The Death of D.J. in Paris
For Jesus Rocha,
a friend of D.J.,
D.J.’s guide in Paris,
Antonio Martins da Costa,
who met D.J. in Brazil
Act No. 1
(Prologue: the thin man with dark glasses is telling what he knows, in the courtroom, about a deadman, named D.J., who is being tried. It is the first testimony in process that the papers are calling “The Mysterious Case of D.J.” The next morning, a reporter described it like this: “...(the thin man) took off and put on his glasses constantly, he smoked seven cigarettes and the filterless Hollywood shook in his hand as he testified...”; he covered up some of the facts out of friendship for D.J., like the prosecutor said, and was accused in two or three editorials, one of which ran on the front page, of inventing a fantasy story about a Blue Woman who speaks with a voice like snare drum.)
e bresilien D.J.: That was what we called D.J. when we all sat around on those nights until I don’t know what time shooting the shit in our regular pub, “Flor de Minas.” I remember that the trains would be whistling over in the Central Station, and at that distance the train whistles were both rough and sad, and they pained you as if someone taken a knife to something you didn’t have anymore (like an amputated hand or leg). And D.J. didn’t drink a thing, just tonic water, he was always coughing or clearing his throat and saying that in Paris there were blue women. It was the hour for train whistles and that helped us all get that D.J. knew about the blue women, what he called “femmes bleues.” D.J. was a French professor and he’d go so far as to order his tonic water from the waitress Odette by asking for “le bouteille et le verre;” and we would go through a whole line of Brahmas (but I’ll say it again so there is no doubt: D.J. only drank tonic water even when everyone else was drinking Coca-Cola) and we’d sit there listening to D.J. talk about blue women. They were usually on the Ile St. Louis, they spoke with a voice like a snare drum, and – it’s almost as if I can hear D.J.’s voice again – and those who had the luck could see the freckles on their backs, freckles brought out by the sun of some seacoast. D.J. looked possessed as he spoke, his eyes shone, and he said he was going to Paris the following month.
I find it hard to believe that D.J. is dead, but, at the end of the day, the newspaper says he’s dead so it must be true. To me, nevertheless, le bresilien D.J. is alive, here with us; he’s got a scar in his left eyebrow, a mystery. I never found out how he got that scar. He was thin, blond like an Englishman, about 5'9", and, another mystery, there were times that D.J. looked 45 years old and others when he looked 29. He was single by choice: a third mystery. Ugly women weren’t attracted to him at all, but the good looking ones loved him. He had as many as he wanted until the day he discovered that only blue women make men happy.
“Tell us something D.J.,” said either Antonio or Geraldo, I don’t remember which, “What do you feel when you see a blue woman?”
“You seem like a moon has just gotten inside you. But it’s necessary to be in a state of grace to see a ‘femme bleue...’”
And, if one of us asked if there were blue women in Brazil, D.J. would respond that yes, there were, but that the number of “femmes bleues” was very small, and getting lower, there wasn’t enough for everyone, and the thing to do was go to Paris the following month. One night, I’m not sure who played the joke, someone put vodka or gin in D.J.’s tonic water without him seeing it, and D.J. was suddenly 29 years old and talking about a blue woman in Brazil who was like a cloud. After, he looked out at the night and said that the rising moon was the saddest one he’d ever seen. Then he started softly singing, and I can still hear his voice:
“And, you who are made of blue,
let me live in this blue,
let peace find me,
in your beauty...”
He took out of his bag a valid passport to show us and said he was going to Paris. It was the last time I saw him.
Act No. 2
(Daydream: fragment of the monologue of “Paris Diary” written by D.J. and discovered by witness number two, a young reporter who, when asked by the prosecutor about the manuscripts of D.J., answered: “I prefer not to reveal the sources of my information.” Weird things started to happen to the reporter and a young woman who was beautifully ugly and would wait for him in a local watering hole, until the moment she heard he had been committed to a clinic with a nervous breakdown.)
Every morning, there in your country, you wake up and ah!, how you search for some trace of her in every part of the bed; it could be a bit of body heat left on the pillow, a stray bit of hair, or who knows, the heel of a forgotten shoe. Nothing: all that remains of her is a taste of loneliness in the back of your throat. But, nevertheless, even now, she was there; you felt her foot on yours. She arrived all blue like an evening when you realize your shoes don’t fit anymore. Why is it that, ultimately, she always appeared blue? Without knowing why, you got out of bed, leaving for tomorrow a half-hour of calisthenics, and repeated: “If I don’t go to Paris next month, I’m not worthy of being called D.J.”
You went down the stairs for your morning coffee. Your sister Maria Mariana, or Marima, who never married, had dreams and would sweeten them with sugar for your morning coffee. You ate dreams, D.J., and drank regular cow’s milk while thinking of the goat’s milk they would sell in the Latin Quarter. And, at 6:25 exactly, walking with your shoe that needed resoling, you went to teach class at Dom Bosco High School. Like every morning, while you went by a park that made you think of the Luxembourg Gardens, a voice cried out: “Do you want a ride D.J.?” “No, thanks,” you answered. And you walked with your shoe needing repair, feeling the pavement tickling the sole of your foot, and thought: I’m the only teacher who still doesn’t have a vehicle of some sort. You consoled yourself by remembering that you read somewhere that walking was good for your heart. And a voice like a snare drum said: “You should ask for a raise...” You saw “le petite fleuve” that passed through your town and that wasn’t the Seine, crossed a bridge that wasn’t the Pont Neuf and wasn’t the Pont de l’Alma and a noise like a machine gun or fireworks came up behind you. Two voices shouted: “D.J., everything OK?” It was Fernando Paulo on his motorcycle, with Vera Silvia on the back: him with windblown hair and her in a miniskirt. You nodded to them and felt that you had been nodding and smiling during the good many years that you had worked with Fernando Paulo and Vera Silvia.
