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Clippings A. J. Mirag

ClippingsBy A. J. Mirag First Published 2008 Copyright 2008 by A. J. Mirag ISBN: 978-0-557-01301-2 The moral rights of the author have been asserted. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. Cover art and illustrations by korekan . Cover design by Morgan D.

Although fictitious, the settings are based on real Brazilian prisons as described in many texts, and especially in Drauzio Varellas non-fiction novel, Estao Carandiru(Carandiru Station).

Dedicated to my friends Kalena, Ludmila and Theresa Ann Lynn, for their invaluable suggestions and advice.And to korekan and Morgan D. for their help with the cover art and design.

Contents 1. In the lionsden ...................................... 9 2. Short-Eyes ...............................................17 3. TheProfessor ...................................... 27 4. Shadow .................................................... 38

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5. Encyclopaedia from Hell ..................... 47 6. Visiting Times ........................................ 53 7.Metamorphosis ...................................... 65 8.Famiglia................................................... 82 9. TheInvasion ......................................... 97 10.Convalescence ................................... 108 11. Parting Ways ..................................... 114 12. Decisions .............................................. 130

My God sent His angel and shut the lions mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him. (Daniel, 6: 22)

1.In the lions' den

April 2008, in a big Brazilian city

Daniel hoped it was just a nightmare, but evidence of reality was beginning to accumulate. The lights were dim, and he couldnt see anything clearly, but the air smelled of medicines, and sounds of coughs, sniffles and moans disturbed his rest. He seemed to be in a hospital room. Why? What had happened? Was there anything wrong with him? He carefully moved one arm, then the other, and finally both legs, and felt relieved that he could move them freely. He must have been sedated, though: his head was spinning and he couldn't concentrate. He tried to speak, but could only groan. No one came to see if he needed help. Although his persistent effort to turn on his side was successful, it resulted in severe dizziness. When

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the room stopped spinning around him, Daniel noticed there was another bed, with another patient, beside him. At first he thought it was a woman, but then he saw a red, swollen, deformed thigh, and realized it was a transvestite whose silicone had migrated from an injection in the buttocks. It was a disturbing sight, and Daniel closed his eyes to shut it out. A few hours later, Daniel woke up with a doctor touching his forehead to feel his temperature. Hi. You look better, said the doctor. Daniel struggled to articulate his ideas and talk. Ugh... What happened? You're in big trouble. If I were you, I wouldn't wake up too soon. I'd try to stay a few more days in the Infirmary, because here you'll be much better off than in the place where they'll put you when you heal. What kind of advice was that? Or was it a threat? What do you mean? asked Daniel. Don't you remember anything? I remember I was downtown, in a protest against the new government decree, which is an attack on the university's autonomy, recitedDaniel somewhat mechanically. There were a lot of people...about a thousand students... Then a group of homeless who were protesting against an eviction action joined us... I don't remember anything else. What day is today? Saturday. And what day was the protest? asked Daniel, confused. You arrived here two days ago, on Thursday, April 4. Were you carrying a gun at the protest? asked the doctor, squinting at him through his Coke-bottle bottom glasses. A gun?I don't even know how to hold a gun! The doctor sighed and straightened up. Daniel could finally observe him. He was a tall man in his forties, with chestnut brown hair. There was a riot, and the Military Police intervened. The demonstrators fought back. Things got ugly; the police used tear gas and nightsticks. Shots were fired. You're being charged with shooting a policeman at the protest. The policeman died. You were caught in the act and arrested. Because you're of age, they brought you to the Detention House. And because you were injured and unconscious, you were brought straight to the Infirmary. Daniel was speechless for a few seconds. That's absurd, he finally managed to say. Unfortunately, that's what everyone who's arrested says. Anyway, take a rest. As I told you before, it's a bad idea for you to get healed up too soon. The doctor turned his back on Daniel and left the Infirmary.

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Daniel tried to sleep again, but failed. He wanted to shout for help; hewanted to see his mother, his father, his sister, his lawyer, anyone. But he was exhausted and could only torture himself. He was in prison. The police had framed him. Yeah, dude, this fuckin' sucks, said a voice coming from his left. Daniel turned his head and got dizzy again, but could see that there was another prisoner in the left bed. It was a skinny, emaciated black guy. Are you okay? asked Daniel. Oh, except for not being able to breathe and for nearly coughing my lungs out... What's wrong with you? I have TB, replied the guy. Daniel almost couldn't believe it. Hadn't tuberculosis been eradicated before the middle of the previous century, with the discovery of penicillin? That's because I'm living in the Dungeons, said the other prisoner, as if that explained everything. Dungeons? The basement cells.They're pretty damp. The water pipes are leaking, and the cells are crowded. We sleep on the wet floor. Daniel shuddered just to think that those Dungeons might be his future. He decided to talk to the guy to extract more information. My name's Daniel. What about yours? Jeremiah. The irony didn't escape Daniel. Like Daniel, Jeremiah was the name of a prophet. Like the prophet, Daniel had been thrown into the lions' den. But what kind of prophet was he, who didn't even know what had happened in the past, let alone in the future? Do you know whathappened, or what theysaythat happened to me? asked Daniel. You arrived here unconscious. You must've been beaten to a pulp. They said you shot a cop when they started throwing tear gas on the students, and the cop bit the dust. Now you'll rot in jail. But you look like a rich dude, so it won't be too bad. But I'm innocent! protested Daniel. I don't even know how to shoot! Welcome to the club, brother: everybody here's innocent.

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_________ On the afternoon of the next day, the doctor entered the Infirmary looking worried. You all will be discharged. There was a riot in Block Five and well need the beds for the injured people. Please sign the discharge papers before leaving. Unbelievable: they were being practically thrown away and still they had to sign the papers. Daniel signed without protest because he was tired of that place. Jeremiah, you can go back to the Dungeons, said the doctor. Arnaldo's going to take you back. Daniel saw a brawny jailer waiting at the door. What about me, doctor? asked the transvestite, in an affected voice, as Jeremiah left with the jailer. Vanessa, I'm sorry. You'll have to go back to your shack. When we have a vacant bed I'll call you again. But doctor, it hurts so much that I can't even sit down! The doctor shrugged, as if saying that it wasn't his fault and that he couldn't do anything about it. The transvestite stood up, with delicate, effeminate gestures, arranged her hair and her dress with her hands and walked away, half swaying, half limping. The doctor waited until Vanessa was gone and then turned to Daniel, who was waiting for his sentence. As for you... Look, normally you would have to go to the Holding Cells. But you're a college student; you must come from a middle class family. You're a young, angel faced boy. You wouldn't last fifteen minutes there. Right now, there are more than fifty inmates crowded in one cell.All kinds of criminals, including rapists. The doctor kept staring at him gravely. Daniel put on a brave face, but he was so scared that he didn't know what to say. I... Calm down, said the doctor, interrupting him. I talked to some of the people on this block, and they agreed to accept you on the last floor. It's a less violent ward, you understand? Daniel nodded. Where should I go? Josiah will take you to the Registry Room, where they'll take your photo and you'll change your clothes. The General Director will talk to you there. Only the directors can assign you to a shack. A shack? That's what the prisoners call the cells. Now, this is a formality, you know?Because...everything's settled. You will stay here, in Block Two. If they send you elsewhere, call me. I'm Dr. Lopes.

