the entire room: he was picking up from where Enrique had stopped. Yes, he was! The descent into the cave now would require that he confront the fear of losing control of his life. That was the next challenge that Enrique had sidestepped: to surrender control.

Luca marveled at the clarity of the newfound realization and took a deep breath, trying to contain his excitement. He finally understood that maybe Taoism had been presented to him through Isadora so he could reach the knowledge that had escaped Enrique. It seemed that a plan had been laid out for him. Was everything predetermined? By life itself?

Things were already out of control before the accident, and he was the only one who couldn’t tell. The setbacks, the minor incidents, the recurring illnesses, the conflicts with the band, the bad working environment, the loss of his car, Isadora’s departure and, finally, Bebel’s pregnancy. Life couldn’t have been more explicit. Still, he had failed to understand.

After thinking long and hard and identifying similarities between what had happened to Enrique and to himself, Luca slept with a smile on his face, feeling like being born again. On that same night, he dreamed about Isadora. A clear, powerful dream. He met her somewhere on the beach and she looked even more beautiful than usual.

“Where are you coming from, Isadora?”

“From four minutes into the future.”

“No”, he corrected her. “It’s been four hundred years.”

“We need to synchronize our watches, Luca.”

*     *     *

The bus began to move and Luca looked out the window. At the bus station, Junior, Ranieri, Balu and Ninon were waving goodbye and toasting with glasses and a bottle of whisky. Junior played one of the band’s songs on the guitar. He waved, too, with a swig of emotion stuck in his throat.

He got comfortable in his seat and took a deep breath. The city passed by slowly on the window and seemed to bid him farewell on every corner. A sudden fear sent shivers along his spine, fear for leaving everything behind and going down a path that he didn’t know where it lead. Like jumping into the abyss…

He opened the backpack and took the seashell he had been given by Isadora on the shores of Uruaú Lake, found a few days prior in a drawer after having forgotten about it entirely. He put the shell up against his ear and was lulled by the sound of the ocean…

Two months earlier, he had left the hospital with visible weight loss and multiple scars on his body, still quite debilitated. In a few days, he quit the band and the job, vacated the apartment, sold a few things and paid the restaurant bill. Then he bought the bus ticket. Gloria didn’t like that idea at all. Celina was afraid the impact from the accident might have affected her brother’s judgment. His band buddies couldn’t understand why he was giving up on a dream when he was so close to accomplishing it. But everything was clear to him, very clear.

He woke up in the middle of the night thinking of Bebel. He felt her presence and her glance, and could almost visualize her sweet face and candid smile. He remembered the loving and caring nights and her welcoming body. He remembered how hard she worked at the bar, her dreams of returning to college, the money she’d lent him… which he’d never paid back. He remembered her subtle disapproval of his self-destructive behavior. And he remembered how he even had wished he were Enrique just so he could get rid of her pregnancy. He wondered whether he could be somehow responsible for her death.

He reached for his pocket and took a picture that had been recovered from Bebel’s camera and her sister had given to him. In the picture, he hugged Bebel on the beach house terrace with the sunset in the background. What exactly had the meaning of that woman in his life been during those months? If she hadn’t been driving, would he have been supposed to die instead? Was it possible somehow that she had sacrificed her life to save his? Would he ever have the answers to those questions?

But Bebel was gone. And not even once did he ever tell her about how much he really loved her, how important she was for him, how beautiful she was. He had been so immersed in his own problems, so insulated in his self-absorption and his insane struggle against life… He hadn’t been worthy of her. And on the same day when he finally accepted the child they would have, she went away. They went away. Forever.

Deeply moved, he grabbed pen and paper and wrote on it, getting those feelings out of his chest:

Oh, this strange taste
Of the love that could’ve been
But never was
And it’s now forever over
The love that couldn’t grow
But still pretends to be
When I look over my shoulder

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CHAPTER 12

“My name is Luca of the Neon Light and I play here at the Papirar every Friday and Saturday. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks.”

Luca thanked for the applause, got up from the stool and turned off the sound. He put his guitar in the case and climbed down from the small wooden platform that served as a stage. Charles approached him.

“You were awesome tonight!”, Charles praised, hugging him. “You really made the audience go nuts!”

“Thank you.”

“I’m even thinking about giving you a raise.”

“No objection on my part.”

“You deserve it, kiddo. Now, take a seat because a moqueca is coming your way, just the way you like it.”

Luca sat at the table and pandiculated. The bar was packed, like on every weekend. Looking at the other tables, he recognized local residents of Pipa Beach who were regulars at the bar and spotted some new faces of Brazilian and foreign tourists. Charles was an ex-hippie in his sixties and owned the place. Solange, his wife, was his partner in the business. They had liked Luca’s musical style and hired him to play at their bar regularly.

Luca opened a bottle of water and drank it, quenching his thirst. “Nine months”, he thought. On the next day, it would be exactly nine months since he had recovered from the coma, and seven months since he had come to Tibau do Sul once again. Just him, two backpacks and the guitar. An irresistible impulse had brought him here. Deep down, he knew that this was the place where he should start over.

It was strange to revisit the place, those trees, the river, the birds singing in the morning… But he felt good, he felt at home. Once again, he took shelter in Ms. Zezé’s camping ground, and she remembered him very well. On the second week, however, she offered him to move into the hostel: he would give computer and guitar lessons to her two kids in exchange for the room, how about that? The room was small but it had a closet, a small desk, a fan, a window with curtains and a bathroom. Breakfast included. Luca didn’t think twice: they had a deal.

On the first morning in his new room, he got up and went to the bathroom. As he passed by the mirror, he stopped and looked at himself for a while. There was something strange about the look on his face… He looked harder, trying to find an answer. Yes, something was different, but he couldn’t quite tell what it was. He still had the same impression over the following days. There was definitely something strange, damn it! But what was it? He kept trying, but he couldn’t find it. Eventually, he gave up.

It was Ms. Zezé, always so caring, who had suggested that he look for a job in Pipa Beach. He did, he met Charles and Solange, and came back to the hostel with a job on that same day. Simple as that. He had now a regular job, a job he enjoyed, where he could play his favorite songs, including his own original works. And – what a relief! – he didn’t have to worry about rent and tenant meetings anymore. Or gas prices. And he could swim in the ocean every day.

Seven months on his own. At first, his seclusion was filled with persistent memories that would invariably bring him painful realizations. He had been going around wearing an old, rusty armor for a long time, he understood that very well now. An armor made of old ideas about life. Although it had protected him from certain dangers, it had also been preventing him from moving. And the masks, there were masks, too, those had been dropped one after another and revealed his true self with its many flaws. And there were the demons, many of them, leaping out of his closet at every moment, forcing him to recognize and confront them.

How could he have been wrong so many times, and insisted so much on going down a path that took him away from himself?

There had been days when he would desperately look for someone to talk, out of fear of his own thoughts. If it wasn’t for the company of Ms. Zezé and the classes with her kids, he might have lost his mind. He might have been committed to a mental hospital. But the long night was behind him.

“Here comes the moqueca, nice and hot!”

That was Charles coming back to his table, carrying some smoking hot earthenware.

“Did you know, tomorrow it will be nine months since I pulled through from the coma”, Luca mentioned while helping himself.

“Nine months? That means you will be born tomorrow, kiddo. Let’s have a beer to celebrate!”

*     *     *

His job at the Papirar Bar was really great and he got to meet many people and make good professional contacts every weekend. Thanks to one of those contacts, he would go to Natal and play in a concert hall once a month. He was making more than enough money to cover his expenses, so he soon could afford a new acoustic guitar and an imported speaker, something he had never had when he played with the band.

He was now living a simple, healthy life. He drank less, slept more and ate better. He had been swimming every day and had time to read many books. He kept in touch with his family and friends over the Internet, using Ms. Zezé’s computer. He’d soon get his own, but he could easily live without one for the time being. He had also been writing many songs, experimenting with other rhythms besides blues.

He didn’t know how long he was going to stay in Tibau do Sul and he didn’t know where he would go from there. He didn’t know what would be happening next, he didn’t know anything. He also didn’t know about anything before the accident, that much is true, but now he would no longer worry about any of that. He only knew to be doing what should be done, and that carefree conviction made him feel freer than ever.

As for women, his job at the bar allowed him to meet many, and he even went to bed with a few. But they would always return to their cities the next day and he would go on by himself.

He was alone, yes, but there was a certain woman who was always on his mind…

“Isadora, crazy woman, where are you now?”, he wondered every morning while walking on the beach. Maybe he was worthy of her by now, unlike Enrique in that distant morning at the port in Barcelona. Unlike himself, Luca, some time ago. Maybe he finally deserved her now. Or maybe he had squandered all the opportunities.

One day, he was absent-mindedly flicking through the pages of a magazine and saw the picture of a cobra… and suddenly he remembered. He remembered a strange dream… It felt like a long time ago… A mysterious dream, of an ancient, sacred, numinous atmosphere… The serpent was telling him about the nature of the self, the time, simultaneous lives…

“That’s it!”, he exclaimed, taken with sudden euphoria. That was the dream he had been trying to remember since he came back from the coma. And, thus, in the days that followed, the memory of that strange dream occupied his mind. The serpent, the confusing ideas about life and time… Those were far from orthodox ideas, of course, but they were provocative and he sensed that they were hiding profound and revealing things. Maybe one day they would make more sense.

*     *     *

Late afternoon plan: tripping by the sunset. Whenever he could, Luca would walk down the river bank to watch the sunset, feel the breeze on his face and enjoy the scent of the sea. And play music for the fresh water dolphins. As soon as he sat down by the river and played the first chords on the guitar, they came to the surface with their gray bodies, smooth rostrums, and smiling faces. They would come close and be attentive, and listen… Once in a while, one of them would suddenly jump out of the water, its agile body shining with the sunset light. Luca laughed happily: that was their funny way of applauding his art and saying that yes, freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Playing for the dolphins gave him a wonderful feeling of being connected to Nature, a heartwarming sense of security, certainly the same kind of security that babies feel in their mother’s arms, he thought. It was, however, that same tremendous and mysterious Nature that had scared him so deeply on that particular morning at Uruaú Lake.

All alone, sitting by the river, he played his favorite songs and remembered… He remembered Gloria, who telephoned him frequently to know if her son was eating adequately and when he would return. He remembered the band, the fun they had rehearsing, the unforgettable performances. Since he left the band, Junior had become Bluz Neon’s new singer and Soninha’s boyfriend. But the couple quarreled so often it disrupted the work and divided the band. As a result, they didn’t record their CD and eventually disbanded. Junior and Soninha also broke up and now he tried to put a disco music band together while Soninha was dating Ranieri, the bass player.

Luca laughed, having fun at the memories and all kinds of trouble his buddies would get themselves into. Fate had determined that he would part ways with his friends, yes, but he confidently welcomed fate with open arms now, and being alive was suddenly a formidable and exciting thing. Months earlier, he had been floundering in the events as if trying desperately not to drown in water. He tried to take the helm of life as if it were even possible, unaware that all he had to do was to go along with its flow, the way he did now, like the boys who bodysurfed the waves in Tibau do Sul and thus tamed them rather than competing against them.

He looked back now and was amazed at how long he had roamed around blind and lost. He felt like he had escaped from hell, a kind of hell where he was rather burned by his fear of surrendering to life.

*     *     *

One morning, Luca woke up and went straight to the bathroom, as usual. Before coming out, he stopped by the sink to wash, looked in the mirror and saw his face. In an instant, he finally understood why he had thought that there was something strange about his reflection in the mirror every day. And laughed hard about it. His image in this mirror was whole, intact, quite different from the split image he had grown accustomed to seeing in the cracked mirror of his old apartment.

Luca touched the surface of the mirror as if caressing his own face. He was unfamiliar with seeing himself that way, whole, in one piece, looking like another person. He felt a sudden affection for that person in the mirror who stared at him, some kind of fondness made of understanding, compassion, love and forgiveness. Yes, that was him, of course, but at the same time, it was someone else, some other Luca…

Suddenly, he realized he was not outside the mirror – he was the one in the mirror. He was inside the mirror, staring at Luca on the outside. Then he understood that he, the one in the mirror, had always been there, looking every day at Luca on the outside and lamenting the fact that he didn’t really see him, that he could only see a fragmented Luca, broken in pieces, shattered in his own contradictions. He, the one inside the mirror, had always been the Luca who lived in that future time, that time of reunion with himself, the one who had tried every day to make Luca on the outside wake up from the dream and realize that he could interrupt the self-destruction cycle in which he had been stuck. The surface of the mirror was, every day, like a fine membrane separating two realities: in one, Luca died; in the other, he was born again and awaited himself.

Luca became aware that he was still looking at the mirror and laughed, without knowing why. He felt silly staring at himself as if he’d never seen himself before, and the more he thought about it, the sillier he felt and the funnier it all became. He soon was laughing himself to tears and then laughter turned into tears of joy, an unusual joy driven by the sudden conviction that yes, one really must die to reunite with oneself.

*     *     *

One day, chatting with Charles and Solange, Luca was told that they had I Ching cards. He immediately remembered that one time in the kitchen of his apartment in Fortaleza when Isadora consulted the oracle for him and wrote down the result in his appointment book.

He borrowed the book from them and looked the Receptive hexagram up. He read it and was shocked.

“In the fall, when the first frost falls, the power of darkness and cold begins to manifest. After the first clues, the signs of death will gradually multiply until the arrival of harsh winter and its ice. The same happens in life. Decadence appears, first hinted at by small signs, only to pile up until the advent of the final dissolution.”

He kept staring at those words, surprised at how they related to his own life. It was so obvious now! Darkness, cold, rigidity, decadence… the first clues… the signs of death… There couldn’t be more accurate words to summarize what had happened to him. And he had quite simply missed the message. How could he be so blind?

During weeks, he mulled over that message from the I Ching and its relation to the ideas about the concept of time that he had been entertaining lately. What would have happened, he wondered, if he had understood that message the first time he saw it? It certainly would have changed his future and, as a result, the painful future he lived subsequently would not have existed. However, it existed and it happened. So if he had understood the message, that would have altered a future that already happened, it would have changed what was now in the past.

“Wow… It’s possible to change the future”, Luca concluded, astonished at his finding. “And the past.”

*     *     *

On that cloudy morning there weren’t many seagulls frolicking in the skies of Tibau do Sul. Under a hut in a bar on the edge of the sea cliff, Luca breathed the sea breeze and watched an anchored boat… Nine months. On that day, exactly nine months had passed since he had woken from the coma. Luca laughed, remembering the night before at Papirar, when Charles told him that he was being born…

It was in this moment, like an urge, that the song wanted to come out. It didn’t just want to come out, it really had to. He grabbed his guitar quickly and… the song came out, slipping through his fingers and out of his mouth as if it had been ready somewhere inside him.

The wind in my hair
The dust on the road
In this inn I shall spend the night
Tomorrow, begin anew
Life is a dubious ride
But always takes me
Where I need to go

“Beautiful song… Is it new?”

That voice…

“It just came out”, he answered, interrupting the music.

She sat next to him, looking at the vast ocean ahead, the waves, the anchored boat… He turned slowly and looked at one side of her face: she looked so beautiful… Even more than in his dreams.

“Is this a dream?”, he asked.

The smell of her hair made him feel light…

“And what is not a dream, Luca?”

“Where are you coming from?”

“From Ms. Zezé’s hostel. She told me I would find you here.”

Luca laughed. A seagull flew by very near.

“You look beautiful.”

“And you look great… you look healthy.”

“How was your trip?”

“It was amazing, I spent a whole year travelling. Now I want to take a break.”

“In São Paulo?”

“Or here…”

She smiled, with her gaze fixed upon the sea. He smiled, too.

“By the way, have you found a definition for the Tao?”

“Oh…”, she laughed, remembering an old conversation. “Yes, I’ve finally found it.”

“Really? Then, tell me.”

“The Tao is what it is while it isn’t what it isn’t.”

They laughed and suddenly it felt like they were still talking at Ms. Zezé’s restaurant in that rainy afternoon.

“I had a car accident, did you know?”

“No. When?”

He told her about the car crash, his coma and recovery. Isadora listened with amazement. He also told her about Bebel.

“I failed, Isadora… I didn’t know how to take care of her.”

“You did what you could”, she comforted him, drying her own tears.

Luca took her in his arms and suddenly they had never been separated at all. Suddenly, no more than a year had passed since the last time they had been together. Suddenly, life regained its course naturally, flowing the way it should like a river running to the sea.

“Why did you come back here, Luca?”

He took a seashell out of his pocket.

“It whispered to me that I needed to fulfill my mission.”

“Mission?”

“Going back to you.”

She smiled and he continued:

“Like I should’ve done four hundred years ago.”

She looked at him, surprised.

“So did you… remember?”

“Yes.”

“I can’t believe it! Tell me, I want to know about it.”

“It happened when I was in a coma. But I don’t think ‘remember’ is the right word.”

“How come?”

“Well… I’ve been thinking about time, the notion of the self… Maybe I was not Enrique.”

“Why is that?”

“Maybe everybody has been Enrique. And maybe that time is still happening. It’s an alternative to the theory of reincarnation, something even more profound and a lot crazier.”

“Hum… The multi-dimensionality of existence.”

“Exactly!”

“What a coincidence, Luca… I read something about it recently and I was very curious. I think we have a million things to talk about.”

“Yes. But for the time being, I just want you to forgive me. Do you forgive me?”

“Why?”

“For running away.”

“Only if you forgive me for leaving you in such a difficult time.”

They both laughed. None of that mattered anymore.

“You set me free, Isadora. And I didn’t even know how stuck I was.”

“I was so afraid thinking that I had lost you forever, Luca… But I knew you were living at your own pace and I had to trust life.”

Isadora’s eyes… He saw that insanity was still there, beautiful and charming, a hazelnut abyss whispering his name. But he wasn’t afraid of it anymore.

“I think we can synchronize our watches now, Isadora.”

He pulled her into his arms and kissed her. And it felt as if Isadora’s taste had never left his mouth. And for the duration of an instant, time stopped long enough for past, present and future to align to the exact rhythm of their heartbeats.

He opened his eyes. She was staring at him with an expression of astonishment.

“Isadora… I have lived this before…”

They exchanged a vague look as if they were not there, as if trying to find something lost in the memory of time.

“Me too, Luca…”

“A déjà-vu…”

“But… we both at the same time?”

“Is that possible?”

“We already lived… this before…”

He hugged her for a long time, cuddling, deeply absorbed in the feeling of having lived that moment before… He closed his eyes and tried to remember when he had experienced that same situation, but all that came to his mind was the idea of spinning, spinning… As if in a circle, spinning, always coming back to the same place… spinning around in a circle, always coming back to the same spot, continuously…

The same spot, yes, but in another level – he understood suddenly. Another level! Because in reality, he was not in a circle, but in a spiral. Yes, a spiral where time is always spinning and returning to the same spot to be again, yes, to be again eternally… but in another level, in another way. Another way!

“What happened?”, she asked.

“I don’t know, I felt dizzy…”

“You haven’t been yourself lately.”

He pulled her by the hand and started running.

“Let’s get out of here… Quick!”

“But…”

“Come. This way.”

“Are you mad?”

“I should’ve gotten mad a long time ago.”

“What about the trip?”

“I’m not going anymore.”

“You’re not?!”

“Quiet. It’s a secret.”

He kept pulling her by the hand, running in the mist around the quay.

“But… Why did you change your mind?”

“Because my place is by your side.”

“But.. we were supposed to reunite soon.”

“No, we weren’t.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ll explain that later. Come on, hurry.”

“What about the Society?”

“To hell with the Society!”

“No way!” She stopped dead in her tracks and released his hand. “Explain this change of heart right now.”

He stopped further ahead, panting, and came back. He clutched at her shoulders and spoke very quietly:

“There is a safer way for us to go to Brazil. But I’ll explain that later, I don’t want them to see me…”

“No, Enrique! I won’t move until you explain it!”

He took a deep breath. He looked around, worried that he might be seen there. Further back, under the fine mist, the ship was still anchored in the harbor, swaying with the waves, the sailors hoisting the sails. Soon, they would acknowledge his absence.

“I don’t know, Catarina… Something happened in that moment… All of a sudden, I…”

While he tried to find the right words, she looked him in the eyes firmly and suddenly she had memories of a strange time that never existed, a time of grief, madness and seclusion… A time where life was permanently twisting around itself without leaving the same spot, repeating itself a thousand times like the sad songs the women of her village used to sing when she was a little girl, songs about a woman who waits for her love, a beautiful love that got lost in time…

“Suddenly, I saw myself… No, I remembered myself…”, he continued, trying to find the right words. “I was lost… we were separated… I don’t know how to explain this.”

“Are we together now?”, she asked. “That’s all I need to know.”

“Yes, my love… We are together.”

He pulled her close and they kissed. And that kiss had a different taste, an irresistible taste of a first time. Then they held hands and ran until they disappeared at the end of the road. A new life was waiting for them in a new land. In a new time.

.

.

The Irresistible Charm of Insanity

CHAPTERS

prologue – 1 – 2 – 3
4 – 5 – 6
7 – 8 – 9
10 – 11 – 12

 


The Irresistible Charm of Insanitity 3

13/03/2020

The Irresistible Charm of Insanity
Ricardo Kelmer – Novel – Miragem Editorial 2019
Translation: Luciano Espírito Santo

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Luca is a musician who likes to have control of everything in his life. He becomes involved with Isadora, a Taoist wanderer who believes he is the reincarnation of her master and lover from the 16th century. He will embark on a strange and adventurous journey that blurs the boundaries of sanity and madness, dream and reality, only to find that he has to figure out his true identity before he deserves the woman he loves.

In this unusual love story that takes place simultaneously in Spain in the 16th century and Brazil in the 21st century, flashes of déjà-vu (the feeling that you have witnessed or experienced a situation previously) are time portals through which we come in contact with past lives.

Blues, sex and double shots of whiskey. Dreams, mystical experiences, and secret societies. Funny and exciting, The Irresistible Charm of Insanity explores the intriguing possibilities of time, space, life and whatever it is that we may call “self.”
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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese/spanish

> In portuguese – blog 

> In spanish – blog (soon)

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CHAPTER 7

Papalégua was almost closing. All the chairs were piled upside down on the tables and the last survivors of the night were paying their tabs. Junior Rível received the two glasses of whiskey from the barman and put one of them on the counter, in front of his buddy. Then he gave him a pat on the back.

“This one’s on me. Have a drink, man.”

Luca grabbed the glass and stirred the ice for a long time, with a blank, opaque stare.

“You’ve been looking like a mourner for two weeks. I’ve never seen you in that state over a woman.”

Luca took a sip and put the glass back on the counter. He looked weary and bleak.

“You really like the Taoist girl, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“I thought you’d said she was a nut case.”

“She is.”

“Are you sure you can’t get in touch with her?”

“She doesn’t have a mobile phone. She doesn’t access the Internet either.”

“And where is she now?”

“I don’t know. Some beach somewhere.”

“Maybe it was better that way, Luca. Think about it, it was a doomed relationship from the get-go, with you guys living so far away from each other…”

“I invited her to move in with me, but she didn’t want to.”

“Of course not, she has a life of her own in São Paulo.”

“No, that wasn’t the reason.”

“What was it then?”

Luca had another swill and felt the alcohol scratching his throat, the ice cold pain reverberating at the bottom of his soul…

“It was because of some fucking stupid abyss.”

“What abyss?”

“I don’t know either.”

“You don’t?”

“I don’t. In fact, that’s the problem, man, I don’t know a fucking thing anymore. I feel like I’m standing in a dark forest and have no clue where I am.”

Junior looked at his friend and laughed.

“Ah, so that is your problem, is it? Then you need not worry, cause some hot chick will find you in no time.”

“I don’t want any hot chick. I want Isadora.”

“But you let her go! You didn’t even drive the poor girl to the bus station. Which, by the way, really wasn’t nice on your part.”

“That’s what I’m talking about. I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m no longer the guy I used to think I was. This whole affair with Isadora has made me jealous, insecure. Suddenly, I was being rude and aggressive, I couldn’t get ahold of myself, fucking shit.”

“Yeah, you’ve been acting cranky lately.”

“That’s right. You can tell I haven’t been my usual self. I mean, I always thought I wasn’t like that. But maybe I am and I’ve just become aware of it.”

“You’re a cool guy. Always been.”

“No, I’m not. A cool guy wouldn’t do what I did, wouldn’t treat a woman the way I did, especially when I like her. I’m not so sure I can still believe what I used to believe about myself anymore. Everything is out of place, man, everything.”

He looked inside his glass and for a second he felt that he was spinning along with the ice cubes, round and round, always coming back to the same spot, continuously…

“I think I’ve gone astray from myself.”

“It’s just a phase, you’ll get over it. Try to focus on your own life and everything will sort itself out soon.”

“My own life? I don’t know what life is about anymore, Junior. I used to know, didn’t I? I’ve always been the poet in the band, the guy who could convey everything through poetry. I had all the answers, didn’t I? But I don’t have them anymore. I don’t know jack shit anymore.”

Luca knocked back the rest of his whiskey and asked the barman to give him a full bottle to take home, and to charge it from his fee for the next gig.

“Don’t do that, man. You’re on the hook for two gigs already.”

“Another one won’t hurt.”

Luca took the bottle from the barman’s hands and signed the acknowledgement.

“I’m taking off, man”, he said, shaking his friend’s hand. “Thank you for your support.”

“We have a rehearsal tomorrow. Don’t miss it again.”

“Promise.”

“And stay away from windows, ok?”

Luca laughed ironically.

“Alright.”

“Also knives, box cutters and stuff like that.”

“I’m too coward to kill myself. Now, that is one thing I still know, that I’m a coward.”

Back home, he lay down on the couch with the bottle of whiskey next to him. He poured down a glass, proceeded to pluck the guitar gently while looking for random, melancholic melodies, and fell asleep without even finishing the glass.

Open your bedroom window
Out there on the street a sign is shining bright
The sign of our love glows red
So feel it, expand your mind, and fly with this tune
This is a neon light blues song
I wrote especially for you

*     *     *

One week later, Luca was told that Bebel had received a postcard from Isadora. He begged to see it and Bebel showed it to him. He read it voraciously, as if hungry to consume the words. Isadora had written that she was in Icaraí de Amontada, a beach on the westward coast, half way to Jericoacoara. She also said the trip had been uneventful and the beaches in that area were even more beautiful. She also hoped Bebel was fine. “Kisses, I loved meeting you, I miss you.” And that was it. Nothing else.

Luca read it again and again. There was nothing about him, not a word, nothing at all. It had been written as if he didn’t exist. As if he had never existed.

“You wish she were here, don’t you?”, Bebel asked, taking notice of his angst.

He didn’t answer. He just handed the postcard back to her and left.

Back home, at night, he kept rolling in bed and could not sleep. He only cared about seeing Isadora again. He needed to tell her how stupid he had been and that he was sorry for his attitude. That his heart was burning from her absence. That she was the woman of his life. That he couldn’t live without her. And that he needed to see her again, nothing else.

Very late in the night, he made up his mind: he would leave on Saturday morning. He would try to find her in Icaraí de Amontada, maybe she would still be there. There was no guarantee that such a gamble would pay off, but it had worked in Uruaú, why wouldn’t it work again?

“Have a little trust in life”, he reassured himself. “You would say so yourself, Isadora.”

On Saturday, he got up before dawn and was soon driving at high speed on the road to the westward coast, very eager to arrive. After some time, he noticed something wrong: the car was swerving to one side. He pulled over and saw what the problem was: he had a flat tire. He opened the trunk and found that the spare tire was flat, too. Shit, shit, holy shit, he cursed in anger at the two deflated tires.

He tried to remain calm and optimistic. Have trust in life. So he put Led Zeppelin to play on the car sound system, stood a few feet ahead of the car and kept his eyes on the road. He suddenly realized what an absurd situation he had put himself in, trying to hitchhike on a desert road so he could get to the nearest gas station to fix a tire, then return to the car and continue his trip to a beach where Isadora might not be anymore. Maybe that’s what they call the blues.

He spent a lot of time taking care of the flat tire and didn’t reach Icaraí de Amontada until after sunset. It took him three attempts to find the hostel where Isadora had had a few meals, but the manager informed him that she wasn’t there anymore; she had left for Jericoacoara five days prior. Luca felt the weight of discouragement on his shoulders. What should he do now? He thought for a while and told the manager he would stay and leave early in the morning.