A fire of youth flared inside you and you walked faster with your shoe needing resoling, deciding: “Today, I’m going to ask for a raise.” You imagined the conversation with Dom Bosco High’s principal, who had a stentorian announcer’s voice.
You: – “You know what I want Mr. Principal?”
Mr. Principal: – “I suppose I do, but...”
You: – “No buts: I want a raise, almost everyone’s gotten one, only me and two others who haven’t. I demand a raise...”
Mr. Principal: – “Calm down, D.J., you’re forgetting that you’re picking up Mr. Valle’s geography classes, you forget that you’re getting money for that...”
You: – “Begging your pardon Mr. Principal, but Mr. Valle went to Guaruja and in five or six days he’ll be back. I demand a raise and, if not, I’m going to Paris and...”
Mr. Principal: – “Paris, Paris is an illusion, D.J., a bit of colored paper, just a piece of paper...”
And, so, with your shoe in need of repair, you entered the air-conditioned office of Dom Bosco High’s principal.
“Good day Mr. Principal,” you said and looked at the other teachers in the room. “Hello everyone...”
“When the bell rings to start classes,” you said to yourself, “I’ll be alone with the principal and demand my raise.” While you waited, you discussed soccer, the way everyone did every morning: the new king is coming, who is it?, you still don’t know?: Two-Bits?, quit dreaming Professor Rui: one as great as Pele won’t come along for another hundred years, eh?, Garrincha was better than Pele, never, never, in the near future, the voice of Ms. Magda, Two-Bits is going to make all Brazilians forget Pele, I doubt it, only, look, Pele is a genius, and Two-Bits, isn’t he a genius too?, didn’t you hear what they said about him on TV, ssshhhhhhhh, it looks like the principal is going to say something: silence, ssshhhhhhhh – a stentorian announcer’s voice: you all are talking about Two-Bits or Pele, why you haven’t watched the Tiger play, who is the Tiger?, how sad Ms. Maria Rita that you don’t know: the Tiger was Friedenreich, son of a German man and a Brazilian mulatta, the best, better than Two-Bits and Pele – Mr. Principal, wasn’t Friedenreich the one who killed a goalie with one of his shots?, when I was a kid they used to tell that story – that was him Mr. Souza, the Tiger, the best – and one by one you all started agreeing that had never been and never would be anyone as good as the Tiger, and you felt that it was best to leave the demand for a raise until the following day; you avenged yourself by imagining the principal’s announcer voice reading radio announcements for laxatives, tampons, and adult diapers. And you all left the principal’s office saying: “Boy, he really likes soccer, eh?”, and “He’s a great person, Mr. Principal...”
The bell rang: the bell was your music, admit it, D.J., now that you are in Paris, the bell called you to class and it was your music because of Vera Silvia who would bite her lip like a young girl, with her slightly gapped teeth, and blush when you, yes you, would stare at her: you looked at Vera Silvia’s miniskirt, at Vera Silvia’s brown legs, thinking of other brown legs, you looked at Vera Silvia’s knees, thinking of other knees, and it wasn’t in the depths of Vera Silvia’s eyes that you’d get lost: you’d get lost in other eyes, on the Brazilian frontier with Paris.
(Confession that you made to Vera Silvia and Fernando Paulo in the cafeteria of Dom Bosco High School:
“You don’t know what it means to have studied for five years in a high school run by Jesuit fathers: Holy Week comes and everyone feels guilty for the death of Jesus Christ...”)
And, at night, you’d go to “Flor de Minas,” and the trains whistled and you talked about the “femme bleue,” and after you’d go home, tossing and turning in bed, with the “femme bleue” stuck in your throat. Until you changed the ground floor of where you lived into a Paris made of paper. You left a skylight open in a direction so that you’d be able to see the same stars as in Paris, and you stuck up tourist postcards and posters of the Latin Quarter. In one collage, the Seine curved, carrying two lovers in a “bateau-mouche,” cut from Paris Match, and the Seine cutting through its Paris: here the Quai D’Orsay, there, the Quai du Louvre, dividing Paris into the Left Bank and the Right Bank.
“It’s on the Left Bank, where my heart was born, that I am going to live...”
Next there was the Luxembourg Gardens, with students chatting, coming up near the much-dreamed-of Sorbonne, the Deux Magots café: you could hear the conversations of those who were there drinking. And, when the pigeons started flying over Ile St. Louis and Spring was sprung on the cover of Paris Match, you hugged your friends, made note of the requests of each in a little notebook with a blue cover, closed the door of Paris, and, from there, started sending letters to Brazil.
“Paris, coeur du monde, April 29, 1969.
Antoine, mon cher:
Vive Paris! Vive a vie!