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All right.Thank you. You're welcome. But behave yourself. Don't make me regret my decision, said the doctor, shaking his finger at Daniel. I won't, said Daniel. _________ Josiah gave Daniel a malicious stare. He wasn't really muscular or hulking, but the black stains around his eyes did nothing to improve his appearance. When they left the Infirmary, a smell of mold and sewage mixed with creolina1 surrounded Daniel, making him nauseated. Josiah held his arm tightly and pulled him along the corridor to a dressing room with showers, then told him to undress and take a shower. The jailer crossed his arms and waited. Daniel took off his tennis shoes, shoved his socks into them and hung his clothes up on a hook protruding from the tiled wall, but the jailer grabbed them all,leaving only Daniel's briefs. When you finish showering, put your underwear on again. Daniel turned on the faucet: the water was cold and, when it hit the wound on his forehead, it made him shiver in pain. There was a soggy soap bar in a built-in soap dish. Daniel let some water run on it before starting to rub it on his body. The jailer left the dressing room for a couple of minutes and returned with a shabby, yellowish towel, a pair of khaki trousers and a t-shirt with the Detention House logo. Enough. You're wasting too much water, complained Josiah. Daniel turned off the faucet and grabbed the towel that Josiah threw toward him; he almost let it fall to the ground. He dried himself, and then put on his wornunderwear, the khaki trousers and the t-shirt Josiah had given him, and finally his worn socks and tennis shoes. Now you'll say goodbye to your pretty hair, said Josiah, a sly smile on his face. Josiah led him into a nearby room, where another official shaved him and cut his almost shoulder length hair, leaving just a bowl shape on the crown and using a zero blade on the sides. When he finished cutting, in a refinement of cruelty, the official handed him a mirror, so that he could see the damage done. Daniel shuddered at his pale, sunken face: he looked like a zombie. His brown eyes were tainted with red, and his brown hair, once long and smooth, was gone. There was also an ugly scar on his forehead. Before that ridiculous cut, the scar could have been hidden under his bangs, but now it was visible to everyone. Daniel'svia crucishadn't finished, though. From there, Josiah took him to the Registry Room, where he was photographed, had his fingerprints taken and had to reply to the questions of a grumpy official. Stupid questions, information that could have been found in his papers, which had probably been retained: father's name, mother's name, date of birth... When the questioning finished, the official told him to sign a paper that he claimed to be his order of imprisonment. But I have the right to a lawyer, don't I? asked Daniel. Are you going to sign it or not? If you don't, this might be used against you. Daniel thought that was absurd. I'm not going to sign without first consulting with a lawyer.

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The official shrugged, then grabbed the phone, called a certain Mr. Alencar and told him something like, the criminal has been registered and is at your disposal. Daniel waited ten minutes seated at the official desk. When Mr. Alencar a stout man with a friendly look, his moustache turned up at both ends entered the room, the official stood up as a sign of respect. Daniel stood up too. Menezes, said Mr. Alencar to the official, you can go and have some coffee. I won't take long. As you wish, sir. The official walked out of the room, and Mr. Alencar sat behind the desk. Please sit down, young man. Daniel obeyed. Mr. Alencar looked at Daniel's file. Daniel, you have been brought to the Joo Ataliba Zamora Detention House, where you will wait for your trial. You have been sent here because you were caught in the act of shooting a policeman. You come from a well-off family. Your life here will not be easy. I will sort you into one of the safest and least dangerous blocks, but precisely because of this privileged condition, some 'problematic' inmates ask to be transferred there. So, beware and try not to confront anyone. You must be humble and respect the House rules. We are being very generous with you, and expect you to fulfill our expectations. Thank you, said Daniel, unsure about what to say. But shouldn't I have a lawyer's assistance? Oh, you will, don't worry. Our criminal justice system has been overburdened, and sometimes things are not as fast as we would like them to be. The Director took a deep breath, looking tired. As I was saying, you won't be in contact with prisoners from other blocks, except those from Block Three, who perform many of the prison tasks in all the five blocks. They are called 'The Cleaners,' but besides cleaning the floors, they also serve meals, do the laundry and other tasks. The Cleaners, repeated Daniel, trying to memorize the term. You will get used to the prison slang with time, don't worry. Let me give you an idea of the whole picture: in the Block Three, there are four hundred prisoners in a half-open imprisonment system. They work either in internalworkshops, or as Cleaners in the other blocks. In the Block Four, we host about two thousand first-time prisoners in a closed system; in the Block Five, we have about fifteen hundred recidivist prisoners, also in a closed system. In the block where you will stay, there are about five hundred inmates, but you'll be in contact with only half of them. This block was initially planned to host just the Infirmary, the Registry Room and, on the higher floors, individual cells for college-educated convicts. However, due to the overcrowding, the individual cells had to be shared by more inmates, and we had to build more cells on the basement: the Holding Cells, where the inmates are kept until they are sorted into their permanent cells, and the Dungeons, where we keep the prisoners who committed crimes inside the Detention House, or who engaged in riots or disputes in other blocks and were marked for death by other prisoners. Those inmates never leave their cells. There are other inmates, however, especially the rapists and the vigilantes, who cannot be put into the Dungeons and request protective custody, that is, they ask to be transferred to Block Two, because it's the only block where they have a chance to survive. That's why I'm warning you: although this is a safer block, you must be careful. If you have any problems, send me a message.

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Right.Thank you, said Daniel. Mr. Alencar left hisdesk, opened the door and came back bringing the jailer. Josiah will take you to the fifth floor.

2. Short-Eyes

Josiah took Daniel to a caged staircase at the end of the corridor and opened two barred doors so that they could climb the steps. At the staircase, the smell of mold and sewage was even stronger, and Daniel felt nauseated. They climbed four flights of stairs. All the floors were similar barred doors separated the staircase from the corridors. From what Daniel could observe, the block was built around a central courtyard, with a self-enclosed rectangular layout. The long corridors were lined on each side with cells with solid iron doors (not barred doors as in most prison movies). At each door, there was a hatch large enough for a head to pass through, so that the warders could look inside the cell and the prisoners could look outside. On the fifth floor, the jailer opened the two barred doors and they entered the corridor, on the left side of the staircase. At the end of the corridor, they turned right, and about half way along the corridor, Josiah stopped in front of an open door by the right inner side of the block: number 414. Here's your shack. It's calm here, on this floor. But your cellie, the convict you'll live with, is one of the nastier guys 'round here... He's ashort-eyes , you know.A rapist. He loves young boys like you. I saw him lurking 'round the Infirmary the day before yesterday. He choseyou. You'll be his dessert tonight. Daniel had never heard the expression short-eyes before, but its meaning seemed clear enough. He was terrified. The jailer was staring at him, a sneer tearing across his face. Then a tall, thin man in his forties, his pale skin contrasting with his black hair and clothes, appeared at the cell door. His long, hooked nose gave him a sinister appearance. Mephisto, your new chicken is here, the jailer announced. Go fuckyourself , Josiah, said the big-nosed man, pulling Daniel inside the cell, closing the door and leaving the jailer outside. Then he turned to Daniel. My name isn't Mephisto, but that's what people call me, so you can call me that too.

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Okay. I'm Daniel. The cell was small. Just as the other cells and corridors Daniel had seen in the block, it was in a desperate state of decay. The walls were stained and the paint was peeling due to pipe leakage. The electrical systems were a mess. Bare strands of electrical wire ran about the ceiling and down the walls. There was a set of wooden bunk beds on the left side; behind it, a board nailed up against the wall served as a table. Above and below it, there were shelves. At the back of the cell, a half-opened curtain separated the bathroom, which was at a slightly lower level, from the rest of the cell. On the back wall, a barred window overlooked the central courtyard a very ugly view of dozens of windows with clothes hanging on lines, wires or rods. The sun was setting somewhere along the horizon, behind the hideous building. It's not a Deluxe Suite, but believe me, there are worse shacks in the block, said Mephisto. Daniel didn't say anything. He hated everything. The smell, in particular, made him want to vomit. Chow time's completely different here, continued Mephisto. Breakfast is at five; lunch is at nine in the morning, and dinner at three in the afternoon. Dinner is early because they count the convicts and lock the staircase doors at five PM, and at half past seven they lock the shacks. That means you've missed dinner. Are you hungry? Daniel couldn't even think about food, not just because he felt sick, but because of what the jailer had told him, that he would be Mephisto's dessert. I'm not feeling well, he managed to say. Mephisto stared at him with his piercing dark eyes. Settle down. You can lie on the bed, if you want to. Take the lower bunk. I'm gonna throw up, said Daniel, and stumbled to the toilet. Everything spun around. Daniel thought he was going to fall, so he knelt on the floor beside the toilet. He was nauseated, but his latest meal, in the Infirmary, had been many hours ago. His stomach was empty. After a few minutes, the nausea became less intense, and he could stand up. Mephisto, who had been observing him closely, tried to help him by holding him. The contact with the other man made Daniel shudder in disgust. Mephisto must have noticed, for he recoiled immediately. Daniel sat down on the bed, then lay on the old, Mexican-style bedspread. He noticed that Mephisto was still observing him attentively. Want a pillow? asked Mephisto, handing him a pillow with a blue pillowcase decorated with leaves that were probably white when new, but had now turned gray. Daniel accepted the pillow and put it under his head. Mephisto searched the shelves under the table and produced a bucket, which he placed beside the bed. If you have to throw up, use the bucket. I don't want to clean up your mess, he grumbled. Daniel was too weak to react to the disdainful tone of the owner of the cell. He closed his eyes instead, and imagined he was back to his bedroom, in his home, and that everything was fine again. He

