© 2016 Opening of ‘The Train of Lucifer’ (translated to English from ‘O Carrossel de Lúcifer’)
(all copyrights recovered by the autor in 2014
current status: available for worldwide publishing with no restrictions: for the full text, please contact the author)
Genre: Psychological thriller
Size: 95 684 words
Location: In a fictitious town and a rural village somewhere in the West
‘Men always end out to be bad
if the need does not require them to be good.’
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
Says João de Deus, in heaven there will be beds of duck feathers and a sea of young men, always young, with cups of transparent drinks and trays of poultry meat. Around there will be a tracery of intertwined banana trees and other fruit trees, broad shadows, running water and rivulets of fresh honey. The landscape will be covered with green instead of the same equal color of burning sand of the desert in which we now live, and everywhere, there will be shrines of nymphs, with big eyes, like genuine pearls, eternally young and virgins. But this will be a virginity that is continually renewed, unlike what happens now with women, who quickly shrivel and become ugly.
Below, in hell, bounded by four columns of black smoke, will blow a burning wind and there will be huge bronze cauldrons with boiling water, the only thing that will be allowed to drink to those will be delivered there. Men will have putrid bellies and lips like those of the camels. Always under the look of guardians of Lucifer, they will be obliged to launch fire stones to the mouth and to devour scraps of rotting smelly meat. Women will be hanging by their breasts and will be to singed by the flames of eternal fire.
That’s why João insists that we should not eat with our left hand, because this is the one with the Devil eats. That is why he warns that we must not speak lightly of God and other deities because things can have no end, but there is an end in all things. And this is certainly the end of the ends.
Explains João de Deus it took time to learn it and had to dive in disarray – a curious euphemism for his murderous gestures – but if he did it, it was only to find that the pathological hell to which men let themselves drag is a strategic act of God. Because, as João asserts, we can only recognize the light through the darkness. And there is no escape from that evidence, inventing materialistic, spiritual or artistic evasions, once the condition of man is not to be free. It could be but only in the sense he has free will, he can choose, but has only two options: put himself on the side of the forces of good or on the forces of evil, moving towards to heaven or to hell.
All that João perpetrated is founded is this philosophical delirium in search of the end of the things, a dazzling but ingenious system – with hints of Islamic and existentialist thought – natural in who seems suffer from a sociopathic disorder of personality with a paranoid or dissocial type. Clearly, in respect of criminal responsibility, this kind of defense does not serve him of anything except the fact that it constitutes a declaration of insanity, but it is still curious, from a scientific point of view, because it establishes a key to the analysis of his psychiatric condition.
According to João, all would have started with the panic attacks associated with a specific phobia. In his first psychological interview, he rattled off a conversation he had had recently with a passenger during a turbulent flight. Account João de Deus he did not return to get on a plane again and, if it was not the man, he might have died. Apparently, the travel companion became aware of João’s state of anxiety and tried to calm him with a dissertation on Beethoven. Precisely Beethoven, precisely the music that would appears in the auditory hallucinations that accompanied the homicidal acts of João de Deus.
As for Pedro Cruz, we do not recognize on him the mystical traits that João reveals, because he does not appeal to any fantastic cosmogony, although he replicates from time to time some remarks of a religious nature and express he has adopted certain rules, curiously also of Islamic inspiration. He says for example that before we lie on the bed, we must clean it three times from the dust and do not sleep on your stomach, but in the right side and with the hand under the face. Of course, this allusion is not unrelated to the memory of the first crime in which Pedro was involved. Indeed, the image of the man lying on a bed belly up before being stabbed by João, became a ghost which does not come out of his head and the touchstone of his subsequent criminal route.
Says Pedro Cruz that after that Christmas Eve he and his friend left finally counter their murderous gestures, although at the time were nothing more than mere sadistic and sickly games, he was fifteen years without seeing João de Deus and he could ever know of the horrific acts that his friend rode to commit, except obviously of the murder that he was an accomplice and that led both of them to flee the village. What is clear, and quite curious by the proximity between the two cases, is while Pedro and João have followed different paths, in space and time, Pedro Cruz develops the same reasoning to justify his anti-social behavior. He felt equally obliged to plunge into disorder. And the destruction – another euphemism for the same criminal acts. But if he had have to play the game of evil, with the risk of being pulled into it, he did it so on the conviction that only in this way it would be possible to extract the poison and create an antidote to evil. In this aspect, his paranoid state assumes a messianic dimension and therefore allows to infer the severity of the psychotic disorder in question. The problem, according to Pedro, is that he found out – when the damage was done – that this purpose was not worth it.
