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from the June 2016 issue

Car Accident without Victims

Mind if I sit in the front? I’m going to Avenida Angélica, corner of Rua Maranhão, know where it is? 

Pardon me, sir, but I need to get something off my chest. If you don’t want to, don’t pay any attention to the crazy things I’m about to say. You can see I’m a normal guy. At home, I always did everything right. I even went to Couples Meet Christ. I always liked sex more than she did. Even when we were first married, it was clear. Lots of couples are like that, as you know. I had already resigned myself to the idea of a life spent locking myself in bathrooms, looking at photos of people I’d never meet, reading of things that would never happen to me.

But one day my fantasies got the better of me. You know what the mind’s like, it can’t be controlled. I tried to resist, but my resistance had a use-by date. It was just a matter of time. From a certain point I couldn’t hold back any longer. On my very first encounter outside the confines of marriage I understood that my sex life was crap. It was as if I’d spent my whole life looking at the world on a small-screen TV, the sort the doorman watches, with steel wool on the antenna to improve the bad reception. Know the kind? And then suddenly, there I was: looking at the world on a giant 200-inch TV. I felt as if I was sitting before a cinema screen. There was nothing to be done. I discovered sex late. It was a problem, because my body kept asking me to make up for lost time. The goddamn Internet showed me things I’d never even dreamed of.

I started looking at porn pics, but these days I like chat rooms. It’s almost an addiction. I log in on Friday nights, when my wife goes to bed. She feels reassured, because I’m waiting for our youngest daughter to get home from clubbing, and she falls into a deep sleep. That’s when it’s safer for me to chat and watch porn. (“Moacir’s a night owl, he barely sleeps, he stays up late surfing the Internet. By the time he comes to bed, I’ve been asleep for ages.”)

My nickname in the chat rooms is DowntownDad. At the beginning of the year, I chatted with a really nice guy. His nickname was BHguyinSP. He was respectable, stable, university degree, you know the sort. Had a job in foreign trade. He lived in Belo Horizonte, but he came to São Paulo about twice a month on business. Pardon my frankness, sir, but I’m not going to beat around the bush with you. For me, in these things between men, looks aren’t all that important. I think it’s more important that the guy look normal and have good personal hygiene. Don’t you think? I don’t dig the really obvious ones. Earrings? No way. Tattoos, only if they’re really inconspicuous. If he’s from out of town and staying in a hotel, better, it’s more discreet.

With this guy, the conversation was good right from the get-go. First we chatted and exchanged face and body pics on Messenger. Later that same night we talked and messed around a little on camera. In the last week of March, he came to São Paulo and we saw each other. 

You know the uneasiness you feel when you’re going to meet another woman at a love hotel? The fear that someone might happen past and recognize the car? You know what it’s like, right? Well, it’s similar to that. Maybe even a bit stronger. But with time you rationalize it. The fear goes away almost completely. 

The day I met this guy, I remember, I left work early. I didn’t want to be late, so I didn’t look for street parking and went straight to a garage. I crossed the lobby quickly, eyes to the ground, so there was no risk of anyone recognizing me. In the elevator, I felt my heart beating even stronger. As I walked down the corridor, I thought I was special. It didn’t even occur to me that various other encounters like mine would take place that day in other hotels in São Paulo. 

He was the same in person as he was in the photo. He offered me a beer from the fridge. The excitement we’d felt on camera was there, too, and, on our second beer, we ended up kissing. But I won’t go into any more detail here because it’s neither here nor there. Enough to say that we went at it all afternoon. I remember to this day.

My fear came back in the elevator. I only felt safe again when I got in the car and drove out into the street. I told my wife I’d gone to see some land in São Miguel Paulista and had gotten stuck on the freeway behind a traffic accident. I complained of a headache and headed straight to the shower. I thought about what I’d done and I can tell you, sir, in general, it’s best not to give it too much thought, because it’s pretty wild to think that you were naked, being intimate with someone you barely know. Embracing, kissing, licking, sucking. Madness. 

That guy, for example, I’ll never see again. It’s a shame we lost touch. He was really nice. I always remember him. After that day, I think he changed jobs and stopped coming to São Paulo. He called once to arrange something, but I couldn’t talk, and he never called back.

At home, no one suspects I do this. Imagine. It’d destroy my marriage. I’m careful, but I’m not going to get all paranoid either. After all, the odds are on my side. No one need know. It’s better for everyone, don’t you think? I even went to a psychologist because of this problem and she told me I was creating a double life in order to reinvent myself. So, I said: Ma’am, that’s not it. You really don’t get it. I don’t want to reinvent myself. On the contrary: I want to uninvent myself. You know what I mean, don’t you, sir?

If you could just pull over here, on the right, after the drugstore . . . Here, keep the change. Thanks a lot. A good day to you too, sir.

"Acidente de trânsito sem vítimas" © 2011 by Alexandre Vidal Porto. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2016 by Alison Entrekin. All rights reserved.

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