Requiem for a Killer
his pocket and was told to come back in half
an hour.
    With some time on his hands, he decided to
go by Vito’s bar.
    “Good-a afternoon, dottore . Some cachaça today?”
    “It’s too early, Vito. Just some coffee,
please.”
    He sat down to think. Lost in thought, he
was as still as a statue. A few minutes later Vito, recognizing the
meditative state his client was in, slid the coffee across the
table in front of the inspector like a ghost. Staring at the floor,
his fingers gently pinching his lips as if pulling a thought from
somewhere in his brain, an idea hit him. He sipped his coffee
mechanically, paid the check and left.

 
    Chapter 7
     
     
    D ornelas rang the
doorbell, waited a bit, and then the door opened and there she was,
although not as stunning as she had been the day before.
    As he was taught to do in the police
academy, the inspector studied her clinically. He started at the
bottom and worked his way up: beat-up sandals, corns on her feet,
chapped, fatty knees, threadbare shorts and a white apron full of
holes around her waist. He continued moving up, up, until his eyes
filled with pleasure: at the level of her breasts the T-shirt was
pulled to the sides and pushed out in the front, like a bouquet.
Her curves stretched the fabric until her nipples stood out in a
most interesting manner. They looked free and loose underneath.
Dornelas imagined their size and shape. As he reached her face,
noticing the absence of makeup, he saw her watching him with eyes
like two diamonds, crystalline and with an intense glow; a look
acquired from countless years of suffering and resignation. The
inspector was charmed by what he saw, only to be disappointed a few
seconds later by the rollers in her hair.
    “What a surprise, Inspector!” said Maria das
Graças, putting her hands up to pat her hair in veiled
embarrassment. “If you had told me you were comin’ I woulda fixed
myself up a bit.”
    “Please excuse me, but I have to speak to
you. Are you busy?”
    “Not at all!” She leaned the broom against
the doorjamb and threw her arms open. “Come in. Please excuse the
mess. I’m doin’ some spring cleaning today.”
    Dornelas cautiously left the afternoon sun,
crossed the threshold and entered a dark space. As his eyes were
getting used to the poor light in what seemed to be a living room,
he noticed the odor of wet brick, cement and plastic putty.
    He entered a narrow room with only two
pieces of furniture, a two-seat couch covered in blue fabric in
front of a white Formica sideboard of medium height, the kind
purchased in life-long installments.
    A 42-inch LCD TV, spanking new, caught his
attention because it stretched across the entire top of the
sideboard besides clashing with the rest of the room, especially
with the two fake mother-of-pearl statuettes on one of the
windowsills: a pink unicorn and St. George stabbing a dragon with
his lance. On the bottom part, behind glass-paned little doors, a
variety of glasses and two stacks of assorted plates and
chinaware.
    “Some forensics people came by this morning,
some guy called Chagas. Is that right?” broke in Maria das Graças,
trying to get the inspector’s attention away from the house he was
so carefully studying, not missing any detail.
    “If he hasn’t said anything to me yet it
must be him,” responded Dornelas laconically while thinking: ‘He’s playing cute with me because I was the one who removed the
body from the mangrove’ .
    The inspector went back to his examination
of the room. Maria das Graças wiped her hands on the apron.
    Not many photographs on the walls. All of
them old, in sepia, of people wearing fancy clothes. Most of them
wore hats. From the shadows and expressions on their faces it
looked as if they had been taken under the hot sun.
    He concentrated on the largest one.
    The tall man in the middle was flanked by
two men in black suits on the left and by two women wearing white
lace dresses on the right. He was also wearing a

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