Pedro Cruz admits today he may have been driven by a hostile thought, natural on who had been engulfed by chaos, although he argues paradoxically that chaos is the ultimate reason of the human condition and, all things considered, the sanity nothing serves and it is useless to judge the chaos from the secular concept of normality. He agree with the idea that sin is to miss the point, as a priest said to him one day, but we have to put everything in perspective, since the nature of the target differs from person to person.
We are facing therefore another ingenious defense system, a kind of philosophy of disorder – with remnants of Christian, Islamic and nihilist ideas – which is, as we will see, the product of a psychopathic personality of paranoid nature and dissocial too. As happens to João de Deus, from the forensic point of view, Pedro also produces a declaration of insanity but unlike the first not confesses his sorry, because he does not recognize the criminal dimension of his actions.
Says Pedro Cruz all have been started with an accident he saw, the trampling of an old woman covered in rags, close to his home, through which he met a priest who became a friend. Following the mystical conversations they started to have in their almost daily meetings in a bar, Pedro recalls that he began to feel very angry and present paranoid symptoms as auditory hallucinations and delusional disorders.
The following and extensive report is the description of a single case which information was compiled and romanticized by the author from the statements made by the two individuals, in the criminal interviews, and other scattered sources, oral and documentary, that somehow are related to patients.
Up there, in the air, the twin plane falls steeply as a stone. Whoever was to fly it tried to do a loop but the aircraft had not had enough push and when it was about to pin, instead of falling back to draw the circle, bent to the right and began to dive the abyss, apparently ungoverned. The engine noise was deafening and one could hardly hold the plane. Indeed, losing altitude at breakneck speed, it writhed and rolled on itself, making strange pirouettes and leaving in the sky traces of black smoke. It seemed about to crumble.
But suddenly a miracle occurred. No more and no less. Slowly, as a palliative effect, such a storm which subsides. Gradually, contrary to all the laws of aerodynamics, the twin-engined stopped spinning, although it continued to plummet. Then, it began to straighten up and eventually returned to the horizontal plane, stabilizing, gaining altitude. It went up a little and walked away in the sky, hidden behind a column of smoke.
Down here, with the sun going down on the ground after having been at the pin to rot the fields, no one wanted to know about those dangerous maneuvers. Hoes insisted on turning over the soil, in a rhythmic movement, by virtue of a blind habit, but out of breath, almost moribund. In the bent body of men, silhouetted on the horizon, still seething sweat, a boiling commonly accepted but unbearable, to deepen the pain of muscles and palpitation of the wounds in his hands. In the mill, which was doing a shade on a field of briars, men were treading grapes in a granite tank, hidden in a darkness caressed by the dim light of a fluorescent lamp glued to the ceiling, stunned by the smell of wine. They had the pants rolled up to their knees and sang old litanies, those which legends are always in charge of immortalizing. The grapes were crushed with savage pressure of those filthy feet with wrinkled skin, indifferent and insensitive.
When the lees settle down and before the racking for oak barrels, it would be prove the new wine, said the tradition. In the pigsty, far away, hidden behind the oak trees whose lower branches were whipped by the wind, a fat little man with an apron that reached the doughy floor, summoned all the forces of heaven and hell, but only the Christian creed, because the others are not called here, to kill one of the pigs that he had created and stuck his knife in the middle of fat dewlap. A few steps away, almost simultaneously, by a strange providential coincidence, an old man with the bones sucked into the time pulled out a knife and cut with one stroke the jugular veins of a mule. The deranged act caused the blood to come out in gulps and dirty all the man’s face, who had to grab an empty burlap sack to clean it up. Further ahead, in the paved courtyard of a hovel, a girl with broad arms and shoulders, with the sweater and skirt splattered with blood and bird feathers attached to the matted hair, did the same with a chicken. With the tight knife in hand, she slew the bird and pointed the splash of blood into a plastic bowl. Across the small stone wall, beneath a thatched porch, a woman with the face and neck burned by the sun, with a headscarf and an apron, holding a rabbit by the ears, struck a violent blow to his head. The animal was half stunned and stopped kicking, although continued to be visible his state of agitation. With her feet firmly planted in the muddy ground, the woman closed her fist, raised her arm in the air for balance and fit a new punch at the rabbit. So violent that it was possible to hear the sound of cracking bones.
