Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Lure of the Street (Part 2)

I arrived shortly after dusk and soon came across some familiar faces, about to jump the wall of a crumbling derelict building which had been cordoned off from the street (about two blocks from where we play hockey with the kids on Tuesdays). "Come on in, Tio" was the invitation I needed to pass from one world to another.

Scaling the wall, I descended a steep pile of crumbling mortar, broken glass and trash. The kids led me down what must have originally been an internal corridor, but was now open to the elements. A knock, an exchange of call signs and a door was opened into a series of dark and stuffy internal rooms, choked by cigarette smoke and the ubiquitous stench of glue. No sign of W, but more familiar faces – and some new ones too. A candle burned atop an upturned speaker and, after a gesture to sit on one of the many mattresses, some biscuits were opened and from somewhere a pitcher of juice was rustled up. As I politely nibbled, four small faces, barely visible in the candlight, sat and stared at me as if I was a visitor from another planet. Maybe it was the audacity of meeting them on their turf for a change. Maybe it was the drugs.

As I contemplated their welcome and their generosity in sharing what few things they had, noises could be heard from the alleyway outside. One of the boys made for the exit to see what the commotion was about and a confusing scramble of dialogue ensued, the meaning of which I couldn't clearly decipher, except for the word polícia.

The circumstances suddenly dawned on me: I am an illegal immigrant trespassing on private property surrounded by drug paraphernalia and four minors. I mean, what was I thinking? Seeing the expression on the boys' faces go from drug-induced apathy to anxiety, I hastily expressed my gratitude, ran out the door, scrambled up the rubble heap and lept into the street before you could say “Carandiru”.

That is when I saw W. He was with some other boys. He looked at me, looked away, and then continued on his way. That's all I hoped for. I hadn't expected an expression of regret or remorse, or some form of reconciliation. This isn't the movies. This is the street. What I wanted is for him to see that I bothered to follow him back to the street. To let him know that I cared. Or should I say, to reiterate my care for him.

Mission accomplished.

see you soon, W

No comments:

Post a Comment