Here I am Antoine: after having postponed my trip for I don’t know how many years, here I am, in Paris! When the Boeing that I was traveling in descended for the approach to Orly, and I saw Paris, I thought it was a dream: but my Gauloise burnt my finger and I felt it was reality. I rented a room in a nice little hotel, the Saint Michel, on the Boul’Mich, two blocks from the Sorbonne. Unfortunately, I got a cold, Spring Fever, on arriving, and have been bed-ridden these first couple days and still haven’t seen the ‘femme bleue’...
Etc. etc. etc.”
Act No. 3
(Halfasleep: the man with the scratchy voice, almost inaudible, and who sucked Cepacol throat lozenges, gives his testimony in writing in regards to the first days of D.J. in Paris. At the judge’s request, it was read out loud by a radio announcer and was considered “the fruit of a sick but fertile mind” by one of TV commentators covering the trial.
“It consisted of such mawkishness,” wrote one journalist, “that not even M. Disney would have the courage to sign off on it.”
That morning, D.J. looked in the mirror and realized that the scar in his left eyebrow was gone: he realized that he was thirty years old, because it was at thirty-one that what D.J. doesn’t like to remember happened and he became a marked man. He opened the window in his room at the Hotel Saint Michel and filled his lungs with air. He enjoyed taking air that way, with its floral overtones, because it was Paris in the Spring, and, leaning on the windowsill, he whistled the “Marseillaise,” repeating, often, the bit that says, “le jour de la Gloire est arrive.”
“Why on earth would I be getting younger?” D.J. asked himself.
Only arriving at Orly, D.J. lost the manner of someone who was forty-five and appeared forty. And, every morning, looking in the mirror, he would look younger, wrinkles disappearing, thinning spots on his head being replaced by wild, blond hair.
“It’s Spring Fever,” says D.J. “All the foreigners get Spring Fever and it’s her who’s making me younger...”
D.J. would take the coffee and what not that Madame Francine brought him every morning in his room. She sympathized with him as that bresilien that made her think of her husband who had died “dans une sale guerre, une sale guerre.” It was nine-thirty when D.J. left, heading for the Latin Quarter. He was going slow, smoking a Gauloise, his legs hurt, and the rest of his body was burning.
“This damn Spring Fever...”
In front of the Sorbonne, D.J. asked an old man with glasses if he had seen any blue women around there.
“Close to the Seine is where you’ll usually find them, the blue women...”
“Did you see one over there sir?”
“No, today I didn’t. One time I saw one on the Ile St. Louis, but soon I lost sight of her: she crossed the Pont Sully and went down the Quai St. Bernard. The heels of her shoes played music,” said the old man with the glasses, looking now like a young man of thirty, since he had started speaking of the “femme bleue.”
“When was this?” asked D.J., noting that the old man now seemed young.
“It’s gotta be fourteen or fifteen years...”
D.J. continued along the Boulevard Saint Michel towards the Seine, checking out the women. One flashed a bright white smile at D.J. She was beautiful, but she wasn’t blue; D.J. continued on, saying to himself that it was the devil that made people with Spring Fever need a woman, but women like that last one, there are many of in Brazil, even if they are bleach blonds. On the Ile St. Louis, his body burning as if it had a fever of 110 degrees, D.J. sat on a bench, certain that Her, the “Femme Bleue,” was going to show up, with her cloud-like aura that she always had, and was going to nod from a good distance off and cry, “Ei!” happily, that way She did that one night in Brazil. D.J. tossed crusts to the pigeons of Ile St. Louis, maybe they had seen the Blue Woman, maybe they had pecked at a well-groomed fingernail that was hers.
Dialogue (imagined by D.J.):
Her, voice of a snare drum: “Have you seen, D.J., that John Ford film that we’ve made plans to see together here in Paris? It’s been out for fourteen years...”
Him: “Talk more, I want to hear your snare-drum sounding voice...”
Her: “Your hand is so hot, my love, and your forehead too: it must be Spring Fever, but it’ll pass, I already got over mine...”
Him: “Remember that cold you gave me once? You’d gone to Rio de Janeiro and brought the cold from there...”
Her: “And you took quite a while to get over that cold, drinking one brandy after another...”
Him: “And you made me that lemonade for me, I remember the essence of lemons on your fingertips...”
Her: “And you had no cigarettes that day...”
Him: “That’s true. You know what? I enjoyed that cold. Look: I loved that cold because that cold was yours...”
Then, the voice of a woman, singing tunelessly and sadly, arrived at D.J.’s Paris, the voice even making it to the Ile St. Louis:
“God can save you,
a watch that runs poor
serves as a sign
of the Sacred Word...”
It was Maria Mariana, or Marima, who never married, the only sibling of D.J., sometimes older than he, sometimes younger than D.J. She wore long skirts that covered her knees and high-collared, long-sleeved white blouses that choked off any idea of her breasts. Her eyebrows had never known tweezers nor had she ever worn eye makeup.
“God can save you,
a watch that runs poor...”
Only her eyes, a green like you find in the Atlantic, recalled the attractive young girl that Maria Mariana had once been. D.J. could remember it: her in Brazil, at 10 at night, closing the windows of the colonial house where they lived, as if she were about to go to sleep, in order that she could stay at the window, peering through the blinds. It was an old habit of Maria Mariana, ever since a local Justice of the Peace went away, and his wife, who always left a hint of french perfume in her wake, would open her window to let the shadows in.