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and his friend Geraldo were working on the first issue of their newsletter at the Journalism College. Their newsletter would be a great success and an effective medium for the spreading of their anarchist ideas. And that blonde girl with glasses who snubbed him would realize he was a genius. _________ He woke up to the shrill sound of a buzzer, and sat up on the bed. It's the evening cow, said Mephisto, standing at the foot of the bunk as if he hadn't moved since the last time Daniel had seen him. Cow? Mephisto sighed. That's what we call the buzzer. It's half past seven. Now all the convicts have to enter their shacks to be locked inside. As Mephisto filled a kettle with water and put it on a makeshiftstove, Daniel heard the sound of iron bars clanking, and then of a padlock being locked. Mephisto walked to the door and stuck his head in the hatch. Taking a step back, he grabbed an iron bar that was leaning against the wall, slid it through two iron brackets (one welded to the door and the other to the frame) and locked the door from inside with a padlock. Then he pulled down a sheet that was hung on a line, and covered the door with it. When Mephisto turned to face Daniel again, he must have noticed how scared Daniel was, for he frowned and shook his head. I hate fish. Don't look at me like that. At Daniel's puzzled look, Mephisto explained, We call newbies 'fish' here. You don't have to be so scared. It's not me who's locking you inside here, it'sthem.This bar and the frog...frog is what we call the padlock...are forbidden by the administration, but any convict with more than one neuron in his brain uses them. That's because, if you haven't noticed it yet, this place is full of criminals. Many of them are experts on burglary. This latch won't really stop many of them, but at least it will give you time to get prepared to defend yourself, if someone tries to break in. Right.It made sense. On the other hand, Daniel didn't have any weapons to defend himself. As for the sheet, Mephisto hadn't said anything about it. Daniel supposed it served to give them privacy, but...that could have many implications, and not all of them pleased Daniel. Daniel was still seated at the edge of the bed when Mephisto handed him a blister pack of tablets. While you were asleep, an official left this for you. Dr. Lopes sent it. It's just a painkiller. But don't take it without eating something first! I'm heating water for tea. Daniel stood up to go to the bathroom. Although both occupants of the cell were thin, the cell was so narrow that, for Daniel to pass by Mephisto, they would have to turn sideways and squeeze past each other. Excuse me, said Daniel, in a low voice. Mephisto did the only thing he could do so that they could pass by each other without their bodies touching: he pulled aside thebathroom curtain and stood under the shower, which was on the left side of the cell. This way Daniel could enter the bathroom, and then Mephisto returned to where he was. Daniel pulled the curtain close and lifted the toilet lid. Thinking of how close the other man was, and on what Josiah had told him, Daniel found it hard to pee.

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Through the window in front of him, Daniel saw dozens of lit up barred windows. The dizziness came back; Daniel leaned on the wall until it was over. Then he washed his hands at the sink, pulled the curtain open and, once again, wondered how to pass Mephisto by. He didn't have to worry, though, because Mephisto pulled out a stool from under the table. Sit down. What about you? asked Daniel, seeing there wasn't any other stool or chair in thecell. I'll take my cup of tea to my bed later. What kind of tea do you want? I drink only black tea, but I have some herbal teas, too: chamomile, anise... Chamomile, said Daniel, overcome with a surreal feeling: he was in prison talking to a supposed rapist who offered him herbal teas. Mephisto took down two mugs, put a bag of chamomile in one of them and a bag of black tea in the other one and poured the water slowly. You probably like coffee. I do. I hate it. But don't worry. The Professor, who lives in the shack across the corridor, loves coffee and always has a full pot of coffee available. Today, however, you'll have to go without it. No problem. My stomach is in knots. Tea is probably the best choice, in the circumstances. Mephisto grabbed a box of crackers, a peanut butter jar and a tin of guava paste from the shelves and put everything on the table. Have fun. Daniel was surprised. Such a meal in prison was probably a real banquet. Josiah's voice echoed in his head:You'll be his dessert. Thank you, said Daniel in a not very steady voice. There were no knives, of course. Daniel took a cracker and put on some peanut butter with a spoon, while Mephisto made a guava paste sandwich with stale bread and put it on a plastic tray along with his tea mug. Then Mephisto climbed to the upper bunk and asked, Can you pass me the tray? Daniel stood up and handed the tray to Mephisto, who placed it on his bed. They ate in silence. Miraculously, the headache that had been plaguing Daniel went away. Daniel wondered if that medicine was really a painkiller, like Mephisto had told him, and if it had really been sent by Dr. Lopes. He realized he was becoming paranoid. Mephisto didn't have to drug him to have what he wanted, if he really wanted what Josiah had hinted he did. Daniel took the tablet, anyway. Maybe it would help him to sleep, since there wasn't anything else to do.

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When Mephisto finished eating, he climbed down the bed, washed his mug and dish in the sink and dried them with a yellowish dish towel that hung on a nail hammered into the wall. As Mephisto put the things back into the cupboard, Daniel did his dishes. Here in the Detention House, said Mephisto, you must follow certain rules. With time you'll understand how things work, but there are some basic things that you'll have to learn now. Like, you shouldn't snitch on any convict, you shouldn't get into debt; if you threaten to kill someone, you have to fulfill your threats... What? Yeah.What I said. If you say you'll do it, you'll have to do it. Daniel shook his head. Those ethical principles left him dizzy. There are other things that I won't accept in my shack, added Mephisto. Naked women posters is one of them. You can put your magazines under your bed, but don't stick posters either on the wall or on the door. Daniel suppressed the impulse to laugh hysterically. Everything has to be cleaned immediately and put back into place, continued Mephisto. There are rats and cockroaches everywhere. Housekeeping and hygiene must be a daily routine. Shivering inside, Daniel nodded. As a college student, you probably like to smoke some pot or snort some coke now and then, said Mephisto. Er...I only smoke when my friends offer me a joint. I've never bought it myself. And I've never snorted coke or smoked crack. Good. This rule is important: no drugs and no alcohol here. Sometimes it's not easy, and you'll say, 'but everybody smokes crack, everybody drinks Crazy Mary, why can't I do the same?' I'm sorry, I... What's Crazy Mary? Crazy Mary iscachaamade by the convicts, explained Mephisto. I too like a joint or acaipirinha now and then, but the Professor and I decided that the only way to prevent our own degradation is to stay clean while we're here. No problem. I don't even smoke cigarettes, by the way. That's great, because I don't smoke them either. Most convicts smoke all the time, though. That's why our currency here is packs of cigarettes. They call them squares.A deck of squares. Do you have any money? asked Mephisto. No. I had some change in my pockets when I was arrested, but I don't know what happened to it.