“Love is a dangerous thing, Ma’am. A very dangerous thing.”

He took a shower, ate something and got cozy in a hammock in the hostel porch. The starry sky above reminded him of Tibau do Sul. The sound of the ocean nearby was relaxing, but it also made him feel lonely and vulnerable. When he thought he couldn’t stand Isadora’s absence any longer, he got up and went for a walk on the desert beach, and did not return until the first sunrays of Sunday were visible in the sky.

On Sunday morning, he left the old beetle in Jijoca and rode the back of a pickup truck that took tourists for a one-hour tour over the dunes and lakes along the way to Jericoacoara. It was a breathtaking landscape, untouched by progress, but Luca wasn’t paying any attention: as the vehicle made its way, he kept wringing his hands anxiously, hoping that Isadora would still be there. She had to be there. Ten minutes would be absolutely worth it.

He finally reached Jericoacoara and visited every hostel in search of Isadora. He also looked for her in the camping grounds and found nothing, not a single information about her. Walking on the streets and alleys, he felt like she would pop up in front of him any second, but it was never her. He searched the beach, the lake, the rock with a hole, the dunes, and found… nothing.

It was Sunday night and Luca refused to accept the outcome. He hadn’t even had a chance to swim in the ocean. He ate something, but didn’t really enjoy it. He felt weary and defeated. Suddenly, he snapped out of it all and realized how ridiculous he had been: Isadora was no longer interested in him; she had left him. Yes, that was it. He already knew it actually, but he had been acting as if he didn’t. No matter how hard he tried to find her, it was useless. She probably was with someone else right now, telling her weird stories about past lives and sharing her tent… He was making an ass of himself – that’s what he was doing.

He returned to Fortaleza totally consumed by frustration and anger. He arrived home on Monday morning, feeling exhausted and bringing a terrible cold that by next morning had turned into a major flu, forcing him to miss work for the next couple of days. Not only that, he had to cancel a gig.

Trust life. Yeah, right.

*     *     *

Luca returned to his old lifestyle: the endless nights in bars packed with women. If Isadora didn’t want him anymore, why should he put his life aside? Why keep his hopes high? Futile. Just as pointless as that mindless trip from beach to beach in search of a delusion.

The nightlife and its pubs and concerts could make someone dizzy with so much going on at the same time, but it was safe. His job as a print shop manager was boring and mind numbing, but it was safe. And going through a string of casual relationships could actually make him feel lonelier… but it was safer than risking serious commitments which, in the end, would bring nothing but disappointment and heartache.

He often went to the diner where Bebel worked as a waitress, to bitch and moan about his problems. They would talk and he would give her a ride home. One night, they were in his car, they kissed and Luca remembered… the future as foretold by Isadora! He interrupted the kiss and Bebel laid her head on his chest while he remembered what Isadora had predicted: he would be a pair with Bebel after Isadora went away. On the one hand, he actually wanted to be with Bebel because she made him feel good, but he would be fulfilling the prediction and that sounded like a defeat. He wouldn’t want to confirm Isadora’s prognosis. On the other hand, going against his own will and avoiding Bebel just to negate Isadora’s prediction would be… absurd. Maybe Isadora wanted to cause just that, the little rascal. Now what? What would his way be out of this dilemma?

Yeah, right, he thought while making up his mind: he would stick with Bebel. And Isadora could just go to hell along with her future.

“Luca, have you always been this tense?”, Bebel asked one night, right before they fell asleep.

“You fight with the weapons you have”, he answered bluntly, trying to sleep, trying not to think.

The last few days, he had been feeling like something was about to come out from within like a caged angry beast. He remembered a scene from Aliens, the movie in which the creature breaks out from the guts of an astronaut…

Fortunately, he had the band, it had a real manager now, and the gigs had been selling better and better. The night was always there, along with the next song and the next booze. And the women desired him, not a reincarnation from the past.

Now, there was also Bebel, who always welcomed him with longing warmth, even if they had been together the night before. She made no claims or demands, she just liked him. More and more frequently, he ran to Bebel’s arms and desperately tried to forget his real identity.

“Does Isadora ever write to you anymore?”, he asked one day, three months after that day he’d read the postcard. He tried to sound like he wasn’t really interested.

“No. Did she write to you?”

“She will never write to me again, Bebel. And that’s for the best.”

“What if she does? Should I tell her about us?”

“I think she should be informed.”

Bebel looked at Luca and he could see the silent question in her eyes: “You still like her a lot, don’t you?”

It was not an aggressive question, on the contrary. It seemed that she was trying to say, silently, in her own sweet way, that she knew what was going on and that she understood it. Or maybe she wasn’t. Maybe he was dreaming up those things and reading too much into Bebel’s eyes.

He was afraid that his eyes alone might be enough to provide an answer to the haunting question, so he looked away and kept staring at the ceiling for a few seconds. When he snapped back, the question wasn’t looming around anymore. Instead, there was the clear look of a woman who accepted him.

“Kiss me, Luca.”

And he did, secretly praying that her lips would make him forget, for a brief moment, that he didn’t deserve her.

*     *     *

Then came the accidents… First, little mishaps at home, like slipping in the bathroom or getting burned on the stove. Then the accidents became more serious. One day, he didn’t see a pothole on the sidewalk, tripped on it and injured his foot. One night, it got worse: he tried to jump a wall to get into an event without paying for admission, made a wrong move and got his hands pierced by nails. Price paid: two badly injured finger tips, hospital, external and internal stitches, and one month unable to play the guitar.

“Luca, perhaps you’re drinking too much?”

“Come on, Bebel”, he said, angrily. “Save your lecturing for another time!”

“I’m worried about you, all those accidents…”, she said, caressing the scar on his face.

“It’s a witch’s curse. It’ll go away.”

I just wanted you to know
That my nights are so lonely
And my heart gets so old without you
I pour one more drink
I look at the city
From the window only the city knows about me.

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CHAPTER 8

That month, Bluz Neon played in a festival in Recife and had good reviews in the media. Newspapers and magazines published articles about the bluesmen from Fortaleza, highlighting their technical quality, their combination of rhythms and ability to interact with the audience. After they performed in a major TV show, they got more invitations for live performances. The band was gradually building a name and acquiring prestige.

A few days later, the manager announced he had arranged a good sponsorship deal and they would start recording their album soon, and this time it would be top-quality recording in a first-class studio. That same night, they left the rehearsal, bought a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and went out to celebrate in an old, abandoned train station downtown. They sat on the tracks, got drunk and played their favorite blues songs, howling excitedly to the moon. Drunk and solemn, they made a toast to those they could remember and greeted the promising future.

Luca, however, was facing a tough dilemma. The doors were opening for the band, but his job would prevent him from traveling for more shows. Three years before that, the band had come to be as random fun on weekends, and now it was getting pretty serious. The time had come for him to make a decision, and he knew that. A future in the music industry laid before his feet, but he would have to be available for trips and other commitments, he would have to be more invested in it. They all had been dreaming about this for some time, and it was finally happening. But quitting his job was too risky. Sure, he didn’t like it, but it was a safe source of income to cover his monthly bills.

He couldn’t make up his mind. He postponed the answer once, twice, and just kept postponing the decision that the rest of the band was anxiously awaiting. Junior encouraged him to choose the band: they would have a great future, they would stick together and the band needed these two things. His mother, Gloria, recommended prudence and cautious evaluation of the situation. He was immersed for days in this dilemma feeling pressured by both sides, and either side had its own pair of sides to be taken into consideration…

First, it was Isadora asking him to give up his comfort zone and follow her. Now, his band demanded that he give up his job security. Stepping out of his comfort zone to live a love affair, quitting his job to live off music… Life seemed to be playing a game pitting him against the worst decisions he could possibly face. And he still couldn’t make up his mind. He didn’t know what he wanted anymore. He didn’t know who he was amidst his multiple contradictions, which had been growing increasingly bothersome to him. He knew nothing anymore.

Then one night, he left a snack bar with Bebel and couldn’t find his Beetle: the car had been stolen. He felt absolutely desperate, it was unbelievable. He filed a report with the police, put an ad on the newspaper, searched junkyards, but found nothing, not even a hint. Sadly, the car had no insurance.

That was a rough blow. Three months earlier, he had almost lost his fingers in a stupid accident. Now, he had just lost his car and couldn’t afford a new one. And there was the constant pressure from the need to make a decision regarding his future in the band. To make matters worse, he had a persistent cold, which put a serious hamper on his live performances.

A few days later, a surprise: Isadora called. Luca answered the phone, heard her voice and didn’t know what to do. He considered hanging up, but sat down on the couch, anxiously.

“Hi, Isadora”, he answered, trying to hide his feelings. Six months had passed since she’d left him. For six months, he had been struggling every day to forget her.

She told him she was in São Paulo and wanted to know how he was doing. He wanted to tell her about all the hardships he had been enduring, but then he realized that she already knew about it somehow.

“Everything here is, erm… under control”, he answered. “What about you?”

“Luca, I just called to say I’m leaving. I’m going on a trip again.”

“Where to?”

“I haven’t decided yet. But I’m leaving next week.”

He suspected she was trying to hint at something to him.

“You… Are you inviting me?”, he asked, and suddenly realized he didn’t know what answer he wanted to hear.

“I’m just telling you that I’m going on a trip. I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

He remembered that night at the party: “We are together…” He felt the importance of the moment in the air, the tension that floats around a decision. Quit everything and follow Isadora… In the awkward silence, he tried to remember every detail that was involved in such a decision: his job at the printing shop, the band making progress, recording the album, Bebel…

“How are you going to make ends meet?”, he asked, but he knew what the answer would be:

“There’s always a way, isn’t there?”

He wanted to ask if she had saved enough money, but that would have been another stupid question. It was as though he wanted to discourage her because he lacked the same courage. Why wouldn’t he just say “yes” to her? He remembered the night when Soninha came into the dressing room after the show in her iconic black boots. He had the exact same feeling now, his entire future hinging on his very next choice, his entire life depending on his next decision…

“Good luck, Isadora.”

“Likewise, Luca.”

Why wouldn’t he say yes?

“How is Bebel?”

He didn’t expect that question. Did she know they were a couple? Or she was just probing?

“Who?”

“Bebel. Is she alright?”

Maybe that question was intended to establish that she approved of his relationship with Bebel, that she accepted it and wasn’t upset about it. That could be her way of locking up that door and throwing away the key. For good.

“She is fine.”

“Tell her I sent her a kiss.”

He felt his heart ache… He might be losing the love of his life forever and ever right there, at that exact moment. Why wouldn’t he react? Why wouldn’t he push past the inertia and finally say yes, he would give up his comfort zone and leave with her to live the craziness of that love to the fullest?

“Bye, Luca.”

He closed his eyes as if he could see better in the dark. But he was overcome with the unsettling feeling that he was falling, and falling… He opened his eyes and held on to the couch. No, he couldn’t leave everything behind.

“I can’t…”

He heard the sound of her phone hanging up and gulped. He stayed there, sitting on the couch with the phone still held to his ear, his voice still echoing like a scream fading into an abyss.

I can’t… I can’t…

She got up early and split
Went after a bigger dream
Left me a longing kiss
And this city around me

*     *     *

It was a rehearsal night. Luca changed his clothes, looked at the cracked mirror in the bathroom and saw his reflected image with a swollen face, tired look, sunken eyes… He felt like punching the mirror. He had been feeling irritated very often. He needed to calm down. He went to the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of whiskey and poured a glass. He drank it all in one swill, grabbed his backpack and left for the recording studio. On the way to the bus stop, he stopped by the drugstore to buy some medication for the acute headache that had been torturing him for the last few days.

After the rehearsal, Bebel paid a surprise visit. She was anxious to talk to him. He said good-bye to his friends and left with her, to a small park nearby. They sat on a bench and she immediately broke the bad news: she was pregnant.

“I’m so sorry, Luca…” She stuttered nervously. “I don’t know how it happened, I was careful, I swear…”

He couldn’t believe what he had just heard.

“This can’t be true, Bebel.”

That couldn’t be happening. Bebel expecting his child. It couldn’t be true. She said the test had been positive and she had been pregnant for more than two months…

He got up, pulled Bebel by her arm and took her to a more secluded area. He put her up against a tree and stuck his finger to her face while telling her that he was not sure he was the baby’s father, and if he really was the father, it was her fault for not taking precautions. And she was on her own because he had nothing to do with her reckless behavior and he had too many problems to mind already.

Bebel tried to explain that he had been her only partner over the last few months, but she quickly broke into tears and could not say anything anymore. She tried to hug him, but Luca pushed her away, turned around and left, towards the bus stop on another street.

He got home and couldn’t sleep. Life had definitely been pulling dirty tricks on him. He felt like he was riding a boat that had new holes in the hull all the time and he didn’t have enough hands to plug them all. He had been under pressure from his buddies and the manager to make a decision for one month, and he still couldn’t make up his mind. His car had been stolen so he’d suddenly found himself out of the only asset he had. He couldn’t focus on his work and had been severely reprimanded by his boss. The woman he loved had left and now Bebel was expecting his child. His child. That didn’t seem real. Life had turned into a nightmare and he couldn’t manage to wake up.

He met Bebel at the snack bar the following night. He waited until she got off work and took her to his apartment. He apologized for his behavior. He was remorseful. Bebel hugged him and cried in his arms.

“About this pregnancy… We are going to interrupt it, right?”, he asked.

She kept crying with her arms around his neck.

“Bebel, we can’t afford to raise this child!” He was losing his patience, and she started to cry again. He took deep breaths. “Bebel, listen, please. It was an accident, do you understand? This child is not welcome.”

“It is welcome for me, you can be sure of that!”

Now, that was really bad news. She wanted the child.

“Bebel, there is no way I can raise a child now.” He put effort into not losing control of his speech. He wanted to yell at her, to beat her up… To kill her.

“I’ll raise the baby on my own, don’t worry about that.”

It was definitely a nightmare, and a very scary one. The whole world was crumbling inside and outside of him and he couldn’t wake up in spite of his desperation. He tried to get a hold of himself. He offered her his most reasonable arguments. He would get a loan and pay for the abortion.

“I know you still love Isadora. But I don’t care. I want this baby.”

Luca sighed, feeling defeated. What would Isadora think? Would she think that the child was his ultimate move, some sort of comeback to her decision to leave, a counteroffensive? Had she predicted that child, too?

Bebel slept next to him while he scratched the scar on his face and thought about what options he still had. If reincarnation was a real thing and he had actually been Enrique… then he still ought to know how to operate some magic and take care of that problem in no time. But no, those things only existed in the troubled minds of loons such as Isadora. Reality was different, it was cruel and insensitive.

He fell asleep, wishing with all his might that something would happen, anything that would rid him of that bizarre nightmare. Anything. Before he went completely insane.

When Bebel was three months into her pregnancy, Luca borrowed a car from a friend and invited her to spend the weekend on a beach. She loved the idea. While on the porch of the beach house, he opened a bottle of rum and they took pictures of the sunset. Once again, Luca tried to convince her to have an abortion. And once again, Bebel didn’t accept his arguments. She looked at him and saw his fiery eyes, his rage ready to explode… Luca threw the glass against the wall, and glass shards spread all over the porch floor.

“This baby is a curse!”, he yelled, while grabbing the bottle and leaving.

He came back later with the bottle almost empty. He stopped in front of the bedroom door, groggily. He saw Bebel sleeping on the bed, under the sheet, in the penumbra. He walked in with a slow step. He kneeled down on the floor next to her and pulled the sheet out carefully, revealing her belly. He held a knife, closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Minutes later, he was crying on the porch. He looked at the moon and begged pardon for being who he was. But the moon did not forgive him. The knife fell from his hand, the metal clatter echoing in the silence of the night. He kneeled down on the floor, powerless. He just wished he could disappear, nothing else, just disappear forever…

“Luca? Luca?” He heard the voice that came from somewhere… “Luca, what happened? What is that knife for? Are you alright?” Her voice like a torture, a knife cutting through the heart, slashing everything inside, tearing up his soul…

Bebel sat next to him, hugged him and they cried together. Then she took him inside and put him on the bed.

“I am a failure, Bebel…”, he babbled before falling asleep. “I don’t deserve you.”

“Sleep, my dear. Tomorrow is another day.”

*     *     *

On Sunday, he woke up feeling terrible from a major hangover. The last thing he could remember was some argument on the porch and a glass thrown against the wall. What had happened after that? Bebel calmed him down, saying that everything was fine. He apologized.

“You are not a loser, okay?”, she said, cupping his face in her hands. “And we will be very happy. The three of us.”

He hugged her and closed his eyes, trying not to think. But his thoughts had a will of their own. Inside that woman’s belly, his son or daughter was moving. The idea of becoming a father was absurd, but he had run out of the strength to fight it. He was exhausted like a warrior who had been fighting for days, weeks, months and… no longer knew the reason of the fight. What was he fighting, anyway?

Then, all of a sudden, he knew. Hugging Bebel’s belly, he suddenly realized he knew who his enemy was. In fact, he had known all along, just pretending to be fighting a thousand enemies who leaped from the shadows to attack him every day. He had no enemies but one, the one who would ambush him in the broken mirror in his bathroom every day.

How could he defeat the enemy when the enemy was himself, he thought. And how could he defeat himself when he no longer knew who he was? He felt he had come to a dead end. He had exhausted all possibilities, he had nowhere to go. Nothing mattered anymore. It was the end of it.

When it was time to return to Fortaleza, Luca was still drowsy and Bebel thought it was dangerous for him to drive. She demanded to drive, but he refused. She insisted on it and took the car keys:

“Trust me.”

Bebel started the car. He looked at her fondly and thought about how everything would be different without Isadora. What happened to things that never happened?

As they approached the city limits, Luca was distracted, almost dozing off when he saw a bright light shine suddenly from one side. But it all happened too fast. He just saw the light and felt a very powerful thud. Then he blacked out.

.

CHAPTER 9

The night would be decisive. The long-awaited initiation. Enrique knew he wouldn’t be admitted into the Order if he failed to reach the gallery and face the sneaky enemy that awaited him among the many shadows. He held his sword tight and advanced towards the dark lake, minding his steps on the damp stones of the cave.

The initiation trial was terribly dangerous. By conquering it, the initiated proved that they were brave enough to withstand the rigors of protecting the Order. It was more than dangerous, it was the supreme trial someone could possibly endure: the fearsome confrontation with the Guardian of the Knowledge. And no one would come out of said confrontation alive and sane – many survived but became irreparably mad – except those who possessed the necessary strength to overcome the most intimate terror that inhabited the darkness of their own soul.

Enrique heard a noise come from the murky waters of the lake and stopped, brandishing his sword. He stood still and waited, with sweat dripping down his face and his heart on the verge of bursting out with fear and expectation. He held his breath. The enemy was very close.

Then he sensed what might happen next, and the most profound panic leaped from the inner chambers of his soul like worms digging through the dirt. His knees trembled and he suddenly realized he was unable to confront what his thoughts were anticipating.

It emerged, and he heard its terrifying hissThe cobra glided in a slow, slithering motion and stopped right in front of him. It was gigantic. Ihlish, the Guardian – he knew its name as soon as he saw it. Its hiss was hypnotic, and it was also its name: Ihlisssshhhh… It arched its body and reared it slowly and continuously… Enrique saw its huge head hover inches away from his face and its neck swell on the sides. Then the cobra opened its mouth and exposed its lethal fangs…

He fell down on his knees, powerless, paralyzed with terror. He quickly realized how insignificant he was before that animal. He thought he was strong. He thought he knew the forces of life. But now he saw he was nothing, absolutely nothing, nothing at all…

The sword slipped from his hand and fell on the ground, the metallic sound ricocheting on the cave walls. The serpent was his own guardian of the Knowledge, the one he was supposed to defeat if he wanted to remain a member of the Order. But how could he? He was paralyzed.

The serpent pulled its head back and he knew, for a second, that he still could run away. He could withdraw. Yes, he was allowed to give up, like everybody else. He could turn around and return, and avoid that nightmare.

It was too late. The serpent pounced, lightning fast. The next thing he knew, he was being swallowed, screaming and kicking and writhing. First, his head, then his torso and his legs. The contact with the serpent’s entrails was nauseating. He desperately tried to breathe when he heard the sound of his own bones being crushed. There couldn’t be a worse nightmare, but it was really happening.

His whole body slipped down the serpent’s throat and he felt the contractions push him further inside. He gradually lost control of his body. Eventually, he could not breathe anymore. His organs had stopped functioning. He exhaled for the last time.

When he woke up, he was lying down naked on a rocky surface by the lake. The cave was in complete silence and didn’t seem so dark and mysterious anymore. He stood up and noticed that his body was in one piece and had no wounds. He was alive! A little tired, sure, but still alive.

He understood he that had won, he had passed the great test. It was so unbelievable it didn’t seem real. But it was real indeed, and now, out there, a new world was waiting for him, a world that no longer could thwart him because he possessed… the Knowledge.

Then a word came to his mind: Vehdvar. The name had a magical ring to it, it was utterly numinous, as if it had always existed. It was his name, he had always been Vehdvar, and he finally realized it. And he knew that only the strongest were worthy of carrying the Guardian’s sacred name along with their own. For that reason, his name was henceforth Ihlish Vehdvar, a name he would never remember outside the cave, but which belonged to him exclusively and no one except Ihlish and himself knew and could pronounce.

Aware of the graveness of the moment, Enrique turned to the dark lake where the serpent slept in the bottom, he kneeled down, bowed until his head touched the ground and uttered in full reverence:

“Naja Hannah, King Cobra…”

At this moment, the lake water rippled. He prepared himself for the return of the serpent, but what he saw on the surface was the image of a… woman. The image was diffuse so he could not discern anything more than the features of a face, of a woman he didn’t recognize… But he understood it immediately. He was to find that woman wherever she was and turn her into his disciple. That was his next mission.

*     *     *

In that morning, the Valencia fair was crowded as usual. Local merchants and merchants from other cities had their products on display and were intent on the possibility of going back home with many coins tinkling in their purses. On the north side of the fair, young fellows performed on the stage, brandishing wooden swords and telling the story of how El Cid had been ambushed and fought bravely against seven moors who wanted to slain him, regularly shared the spoils of his battles with his vassals so they would share his wealth, and deceived the Jews when he pretended to pay the loan he had taken to assemble an army during his exile with a chest he claimed to be full of silver and gold, but, in reality, contained only sand…

Enrique laughed. El Cid was indeed a hero to these folks and they never got tired of praising his deeds. However, he wished they would rather chronicle the less discreet deeds of Philip’s sister, Margaret, a woman so luscious she ended up killing her husband, Prince John. Or how Joanna was so jealous of Philip she would pull her hair out and lose her mind, and eventually became Joanna, the Mad. Every inside story of the royal palace was more interesting than the bellicose antics of the legendary El Cid…

The next day, he would return to Barcelona and board a ship to Goa, in India, with other Jesuits. He had been in Valencia on a secret mission, offering his support to his Castilian Jewish friends who planned to leave Spain and go to Greece, home to many Jewish families that had been expelled from the country after the rendition of Granada. Once there, they would be able to practice their religion freely and uphold the traditions of Castile, land of their ancestors. In Spain, fearing the Inquisition, they were still forced to pass for Christian converts, always apprehensive about the Christians, who saw them as ambushed traitors and, sooner or later, would come up with an excuse to accuse them.

He bid farewell to his friends, leaving them under the care of a German missionary who would regularly manage Jewish escapes. The Spanish seas were infested with Turks and plenty of caution was advised. They would sail to Greece, where they could practice their religion freely, Dios os mantenga. In retribution for his favors, he had been given an ancient, precious cabalistic manuscript, which he had been after for a long time, but had to be very well hidden on account of rampant mistrust over the relationship between Jesuits and Jews. Feeling satisfied with the success of the plan, he decided to relax and enjoy the fair a little.

What about the Spaniards? Oh, well, they were quite disheartened over the defeat of their Invincible Armada to England! They no longer displayed the arrogance they used to when they claimed to be the saviors of Catholicism against the Protestant Reformation. “Serves them right!”, he thought, feeling avenged. Maybe that would put a damper on the arrogance of those people who ruled over his beloved Portugal and thought of themselves as owners of the world…

But, anyway, he shouldn’t wish any ill upon his Spanish neighbors. He had many friends there, and Portugal would certainly know to resume its course to independence and glory in the right time.

Just when he was having fun listening to the tale of how the Jews had kidnapped a little child and, aiming to improve the touch of realism in staging the Passion of the Lord, they nailed Him to a cross, Enrique sensed a presence… A tingling sensation overwhelmed his thoughts. And he saw her on the other side of the fair. There she was.

He walked towards her slowly while the lively, carefree young woman was buying Indian silk. It had to be her, the woman whose face Ihlish had revealed to him in the cave years ago. The woman who was destined to become his disciple and help him keep the secret knowledge of the Order. It had to be her.

He watched her intently. Her youthful beauty, her neat hair combed in modern fashion, her wandering eyes, her contrived manners of aristocratic pretense… Enrique smiled. Going by the images of her that Ihlish had shown him in the cave, he’d never guess she was so… so interesting as she was in person.

He moved closer and could almost touch her. The scent of her hair made him feel light… And her skin was not too pale. Maybe she was of Moorish ancestry? Her clothes and her manners were visibly aristocratic, no doubt, but her hands evidenced that she might have been subjected to rural labor. He noticed she was married. And she eyed certain young men just long enough so she wouldn’t get caught. A lot like many other ladies did… but it seemed obvious to him that she wasn’t very satisfied with her marriage.

She watched the troubadours absentmindedly when she sensed something and turned around. And her glance met his. And time stood still for an instant, long enough for the past, present and future to align in the precise rhythm of their heartbeats.

*     *     *

From afar and up high he spotted the walls and the towers: Munich emerged ahead while the Isar River at the eastern side flowed silently under the darkness of the night. As he came nearer, he could see the pair of moats that surrounded the city and the twin towers of the church of Our Lady, then the winding roads and their wine cellars and breweries that hosted the razzle-dazzle of the heavy-drinking crowd. And, finally, the dwelling he had been looking for.

It was a two-story house with projecting window ledges and shed roof. Like the others, it sat squeezed among the other units. She was there, he knew it. As he came nearer, he could feel her presence increasingly stronger and stronger…

“My Enrique…”, she whispered asleep in her bed.

“Right on time, my Catarina…”, he answered, taking his hat off in chivalrous fashion. Then he sang: “Lo que valen son tus brazos cuando de noche me abrazan…

He told her he would like to show her a place. “What place”, she wanted to know. “A paradise”, he answered. And he asked her to close her eyes. She did, and when she opened them again, she saw what her eyes had never seen before. An amazing landscape laid out in front of her: a forest with velvety water rivers flowing like a sweet melody among blue trees, surrounded by shining, crystalline lakes and waterfalls releasing translucent bubbly butterflies. Catarina was taken by surprise with the butterflies fluttering around her, all half-human and playful. When she touched one of them, it burst like a bubble.

“I thought they were alive…”, she whispered, surprised.

“But they are.” He laughed. “They are playing with you.”

She laid down in the soft bluish grass and he laid down on top of her. And she felt like the most blessed woman in the whole world for being there with that man who knew how to guide her in the most stunning and pleasant dreams that could ever exist.

*     *     *

Years before, when he landed in Goa for the first time after sailing for ten months and put his left foot first on land according to Catalan sailors’ tradition, the July monsoons were blowing hard, which made the strong Indian heat more tolerable. Enrique took a deep breath of the air in that strange place and had a feeling that something very important had brought him there, something still unknown, and that joining the Society had been a good move indeed after all.

The Society of Jesus sent its evangelists around the world, ad majorem Dei gloriam, and Goa, on the west coast of India, had become a major center for Jesuitical studies. With missionaries from so many countries, it was not difficult for one to get acquainted and learn many other things in addition to the official studies of the Society.

That was how he met those who initiated him in the Order of the Guardian, an occultist fraternity of men and women from multiple creeds and nationalities that maintained a secret information network spread throughout various countries and exerted influence on political and religious decisions. Its members employed altered states of consciousness to achieve visions and control dreams.