While eating her various sweet culinary creations, D.J. had promised Maria Mariana that he would pray five Our-Fathers, five Ave-Marias, four Our-Daily-Breads, and one I-Believe-in-God-the-Father, every night before going to sleep, as soon as he arrived in Paris. All in exchange for the help (and silence) of Maria Mariana, an employee of the Post Office. Before going to sleep, Maria Mariana thought that she should go to Paris to see what that crazy brother of hers was up to in the Capital of Sin, as Father Carlos referred to it. As she thought of Paris, a chill of anticipation ran through Maria Mariana and she read and reread entries from the book Daily Companion (for a life in God’s service) by Father Tiago Koch, SVD, her sleepy eyes finally shutting on page 57:
“But I know that the world and its distractions
Are little more than a dream to me...”
So, dreaming, Maria Mariana became Marima and walked down a road still wet from a passing storm, the water still dripping from the trees; Marima enjoyed the way the drops from the trees wet her hair. Marima went to the monastery of the Dominicans, waved at Brother Xisto, who was a country boy and said in a singsong voice that Jesus Christ was happiness. Then she was in the airport at Orly and D.J. was greeting her with an old-fashioned hello.
“I’ll be your guide Marima,” said D.J. when they were in a taxi. “You see that there? That’s the Seine, and there is the Ile St. Louis...”
Marima was young and wore a miniskirt and a green blouse that made her green eyes greener. In Paris, men would serenade outside her window, especially one bearded fellow they’d met in St. Germain, who’d enter her dreams playing guitar and singing in Portuguese with a tenor’s voice:
“Our everyday clothes,
hung out to dry,
wave like flags...”
Hearing that voice, Marima knew that Jesus Christ was happiness, rooted for D.J. to meet the Blue Woman, and understood the Justice of the Peace’s wife who opened the window to let the shadows in.
“You walk amongst the stars distracted
without knowing what an adventure this life is...”
And a distant Renato Lima, who was the bearded fellow from St. Germain, tapped on the Parisian window of Marima, as he would never dare do in Brazil, and she said, as she would never do in Brazil: “It’s you? I’ve been waiting for you...”
Act No. 4
(Halfpause: the intercepted correspondence that D.J. sent from Paris to his Brazilian friends, assembled for this inquest by the prosecuting attorney. In the editorial “Compromising Messages,” a newspaper that published the letters and telegrams of D.J., said: “...if in the conscience of those who care for that which Brazilian Civilization holds most dear there remains any doubt regarding the necessity of the death penalty, this shadow of a doubt would disappear the moment one ran his eyes of the damning correspondence that the undesirable ‘monsieur’ D.J. made arrive to the unknowing...”)
Telegram, dated 5 May, 1969, sent to Jesus Rocha, a friend of D.J.:
“Femme Bleue will be on the Quai Stop Ciao D.J.
Letter to Geraldo, who followed the advice of D.J.:
“Paris, coeur du monde, 6th of May, 1969.
Geraldo, mon cher,
Ah, Geraldo, companion from many late nights and wee hours of the morning in “Flor de Minas,” how this Paris air would do you all some good! Your letter left me both happy and worried. Let me explain: happy to get news from home (when you’re away, you understand what Vinicius de Moraes meant when he wrote: ‘...my dear motherland, so lacking in everything’); and worried, sorry, about you.
You mean that your newest fixation is Leila Diniz? In regards to that, nothing to be surprised about, there in Brazil we’re used to things like having crushes on famous women, it’s always been good for your humble servant here, and the thin ones – and the almost thin ones – are the ones that count. (Here in Paris there’s a good amount of them, all the time, in the Boul’Mich, I run into another Brigitte Bardot every day.)
I understand, Geraldo, your fixation with swaying TV and film stars (which I believe, in some way, is the case with Leila Diniz). Je te comprends mon ami. Now, your style comes from the time of Mara Rubia. Remember when you used to cut her photos from magazines and tape them up on the walls of your room? I can still hear you saying, rubbing your hands together: “On my next vacation, I’m taking the train to Rio to meet Mara Rubia, I’ll send a bouquet of flowers to her dressing room with a card that says: ‘Divine Mara Rubia: a lovesick Mineiro would like to meet the goddess Mara Rubia.’”
Remember Geraldo? But time passed, Mara Rubia passed too, and you, oh incorrigible et incourable coeur, got a crush on Nelia Paula. How many cards did you write for and didn’t send to send to Nelia Paula? After you fell for Angelita Martinez, for Anilza Leoni, for that babe Carmen Veronica, remember you swore?: I’ll get to Rio, buy some bonbons, and send them to Carmen Veronica, with this card (irresistible): “There needed to be something sweet between us two. Would it be possible that I could at least meet you, divine Carmen Veronica?”
I imagine that you have composed more and more imaginary cards to the divine Leila Diniz. So, from here in Paris, I advise you – get on the first plane and go talk to Leila Diniz. If she accepts you, great, je boirrai a ta sante ici, in Paris; if she doesn’t accept you, forget about it. You will have done what you should have and, more importantly Geraldo, is this: do what you want. Don’t stay on the sidelines watching life go by.
Always, your friend, D.J.
Telegram dated 7 May, 1969, when D.J. looked about thirty-two years old, sent through Brazil Telephone & Telegraph to a Luis Gonzaga:
“L’amour est oiseau Stop Il lui faut ouvrir des cages Stop Ciao, D.J.