Halfheartedly or with no particular interest, João de Deus saw everything when passing by, on foot, but when the old chapel bell, in the middle of the village, began to ring the death knell, he felt a chill. He is walking now by a gravel avenue, next to a wall covered with brambles. When he crossed himself with a woman carrying with difficult a clay pitcher full of milk, João pretended curiosity, consistent with his morbid disposition, and he asked a question whose answer he knew.
‘For who is it?’
‘Oh, my goodness!’ the woman cried, with her hair caught up at the neck in chignon, stopping her step.
A wool sweater, under a flowered apron hiding her entire body, was tightening her bones certainly melting with that sickening heat in late fall. She had dull blue eyes that coincided with the wear of her chapped skin consumed early of her time. João was not able to judge her age, but it was clear that the woman should be much younger than she looked.
‘A disgrace’ she continued, whimpering up. ‘May Our Lord forgive me, but it’s not fair.’
‘What happened?’ João insisted.
The woman let out a hysterical laugh that quickly mixed with a compulsive weeping.
‘The devil took to the streets’, and she pulled out a handkerchief to wipe away the tears. Then, without intention of saying anything else, she went ahead, as a dogged mourner on the brink of a repeated despair whenever other people’s pain was news.
Suddenly a hoarse voice was heard. João shivered. He realized the adrenaline to be injected in his bloodstream and the heart about to explode. In the light of the neurotic turbulence of his thoughts, he had the feeling that the woman’s sentence had acquired a premonitory reach. And he was attack by an automatic fear that clenched his muscles.
‘A baby fell, face down on the bush. Like an animal.’
The voice was hoarse and a little slurred and the way it had been sounded sufficiently disturbing. Eager, João turned toward to the direction of the voice and saw.
He saw an old man dressed in black, stuck on the way staring at him with an unusually challenging look. João continued to feel the veins throbbing in his foreheads, but began to be quiet. Angered by the harmless apparition, furious with the pathological mechanism of his panic.
‘Do you want to know what happened? I tell you. A baby lying on the floor pierced by the iron tines of a fork’ the man continued, with the same tone that startled João.
The old man spoke with a voice filled with hate and also a light and strange enthusiasm, which was suggesting a certain excitement of sadistic nature. Balancing the body in a wooden cane buried on clay. He had his chin dirty with spittle and his lips trembled. All of his body was shaking. A permanent spasm difficult to observe giving the impression that, at any time, the old man could unbalance up and plop on the floor, liquefying himself.
‘Are you imaging that fragile chest covered by lacerations?’
João showed a broken air and looked worried when he noticed a devilish glint in the man’s eyes. And indeed, as if he has just been waiting for the faintest sign of acquiescence, the old man continued, with an unexpected eschatological hallucination sweeping his mind.
‘Around the wounds, flayed tissue and bruising. A complex map of irregular cuts with marks of stretch nerve tissue and blood vessels. It’s weird, isn’t it? As death is revealed, as death prints its mark on our bodies. Every contact leaves a trace.’
João gaped at the man’s speech. Too evil, too elaborated for the rude air he had, too unreasonable for the occasion.
‘Goats were the first to appear. They were nearby in the yard’ the man pointed with his arm to the village. ‘The ground floor was wet and the baby lying there in the open air with his body pierced by fork tines.’
The chapel bell continued to ring the death knell.
João felt uncomfortable and didn’t know what to say.
‘Eyes open, mouth closed and hands in the pockets’ said the man, as if he had guessed the hesitation of João.
‘It’s the first rule.’
And just like that, the old man got back at his way, slowly, very shaky, his legs shaking and entire body weight resting on his cane. João tried to say something, but the man had already turned his back, giving unmistakable signs that the strange hearing was over. João was glued to the ground. He watched the old man to move away, dragging his feet on the gravel, and felt the wind on his face. It had started to blow stronger and the branches of the chestnut trees were shaken, behind the brambles wall. It was a refreshing breeze, which seemed almost sinful for that tragic atmosphere announced in late autumn afternoon.
Finally, João also got back at his way, toward to the village, and remembered. He remembered in a providential way, as if the thought had been put abruptly to his head by any transcendent force. He remembered Laius, the king of Athens who left in the mountain his newborn son, Oedipus, afraid that it might be fulfilled the prophecy made by the Delphic oracle.