The Order’s origins dated back to the ancient beliefs of northern Italy peasants, who claimed that their spirits could leave their bodies to hunt witches at night. Since it always happened early in the seasons while the peasants were fasting for three days, they eventually understood it was fasting that gave them such lucid dreams, so the practice was introduced to the meditation rites of the Order. In a more advanced stage, the meditation would lead to the cave where the confrontation with the Guardian of the Knowledge took place, and it manifested itself in different ways according to each individual’s most intimate fear. The Guardian would then bestow special powers upon those who came out victorious so they could search even further into the mysteries. Little by little, the Order of the Guardian got a foothold among practitioners of many religions and it was in India, in Goa specifically, that it crept into the Society founded by Ignatius Loyola and enticed a number of Jesuits.

It was in Goa that Enrique had the vision of the dreadful Battle of Alcácer Quibir and saw the mighty allied Turkish army in Algiers. There, he saw Don Sebastian, king of Portugal, with his foolish delusions of predestination, marching gloriously to his tragic defeat. He even tried to intervene, for he knew that would be the end of the dream of the great Portuguese empire, but to no avail. Don Sebastian was a fool who wouldn’t pay heed to the advice of his fellow countrymen even in his dreams. His sad fate was sealed.

Sure enough, the king’s death left the Portuguese throne vacant and Philip II of Spain was sworn in. Henceforth, Portugal would submit to Spanish rule thanks to the megalomaniacal king. Although it’s true that Don Sebastian had supporters who advocated a Portuguese empire in Africa, closer and cheaper than India, Enrique knew from his visions that warfare in Africa would be fruitless. But they wouldn’t listen to him. Now, absurd rumors were spreading everywhere that Don Sebastian was alive, miraculously alive, and would be back anytime to reorganize his army and lead bravely the Lusitanian vocation to glory… Baloney!

It was the end of the century and it was still profitable for the Portuguese trade elite to maintain their partnership with Spain, so many agreed with their subjection to the Spanish throne.

“Greedy bastards!” He was incensed. “Putting themselves first and above their own country!”

The Guardian of the Knowledge awaited all the members of the Order in its dark cave. Those defeated in their match with the Guardian returned in a deranged state and were invariably sent to asylums. The initiated counted on that to protect their secret, but some of those who had been defeated would emerge from the depths of their madness and misery from time to time, screaming things that made no sense to doctors but raised suspicion among religious authorities. For this reason, the initiated engaged in the practice of slaying anyone who failed to return from the cave with their sanity intact.

Executions, however, were risky, especially when the targets held prominent positions or were members of the Church. Also, secret connections of the European members with Jews, Arabs and pagans began to surface. The Order was threatened. The merciless Inquisition had been tightening the siege.

*     *     *

She arrived and scurried into the carriage. Enrique greeted her with a long kiss.

“Go!”, he ordered the coachman. Then he turned to her: “Take off your clothes, Catarina, and put these on.”

She complied and changed into a black hooded cloak. The carriage rode into the dark of the desert road for a long time before it stopped. He told the coachman that they would proceed on foot and instructed him to wait for them, they would be back before dawn. He took her by the hand and told her not to say another word until it was all over. They climbed the hillside cautiously. From the top, they could see the beach shrouded in the darkness of the moonless night.

“They are on that side.” He pointed in the direction of a distant bonfire. “They also brought their female disciples to be initiated.”

They went down the slope and walked on the beach sand. There was no wind. The only sound in the air was the gentle rumble of the waves. The rest of the party, eleven in all, was standing around the bonfire. She tightened her grip around his hand, trembling with fear.

“Stay calm”, he whispered, trying to soothe her. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

They approached the group and she noticed that the others were also wearing black hooded cloaks that hid their faces. They all greeted with a slight nod and hung their heads down in concentration.

The chalice was passed around and she took three sips of the bitter concoction, like the others did. The first words of the ritual were then uttered. The wind blew and the bonfire flames rose. The words were chanted continuously like a mantra, feeding the fire and protecting it from the increasingly stronger wind.

Enrique soon noticed that Catarina’s body was swinging back and forth slowly. He saw her come down to her knees silently, bend over and writhe on herself. She stood up suddenly and disrobed. Then she started to dance completely naked, swaying her body slowly and graciously while the flames cast light on her hair and seemed to dance on the surface of her body.

Surprised by the sudden exposure of Catarina’s body, the men and women around her did nothing but watch and admire it. Enrique wanted to stop his disciple’s dance so the ritual could proceed as intended, but he was so awestruck by the sight that he could not move.

The wind blew harder and rain came down. While thunder boomed and lightning bolts crisscrossed the night sky, Catarina spread her arms to receive the first raindrops. Then she turned around and ran away and vanished in the darkness.

After some time, she still hadn’t come back so Enrique decided to go after her. But the beach now was deeply dark and there wasn’t much he could see. The rain became a storm and he struggled to keep his balance in the wind. He called her name at the top of his lungs, but he could barely hear himself over the sound of waves, wind and thunder. During these moments, he had the impression, so clear, so accurate, of having lived that moment before, that same situation, that same sudden fear of losing her… Where had he previously lived the same situation, the same rain, the same desperate chase? In what distant time and place? When? Where?

Finally, he found her. She was spinning naked with opened arms and her body glowed under the flashes of lightning. He felt relieved and hugged her, he kissed her saline mouth and they fell on the sand.

“Come on. We will both catch a cold”, he said, getting up. But she pulled him back closer to her naked body.

“Forget it for one moment that you could get sick.”

*     *     *

“My husband knows!”, she exclaimed while hugging him, frightened.

“How?”

“I don’t know! I’m scared, Enrique!”

“Stay calm. I’ll meet him tonight.”

At night, he used the dreams, confirmed everything and realized that they were in serious trouble. A cheated husband was always a danger, but a husband with so much influence and close relations with the ducal council was invincible. Staying in the Jesuit college in Munich was a tremendous risk, so he would have to leave the city immediately. They would go to Barcelona, where they could hide away until they found a safe place.

However… there was a problem. To live with Catarina, he would have to leave the Society. And the Society of Jesus was his perfect disguise, his safe conduct, his greatest safety. It’s what secured him trips, resources, money, women… Power.

He felt caught in a terrible dilemma. It was like standing on the edge of an abyss. Behind him, his troubles pressured him forward; before him, lay the toughest decision of his life.

*     *     *

The ship sailed away and took the route to Gibraltar cliffs, the gate to the vast oceanic waters. The port of Barcelona was left behind further and further away until Catarina’s figure finally vanished in the mist. He would secretly disembark in Portugal, where he would summon up his best contacts in the Court and, within one month, he would meet her again. Then they would run away to Brazil, the new southern land, where they would be able to live in peace. It was a perfect plan.

But he didn’t disembark in Lisbon. He went straight to Goa, in India. He didn’t return for the meeting. He couldn’t leave the Society for a woman. He couldn’t. Even if it was the woman he loved.

Feelings couldn’t change the world. What really changes the world is action – he had no doubt about it. And the current world events needed the Order so they would be consummated according to plan. The invincible Spanish Armada had been defeated by England. A crazy Polish man called Copernicus had published a book in which he claimed that the Earth revolved around the Sun, and other crazy people believed in it. The Lutheran Reformation had been a triumph and the Church had been trying, with Sixtus V, to put some order in the Papal States. The English and the Dutch were taking control of the route to the East, the same seven thousand miles that were so valuable to Portugal. More and more, the world needed him and the Order’s Initiated. And he had to be prepared for the conflicts that lay ahead.

“No, Vehdvar, you proved that you are not”, the Guardian told him one night in the cave, when the ship had already sailed past Cape Bojador. “You failed.”

“But…”

“Obsession with control is the ultimate danger in the way of the Initiated in the Order. It’s the final trap. The only ones who escape it are, ironically, those who eschew…”

“… the Order.”

Yes, he knew about members who had left the Order. But he always thought that the main reason for that had been fear of getting caught by the Inquisition. Yet, he couldn’t understand it…

“I can’t give up. The world needs us!”

“You are merely postponing the moment, Vehdvar. You are walking in circles, going round and round…”

“And not really going anywhere.”

Yes, not going anywhere. He felt that way.

“What am I supposed to do?”

“You know what.”

Surrender control… He knew it. To jump into the abyss of his own fear. He’d always known that. At this moment, her image appeared on the surface of the lake. Catarina…

“I can’t go back to her now. What about my safe havens?”

He suddenly felt as if he had lived that moment before, those words, the anguish, the hopelessness… When?

“I can’t…”

While the serpent disappeared into the dark waters of the lake, he fell on his knees and remained there, on the floor, his voice still echoing like a cry fading into the abyss.

“I can’t… I can’t…”

.

.

The Irresistible Charm of Insanity

CHAPTERS

prologue – 1 – 2 – 3
4 – 5 – 6
7 – 8 – 9
10 – 11 – 12

 


The Irresistible Charm of Insanitity 2

13/03/2020

The Irresistible Charm of Insanity
Ricardo Kelmer – Novel – Miragem Editorial 2019
Translation: Luciano Espírito Santo

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Luca is a musician who likes to have control of everything in his life. He becomes involved with Isadora, a Taoist wanderer who believes he is the reincarnation of her master and lover from the 16th century. He will embark on a strange and adventurous journey that blurs the boundaries of sanity and madness, dream and reality, only to find that he has to figure out his true identity before he deserves the woman he loves.

In this unusual love story that takes place simultaneously in Spain in the 16th century and Brazil in the 21st century, flashes of déjà-vu (the feeling that you have witnessed or experienced a situation previously) are time portals through which we come in contact with past lives.

Blues, sex and double shots of whiskey. Dreams, mystical experiences, and secret societies. Funny and exciting, The Irresistible Charm of Insanity explores the intriguing possibilities of time, space, life and whatever it is that we may call “self.”
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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese/spanish

> In portuguese – blog 

> In spanish – blog (soon)

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CHAPTER 4

The light turned green and Luca hit the gas pedal, pushing the Beetle forward on the avenue. Through the rearview mirror, he saw the streets lag behind. Streets, corners and their loves for sale. The warm breath of the night, friendly night that seduced him with colorful neon lights… Luca smiled with excitement. The naked city, the shamelessness in the air, the hot romance… He had to be happy, and it had to be now.

The night dresses you up with smiles
And your breath is the breeze that guides me
All the rush on the street corners
Are store windows of the cornea
Love promises indeed
Rent a pleasure with a broad view to the sea

One more gig at Papalégua. This time on Friday night, because Luca’s voice was still shot on Thursday. And his band mates had strictly forbidden him from coming up with impromptu material during their performances.

After the show, Carlito approached Luca in the dressing room.

“This came in late in the afternoon. Here you are”, he said, handing a piece of paper over to him.

Luca was curious and opened the telegram.

I’m at Uruaú lake. Here’s hoping for a good show. Isadora.

He read the message twice and, for a few seconds, he felt like he was slowly sliding down into a time whirlpool… two months prior… Isadora…

“Who is Isadora?”, Junior asked, peeking at the telegram over Lucas’ shoulder.

“The girl I met in Tibau do Sul.”

“Oh, the one you fucked in a previous life. Luca, The Horn Dog now goes after the mystic types!”

“She’s nuts, but she’s wonderful…”, Luca said, recalling the last night he had spent with Isadora.

“Dude, I know that look.”

“What look?”

“You’re in love with her.”

“No way, it’s just an affair.”

“Be careful, brother. Love is dangerous.”

Luca drank all the whiskey in his glass and announced:

“Guys, I’m on my way to Uruaú. I’ll see you later.”

“Bro, our personal trainer is right there, at that table”, Ranieri warned. “And she’s ordered two bottles of Red Label already. Are you going to pass?”

Luca cast a glance to the table through the semi-closed dressing room door and saw Soninha with her black killer boots… She had become sort of a fitness adviser for the band. Thanks to her contacts, all band members had a free pass to the gym. She liked to say that Navel Blues would cause a better impression on the audience if all the guys had chiseled torsos.

Luca couldn’t make up his mind. He was drunk and tired, maybe he shouldn’t even be driving. On the other hand, he really wanted to see Isadora again. He hated sudden crossroads like that.

“Uruaú is waiting for me”, he answered at last. “Have a shot for me.”

Soon enough, he was on the road aboard his Beetle, darting through the night. “So that little scoundrel is at Uruaú lake”, he thought while listening to Celso Blues Boy, another passion to keep him company on the long road. A strange elation took over his body and soul, which pushed him forward as fast as he could. His thoughts were all set on getting there fast and reuniting with Isadora…

Fifty-five miles later, he arrived at Uruaú, on the east coast of Ceará. He drove carefully on the narrow sand tracks around the lake, looking for a blue tent. But moonlight was dim, the night was dark, and he couldn’t find the tent. He drove some more and still found nothing. He parked the car next to the shore in frustration and walked up to the lake. He dipped his feet in the cold water and splashed some on his face. He was very tired. That had definitely not been a good idea. What was he thinking? How stupid.

Then he saw a particular spot across the lake, where there seemed to be… a bonfire. He rushed back to the car, turned around and raced at full speed on the narrow sand track. Straight ahead, he took a different turn and found himself in the middle of the bushes. But he went ahead and eventually found a clearing and the lake emerged in front of him again, black in the moonless night. He saw the bonfire next to the lake, just a few yards away. The blue tent was also there. He had found Isadora.

They hugged in silence for a long time. He enjoyed the familiar touch of Isadora’s hair on his face again, her breasts rubbing against his chest, the cozy warmth of her body… And he realized that he had forgotten, just simply forgotten how fabulous it was to be in her company.

“I’m so glad you came, Luca.”

“How did you know about the concert?”

“I saw it in the newspaper. I called, asked for the address and sent you the telegram.”

He smiled, spellbound like a lovely little fool. Isadora just had her own particular way of making things sound simpler than what they seemed to be… Life was all suddenly, obviously simple with her, so very obvious…

“I’m getting sleepy”, he said, with a yawn. “Do you have anything to drink?”

“Why don’t you take a bath? The water is nice and warm.”

“Good idea.”

Luca went inside the tent to change his clothes. Minutes later, he wouldn’t come out, so Isadora went in and found him snoring, body thrown all over the mattress, tennis shoe on one foot and no shoe on the other, the mouth gaping and drooling. She was amused at the sight, tried to move his body into a more comfortable position and whispered into his ear:

“Enrique…”

Yes, she had just assured herself that Luca was her lover. It had to be him. Nothing else could make sense. He was definitely Enrique, and she had finally found him, four hundred years later.

Since the onset of her dreams, two years earlier, she had been silently fighting the pressure from either side of reality: one side urging that she stop believing the mad nonsense, that past lives could not even be proven; the other side whispering to her ear that she should let that longstanding love guide her and show her the way.

After having that dream about Luca, she chose the whispers. She quit her job at the bank, withdrew her savings and headed to the northeastern coastline. But she had always been haunted by uncertainty. How would she ever find someone in such a vast range of potential meeting places? What if this whole idea had been nothing more than a foolish, ludicrous fantasy? Such quandaries had been tearing her apart. The mere thought of these fearful possibilities sent chills down her spine and cast a huge shadow over her soul… the shadow of madness. Catarina’s madness.

When she saw Luca in Tibau do Sul, she lost all doubt. But at first, when she realized that he couldn’t remember anything, that he didn’t even believe in past lives, she felt lost, frustrated, she didn’t know what to do. But it was too late and she couldn’t simply give up on the pursuit of her true love, the same love she had lost four hundred years before for reasons that she had never been able to comprehend. So she decided to take the next step, have sex with Luca, and that wonderful night in the tent made it all quite clear to her: the perfect synchronism of their bodies, the well-knit blend of tenderness and violence, the extraordinary pleasure… How could sex be so perfect with a stranger? One can only assume the stranger was no stranger…

She decided to go on with her journey along the coast, as if being close to the sea would somehow bring her the lost love back. Maybe Luca just needed more time. Maybe she needed a break, too.

She was right. A full month away from Luca helped her understand him better. And by understanding Luca she came to understand Enrique better, too. The two men were obsessed with having control over life. Both had, in their particular way, an overrated appraisal of their own importance and believed they could reign over all circumstances around them. Such approach to life, however, would rather prevent them from actually living it. They were still different, though: Enrique had surrendered to his love for Catarina, while Luca was afraid to love. In her dream, he had asked her to help him jump into the abyss, but now he seemed to run away from it.

Isadora looked at that man who laid stretched out before her, drunk and snoring. Whatever that abyss would be, that was definitely not the best way to jump.

*     *     *

Luca opened one eye, then the other, the old strategy he used to minimize the pain. It was hot, so it was probably very late. He recognized the inside of Isadora’s blue tent. But she wasn’t next to him. He felt a twinge of fear… The same fear he had felt while looking for her on the last day in Tibau do Sul.

He got out of the tent and saw her nearby, sitting under the shade of a guava tree, reading the I Ching.

“Welcome to daytime, Luca of the Neon Light.”

“What happened yesterday?”, he asked with a yawn.

“You fell asleep.”

“Did I sleep before or after we…”

“Long before”, she laughed.

“That sucks.”

“It was better that way, I guess. You were in terrible shape. And you drove all the way here! If I had known you were going to do that, I wouldn’t have sent the telegram.”

“Do you suppose anyone would sell sunglasses around here?”, he asked, shielding his eyes from the unbearable brightness.

“Relax. You can borrow mine.”

“Isadora, you are the perfect woman.”

At the restaurant, he ordered a beer to cure his hangover. Isadora told him about the beaches she had visited before she found him.

“I almost got arrested in Canoa Quebrada, you know?”

“Why?”

“Because there was an aviary on the camping ground and I can’t stand the sight of birds in cages.”

“What did you do?”

“I set them free, of course.”

“I can’t believe it.”

“The camping ground owner suspected me and called the police, but she couldn’t prove it.”

“Wow, you’re definitely a menace to peace and order.”

That included his own peace and order and he was very close to actually saying that.

“What about life in Fortaleza, how is it going?” she asked.

“All under control.”

“Do you perform tonight?”

“No.”

“Sweet. You can stay until tomorrow.”

“Uh, I can’t. I have an important meeting tonight.”

“What a shame.”

“Business”, he added. “You know, the band is getting more professional.”

He smiled and drank beer. What he’d just said wasn’t entirely true. The band was indeed becoming more professional, but his meeting had nothing to do with work. He was going to meet a fan. Alone.

It was getting dark when they left the restaurant and went for a walk around the lake, to sink their bare feet on the sand and enjoy the sunset breeze.

“What about that note you left to me, Isadora? What is this abyss I am supposed to jump into?”

“I don’t know. You should know, not me.”

“Of course not. It was your dream.”

“But the abyss is yours”, she said, laughing.

They were embracing and walking on the sand while waves washed their feet and left seashells in their wake.

“Are you happy with your life, Luca?”

“It could be better under certain aspects.”

“Do you trust life?”

He hesitated to answer. He kicked a pebble on the sand.

“You can’t trust life a hundred percent, Isadora, and you know that.”

“Why not?”

“Because life is treacherous. We have to be alert, or we may get stabbed in the back.”

Isadora shook her head in disapproval. How could someone be so uptight?

“Surrender control, Luca. You’re living in delusion.”

“The real delusion is to think that life will sort itself out. It’s advisable to keep it in check.”

“No, it isn’t! When you control life, you stifle it.”

She freed herself from his arms to pick up a shell.

“I know that the idea of trusting life sounds crazy, but come on, give it try it. I’ll help you.”

She brushed the sand off the seashell and gave it to him. He brought it close to his ear.

“Can you hear it? It’s the sound of the abyss. It will whisper the path to you if we lose each other again.”

“Again?”, he asked, putting the shell in his pocket.

“Yes, like four centuries ago.”

“Isadora, you know I don’t believe in reincarnation”, he said, trying not to be rude. “I believe in what is real, in things that I can see.”

“It doesn’t matter. You are Enrique, my true love.”

“But how can you be so sure?”

“I know. I just know.”

“Alright, let’s suppose I am who you think I am. Why can’t I remember it?”

“I don’t know.”

“If I used to be Enrique, then I evolved in the wrong direction. He was a wizard, a big shot…

“Maybe you’re wasting your power by trying to control everything. When life is controlled, it becomes stagnant. There’s not even space left for love, do you know that?”

“Did you and Enrique really love each other?”

“Very much.”

“Why didn’t he go back to you? I mean, to Catarina?”

“I don’t know. I can’t remember that. Enrique had many enemies, he might have been caught.”

“Well, if I have been Enrique, I might be able to know what happened to him.”

“If you really must know, you will.”

“You have too much faith in destiny, Isadora!” He couldn’t accept that. “You talk like everything is sealed by destiny.”

“Nothing is sealed. We have to do everything.”

“Do everything? Isn’t that contradictory to your Taoist principle of never forcing situations?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Well, so…?”

“So we have to do everything, only without forcing situations.”

He took a deep breath and gave up the argument. How could anyone live with such absurd logic?

*     *     *

Luca woke up and found himself inside the blue tent. This time, however, Isadora was sleeping beside him. His meeting with the fan had been canceled. He simply could not resist staying with Isadora. He snuggled closer to her and recalled the previous night: Isadora’s silky and generous body, her tender embrace, how she told him to come inside her like an order he could not dispute… Sex with her was always intense, somewhat mysterious and sacred. She looked so beautiful in her sleep… He caressed her hair and imagined he was her guardian knight. What would it be like if they were married?

He stopped caressing right away, scared by his own thoughts. Married? What was he thinking? What had gotten into him to have such insane idea?

He felt his heart was beating fast and felt the warning red light flash inside him. His instincts seemed to tell him that he was in great danger. And he was indeed. The name of the danger was love. Love was not a part of his plans. Love meant losing control over himself, he knew that, and that was just what he didn’t need. The wise thing to do was to keep a safe distance.

But she was so beautiful, so special… She was definitely different from any other woman he had met in his life. And she was the best lay he’d ever had. When they were together, life was a much more exciting, more mysterious experience… It was such a shame that she lived too far away.

What if they lived in the same city, he wondered, what would it be like? Would he give up all the other women for her?

He sat down, bothered by the way his thoughts were going. He was single. How could he forget that? He was single and he was happy that way, free from the troubles that always came along with love. Besides, Isadora was too crazy. He would be better off in the current state of things: Isadora could go on her trips and he would just stay in Fortaleza, in the safety of his own private world.

He got up carefully to avoid waking her up and got out of the tent. The sun was high on the horizon, but it was a cloudy day. He walked to a shed that rented kayaks and chose one. Some nice paddling on the lake would be good for him.

He adjusted himself aboard the kayak, pushed it away from the shore with the paddle and glided smoothly on the water. He couldn’t help noticing the unusual circumstance: it was Sunday, six o’clock in the morning, and he was sitting in a kayak, paddling on such an immense and extremely quiet lake. It felt strange. Dawn was like a whole new world to him.

The kayak advanced towards the middle of the lake, while the light of a new day crept up slowly over the water. Suddenly, Luca felt that all that silence was a manifestation of the lake, and it was so big… so dignified… and it was letting the noisy little creature that he was disturb the peace of its surface.

He stopped paddling. The kayak still glided a little further. Silence then manifested itself completely, with all its impressiveness. He felt unworthy of the surroundings, as if he were tainting them, and began to regret the idea of going there. He wasn’t as pure as that silence. He didn’t have as much dignity.

He suddenly realized how tiny he was in the midst of that landscape. A sudden flash lit up his mind and made him immediately understand that he was meaningless, absolutely meaningless. He realized that the lake was perfectly aware of his presence, of course, it was impossible for it not to notice him on its surface. The lake had been there for centuries and nothing would upset it. Proud and magnificent, it gave room for life to thrive in its depths and insignificant beings such as himself to glide across its water.

He was afraid to die. Yes, he would die right there on the spot if the lake decided he should, there was no doubt about it. There was nothing he could do and nobody would hear him shout for help. He would sink and die.

He hung his head down, felt lonely like he’d never felt before, and cried. He cried out of terror and complete submission while waiting for the moment when the lake would finally stretch its tentacles from deep under and drag him to the bottom and everything would be over.

It felt like an eternity had passed when it seemed that the deafening silence was pulling back its might. He opened one eye with his hands still covering his face, then another eye. Everything was still the same, the lake was quiet and the kayak was floating on the water. Still frightened, he grabbed the paddle very slowly and plunged it in the water. And the lake moved, as if it were about to wake up.

He paddled cautiously and kept paddling until he reached the shore. When the kayak was finally crawling on sand with a harsh rumble, it felt like he was snapping out of a dream. He stepped on dry land still slightly stunned. His heart was in his mouth. Tiny waves washed hard on his feet. That was the lake telling him again: you are nothing, you are nothing…

“I know”, he said softly.

He really did. There was no need to repeat it.

*     *     *

“Ever since we met, Isadora, strange things have been happening. In Tibau do Sul, I almost drowned. Now, the lake wanted to swallow me. What the hell is going on?”

Isadora looked into Luca’s eyes and recognized the fear of someone who had just opened the door to their own inner mysteries. The same door that her strange dreams had once opened to herself.

“Maybe the abyss is approaching.”

“Stop talking about that, Isadora. I don’t like it, and I mean it.”

“You asked.”

“I don’t believe in this abyss, I’ve told you.”

“But you keep talking about it in your performances.”

“Me? Are you nuts?”

“It was the first song you sang to me in Tibau do Sul, don’t you remember?”

The abyss gave me vertigo… And my angst is still here, too…

“I remember. But let’s change the subject.”

He was tense. Those things made him feel like a puppet in the hands of something beyond his comprehension. He had no control. Isadora also caused that feeling somehow. He couldn’t stand to be away from her, but he also knew that her mere presence was enough to make him lose the power of his own convictions. And that was very frightening.

After breakfast, they went to the beach and had plenty of fun riding around in a buggy. Then they went to a small hut where they enjoyed some delicious caipirinhas and fried shrimp. They came back to the tent slightly drunk and looking forward to sleeping, but soon it was clear that the night before had not been enough to make up for all the time they had been separated, so they spent their nightfall on more passionate sex.

At night, they bid farewell beside the Beetle and Luca was anguished. He would go back to Fortaleza and Isadora would continue exploring the beaches of Ceará. The possibility of never seeing her again pierced through his heart like a dagger, and the pain resonated through his entire being. He quickly grabbed a piece of paper, wrote down his telephone number and address, and handed it to her.

“Would you like to spend the weekend with me in Fortaleza? My bed is roomy.”

“Luca of the Neon Light, are you inviting me to experience your own world?”

“Yes. We have a really nice gig on Friday. On Saturday, there is a great party we can’t miss.”

“Your fans won’t be happy to see you with me.”

“But I will.”

Luca hesitated for a second. The warning red light… What was he doing? He was almost asking her to be his girlfriend! For a few seconds, he had lost control of his own words and actions.

“I don’t know, Luca… Maybe I had better keep big cities out of this trip.”

Yes, maybe inviting her wasn’t such a good idea, he thought. He didn’t know what he wanted.

In the car, seconds before getting out of her sight around a bend on the road, he saw her in the rearview mirror and waved good-bye. He saw it when she did the same, and it felt like she was repeating a very old gesture, which she might have made a very long time ago, a sad good-bye that wrenched his heart. When was the last time they had bid farewell like that?

.

CHAPTER 5

“Air conditioned dressing-room! Ranieri exclaimed. “12 year old whiskey! This band is going places, my friend!”

“The owner of this place works out in my gym”, Soninha explained. “And you, Luca, you’re the only one who hasn’t been showing up to work out, do you hear me?”

“I’ll start on Monday, I promise.”

The whole gang was very excited on that Friday night. The Karvalhedo Club was packed and their band was opening for Baseado em Blues, the main attraction. It was the best fee the band had ever been offered.

Bluz Neon got on stage at eleven o’clock and the green spotlight shone on Luca, who was standing ahead of the other band members. He took a swig of whiskey, greeted the crowd, blabbered something about abysses and kicked off the show. The set list was well rehearsed and the audience danced cheerfully. After singing The Navel Blues, when the stage could hardly contain all the girls who climbed on it to expose their navels, they exited the stage under a shower of applause. Even in the dressing room, they could still hear the persistent requests for an encore. They returned to stage, stood on their places and played again.