A letter to a certain Angelo, AKA Gilu:
“Paris, coeur du monde, 11th of May, 1969.
I don’t know what’s happened to me since I arrived in Paris, mon cher Angelo. Imagine, Gilu, that I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday and you know what? I didn’t have that scar in my eyebrow. That means I’ve returned to being thirty years old and, a the same time, I’ve stopped being that marked man that I was there in Brazil. Maybe it’s the Spring Fever.
I’ve been thinking about our little chats, you drinking your Dreher cognac and me drinking the purgative that is tonic water, and us talking about the barbed wire fence that contained us at San Francisco High and that would stay with us the rest of our lives. You know something? I’ve jumped the fence; Paris has made me a free man. And I want to solemnly declare that it wasn’t me who killed Jesus Christ and it is not my fault if Magdalene wanted to be Magdalene.
I discovered life, the small pleasures of life (the expression is yours): the other day, I got the strongest sense of desire, it was a Saturday on the Ile St. Louis, and the sun was out and hot! There were a few Brazilians there and I met a woman that around here they call Angela Langouste, since the time of ‘the Lobster War’ (the reason being that she looks so appetizing).
But what I still want to say is this: I knocked down the barbed wire fence. I’m free!
A bientot, D.J.
P.S.: before you start imagining things about Angela Langouste, I’ll tell you that she’s a beautiful woman, with one obvious defect: she’s not blue. I’m setting aside those packets of Gauloises that I promised you.
Letter that a mysterious Osvaldo didn’t manage to read:
“Paris, center of the world, 26th of May, 1969.
I was walking down the Boulevard Saint Michel and your letter was a piece of Brazil that I had in my pocket. You ask me if I’d like someone to send me black beans, sausage, tongue, greens, manioc flour and everything I’d need for a real Brazilian feijoada. Ah, Osvaldo, I want someone to send me a May afternoon and that I’d spend it sitting on a bench with a Blue Woman, her head on my shoulder. But this, no one can send me.
PS – I haven’t forgotten the French cheeses I promised you: never again will you talk to me about the cheeses of Minas, even if, right now, I’d like to eat some cheese from home.
Telegram to Luis Gonzaga with the date of May 27, 1969:
“Brazil is a knot in your throat Stop D.J.”
Page No. 3, the only one in evidence at the trial, of a letter that D.J. sent to one Mon Vieux Bonhomme:
“...and I know, Mon Vieux Bonhomme, how much you love Regina and how much Regina loves you: the life the two of you have is one of the most beautiful memories of Brazil that I brought with me. What you all have is found in those picnic lunches in the cemetery, eating Argentinian pears and cheese, like a clandestine Romeo and Juliet of our time and just as unforgettable. All of life is that beautiful, Mon Vieux Bonhomme. And the shock of the cemetery watchman coming upon the two of making out, the two of you deciding to take off as the watchman cried, “My God! My God!” All of it’s beautiful, Mon Vieux. Now I ask you: what kind of life do we live that two lovers have to hide themselves among the dead, pretend death!...”
Act No. 5
(Halfarriving: in which the story of D.J.’s meeting with the Blue Woman gets told, all according to the deposition of a man with greying hair, a man whose hair looks like he’s tried to touch up the greyer spots with some dye, and who, even when he’s eating ‘choucroute’ in a brasserie in St. Germain, has never lost his air of being a small town Brazilian pharmacist. “I came to Paris just to recharge,” he said to some journalists in the gallery. “I was a favorite confidant of D.J....”
The papers published a series of photos of him and asked in the caption: “What would Pierre Cardin say about the elegance of this gentleman who swears he has just arrived from Paris?”)
D.J. bought his France Soir and went to read it in the Luxembourg Gardens, and the day’s Parisian skies were promising more rain, either that day or the next the way the forecast told it, and D.J. was there, like always, reading his France Soir: ‘pauvre’ Catherine Grisel, 23 years old, retail saleswoman, jumped in the Seine, leaving a note for Jean Farge: “I loved you baby, do you still doubt it?”; the prefecture of the city has announced more flowers for Spring. Starting tomorrow, when you next go by Tulleries, you’ll see the new flowers; extra – Jessica Dumont, blond, single, got off the Metro after a night of fun and, ah!, innocent girl, didn’t notice she was being followed, and now she’s dead: the mystery of Jessica is that il y a un vampire in Paris, the suspect is swarthy, he looks Algerian, Jessica’s the ninth victim of the Vampire of Paris; Therese, who wanted to be another Brigitte Bardot, but it’s all right because the police in Paris are on the trail of the Vampire of Paris... well, Paris’s skies were promising rain, and D.J. always there reading his France Soir; who knows about Sylvie, dark girl, 19 years old, please call Paul; thanks to a small announcement in France Soir, Paul found Sylvie (D.J. saw the photos of Paul and Sylvie, showing the two of them); a petite announcement: “Femme Bleue: D.J., breselien, 29 ans, avec une experience de 45 ans, cherche Femme Bleue, qui parle comme frevo tocando...”
But no France Soir reporter realized that a Brazilian moon, the same one as the nights in Belo Horizonte, entered into D.J. one Paris night. It happened thusly, from what I heard from D.J. and his way of talking:
1 – D.J. made a lot of foam from his can of shaving cream, he shaved the stubble that made him look like Jesus Christ, and he scanned his face in the mirror, feeling an old feeling; humming an old samba tune, from a long forgotten Carnival:
“A promise that I made,
that I still can’t pay...”