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Mephisto shook his head. It's gone, forget it. Problem is,you'll need a bunch of things in your first days here. You can't wait for Mom's and Dad's visit. Your parents are alive, aren't they? Yes, th-they are, answered Daniel. Bureaucracy is slow and only God, if anyone, knows when they will give permission for your parents to visit you. Until then, I can get a few things for you: a toothbrush, a towel... Make me a list now and I'll see what I can do tomorrow. What an embarrassing situation. The last thing Daniel wantedwas to owe favors to that man. Er...it's not necessary. Mephisto stared at him with an impatient look. Listen, I don't want to share a shack with a guy with bad breath and who steps out of the shower dripping water all over the place. As I just told you, hygiene is crucial in jail. You'll have to help keep the place clean. Daniel was speechless. Everything in that prison stank of sewage and mold, and Mephisto wasn't an exception. Now Daniel was being told that he, Daniel, was the one who could spoil the atmosphere! Okay, said Daniel. When my father comes to visit me and brings me some money, I'll pay you back. No problem. Daniel started making a verbal list. I need a toothbrush,a toothpaste , a bar of soap, a deodorant, a shampoo, a towel, a razor... You can use my toothpaste, my deodorant, my shampoo and my razor, can't you? Hmm, yeah, I suppose so. Daniel looked at Mephisto's shoulder length dense black mass of shaggy hair and thought that maybe the shampoo he used wasn't good at all. Daniel decided not to bring the subject up, though. I also need a comb and...er... Daniel felt blood rushing to his face ...at least a spare pair of briefs. Mephisto sneered at him. It's not that easy to buy clothes, you know. You can't buy them at the local grocery store. I'll see what I can do, but it may take a day or two. Anyway... Mephisto's eyes trailed over Daniel's body slowly, attentively, finally focusing on his hips ...you're quite small, but I'm skinny, too. I can lend you a pair of mine. Daniel bit his lip. Why had he mentioned that subject? No, it's all right, I can manage. Mephisto frowned. He was probably offended. Daniel was feeling more and more awkward. It wasn't going to be easy, living with that guy, being with him every day. Daniel didn't know anything about him and didn't want to know. All that Daniel wanted was not to be where he was. Mephisto shook his head and grumbled. Fish... I bet you think you'll stay here just a day or two. That they will realize the mistake they made and blah, blah, blah. I'm sorry, fish, but that's not how things are here. Be prepared to stay a long time. A shiver ran down Daniel's spine. He crossed his arms in front of his chest, as if to shield himself.

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Mephisto wouldn't take his eyes from him; it was disturbing. Daniel couldn't read the other man's expression and felt fragile, vulnerable. I think I'm going to sleep now. Feel free. I don't have a TV, I prefer reading books. But if you want, I can get you a TV. It's not difficult. I can exchange it for something else. Daniel didn't want that kindness. It was distressing. He felt as if the other man was trying to seduce him.No, thanks. I don't like TV very much, either. I like reading best, too. Tomorrow you'll meet the Professor. He has a lot of books in his shack. When I want to read, I go there and fetch a book. You'll like him. He's not like the scum you'll find here. He's not a mediocre guy like me. He's a genius. Mephisto said that as if he was just stating a fact. Daniel found it weird. What're you reading now? asked Daniel. Mephisto reached for a book lying on the upper bunk. It was a novel by Anne Perry:The Cater Street Hangman. I like mystery stories, explained Mephisto. Daniel's sister, Sophia, loved Agatha Christie. When Daniel was younger, he preferred adventure and science fiction books. In the latest two years he had started reading history and social science books. He had never been much into mysteries. You mean mysteries like Agatha Christie? Yeah, but this one has a gothic tone, too. The surreal feeling hit Daniel again. Now he was discussing literature with a rapist. That was totally unexpected. Does the light bother you? asked Mephisto. The light?Oh, no. I think this painkiller is going to knock me out. Daniel pushed the bedspread aside and sat on the bed. Sorry, I don't have extra sheets or blankets. Just the bedspread, saidMephisto. Oh, this bedspread is yours? Do you want it back? No! You can keep it. I have another one up here. Mephisto lifted the edge of the other Mexican-style bedspread on the upper bunk. I have another pillow, too, so you can keep that one. Daniel was starting to understand the situation. Everything inside that cell was Mephisto's. He felt confused. Er... Are we entitled to anything here besides these trousers and this t-shirt? Very few things.Basically breakfast, lunch and dinner.Toilet paper, too, if you don't use too much of it. And this set of bunk beds, but not every shack has beds. Some of them have just a concrete slab.

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Ah, they also give us the sink and the bull. The bull? That's what we call the toilet. Oh. What about the shower? Mephisto flashed a proud smile. This shower was bought by me. It's one of the few showers that work fine in the Detention House. Daniel slipped under the bedspread. He should thank God for having been chosen by an elite convict, shouldn't he?

3. The Professor

Daniel woke up to noises coming from the corridor. He struggled to open his eyes and saw Mephisto's silhouette passing by the bunk toward the door with an empty mug in his hand, and then returning with a steaming mug and two rolls. If you want your coffee hot, you'll have to drink it now, warnedMephisto. And it's no use staying in bed longer, because the counting is in a few minutes, and you'll have to appear with me at the hatch. Mephisto didn't like coffee. He had fetched a mug of coffee especially for Daniel.Once again, suspicious kindness and generosity. Daniel got up just when the counting crew arrived. Mephisto pulled the sheet-curtain aside. Come here, or they won't see you, said Mephisto. The blond jailer who was doing the counting winked at Daniel. Daniel got annoyed. Hmm, your chicken is cranky. I'd be careful if I were you, said the jailer to Mephisto. Shut up, Sarar2. Oh, you're snappish today, too, ain't ya? drawled Sarar. Go suck a lemon, replied Mephisto, pulling the sheet to cover the door again, and then turning to

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Daniel. Don't let thejailers bullshit you. Daniel walked into the bathroom, washed his hands and face and dried them with Mephisto's towel, which smelled moldy like everything else. The coffee was strong, but had already cooled down and tasted awful. Daniel shuddered at the first sip. Mephisto laughed. Terrible, isn't it? But don't panic. The experts on coffee say the Professor's coffee is great. The shacks will start to be unlocked by eight o'clock. Right... After the lock-up, we can go wherever we want, or will they take us somewhere? Do you have anywhere to go? asked Mephisto sardonically. Daniel shrugged, irritated, and bit his buttered roll, which didn't taste good either. Mephisto's expression became serious. Listen, fish, you stilldon't know this place. You should never walk around alone. If you want to go somewhere, ask me or the Professor to go with you. If I have to go out and you don't want or can't come with me, latch the door and pull the Fuck-in-Peace closed, okay? Pull the Fuck-in-Peace closed? A malicious half-smiled crossed Mephisto's face. 'Fuck-in-Peace' iswhat the convicts call this sheet we hang over the door. Daniel blushed when he understood the not-so-subtle subtext, then he raised his chin. He was tired of being treated like a helpless kid. Look, I'm not a child. Ahahaha.Look at the fish: 'I'm not a child,' said Mephisto, mimicking him. I'm twice your age. All right, you're twice my age, but I'm not a child. I'm thankful that you gave me a place in your cell, but you don't have the right to... Mephisto grasped Daniel's shoulders witha strength surprising for his slender frame, and interrupted him. I'm saying this for your own good. Don't tell me later that I didn't warn you. Daniel struggled not to moan and tried to push Mephisto away, but Mephisto only let him go when he decided to. Looking angry, Mephisto began preparing tea, and Daniel got back to bed. There wasn't anything else to do. From his bed, he could hear Mephisto washing the dishes and cleaning the table and the bathroom. Daniel felt guilty for not helping him, but he was angry too. Besides, he had taken another painkiller after coffee and was feeling sleepy again. He woke up to Mephisto shaking his arm. Wake up, brat. It's chow time. I can't leave you sleeping here. I'll have to go out after lunch. You better get up. Daniel grumbled something he didn't understand himself. He hated being treated as a child.