And he felt angry. Why the hell he was again ruminating on that? He was tired of Sophocles. Sophocles and Freud, who spent all the time whispering in his ear meaningless words. And tired of all those endless quarrels between the three distinguished tenants of his brain, whose existence Freud had given him to know, repeating the story that Sophocles had created. He had to gag them, had to uproot them the power of action. Before, he used to do it with fluoxetine, fluvoxamine and sertraline; he took what he thought it was best for the pathology of the moment, no matter if it was neurotic, psychotic or both. But the range of psychotropic behind which he had hide had become so huge that eventually he was no longer able to distinguish antidepressants from neuroleptic. Now, he didn’t care about the symptoms and misdiagnosis; he took everything, including antipsychotics, although always in small quantities, because he did not discover well, if he ever discover, what he was suffered from. Moreover, he felt better, much better, despite being affected from time to time by a certain psychomotor retardation and other adverse effects. He had recently been advised to try paroxetine and citalopram, which was said to be more effective alternative in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. He liked the new classification and moreover he thought that was his psychiatric disorder, for signal very convenient for legitimizing the use of various drugs. But he gave him no joy. What in effect he was pleased with were massive doses of alprazolam and other benzodiazepines with anxiolytic properties and immediate action, such as lorazepam and temazepam. These yes, were truly orgasmic.
With a three-day beard and deep dark circles, his appearance was not the best. It was showing a certain look of sloppiness and perhaps doubtful, especially under the shaved head in which it could be seen bulging veins and a dry skin burnt by the sun, which in no way could benefit the physical attributes that he had believed to have. Thirty years old but he appeared to be older. In the face, brown eyes, sunken and myopic – with a faint halo of green tones that made them mysterious, although they were sadistically expressive – a thin scar that ran between his right temple and the cheekbone, and a small mouth with fine and well-designed lips that hid a nasty teeth made of tartar and bumpy molars. In the teeth, huddle up yet pieces of cooked chicken and chocolate cake from the plastic meal he had taken on board the plane that brought him back to the country, in the trip he heard a dissertation on Beethoven and vowed not to return again to set his foot in flying objects, even if identified. Physically endowed, with brown skin, protruding shoulders and thick hands, João was dressed all in black: cotton shirt with the collar button tight, which crushed his neck, and pants twill fair to the body. In the feet it could be seen black leather boots with steel toe cap. On the back, he brought an army backpack, full and heavy, which forced him to bend slightly. Everything on him seems to correspond to the skinhead type surrendered to neo-nazi ideology, but in that countryside scenario, populated certainly by a popular ingenuity alienated of history and the social unrest based on the mass of the big cities, he could pass by a simple stranger buttoned up for a funeral. Moreover, it was for that he was there.
A few steps ahead, João de Deus began to hear the anguished cry of several women coming from an old stone house on his left surmounted by a black chimney of soot. He knew it well but at the moment, making shallow board from the past, João pretended to be in a movie, watching it and participating in it at the same time. Clinically out of reality, living also a kind of depersonalization, he succored from the alienation to support the strong emotions that suddenly began to afflict him. He knew well the old stone house: the facade covered with sutures and other chills of time, the granite parapet of the small window, the aged oak door with rusty hinges and the tiled front porch where, under a thunderous winter downpour, distant and diffuse, he whispered his first words of love and his first cries of revolt on the evidence of a life without meaning and devoid of values that could guide his restless mind. Fifteen years later, he still could see the blood dripping palm he had struck with a razor. It was a hysteric attack, an exhibitionist act of courage, deranged, a dramatic and cinematic act with which his childhood mind decided to prove the rapture of love.
Where were you, Dostoyevsky, when I needed you?
‘If I could breathe the repentance, one of those whose regrets which grisly torture makes desire death! With joy I would host it. Torments and tears are also life!’
Moved by an impulse with a nature so far unknown, with the words of ‘Crime and Punishment’ pounding his brain, although gagged by the palliative effect of alprazolam – the so orgasmic drug from which he ingested two milligrams at once before reach the village – João de Deus decided to enter the wood floor and discover the coffin, even knowing he could not be welcome, he could give rise to various thoughts, he could be the victim of a truly hateful act. But he did not care. He just was living the sweet feeling of unreality.
