ISSN 2359-4101

Brazilian Literature in Translation / Literatura Brasileña en Traducción

Issue / Numero

year/año: 2012
issue/numero: # 05


Author | Autor: Raphael Montes

Translated by Clifford Landers

Cyrille. I did some research before coming. It’s a French name. But it’s derived
from the Greek Kyrillos, which means “full authority.” As I understand it,
only a human being can have full authority. I say that because the sole
Cyrille I’ve had the opportunity to meet in my twenty years of life is the
name of a house. Cyrille House, actually. A decidedly atypical name, not merely
because of the clumsy French-English combination, but also because of its location
south of the equator, in the southwest of Brazil.
Fortunately, everything becomes clearer when you know the name of the owner
of the house: Maria Clara, or Marie Claire, as she prefers to be called. The fact of her
preferring to answer to the name of a magazine instead of her own already reveals
that she wasn’t all that normal. But like all crazies with seven-figure bank accounts,
Maria was just considered modern. The mansion with the foreign name was only one
more piece of her eccentric personality.
It’s impossible for me to remember the first time I was at Cyrille House. I was
eight months old and my universe consisted of formula, gugu-dada, and a crib. My
mother had always been a good friend of Maria’s and shared with her that highsociety
style of facing an underdeveloped country: houses with people’s names,
armored cars, and uniformed, robotic nannies to take care of the kids.
In those days the house was unimportant to me. I would run down the halls with
a minimum-wage wretch behind me. Later, I would cry because I wanted to play
in the park, and then cry because I had fought with Zak. I think my childhood can
be summed up in tears. Tears of contrariness, not of sadness. I would cry and get
anything I wanted. I was happy that way.
Only after I was three did the architecture of the place begin to make sense
for me, like a map taking shape in my little infantile brain: the great iron gate,
already worn. The unpaved road to the house. The small park with swings and a
seesaw where Zak and I played. The timid garden at the entrance, facing the inviting
veranda. And, inside, an infinity of bedrooms, baths, kitchens, living rooms... Fifty
communist families could live in that place. But no, it was just a country house for
the Vasconcellos family to receive friends for the July holidays.
The whole story seemed like a fairy tale: once upon a time Maria Clara came
from a poor family, the daughter of two Northeasterners. She meets the entrepreneur
Getúlio Vasconcellos while cleaning his hotel room. Getúlio falls in love with the
chambermaid and two months later they get married. Maria Clara becomes Marie
Claire. And they have an heir: Zak. An indisputably foreign name to steer curious
minds away from the mother’s origins. Now, time to live happily ever after.
Cyrille House. Marie Claire. Zak. If not for the fact of their living shit-scared of
kidnapping, they would have been the perfect plastic family to live in Beverly Hills. I
have no doubts that Marie Claire would be much happier there. She agonized over
having to live in the land of Carnival, football, and the caiprinha...
It’s interesting to realize how time goes by. At nine, Zak and I liked to fly kites,
play videogames, kick a ball around in the back fields. Over the years, Zak became
the perfect example of a South Zone daddy’s boy: muscular, designer clothes, a new
car (a silver Toyota Hilux pickup that was the envy of all), and a stud with girls at
college. Me, on the other hand... I became the nerd of the group, the one who likes
to write, enjoys Brazilian films, and considers Machado de Assis the genius of our
literature. Even stranger is that we’re still friends. However much fate tugs on the
tenuous strands that unite us, the ties of childhood don’t come undone.
Today is the first time we’ll set foot in Cyrille House without the presence of our
parents. But it couldn’t be any other way. We’re not going to play on the swings or
swim in the pool while our mothers argue about the latest Paris fashions. This time
we’re going there for something much more serious. We’ve decided to kill ourselves.
From the audio tapes of the Cyrille House case
Recorded: October 9, 2009
Meeting room of the police department of Rio de Janeiro
Presiding: Diana Custódio Guimarães
Duration: 6 hours, 23 minutes, 41 seconds

DIANA – October 9, 2009. Four thirty-two PM. Meeting to clarify aspects of the
Cyrille House case. I am inspector Diana Custódio Guimarães. This conversation is
being recorded. Is there any objection?
DIANA – Excellent. (PAUSE) Present are Rosa Wallwitz, Sônia Castro de
Mendonça, Rebecca Amaral Feitosa, Débora Parentoni de Carvalho, Amélia da Silva
Guanabara, Olívia Azambuja, and Vânia Antunes Peixoto. The mothers of the victims
of the incident occurring on September 7, 2008. No one is absent. This meeting is
scheduled to last four hours. Is there any comment or objection?