Luca was the last one to return, now dressed up in a dark robe with a hood, like a medieval monk. He walked slowly, stood at the center of the stage, spread out his arms so his body looked like a cross and stared at the faceless crowd. The spotlights then seemed to flash upon his eyes and he felt a mild vertigo, the familiar feeling of slipping into a dream, reality fading away… A chill ran up his spine and his vision got blurred. Dry ice fog was engulfing his body when he grasped at the microphone stand to avoid falling down and took deep breaths, waiting for the dizziness to go away, and the band kept playing on their own. He finished the performance reciting the last part of the lyrics:

So many stations
I hear bells on the corners
And I smile to the girls
In their cleavages of damnation
I get it wrong, I get lost in the world
I am the train that goes
To my very own salvation

After the show, a bottle of whiskey was going around from hand to hand in the dressing room, in celebration of the successful performance. Luca apologized for feeling sick, but Junior reassured him that nobody had noticed it, and that’s the advantage of being the great performing singer that he was: he could even die on stage and it would still seem to be part of the act.

The door opened and Soninha came in. She was wearing a black leather miniskirt and her black boots. She smiled to Luca and he immediately knew what she had in mind. He was no stranger to that stare of a hunter from the underworld.

“You are not going to trade me for a lake this time, are you?”, Soninha asked, getting closer to him suggestively.

Luca remembered Isadora and felt like he was on a crossroad again. Damn decisions… Isadora should have accepted his invitation to spend the weekend with him.

“No”, answered Luca, hugging and kissing Soninha. “Tonight there is no lake, babe.”

They all sat at a table to enjoy the main attraction, celebrating the band’s new phase and the major success they had ahead of themselves. Soninha ordered another bottle of whiskey, then another. Before the end of the show, she stood up and pulled Luca by the arm. He didn’t want to leave yet, but she insisted.

“Come on, Big Tiger. You’ve had enough already.”

“Take it easy, boss, let’s finish this bottle first. Where is your glass?”

“Look at your friend, Junior. He gets too drunk, then he can’t deliver…”

“Come on, Soninha, who goes home at three o’clock? If you want to go, go. I’ll stay here, hanging out with my struggle mates.”

“I’m your personal trainer, Luca. I am supposed to look after you.”

“My personal trainer, not my babysitter. Do you understand the difference?”

Soninha tried another approach. She sat next to Luca and slipped her hand under the table, caressing him between his legs. He put her hand away, though. A girl came along and asked to take a picture next to him. Luca got up, hugged the girl and posed for the picture. The girl showed her appreciation by kissing him on the lips and walked away ecstatic. Soninha couldn’t restrain herself:

“What is going to happen when these fans of yours learn the truth, Luca?”

“What truth?”

“That the Bluz Neon singer likes whiskey more than he likes women.”

Luca stared at her very seriously.

“Poor Soninha… It’s a shame your money can’t buy you class”, he said coldly. He sat down again and turned his eyes back to the show, while Junior and Ranieri held their laughter in.”

“Oh, it’s class that you want. Is this classy enough?”

She stretched out her arm swiftly and poured a full glass of whiskey on Lucas’ chest, soaking his shirt and dropping ice cubes everywhere.

“And you’re fired! Get yourself another band!”, she added, standing up and opening her way among the tables.

“Cool down, man…”, Junior said, restraining Luca. He couldn’t believe what had just happened. “I’ll chase her, you stay here, watching the show.”

Luca pulled out an ice cube from his soaked shirt and put it in his mouth.

“You know what… I’m sick and tired of this rock star lifestyle. I think I’ll go to Paris and think things over.”

“Take it easy, Luca, she’ll change her mind by tomorrow.”

“Where is the cute chick with the camera, have you seen her?”

*     *     *

When Isadora arrived, it was eleven o’clock and Karvalhedo Club was already packed, but she couldn’t find a reasonably good spot to see the show that was just starting.

She ended up accepting Luca’s invitation to spend the weekend in Fortaleza when she acknowledged that, in order to know and understand him better, she would need to experience his own world somehow. She knew that Luca’s world was an endless party, a kaleidoscope globe that could easily lead her astray for sure, but it could be a good opportunity to exercise her Taoist intuition, her ability to get in sync with the subtle movements of life. And it could be an excellent opportunity for her to better understand herself by exploring her own mysteries, venturing into the possibilities of her being. Exploring… venturing… Those things involved risks. They always did, she knew that. But she was willing to take risks. For her, for Luca, for love. Why not?

It was eleven o’clock when Bluz Neon showed up on Karvalhedo’s stage. When Isadora saw Luca, she felt a strange emotion. She was proud of him. There was the man she loved in the middle of the stage, holding a glass, testing the microphone. Under the green spotlight, he drank, greeted the crowd and said:

“Insanity is an irresistible abyss. And has hazelnut eyes.”

“What does that mean?”, asked a girl next to her. Isadora smiled and answered:

“That means he loves me.”

The show started and she immediately gave herself away to the rhythm of rock and blues. The songs were well rehearsed and the crowd was ecstatic. She enjoyed every aspect of it, especially Luca: he was a little clumsy, but was a good singer, had a good presence on stage and knew how to entice the audience.

It happened at the end, when the band came back for the encore. Isadora saw when Luca was dressed up as a medieval monk, shielded his eyes from the spotlights and peered into the crowd as if looking for someone. She wondered if he was looking for her. Then the band kept playing and he went back to the microphone, bobbing his head slowly to the rhythm of the music… That was the exact moment. The world around her began to fade away slowly and she could no longer hear the music. She was alone, the crowd had disappeared. A second later, the dry ice smoke turned into mist and the stage was replaced by… the deck of a ship. And the ship was rocking gently… It was floating right in front of her… floating… floating…

It was a foggy morning in Barcelona and the wind was blowing from the aft. The sails were unfurled in front of her and he stood underneath them, on the deck, staring at her. She was wearing a dress under a shawl and her hair was shaken by the wind. She felt oppressed and her mouth was dry… The same mouth he had kissed just moments earlier. Why did they have to go separate ways again? Why would they have to wait any longer? Why?

He waved aboard the ship with one hand and held the rail with the other. She saw his gesture and suddenly remembered that he had made that exact same gesture some time in the past, a very distant past, the same hand waving good-bye, the same heartbreaking gesture. When was the last time they had bid farewell like that?

The ship sailed away from the port and she had the urge to run and shout, begging that he take her with him, that he not leave her there alone. But she held it back. Yes, he had assured her that everything would be alright, he would be back to her soon, yes, then they would escape to Brazil and live their love freely, no longer lying and hiding. Yes. But she couldn’t accept that. Why wait? Why wouldn’t he quit the Company and stay with her now?

For a second, she foresaw the possibility of losing him forever, and a dreadful anguish slashed her soul, like lightning tearing through the sky. A teardrop ran down her face and reached her mouth. The same mouth he had kissed just minutes earlier…

He made her experiment magic and initiated her in the mysteries. She had followed him in wonderful worlds through their dreams. He had taught her to be brave and stand up to her challenges… Now, all that was left inside her was a huge and painful feeling of emptiness. Life just didn’t make any sense without him. She wondered if she really should love with him like that… so insanely.

The ship went away. The sight of him standing on the deck, beautiful and sad in the mist, got stuck in her mind. Where were those winds really taking him? What about herself, how many oceans of uncertainties would she have to cross because of that love? How many hazards, how many farewells? How many lives, mi corazón, how many lives?

Then the ship was gone. So was the harbor with its well aligned stones and busy workers. The winds went away, the mist became dry ice fog again and Isadora recovered her senses in time to see Luca finish his performance, on a stage that was still rocking…

She was overwhelmed. The last encounter, the farewell… She had remembered it at last!

She could still smell the sea when she exited the ballroom quickly and went out to the gardens. The night was cool and a little piece of the moon was still hanging in the sky. She gazed at the stars, chills ran through her body and, for the first time, the thought occurred to her very clearly: he had run away. She had no doubt about it. Enrique ran away. Everything made sense now.

She had gone to Fortaleza to get acquainted with Luca’s world and found the truth about Enrique right there, in the nightclub. An obvious truth that neither she nor Catarina had ever acknowledged.

*     *     *

The desert stretched out all around him like an undulated bed sheet made of sand. How long had he been walking? Days? Years? His legs were getting weak and his vision was getting blurred, impotent against the tyranny of the daylight. The blazing sun was charring his skin… And he had such a headache that was just about to blow up his brain into smithereens… But worst of all was the thirst. Unbelievable thirst that was shredding his throat ruthlessly. If only he could have a sip of water, just a sip, a small sip so he could die quenched and happy. Somewhere in the desert, a phone was ringing, ringing… Somewhere among those endless dunes, some goddamn phone wouldn’t stop ringing, ringing…

“Hello?”

His body laid on the sand sheet, one arm stretching out of the bed.

“Hello? Hello?”

But it wasn’t the phone that was ringing, it was the intercom in the kitchen… Shit, he would have to crawl all the way there, all across the endless desert.

It was the doorman, “Good morning, Mr. Luca”, announcing a girl named Isadora who wanted to talk to him, should she be allowed to come in?

Luca asked him to wait a minute and took a bottle of water from the fridge. A ghastly hangover was drying his heart out. He looked at the watch: two o’clock in the afternoon. He called out Soninha’s name. He called out her name again. She didn’t answer. Maybe she had left already? I open my eyes, where are you?… The sun rose and I didn’t notice it

He walked slowly, afraid that his brain might crumble apart. He looked for her in the bedroom and in the bathroom. No sign of Soninha whatsoever. Then he remembered she had slept there, indeed, but two nights before. What a mess. He was losing track of time.

He picked up the intercom and told the doorman to let the girl in. Right after that, he picked up some of his underwear that was hanging on the TV set and put some music on, because Isadora deserved a neater place. He left the front door opened and went to the bathroom to the sound of rattling in his cranium. In the cracked mirror, the horrendous monster from the desert stared back at him, with ruffled hair and bloodshot eyes. He turned the water on and the cold shower made his body shiver. In the living room, the Blues Etílicos band was playing O Sol Também Me Levanta.

“Luca of the Neon Light?”

“Come in!” he yelled under the shower.

Isadora walked in and shut the door behind her. She placed her backpack on the couch, noticed the guitar dumped in a corner, the picture of B.B. King on the wall, a picture of Janis Joplin and pictures taken at Bluz Neon concerts. She walked to the window and appraised the view from the eighth floor, the solitude squeezed among concrete walls, the buildings muffling dreams of growth…

“Hi, Isadora.”

“Hi!” She remembered it was the second time she woke him up. He didn’t seem to be in very good shape, but she liked to see him like that, beginning a new day. “I hope I’m not disturbing anything important…”

“Not at all. I’m alone.”

“You look cute wearing just a towel.”

“I’m glad you accepted my invitation. How long are you staying?”

“I’m leaving for Lagoinha tomorrow in the afternoon. I’ve bought the ticket.”

“Geez, that’s nothing… You should have come yesterday.”

“Actually, I arrived yesterday. I slept in a hotel.”

“Hotel? And why didn’t you go to our show?”

“I did.”

“Were you there? At Karvalhedo?”

“Yes.”

“But…”

“I loved the band. And you’re great, you surprised me.”

“Why didn’t you talk to me afterwards?” he asked. And he immediately regretted saying that, because of Soninha. Surely, Isadora had seen him with her.

“I thought I had better not.”

Now what? Should he ask her the reason?

“Don’t you want to know why?”

“I think I already know the answer, Isadora.”

“You do?”

“Well, let me tell you something. This thing I have with Soninha, it’s not serious.”

“Who is Soninha?”

“Our personal trainer, she was sitting next to me at the table. She and I…”

“I didn’t see it. I left right after the end of the performance.”

“Oh?”

He wanted to bury his head in the ground. Shit! He’d just confessed, spontaneously, that he was having an affair with the band’s personal trainer.

“Do you have any water?”, she asked. “It’s pretty hot in here.”

“Of course.”

He went to the kitchen and brought a glass of water for her. They sat down on the couch, silently. “Damn shit”, he thought, regretfully. He felt guilty. But he didn’t have to feel that way, he had no commitment with Isadora. Yes, that was true, he had no commitment, but he felt terrible all the same, as if he had cheated on her. But there was no cheating, of course, because she wasn’t his girlfriend. On the other hand…

He suddenly noticed that his thoughts were flipping back and forth between guilt and innocence. He was divided. That sucked. Isadora had that effect on him, he became neurotic around her. No, not her, of course, he was the one who kept bringing ghosts into that relationship. He was the one who was jumping to conclusions and tripping himself up.

“Luca, what did you feel after that last act?”

“I don’t remember much of that part.”

“Really? But you seemed quite absorbed.”

“I was pretty wasted.”

“I didn’t talk to you after the show because something happened while I was watching you sing.”

She told him everything. She told about the harbor, the ship, Enrique waving on the deck, that he was leaving and she felt that she was losing him forever. At the same time she spoke, she almost could experience the feelings she had had the night before.

“I remembered that other life again, Luca.”

He sighed. Not that dull story again.

“And it wasn’t a dream this time. I was awake in the middle of a crowd. And it happened through you, through your energy.”

“Actually, I had had a couple of energy drinks.”

“I’m serious, Luca. It was a powerful vision, the most powerful of all I have recalled so far.”

“I guess that warrants a raise in our fee: watch Bluz Neon and get in touch with your past lives!”

He saw she was about to cry and regretted the silly jokes.

“I hadn’t recalled that part of Catarina’s life yet. You were on the ship deck, waving to me. The plan was that you would return to take me with you. But you never came back…”

“You’ve already told me that, Isadora. What is new?”

“Then I went out to the garden and thought about Catarina, about how strong she had to be to deal with all that loneliness and the terrible premonition that she would never see the love of her life again… I felt that same pain again, Luca, everything all over again. It was brief, but while it lasted… it seemed it would last forever. And I can’t help thinking that it could have been so different, all that pain and suffering could have been avoided… If only we had stayed together.”

“But it wasn’t possible. Something unexpected changed the plans, didn’t it?” he asked, trying to be as kind as he could. And he noticed how ridiculous he sounded to himself: he was talking about it as if it were a fact.

“There wasn’t anything unexpected. I figured that out yesterday.”

“What happened then?”

“You ran away.”

“I ran away?”

“Yes, you did.”

“I mean, he did?”

“Yes.”

“But… why? Wasn’t he in love with you? I mean, with Catarina?”

She didn’t answer. She just stared back at him with the same question.

“Alright, Isadora, Enrique ran away. He was a scoundrel. But forget that story, it belongs in the past.”

“Do you like me, Luca?”

“Me?”

“Yes, you.”

“Of course I do. But why do you ask?”

“Just a little or a lot?”

“Maybe more than I should.”

“What do you mean?”

“You make me second-guess myself on things I’m usually sure of.”

“So don’t be so sure and join me.”

“Where?”

“Let’s travel somewhere.”

“Somewhere?”

“Yes. You can come back later.”

“That would be great, but I can’t afford it.”

“I have enough money for both of us.”

“OK then. But I can’t take a leave of absence until the end of the year.”

“No, it has to be now. Come on.”

“I can’t leave my business behind like that, Isadora!”, he said, almost shouting. “Sorry. You drive me nuts sometimes.”

“What is this business you can’t leave behind?”

“My job, the band, everything.”

“Why not?”

Luca stared at her, intently. She seemed to be serious. But no, she couldn’t be serious.

“Because I get my security from those things. Do you understand, or would you like me to draw it for you?”

“I gave everything up four centuries ago. And I just did it again. For us.”

“Here we go again… If it weren’t for those crazy dreams of yours, we would get long just fine.”

“If it weren’t for my crazy dreams, we wouldn’t have reunited.”

Luca was annoyed and shook his head. He couldn’t have a decent conversation with her when she was talking about past lives. He stood up and walked up to the window to take a breath and calm down. If he glanced over his shoulder, he would see that Isadora was crying silently. But he didn’t. Neither did he see it when she wiped her face dry, sighed heavily and grudgingly conceded to a realization that she had been trying to avert, for she had faith in never having to make such a heart wrenching decision. He saw none of it.

“Are you hungry?”, he asked, turning away from the window.

“Yes.”

“Let’s have lunch. It’s almost three o’clock. I’ll take you to a place I love. And tonight we’ll have an erotic party. What do you think?”

“Hmmm, that sounds good.”

“Welcome to Luca’s fabulous world”, he said, with a chivalrous gesture holding an imaginary hat.

The restaurant was the Colher de Pau, where Luca used to dine on credit. Pereira was his favorite waiter. Pereira had this country-style simplicity and bluntness towards life and ingenious appraisal of just about any possible topic, especially in relation to the women Luca used to bring. He would be the one to tell whether a new romance would go anywhere. Pereira, the oracle.

Luca and Isadora soon arrived at the restaurant. They chose a table and Luca introduced his friendly waiter:

“This is Pereira, my long-time advisor. This is Isadora.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, young lady”, said the waiter, pouring the beer.

“Mr. Pereira, do you believe in past lives?”, Isadora asked, to Luca’s overwhelming surprise.

“Well, I don’t know much about that kind of stuff, really. Why do you ask?”

“Because this young lad and I lived together four hundred years ago and now he has the nerve to tell me that he doesn’t remember me.”

Luca laughed, he couldn’t believe she was saying that.

“If the young lady used be as pretty as you are now, he definitely should be ashamed.”

“Do you think he’s a lost cause?”

“I wouldn’t say that, young lady. I don’t remember the last time I saw him look at a woman the way he’s looking at you, I can tell you that.”

“So do you think I shouldn’t lose my hope?”

“About Luca remembering who you used to be?”

“Yes.”

“Well, that’s a tough one. This young man forgets what he had to drink half an hour ago.”

“Is that true, Luca?”

“I only forget when I don’t have money to pay the check”, Luca answered with a smile.

After ordering the meal, Isadora went to the restroom and Luca seized the opportunity to inquiry the waiter:

“So what do you think, Pereira?”

“I think your bachelor days are over, young fellow.”

“I’m serious, Pereira.”

“Well, if you must know, this one has got you hooked like a fish.”

Luca topped his glass off with beer, drank it all and ordered another bottle. On the speakers, Lily Alcalay sang Mar e Sol. “This one has got you hooked…” He wasn’t sure whether he liked hearing that. Maybe that was exactly what he did not want to hear.

.

CHAPTER 6

After lunch, Luca and Isadora went back to the apartment. They didn’t have much time since they would be going out again soon, but the idea of sharing a shower before leaving was simply irresistible. They propped up against the bathroom wall and surrendered once again to their uncontrollable urge by the sound of running water and the frantic rhythm of their hungry bodies doused in passion, water, spark and harmony.

Surely that was not enough to satiate them, but they had other things to do, so they exited the building again in very little time. They went to Junior Rível’s place, picked him up, and headed to Cabaré Soçaite, a party held every year in a charming downtown mansion. The whole party was an ode to sensuality and eroticism, old cabaret style. Red lights, see-through curtains, and music to match. People were dressed up in provocative fashion based on their own fetishes and fantasies and were allowed to climb on stage to perform their own theatrics, some of them with a comic twist.

On the way to the venue, Luca and Junior, already familiar with the party, recounted the hilarious events of previous years. Isadora kept listening, curious and excited about the opportunity to get acquainted with another aspect of Luca’s world. And she was very impressed with what she saw as soon as she stepped in:

“Wow! Women really embrace the spirit around here!” she told Junior while watching a group of girls dressed as femme fatale prostitutes.

“Those are the well-behaved types. Others wear nothing but a nightgown.”

Luca set his eyes discreetly on one of the waitresses who worked at the party, a cute blonde dressed as a college student. And regretted not being single that night.

“Geez, I must look like a virgin in these clothes”, Isadora remarked, disappointed at the blouse and skirt she was wearing. She turned to the waitress who was taking their orders: “Would you have another college girl outfit like yours to spare by any chance?”

“Sorry, no. But you look beautiful. You just need a little adjustment in your garment.”

“How so?”

“Come here, let’s spice that up.”

The waitress positioned Isadora so they faced each other, and opened two buttons of her blouse, exposing more of the skin on her breasts.

“There you go!” The waitress smiled while appraising the outcome of her intervention and whispered into Isadora’s ear: “Such a beautiful pair of breasts should not be hidden. Especially here, at Cabaré Soçaite.”

Isadora laughed at the young woman for her spontaneity. She really liked her.

“You’re right, thank you. But where is my tab?”

“Oh, right. Please, follow me so we can get it”, the waitress said, pulling Isadora by the hand and taking her to the counter.

Junior tapped Luca on the shoulder:

“Hey, pal, news flash: Soninha has quit the band.”

“That’s great.”

“No, it’s not. We were the only blues band in the planet with our own personal trainer.”

“I hope she doesn’t show up here. I accidentally told Isadora that we were an item.”

“I think you’re really into this girl, man.”

“You’re right. I’m screwed. Passionately screwed.”

“We could write a blues song about it.”

“So many women around and I had to choose one who lives two thousand miles away.”

“That’s good. You won’t get sick of her.”

“I guess. But I would miss her too much.”

“Why don’t you invite her to live here?”

“It’s not going to work. She’s too crazy.”

“Then what the hell do you want?”

Luca hesitated for a while:

“I don’t know.”

“Excuse me, Junior Rível”, Isadora said, approaching them and stretching her arm to Luca. “I’m going to kidnap your friend to dance this bolero with me.”

“And I’m going to confess with that nice nun over there. I’ve brought all my sins with me tonight.”

“Come on”, she said, pulling Luca by the hand.

They pressed their bodies together on the dance floor and danced holding hands, cheek to cheek.

“This is our farewell night, Luca. Let’s make the most of it.”

“No, it’s not. You can come to Fortaleza any time you want.”

“You know it is.”

“Or maybe I can meet you on one of these beaches…”

“We’ve been over that. Let’s not ruin the evening.”

“Yes, but…” But what, he thought. That was really all there was to it. Isadora was right and he knew it. They had nothing ahead of themselves but a major love affair that was sure to run its course soon, and he had better accept it already. “Alright. Let’s not ruin the evening.”

“I want your world tonight, you hear me? And all the craziness that comes with it.”

“You are definitely nuts.”

“And I don’t care what happens, we’ll be together. Deal?”

“Deal”, he replied, laughing at her dictatorial tone.

She smiled and kissed him, squeezing him tight. Then she pressed her lips against his ear and sang along the song with a whisper: Lo que valen son tus brazos cuando de noche me abrazan

When the bolero was over, Luca went to the bathroom. On his way back, he pretended to bump by accident into the waitress in a college outfit.

“I’m sorry.”

“That’s OK”, she answered, balancing the glasses on the tray.

“What is your name?”

“Bebel, the naughty college student, at your service…”

“Wow… Don’t talk like that. I’m a married man tonight.”

“That’s a shame…”

They stared and smiled at each other for a while, so close that their bodies were actually touching, and the rush of people moving around them was like a whirlpool. Luca could still hear the echoes of the woman saying “That’s a shame…” She just kept smiling. It took a lot of effort, but he finally put himself together.

“My name is Luca, nice to meet you.”

“I know. I’ve seen you perform with Bluz Neon at Papalégua.”

“Really?

“I loved it! You’re awesome, Luca.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Actually, you are both awesome.”

“Both, who?”

“You and your girlfriend. She is quite charming.”

“Oh. Actually, I don’t know if we’re a real couple yet.”

“If you’re not, you should be.”

Luca smiled. First Pereira, now Bebel. Did everybody want to get him married?

“Now you’re really embarrassed”, she joked, pinching his cheek. “Sorry about that…”

“I accept your apology if you bring me two shots of whiskey”, he said, handing her his tab.

“Two very well served shots of whiskey, to reinforce my apologies, OK?”

She took the order and left. Luca just kept staring at her, looking like an idiot and laughing at what had just happened. He turned around, went after Isadora and found her nearby. She was appreciating erotic poems displayed on a large LCD screen.

“Luca, have you seen these poems on the big screen? They’re beautiful!”

“I know about one that is the most beautiful of all.”

“Which one?”

“Wait, it might be the next one.”

A few seconds later, the next poem began to take shape on the screen. First the title: Saliva Poems. Then, the author: Luca.

“Wow, is it yours? That’s so cool!”

Isadora looked at the screen again and read: “For Isadora.” Then each verse of the poem was displayed:

I lay down saliva poems
Like sketches on your skin
Wet syllables
Sensorial rhymes
The deepest meaning of my verse
Speaks the language of your motions
In grammatical convulsions 

Depraved poems on your flesh of sin
Razor-sharp poems, ruthless on your body
The figure of speech of desire
Speaks the tongue of my kiss
There is no translation for this

“I don’t know what to say…”, she mumbled, overcome with emotion while still looking at the screen.

He grabbed her by the waist and kissed her. Their bodies formed a unity for a while, with the image of the poem shining on the screen like a movie scene backdrop.

“Two whiskeys for the most interesting couple in the party”, said Bebel as soon as the couple stopped kissing.

“Geez!”, Luca exclaimed while picking up the glasses from the tray. “How long have you been there?”

“I would wait as long as I had to. It was so romantic…”

“Then let this be a toast to you, Bebel, the most beautiful college student in this party”, said Isadora, raising her glass and quickly realizing how absolutely honest she had just been. Yes, she had to admit that she had liked the girl right from the beginning, even more than she thought she possibly could.

“Thank you”, Bebel answered. “Now, if you excuse me, I have to go to the restroom.”

The waitress walked away and Isadora thought about how she had never felt sexually attracted to a woman before. Could that be happening now? And if it were, what was she supposed to do? Well, Bebel was beautiful, delicate, and also seemed to be into her. Actually, she seemed to like both her and Luca. And they were in an erotic party. On top of it all, she was willing to get a taste of Luca’s world, with all of the insanity that came with it, wasn’t she? So… why not?

“I’m going with you”, Isadora said suddenly. Then she surprised Luca by drinking all the whiskey and handing the empty glass to him.

Luca leaned back against the counter and watched the two women walk towards the restroom. The big screen was showing scenes from past editions of the party and he was entertained by it for a while. But then he looked impatiently at his watch. What could be taking he so long? Fifteen minutes later, she was back with another two shots of whiskey.

“You know what, I like the characters that inhabit your world. Bebel is such a sweet girl.”

“What the hell were you doing all that time in the restroom?” Luca asked, grabbing one of the glasses.

“It wasn’t that long.”

“Yes, it was.”

“What do two gorgeous such as Bebel and myself do in a restroom, Luca?”

“That’s what I’m asking.”

“Pissigopstick.”

“What?”

“Pissing, gossip and lipstick”, she answered, laughing and thinking about the kiss she had just exchanged with Bebel in the restroom, repeated with greater intensity before they came out, which caused her to touch up the lipstick again.

Luca smiled awkwardly. Isadora started dancing in front of him, with great excitement. He noticed her breasts exposed by the half-opened blouse.

“You really made an effort to show them off…”

“It’s an erotic party, isn’t it?”

But do you have to go that far?”

“Are you jealous?

“Of course not.”

“Good, because my boobs and I are really loving this party.”

She laughed at her own joke and drank more whiskey. He smiled, though he didn’t really want to.

“How many have you had, Isadora?”

“I’m fine, Luca. Relax.”

“I just asking because I want you to enjoy the party.”

“Good. I’m glad to know you’re not trying to control me.”

“I don’t want to control anybody.”

“Relax then.”

“I am relaxed.”

She took his hand and laid it on her breast.

“We are together, my love.”

He could feel Isadora’s fast heartbeat. “My love?” Had she just called him “my love?”

“Give me a hug, Luca.”

He hugged her for a long time, cuddling, deeply absorbed in the feeling of having lived that moment before… He closed his eyes and tried to remember when he had experienced that same situation, but all that came to his mind was the idea of spinning, spinning… As if in a circle, spinning, always coming back to the same place… spinning around in a circle, always coming back to the same spot, continuously…

He became frightened, opened his eyes and recovered his full conscience. He felt slightly dizzy, then looked around to make sure he was still in the same place, the Cabaré Soçaite party. She was still cuddled with him in the midst of the crowd, all drinking and dancing. How much time had elapsed? A few seconds? Centuries?

“Come on, let’s dance!”

“I don’t think so.”

“Oh, Luca, come on.”

“I’m tired.”

“Then I’m going to dance with Bebel.”

“She is working, Isadora.”

“It’s just a few minutes, it won’t disrupt her.”