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The meal was hard to swallow. The horrible smell that hovered everywhere around the prison didnt help his appetite. The rice was flavorless, the beans were watered down. Thefarofa3 tasted stale. There was a beef steak, but it was hard to chew. The only edible thing was the dessert, which was a banana. And Daniel didn't even like bananas very much! After lunch, Daniel caught Mephisto staring at him in his intense, enigmatic way. I can't leave you alone here, it's too dangerous. But I have a lot to do. I'll take you to the Professor's shack. Daniel didn't want to fight again, so he kept silent and followed Mephisto to the cell across the corridor or gallery, as the prisoners called the corridors. Shack, bull, cow, frog, fish, Fuck-inPeace, gallery... Daniel would have to get used to all those terms. Surprisingly, the Professor's shack occupied two cells, numbers 413 and 415. The wall that separated them had been demolished. All the walls were lined with bookshelves. There was a wooden single bed and an old leather armchair. A wooden desk dominated the left side of the cell, between the bed and the bathroom. Daniel gaped when he saw a laptop on the desk. Beside the bathroom, at the right back of the cell, there was a small wardrobe. The Professor was a tall man in his fifties. His glasses were rectangular. A few gray strands streaked his originally auburn hair. He was neither thin nor fat, and had broad shoulders, but didn't look strong. He looked both casual and elegant in his brown pullover and blue jeans. So you're the famous Daniel, he said, smiling and extending his hand to Daniel. Sir. Daniel shook the Professor's hand. You got a lot of books here, Oh, please, don't call me 'sir.' I've grown accustomed to hundreds of pupils...everybody here insists on calling me 'Professor'...but please don't call me 'sir.' Daniel nodded. Mephisto made an impatient gesture. Lucifer, I have to go. Don't forget what we've talked about. Don't worry, said the Professor. I'll take care of Daniel. Inadvertently, Daniel looked at Mephisto's face and saw embarrassment in it. Then Mephisto turned around abruptly and dashed out of the cell. Daniel walked to the window and saw that it looked out the front of the block, as expected. He could see the prison walls, with its watchtowers on the right and left sides. Their block stood on the right of the complex. At the center, inside the walls, there was a building lower than the other blocks. The building in front of ours is Block One, the Administration Block, explained the Professor,

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approaching Daniel from behind. Come here. I'll show you my library. The Professor's library was a real treasure. There were many books on social sciences, a field that interested Daniel. After he browsed the sociology books, he skipped the sections on chemistry and psychology and went straight to the science fiction section, which was impressive. You may take whatever book you want to read. Just let me know which ones youll be taking, and please bring them back when you finish reading. I'm not terribly possessive of my books, but I like to know where they are. The Professor gazed at him with curiosity. I'd like to invite you to spend your afternoons reading here. This armchair is comfortable. I usually spend my afternoons at my desk, writing or doing research on my laptop, or drawing. We can keep each other company. You can also listen to music on the laptop, with the earphones, while I read. Daniel didn't understand why the Professor was being generous to someone he had just met.First Mephisto, and now the Professor. Why was the Professor concerned about him? What were his intentions? Anyway, compared to the prospect of spending the afternoons stumbling into Mephisto inside their small, cramped shack, the idea of exploring the Professor's library seemed much more attractive. I still don't know the prison routine well, but thank you, I'll think about your invitation. Very well.Sit down in the armchair and let's have a chat. Daniel complied. The Professor sat behind his desk. Mephisto told me you're a journalism student. The fact that Mephisto knew details about Daniel's life and had talked about such details with the Professor seemed somewhat fishy to Daniel. Yes. I study journalism at the Federal University. Journalism is a marvelous field. You have to be well-informed and prepared to do fast research when you don't know the subject. That's true. Were you... Are you really a professor? I'm a biochemistry professor, but I have always been interested in psychology and sociology, too. Since I was forced to...retire, I have had more time to devote to those other fields. Oh, I'm glad to know that it's possible to continue studying here. I've always thought that in prison, it would be impossible to do anything creative. The Professor smiled.Very well-observed, Daniel. Indeed, it's very difficult to be creative in prison. That is, perhaps, my greatest struggle here. I hope you will help me. I don't understand... Oh, you have just arrived. I won't fill your head with my fantasies...yet. We'll have plenty of time for

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that later. Er... Do you think I'll stay here for a long time? The Professor made a vague gesture with his head. The justice system is chaotic. Some prisoners have been waiting for five, six years to be brought to trial! But...what if they're judged innocent? Precisely!It's a Kafkian situation. I'm not saying that your case will take so long, though. There are many factors to be taken into account. Anyway, the average waiting time is more than six months. Daniel sighed. Six months! It's a long time! Indeed. That's why I'm worried about you. Id like to help you not to go astray. Daniel didn't know what the Professor meant with go astray, buthe didn't have time to ask, because the Professor was asking him another question. Would you like to take a tour around the block with me? There are other interesting residents that I'd like to introduce to you. Daniel accepted the invitation gladly. He wanted to see the whole picture. He had to learn how things worked inside the Detention House if he wanted to survive. He wanted to be able to do things by himself, without depending on Mephisto or the Professor. The Professor led Daniel through the galleries of the fifth floor. There were eleven cells on the outer side of the corridor and ten on the inner side. Many prisoners were sweeping their cells or doing the laundry with their cell doors open. Some of them were listening to music on the radio or cassette tapes as they worked.Pagode4 seemed to be the most popular genre, to Daniel's dismay, since he preferred rock music. Almost all the shacks had their walls paneled with posters of naked women. The Professor greeted everyone they met and was greeted with respect by everyone. Most prisoners were black. Many of them were shirtless and wearing shorts or khaki trousers; others wore shabby t-shirts. Some paraplegics were riding around in wheelchairs. The Professor explained to Daniel that the block lift had been broken for more than a week and so the paraplegics couldn't go downstairs and take the sun in the courtyards. The general appearance of the inmates was of extreme poverty and filth, and some of them were drunken or drugged. Crack destroys people very quickly, commented the Professor when they passed by a man who was sitting in a corner, trembling and talking to himself. Daniel and the Professor walked through two barred doors to reach the staircase, and went down to the fourth floor, which looked very much like the fifth one. The only prisoner who captured Daniel's attention was a man who seemed to be a Protestant: he was wearing a long-sleeved shirt with a high-buttoned collar, and had a Bible in his hand.

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He's a member of the Assemblies of God, explained the Professor. They aren't many in this block, but there are almost two hundred of them in Block Four, and more than two hundred in Block Five. In those blocks, they live in separate wards. The Professor approached a cell door and called Daniel to look inside the closed shack through its hatch. It was a double shack like the Professor's, but it also contained a bathtub, a double bed and a flat screen TV. This shack is vacant because its occupant was transferred to another prison, and he's charging one thousand dollars for it. What? How can this be? Oh, my dear, such are the mysteries of the so-called system... The administration lost control over the shacks. The wealthier prisoners invest in their shacks. When they leave, they don't want to lose their investment, so they lend or sell the shack to other prisoners. My shack must be worth about five hundred dollars...without the books, the laptop and the television, naturally. When one of those 'improved' shacks becomes vacant because its owner is transferred or released, the administration is too weak to enforce the rules. They can't put another convict into the shack, because the convicts know that if they don't pay what the former owner is charging, they will be punished. So, if the poor guy can't find a shack he can afford, the only thing he can do is to ask the administration to put him in the Dungeons. Daniel felt dizzy: the poorer and the weaker had to pay even for staying in prison. The prison world was even more complex than he had imagined. And Daniel used to think he was a well-informed journalism student! On the third and second floors there were many locked shacks. The Professor explained that most of them were occupied by rapists and vigilantes, who never left their cells for fear of being killed. As for the first floor, Daniel had already been there: it was where the Infirmary and the Registry Room were located. The Professor led Daniel to the central courtyard, where a few dozens of prisoners were talking in small groups. They didn't stay there for more than a couple of minutes; it was too noisy and hectic. They walked along other galleries and through other doors and went outdoors, to a yard where there was a soccer field. High walls on the front, back and right side separated the block from the other blocks; onthe left side, the soccer field extended as far as the external wall of the Detention House. The sun, which Daniel hadn't seen for many days, dazzled him. At the field, two teams of prisoners were playing. Do you like sports? asked the Professor. Hmm, I like to watch, but I'm not much into practicing.

