top of page

No Salary Jus­ti­fies Cer­tain Tribu­la­tions

Written by Santiago Santos

Edited by Vanessa Guedes

Translated by André Colabelli

Copyedited by Natalle Moura

Doiz­irmo straight­ens his cap, checks the but­tons on his vest, the shine on the toes of his shoes, the fin­gers of his gloves, the crease of his pants. The couple enters, the hus­band barely car­ry­ing three suit­case­s, the chil­dren chas­ing be­hind. Doiz­irmo grabs one of the carts, places the suit­cases on top of it, and has an em­ployee ac­com­pany the fam­ily to the re­cep­tion at the end of the lobby, and then to their room.

The group of men in busi­ness suits, chat­ting in one of the en­vir­on­ments with leather couches, is served by a wait­ress from the res­taur­ant. Doiz­irmo no­tices drops of soda on the floor. He presses a but­ton on his wrist com­mu­nic­ator and re­quests a cleanup on the spot. Seconds later a jan­itor crosses the hall, mops it up, and van­ishes.

Three girls, very thin and very tall, stag­ger out of the el­ev­ator and ask the tour guide where they can get some­thing to drink and find the best-look­ing chicks in the city. When their laughter be­comes too loud, Doiz­irmo goes to the re­cep­tion’s wall, pulls the in­ter­com, calls the front desk, and asks the kid to take them out­side and put them in a taxi im­me­di­ately. The kid obeys, still an­swer­ing their ques­tions with the en­thu­si­asm de­man­ded by pro­tocol.

As the ac­tion lulls, Doiz­irmo scans the quad­rant in its slight­est de­tails and tasks thir­teen jan­it­ors with small cleanup jobs; the elec­trical team with fix­ing a faulty lamp socket; the main­ten­ance team with paint­ing over a sec­tion of the base­board, fouled by some child; and the hotel man­age­ment with re­view­ing the speak­ers’ playl­ist, after listen­ing from two old ladies, in two dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions that morn­ing, that they felt like they were on a fu­neral, hav­ing such mel­an­choly tones in their ears.

After the in­tric­ate asepsis of the lobby, his re­spons­ib­il­ity, Doiz­irmo feels a sat­is­fac­tion that would un­doubtedly res­ult in a smile, were it not against his pro­fes­sional policy of con­duct to smile or show emo­tions while an em­ployee at the city’s most pres­ti­gi­ous hotel. Some­thing that quite ob­vi­ously does not hold when the entry­way win­dows shat­ter with a thun­der­ous rumble, the great chan­delier falls on top of a young couple, and the place is over­taken by smoke and splintered fur­niture.

The kavlani en­tour­age enters, rid­ing small, plump an­im­als. They dis­mount, hold­ing bows and ar­rows and de­formed dark swords. The tallest kavlani walks in be­hind them, asks the re­cep­tion­ist to identify which room Fou is stay­ing in. She does not un­der­stand. He raises her by the neck, passes his fin­ger from her chest to her groin, and her body opens, blood and guts spew­ing over the counter. The other re­cep­tion­ists scream and run to the small room be­hind the re­cep­tion desk. A kavlani throws some­thing there that ex­plodes and the shout­ing ends.

The leader walks around the desk and starts med­dling with the key­board. His green face in lay­ers of ex­posed flesh takes some time to re­cog­nize some­thing. He speaks to the en­tour­age in grunts. Three of them enter the el­ev­ator and climb to the el­ev­enth floor. Seconds later they walk out with an old man, his hands tied to his back. Doiz­irmo, fallen un­der a pil­lar since the first ex­plo­sion, un­able to feel his left leg, watches. Sur­viv­ors that scream or com­plain are pierced with ar­rows.

The cap­tured man clearly doesn’t know what’s hap­pen­ing. The kavlani in­ter­rog­ates him, re­peatedly presses the nape of his neck, punches his face and his body. Un­able to ob­tain an an­swer that makes sense, he com­mands one of the guards to draw his dark blade across the man’s neck. The head falls. Some screams are sup­pressed. The kavlani looks around, gives an or­der, and leaves the hotel with the en­tour­age.

The un­harmed em­ploy­ees gather to as­sist Doiz­irmo. He screams as he is pushed out from un­der the raised pil­lar. He’s asked to stay still and wait for the am­bu­lance. Doiz­irmo says he’s fine. When they step away to help the other wounded, he limps on his good leg to the exit. At the park­ing lot in the back of the hotel, he goes to his car, sits on the driver’s seat, pushes the nape of his neck, and feels his beige skin re­turn to wet green lay­ers.

He finds it strange that no sound comes from the trunk as the car moves. He stops in a res­id­en­tial street, a few blocks from the hotel, takes off the uni­form, and throws it out of the win­dow. He presses the but­ton on the panel to open the trunk. Doiz­irmo steps out of the trunk slowly, in an un­der­shirt and un­der­pants, and looks around. Fou speeds up, watch­ing through the rear­view mir­ror as the man­ager starts to put on the clothes thrown on the side­walk.

Now Fou knows without a doubt that the dip­lo­matic meet­ing with the hu­mans at the hotel was an am­bush. He must dis­ap­pear, turn to con­tacts made along a life­time of es­pi­on­age to find safe haven in the hu­man world and keep him­self alive. It won’t be easy. Even less so with a shattered leg. Blessed be hu­man be­ings and their auto­matic trans­mis­sions.

Santiago Santos

San­ti­ago San­tos writes from Cuiabá, drink­ing a ter­eré. He is also a trans­lator and a copy ed­itor, among other things. A while ago, he star­ted pub­lish­ing mini stor­ies on flash­fic­ — and in a bunch of other places — un­til he got close to five hun­dred pub­lic­a­tions. Cur­rently, Flash­Fic­ is on hi­atus, pro­longed in part by the pan­demic slug­gish­ness. Part of this com­pen­dium of short fic­tions ended up in the col­lec­tion Al­ga­z­arra (2018, Patuá) and, a little earlier, they shaped the In­can road trip story “Na etern­id­ade sempre é domingo” (2016). Out­side of this eco­sys­tem of stor­ies, the nov­el­ette "Hei, hou, Borunga chegou" (2020) de­serves a high­light, pub­lished in the 3rd sea­son of Maf­agafo Magazine.


Logo Eita! Magazine
bottom of page