She went dancing and Luca was left wondering what could be possibly going on. He had become upset. Why? Maybe because Isadora was leaving again on the next day and that was bothering him. No, that wasn’t the reason, and he knew it. He had fallen in love, that was the true reason, and he didn’t know how to deal with it. He was even feeling jealous. This passion for Isadora was disturbing his own personal world, it made him feel strange, uncomfortable and insecure.

He scratched the scar on his face, lost in thought. Isadora was experiencing his world, a world of clubs, parties and colorful neon lights. She seemed intent on partaking in his life, the great party of booze, the seduction of lust, the witch-like affairs of nightlife. And she was taking to it in a most straightforward, natural, effortless manner… Was that what being a Taoist was like? She was amazing indeed. How could he not fall in love with her?

He finished his drink and put the glass on the counter. The party was great and Isadora wouldn’t be around anymore on the next day. He definitely had better just relax.

The music stopped and the party producer got up on the stage.

“Good evening! My name is Ricardo Kelmer and I’m the owner of this cabaret. I hope you are all having fun. Now, we are going to start the Muse of the Cabaret contest. Contestants, please, get up on the stage and dance. Let the music play!”

Many women promptly climbed on stage and were being introduced to the crowd while Luca went after Isadora. But he couldn’t find her. He turned around, looked at the contestants and had a shock: Isadora was up there with the other women. He simply could not believe it. No, maybe it was a doppelganger with the same clothes…

No, it was really her. And she was dancing sensually, slithering in sexy movements, a come-hither look on her face, breasts almost popping out of her blouse…

Luca gasped. Isadora was running for the Muse of the Cabaret contest! He would never have imagined that. Neither could he imagine that she… could dance so well! A group of men were shouting, cheering, whistling and calling out her name right next to him, and he felt the jealousy crawl back into his chest again, like a beast lurking in the dark… Holy shit. He was in desperate needed of another drink.

When the music stopped, the crowd voted for the contestants and chose the winner. Isadora… drum roll… came in second place, and her prize was a sex shop voucher and a bottle of imported wine. She happily thanked for the applause and dedicated her award:

“To the love of my lives.”

A minute later, Luca found her by the counter with Bebel.

“Congratulations, Muse of the Cabaret.”

“Luca!” She hugged him, beaming with joy. “Did you hear my special dedication?”

“Of course, I did. I loved it. You were amazing.”

“Look what a few shots of whiskey can do…”

“But you should have told me beforehand, so I would be prepared. There were some guys yelling next to me, ‘Isadora! Isadora!’ That was awful.”

“Oh, how cute you are! My Luca is jealous, how sweet!”

“I’ll get over it, I’ll get over it…”

“I had no intention to go, but Bebel convinced me.”

“It wasn’t fair”, Bebel said. “She deserved first place.”

“I want you to have the voucher for the sex shop, Bebel.”

“Cool, thanks!”

“But I would like you to come along and drink the wine with us, please.”

“It will be a pleasure. But I can’t leave until the party is over.”

“We could go to Luca’s apartment, it’s near here. What do you think, Luca?”

He almost choked on his drink he was so surprised.

“He agrees, Bebel. Let’s celebrate!”

As soon as Bebel walked away, Isadora grabbed Luca by the waist, hugging him in a provocative way.

“What did you think of her, huh?”

“Think of whom?”

“Bebel.”

“Cool.”

“Just cool?”

“Yes. She seems to be a nice girl.”

“Geez, Luca, you are amazing!”, she said, laughing. “Why don’t you just admit you liked the girl?”

“Who? Me?”

“So you didn’t?”

He looked straight into her eyes. What did she have in mind asking him that?

“Alright, I liked her. So what?”

“Me, too.”

“What do you mean?”

He felt her rubbing her hand on his crotch.

“I liked her the same way you did.”

He was surprised to hear that answer. The entire situation had just got completely out of hand…

“Don’t you think you’re going too far with this idea of experiencing my world?”

“Why? Do you think I don’t deserve it?”

“Isadora, why don’t you tell me what you’re plotting?”

“I’m not plotting anything.”

“Are you using Bebel to test me?”

“Of course not.”

“This is all about Soninha, isn’t it?”

“What are you talking about?”

“You haven’t forgiven me for what happened yesterday, have you? I’ve told you that Soninha and I…”

“Calm down, Luca”, she interrupted him. “Stop imagining things. I just invited Bebel over to have some wine with us, because I liked her and so did you.”

Luca didn’t know what to make out of all that. Maybe it hadn’t been a good idea to invite Isadora to experience his world.

“We are together, Luca”, she said again. “Don’t you understand?”

He didn’t answer. He kept thinking and watching Isadora dance in front of him. Yes, of course he understood. Or did he?

*     *     *

“Did you like the Cabaret, Isadora?” Bebel asked, while Luca held the key and opened the door to his apartment.

“I loved it. If I get to be here the next time it happens, I’ll wear garters and the full costume, you’ll see.”

“And you’ll win the first prize!”

Luca went to the kitchen and came back with glasses and an opened bottle of wine. He poured it and they made a toast:

“To the Muse of the Cabaret!”

Bebel and Isadora looked at the posters and concert banners while Luca put Ellis Mário to play on the stereo. The sax tunes gently set the ambiance.

“More wine, Bebel?”

“No, thanks, Isadora, I don’t drink that much. Actually, I would like to take a shower, I feel filthy. Can I?”

“Of course.”

Isadora led Bebel to the bathroom, gave her a towel and warned her about the broken mirror, which could make her look strange. She closed the door and sat on the bed next to Luca.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine. You are the one who could lighten up a bit. For you, for me…” She smiled and rolled her eyes towards the bathroom. “And for her.”

“Aren’t you jealous?”

“I don’t need to be jealous of you, Luca.”

“Why not?”

She walked up to the switch and turned off the bedroom light, leaving it gently lit by the light that came from the living room. She took off her tennis shoes and kneeled down on the bed, facing him.

“Because I’m the woman of your life. I have been for four hundred years.”

“I believe what I can see and touch, Isadora, not those mystical fantasies you…”

She put a finger on his lips, so he would stop talking. Then she unbuttoned her blouse, exposing her naked breasts.

“You’d better believe it.”

Shortly after, Bebel got out of the shower wrapped in a towel. She smiled and stopped to watch for a while. The bedroom was dimly lit, but she could definitely see the two bodies lying on the bed, mouths and hands sliding on them. She dropped the towel and approached the bed completely naked. Isadora opened her eyes, held Luca’s head buried between her legs, stretched her arm out, touched Bebel’s hand and pulled her in, like Bebel had done to her hours earlier, at the party entrance:

“Come on…”

*     *     *

“Good morning, my love”, Isadora said, standing by the kitchen door, greeting Luca lovingly with a hug and a kiss. “Would you like some hot coffee? I just made it.”

“Where is Bebel?”, he asked, yawning.

“She’s left already. She sent you a kiss.”

He sat at the table and poured some coffee. He’d soon be taking Isadora to the bus station and she would resume her trip along the coast. His chest was burning already. He knew he was going to miss her. He thought that she might as well postpone the trip and spend a few more days with him… Maybe a few weeks…

“Have I mentioned how much I love seeing you like this, when you’re waking up?”

“If you ever want to see me, now you know where I live.”

He looked up to watch Isadora’s reaction to his retort, but she just smiled and dipped her bread in the coffee. He would love to hear her say something like ‘I’ll hang around for a while then,’ but he knew it was a done deal.

“Don’t you have a hangover?”

“A little bit. But I’ll take a nap on the bus.”

We watched Isadora sitting in front of him, wearing one of his T-shirts, and felt like he had known her for a long time. But it hadn’t been much more than two months. They had been together in Tibau do Sul for three days, in the Uruaú lake for a weekend, and now in Fortaleza. They had had sex five times only, one with Bebel. That was it. But it felt like more, a lot more than that… And now she was departing from his life. That didn’t make sense. Could he have… fallen in love?

“I played the I Ching for you. Do you want to know what it said?”

“It’s too early for mysteries”, he thought while drinking his coffee. But he agreed.

“The Receptive came up”, she said. She went to the living room and came back with the book. “A solid first line.”

“Is that good or bad?”

“It’s up to you to interpret it. Do you want to read it?”

No. He really didn’t. But he did. Once, twice… Then he gave the book back to her.

“I don’t understand a thing.”

“Sometimes, the message may seem unclear at first. I’ll write it down on your appointment book, OK?”

He poured another cup of coffee.

“So, how do you like my world?”

“I love it.”

“Good. What about the last part?”

“It was wonderful, Luca. But I’d rather be alone with you so you can focus more on me…”

“The threesome thing… huh… Had you ever…”

“No. But I must admit I had always been curious about it.”

“You seemed very comfortable with it…”

“Of course, it was so good!”

It certainly was, he thought. He could have loosened up some more and forgotten what was troubling him: his sudden jealousy, his puzzled feelings, Isadora taking off the next day… But making love to her and Bebel Isadora had been outstanding.

“I’m sure it was nothing new for you…”

“Sort of”, he said, remembering the night he had met the red-haired girl at Papalégua, the bizarre incident with a dead twin sister…

She finished her coffee, wiped her mouth and got ready to say what she had to say. She knew it wouldn’t be easy. But she also knew it was time to make a decision.

“I have something important to tell you, Luca.”

“What is it?”

“Last night, when we arrived at the party, Bebel went after a consumption ticket for me and I tagged along, do you remember?”

“Yes, I do.”

“At that moment, I felt that you two were going to be a couple.”

“What?”

“You heard it.”

“So you can’t just remember past lives, you can also predict the future?”

“I didn’t quite understand it at first, it was a strange feeling. But then it became clear.”

“I wasn’t alone when I hooked up with her. You were here, too. You were the one who invited her to come over.”

“Yes, I did, because I liked her. And I really wanted to experience your world, your things. But I’m not talking about last night.”

“You aren’t?”

“I mean after I leave. You two will be together.”

“I don’t get it, Isadora.”

“That’s what I felt. I still do.”

“Are you nuts?”

“And do you know what else? Bebel is a really nice girl, Luca. She can help you.”

Luca tapped his fingers on the table. He wasn’t happy about that conversation at all.

“Why do you want me to be with her?”

“I don’t. But you’re going to. What can I do?”

“Isadora, now you’re really going too far with this madness!”, he yelled, pounding hard on the table.

“There’s no need to get mad.”

“I’m not mad.”

“Good.”

He took a deep breath and tried to calm down.

“I’m not going to be with Bebel. I’m going to be with you.

“But I’m leaving.”

“Then, don’t go.”

“What do you mean?”

“Stay here with me. Move in with me.”

He heard his own words and got surprised. Did he really say that? Did he just ask her to move in with him?

“I would like that. But I can’t.”

“Why not? What keeps you grounded in São Paulo?”

“Nothing.”

“Then what’s the reason?”

“The reason is that you have to jump into an abyss, remember?”

“Oh, no, not that story again…”

“I struggled against coming to this conclusion, Luca. But it’s clear to me now. If I stay here in Fortaleza, you won’t jump. You will stick to your comfort zone, always surrounded by your safe arrangements and ever more obsessed about keeping everything under control. Just like Enrique did.”

“No, that is not the problem, Isadora. The problem is that you insist on making up these fantasy worlds, dreams, and abysses… You have created a crazy past and put me in it. And now you’ve just invented a future for me and Bebel. Don’t you see how absurdly crazy this whole thing is?

“I’ve never had any doubt about it.”

“Could you please, once in a lifetime, behave like a normal person?”

“I don’t care about being classified as a normal person”, she answered, getting up from the table.

Luca closed his eyes, trying hard to eke out any sense out of his confounded thoughts and conflicted feelings… But there was none to be found. He got up and followed Isadora into the bedroom, all worked up.

“If I don’t want to be with Bebel, I won’t, then this future you predict will simply not happen. Do you understand? Nothing is certain about the future. Only the past cannot be changed.

Only the past cannot be changed… She remembered the farewell in the harbor again.

“Well, you’re spot on about that, Luca. Whatever we have or haven’t done cannot be changed.”

He thought there was a hint of bitterness in those words.

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean what I said.”

“OK, then let’s see. It’s your future against mine.”

“I don’t believe you… You’re waging a war of futures.”

“OK, Isadora, you want to break up. I get it.”

She didn’t answer. She just kept crouching, tying her shoelaces.

“But you won’t admit it. You just tell me I’m going to be with Bebel after you leave.”

Again, she didn’t answer.

“That’s really convenient, because I become the bad guy of the story! Very convenient. You’re nuts, but you’re pretty smart.”

“I have to go now, Luca”, she spoke softly. “My bus leaves at four.”

He looked at her firmly, restraining his anger.

“Go. The door is opened.”

He sat down on the bed, grabbed a random magazine nearby and began to read it.

“Luca…”

“I did my best, Isadora”, he said, flipping through the pages nervously.

“Look at me…”

“I swear I did my best.”

“Luca, look at me. We don’t need to break up like this, please.”

“I tried. But, you… this madness of yours… it’s taking a toll on me…”

He dropped the magazine and covered his face with trembling hands, trying not to cry. His heart was ready to blow up. The world was going to crumble in a second.

She tried to approach him, but he parried her motion without even looking at her.

“Go away, Isadora, please. Go before I get insane, too.”

She understood and smiled, and picked up her backpack. She knew that they had reached the end of the road, that all possibilities had been exhausted. He was the man of her life, right there, in front of her, yes, but he didn’t have the courage to admit he loved her and take the next step. She was afraid she might be losing him forever, the fear was gruesome, but she knew that she had better not push it. Leaving him now was the toughest decision she had ever had to make, but she had no doubt in her heart that she was doing what absolutely had to be done. Four hundred years prior, she had trusted Enrique, and he had failed her. Now, she knew she couldn’t trust Luca. Her only choice now was to place her trust in life. Life and its strange and ironic wisdom.

“I tried, Isadora, I really tried”, he kept repeating from behind his hands, that covered his face.

She walked silently to the living room, opened the door and left, shrouded in sadness and resignation. She had done her best, too.

.

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The Irresistible Charm of Insanity

CHAPTERS

prologue – 1 – 2 – 3
4 – 5 – 6
7 – 8 – 9
10 – 11 – 12

 


The Irresistible Charm of Insanitity 1

13/03/2020

The Irresistible Charm of Insanity
Ricardo Kelmer – Novel – Miragem Editorial 2019
Translation: Luciano Espírito Santo

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Luca is a musician who likes to have control of everything in his life. He becomes involved with Isadora, a Taoist wanderer who believes he is the reincarnation of her master and lover from the 16th century. He will embark on a strange and adventurous journey that blurs the boundaries of sanity and madness, dream and reality, only to find that he has to figure out his true identity before he deserves the woman he loves.

In this unusual love story that takes place simultaneously in Spain in the 16th century and Brazil in the 21st century, flashes of déjà-vu (the feeling that you have witnessed or experienced a situation previously) are time portals through which we come in contact with past lives.

Blues, sex and double shots of whiskey. Dreams, mystical experiences, and secret societies. Funny and exciting, The Irresistible Charm of Insanity explores the intriguing possibilities of time, space, life and whatever it is that we may call “self.”
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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese/spanish

> In portuguese – blog 

> In spanish – blog (soon)

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PROLOGUE

He hugged her for a long time, cuddling, deeply absorbed in the feeling of having lived that moment before… He closed his eyes and tried to remember when he had experienced that same situation, but all that came to his mind was the idea of spinning, spinning… As if in a circle, spinning, always coming back to the same place… spinning around in a circle, always coming back to the same spot, continuously…

Frightened, he opened his eyes and came back to his senses. He felt a little dizzy. He looked around to reassure himself that he was still there, on the pier in a hazy morning in Barcelona. She was still cuddling with him in the midst of the hurried seaport workers. How much time had elapsed? A few seconds? Centuries?

“What happened?”, she asked.

“I don’t know, I felt dizzy…”

“You haven’t been yourself lately.”

“I need to go now.”

“Are you sure I can’t go with you?”

“We’ve already discussed that, Catarina.”

“What if…”

“I’ve told you, I will come back. In a month. I’ll take care of a few things in Lisbon then I’ll be back. Then we’ll make our trip to Brazil together. That’s our agreement, isn’t it?

“I’m scared, Enrique…”, she hugged him again and squeezed him intently.

“They are hoisting the sails”, he answered, feeling the wind blowing on his face. Drifting apart from her hug, he distanced from her and strode to the ship without looking back.

Minutes later, the ship set sail, moving away from the coast, and from the deck he saw her waving alone on the quay, in the morning mist. And he suddenly felt like she was repeating a very old gesture, one that felt as if it had been made before a very long time ago, a sad good-bye that was wrenching his heart. When was the last time they had bid farewell like this?

“I need a drink”, he thought, feeling a heavy weight on his soul. He turned around and went straight to his compartment.

He didn’t want to think about that anymore, but he knew that it was just the beginning of a long and burdensome journey.

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CHAPTER 1

Luca woke up started. He had been dreaming about a huge and dark deep pit right in front of him, a terrifying abyss… He rubbed his eyes, yawned long and loudly, and stretched his legs under the front seat. He looked out the bus window and watched the landscape pass by, the surrounding vegetation, the tiny modest houses stacked along the road and a mountain further down… Fortunately, there were no pits around him, he thought in relief.

He would soon be arriving at Pipa, the famous beach on the southern coast of Rio Grande do Norte. Six months had passed since he arranged to take a few days off his job at the print shop. Now, he finally had the chance to take this trip. His plans for the next four days until Sunday were to chill out and forget the problems he had left behind, in Fortaleza. He would be alone. No wristwatch, no mobile phone, and no Internet.

Well, almost. He’d brought his mobile phone with Internet access but swore never to use it except to check if some girl had sent him any messages, nothing else. And to see whether a friend who owed him money had finally made the deposit to his checking account. And to keep track of the ticket sales for his “Bluz Neon” band’s next gig, because that was very important, too. Just a little precaution so he wouldn’t lose control of his life.

He could see his face reflected on the window, the tousled hair, the drowsy eyes… and the scar on his right cheek which reminded him of the accident on the raft when the sail mast hit his face. He was a teenager, trying to impress a girl. Loving is dangerous.

At dusk, a few miles before arriving at Pipa, the bus made its way through a small town and Luca enjoyed the view from the top of a hillside. Down below, to his left, a huge, sprawling lake that funneled down into a river and flowed peacefully to the sea. The sun was setting down above the treetops and sprinkled reflections on the surface that were broken by pink river dolphins that jumped out of the water.

Luca was enamored with the landscape and felt that his eyes had been seized by a magnificent display of poetic, almost musical beauty…

“What city is this?”, he asked the lady sitting next to him.

“Tibau do Sul. It’s an old fishing village.”

He remembered what his friends used to say about Pipa: the gorgeous shores, the inns, partying in bars, people from all over the world… But that landscape right there…

He got up, walked up to the bus driver and asked him to stop the bus immediately. He had changed his mind. He would stay in Tibau do Sul.

With the backpack hanging from his shoulder and the guitar under his arm, he walked back along the road, past the town entrance, then towards the sea and the foot of the hill, where he saw a rustic bodega. He chose a table under the hut, ordered a shot of cachaça and sat down to enjoy the breeze and fragrance that came from the sea. A boat was anchored on the shore and a flock of seagulls frolicked in the distance. The sunset light bathed the landscape and produced a dream-like atmosphere. Suddenly, he felt as if he were slipping away from time and everything around him was floating, like a tract of land breaking loose from the landmass of reality…

He immediately felt the urge to let a song come out. It was a strong urge, the song really had to come out. He grabbed his guitar quickly and… no song came out. He tried several chords, but felt that none of them would do justice to the feeling he had in that particular moment. “Maybe some other time”, he thought, slightly frustrated while setting the guitar aside. And knocked back all of his drink in a single gulp.

*     *     *

It was already night when Luca arrived at the camping grounds, a small wooded area next to a creek that was rented out to campers by the owner, Ms. Zezé, a lonely, divorced woman. Alongside the grounds was her house, a small hostel and the restaurant. Everything was very humble. It wasn’t the high season or even a holiday, so the hostel was empty. So was the camping site except for a single, lonely blue tent.

“Underneath that mango tree you will find a nice spot with plenty of shade where you can rest”, suggested Ms. Zezé. “But before you go there, would you like something to eat? You look like you haven’t eaten much lately.”

“I’ll come back later, thanks.”

It took no more than a few minutes for Luca to put the tent up and change his clothes. A few steps to the north and he would be on the edge of the slope, the river waiting for him to have a swim a few yards down. It couldn’t be better. But the swim would have to wait another day. He was too tired for that.

At the restaurant, he had a sandwich and a soda, and another chat with Ms. Zezé. He also met her two teenage sons who lived with her and helped her run the business. He returned then to his tent and lied down. Sleeping, however, wasn’t as easy as he had expected. The simplicity and the beauty of that place were not enough for him to be in peace. Instead, his mind was crowded with a myriad of thoughts…

“Why can’t life be simpler”, he asked himself. It was quite the opposite, really. Constant awareness was a necessity to keep life in check. He had to be on high alert at all times to prevent the treacherous hands of destiny from ruining his chances of being happy. Why did everything have to be so difficult?

A constant and agonizing effort to lead a stable life and save money. That was his life in a nutshell. When he was 18 years old and studied Economics at the university, he used to imagine that soon he would be definitely well off, with no financial worries. But destiny took a different turn. After getting a job in a print shop, he dropped out of college and spent more time on practicing guitar, the good, old buddy that had been following him since his teen years. He was now 28 and everything was still as tough and unaccomplished as ever.

Two years earlier, he was still living with his mother Gloria and his sister Celina, who used to date the band’s drummer. His father died when they were very young and his mother never got married again. Now, the job as print shop manager helped him pay the rent of a tiny studio where he lived alone. Half a dozen gigs a month was barely enough for him to pay for his old Volkswagen Beetle, groceries, bills, a little whiskey, and nothing else. He lived on a very tight and carefully planned budget, always on the brink of desperation. His mother had already given up on convincing him of getting a real job and getting married. Managing a print shop, he used to say, was as far as he was willing to go. And about marriage…

“No way, Mom. Love puts life all out of whack.”

He was really tired. He felt that in spite of all the effort he had put in over the last few years, he was still running in circles, around the same spot, spinning endlessly…

He looked at the guitar laid down by his side. At least, he had the music. And the band. A couple of years ago, he had met Junior Rível, who invited him to sing in the band he was putting together. He wasn’t confident and hesitated to accept the offer.

“It’s a no-brainer, man”, insisted Junior. “Lots of gigs, lots of whiskey… and lots of women!”

Now, that was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

“OK, I’m in”, agreed Luca, shaking the hand of his newfound friend. “Partying is all we have.”

“Hey! We could write a blues song about that.”

That’s how Luca and Junior Rível had become friends and that’s how the Bluz Neon band had been born. “Partying is all we have” soon became the band’s motto. Blues, rock’n’roll and irreverence in the nightclubs of Fortaleza. Fees were low and they would often even play for free, but the elation of climbing on stage made up for any losses. Besides, Bluz Neon was the perfect shelter for Luca to hide from the treacherous daylight. At night, he was safe. Everything was under control. Nightlife was safe with its clubs, whiskey, and loves that were kept strictly under control. Like a sweet dream. The only drawback was waking up the next day.

Your eyes glisten in the neon sign
It’s the thrill that sweeps from one bar to another
Happiness is a must, here and now
A smoldering romance in sight
Before sunrise reminds us, lovers
That dreams don’t last in the daylight

*     *     *

The next day, Luca got up late, still feeling exhausted. It had taken quite some time for him to fall sleep the night before, immersed in a thousand thoughts. Not even here, in this paradise, he could relax completely.

It was a bright, sunny morning in Tibau do Sul. Luca put on his sunglasses, got out of the tent and went to the hostel restaurant to have some breakfast. Later on, after a lengthy swim in the river, he returned to the camping grounds feeling more energetic. When was the last time he had gone into a river? He couldn’t remember. But he told himself he should do that more often.

After changing clothes, he got back to the restaurant to have lunch. And she came along.

“Hi.”

He turned around and saw a girl. She was attractive and about his age. She was wearing denim shorts, T-shirt and sandals.

“Hi”, he answered friendly.

“I’m your neighbor. I’m Isadora.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Luca.”

“Luca…”, she repeated, as if savoring his name in her mouth. “Luca…”

She laughed, staring at him. She thought he looked quite different while watching his slender body, disheveled hair, scar on his face…

“Are you alone?”, she asked.

“Not anymore.”

“Good! Have you had lunch yet?”

“Nope. Would my next door neighbor give me the honor and be my guest?” He made the courtship jokingly, bowing as if taking off an imaginary hat.

“Well… How could I refuse?”

At the restaurant, he suggested moqueca, a fish stew, which she promptly accepted. He noted her beautiful hazel eyes. He also noticed that she looked at him in a funny way that made him uncomfortable. The beer was brought to the table and he offered a toast:

“To encounters!”

“Not encounters”, she corrected, “Reunions!”

Reunions? He didn’t understand, but he didn’t mind. He just drank. She asked where he was coming from and he said he was from Fortaleza.

“Fortaleza… I will visit it someday. And what do you do for a living?”

“I work in a print shop, but music is my real passion. I have a band called Bluz Neon.”

“What kind of music do you play?”

“Blues, rock’n’roll and whatever feels right for the moment.”

“Sounds like fun. I’m from São Paulo. Have you been there?”

“No. But you don’t have much of an accent.”

“I lived in many places when I was a little girl. I’ve acquired a taste for traveling. I feel like I’m a citizen of the world, you know.”

“Aren’t you afraid of traveling alone?”

“Of course not.”

“If you need it, there’s a cybercafé in town.”

“Oh, no. No Internet for me on this trip. I didn’t even bring a mobile phone with me.”

“Really? Why not?”

“Let me put it this way… I need to get more connected with myself.”

“I see”, he answered, not quite sure if he really understood what she meant. How could anyone go on a trip without a cell phone? “And what do you do in São Paulo?”

“I used to work for a bank. But I quit my job for this trip. I’ve been exploring the northeastern coastline for a month.”

He thought she was attractive and interesting while taking a swill of his beer. But why did she keep looking at him that way?

“May I ask you one thing, Isadora?”

“Sure.”

“Why do you keep looking at me like that?”

“Oh, I’m sorry… it’s that… you remind me of someone.”

“Who?”

She twirled the glass around with her fingers, anxiously.

“What about you? Don’t you have a hunch that you know me as well?”

“Why would I? Have we met before?”

She smiled and failed to answer his question again. Luca thought he had better not insist. Maybe he reminded her of someone she didn’t want to remember. Yes, maybe that was it.

“Our meal is here”, he announced, pointing out the waiter approaching the table with the tray.

They helped themselves and began to eat. Luca was excited and ordered another beer. It was only the second day on this trip and he was already having a meal with an awesome girl… Not too bad. Cold beer, neighboring tents… Not bad at all.

“Have you ever lived in Spain, Luca?”

“No. Why?”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. Why do you ask? Have you lived there?”

She didn’t answer again. Instead, she smiled in embarrassment and looked towards the outside. Luca was still puzzled. She was mistaking him for somebody else, it had to be that. But she was definitely cute, no doubt about that whatsoever.

“Where are you going from here, Isadora?”

“Somewhere. No plans.”

“No plans? Wow, you must be a very optimistic person.”

“Of course. At the end, everything works out fine.”

“I admire your confidence in life.”

“And why wouldn’t I have confidence in life?”

“For the simple fact that if you don’t plan and take precautions, things get out of control. Don’t you think?”

She laughed as if he were joking and answered:

“Do you know when we really start having things under control?”

“No. But that is something I really want to know.”

“It’s when we give up trying to control them.”

Luca tried to wrap his head around that for a while. But he gave up.

“I don’t get it.”

“Well, if you don’t try to control things, then how could they possibly get out of control?”

“I see.” Luca laughed. He thought it was a joke, but soon realized she wasn’t kidding.

“Are you serious?”

“Of course I am.”

Her logic was impeccable, he thought. But too absurd to be taken seriously. All of his personal business, for instance, how could it possibly work out by itself? His job, his band, his rent, his car maintenance… What about his love affairs? How could all these things sort them out by themselves? No, that was definitely not possible. Life was like a huge cattle herd that had to be tended all the time. What Isadora was proposing was nothing more than mere romanticism. However, he had to admit that such nonsense had a certain appeal when it came from her…

After lunch, they hopped on the bus and headed to Pipa, where they walked around, visited the hostels and the shops, then had ice cream at the town square. Isadora told him about the beaches she had visited a few days before, how she had felt at home in all those places, and how she was getting to know more about herself by roaming aimlessly.