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Just like I thought.You're like me: an intellectual.But you're a young man, you should do some sport. One of those days I'll introduce you to the Old School Guy. Maybe you can practice weightlifting with him. It will do you good. Daniel shrugged. Why did everyone keep giving him advice? They strolled back into the block. When they arrived at the staircase, the Professor pointed to the steps that led downwards. Down there are the Holding Cells and the Dungeons. Those are the worst cells in the Detention House. Dozens of prisoners, many of them very dangerous, are crammed together. It's horrible. They have to take shifts for sleeping. There isn't enough space for everyone to sleep at the same time. However, if you ask any of the men in the Dungeons if they want to swap cells with another convict of any other floor or block, they will tell you that they would rather stay where they are. Because they were marked to death by other prisoners? Precisely, answered the Professor. The right thing to do would be to transfer them to other prisons, but that seldom happens, because the other prisons are overcrowded too. To make things worse, the administration sends to the Dungeons the prisoners who are punished for committing all kinds of crimes inside the House, like drug or alcohol traffic, disrespect to officials, theft, murder, participation in riots and disturbances, and so on. Daniel was astounded. Inequality reigned in prison to such a degree that there was a vacant luxurious cell while in the Dungeons the prisoners had to take shifts to sleep due to the lack of space. As they climbed back the stairs, Daniel saw some transvestites parading around the galleries on the fourth floor. They were all heavily made-up and underdressed, showing their big breasts. On the fifth floor, the Professor led Daniel to the cell beside his own, the cell number 417. It was the same size as Mephisto's the default in their block, which had been initially planned to contain individual cells. A thin, shirtless boy with ginger hair and pale skin was washing clothes in the sink. Hi, Julinho, said the Professor. Julinho smiled at them.Hi, Professor! How are you? This is Daniel, said the Professor. Julinho dried his hands with a shabby dish towel and approached them.Hi, Daniel. Wow, you're such a twink! The chicken hawks will swoop down on you. If chicken hawks was the same thing as short-eyes, and twink was what Daniel supposed it to be, that was a compliment Daniel didn't appreciate at all. Hi, he managed to say, trying not to sound angry. When Julinho approached, Daniel noticed he had a tattoo on his chest: a little heart with the name Alfeu at its center. Daniel shivered in disgust, figuring out the symbolism. Come in, said Julinho. I've already cleaned the shack, now I just have to finish washing Alfeu's

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clothes. Oh, I just came by to introduce you to Daniel, but we don't want to disturb you, said the Professor. I've taken Daniel on a tour of the House. Oh, great.Daniel, feel at home. Come visit me whenever you feel like. Thank you, said Daniel, already knowing that the last thing he wanted to do was meet Alfeu. Back to the Professor's shack, Daniel was choosing a book when Mephisto arrived. How did things go? asked Mephisto to the Professor. Fine.Daniel behaved very well, joked the Professor. What aboutyou,Lucifer? Didyoubehave well? asked Mephisto in a stern tone, but his amused look showed that his question was nothing but an affectionate, playful provocation. Of course not! countered the Professor. After all, I have a reputation to uphold. Mephisto flashed a half smile and looked at Daniel. Beware the Professor's ideas. He's a snake. That's why you call him Lucifer? asked Daniel. Yes. Lucifer and Mephisto.Which of the two is really the devil? askedDaniel. The Professor and Mephisto exchanged meaningful looks, and then Mephisto said, Lucifer is the boss. Mephisto's just his first minion. The two men seemed to be linked by an old and intimate friendship. Daniel was curious to know more about their relationship, but he knew that those things would only be revealed with time. The Professor looked at his watch. It's almost dinner time. Have you chosen a book yet? Daniel took a book by a Russian science fiction author from the shelves. I'd like to begin with this one. Oh, good choice.Konstantin Sagdeev's books are difficult to find in the Western world. He holds a peculiar view on human relationships, commented the Professor. Let's go back to our shack, said Mephisto imperatively to Daniel. Daniel said goodbye to the Professor and thanked him for the book.

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4. Shadow

As they entered their shack, Mephisto handed a bag to Daniel. Your things have arrived. Daniel opened the bag to find a bath towel and a face towel, a t- shirt, two pairs of white briefs, a toothbrush, a comb and two bars of soap. The clothes were new. Daniel felt like a child at Christmas. Thank you, you've saved my life! I didn't even remember to ask for a t-shirt, yet you got me one. I knew that you'd need one. I was a fish once. Can I take a bath? asked Daniel expectantly. He hadn't taken a bath in Mephisto's shack yet. Yes, but dinner is on its way, and it will be cold when you get out. I'm not hungry now, said Daniel. It's hard to get used to the prison schedule, in the first days. Go take your bath. I can reheat dinner later. Daniel sat down on the bed to take off his tennis shoes. Then he stood up and pulled off his t-shirt. When he moved his hands to the waist of his trousers, he felt Mephisto's eyes on him, and blood rushed to his face. He gathered courage and yanked down his trousers. Still with his briefs on, he grabbed the towel and the bar of soap and went to the bathroom, trying not to see Mephisto's expression. The shower was warm and pleasant. Daniel washed his briefs during it, but then he didn't know where to hang them. He had seen that many prisoners hung their wet clothes on rods outside the windows, but he didn't know how to do that, so he hung his briefs across the faucet when he finished showering. Then he wrapped himself up in the towel and pulled the curtain open. When Mephisto saw him walking out of the shower, their eyes met. Daniel felt his face burning, but didn't avert his eyes from the fascinated, greedy look Mephisto cast at him. He saw Mephisto swallowing hard and closing his eyes, as if wanting to break the charm. Daniel had to press his body against Mephisto's to reach the other end of the shack. They were almost face-to-face when their bodies touched, and Daniel did his best to ignore the parts of Mephisto's body that were rubbing against his own. When the awkward moment passed, Mephisto turned around abruptly, entered the bathroom and grabbed the briefs that Daniel had hung across the faucet. I never wash my clothes in the shack. The smell of mold is already too strong, and if we keep wet clothes indoors, it gets worse. I put my laundry in a card box under the bunk and take it every morning to the prison laundry, where a Cleaner

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washes it for me. Oh, I'm sorry, said Daniel, still wrapped-up in the towel. I didn't know that. No problem. We'll have to stretch a line across the bathroom to hang your towels, too. Mephisto opened the mirror cabinet over the sink and produced a line, which he tied to the bars of the window at one side and around the curtain rod at the other side, stringing the clothes-line between the shower and the toilet. As for the soap, continuedMephisto, since you insist on having a separate bar for yourself, don't forget that yours is pink, and mine is green. You can put your toiletries in this cabinet, along with mine. Oh, okay, said Daniel, who still hadn't had the courage to take off the towel and put his clothes back on. Since you soaked everything, I'm going to take a bath, and then I'll dry the bathroom, said Mephisto, with a stern tone that betrayed his anxiety and perhaps disturbance. Mephisto pulled off his black t-shirt. Still too shy to get rid of the towel, Daniel observed the other man. There were a few light scars on his pale, almost hairless chest, but nothing too scary or disgusting. Not even the tattoos worn by most prisoners. Mephisto was thin, but his muscles were well-defined. Daniel only noticed he was staring at Mephisto when the other man yanked the bathroom curtain shut, putting a barrier between the two of thembeforetaking off his trousers. Daniel let out the breath he had been unconsciously holding and finally started to dresshimself . He realized with embarrassment that his cock was half-hard, and figured that that situation had probably been torture for Mephisto. The other man's desire had been evident; Daniel had felt the sparks igniting the air around them. Imagining Mephisto hard and erect because of him made him proud, and then nauseated. A few minutes later, Mephisto stepped out of the bathroom with his trousers on and probably with nothing under it, thought Daniel when Mephisto put his worn briefs into the card box under the bunk. Mephisto washed his hands and started preparing dinner. Daniel was surprised to see him opening a jar of mushrooms, a can of sour cream and a can of tomato paste, and then chop the beef steaks to make a kind of stroganoff. He also opened a can of green beans and mixed with the rice and the cooked carrot coins of the prison meal. Wow, you have some expensive ingredients here! Don't get used to it. This is one of those rare occasions, you know. Are you cooking a special meal for me? asked Daniel, uneasy. This is what we call 'clipping.' explained Mephisto. After a few days, no one can stand chow without some improvements. Since today is your first day here, I thought of making something special. Mephisto was successful: his clipping tasted really good. Daniel felt more and more indebted to his cellmate. They ate in silence.

