– Man, that woman sucks! She talks like hell! I swear you: some day, fire will escape from her mouth and the devil will jump from there!
What Alexander was talking to Abelardo was the same old speech, repeated, more aggressive as the days passed by, during the fifteen minutes of lunchtime after teacher Margaret’s classes.
They both study in the Seventh Grade, room A. Everyone, in the whole school, agreed that Margaret was a terrible teacher. She had the terrible habit of not explaining coherently the lessons and the two times more TERRIBLE habit of only using vestibular test’s questions in her tests. About this subject, Alexander used to comment something like that:
– She failed when she tried to do the vestibular. She is a failure, I know it! I’m certain that she uses those questions because of her frustration as a…
– Do you accept a cookie? – Said Abelardo, offering his lunch to the friend.
– Oh, yeah!
Alexander – despite all the hate that he had against Margaret – stopped immediately to talk when he got his cookie. School’s big playground was heavily crowded at the time, and there was not much to do but to eat.
Two tall young man, wearing red jackets and blue jeans, suddenly appeared and smiled to the boys. They laughed briefly: the kind of laugh of someone who wants to anger you. The taller – who was using sufficient hair gel to maintain his locks hardened for life – spoke:
– What’s up, baby boys? – He didn’t stop walking. The two friends followed him with their eyes. – Tomorrow I want my din-din, got it?
And the two big fellows disappeared amid the mass of students. “Idiot. Freaking idiot!”, whispered Alexander after the bullies disappeared. Those two used to do things usually funny only to themselves. Plays involving cups filled with water, for example. They also enjoyed to monthly take money from other children with their own infallible method:
– What is more valuable to you? Your money or your teeth?
Well, somehow it was a fair thing!
– Damn! I don’t have any money for tomorrow! – Cried Abelardo, apprehensive with the situation. – What will we do?
Abelardo and Alexander had the same age: twelve years. Abelardo was a little fatty. Not necessarily obese, just fatty. His nervousness before doing anything was legendary, and he feared absolutely EVERYTHING that could move. Not rarely, he gets scared because of his own shadows or curtains. His blond hairs and blue eyes reveal traces of his German heritage, who immigrated to Santa Catarina so long ago.
– Hey! Who said that we need to give money for the big-time morons? – Questioned Alexander, now determined to do something after all the years of suffering (O.K, it started a month ago). – We’re not going to give them anything!
– But they will play dentist with us! And it’ll be equally painful and expensive!
As you can notice, our little friend also has the ability to exaggerate some situations to almost stellar levels. The boy’s perspective was more frightening than the two troublemakers.
– Relax! I’m certain that they will not touch one finger on us. If we arrive home with a single scratch in our faces, our parents will eviscerate both Jose and Eduardo.
– And what if they beat up our parents?
Alexander stared at his friend with a serious look in his eyes.
– Your father is an almost seven feet tall German, strong enough to lift you and your mother.
– Using only one arm!
Abelardo seemed to be a little calmed by that argument. Suddenly, he laughed and thrown the empty cookie’s package in the nearest trash can.
– I remember the day when dad lifted us up using one arm! It was funny!
– Now you understand what I’m talking about? – Alexander got happy with his friend’s relief.
The school bell shouted its sharp, irritating and birds-scaring sound and the students began to return to their classes. Alexander and Abelardo took their sits, both boys ready for another “electrifying” and long wait for the end of classes, Portuguese Language lesions and exercises included!
Alexander was listening to the voice of his teacher, but his mind was at another world and he couldn’t assimilate the explanation. The words of the man were entering in an ear and getting out by the other ear. The boy was focusing and concentrating on the next day. Well, he knew that the two big bad guys would not beat’em up after the “parents” argument. But, what if they did it? Well, certainly Mr. Ariovaldo – Abelardo’s almost seven feet tall father – would sell bully’s meat in his butchery if one of them attacked his son. Certainly the giant would grab their necks, lift’em up and, with his Schwarzenegger voice, he would say…
– Nice pen, huh?