The baby’s body, which had been prepared by a woman, filling with cotton the holes of his back and chest, washing the blood and wearing him, was lying in a small four-poster bed. At the head of the bed, he could see the dim light of the wax leaving from two carved candlesticks. João felt nervous. He was attacked by a new shot of adrenaline. The commotion redoubled. Getting close to the sense of despair. Beside it, there was another body lying in a coffin, balanced on two wooden trestles. João was afraid to pass out, choke, maybe die. He couldn’t breathe. And felt fear. As usual. Fear of madness. Fear to die. He was livid and began to gasp. He did not notice, or could, the looks that fell at him. Cold looks, distant and vaguely questioning glances. He was too absorbed by the image of the corpse before him. The corpse of a woman. In her thirties, with a pale and thin face framed by a rich blond hair. The dead woman had a serene appearance, as she was only sleeping, but her hands, crossed on her chest, made clear the situation, underlining the tragic nature of death. Most women who leaned on the four-poster bed and on the coffin, dipped in an entrained crying, barely noticed the arrival of João. But some realized it and became anxious.
In one corner, where was burning an oil lamp whose flickering light barely could be noticed, a priest dressed in black with a cassock too tight to the chest was trying to comfort a grieving old lady sitting on a wooden bench, who was cutting the groans of the prelate with confidences so angry as resigned.
‘Why my God?’ muttered the old woman, making repeatedly the sign of the cross. ‘Why?’
‘The will of God is inscrutable’ pacified the priest, with the usual litany. ‘Don’t try to understand it. I know that as poor servants we are, is not easy to accept it, but remember, sister, that God is love and knows what he does.’
‘But where’s the mercy of God? See Abraham’
‘You must have faith.’
‘Shut up, sister. This is blasphemy’ one of the mourners said, also making the sign of the cross.
‘It was an innocent child …’ the old woman said.
João waited a moment. And when the silence stretched, he approached the priest and bowed slightly to him.
‘Tell me, Father, what happened?’ he asked, trying to control his breathless voice.
This time, all the women jumped when they heard the voice of João and looked at him, wondering in silent the identity of the stranger. The priest felt and did the same, but voiced the indignation.
‘Who are you, daring come here without warning?’ he asked, grimly.
João kept hardly his serene look, almost beatific. He put a hand on the shoulder of the prelate.
‘Calm down. I’m a friend.’
‘A friend? Friend of who?’
The man watched the stranger more closely. And the mourners looked at each other. Through the eyes of the priest, it ran through an enigmatic flash and he sobered up.
‘Oh, I see …’ whispered the priest. ‘Did you come to recant yourself?’
The religious stared at him.
‘It’s curious. Very curious’ hissed the priest, shaking his head.
João laid a look at the old woman and looked back at the prelate.
‘You must know that she let the baby fall from the balcony’ said the priest, probing carefully the face of João. ‘Have you ever seen something more stupid? A baby of months…’
The wails of the mourners rose tone as a result of the priest observation.
‘And Madalena?’ João asked, pointing discreetly to the body in the coffin.
The priest had put his hand on his forehead and assumed an air of complete desolation.
‘Madalena?! She killed herself with disgust’ replied quietly. ‘May God have mercy on her soul.’
‘Do you think she will go to heaven?’
The old mourning woman looked up at the priest, who frowned. The priest was not expecting that question and wondered inwardly on the thoughts of a stranger. Still, he smiled good-naturedly.
‘What do you think?’
João did not answer. Suddenly, the religious proved to be angry.
‘What the hell, who are you anyway?’
‘Look the blasphemy’ warned again one mourner.
The prelate made the sign of the cross and tried to be quiet. João continued to show himself calm despite all the torments that shook his mind.
‘Did she leave any suicide note?’
‘A letter’ said one of the mourners, quickly reprimanded by the others not to meddle in the conversation.
‘A letter’ repeated João, anxious about the content.
‘It was not addressed to you …’ said the priest, not resisting the irony. ‘But as her friend, I suppose you want to know what it says.’
João nodded with the head.
‘It is curious, very curious’, the priest sat on a wooden bench next to the old mourning woman. ‘By chance are you a detective or something?’
‘I told you, I was her friend.’
‘Yesterday there were also here some policemen to ask questions’, the priest insisted.
The old woman put her eyes brimming with tears in João and addressed him for the first time, decided to end the conversation.
‘Madalena did not want to confess herself or be anointed with the final oils because she wasn’t worthy of such blessing’ uttered the woman in a bitter and expeditious tone. ‘That’s what the letter says. Wasn’t it what you wanted to know?’ And she added, with a slight inflection in her voice suggesting multiple meanings. ‘She was a sinner …’
João looked at the wooden ceiling and realized he should leave.