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When they finished dinner, the staircase doors were being locked. Daniel didn't have anything else to do, so he resumed reading the book he had borrowed from the Professor. _________ The next morning, after the lock-up, Mephisto said he had some errands to run and told Daniel not to leave the shack, unless he wanted to go and stay with the Professor. And if Daniel decided to stay inside, he would have to lock himself in and not to open to anyone except Mephisto and the Professor. As soon as he found himself alone in the shack, however, Daniel felt eager to go out. It wouldn't do any harm just to take a walk around the gallery! He opened the door and stepped out. It was good to be able to walk freely again, without stumbling into Mephisto all the time. It was liberating not to have Mephisto around. The other man's presence suffocated him. Daniel walked along the corridor, passing by Julinho and Alfeu's shack, number 417, then the 418 and the 419, at the end of the corridor. The whole gallery seemed empty, and the noises he could hear came from outside, from the soccer field. Most prisoners were probably at the match. He had just turned left when someone grabbed him from behind, covered his mouth with one hand and pushed him into a shack. Ah... moaned the roughneck in his ear. What a lovely chicken we got here. You'll be my dinner. Daniel knew he was in big trouble, but the adrenaline rushing through his veins gave him strength. He tried to bite his aggressor's hand to freehimself , but the man kicked Daniel's thighs from behind with his knees, pressing him against the wall. That's just how I like it. The more you fight, the more I'm going to enjoy it, said the guy, gagging Daniel with a piece of cloth. Daniel felt more rage than fear, but the guy was much stronger than he was, and dragged him further into the shack. Throwing him on a bed, the aggressor yanked Daniel's trousers and briefs down. He tried to get up and fight, but the roughneck turned him face down and pinned him down with all his weight. Daniel was getting desperate when a familiar voice made itself heard. Let the boy go, Shadow. He's mine. The aggressor rolled off Daniel, but kept his knee pressing into Daniel's back. Whoa, Mephisto, what's up? He doesn't have your mark on him, does he? I won't say it again, said Mephisto, in a low voice that made Daniel shiver. Let the boy go. I've chosen him. He's mine. I know they sorted him into your shack, but that doesn't mean a thing, countered Shadow. I'm telling you that he's mine. If you don't release him now, you'll be very sorry. The Professor won't

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be happy, either. At the mention of the Professor's name, Shadow released Daniel. In spite of the tremors that shook him, Daniel managed to turn around and get rid of the gag, Okay, brother, easy, I don't wannacause you trouble, said Shadow. But you shouldn't let your chicken walk around alone.Me, if I had such a beauty in my shack, oh, I wouldn't leave a twink like this unguarded! Daniel was finishing putting on his clothes when Mephisto approached him and helped him to stand up. Now you know that he's mine, repeated Mephisto to Shadow. Don't you ever touch himagain. Okay. Your wish is my command, said Shadow. Despite his nervousness, Daniel couldn't help noticing the apparent paradox of the situation: although Shadow and Mephisto seemed to be about the same age and height, Shadow was twice Mephisto's size. Yet, Mephisto had been able to impose his will on him. Mephisto pulled Daniel firmly out of Shadow's shack and into the galleries, dragged him into their own shack and locked the door. Daniel was trembling like an aspen, for he was sure that now Mephisto was going to punish him for being so reckless and for damaging his honor, or some such nonsense. Instead, Mephisto gently held Daniel's shoulders. Did he hurt you? Daniel shook his head. Speak up, insisted Mephisto, looking as shaken as Daniel. What did he do to you? He...grabbed me from behind... He gagged me and dragged me to his shack, then to his bed. He stripped off my trousers, turned me face down and pinned me down to the bed... Then you arrived. Mephisto relaxed and sat down on Daniel's bed, looking relieved. Then he pulled Daniel closer, lifted up his t-shirt and examined his chest. Pull your trousers down. Daniel stared at him in terror. You idiot! exclaimed Mephisto. I won't hurt you. I just want to see if you have any injuries and need to go to the Infirmary. Daniel slid his trousers down, keeping his briefs on. Mephisto touched his knees. Ouch!

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It's just a bruise, said Mephisto. Turn around. Daniel obeyed. Mephisto felt the back of his thighs. Does it hurt? N-no. Are you sure? insisted Mephisto. It's okay. I'm okay. It was just a fright. Mephisto stood up and embraced him tenderly. Daniel felt so fragile that he accepted the comfort, and put his arms around Mephisto's waist. The difference of height between the two of them allowed Daniel to rest his face on Mephisto's chest. Daniel struggled hard not to cry. Mephisto caressed Daniel's back slowly with his hands and murmured, Daniel... It was the first time that Mephisto called him by his name. Daniel couldn't hold back a tear. He felt Mephisto breathing hard against him. I shouldn't have left you alone, continued Mephisto. Thank God I forgot something and had to come back to the shack. And thank God the bastard was in such a hurry that he didn't bother to close the door. I searched for you everywhere, in all the shacks of the gallery. I don't want to even think what would have happened if I hadn't come back, if I hadn't found you in time. I'm to blame. I should've told them you were mine from the beginning. Now I've made it clear. Mephisto pulled his face back to look into Daniel's eyes. That has certain implications, though. Daniel dreaded the worst. What implications? They'll think we're a couple. They'll think you're my...prison wife. Daniel walked away, disgusted. I don't want them to think that. There's no other way out, said Mephisto firmly. You've just seen what happens if we don't do that. You need to have an owner; otherwisethey'll try to take you. That's what happens to the new boys when they arrive here. It happened to Julinho, didn't it? Have you met Julinho? asked Mephisto, with a suspicious look. The Professor introduced him to me, explained Daniel, hating himself for giving explanations to Mephisto. Julinho was lucky, to a point. Alfeu is a rough man, and a pervert, too, but at least he takes care of Julinho. Takes care? said Daniel, almost shouting. The right word is enslaves. Mephisto nodded, neither agreeing nor disagreeing.In some ways. But they've established a

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relationship that benefits both parties. If Alfeu weren't Julinho's owner, Julinho would have been passed around like a joint and would end up, in the best case, as a whore. And in the worst case? AIDS, hard drugs, suicide... answered Mephisto. Daniel wanted to shout in frustration. So this is it. You'll be my owner. It's just a facade. You won't be either my 'mommy,' as they say, or my 'slave,' as you put it. I don't need a slave, said Mephisto, thrusting up his chin. What will you gain by doing this? I'm notsonave as you think. There must be some gain in it for you. Mephisto let his arms fall to his sides, with a forlorn look. I don't have any hidden agenda. I just don't want anyone to hurt you. You're so...beautiful.So young.So full of life! Daniel's eyes welled up with tears.He, beautiful? That was a first. No one besides his mother had ever called him beautiful. If Mephisto was really infatuated with him, as he seemed to be, that would end badly... But what else could Daniel do, besides accepting that unreasonable deal? What do I have to do, then? asked Daniel, sitting down on the edge of the bed. Mephisto sat beside him. You'll have to understand how the convicts' minds work. To them, everything is simple: either you're a queer or you're a macho man. If you're raped, you'll only be respected again if you kill the guy who raped you. And if you're fucking a chicken, then you have to be on top and not the other way round. If the convicts catch you bottoming for a chicken, you're screwed. Daniel couldn't believe what he was hearing. Well, but I'm neither of those things. I don't fit in this picture. I'm going to explain it to you. They'll think you're mine. So they mustn't catch you doing anything inappropriate with another guy, because if they do, my honor will be soiled and they wont respect me anymore. I've seen many convicts humiliated in public or murdered for not being able to keep control over theirslaves,as you say. I've no idea what they consider inappropriate! It's complicated. That's why, in the first days, you'll have to be always with me or with the Professor. Why with the Professor? asked Daniel. Because they respect the Professor and know that I work for him. Look, I don't understand very well what you're saying. You're not telling me the whole story. It's not

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easy to trust you. But I'll do what you're telling me, because I don't have any other option. Daniel stood up, but he didn't have anywhere to go, and chow time was approaching. All those rules and proscriptions, rapists and protectors were driving him crazy.