What D.J. remembered about humming: one time he showed up with a two-day old beard and the Blue Woman said she’d never see him again; she spoke with a voice that was even rougher, not even snare-drum sounding, and only spoke up because she had really soft skin, and any hint of a beard would give her a rash.
2 – After putting on Lacoste lotion, by Jean Patou, and being in his hotel room, number 19, of the Hotel Saint Michel, Rue Cujas, D.J. heard a guitar playing, and a voice started to sing, and at first it seemed far away, as if it were sung in Brazil, but later it sounded closer, and it was beautiful:
“There’s only I know
How much love I’ve saved
Without knowing that it was only for you...”
D.J. felt a chill run across his skin, opened the door of his room, and went walking down the corridors of the Hotel Saint Michel, listening to the voice:
“There’s only being with you
Having to be for you
If there isn’t, it’s only pain...”
D.J. listened at every door: no, no not this one, not here – I remember him telling me about it – and the snare-drum voice singing: “if it wasn’t love/ that which we believe in/ love would arrive to show us,”; at the door of Room No. 6, the voice grew, trembled inside of D.J., and said repeatedly: “love has come to be given/ what no one has given to you...” Then D.J. knocked on the door to Room No. 6: it was her, the Blue Woman.
A half an hour later, he sent five or six telegrams to some Brazilian friends, changing only the name and address of each one. He told them all the same thing:
“I met the Femme Bleue Stop Her name is Lu Stop Ciao, D.J.”
Lu, who really was blue, worked afternoons as a nanny in a house in the Etoile part of Paris and evenings, D.J. would go and wait for her. It was nice stand on the corner of Etoile and Montenotte, smoking a Gauloise. She’d come along with air of a cloud burnt by Rio de Janeiro’s sun and offer D.J. her two hands. Sometimes she wore an open-backed yellow dress, and the two would walk wherever they were going because they were never in a hurry. Lu had a way of hanging off him and the heel of her shoe was always getting caught in some crack on the Quai des Tulieries, the way it could happen back in Belo Horizonte, and they’d cross the Pont Royal and arrive at the Boul’Mich. They’d often go to La Coupole, in Montparnasse, or the Deux Magots, and on weekends, when Lu had been paid, because D.J. didn’t have much money, they’d eat couscous in the Rue Pot du Fer. A couscous so tasty that it made them think of Brazil; Lu wanted to eat a lot of couscous but she was afraid of gaining weight. We, the Brazilians of Paris, were accustomed to seeing D.J. and Lu together: they had that air of relaxation of those who are in love with each day. We separated ourselves from them to consider if one of them was missing something, a leg, an arm, because they seemed to complete each other. In the mornings, the two of them would go hand-in-hand, to classes at the Institute des Haute Etudes de L’Amerique Latine, on Rue Saint Guillaume, with her saying, in her snare drum voice:
“Remember how I was in Brazil? Remember, D.J.? I didn’t study, I didn’t work; remember my headaches at eight in the evening?”
On Lu’s day off from her nanny job, they’d stay in the room at the Hotel Saint Michel and, before long, we were made to understand that we were never to disturb them in their room; not even Madame Francine would knock on their door and she even forgave D.J. six months of back rent because it was enough for the two of them to be there for her husband, long war dead, to come to her at night and say: “Francine, mon amour, regarde notre fleuve qui coule...”
Act No. 6
(Betweendoubt: deposition-interrogation of Maria Mariana or Marima, considered a key witness against and, at the same time, accomplice to, her brother D.J. She worried the judge, prosecutor, lawyers, members of the jury, and reporters, because she took two forms:
One was Maria Mariana, 49 years of age, dressed in a long sleeved white blouse that she wore buttoned to the throat, a starched skirt that she wore below knees that were scarred from prayers conducted on dried kernels of corn, forgettable eyes that she kept directed down at the tips of her shoes;
The other was Marima, 23 years of age, wearing a miniskirt that worried the honorable judge as to its appropriateness, a striped man’s shirt that suited her very well, and she smiled and smoked and had eyes that knew they were green and never avoided eye contact.)
As Maria Mariana:
I, Maria Mariana, confess my guilt, before Our Lady of Lourdes, who is my good and sainted protectress, and also my guilt before this egregious trial. The good and saintly Father Carlos, my confessor and counselor, knows what I am the first to recognize: I have to pay for my sins in the presence of the Justice of God and the Justice of Men, and I know that I fought, I clung to Sao Judas Tadeu, I did my novenas, prayed while kneeling on corn, all for Sao Judas Tadeu and for my dear Our Lady of Lourdes that they wouldn’t let me fall victim to temptation and keep from all evil, amen. But Our Lady of Lourdes had resolved that I had to give in to the Devil who appeared to me as my brother, the lamb of God, D.J., for whom may God care in his infinite mercy. The good Father Carlos is witness to how I repeated, until my eyes closed from exhaustion, a prayer that the dear Father Tiago Koch offered in his book Daily Companion: “... I must fight strongly against my rebel nature.” I was weak, and I agreed to and aided with the plans of my brother D.J. to go to Paris, even though I knew it was the Capital of Sin; my brother D.J. has always been a rebel. My sainted mother, who is with God now, used to say that D.J. would always kick a lot when he was in the womb, and that God didn’t want D.J. to see the world, but he was always a rebel. As soon as he told me of his plans, and after consulting my spiritual guide, the good and sainted Father Carlos, I agreed to collaborate with D.J. All that I wanted was to attract a black sheep to the good and peaceful flock of Our Lord. My dear Our Lady of Lourdes is witness that I never approved of the clandestine liaisons of my brother D.J. with poor Lu. The beautiful and poor Lu. And, having thought so much of her and the scandal here in Brazil, I told myself that I should go to Paris to stop anything bad; I pretended I was helping and, when I felt myself getting weak, I repeated ceaselessly the prayer of dear Father Tiago: “... I must fight strongly against my rebel nature.” I’d sleep repeating these words...
