Descent Into the Blues With a Dancing Chimpanzee

On the wall of white tiles smelling of ether, in a simple, dark frame, is a picture of a hippopotamus in the Garden of Olives, with a beatific look, chubby paws in prayer, sweating blood like a Christ exposed to the sun sweating blood on the banks of Lake Tanganyika. 

“I was afraid you’d faint. The doctor called it Stendhal Syndrome. You had always been as fragile as anyone could be.”

“The picture, did you see it? It looks so much like the one over the bed.”

“And the news? It’s coming. Maybe in a matter of days. Never by the end of the month. Thank goodness it’s not a leap year: February’s pain will go by faster. So it’s going to the house with my father. Didn’t I tell you so?”

“And the sun?!”

“White, pain racking my eyes, makes me want to kill a stranger without a motive. I felt a dry hatred toward death, a hatred without blood.”

“Thank goodness it’s cooler and darker here.”

“I smelled a sour, salty odor.”

“It must be the greasy beggar from the sidewalk, relieving himself again on the rug in the entrance hall.”

I went blind twenty years ago
Because I caught a disease
Eating a piranha’s tail
From the Missus Syphilis River
Oh, so much muddy water!
While I was eating the piranha’s tail
With her tail she played
A sad blues song
Pum! Pum! Pum! Pum!
Oh, so much muddy water!


“On the street: a chimpanzee dancing a tango, while a blind man sang a dirty song and played the accordion. It looked like a trained person.”

“That’s what my life has become. I started creating abysses for myself, a mountain out of nothing, a circus of calamities, a character made of cardboard, a plaything of God dancing the idiots’ dance, life transformed into a monotonous string of days, where today is only and always the day after yesterday. I think I’m trying to hide all these thoughts in a dark place, the invisible side of my soul.”

“You are as foolish as everybody else. You think that a curse must have a monstrous face. A crazed idea that you have to bare your liver for the world to peck. A taboo is the mother of all desires. A pure thought is the father of dirty desires. Ultimately, our lives end up being simply a lie told by others. We enter the nightmares of others as supporting characters and leave them as if the bad dream were our own. It’s now a family matter.”

“We can’t practice living, so we end up making mistakes in life.”

“If the truth were mandatory, no one could endure looking in the mirror. That’s an infallible formula for exterminating humanity.”

They shake hands, but when they sense that something is rising from within their bodies, they let go as if an electric shock had coursed through their insides.

“I wanted to buy champagne, but I only had enough money for this brandy.”

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Are you okay?”

“It’s just one of those girl things, you know.”

“No problem, I’ll get them arranged in the bed.”

The bedroom looks like an empty bubble full of air, without color, size, or texture, just a weak, almost transparent luminosity that is tiring to look at. He lights a cigarette, inhales deeply, and gazes with effort at the weak light on the ceiling. Exhaling with satisfaction, he blows a yellowish cloud of nicotine upwards, toward the face of God.

“No good for reading.”

His nostrils flare as he tries to smell the scent of the sentence he thinks he has pronounced. A somber expression spreads over his face like moisture through a cloth.

Isolated in the silence of the cigarette smoked alone in this contrived moment, he thinks back terrorized to yesterday. His face is empty of blood. He opens his eyes wider, runs his hands nervously down his face without managing to produce a sound. He presses the back of his hand against his closed lips, and the room seems to tremble from the muffled shout that ends up not leaving his throat, stuck in the middle of his lungs. His eyes closed tightly, very tightly, as if trying to expel a painful tear that doesn’t come.

A shiver down the spine like getting a sudden fright in a mystery movie.

He shakes his head vigorously as if trying to force that thought loose from his mind and toss it far away, smashing against the wall the ghost of the sin forbidden among sins. The bitter taste of deception rises from inside and gets lodged on his nauseated tongue that, impotent, is unable to free itself from the bitterness. He reacts fiercely to this cold moment of fear that assaults his stomach.

With a yank, buttons flying, he frees himself from his shirt, unbuckles his belt, his pants slide to his feet. Smiling as if drunk, what she said on the way home comes back to him, as if he heard her saying it in a pleasant delirium: “Only life can fully avenge death.”

The strong stream of urine feels good, radiating an enjoyable heat halfway down her thighs. She has to strain to expel the last drops. Now the sensation of damp coldness is nasty. Wiping the rough toilet paper over her moist flesh is unpleasant. Before folding over the sides of the piece of toilet paper, she looks carefully at her sanitary napkin, stained with the dark rust of blood. Like a depraved St. Veronica, without any special expression on her calm face, she stares at the papered moisture.

“My body, a song that no man has sung.”

She speaks out loud, as if there were no one else in the bathroom to hear her, except for him, who entered without her noticing.

His hands are crossed over his genitals.

“You look like an embarrassed little boy. I’ve already seen you in better poses when I looked through the same keyhole.”

“You have?”

“You never have?”

“Just once.”

“I remember it well. It was on the clearest night with a new moon when I woke up, and there you were standing next to my bed breathing with fear. You carefully took off your clothes, your light skin perspiring a calm sheen through the breathing of an adolescent trespasser. It was as if you had been born from the dust on the rug. But your smile was the happiest I’ve ever seen.”

“You were awake?”

“I was pretending to be asleep, I smiled gently at you. The darkness hid the happiness that I sent you from deep within me.”

“I always knew in the pit of my stomach without ever having to reveal it.”

“Ever since that night, your naked body has always been the immortal homeland of all my solitary pleasures.”