DIANA – Before anything else, I wish to express my sympathy for the loss you
have suffered. (PAUSE) In the belief that after a year the pain may have diminished,
this meeting was arranged.
REBECCA – It hasn’t diminished. You don’t know what it’s like to lose a daughter…
DIANA – In partnership with the state police of Minas Gerais, the police
commissioner of the state of Rio de Janeiro has granted us the space for this
meeting. Today our objective is to seek clarification of the events occurring on the
seventh of September of last year. As is known, the young people met in the Cyrille
House, a country home in Minas Gerais, with the intent to participate in so-called
Russian roulette. In this “game,” a single bullet is randomly placed in one of the
chambers in the cylinder. Then the cylinder is spun and closed. A circle is formed
and each participant aims at his own head and pulls the trigger, without knowing if–
OLÍVIA – Enough of that nonsense, inspector. Everyone here knows what
Russian roulette is. (CURT TONE)
REBECCA – We do know.
SÔNIA – What I can’t understand is how they did such a thing… How could they
all have died in the same Russian roulette? Usually only one person dies, right?
DIANA – Their rules for Russian roulette were a bit different. I’ll explain that
soon. You’re going to understand everything.
DIANA – As you all know, the incident ended violently and rather … mysteriously.
(PAUSE) The bodies were discovered by the ex-policemen Jurandir Coelho Sá and
Plínio Motta. (PAUSE) Feeling that a reevaluation of the facts would shed light on the
case, we’re here today. We decided to invite only the mothers, because we realized
the victims had closer contact with you than with their fathers, especially in the case
of separated parents.
OLÍVIA – We were questioned exhaustively all that time. I don’t know what
more you expect to wring out of us. (VOICE STERN, THEN TEARFUL)
DIANA – We’re looking for the truth, Olívia.
OLÍVIA – I want the truth too, but I’ve already told everything I know. I have
nothing to hide.
DIANA – We decided to investigate new perspectives. (SHUFFLING OF
All this time we’ve been holding a trump card that may be the key to
understanding everything that happened. (EXCITEMENT) That information has been
of significant help to us, though not as much as we hoped. Perhaps if we share that
material with you, we can arrive at satisfactory results.
SÔNIA – What’re you talking about? A trump card? I don’t understand a thing!
DIANA – At the time of the incident, our basis for investigation was the interviews
with parents and friends, the evidence collected at Cyrille House, the forensic work
on the bodies found there, and, as you know, the notes by Alessandro Parentoni de
Carvalho in a notebook found in his residence in Copacabana. (PAUSE) A kind of
diary, carefully dated, in which were narrated certain facts about the relationships
among the victims as well as the process of planning and assembling friends for the
Russian roulette.
OLÍVIA – Yes, you’d already said that some notes in a diary were found in
Alessandro’s apartment. (STERN TONE) What’s new about that?
DIANA – This.
SÔNIA – Another notebook?
DIANA – Yes. Also written by Alessandro. A book, actually. We found it at the
place where it all happened. At Cyrille House.
DÉBORA – Another book… By my son?
DIANA – It’s what he himself called his “great gamble.” A book he started when
he was on his way there, narrating all the events of the Russian roulette. It’s not very
long, but it does clarify some points. Not everything, because the book stops when
he– (PAUSE) When he dies.
DÉBORA – My son… (WEEPS)
DIANA – Alessandro wasn’t the last to die. (PAUSE) In the time between his
death and when the bodies were found – approximately a hundred and fifty minutes
– something happened. Something that left the bodies in that unexplained state…
DÉBORA – My son dreamed of being a writer. He even wrote two books, but the
publishers rejected them. He said– (WEEPING) He said that one day he would write
a book that everyone would want to read, even if he had to die to do it…
DIANA – Alessandro relates in detail most of what went on in that house. At
certain moments the account is very powerful. (PAUSE) If you feel ill, don’t hesitate
to let me know. (PAUSE) The book– I’ll read it all to you. Anything that crosses your
mind, please speak up. Even if the detail seems irrelevant, say something. Everything
may be of help in our finding an answer. All right?
DÉBORA – He could only be talking about that… When he told me he would
become a famous writer even if he had to die for it… He could only be– (WEEPS)
DIANA – It’s quite possible that was his reason for agreeing to take part in the
Russian roulette. (PAUSE) The reasons of the other young people also become a bit
clearer. But not totally. I hope you’ll be able to help us with that as well. (PAUSE) May
I begin to read?
OLÍVIA – Go ahead.
DIANA – All right then, here we go. “Prologue. Cyrille. I did some research
before coming. It’s a French name. But it’s derived from the Greek Kyrillos, which
means ‘full authority’…”

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