As Marima (changing suddenly):
... and then I opened my eyes in my room at the Maison du Bresil, and in the movement of my body something fell to the floor, and I reached out for it, thinking it was a book by some Father Tiago Koch, but who said that it was? It was a little book with a red cover called Paris on a Budget, by Jacqueline Boursin and that Air France had published in Portuguese. Then I asked myself: been sleepwalking, eh?, and I saw that everything was like in a nightmare: I wasn’t in Brazil at all, I was in Paris. I recalled Brother Xisto saying: “Jesus is happiness, Marima,” and I picked up the phone and gave Lu a call. How can you not like Lu?, she’s great, and I said to her: hello baby, where are you all going, and she replied in that sultry voice of hers, come over, we’re waiting for you. So I went. One night, in the Deux Magots, all the gang was there, and Luis, who had just arrived from Brazil, missed eating Mineiro cheese with our beers, and that bummed us all out a bit. Each of us started talking about our favorites: sausage, black beans, chicken with brown gravy, but all prepared in Brazil, and we all started to sing samba – it was great. Then this guy showed up with the biggest chin who looked something like Godard and said that he wanted to talk to Lu and he started telling her in French: I am Godard, and I’m going to make you a star more famous than Ana Karina, than Brigitte Bardot, and I don’t know who else, and D.J. turned to Antonio Geraldo and said in loud Portuguese: “This guy’s bullshitting,” and Godard said to Lu: I’ll put you in my film, but Lu didn’t even nod, and then D.J. started saying some really nasty things in Portuguese, and Godard couldn’t handle being run down, so D.J. stood and gave a full discourse in Portuguese, really cursing out Godard now, spelling his name out in swear words, we were all laughing, and even poor Charles De Gaulle, who had nothing to do with it, got cursed out...
Judge’s question for Marima, with his voice trembling a bit because of the miniskirt and Marima’s pretty knees:
“Miss, do you confirm or deny that you have served as a carrier-pigeon for your brother D.J. and his Brazilian friends?”
Responding as Maria Mariana (having given a sigh):
“I gave in to temptation, dear Father Carlos knows, with Divine will...”
“You know what the defendant is accused of?”
Responding as Marima (after having asked permission to smoke):
“I know what they’ve accused him of and I only have one thing to say: D.J. was into his own thing.”
“Has anyone read the letters, my dear, other than those they were intended for?”
Maria Mariana is who answers (the only thing left of Marima was the lit cigarette in Maria Mariana’s hand, which she regarded with a shocked look, not knowing what to do with it):
“Saintly Father Carlos has read them.”
“There are 48 letters listed in evidence; Father Carlos read them all?”
“No, when dear Father Carlos went away, I searched out Brother Xisto, at the Dominican Monastery...”
“And this Brother Xisto read them all?”
“He did, all of them, he’s from the country and very interested in things, he read them all and said, ‘It’s your duty to turn these letters over to those who you’ve been entrusted to deliver them to.’”
“Did Father Carlos tell you to the same thing?”
“No. Dear Father Carlos told me that I should burn some of the correspondence... Some I kept, I have one with me now...”
“And, would you read for the court?” said the judge, impatiently.
“Yes, your honor.”
On taking the letter from the envelope, Maria Mariana changed into Marima; one reporter went on the air live, carried away by an impulse that he later wouldn’t be able to explain, and the listeners heard the voice of Marima, reading a letter by D.J.:
“Paris, couer du monde, 21 June, 1969.
To my friends Antonio, Osvaldo, Mon Bonhomme and Fernando Paulo:
I would like you all to explain, to anyone who asks, that my country is blue and has freckles on her back and a small scar on her left knee, and I know everything about her: I know about when she talks with her snare drum voice, I know about her having freckles on her back that have been touched by the Atlantic, I know about certain secret coves she has, about a hidden city in her eyes, and it’s enough for her to lay one thing against me, one strand of hair, her foot, her hand, for me to feel an exhaustion more relaxing than anything else in the world and to run my fingers through her hair makes me know that, for her sake, it’s worth living, it’s worth dying: for my blue country with the freckles on her back.
Your friend always, D.J.”