“What about you, Luca? Do you like to travel?”

“Yes. But not as much as you.”

“Are you afraid of getting lost?”

“I think I prefer the safety of my town. I really know my way around when I’m there.”

“I see. What about that scar?”

“Oh, this is a souvenir I got from a rafting trip. Actually, I wrote a blues song about it. Do you want to hear it?”

She did, so he sang the song:

Love is a dangerous thing
No one knows what I’ve been through
The abyss gave me vertigo
And my angst is still here, too
I don’t want the pain of another encore
I’ll be left scarred and sore
Just don’t ask me, baby
Don’t ask me to love you

“Did you have some kind of big disappointment?”, she wanted to know.

“As a matter of fact, I did. But it was a long time ago.”

“Even that kind of suffering has its positive side.”

“I guess it does. I’ve learned my lesson for good.”

“What do you mean? Don’t you want to fall in love again?”

“I prefer not to take the risk. Loving is dangerous.”

“It really is”, she laughed. “The best danger in the world.”

Luca laughed with her. But he didn’t really agree, of course.

*     *     *

Back to Tibau do Sul and the camping grounds, Luca invited Isadora to have something to drink. He had a bottle of wine in his tent and it was a lovely evening.

“I need to tell you something, Luca.”

“What?”

“I had a dream about you.”

“About me? When?”

“Six months ago.”

“But we still hadn’t met then.”

“I’m sure it was you.”

“Are you serious? Was it really me, like you see me now?”

“No, your image wasn’t very clear. But it was you.”

“I don’t understand. How is that possible?”

“Mysteries of life. What about you?”

“What about me?”

“Have you ever had a dream about me?”

“I would love to say ‘yes,’ babe…”, he almost said that. But he said: “No.”

Isadora seemed embarrassed, disappointed.

“In my dream, you asked me to meet you on this beach.”

“Are you really serious?”

“I am. I remembered everything when I woke up, I just didn’t know what beach it was. But I knew it was around this area, and there was a river nearby. Then, last week, when I arrived at Tibau do Sul, I felt that this was the place where I was supposed to find you.”

What did that mean, Luca thought while scratching the scar on his face and feeling increasingly puzzled. Was that some sort of flirting? If it was, it was very creative.

“You told me one more thing in my dream.”

“What?”

“That I had to help you.”

“Help me with what?”

“To jump into the abyss.”

“What abyss?!”

“I don’ know. You just said that. So here I am.”

“I swear I don’t know anything about an abyss”, he answered. And suddenly he remembered… He vaguely remembered a dream… He had dreamed about an abyss a few days before. Yes, it was a dark and terrifying abyss…

It was a coincidence, he thought, trying to get rid of that irksome memory. It was nothing more than a mere coincidence.

“Are you sure you don’t know anything about it?”, she asked again.

“Even if I did, I don’t want to be near any abysses. I don’t like them.”

He was trying hard to understand that whole story… She had to be kidding, it had to be a joke. Either that or she was really crazy.

“So you traveled all the way here, a long way, just because of a dream… What would have happened if I hadn’t showed up?”

“Well, the truth is, I didn’t want to think about this possibility.”

“I think you should’ve thought about it.”

“And you should have remembered me.”

He could tell by the tone of her voice that she was upset. She kept looking at the starry sky, wringing her hands anxiously.

“I’m sorry, Luca. I didn’t mean to be rude”, she finally said, turning towards him. “The thing is… I’m confused. I thought… you’d remember too.”

“That was just a dream, a coincidence.”

“I don’t think it was just a coincidence”, she answered, almost interrupting him. Then she repeated in a whisper, this time trying to convince herself:

“It can’t be.”

Luca felt lost, he had no clue about what to make of the entire situation. How could someone have a dream about a stranger and leave everything behind in search for him without any guarantee of success? The whole thing was insane, inconceivable… She couldn’t be serious. But she didn’t seem to be kidding. There could only be one explanation: she was crazy. And you can’t argue with crazy people.

“Listen, let’s forget this whole thing and have some wine. Would you like to…”

“Do you believe in past lives, Luca?”, she interrupted him.

“Past lives? Why?”

“Do you believe in it or not?”

He tried to answer as fast as he could. He didn’t, of course. He could not believe in such nonsense. On the other hand, he considered that he might have to come up with a good answer if he wanted to score that night.

“It depends…”

“It depends on what?”

“It depends on certain days.”

“I see. And what will your day be like tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow… I guess it will be a good day to believe in everything.”

“Great. Because I have a very crazy story to tell you.”

“Why don’t you tell me now?”

“Because…” She hesitated a bit. “Because I am the one who is not in the mood to believe in everything.”

He tried to come up with something, but she opened her tent and slipped inside.

“Good night, Luca.”

.

CHAPTER 2

From the restaurant, during breakfast, Luca surveyed the camping ground nearby. The blue tent was still there, on the same spot, just a few steps away from his own. Isadora wasn’t. Interesting girl, he thought. Interesting, but such a lunatic. What a shame. All those ideas about living without any plans… So she had come all the way here because she’d had a dream about a guy she didn’t know and was supposed to be found on a beach up in the northeast. And he was that guy. What about that story about leaping into an abyss? No way. The whole idea was absurd.

After breakfast, he walked up the trail eastward, to the sea. He arrived at the hillside and saw the bright sun high in the sky, like a fireball that hovered above the horizon, slowly blazing its way through the daytime hours. He admired the landscape and couldn’t help making a comparison between himself and that mighty power: Nature was effortless at being what it was, while his life was the exact opposite…

He heard the sound of boys surfing and shouting and woke up from his aimless thoughts. He sat there watching them and admiring their skill, their bodies gliding steadily on the water like surfboards. Luca stood up and went down the hill, ready to have some fun with the ocean. He reached the shore and realized that the waves were bigger than he had thought, but jumped in anyway, trying to maintain a certain distance from the surfers and not bother them.

Facing the first big wave that towered before him, he lost his courage and plunged beneath it in order to escape, and almost got dragged by the undercurrent. Then he gave up on the next one. It was scary. Then he gave up a third time. Then he felt ridiculous.

Another wave was coming. He swore not to dodge it and waited for it. When it was just upon him, he let his body float with it. The wave picked up momentum and broke suddenly. A second later, he felt he was flying in the air, going down underneath the large mass of water that tumbled upon him. He lost all control of his own body and, still underwater, spun around over and over like a puppet in tangled strings. Finally, he hit his head on the sandy bottom and got so stunned he couldn’t tell which way was up or down.

Suddenly, he was extremely exhausted and inhaling water when everything around him seemed quiet and painless. He felt as if he was out of the water and out of time. Then he saw her… a woman in a white dress… She was beautiful and she gazed upon him silently and compassionately. He immediately knew that he had met her before, a very long time ago, so long that trying to remember would be useless. She reached out and he understood that as soon as he took her hand, all the suffering would go away like a bad dream. All he had to do was to hold her hand, nothing else…

He felt someone grab him by the hair and pull him up to the surface. For a second, he wanted to protest and beg to be left right there, underwater, but he couldn’t find the strength. The boys took him to the shore, where he threw up and slowly recovered his senses. They told him that he shouldn’t be swimming alone in that area because the waves were too dangerous. Luca thanked them and stayed there, sitting on the sand, watching them dive back into the sea and challenge another batch of massive waves with aplomb. How did the boys control them?

Upon arrival at the camping grounds, he finally became truly aware that he had almost died. How stupid. He had escaped death by an inch. He got in his tent and sat down, still frightened and absorbed by the sensations. He remembered the hallucination, the woman in white. She looked so familiar. Who was she? He also recalled that he had had, for a brief moment, the power to decide on his fate, that he could have spent his very last effort on saving his life or just accepted death.

He hadn’t had enough time to decide, but… what if he really had the chance to make a choice? Would he still fight, struggle for his life and endure the suffering until the last second, or would he let himself go peacefully, away from the suffering in the companion of the woman in white?

He got up and tried to brush off his bad feelings. He didn’t like those things: death, the afterlife… Better not tell anyone and forget about it. He unfolded the beach chair and grabbed the guitar. A little bit of music would drive his ghostly thoughts away.

*     *     *

A waning moon was rising in the sky of Tibau do Sul, along with the first stars. In front of the blue tent, a small, crackling fire provided warmth in the chilly night. Isadora was placing a plate with cheese on a tablecloth.

“It’s been ages since I had my last picnic”, Luca said, bringing a bottle of wine.

“You’re standing up already, would you put that book inside the tent, please.”

“I Ching, the book of changes…”, he said, picking up the book and taking it inside the tent. “I’ve heard about it.”

“It is the Oracle of Tao”, she answered. “It’s like a tool for soul-searching, identifying your inner motions and getting in sync with external actions.

“That’s too mystical for my taste.”

“You concentrate on one question, shuffle the sticks or coins, write down the results and read the corresponding message. But the goal of every Taoist is to reach a point at which use of the oracle is no longer required for capturing the movements.”

“Does it work on skeptics such as myself?”

“It always does. But maybe you won’t quite understand the message.”

Luca opened the bottle of wine and poured it in the glasses.

“What’s the toast going to be?”, he asked.

“To the movements that brought us to this bonfire.”

“Good call.”

They clinked their glasses and drank. And he noticed how beautiful she was by the flickering light of the fire.

“What about that story you were going to tell me?”

Isadora gave him a stern look. Luca could see the bright, fidgety flames reflected in her eyes… He felt strange, an onset of vertigo. He felt as if being dragged into a lighter, distant state of being…

“I had this recurring dream; the first time was two years ago”, she began. “It was always the same place in Spain, a small village… It seemed to be the end of the Middle Ages, sixteenth century or so. In this dream, a child was playing, but I never got a chance to see her eyes. I had this dream many times for months. I underwent hypnosis with a therapist and could see the images better. Then I could see the girl’s eyes. And I saw myself in them. Then I realized that the child was me.”

“Really”, said Luca, trying to hide his skepticism about those things.

“I saw many facts of that girl’s life run through before my eyes, like a movie. I didn’t just see it, I lived it. In fact, I was reliving it, actually sharing the girl’s feelings. I didn’t remember everything, but I remembered many things from that life.”

“What was the girl like?”

“Her name was Catarina. She was a poverty-stricken teenager when she married a German and went on to live with him in Germany. He was a rich man and she learned to be a lady. She had everything she needed to lead an easy, comfortable life, but one day she met a Portuguese missionary and fell madly in love with him… Enrique was his name. He was a Jesuit priest and knew a lot of affluent people, traveled to many countries, spoke several languages and was a bit of a sorcerer.

“What do you mean?”

“He belonged to a secret order, that sort of thing. He used dreams to know what was happening in the court and about political plots of the Church. He would get into other people’s dreams… He used to visit Catarina in her dreams and they shared experiences in other planes of reality. Pretty crazy stuff. One day, they eloped. But something went wrong and he disappeared.”

“Did he die?”

“I don’t know. In fact, Catarina herself never found out what happened. But I would like to know. He must have been arrested or something. Catarina went after him for years and visited many cities, but never found him again. Even in her dreams, he never showed up again.”

“Maybe he found another woman.”

“No. He was madly in love with her.”

“This madly-in-love business never ends well. What happened then?”

“She… Well, she became insane.”

“Insane? Really?”

Isadora took a long time to answer. Luca noticed she had become emotional.

“Yes, she went totally mad, indeed. The absence of Enrique consumed her energies until the end of her life. And that’s the way she died: always looking for him.”

They didn’t say a word for a while, and the silence was like a shadow between them. Luca wanted to ask her why she was telling him that story, but decided to stay quiet. Instead, he asked:

“Did you really remember all those things?”

“It’s more than remembering, Luca. I went through it all over again.”

“And do you really think you are that Catarina girl?”

“I don’t think. I really was.”

Isadora turned her eyes to the bonfire, grabbed a few pebbles and threw them into the flames.

“What about you, Luca? Doesn’t this story concern you at all?”

“I don’t believe in reincarnation.”

“What about the Portuguese sorcerer?”

“What about him?”

She kept throwing peddles into the fire. Luca opened his mouth to repeat the question, but another idea sprung into his mind.

“Wait a minute. You don’t suppose I am Enrique, do you?”

She didn’t answer.

“Did I tell you I was Enrique in that dream of yours?”

“No. But I recognized Enrique in you.” She turned her face and stared peacefully into his eyes.

Luca felt embarrassed and laughed.

“Because of that dream, I left everything behind and came after you.”

He didn’t know what to say.

“But there’s something wrong…”, she said, trying to smile. “You were supposed to remember me, too.”

He took a deep breath, trying to think clearly. This woman had left everything behind to look for someone who had lived in another time and space, in another life, and now she was going from city to city on the northeastern coast in search of that same person, in this life. And she had established that he was that person. Everything had finally fallen into place for him: her strange behavior, the hints she had been dropping… But that was insane, utterly insane. And it all felt like a hazy fog surrounding him.

“Isadora, I have an idea”, he said hastily, eager to change the subject. “Let’s listen to music. I brought my guitar.”

She nodded in approval. He stood up, announced that he had to go to the bathroom first, and marched to the restaurant. When he returned, Isadora had left. He looked at the closed entrance of the blue tent and sighed out of sadness.

*     *     *

Luca opened one eye. Then another. Then both. It was still dark and a bit chilly. He cuddled under the sheet, recollecting the night before, all the nonsense that Isadora had been spewing, her alleged life in Spain, Catarina, the Portuguese sorcerer… Insanity had hazelnut eyes.

Suddenly, he heard someone call out his name. It was Isadora’s voice. He got up, and still wrapped in the sheets, he opened the tent. It was broad daylight with a drizzle.

“Wake-up service for Mr. Luca of the Neon Light. It’s noon.”

Isadora had a smile on her face. She looked more beautiful than ever…

“Noon? Gee, I overslept.”

“Let’s go.”

“Where?”

“Let’s take a walk.”

“In the rain?”

“Of course. When was the last time you frolicked in the rain?”

He rubbed his eyes and thought about the knack she had for saying certain things as if they were the simplest and most logical in the world.

Minutes later, they were walking side by side along a narrow sand trail. The drizzle was filling puddles and permeating the air with soothing freshness. Luca and Isadora were drenched soon.

“If I go back to work with a cold, I’m going to be miserable.”

“Please forget just for a moment that you might get sick.”

“And I didn’t have breakfast. I think I’d better…”

But she was already running ahead of him. He tried to catch up with her with a clumsy stride and water running down his face. Isadora had gone out of his sight, around a bend of the trail. He tried to run, but one sandal got stuck in the mud.

“Isadora, wait for me!”

Suddenly, he remembered a certain day a long, long time ago… an evening… He stopped running, overcome with the unsettling realization that he had already lived that moment before, in a very distant era… but when? A déjà vu. Isadora fading out into the rain, slipping out of his sight… the raindrops on his eyes, the sound of thunder… Luca standing there, breathing heavily, Isadora going away and Luca calling out her name… He couldn’t remember where or when, in what impossible time frame he had experienced that exact same situation.

He stood there, under the rain, mesmerized by the puzzling feeling. But not for long. He was soon taken over by the dark suspicion that he would lose that woman once again if he didn’t run after her.

“Once again?”

*     *     *

It was still raining after sunset in Tibau do Sul. Luca and Isadora were having fish soup at the hostel’s restaurant, and Luca was savoring every single bit of the precious occasion: the soup, the rainfall, the music on the radio… His head was light and his thoughts wandered out aimlessly. He was genuinely relaxed at last, for the very first time on that trip. The problems that awaited him in Fortaleza were now a distant reality. Things were very simple in this new reality…

He looked at Isadora sitting across the table, busy with her dish, and marveled at the realization that she fit so well into the whole scene: the rain falling down outside, the simplicity of that place… Isadora seemed to inhabit another level of comprehension that was unattainable for himself. She understood the essence of everything effortlessly while he had to put a vast amount of effort into… being unpretentious.

What time was it? It was probably between six and seven o’clock, he estimated. Or maybe around eight and nine. He could ask, but chose not to. He didn’t want to know the time. Time was no longer an issue. Being with Isadora was like being free from the shackles of time.

She had dragged him out of his sleep and taken him to experience the pleasures of a rainy afternoon, an old and forgotten pleasure from childhood. They ran on the trail, drank cachaça and watched the rain from under thatch roof shelters. They laughed at old jokes and ate roasted corn on the cob. Now, they were having fish soup. A perfect day, like every day should be.

“I’m sorry about yesterday, Luca. I didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable with the story I told you.”

“Did you really have a dream about me?”, he asked, with equal parts of curiosity and fear of resuming that conversation.

“Can we talk about something else?”

“Sure.”

He felt relieved. He actually preferred to avoid the subject. There was something about it that really bothered him, he just didn’t know what it was exactly.

“So tell me about Taoism. I’m curious. It’s an old religion, isn’t?”

“It’s five thousand years old. There’s a religious side to it, but I prefer the philosophical side.”

“And what’s it like?”

“I’m not going to tell you.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’ll laugh about it.”

“I promise I won’t laugh.”

“Well, on second thought, you should laugh about it.”

“I won’t laugh, I swear.”

“Philosophically speaking, Taoism is an intuitive approach to understanding reality. The Western world and its scientific reasoning cannot grasp it. It’s mind-twisting.”

“What is that intuitive approach like?”

“To observe life’s natural movements and behave in conjunction with them. That’s the way of Taoism.”

“So a Taoist person is connected with Nature?”

“The Taoist is connected with the Tao, which is to say that he is connected with himself, with Nature, with plain and natural truths. The Tao is the assembly of everything, it’s that which joins all the things and connects the self to the whole. When you’re in sync with the Tao, living becomes a simpler undertaking. Even if you live in the chaos of large cities, you can stay connected with the mind of Nature.”

“The mind of Nature? What did you smoke?”

“No”, she answered, laughing. “Let me explain. Nature is life and life undergoes changes, like seasons. This connection with Nature is the Taoist’s guiding star through chaos. For example, when we grow overly attached to something, that goes against Nature, because the object of attachment is constantly changing and we remain attached to something that no longer exists. When something doesn’t change, it will rot. This dynamics is also the Tao.

“Is the Tao a god?”

“The Tao is not a personified entity like the gods of religions. It’s impersonal, it has no will or morals. The Tao itself is the action of life, the natural flow of reality.

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“That’s because we can’t explain the Tao. We can only perceive it.”

“Well, as a matter of fact, I don’t see anything that might be ever understood in all that.”

“Those who question the Tao fail to imagine it. And those who try to provide answers don’t really have any.”

“To be in sync with all the things… Sounds like a rather passive stance, don’t you think?”

“On the contrary. Grasping the flow of the Tao is a challenging endeavor of intimate labor, an internal alchemy. But once you accomplish it, you’ll be able to tune yourself to the natural forces of life and become one with everything that exists.”

“What if I want to go against the Tao?”

“You will be tired very often.”

Tired often… Luca seemed to hear those inconvenient words more than once in his head.

“Those who are in sync with the Tao need not do anything. Yet, they’ll always do what must be done.”

“But that’s contradictory.”

“I told you. It boggles the mind.”

“Can the Tao be translated?”

“The Chinese ideogram that corresponds to the Tao is composed of head plus foot. The path, the meaning.”

“To me, it sounds like something that has no heads or tails…”, he said and laughed. “Oops, I’m sorry!”

“That’s OK, you can laugh”, she said and laughed, too. “It wouldn’t be the Tao without the laughter.”

He finished his soup and kept staring, captivated by the sight of her: the hazelnut eyes, the wet hair, the gracious mouth, the prominent breasts under the T-shirt and… she was crazy, delightfully crazy.

Suddenly, she raised her head and met his gaze. He knew he had been caught red-handed.

“What are you thinking, Mr. Luca of the Neon Light?”

“Oh, nothing…”

“I know what you’re thinking. Would you like to hear it?”

He nodded. She took the last mouthful of soup, wiped her mouth clean and said it naturally:

“My boobs.”

He couldn’t believe what he’d just heard.

“And, if you want to know, I was lo-ving it…”

First, the stupid look on his face. Then they held hands firmly across the table. Then they locked lips and kissed passionately. The tongues could not wait another second. Waiter, check, please hurry, keep the change, one last swig from the beer, rush back to the tent, the rain still falling…

They were panting and had mud all over. They got into his tent and kneeled down facing each other. She rolled up her T-shirt, exposing her breasts, and whispered:

“Come.”

He hurled himself upon the woman’s breasts with every hand, mouth and tongue he could possibly have. They were like ripe, juicy mangoes and he was a pitiful, ravenous man. She grabbed him by the head and pulled him fast, meanwhile they took off whatever piece of garment they still had on and rolled over, nearly knocking the tent over. She climbed on top of him, clasped his arms and rode it, sliding all the way up and down, up and down…

Luca shut his eyes in ecstasy, engulfed by sensations like he’d never felt before. The spellbinding stare on Isadora’s eyes, her silky skin, her lovely scent, the musical quality of her groan, the irresistible pleasure of her kiss… Everything about her was just too good, beyond his comprehension. The whole experience was so overwhelming that he was, for the first time, having sex almost unaware of what he was doing exactly. There was no rationalizing this time. Instead, he closed his eyes and let these sensations take over… the feeling of sharing his body… the feeling that something was swallowing him… a succession of inward contractions… at regular rate… swallowing him…

Then it burst. He blew up in shards that flew every which way at unimaginable speed, millions of fragments launched into the infinite cosmos. Luca was debilitated from the great strain and felt that he was coming to a demise, slowly shrinking, fading out, expiring… forever.

*     *     *

First, one eye. Then another. Luca budged under the sheet and remembered Isadora, the walk in the rain, the sex in the tent… The wildest, most amazing sex he’d ever had.

He turned around and did not find Isadora. He had a bad feeling. He got up quickly and went out. It was broad daylight, and the blue tent was gone. There was no sign of Isadora either. He stood there, puzzled. The vertigo came over him again, that odd feeling of slipping into a dream… For a brief moment, he feared that Isadora had never really existed.

He put on the sunglasses, ran to the restaurant and asked if anyone knew where the owner of the blue tent had gone. One of Ms. Zezé’s sons knew: she had checked out. Luca sat down, brokenhearted for not having Isadora around anymore, but also relieved to confirm that she actually existed, that everything had actually happened. He ordered a strong coffee, took a table by the restaurant’s entrance and drank while looking at the camping ground and at the blue tent that no longer was there. Suddenly, Isadora’s absence became a vast and timeless void in his soul. Such an unusual feeling… How could something that did not even exist until three days ago now turn his existence into complete emptiness?

He went back to his tent and finally noticed the piece of paper, folded and placed on the bed linen:

I’ve found you. There’s no turning back now. Jump into the abyss.

One hour later, he had packed his tent and checked out of the camping ground, and walked down the sandy trail to the road where he would take the bus to Natal, where he would take a bus to Fortaleza. Then he saw a small brown snake slither across the trail. He came to a halt and took a step back. He didn’t like snakes. Snakes made him think of death, the same death that almost took him in the sea, in Tibau do Sul. The snake halted too, and peered at him for a while before proceeding and vanishing in the woods. Luca checked to be sure it was not dangerous anymore and resumed his walk, thinking about the horror of waking up at night with a snake in his tent.

“Well, it would be a lot worse if I woke up inside the snake…”, he thought, jokingly.

On the bus, he read the note for the tenth time. “Jump into the abyss.” What abyss?

.

CHAPTER 3

It was going to be a busy week. On Thursday, Bluz Neon would play at the Papalégua, a famous bar in the bohemian Iracema Beach. On Friday, Balu, their keyboard player, would celebrate his birthday. On Saturday, the band would play at a rock festival on Cumbuco Beach, just a half-hour drive from the city. In all of these occasions, Luca would find suitable opportunities to take refuge under the generous shroud of the night and forget about the daylight that awaited him on the other side.

“I am honored to introduce you to…”, announced Carlito, the owner of the Papalégua. “Junior on the guitar, Ranieri on the bass, Balu on the keyboards, Ninon on the drums, and Luca on vocals and acoustic guitar.”

“And on whiskey!”, someone shouted from the crowd.

“And now, our attraction every Thursday… Bluz Neon!”

When all band members were on stage, Luca followed his old ritual: knocking back a shot of whiskey and greeting the crowd.

“Good evening. Partying is all we have.”

The band made its usually lively performance with their own songs and a few classic rock and blues covers. Luca paid a tribute to Iracema Beach, mentioning its beautiful women, notable local characters and the magic that spread through the streets like the sea breeze. He climbed off the stage, took a place at a table with a bunch of girls while still singing, and even drank from their glasses. Towards the end of the show, he announced the sale of their demo CD, recorded live during a concert in Canoa Quebrada. As usual, the night was closed with a rendition of The Navel Blues and an invitation for all girls who had their navels exposed to climb on stage and dance to a fun combination of blues and baião. Partying is all we have.

After the show, back from the dressing room, Luca took a place at the bar and ordered a double shot of whiskey. He took a swig and sang the lyrics to the rock’n’roll song he’d been writing lately.

There is a place at the bar
For those who don’t know where they’re going

He remembered Isadora… Isadora and her kisses, her breasts, her craziness… Her conversations about the Tao, dreams, abysses, past lives… He had spent three days in her company, and now it had been three weeks without a clue about where she might be. He wondered if he would ever see her again.

“Hi, Luca.”

He was startled and turned around to see who had just spoken. It was a red-haired girl sitting at the bar right next to him. She smiled and said she was a fan, she had the CD recorded in Canoa Quebrada and wanted an autograph.

“Yes, of course”, obliged Luca, brushing Isadora away from his mind and borrowing a pen from the bartender. He noticed the girl was rather nice and had a certain air of delightful lewdness. But, holy cow, she looked like she was only sixteen years old! How could the bar let those lolitas get in?

Partying is all we have
And I’ve go no time to waste, babe

He took a long sip from his drink and felt the liquid going down his throat. Yeah, that blessed burning sensation, the last forbidden frontier of the night… The hallway to the next level of reality, where everything could happen.

“Do you like whiskey?”, he asked.

“I love it!”

He took another swig, pulled her by the waist in a quick motion and kissed her, feeding the booze into her mouth.

“Holy shit…”, she muttered, still surprised. “That was the most inebriating kiss of my life!”

One hour later, they were listening to Angela Ro-Ro singing Mares da Espanha in the Luca’s living room. The girl lit up a joint and Luca turned down the volume for the second time.

“Relax, man! Partying is all we have!”, she protested, handing the joint over to him.

“I agree with you. But I have a neighbor who doesn’t.”

“So why don’t you sing a blues for me, please…”

“Come on, babe. I sing the blues with the band all the time.”

“Then I’ll put the CD on!”

He wanted to burn incense, but couldn’t find the box where he keep it. He had it just one minute ago, where could it have gone? He opened another beer and got a kick out of the girl’s rendition of the Bluz Neon songs. She knew them all by heart, even the comments during the breaks, amazing! She asked if the band wouldn’t be interested in having a red-haired female singer. “Red-haired, blond, brunette, all of them…”, he answered jokingly. Where the hell was the incense? She put the first song on again. He tried to sink into the couch, but miscalculated the move and landed with a pratfall, spilling his beer.

“Dammit! The cleaning lady must have moved the couch.”

He laughed at his own joke and staggered in search of a mop. He came back, slipped on spilt beer and almost fell down again.

“Dammit! What is going on here, a conspiracy?”

He swept the floor, sat on the sofa and made a gesture for the girl to sit next to him. “I want to see your famous blues navel up close”, she said. He chuckled and lifted his shirt, showing his belly button. She smiled, licked her own lips with lust and kneeled down between his legs.

“Hey, babe, tell me… How old are…?”

“I’ve already told you, Luca.”

She kissed his belly button and tickled him with the piercing she had in her tongue. Then she unzipped his pants.

“Have you? Then I forgot.”

“Eighteen.”

“Oh, of course…” He reached out for the beer can, but couldn’t find it. The objects in the house were definitely playing pranks on him. “How about sixteen?”

“Ok, Mr. Police Officer, seventeen and a half.”