Hesitant, as if his thoughts were determined by his eyes, his gaze deviated almost imperceptibly and became hypnotized by the luminous and metallic breath of the humidity that burned blue among her thick, frizzy pubic hair.

Menstrual napkin wrapped in toilet paper thrown in the toilet. Flushed. The strong yellow of the urine swirls around. At first, the white foam of the water seems to shine triumphantly. The mouth of the toilet tries to swallow the mixture, but it only manages to belch an impotent hydraulic noise.

“Why did you do that? Now it’s clogged.”

Unmovable serenity. Floating among shreds of toilet paper, the blood stain on the napkin shines as if it were the liquid caricature of a messiah smiling after being run over.

“Yet another healthy menstrual miscarriage that my body has bequeathed me. Ever since you were a boy, you, naked, have been lovely as a naked boy.”

“Memories that are not remembered are recollections that the heart does not film.”

Her blouse removed, breasts insolent in innocence.

“Are you sure?”

“My body seems to be living to solely await that spurt of soul matter to be injected into this shell, this hollow mold that walks along the city streets, that talks with people, that masturbates and menstruates, but which is not, never was, and never will be a woman. A pretender who merely acts like a woman who pretends to live. There’s no more reason to hope.”

She quiets down in a haze.

He tries to think of a sentence full of words to say, but he cannot. The silence continues, colorless, in his mind empty of thoughts.

“I’ve already gotten the two of them settled in.”

The old man and the old woman.

Pieces of diseased flesh, grown old, thrown on the mattress as if a giant hand had tossed them there at random, as if it were a game of dice and they had fallen in the right position, forming a figure that resembled two human bodies, masculine and feminine, undressed, lying down, as if they were asleep.

“Isn’t it nice to see them like that, despite everything, together as always, united like two cells of the same cancer, in the same tumor?”

“Death exhales a frightening serenity.”

“You did good putting his lips to her breast. Every man likes that. It’s like a drug. They love suckling the nonexistent milk of life from the nipples of a woman’s breasts. And even though it’s nonexistent, they always end up quenched, almost drowned, drunk without alcohol. She looks like she’s smiling as she inhales the white scent of the white pillow.”

“They don’t have the strength to avoid being observed, nor the vitality to exhibit themselves in this bed doing what they always did whenever they could, at any hour of the day or night.”

“They will see themselves in us and how they always lived, and they’ll go happy. We owe them the last happiness of this final performance. All our paradises and infernos will be exterminated and no longer threaten our human fears. Come.”



The apartment rustles in the middle of the night in the city, the carnivorous noises of a man and a woman having sex.

Afterwards, an almost silent calmness.

They do not speak. They whisper sentences. They speak softly as if a child were sleeping in the room and should not be awakened and surprised to see the four naked bodies.

“They seem to be smiling, serene.”

“It’s incredible how the slightest touch on the flesh arouses smiles even in the most aged, wrinkled, sullen, and decadent body.”

“What does that matter now?”

“Leaving a note seems almost mandatory.”

“So many words? There was a poet who, when he turned on the gas, wrote simply, ‘I’ve had it!’”

“Poets are more alive when they’re dead. I’m not a poet. I’m too alive for that. What do you think?”

“This is a blank piece of paper on which I will write my first word, maybe the second, then who knows: a cigarette, a raspy cough, a belch of cheap brandy, a moment to jack off, maybe for the last time. But afterwards, sleep always comes and then nothing.”

“You should be a poet, one of those modern ones.”

The clock strikes twelve.

“It’s ten o’clock.”

“We’d better get the clock fixed.”

“It’s not worth it to worry about time any more. Maybe it never was.”

“Ever since I was a boy, I’d hold a conch shell to my ear and listen to eternity parading lightly by, singing quietly, in a short, pretty voice, about all sorts of things in the world.”

“Come breathe close to my ear and insult me, using the low tone of that sound, almost deaf, that comes from the deepest level of our fears. Bring anarchy to the conference of fears in my soul. People almost never notice it, but we should drink the water of life like gulps of liqueur.”

“Put your tongue in my mouth just one more time.”

“Yes, later we won’t be able to anymore.”

“I want to look at you as I go. I feel it. I need to.”

“Me too.”



The sound of animals breathing in masturbation, smelling the hiss of gas hissing like a snake in a deadly bite.

At last, perfectly empty solitude.

Now mortal silence.

Four dead bodies.

Not even a clean white sheet as a shroud.

Only the nude skin beginning to turn pale blue like the clothes of death.

On the wall of the room smelling sour from the familiar smell of sex performed a short while earlier, above the double bed, in a simple, dark frame, is a picture of Christ on the banks of Lake Tanganyika, his mouth gaping in a hippo laugh with crooked teeth, his slender hands with blue veins held in prayer, sweating blood like a hippopotamus exposed to the sun sweating blood in the Garden of Olives.

With a shrill metallic squeal, lips bared, demented teeth exposed, as if it were imitating a laughing human being, the chimpanzee, holding a metal cup, collects coins and greasy bills like beggars who sleep on the sidewalks.

His smile turned idiotic from behind his sunglasses, the blind man laughs ironically at the darkness inside himself and carefully smooths down his visible erection with his hand while lovingly embracing his accordion.

WALDEMIR MARQUES, a native of São Paulo, is a journalist who writes “pulp fiction” on the side.

As a short story writer, he has been published by the Cronópios website and in various collections. 

He tells people that he “has been a huge success as an anonymous celebrity playing the role as the secret identity of the unknown soldier.”

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