‘She also asked to be buried in a secluded place of the river, where is the cemetery’ concluded the woman. ‘She did not want to be unearthed by the winter waters and swept into the sea. And that’s it. Now you know. Now you can go away. Go, go like the others …’
João tried to say something, but the woman had lowered her head, rehearsing an autistic defense.
The priest and the female mourners took aim the stranger carefully. João looked at the corpse of the woman. He felt a deep shudder and grief and recalled again the knife to fall on the palm of the hand.
Do you love me more than anything? Come on, tell me: do you love me more than anything?
He turned and left, sounding his steps on the floor, feeling the looks of the mourners at his back. At the door, he crossed with two men in suits and black tie that bore a small coffin. In front of the house, at the gravel avenue, began to form the funeral procession. Men and women in black, some with tears in their eyes, others with a serious face to share the pain. Many of them had wreaths in their hands.
‘A whore is what she was’ an old lady whispered. ‘She never had acumen in that head. With that name what could we expect?’
‘God writes straight with crooked lines’ said another old voice in a barely audible tone. ‘I’ve always felt bad omen giving her the name of Madalena.
‘She must have been stoned as the other while it was time. It is not what the Scriptures say?’ resumed the first voice that was heard. ‘I saw well all that men who came through there.’
‘Poor baby’ lamented the second voice. ‘An innocent life in the hands of that bitch.’
‘Shut up you two!’ Someone shouted. ‘Not even now have you respect for the pain?’
‘God is great and does not sleep’ insisted the first old woman.
‘Really?! He is sleeping’ said another voice, also entering the conversation. ‘And for a long time…’
‘Heretic! You should be excommunicated’ retorted the second voice.
‘Stop your talk’ asked in an angry tone a man who was leaning on a stick, right next to João. ‘Have pity and respect.’
‘Look who’s talking’ whispered the first old woman. ‘Your wife was also fresh. Who ever heard, run away with a communist.’
‘You son of a great whore!’ bellowed the old man who was preparing to hit her with his stick; however, he froze suddenly by seeing out of the house the two coffins.
They all were silent.
Four men carry the first coffin and two the smallest. Behind came the mourners group. The funeral procession, which João joined, followed the coffins by the clay avenue towards to the rose garden near the mill.
‘It will be a hell of a problem when President finds out these graves’ said someone behind João. ‘This will end in a mess with the police. After all, what is for the cemetery?’
‘It’s what a whore deserves’ mumbled the first old woman. ‘She disgraced so many.’
João stare at the old and watching her facial contours with close attention. She had aged becoming almost unrecognizable. He remembered the smell of fresh bread, with Madalena odor confused to, and the woodstove for which Pedro Cruz shamelessly had peed.
‘It was just what was missing, be buried next to my husband’ muttered the second voice.
‘And mine’ corroborated the first. ‘It would be funny.’
The voices mixed up with the crying whose intensity increased as the procession approached the rose garden. In the mill door, loomed several men with legs full of must. They had interrupted the songs and remained silent, listening with respect to the agony of the mourners.
João, who followed the slow pace of the procession, noticed that there appeared some storm clouds in the sky, purple, through which the sun, almost dipping into the horizon, stubbornly assert its flushed and decadent presence.
‘Who is the father?’ asked João to the woman who now was following by his side.
‘I can see you are not from here’.
‘Does he not come to the funeral?’
The woman remained silent and João didn’t insist. Carrying his backpack, he had the distinct feeling of being a figure that didn’t belong to that place. He wanted to smoke a cigarette, but he restrained himself. When finally the coffins arrived at the field of briars, now almost already in the twilight, João realized at last that the men he saw first at distance did not dig the earth, but dug-in to open two holes for makeshift graves in the middle of rose garden.
The coffins were placed carefully in the holes and the funeral procession gathered around, wincing slightly with the rumors that came from away from a feud between two old man, over against a rabbit hutch, and the screams of another man, more distant, hoe in hand, in a shambling run through a potatoes field behind a young woman. Two men placed near the graves a wooden bench on which the priest improvised the altar and began the religious ceremony.
‘I believe in God almighty, creator of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son and our Lord.’
In the mill gate, the men watched the scene in silence. The refreshing breeze had given way to an icy wind and the sun, to the west, was about to disappear.
‘I believe in the holy spirit, in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and in eternal life.’
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