The beer can was on the floor. How did it end up there? The piercing on her tongue was weird… But it felt good.

“I don’t think I can believe that.”

Still kneeling down between his legs, she stopped caressing him, looked up with half a smile, slightly annoyed, tucked her hair behind her ears and looked directly at him:

“Last offer, Luca: seventeen. Are you okay with it or not?”

“OK, deal.”

He took another sip from the beer, still lying on the couch, and allowed himself to relax… The room had pleasant dim light, and the girl was again focused on caressing him, kneeling between his legs, hair like a red curtain covering her face. He thought that having backing vocal girls in the band wasn’t such a bad idea. They would run an ad on the paper: “Band on its way to stardom seeks fine, cool backing vocal females, auditions with Luca at night time…” He pulled the red curtain to one side and saw her blue eye peeking at him with a smile. He didn’t remember her having blue eyes. No, having women in the band was not a good idea. They had better stay where they were: in the audience. And behind the curtains. Behind the curtains… the curtains…

Bam! He suddenly came back to his senses. Where was he? What time was it? He was way too drunk, holy shit. A little bit of streetlight came in through the window. In front of him, tiny green lights… blinking… indicating the presence of some sound equipment…

He was at home! Of course. He was at home, in the living room of his own apartment, on the sofa, obviously. He sighed, whew, what a relief! He’d just blacked out for a while, no big deal, everything was fine. Too much booze on an empty stomach. And those two girls kneeling down between his legs…

Two?! He rubbed his eyes, puzzled. He tried to remember… One of them was the red-haired girl from the bar, the fan. Who was the other one? He had no idea. The neighbor from downstairs? He tried to focus, but she didn’t seem familiar. Maybe she was a friend of the ginger’s. But how did she get in? Who had opened the door?

He finally realized that he was so drunk that he was seeing double, and he burst out laughing. Sex with two women was great, but not exactly that way…

The girl stopped servicing him and asked if he was really that interested.

“Wait a minute, my lil’ baby…” He sat up straight on the sofa, laughing at his own intoxication. “Your name… What’s your name again?”

“No way, Luca. I’m not telling you again.”

“Well, I don’t want to scare you, but… there’s another hot chick right next to you.”

And he laughed again. That was the funniest thing ever.

“She’s my twin sister”, she grinned uncomfortably. “Can you see her, too?”

“What?”

“She died when I was a child. She shows up occasionally.”

He wasn’t laughing anymore. Twin sister? Dead? Really? He stared at the two girls again, both kneeling down between his legs, and felt really disturbed.

“Don’t pay attention, she’ll just leave.”

No, that was it. Having sex with a ghost was more than he could handle.

“I’m sorry…”, he said, pushing her head away from his crotch. Then he got up and pulled his pants up. “Today is not a good day.”

He went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and found one last beer. At least he still could count on a beer. Some days can be really unlucky. He should have stayed at the bar with the other guys.

He came back to the living room and saw the two women looking at the city, their naked bodies leaning against the window carelessly, both in the same position. For a moment, he admired them, so beautiful and alluring. He thought about reconsidering his decision but… no. Pedophilia with ghosts was tough business.

“Can I crash here, Luca?”

“Erm… I think I should take you both home. Come on.”

Half an hour later, he stopped the car in front of their building.

“My sister doesn’t mean any harm, Luca.”

“That’s alright.”

“I didn’t know that you were sensitive.”

“Who? Me?”

“Will I see you again?”

“If your sister doesn’t mind…”

He waited until the two women entered the building and started the old Beetle. Then he left and saw the first rays of Friday’s light creep into the city. And he cursed it. Once again, the unwelcome light of day was dissolving the magic of the night.

He had to be at the print shop by eight o’clock. He could get no more than an hour’s sleep. A twin sister from beyond the grave… He had better not mention this to anyone. No one would believe it anyway.

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“Wake up, Big Tiger! It’s three o’clock!”

Lucas could hear a female voice… far away…

He gradually opened his eyes and recognized the bedroom, then slipped back into the sudden new reality. It was Saturday… Or was it Friday? No, it was definitely Saturday, 3 PM… He was supposed to play a gig in Cumbuco Beach later that night…

“The light bulb is burnt out and the sink is clogged! What about this cracked mirror… We look horrible in it! Why don’t you take the cover fee from tonight’s gig and fix this bathroom already?”

“Stop yelling, Soninha, please…”

He covered his head with the pillow, trying to insulate himself from that loud sound storm of a woman. Damn shit, there should be a law against waking up a human being like that, especially if the human being went to bed at noon…

“Have you seen my other boot, Big Tiger?”

He got up still drowsy, while the most dreadful thirst was scraping his throat. He went to the kitchen to drink water, but remembered Jim Morrison’s famous words, when I woke up this morning, I got myself a beer, the future’s uncertain and the end is always near…

Soninha was putting on her black high heel boots when he sat on the edge of the bed, took a long sip from the beer and engaged in the task of admiring her. Soninha… Beautiful, sexy, but utterly irrational, the very definition of trouble. A muscle bound fitness instructor who was addicted to the gym environment and amphetamines, and enjoyed working even on Sundays. Her other addiction was sex, with lots of alcohol, fuss and scratches. She had been born to a wealthy family, was a staple of the gossip columns, but was turned on by hooking up with shaggy rockers in the underground scene. Whenever Luca saw her in the crowd during the band’s concerts, he knew what the night would be like: they would binge drink, she would insist on paying for everything and take him to a five-star hotel by the seashore where he would rip off her clothes and leave her naked except for the black boots, then they would have sex like crazy, wild animals on the floor, first by the window then on the kitchen countertop. In the morning, she would go straight to the gym without a wink. Or they could end up sticking with plan B: she would drink too much, have a breakdown and the night would be ruined.

On Balu’s birthday party, the night before, she showed up wearing a very short dress and her infamous black boots, which she always wore when she was up to no good. Luca was chatting up a girl who was a friend of Ninon’s, he was rather interested in her, but… hmmm, that familiar look in Soninha’s eyes and the boots… How could he resist?

One hour later, Balu opened a bottle of whiskey and served it to all the guests. Then he put on Balu’s Blues Compilation Volume 9 and rolled up a joint, which set the party into high gear. At 7 AM, Iana, Balu’s girlfriend, had to knock on the bathroom door and tell the horny couple in there that the party was over and everybody was gone.

“Oh, come on”, Soninha protested from inside, “it’s Friday!”

“No”, Iana disagreed, patiently. “It’s Saturday.”

The door opened and out came Luca with unbuttoned shirt and not a single hair in place.

“It’s not tomorrow until we wake up”, he philosophized solemnly.

Luca filled up a glass, drank half of it and Soninha finished it off. They waved their good-byes and extended their party at Roque Santeiro, a small bar in Mucuripe, where they served meat stew and beer, perfect ingredients for closing the endless night, listening to the music of Genival Santos, Diana and Odair José. Soninha seemed to be just fine until she convinced herself that a girl was hitting on Luca and decided to tackle the girl and throw her on the floor along with the beer bottles that were sitting on the table. That surely put an end to civil, healthy fun and they were asked to leave the premises. A regular plan B.

“The little fun we had in Balu’s bathroom did not advance the score, do you hear me, Big Tiger? You could barely stand on your feet.”

Luca took another sip of the beer and admired her some more. Strong thighs, the minuscule bikini tan line, the small breasts… She was standing next to the bed, naked and yummy. With her black boots on.

“You’re going to be late for class, teacher…”

“I have time.”

Before long, she was being penetrated slowly by Luca and reached out for the cell phone, dialed a number, dialed it wrong, dialed again, closed her eyes and spoke in pauses while explaining to the gym receptionist that the stand-by instructor should be brought in because… there was a… a… hang on… ouch… something had come up… yes, something unexpected… wait a sec… hmmm… and she wouldn’t be there until… ouch… until five.

*     *     *

Luca grabbed a pen, and while the others were tuning their instruments, he sat down in a corner of the dressing room and started scribbling on a napkin.

“Freshly out of the oven, Junior”, he said. Then he sang it to his friend.

There is a place at the bar
For those who wander lost in their haste
Partying is all we have
And I’ve go no time to waste, babe
One shot now
I need a drink to steer my fate

“I like it. But don’t get your hopes up because the set list for tonight is already done, do you copy?”

“I promise.”

Minutes later, Ninon hit the pedal on the bass drum and Luca got on stage. From up there, he could see the crowd sprawl on the beach sand, the ocean to the right, the majestic moon on the sky… He knocked all his whiskey back and took the microphone:

“Good evening.”

“Good evening!”, replied a few girls close to the stage.

“Partying…”

“Is all we have!”, they finished the sentence cheerfully.

The concert proceeded without any incident. But towards the end, after the traditional Navel Blues, Luca pulled a napkin from his pocket and announced, with the coarse voice from all the excesses of the last few days:

“This one is called One Shot Right Now. We haven’t had time to rehearse it yet. The guys will hate me for this, but what the hell, just look at this beach, and this moon…

He picked up the acoustic guitar, sat on a stool, strummed a few strings then stopped. He signaled to Ninon on the drums to get started. The other band members shook their heads in resignation and played along. It sounded terrible, of course, but the girls on the front row made so much noise while cheering and applauding that, luckily, nobody paid much attention to the song.

After the performance, Ranieri showed up in the dressing room bringing one of the cheerful fans. She said she had loved the concert and her friends were outside, nearly desperate to meet the band members.

“You mean the bachelor band members, isn’t that right, my dear?”, remarked Celina while dragging her boyfriend Ninon by the arm. “We are going back to the hostel. So are you, Balu, it’s bedtime for all the married ones.”

A few beers later, all the single band members were hanging out on the beach sand with their newfound friends. The moon over Cumbuco beach, the breeze sweeping through the coconut trees, waves breaking on the shore, and everyone talking at the same time. Junior played a guitar that was out of one string, Ranieri tapped on a crushed beer can and Luca feigned singing with the little voice he still had left. More songs and more beer. Does anyone have rolling paper? Hey, Junior, play that favorite of mine. Are you sure we can smoke? We could be fined for having too much fun. Will you hook us up with tickets for Papalégua? Is this my booze? The most beautiful navel belongs to Ranieri. Swimming on the ocean at night is harmless. It’s harmless… it’s harmful…

Splash! Luca suddenly came back to his senses. Everything was pitch-black around him. It was hot like hell. He was in a sauna. No, no, he was in bed. But where? And under his sweaty body, there was a… a woman. He was coming in and out of her body with violence, and she said things he could not understand. He was startled. He simply didn’t know who that woman was.

He didn’t stop the thrusting movement while trying to remember… but all that he could remember was the concert, nothing after that. He looked at the face under his body and saw nothing. It was too dark. He tried to concentrate on what she was saying, but he couldn’t understand a word of it. Maybe she was from another country. Or from outer space.

He was still way too drunk. He made an effort to remember something, anything… but nothing ever surfaced in his mind. He just had no idea whom he was fucking on that bed. Holy shit.

The sweat was running down his skin, making a bigger mess of his body against the body of the unknown woman. He could not reach an orgasm and was running out of strength to go on. The gruesome experience was compounded by some terrible, random axé music being played loud nearby, ah eh, ah eh, oh, oh… He thought about getting up and switching on the fan. He thought about yelling that someone turn the damn music down. Rather, no. All he had to do was to get it over with, go back to the hostel, hit the bed, and pass out.

He closed his eyes and tried to focus, forget about the heat, about the music, and about the woman without a face. But he opened his eyes again because the felt the room was spinning. Oh no, he didn’t want to throw up, not now, no…

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The Irresistible Charm of Insanity

CHAPTERS

prologue – 1 – 2 – 3
4 – 5 – 6
7 – 8 – 9
10 – 11 – 12

 


Portugal, 2a temporada

15/07/2016

15jul2016

Trinta e cinco dias de música e literatura em terras portuguesas

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PORTUGAL, 2a TEMPORADA

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Entre 15 de maio e 19 de junho de 2016 eu estive novamente em Portugal, dessa vez com meu parceiro Felipe Breier, a realizar uma temporada musical-literária, com apresentações do Vinicius Show de Moraes e sessões de autógrafos dos meus livros, incluindo o mais recente, Versos Safadinhos para Noites Românticas ou Vice-versa.

Minha irmã Ana Érika nos hospedou em Braga, no norte do país, e nesse período nos apresentamos dez vezes em três cidades. Em Braga, as apresentações aconteceram na Associação Cultural Sol em Movimento, no restaurante Caldo Entornado, no bar Notre Dame, na livraria Mavy, na livraria Centésima Página e no Rossio Café Bar. Na Lousã, foram no Parque Carlos Reis e no 94 Bar, e na cidade do Porto, elas aconteceram nos espaços culturais Gato Vadio e Casa Bô. Fizemos também uma apresentação informal na casa dos amigos Neto e Virgínia, na Lourinhã. A capital Lisboa ficou de fora por não dispormos de bons contatos e uma estrutura de apoio suficiente lá, mas quem sabe dê certo numa futura temporada.

Fomos carinhosamente recebidos e fizemos muitas amizades. Agora, de volta, temos dentro de nós um tanto da alma portuguesa, e isso nos enriquece. Obrigado a todos que nos ajudaram. Um obrigado especial a Ana Érika, Caiote, Juliana, Susana, Andrea, Elisabete, Graça, Alex e Adriana.

A sensação é de gratificação: nossa proposta de unir música e literatura brasileiras num concerto para bares e livrarias foi bem aceita, mais do que prevíramos. Para o escritor que sou, saber que em Portugal ficarão vários livros meus e vários novos leitores, uau, isso é bom demais. E como é bom constatar que Vinicius de Moraes ainda vive na memória afetiva de boa parte do povo português. Saravá!

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PORTUGAL, mai-jun2016

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De Lisboa, eu e Felipe fomos direto para Lourinhã, no litoral, comemorar o aniversário de minha amiga Virgínia. Lá, em sua casa, apresentamos trechos do Vinicius Show de Moraes para ela, Neto e seus amigos. Que noite deliciosa! Como presente de aniversário, bom cearense que sou, levei duas garrafas de Ypióca. Que ajudei a baixar, evidentemente.

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Com Felipe, Neto e Susana no Buddha Eden, em Carvalhal. Localizado na Quinta dos Loridos, o Buddha Eden é o maior jardim oriental da Europa, com cerca de 35 hectares, e foi criado em protesto contra a destruição dos Budas Gigantes de Bamyan, um dos maiores atos de barbárie cultural da história. Com seus enormes budas, pagodes, estátuas de terracota e esculturas cuidadosamente dispostas entre a vegetação, é uma obra impressionante. Para construí-la, foram usadas mais de 6 mil toneladas de mármore e granito.

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Evoé, Baco! No Buddha Eden. Por falar em vinho, em Portugal compra-se uma ótima garrafa de vinho (cheia, evidentemente) pelo equivalente a R$ 8. Putz… Desse jeito, até quem não bebe, bebe.

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Chegamos em Portugal sem nenhuma apresentação marcada. Tudo que tínhamos era o interesse de dois bares em Braga, que eu conhecera em minha primeira temporada portuguesa (dez2015 e jan2016). Uma tarde, na livraria Centésima Página, conhecemos uma brasileira, que nos levou para conhecer a Associação Cultural Sol em Movimento. Foi lá que, dias depois, fizemos a primeira apresentação pública do Vinicius Show de Moraes e a primeira sessão de autógrafos dos meus livros. Obrigado, Carla e Ângela.

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A segunda apresentação foi no Notre Dame, no centro histórico de Braga, um bar de inspiração gótica que toca muito rock dos anos 80. Foi uma noite bastante divertida, onde portugueses e brasileiros se confraternizaram no ritmo da bossa nova e do samba e na poesia de Vinicius. Obrigado, Pedro Bacelar.

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Com Felipe, concentrando com um saboroso Douro para a apresentação/sessão de autógrafos no restaurante Caldo Entornado, no centro histórico de Braga. Obrigado, Rodrigo e Inês.

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Quarta apresentação. Livraria Mavy, em Braga. Que, na verdade, é um bar, onde funcionava uma antiga livraria, vizinho a Sé, no centro histórico. Virou um delicioso snack bar, mas manteve o nome e boa parte da estrutura da livraria. Obrigado, Filipe Morgado.

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No fim de maio acontece a Braga Romana, festa que dura cinco dias e que relembra o tempo de dois milênios atrás, quando Braga integrava o Império Romano, evocando o seu cotidiano como Bracara Augusta, a cidade-capital da província da Galícia (ou Galécia, ou Galiza). Na foto, eu e minha querida amiga e sócia Marcinha, que durante uma semana esteve conosco, a impressionar os portugueses com seu charme e sua beleza.

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Estou num bar a me esquentar com um copo de vinho do Douro, quando de repente ela passa na rua, seguida de três músicos vestidos como árabes de há dois mil anos. Ela, a sinuosa dançarina, deslizando seu poético bailado para os meus olhos subitamente fisgados. Ah, a sedução do feminino… Mais embriagante que o melhor vinho.

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Na estação de comboios de Coimbra, a caminho da Lousã.

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Em Coimbra, com Felipe e a namorada Juliana, que nos acompanhou e ajudou na produção dos eventos.

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Ela, a imponente Universidade de Coimbra. Criada em 1290 e atualmente com cerca de 20 mil alunos, ela é a mais antiga de Portugal e uma das maiores universidades do país, oferecendo todos os graus acadêmicos em arquitetura, educação, engenharia, humanidades, direito, matemática, medicina, ciências naturais, psicologia, ciências sociais e desporto.

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SAUDADES DO BRASIL NA LOUSÃ

Situada a leste de Coimbra, Lousã é uma cidadezinha pequena, ladeada por serras onde dormitam dezenas de pequeninas aldeias semi-habitadas, que hoje são atração turística junto às trilhas ecológicas da região.

Na Lousã, eu e Felipe Breier nos apresentamos em duas noites, a primeira no Parque Carlos Reis, e a segunda no 94 Bar. Fomos recebidos com aquele tipo de hospitalidade e carinho que já não encontramos nos grandes centros urbanos, aquele benquererzinho que nos cativa e não dá vontade de ir embora nunca mais para sempre. Foi lá que apresentamos pela primeira vez Saudades do Brasil em Portugal, o fado que Vinicius fez para Amália Rodrigues e que está registrado na histórica gravação feita na casa de Amália, em 1968. Não somos fadistas, obviamente, mas fizemos do jeito que nossas almas sentem a melodia e a poesia dessa obra.

Na serra, serpenteando pelas curvas da estrada e visitando as aldeias praticamente abandonadas, senti, como explicar, algo assim como se cruzasse um portal do espaçotempo, e vivi sensações estranhas, de saber-me de lá, de pressentir mistérios que jamais desvendarei, de um dia ter que voltar… Lá, na aldeia de Catarredor, conheci Ana e Carlos, que nos receberam em sua psicodélica casinha feita de pedras de xisto, e com quem papeamos gostosamente num poético fim de tarde de sexta-feira, agraciados pela deslumbrante paisagem da serra. Ao saber do motivo que nos levara a Lousã, Carlos, em sua longa barba branca de ermitão do xisto, nos contou algo incrível: em 1972, no antigo Teatro Avenida, em Coimbra, ele assistiu a um show… de quem? De Vinicius e Toquinho. Uau, e você gostou?, eu quis saber, já impressionado. E ele: Sim, claro, eles eram muito bons, e nessa noite eu vi com meus próprios olhos: Vinicius bebeu duas garrafas de uísque. E não foi direto pro hospital, né?, completei, rindo com ele, eu transbordante de gratidão por aquele inusitado encontro.

Obrigado a todos que tão bem nos acolheram e apoiaram, em especial a Susana, Graça, Elisabete e Andrea. Obrigado ao grupo de teatro Barraca Preta, aos amigos do Parque Carlos Reis e ao Zé Artur. Lousã, eu voltarei, viu? Só para me perder novamente nas curvas misteriosas do teu espaçotempo.

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A psicodélica residência de Ana e Carlos, na aldeia de Catarredor, na serra da Lousã.

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Com Susana, Elisabete e Ana. Um momento fora do tempo, na serra da Lousã.

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Carlos, o ermitão da Lousã. Em 1972 ele teve o privilégio de assistir ao show de Vinicius e Toquinho no antigo Teatro Avenida, em Coimbra. E eu tive o privilégio de conhecê-lo.

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VINICIUS AO VINHO DO PORTO

Porto é a segunda maior cidade de Portugal, com 240 mil habitantes (Lisboa, a primeira, tem 550 mil, e Braga, a terceira, tem 140 mil). É conhecida mundialmente pelo seu vinho, suas pontes e sua arquitetura contemporânea e antiga, além da Universidade do Porto e de seu principal clube de futebol, o Porto. Foi lá, vindos de três dias na Lousã, onde eu e Felipe Breier apresentamos duas vezes o Vinicius Show de Moraes.

A primeira apresentação foi no Gato Vadio, um interessante espaço cultural de inspiração anarquista, que dispõe de livraria e bar e promove eventos diversos. Ficamos superfelizes de ver o espaço lotado, todos muito respeitosos e atentos ao que cantávamos, recitávamos e falávamos. Nessa noite, dormimos no Rés da Rua, um casarão antigo onde as pessoas vivenciam a filosofia da vida compartilhada, unindo e dividindo comunitariamente custos, necessidades e alegrias (obrigado, Celestino!).

No domingo pretendíamos tocar ao cair da tarde no calçadão da Ribeira, mas após cinco dias de estrada e três apresentações, o cansaço não permitiu. Na terça, já recuperados, nos apresentamos na Casa Bô, outro casarão antigo que une artistas e adeptos de um estilo de vida ligado à ecologia e à vida simples. Lá, dispensamos microfones e nos apresentamos sentados sobre a beirada do palco, num delicioso clima intimista de sarau. Vale destacar: na plateia estava um casal vindo de Vigo, na Espanha, especialmente para ver nosso concerto. Quanta honra!

Obrigado ao pessoal do Gato Vadio, da Casa Bô e do Rés da Rua, pelo carinhoso acolhimento. Estamos muito contentes por ter levado ao Porto a arte de Vinicius de Moraes, e também por agora fazer parte da história desses espaços, onde reunem-se pessoas que, assim como Vinicius, acreditam que, sim, um outro mundo é possível. Um mundo com mais arte e respeito à vida, e menos competição. Com menos consumismo, e muito mais amizade e alegria. Saravá!

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Pelas ruas do centro de Porto, com Felipe e Juliana.

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Na livraria Centésima Página, com o CD do Vinicius Show de Moraes e o livreto Versos Safadinhos para Noites Românticas ou Vice-versa. De modo geral, os portugueses são contidos e discretos em relação ao erotismo, e a literatura erótica em Portugal não tem tanto mercado quanto no Brasil. Meu livreto causava um certo estranhamento na maioria das pessoas, um quase constrangimento, mas a curiosidade prevalecia e acabavam dando uma olhadinha… e compravam. Afinal, a humanidade se divide em dois tipos de pessoas: as que gostam de sacanagem e as que assumem que gostam de sacanagem.

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O sistema de transporte ferroviário de Portugal é de matar de inveja aos brasileiros. Ele nos faz ver como o Brasil errou feio ao priorizar os automóveis, em vez de investir e modernizar seu sistema ferroviário. Rápidos e eficientes, os comboios (trens) cruzam as regiões do país, pondo-se como ótima alternativa ao transporte rodoviário. Costuma ser um pouco mais caro, mas é muito mais seguro e ecologicamente limpo, e pode-se comprar os bilhetes pela internet, com bons descontos. Se tem wi-fi? Sim, tem.

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As duas últimas apresentações, em Braga. Primeiro, na charmosa livraria Centésima Página. Obrigado a Sofia e Helena pela oportunidade de cantar e recitar poesia na presença dos nossos ídolos, que, das estantes, enriqueceram deveras nosso concerto. Depois, no Rossio Café Bar, um aconchegante espaço onde é possível escutar música brasileira de alta qualidade. Nessa noite de despedida, cantamos e dançamos Vinicius de Moraes unindo nossos sotaques aos de portugueses, brasileiros, uruguaios e franceses, numa divertida celebração da arte e da amizade. Obrigado, Rui Carlos.

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Em Lisboa, aquela tradicional ginjinha no Largo de São Domingos. Com Neto, Virgínia, Andrea, Ana Érika e Super-Caiote Tricolor.

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Com Felipe, em Braga, brindando à nossa parceria. Nas dez apresentações que fizemos, experimentamos vários tipos de acordo com o contratante. Em alguns locais, recebemos cachê fixo (entre 60 e 150 euros), e a casa não cobrou ingresso ou couvert dos clientes. Em outros, as pessoas contribuíram voluntariamente (o velho chapéu), o que nos rendeu entre 25 e 90 euros. Houve também uma vez em que a casa cobrou ingresso, a 2 euros, que nos foi integralmente repassado e nos rendeu 40 euros. Em todas as apresentações, vendíamos nossos CDs a 5 euros (Felipe levou também o dele) e livros (entre 3 e 6 euros), e isso nos rendia um trocado a mais. Excetuando duas apresentações em Braga, recebemos abaixo da média do que geralmente recebemos no Brasil, mas, considerando que somos absolutamente desconhecidos para os portugueses e levando em conta as casas em que nos apresentamos e o momento econômico do país, o resultado final foi bom. Em Lisboa, certamente ganharíamos mais, porém lá ainda não temos bons contatos e uma estrutura de apoio suficiente.

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Domesticado em Sintra. Hummm, nem tanto. Continuo com minha velha certeza: melhor correr os riscos da liberdade que viver numa escravidão tranquila.

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Leitura obrigatória: os classificados sexuais nos jornais portugueses. Ah, é uma diliça! Prazer linguístico de primeira qualidade. Como no Brasil, alguns anúncios chamam atenção pela criatividade. “Corpo danone”, por exemplo. O que pode significar isso? Será que ela tem gosto de iogurte? Num outro anúncio, a rapariga se define “boa como milho”. Milho cozido ou assado? “Recém-divorciada” é um clássico, é daqueles termos que atiçam a imaginação do cidadão: Hummm, ela se separou agora, quer compensar o tempo perdido… Outra rapariga apela ainda mais: “carente, namorado ausente”. Uau, namorado ausente é ainda melhor que recém-divorciada, né não? Há uma que “atende sem cueca”. Ops! Calma, eu explico. Cueca, em Portugal, é roupa íntima, masculina ou feminina. Ah, bom… Dúvida sanada, imaginemos: o cidadão sobe as escadas, bate na porta, a rapariga abre e, tchan!, ela já está sem calcinha, entendeu? Taí, gostei dessa, vou ligar agora mesmo.

Os termos e os cacoetes linguísticos me divertem demais, e eles nos falam bastante sobre a cultura do país. Minete, por exemplo. O termo significa sexo oral na mulher. Lendo os anúncios, constatei que é um serviço oferecido com destaque, mais que o boquete. Fiquei intrigado, pois no Brasil prostitutas não costumam alardear a oferta desse serviço. Então fui pesquisar e descobri que para grande parte da população, o sexo oral na mulher ainda é um tabu, algo sujo ou pervertido, não praticado por mulheres sérias e honestas. Por esse motivo, é comum que os homens portugueses, principalmente os mais velhos, busquem fazê-lo com prostitutas e não com suas esposas ou namoradas. Algumas oferecem minete “à canzana”, ou seja, à moda dos cães (de quatro), o que pode significar que a rapariga também aprecia o passeio da língua pelo glorioso fiofó. Quanto ao minete com leitinho, deixo para você imaginar o que pode ser.

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De repente, numa vitrine, o Feminino Sagrado transparece para mim. E, como sempre acontece, o mundo para, e eu sou tocado pelo poder do arquétipo, e é impossível prosseguir sendo o mesmo…

Por falar em Feminino Sagrado, obrigado, moça bonita, sim, você mesmo, obrigado por tudo. Pela surpresa, a súbita e estranha cumplicidade, as horas encantadas… Aquela lua na sacada do hotel, a poética sintonia de almas e corpos, teu riso, teu choro, teu prazer… Obrigado.

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FORA TEMER EM PORTUGAL

Em nossas apresentações do Vinicius Show de Moraes em Portugal, quase sempre havia portugueses e brasileiros na plateia, e às vezes estrangeiros de outros países. Quando o ambiente permitia, incluíamos no roteiro do show comentários sobre o vergonhoso golpe de Estado que a direita armou no Brasil, e o resultado é um coro geral de “Fora Temer!”, que tomava conta do espaço, vazava para a rua e chamava a atenção de todos.