Simultaneous deposition of both Maria Mariana and Marima:
I repeat, repeat quietly: “I must fight strongly against my rebel nature,” it seems I can hear the voice of dear Father Carlos; I gained strength and went to Paris bringing that Brazilian Holy Water that sainted Father Carlos had given me, I wanted to expiate our sins and went to D.J.’s Paris,
that Paris which is the coolest tattoo that I have with me: that afternoon I knew that Lu wasn’t working, so I went to the Hotel St. Michel to chat, I got there and was entering,
step by step, I entered the room, my brother D.J., may God protect him, was sleeping and, in one of the miracles of Our Lady of Lourdes, I heard the voice of sainted Father Carlos: dear Sister Maria Mariana, D.J. and Lu are your temptations, so I took the vial of Holy Water,
I wanted to give a scare to D.J. and Lu by pouring Holy Water on them, I love those sorts of jokes, so I had this little peroxide bottle that I’d filled with cold water, but I didn’t see Lu, only D.J. was there sleeping, and, then,
I started to sprinkle the Holy Water in accordance with the directions given me by the sainted Father Carlos in regards to the whole Latin Quarter: all that Left Bank that was the biggest symbol of sin and temptation; I sprinkled it on the Boulevard Saint Michel and the Luxembourg Gardens, I sprinkled a lot of it on the Sorbonne – I repeat: Paris is a paper sin, I tore at it in vain, it’s fragile like sin – and I went on sprinkling, sprinkling; I sprinkled the Seine, I sprinkled the Ile St. Louis, a pigeon took flight on getting wet, and I prayed quietly: “Silence my soul, neither complain nor whine,” and I threw Holy Water on D.J.’s hair while he slept, on his hands, his mouth, his feet, and I secured my sinner brother with these hands that Our Lady of Lourdes had made strong, and I woke him up. I told what I had to tell him... but even then, sin didn’t leave me.
Act No. 7
(Epilogue: the exclusive interview that the Blue Woman gave to France Presse in Paris and that was annexed to the process of D.J. after its publication: the newspapers also received a radio-photo of a woman in sunglasses who looked like Greta Garbo, only younger and prettier than Greta Garbo when she was young.
“What a good looking woman, eh? Beautiful and blue! Have you already thought about how she’d look on the cover?” said the editor of Manchete, on examining the photo and feeling a tremor of excitement that reminded him of when he was doing his first newspaper stories. “It’s at times like these that people need to have a color image. I’m going to put her on the front page...”
And since all the editors and publishers had decided the same thing, those who bought the newspapers, the next day, felt, on seeing the photo of the Blue Woman, something they’d never experienced; they exclaimed: “This means she really exists!” and they all smiled and exchanged looks, as if they all knew the same secret.)
It was a Saturday afternoon, quarter to five, or five, no later, and I left D.J. sleeping in the room where we lived in the hotel St. Michel and went to take a shower at the end of the hall; D.J. was taking a course for substitute professors in Nanterre, there were already two Brazilians there, so he was tired and I left him sleeping and went to shower. I was coming back down the St. Michel’s hall when, as I grabbed the doorknob that I’d forgotten to lock, I heard a voice and thought: who could it be? It was a woman’s voice that I had never heard, and I stopped at the door without entering, listening to that voice saying in Portuguese:
“Wake up, D.J., wake up!”
There was a noise from our bed, and I sensed that he’d woken and I heard his voice:
“Where’s Lu? Where did Lu go?”
And that voice said:
“Lu? Lu doesn’t exist D.J., you’re delirious: if you don’t get out of here, if you don’t come back, you’ll be given up for dead...”
“Where did Lu go? Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!”
Me outside the room, quiet, my skin crawls to remember it, listening to that voice saying:
“There isn’t any Lu, D.J., there isn’t any Paris: it’s all dreams, temptation, sin... It’s an invention, D.J., there aren’t any Blue Women!”
I heard the noise of a match being lit, it was D.J. lighting one of his Gauloises, and that voice continuing:
“If you continue in this Paris made of paper, D.J., you’re dead: there’s still time to save yourself.” At that moment, D.J. sensed a flavor of Minister in his Gauloise, his Paris returned to being the cover of Paris Match; it was paper.
“Lu is an invention, a blue woman is an invention: you’ve been tricked, D.J., but you can still save yourself. Do you want to be the walking dead, D.J.?”
At that point, I entered the room and saw a woman in her late forties, like the church-regulars that I saw in Brazil – there in Belo Horizonte I lived close to the Church of the Safe Journey – so I had seen lots of church-goers, and this woman that was in our room was like them: long black skirt that covered her knees, a long-sleeved blouse: I asked, “Who are you ma’am?” and she responded: “I’ve been sent by Our Lady of Lourdes, patron saint of Brazil.” She looked harshly at me and started to move: she picked up a small peroxide bottle, and got much younger looking, first her hair, then her face; while this happened, D.J. was thinking of a bunch of eyes peering through some blinds and hearing a voice like the principal of Dom Bosco High School with his radio announcer’s voice giving a speech:
“...and being that God is Brazilian like us...”
so the Minister cigarette that D.J. was smoking became a Gauloise, Paris was Paris, and D.J. saw me. To me, with my bath towel in my hand, he shouted: “Dying, Lu, is a form of living,” and the church-goer got younger and younger, and I looked at her and said: “Marima, was that you?” and she said, “It was,” and she hugged me and started to cry, poor thing, she’d had a crisis and vacillated. D.J. was already calm, but he was shaking – that’s what happened. Now, you’re asking me if D.J. is dead; my answer is: some people have to believe that D.J. is alive, while others don’t. Those who want to, could kill D.J. off, but he’ll come back for the first samba, for the first drums of Carnival and, even, who knows, for the first goal of the soccer season.