Alexander searched for who had said that and found out his teacher. The master, crossing his arms in front of the chest, stared at his student. Everybody laughed a bit.
– It is so beautiful that I want to look at it the whole time, the same way you were doing right now! – Alexander faces blushed and the entire class started laughing. – Are you back, here? Good! Now, as I was saying…
– To look at the pen the whole time! – Nathalie said, trying to control her laughs, while accompanying the boys to the college’s exit. – Now that was cool!
Nathalie was the only girl in the entire world who was a friend to Alexander and Abelardo. She was most likely a colleague, after all they didn’t have the habit to talk or do anything together outside of the school. Her mother usually travels a lot, leaving the girl with a babysitter at most part of the time. One or two times the boys visited her, who lived too far away.
– It was not that much funny! – Alexander said, a little anger. – Now, funny will be Jose and Eduardo faces tomorrow!
– Are you going to destroy them? – Joked Nathalie.
– We’re not going to pay them the two bucks that they ask for monthly.
– Holy cow, so they’re going to destroy you! – Nathalie got a little nervous.
– No, they won’t! He has a great plan! – Said Abelardo, pointing to Alexander.
– Please, don’t do anything that you’ll regret later – Asked Nathalie before entering in the car to go home. “Quite a car”, said Alexander. – Bye-bye!
And the car went away, leaving the boys behind. Soon, they started walking. It was quite easy for both boys arrive at their homes. They always turn the road to the left of the city hall and they continue to walk straight ahead. Nothing hard.
They took the first turn and continued their slow, twenty minutes-long walk to their houses. Alexander and Abelardo parents – that don’t live too far away from each other – could take them home by car, but “Walking is so FREAKING GOOD for your health!”, Alexander’s dad used to say.
Their walks had only one critical moment: the streets were always empty, and the boys used to cross them all by themselves, and that was a little uncomfortable. Well, their neighborhood was inhabited mostly by old people, and that’s why there was not so much people returning home at that time.
What used to bring some relief to the boys was the fact that, rarely, some elders get out of their homes to take some fresh air and to see the birdies flying here and there by the end of afternoon. That way, the boys didn’t felt alone at all.
The only living soul that they used to constantly find at that time was Níquel. Only God knew what that man used to do in a time like that and a place like that. Níquel was, factually, a “little box of surprises”, Abelardo said. Alexander hung the “Kinder Surprise man!” on him.
And there was another thing that made the boys accelerate their paces and their heartbeats, although they considerate it a big foolishness. There was a house, pointed as a haunted place. Once, Alexander questioned his father:
– Dad, why that home near Paulinho’s is haunted?
– Ahn… well… they talk those kinds of things because that old crap is almost falling into pieces and nobody wants to improve it! And its neighbors are almost dying too! – And Alexander’s father started laughing alone. – Do you got it? Only old people live by there! Huh? Huh?
His son continued to stare him with seriousness. The dad sighed and ended the matter:
– I don’t know why they don’t take that stupid house down!
In fact, it was a very old house. Its yard didn’t have one trace of grass, only dry earth and an orange tree near a small old wall, almost ruined. Again, the two boys didn’t know how that three was fruitful since no one took care of it. All the painting was gone with the time, what emphasized a brown color with remains of the old paint.
But let’s not focus on actually unimportant things for a while. The only thing that matters is the curious moment that happened when the boys were returning to their homes. Near the Ghost-house, they listened something getting closer. Frightened, they looked at the closed windows of the haunted inhabitation.
– What noise was that? – Asked Abelardo, noticing that the noise was getting louder and louder.
– I think it’s coming from there!
Alexander and Abelardo walked to the nearest pavement to get out of a truck’s way. Both boys used to walk in the middle of the road since no one traveled by there at that time. They saw the monstrous vehicle advancing, passing trough uphill and disappearing at the other side.