Vinicius, em 1964, viveu o golpe de Estado dos militares, e em 1969 foi expulso por eles do Itamaraty. Nessa mesma época, os portugueses viviam sob a ditadura de Salazar, da qual se libertariam em 1974, com a Revolução dos Cravos. É por isso que os portugueses democratas acompanham com preocupação os acontecimentos no Brasil e torcem para que não vingue o golpe de Temer, Cunha, Aécio e cia. E é por isso que eles gritavam conosco, engrossando o coro pró-democracia: Fora Temer!!! E não havia como não se emocionar.

Defender com firmeza a nossa democracia do outro lado do Atlântico, e ao mesmo tempo divulgar nossa música e literatura… Putz, foi uma experiência bem forte.
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Ricardo Kelmer 2016 – blogdokelmer.com

 

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LEIA NESTE BLOG

IberiaTemporada2015,2016-04aIbéria, 1a temporada – Registros de uma viagem por Portugal e Espanha

Rumo à estação simplicidade – Jurei me manter sempre no caminho, sem pesos nem apegos excessivos, pronto para pegar a estrada no momento em que a vida assim quisesse

O sonho do verdadeiro eu – Entretanto, algo me dizia que na pauliceia eu poderia viver minha vida mais verdadeira, era só insistir

Espirros e roteiros – Se antes eu tinha insônia por me preocupar demais em descobrir o que precisava fazer, hoje me delicio em abrir a janela dos quartos dos hotéis, molhar a ponta do dedo e botar no vento

O dia em que o chinlone me pegou – A arte zen de sair por aí à toa e encontrar o que se precisa

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VSMCD2016Capa-05

Vinicius Show de Moraes
com Ricardo Kelmer e Felipe Breier

Este show nos traz a riqueza da vida e da obra de Vinicius de Moraes, um dos nomes mais importantes da cultura brasileira. Através das músicas, dos poemas e de fatos interessantes da vida de Vinicius, passeamos por grandes momentos da música e da poesia brasileiras e nos divertimos e nos emocionamos com a rica trajetória do homem, poeta, artista, amante, amigo e diplomata que fascinou e ainda fascina gerações no Brasil e no mundo.

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Versos Safadinhos para Noites Românticas ou Vice-versa
Ricardo Kelmer – poemas

Versos Autor de uma dezena de obras, nos gêneros romance, conto, crônica e ensaio, desta vez Ricardo Kelmer deixa a prosa de lado e envereda pela poesia. Escritos entre 1989 e 2016, os 35 poemas deste livro versam sobre amor, paixão, desejo e erotismo. Neles, o autor canta os sabores das aventuras amorosas e celebra o êxtase dionisíaco dos enlaces carnais, mas também diverte-se com os irônicos descaminhos das relações e não esquece de louvar a musa unânime dos poetas, a língua portuguesa. Os desenhos são do artista húngaro Mihály Zichy.

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

 Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
Promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer@gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01COMENTÁRIOS
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01- Come um bacalhau ai por mim. De bacalhau vc entende. Andre Soares Pontes, Fortaleza-CE – jul2016

02- Toooooooop. Isaias Gimenez, Braga-Portugal – jul2016

03- Quando vocês vêm de novo à Lousã? Vá lá, marquem, temos saudades, soube a tão pouco… Carla F Lobo, Lousã-Portugal – jul2016

04- Pronto, já me deixaste em prantos… Saudades saudades saudades… Tens de voltar, querido amigo! As curvas e mistérios da Lousã esperam por ti… Susana X Mota, Leiria-Portugal – jul2016

05- Muito bom, Ricardo! Bonita descrição das nossas terras e gentes…e obrigada também pela visita! 3ª temporada…Novembro? Angela Duarte, Lourinhã-Portugal – jul2016

06- Ricardo, vc tá cada vez melhor. Que ótimo esse material sobre sua estada em Portugal! Abração. Luis Pellegrini, São Paulo-SP – jul2016

07- Massa… Parabéns pela temporada. Ana Vládia Lima, Fortaleza-CE – ago2016

08- Kelmer… boa noite. Foi de uma alegria imensa saber que você também é cabeça-chata. Orgulhei-me. rs “Ostra” coisa, também adorei Portugal. Acho até que conheço um pouco mais que você. Mas não tem nada de competição nisso. Agora numa coisa ganhei de 7 x 0… na safadice.  Um dia conto. Ainda é perigoso falar. Um grande abraço de um conterrâneo que curte seu trabalho. “Inté”!!! PC, Fortaleza-CE – ago2016

09- Caríssimo RK. Mais uma vez tenho a oportunidade de viajar a Portugal, nem tanto pela bolsa de pesquisa – que não tenho -, mas efetivamente por suas palavras viageiras. Roteiro de orgulhar Vinicius e Toquinho, sem dúvida, e com direito a testemunha da época e tal – que figura! As observações dos classificados são um plus antropológico e linguístico – por que não? -, sempre servido com seu bom humor. Não faltou a necessária dose de realismo, num tempo temeroso para nossa prostituída democracia. Espetáculo! Grande abraço e meu muito obrigado. Leite Jr., Fortaleza-CE – ago2016


Ibéria 1a temporada

12/02/2016

12fev2016

Registros de uma viagem por Portugal e Espanha

IberiaTemporada2015,2016-04a

IBÉRIA, 1a TEMPORADA

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Quando minha irmã Ana Érika me convidou para passar uma temporada em Portugal, onde ela atualmente faz doutorado na Universidade do Minho, em Braga, em princípio relutei. Dois meses parecia muito. Largar meus compromissos profissionais cotidianos e ficar dois meses na Europa? Tentador, claro, mesmo tendo somente algumas semanas para me preparar.

Mas topei. Ana vivia lá sozinha com o filhote Caio, e ter amigos e familiares por perto é sempre bom nessas situações. Para mim, particularmente, além de matar a saudade deles, seria uma ótima oportunidade de conhecer Portugal, e eu ainda poderia esticar até a Espanha, uma velha paixão kelmérica. Aliás, os dois países são cenários de meu romance O Irresistível Charme da Insanidade, que ganhara uma versão em espanhol. Eu também poderia aproveitar e fazer contatos profissionais na área editorial, ou para voltar lá depois levando o Vinicius Show de Moraes. É, tinha que topar mesmo.

Registrei a viagem com fotos e comentários quase diários no Instagram. Seguem alguns desses registros. Desculpe a qualidade das imagens, meu celular não é dos melhores para isso.

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PORTUGAL-ESPANHA, dez2015-jan2016

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Iberia201512Lisboa-18

Peguei um voo da TAP saindo de Fortaleza, direto para Lisboa. Oito horas de voo, chegando às nove da manhã. Tomei um sonífero mas dei somente umas curtinhas cochiladas no avião, mas foi uma viagem tranquila. Ana e Caio me esperavam num apartamento em Alfama, alugado por dois dias. Foi lá que comecei a gostar de Portugal, justamente no bairro onde nasceu o fado.

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Flanando pela Baixa e molhando a mão nas águas do velho Tejo. Virado sem dormir, e mais o fuso horário (3 horas a mais que Fortaleza), eu me sentia meio lento e anestesiado, e eu sou um ser que não funciono se não tiver dormido. Mas foi um bom passeio.

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Iberia201512Lisboa-253

Não fui para Portugal fazer programa. Prefiro fazer isso no Brasil, você sabe, é mais seguro no país onde a gente mora. Mas aquela moça, tá vendo na foto, lá na calçada olhando para mim? Poizé, ela me fez uma proposta boa e findamos a tarde num quarto de hotel ali próximo. Foi então que aprendi o que é um minete e um broche. Em certo momento, ela se empolgou e gritou: Enfia tudo na minha peida!!! Num primeiro momento, achei que tinha escutado errado, e perguntei: Onde? E ela confirmou: Na minha peida, vai, enfia!!! E eu: Olha, moça, sem querer cortar o clima, mas… onde fica tua peida? E ela: Aqui atrás, ó, pá… Bem, no fim deu tudo certo, ela me deu três livros do Saramago e cada um saiu satisfeito para seu lado. E eu despertei. Havia adormecido e sonhado, sentado num banco na Rua Augusta. Despertei e, do outro lado da rua, a moça ainda olhava para mim…

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À noite, encontramos Andrea e Gisele, amigas brasileiras que moram em Lisboa, e que nos levaram para passear pelo Bairro Alto. Jantamos num pequeno restaurante na área do Cais do Sodré. Um aviso aos brasileiros que pretendem ir a Portugal: assim como reconhecemos um português logo que começa a falar, com os portugueses é a mesma coisa, os gajos sacam um brasileiro na metade da primeira palavra. Por isso, nem tente disfarçar.

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Pensão do Amor. Eu já havia acessado o site e lido a respeito. É um antigo prostíbulo, na área do Cais do Sodré, que foi reformado e hoje é um espaço de arte, cultura e entretenimento. A ambientação do espaço é incrível, aliando um estilo “sujo” com uma pegada cabaret-burlesco. Os antigos quartos foram adaptados e em seus espaços funcionam lojas, como uma livraria erótica e uma sex shop, além de palestras e cursos de poli dance. Há um bar, mesas e poltronas, e uma área externa com outro bar, que dá para a rua de cima.

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Na livraria Ler Devagar, da Pensão do Amor. As várias faces da lolita… Recomeeendo!, tanto o local como o romance de Vladimir Nabokov. E, claro, as lolitas que flanam graciosamente por lá, dando cada uma seu toque de charme pessoal ao arquétipo da mulher inocente-sedutora.

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Vista da janela do meu quarto, na rua Cruz de Pedra, em Braga. Ao fundo, o centro histórico. É comum ver casas abandonadas, literalmente caindo aos pedaços. E, por causa da crise econômica, que ainda persiste, abundam por todo canto lojas fechadas e placas de vende-se. Isso confere aos locais um certo ar de cidade fantasma. Ainda assim, a área central é muito charmosa.

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Passeando com Caio e a cadela Nikita. Para minha sorte, esse inverno não foi dos mais frios. Para mim, a temperatura ideal da vida nunca baixaria de 17 graus, nem subiria de 27. Mas aceito negociar.

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Um passeio pelas ruas e becos do centro histórico de Braga, em Portugal, e de repente elas surgem ao olhar, pequeninas e charmosas, as livrarias… Parecem portais mágicos, que se abrem em meio às brumas do bosque, nos convidando a entrar e se perder pelos seus encantos. Como resistir a tal perdição?

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Mesmo longe do Brasil, eu não poderia deixar de dar minha contribuição ao movimento #NaoVaiTerGolpe. Fiz a fotinha e postei no Facebook e no Instagram. Não sou petista, nem lulista, nem dilmista, mas sempre defenderei os partidos de esquerda contra os interesses do grande capital, que é insensível à questão das desigualdades sociais e que está ligado aos partidos de direita.

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Iberia201512Lourinha-10

Havia um Atlântico a nos separar. E mais de dez anos a temperar nossa amizade com o sabor da saudade. Meus velhos amigos Neto e Virgínia, brasileiros vivendo em Lourinhã, Portugal. Nos meus braços a Juba, filha deles, e a outra filha, Júlia, tirou a foto. Nas pontas, minha amiga e leitora querida, Susana, de Leiria, e seu namorado Ricardo. Obrigado!

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Numa taberna da cidade de Óbidos a degustar uma ginja com uma linguicinha no fogo de cachaça. Ginja, ou no diminutivo carinhoso ginjinha, é um licor obtido a partir da ginja, uma fruta parecida com cereja, muito popular em Portugal. Em Óbidos, o fruto é colhido nos ginjais da região e, após um processo de maceração que dura no mínimo um ano, é extraído o licor, que não leva corantes ou conservantes artificiais. Impossível tomar só uma dose.

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No Museu da Lourinhã, a 60km de Lisboa, estão fósseis de dinossauros de 150 milhões de anos. Este aí da foto usava boné para proteger o chifre. Deve ser parente meu.

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Passagem do ano em Braga, com Ana e Caiote. Que diferença para as festas de réveillon no Brasil… Os portugueses são, de modo geral, tão discretos e contidos. Por que, no Brasil, ficamos tão eufóricos com a passagem do ano? Por que bebemos e dançamos e nos abraçamos e enlouquecemos como se no outro dia o mundo fosse acabar?

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Iberia201512Estrada-101

Viajando pelo litoral norte com Ana, Caiote, Alex, Adriana e Gabriel.
Depois daquele horizonte / Tem uma aventura pra viver / O segredo da viagem / É curtir a paisagem / Viajar no entardecer / Receber o destino com um abraço / Baseado no que pode acontecer

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Naus a singrar pelo caos de mim… Fotinha feita no calçadão da beira-mar de Póvoa de Varzim, norte de Portugal.

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Pegando emprestado o visual do Arco da Porta Nova, no centro de Braga, para participar do movimento de apoio a Chico Buarque, que foi hostilizado por conta de suas posições políticas. Usei a letra da música Tanto Mar, que Chico compôs para homenagear a Revolução dos Cravos, que em 1974 acabou com décadas de ditadura e implantou a democracia em Portugal.

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Obrigado, maninha, pela oportunidade dessa viagem. Você mora de camisola em meu coração. E esta camisola é camisola brasileira mesmo.

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Em Leiria, com Susana e Ricardo. Susana é professora de artes e acompanha meu trabalho desde 1998, quando a internet engatinhava.

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Iberia201512Lisboa-20

Nas viagens pelo país, usei o sistema de comboios (trem) e o de ônibus (autocarro). Ambos são eficientes e seguros. Porém, se você for usar os autocarros, não espere muita organização no momento de embarcar, principalmente na rodoviária da Rede Expresso, no Porto. Se você não ficar bem atento, não saberá onde está o ônibus que deve pegar, e quando descobrir, ele já saiu e você ficou.

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Num hotelzinho em Lisboa, ao pé do Bairro Alto. Abastecido de mapas, uísque portátil e história de Portugal. E solidão.

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Com velhos e novos amigos em Lisboa, brindando com vinho e ginjinha. Esse povo bebe muito…

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Pensão Amor. Voltei lá para conhecer melhor o espaço. Aproveitei para oferecer o Vinicius Show de Moraes, mas a casa não se interessou. Felizmente, dois bares em Braga se interessaram: o Caldo Entornado e o Notre Dame, ambos no centro histórico.

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Iberia201601Lisboa-301

Pesquisando sobre fado, conheci um pouco mais de sua história. E descobri Gisela João (abaixo), uma cantora de timbre especial, mui graciosa, e que nos últimos anos tem se destacado no cenário musical português. Gostei muito de seu disco de estreia. Recomendo!

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O fado Saudades do Brasil em Portugal, de Vinicius de Moraes e Homem Cristo, até hoje é bastante cantado em Portugal, inclusive pelas novas fadistas. Para nossas apresentações portuguesas do Vinicius Show de Moraes, eu e Felipe Breier o incluiremos no repertório. Gosto muito dessa versão, cantada por Kátia Guerreiro.
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Falando em Vinicius, em 1969 ele, a caminho de Roma, passou por Lisboa e encontrou-se com Amália Rodrigues e amigos e poetas portugueses. O encontro foi registrado em disco e lançado em 1970, mas foi proibido pelo governo, sendo relançado após a queda da ditadura em 1974. Narrado por David Mourão Ferreira, e contendo declamações, improvisos, fados e bossas novas, este disco é considerado uma relíquia da música e poesia em língua portuguesa.

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Nas perambulanças por Lisboa, margeando o velho Tejo, uma esticadinha até Belém. Olha, que indescritível emoção estar no lugar em que Jesus nasceu… Será que ele chegou a comer o famoso pastel de nata?

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Anoitecer na Ribeira, às margens do rio Douro, no Porto. Programas obrigatórios, pelo menos para mim: passeio pelo centro histórico, fotinha na livraria Lello e um copo de vinho no Piolho. Percebi uma forte rivalidade cultural entre Porto e Lisboa, e não apenas no futebol. A autoidentidade portuguesa nasceu no norte, e só depois é que alastrou-se para o sul. Como o norte do país não foi tão influenciado pela dominação moura quanto o sul, isso leva os nortistas a se considerarem mais portugueses que os sulistas e a se orgulharem de suas origens celtas, assim como os galegos da Espanha, que também se originaram do povo celta.

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Iberia201601Espanha-101

Meu romance literalmente cruzando fronteiras… Ah, não resisti à tentação: na estrada que vai de Braga, em Portugal, a Vigo, na Galicia (noroeste da Espanha), saltei rapidamente do carro e registrei o momento.

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Na Galícia, alugamos uma casa para seis pessoas em Escravitude, próximo a Santiago de Compostela. Usamos os serviços do AirBnb, que funcionou muito bem.

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Vai um programa literário aí, freguesa peregrina? Cobro baratinho. E sou muito discreto. A senhora nunca viu isso aqui em Santiago de Compostela? Pois tá vendo agora. A gente tem que se virar, né? Quanto custa? Custa esse livro que tá aqui na vitrine, a senhora compra pra mim? Sim, sou viciado nisso, eu assumo, e faço tudo pra manter meu vício em dia. Sim, compensa, claro que sim. Em uma hora com a senhora eu ganho a vida inteira com Fernando Pessoa ou com Florbela Espanca.

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Na localidade espanhola de Baiona, às margens do rio Minho, o rei Afonso IX cata gaivotas.

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Em terra de sapo, de cócoras com eles. Uma Estrella Galicia bem geladinha para rebater a ressaca e celebrar. Celebrar o quê? Bem, que estamos vivos. E estamos vivos para quê? Ah, aí já não sei, não me venha com essas questões a essa hora da manhã. Não sei porque estamos vivos. E nem invejo aos que o sabem. Celebremos, pois, a ignorância. Puxando Alberto Caieiro, amar é a eterna inocência, e a única inocência não pensar.

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Veja a foto. Lá adiante está o oceano Atlântico. Esse é o rio Minho, que separa o norte de Portugal da Galícia, no noroeste da Espanha. Do lado esquerdo de sua foz está a cidade portuguesa de Caminha, do lado direito, a espanhola Guarda. O percurso entre as duas localidades pode ser feito de ferry boat, de onde foi feita a foto.
Do lado esquerdo, a língua oficial é o português, e do lado direito, as línguas oficiais são o castelhano (que os brasileiros chamam de espanhol) e o galego. Português e galego se originaram do galego-português, língua que surgiu no século 9, a partir do do latim vulgar falado pelos conquistadores romanos, e são muitíssimo parecidas.
No rio, abaixo da superfície, os peixes borbulham portulego.

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Iberia201601Lourinha-160

Se você tirar uma foto em Portugal, são grandes as chances de Cristiano Ronaldo sair nela. Putz… O gajo tá em todo canto: jornais, revistas, outdoors, tevê, internet, nas conversas nos cafés… Impossível fingir que ele não existe. Como deve ser observar a milhões de pessoas dia e noite, a todo momento, em cada esquina de Portugal? O gajo gato CR7 sabe a resposta..

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O Paço dos Duques, em Guimarães, onde hoje funciona um museu. De estilo borgonhês, seu aspecto atual foi recriado, de forma polêmica, durante o Estado Novo, e ignora-se a arquitetura original. Foi construído no sec 15, por D. Afonso, 1.º duque de Bragança, para servir de residência quando estivesse com sua amante. Uau… É tão grande e espaçoso, com tantos aposentos e salas, que daria pra hospedar não apenas uma, mas uma centena de amantes. Isso, obviamente, se o duque tivesse disposição suficiente.

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O Castelo de Guimarães. Que não é um castelo, mas uma torre de defesa cercada por muralhas reforçadas por quatro torres. Situado no alto da colina, está ligado à fundação do Condado Portucalense e às lutas da independência de Portugal, sendo designado popularmente como berço da nacionalidade. De acordo com a tradição, aqui nasceu o primeiro rei de Portugal, D. Afonso Henriques (1112-85), na capela avizinhada ao Castelo.

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A Francesinha é um prato típico e originário da cidade do Porto. Servido e forma de sanduíche, leva linguiça, salsicha fresca, fiambre, carnes frias e bife de carne de boi (os portugueses chamam de carne de vaca) ou, em alternativa, lombo de porco assado e fatiado, coberta com queijo posteriormente derretido. É guarnecida com um molho à base de tomate, cerveja e piri-piri. Os acompanhamentos de ovo estrelado (no topo da sanduíche) e batatas fritas são facultativos. A origem do nome é controversa, mas uma versão fala da suposta pimentice das mulheres francesas.

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Quando a tarde cai, elas se olham, lânguidas. E agitam-se levemente em sua elegante dança de sedução. Pudessem andar, elas se abraçariam e sairiam rodopiando pela rua. Como não podem, trocam juras roçando-se com seus galhos e soltando as folhas como doces beijinhos largados. E o calor desse namoro sobe até as nuvens, ruborizando o céu e aquecendo o inverno.
Poizé. Ultimamente aqui em Portugal, ando com essa mania besta de olhar as árvores namorando…

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Encontro Marcado na Biblioteca bem podia ser o título de um conto erótico, né? Quem sabe um dia eu escreva, eheh. Entretanto, esta foto registra meu inesperado encontro, na biblioteca municipal de Lourinhã (60km de Lisboa, Portugal), com O Encontro Marcado, em edição portuguesa, o romance de Fernando Sabino que me deu o impulso definitivo para ser escritor. Que sensação boa encontrá-lo aqui do outro lado do Atlântico. Quanto carinho e respeito tenho por este livro!

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Tchau, Ibéria. Foram dois meses deliciosos. Espero que tenha gostado de mim. Em junho voltarei, com meu parceiro Felipe Breier, trazendo o nosso Vinicius Show de Moraes. E viva a cidadania mundial! Por um mundo sem fronteiras.

 

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Ricardo Kelmer 2016 – blogdokelmer.com

 

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LEIA NESTE BLOG

RumoAEstacaoSimplicidade-01Rumo à estação simplicidade – Jurei me manter sempre no caminho, sem pesos nem apegos excessivos, pronto para pegar a estrada no momento em que a vida assim quisesse

O sonho do verdadeiro eu – Entretanto, algo me dizia que na pauliceia eu poderia viver minha vida mais verdadeira, era só insistir

Espirros e roteiros – Se antes eu tinha insônia por me preocupar demais em descobrir o que precisava fazer, hoje me delicio em abrir a janela dos quartos dos hotéis, molhar a ponta do dedo e botar no vento

O dia em que o chinlone me pegou – A arte zen de sair por aí à toa e encontrar o que se precisa

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

 Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
Promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer@gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer (saiba mais)

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Comentarios01COMENTÁRIOS
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01- Boa sorte no novo projeto,vai da certo! Vocês merecem. Gil Tabosa, Campina Grande-PB – fev2016

02- Se precisar de um carregador de mala que toca flauta, já sabe… Waldemar Falcão, Rio de Janeiro-RJ – fev2016

03- Que venham muitas outras, Ricardo! Se bem que nessa temporada eu mais dei trabalho que ajudei ne? Ana Claudia Domene Ortiz, Albuquerque-EUA – fev2016

04- Cú ibero lusitano. Andre Soares Pontes, Fortaleza-CE – fev2016

05- maravilha de registro, querido..ficou 10. Shirlene Holanda, São Paulo-SP – fev2016

06- Nada que agradecer… Eu é que agradeço! Volta depressa e traz o calor! Susana X Mota, Leiria-Portugal – fev2016

07- A segunda temporada e quando mesmo? Não esquecer de trazer minhas dez cordas de caranguejos vivos, lá de Parnaíba (PI)! Francisco Fontenele Veras Neto, Lourinhã-Portugal – fev2016

08- Caríssimo RK, gostei imenso, como dizem os gajos, de seu roteiro poético pela ocidental praia lusa e pelas trilhas galegas. Com direito ao novo fado e tudo mais, posso dizer que você me poupou a viagem a Portugal, caso não me saia a bolsa de pós-doutorado. Sim, estou fazendo minha pesquisa na USP, e é sobre o velho mago comunista da Azinhaga. Torço para que dê tudo certo com o impagável Vinicius que só você e o Breier sabem fazer. Leite Jr., Fortaleza-CE – fev2016

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O Irresistível Charme da Insanidade em espanhol

26/10/2015

26out2015

O amor insano de Luca e Isadora agora em espanhol

ElIrresistibleEncantoDeLaInsaniaDIV-06

O IRRESISTÍVEL CHARME DA INSANIDADE EM ESPANHOL

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Quem quer brindar comigo? 🙂 Meu romance O Irresistível Charme da Insanidade ganhou uma versão para o espanhol. A tradução foi feita por Felipe Ubrer e o livro está à venda na Amazon (e-book) ou direto com o autor (pdf personalizado). Em breve ele ganhará também uma versão em inglês.

É meu segundo livro traduzido. O primeiro foi Guia do Escritor Independente, que foi traduzido para o esperanto por Leite Jr. e publicado pela editora russa Impeto em 2013.

PARA ADQUIRIR:

Amazon (e-book)

Direto com o autor (pdf personalizado)
> envie e-mail para rkelmer@gmail.com
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ElIrresistibleEncantoDeLaInsaniaCapa-01aEl Irresistible Encanto de la Insania
Ricardo Kelmer, novela, 2015
Traducción: Felipe Ubrer

Dos parejas, en los siglos 16 y 21, viven dos ardientes y misteriosas historias de amor y sus vidas se cruzan a través de los tiempos en momentos decisivos. ¿O será la misma pareja? En esta historia, repleta de suspenses y transformaciones, Luca es un músico obsesionado por el control de la vida, e Isadora una viajante taoísta en búsqueda de su maestro y amante del siglo 16. Los une y es su principal reto el amor que distorciona la lógica del tiempo y descortina las más locas posibilidades del ser.


Luca es un músico, obsesionado por el control de la vida, que se involucra con Isadora, una viajante taoísta que asegura que él es la reencarnación de su maestro y amante del siglo 16. Él comienza una aventura rara en la cual desaparecen los límites entre sanidad y locura, real e imaginário y, por fin, descubre que para merecer a la mujer que ama tendrá antes que saber quién en realidad es él mismo.

En esta insólita historia de amor, que ocurre simultáneamente en la España de 1500 y en el Brasil del siglo 21, los déjà-vu (sensación de ya haber vivido determinada situación) son portales del tiempo a través de los cuales tenemos contacto con otras vidas.

Blues, sexo y whiskys dobles. Sueños, experiencias místicas y órdenes secretos. Esta novela ejercita, en una historia divertida y emocionante, posibilidades intrigadoras del tiempo, de la vida y de lo que puede ser el “yo”.
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O Irresistível Charme da Insanidade
Ricardo Kelmer, romance, 2011

Dois casais, nos séculos 16 e 21, vivem duas ardentes e misteriosas histórias de amor, e suas vidas se cruzam através dos tempos em momentos decisivos. Ou será o mesmo casal? Nesta história, repleta de suspense e reviravoltas, Luca é um músico obcecado pelo controle da vida, e Isadora uma viajante taoísta em busca de seu mestre e amante do século 16. A uni-los e desafiá-los, o amor que distorce a lógica do tempo e descortina as mais loucas possibilidades do ser.


Luca é um músico, obcecado pelo controle da vida, que se envolve com Isadora, uma viajante taoísta que acredita ser ele a reencarnação de seu mestre e amante do século 16. Ele inicia uma estranha aventura onde somem os limites entre sanidade e loucura, real e imaginário e, por fim, descobre que para merecer a mulher que ama terá antes de saber quem na verdade ele é.

Nesta insólita história de amor, que acontece simultaneamente na Espanha quinhentista e no Brasil do século 21, os déjà-vu (sensação de já ter vivido certa situação) são portais do tempo através dos quais temos contato com outras vidas.

Blues, sexo e uísques duplos. Sonhos, experiências místicas e ordens secretas. Este romance exercita, numa história divertida e emocionante, intrigantes possibilidades do tempo, da vida e do que seja o “eu”.

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Seja Leitor Vip e ganhe:

– Acesso aos Arquivos Secretos
– Descontos, promoções e sorteios exclusivos
Basta enviar e-mail pra rkelmer@gmail.com com seu nome e cidade e dizendo como conheceu o Blog do Kelmer (saiba mais)

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