When I was a newlywed, one of the most shocking murder cases I ever heard about happened in the Vitória district, in the northern region of Goiânia. The news of the crime aired on every local newscast, and the horror of such cruelty got stuck on our minds like gum on a shoe. According to what we heard, Genario, an elderly man in his eighties, used to lay in the comfortable hammock in his yard every evening, accompanied by his Catuaba bottle and the inseparable portable radio his mother had given him when he was still a teenager. The curious thing is that, during the week of his murder, no one realized he was missing. His absence was only noticed on the eighth day of his disappearance, which was precisely the date one of his friends would drive him to his medical appointment at the Santa Casa hospital.
By custom, the old man used to attend all the bars in the area, especially Barnabé's bar; there he was always surrounded by friends, and also by strangers from neighboring areas, who came to challenge him at a game of cards. Though it went entirely unnoticed, time passed by, the days piled up, and the old man wouldn't show up to play. A long time went by before his friends began to ask: “Where's old Genario?!” or "Has anyone seen him around?!” However, the mystery of the old man's disappearance only began to unravel because of the bad smell that gradually permeated the air, spreading foul odors around, forcibly inundating neighboring environments. Suspicious, they called the police, and even the fire department showed up. For some time, the media had been documenting police investigations, and as soon as the news of his supposed reappearance came out, a wave of curious people flooded his street. And so, with police and firefighters surrounding the property, the main gate was broken into in a matter of seconds, and after they reported it was safe to enter, the coroner's examination was authorized.
The fact is Genario's body was already in a very advanced state of decay when they found it, and although police investigations were extended for weeks after this event, they never caught the culprit. The detectives suspected that someone who was familiar with the old man's routine had entered the property unnoticed, precisely on the same day he had withdrawn money from his retirement funds. What's worse: taking advantage of the man's drunkenness to rob him, the culprit was not content with only taking Genario's money; in a fit of vindictive fury, he was cold enough to dismember him and spread his pieces around the four corners of his house.
That same week, my family was gathered at my mother-in-law's house. We were having fun playing video games and telling funny jokes, surrounded by lots of good food. Joana, my wife, had gotten her monthly payment in the previous week, so she decided to benefit from a big sale on the Goiânia Mall: she bought a mobile phone as a present to her dad. Reginaldo, her father, had been divorced from her mother for about fifteen years. With the mistress who had been the pivot of the marital separation, he formed another family, in a relationship that lasted about three years. Unfortunately, Reginaldo never managed to abandon his lifelong addiction, that is, the addiction to a good pair of legs. The result: another divorce, only this time he ended up living alone in the old house where he watched his children from both marriages grow up.
"Marcos," Joana asked me that night, "I'd like you to drive me to my father's."
"Well," she answered, "I wanna give him his birthday gift in advance..." Joana took the phone box out of her purse and put it on the table. She wrapped it in some leftover gift wrap from the previous Christmas.
"Look, honey," I began to squirm out, but still worried about her reaction, "have you seen what time it is?"
After hearing her “So what?”, I had to change my strategy so as not to counter her. Joana was fire! So I tapped my finger on my watch with a troubled expression. "It's a bit late, don't you think?" I said. "It's a dangerous world out there..."
"Honey," she argued. She was full of herself. "Did you know my father's landline got canceled last week?!"
I began to say “How is that my problem?”, but I gave up when I noticed the concern in her voice.
"What if something happens to him?!" she continued, "How will we know?"
"Like what?!" I joked, "Can't he use his neighbor's phone?!"
"Stop being lazy, honey." she said with a smile. "It's such a quick ride..."
Actually, I didn't feel like going at all, so I persisted to see if she'd change her mind. The fact is I wanted to go home, but she wouldn't change her mind, and the promise she made me then, in case I went with her to see her father, hit me like a sweet punch on the balls.
"Come on Marcos, let's go," she said in a softer voice, "I promise I'll make up for it later".
Upon hearing this, I felt something rise in me. She didn't have to ask again.
"Okay," I surrendered, "go get your things and we'll go".
My brother-in-law hadn't seen or talked to his father for some time, so he and his wife decided to accompany us on our late-night endeavor.
To be continued...
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