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Monday, December 2, 2013

A Crime to Remember (4)

Chapter 4- Ginger Ale Afternoon

The next day Marco went to work with the name Loureiro still ringing in his mind. When he got out of the lift on the seventh floor, after he laid his briefcase on his desk, he walked up to the coffee machine, poured two espressos and made his way to Silvia’s desk. She was sitting, in one of her usual black business suits, with a red shirt and a red leather hair band over her brown velvet hair. “Espresso?” She looked up from the paperwork on her desk and smiled. “Sure. Thanks” She drank a sip of the coffee, set the cup on the desk and went back to work. “You’re welcome.”
Mascarenhas was about to walk back to his desk when: “Sorry to be a pain but, do you know anyone by the name Clara Loureiro?” She looked up at him with a kind smile and said: “Sure. She’s my grandma. Why?” She noticed that his expression changed to worried. “Oh, nothing. She was at the Wonderland Hotel?”
“Yes, she’s been there since last week. She went with my-“ Silvia gave an incredulous chuckle. “She’s not a suspect?” Marco blushed. He did not want to worry Silvia, and certainly did not want to anger her. He had been preparing himself to ask her out and this was the perfect opportunity, after all they had a topic of conversation now. “No, I mean, the body was found in the room where she was staying, so I just thought she might have seen something. I know she left yesterday morning, probably around the time of the murder. I only asked because of the name, but you were saying she was there with somebody?” Suddenly her face changed. Her rosy cheeks became red and her eyes faced the papers on her desk. “No, I- she was there by herself. What I was gonna say was that she went on a holiday. Her house is being refurbished, so she took the opportunity to use some money she had left over to treat herself.” She looked at him expectantly. He searched her face. “I see. Well, I’m sure she had nothing to do with the murder.” She looked into his eyes and said: “You can bet on that.”

He looked at his watch. It was quarter past six in the afternoon. Most of his colleagues had left. Silvia and a few others had stayed behind. Marco walked past the lift to get a coffee. I was wonderin’ if- No, that’s not right. How would you like to go for a- Oh, for God’s sake, just-
“Marco? I was just wonderin’ if you have anything to do this evening?” The shock of the question made him spill his drink. “Sorry, did I startle you?”
For a moment he forgot how to speak and simply shook his head and nodded. He set his drink down on the nearest empty desk and checked to see if he had gotten his brown suit dirty. “No, I- I mean, I don’t have any plans. Why? Did you want to-“
“Well, yes. Would you like to go out for a drink or something? We could go to the Bairro Alto or the Docas.” His heart began to beat faster, just as a teenager’s. “The Docas sound good.” She smiled and said: “Good.”

He parked his Ford in a car park near the Docas. A drug addict was already standing in his spot, signalling him with his left arm to park there. As Marco and Silvia exited the car the man approached them holding out his right hand. “Sorry mate. We don’t have any change right now. When we get back we’ll give you some money, alright?” They walked towards the river. The guy followed them for a while, constantly asking them for “Only a cent. Come on.” and then returned to the car park.
The Docas was a line of bars that was set on the dock, by the river. Every five steps a new song could be heard emanating from the bars on their right. “Just hope when we come back he hasn’t keyed my car, or worse.” Silence. He noticed that she had stopped and asked: “You wan’ to go and have a drink in this one? A ginger ale or something?”
She looked at him as if waking up from a dream. “Hm? Oh, no. I was just thinking of- Never mind, it’s nothing. So, which do you wan’ to visit?”
“We can just stay out here. It’s not cold out. Aside from the smell coming from the Tejo it’s not bad.” She giggled. “Sure. We can talk.”
“We can. I’ll start. So you have a grandma.” Her laugh drowned in the loudness of the Gangnam Style song being played in the bar behind them. “Yes, I do.”
“Anymore family members?”
“Well, there’s my brother, Salvador. He looks a bit intimidating, I mean, he looks sort of dark, he has bushy eyebrows, bad teeth, wrinkles and a ponytail. But he’s a good guy really. He loves grandma a lot. He’s always looking after her. Then there’s Nelson, our cousin, he’s the only one left who will still talk to us.”
Marco raised his right eyebrow. “Why?”
“I don’t know. I guess my uncles never really liked my parents, so they don’t want to mix with us.” They were both leaning on the handrail, looking out into the river.
“So, what happened to your parents?”
“They died when I was younger. My dad was ill, but he didn’t want to get cured, said it wasn’t natural. After he went it was only a matter of months before my mum went too. Grandma took us in and raised us.”
“That’s why you’re so protective of her.” She turned around and rested her elbows on the handrail. “Pretty much. What about you?”
“No family. Just a cat, and even he sometimes sneaks out of my apartment for weeks.”
“Where do you live?” He thought for a moment, embarrassed. “Damaia. It’s not the best neighbourhood, but it’s better than Buraca.” They both laughed. Silvia gave Marco a little nudge with her elbow. “It’s not that bad.” She smiled. He began to lean in towards her. Suddenly someone shouted “woohoo”, and Silvia moved away from him. After a minute’s silence she finally broke the ice. “So, you wan’ to go in for that ginger ale?”

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