5. Encyclopedia from Hell

The next day, Daniel spent the time between lunch and dinner reading in the Professor's shack. When the Professor asked him if he wanted to listen to music on his laptop, Daniel said yes eagerly and downloaded a whole Audioslave album. However, soon he realized that those songs either made him feel sad or left him indifferent because he felt he was in a worse situation than the one depicted in the lyrics. He tried something heavy, more radical, like System of a Down, Marilyn Manson or RageAgainst the Machine, but he couldn't listen to that kind of song without wanting to sing along as loud as possible and smash and kick everything around him. The Professor, who was calmly reading his book in his armchair, wouldn't like him to do that... Daniel finally gave up listening to music and resumed reading Sagdeev's book. By noon, the Professor offered Daniel a cup of coffee, which Daniel gratefully accepted. Would you like to take a look at my favorite hobby? asked the Professor when he finished filling the two cups. Sure! I thought you might be interested, since you like sociology and science fiction. What I'm doing is a kind of crossover of the two fields, with a touch of...biology. Daniel's curiosity was piqued. The Professor turned the laptop sideways, so that Daniel could see the screen, and began to show him a collection of psychological profiles of supposed abyssal animals. It's myEncyclopaedia Infernalis,announced the Professor proudly. Each profile seemed to correspond to one of the prisoners in the Detention House. Are you creating a record for everyone here as if they were fish? asked Daniel, doubting the Professor's sanity. Yes, more or less. Have you created a record for me already? The Professor laughed. Not yet, but I'm taking notes on you.

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Daniel looked at him suspiciously. Well, I can't tell if your records are accurate or not, because I don't know anyone yet.Except, perhaps, for Mephisto. Ah, Mephisto... I don't want to show you his record yet. He's a difficult case. I can show you my own record, though. The Professor opened the menu and selected locate, then typed the letter P. A short entry appeared on the screen, and the Professor turned the laptop to face Daniel. Here it is. Psilocybecuriosus.A fungus that acts as a parasite on most fish. He likes to study the habits of his hosts carefully and creates complex schemes to get close to them. Deep inside, he enjoys the company of people, but his influence on his hosts is unpredictable. He experiments on other beings, putting them in unusual situations and studying their reactions. He is, above all, a mind scientist. A drawing of a mushroom with an expression curiously similar to the Professor accompanied the entry. Did you do the drawings yourself? asked Daniel. Yes. Daniel pondered on what he had read, and finally asked, Aren't you exposing yourself too much by showing me that? The Professor smiled, and his eyes sparkled. It's just another of my experiments. Are you studying my reactions? asked Daniel. Yours, and mine, too.Don't think I don't make stupid experiments with myself. Right... Psilocybin is a hallucinogenic mushroom, isn't it? The Professor arched up an eyebrow. You're a well-informed young man! Why did you choose that name? Because I like to do mind experiments. Daniel bit his lip, wondering if he should ask the next question or not. He finally took courage.With hallucinogens? Oh, I was a teen in the '70s. Everyone was high all the time. I wasn't an exception, answered the Professor. You're avoiding the question. The Professor gave a delighted laugh.Touch. You deserve a decent reply. I used to make atropical variantof LSD at home, and I even created an alternative hallucinogen, similar to LSD and ecstasy, but cheaper. In the beginning, everything went well. There weren't many people selling LSD in Brazil. The kids didn't even notice any difference between my product and the imported one. Some of my clients even said my acid was purer, because I didn't add amphetamines to it. We used to say that our product was imported and that we were part of an international drug traffic chain... I made deals with marijuana

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dealers to obtain more protection and have access to the markets. That was how I met Mephisto; he used do work for one of those pot dealers. However, when ecstasy arrived in Brazil, things started to change. When I created the new hallucinogen, the main ecstasy dealers, who weren't happy with my competition, decided I was going too far, and planted a spy among the people who worked for me. Daniel widened his eyes.Oh, my God! When was that? When I was arrested? Two years ago. I got ten years. I'll be released in a year or so, because of the progression system. So people who get ten years can be released after three years? Yes, if their process is not left sitting in some desk drawer forever, and if the prisoner's behavior while in prison is 'of an appropriate standard,' answered the Professor, a sardonic smile on his lips. What about Mephisto? askedDaniel. What do you want to know about Mephisto? Why was he arrested, and how many years did he get? Mephisto was arrested because of me. What happened? The Professor sighed. He suspected there was something rotten in my kingdom, so to speak. He intercepted a phone call from a guy who worked for me; the guy was a stool pigeon and was passing information to the police. Instead of running away, Mephisto went after me to warn me. It was too late; we got busted and were arrested together. He was loyal to the very end. He's the most loyal man I ever knew. Suddenly, Daniel felt it was important to know more about that man who, stubbornly, had decided to protect him. Did he get ten years, too? Nine. Since I was the boss, I got a year more than he. So he may leave in about a year. We hope so, but you can never be sure. How ironic that, on my second day here, Mephisto told me not to take drugs, complainedDaniel. He did very well. We can't afford risks. Besides, you know what happens to crack addicts, don't you? It leads to a complete debasement. I would never have anything to do with a drug that destroys people so completely in such a short time. Daniel found that somewhat hypocritical coming from the Professor. After all, hallucinogens could destroy a person's brain, couldn't they? They might not be as quick and devastating as crack, but even so... Daniel risked one more question. Why does he call you Lucifer, and why is he called Mephisto?

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My real name is Lus Fernando. Mephisto started abbreviating my name as 'LusFer' and spelling it 'Lucifer.' Then I started calling him Mephisto, because Mephisto, as we told you yesterday, is the second fallen angel.The first angel to follow Lucifer. The relationship between Mephisto and the Professor puzzled Daniel. Have you been friends for long? He had a difficult childhood. His father was an alcoholic, and abused him. He ran away from home when he was very young, dropped out of school and became involved with drug traffic. When I met him, he was about your age. I noticed he was a clever, intelligent boy, and tried to encourage him to read more, to frequent intellectual circles... Thanks to my help, he went to a fast-track school for adults and graduated from high school. Gradually I realized he was the most trustworthy and resourceful of my men. But we only became real friends after we were imprisoned. So the Professor had chosen Mephisto and interfered in his life, more or less like the two of them were doing with Daniel now. Daniel wondered exactly what kind of work Mephisto did for Lucifer, and whether he was still doing it now. Everything seemed to indicate that he was, and that, more than a friendship, existed between the Professor and Mephisto a power relationship, like almost all the relationships Daniel had found in the Detention House so far. Daniel decided he had extracted enough information for a day and let the Professor steer the conversation to less dangerous subjects. _________ Back in his shack, Daniel didn't want to tell Mephisto he had talked with the Professor about Mephisto's personal life, so he just told him how he had felt when he had tried to listen to music on the Professor's laptop. I can get you an MP3 player, said Mephisto. This way you can listen to music alone when I'm not here. No, it's not necessary. I...don't feel like listening to music here. I understand. I feel the same thing. I was crazy for music, but since I got here I stopped listening to it. Really?Whatkind of music do , or did, you like? Rock from the '60s and '70s. Especially hard rock and progressive rock: The Doors, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Pink Floyd... Oh, those bands are classic and timeless. We have similar tastes. But I don't know any new bands. The last band I really liked was Nirvana. Daniel shrugged. It didn't matter, now. In prison, everything was different. They were isolated from the outside world, and time didn't have the same meaning it had before.

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6. Visiting Times

Every Friday, the prisoners would join forces to clean the block to receive their people, as they said, on Saturday. Daniel was very disappointed when Mephisto told him that his family would not be allowed to visit him until the Ministry of Justice had given them permission, and that might take a few days. On Saturday morning, a long line had trailed outside the Detention House since early morning. The visitors waited for at least two hours before being allowed to enter. Daniel spent Saturday watching the prisoners engaging in activities very different from the routine of the other days. They would take a bath, put their best clothes on and go meet their people in the visiting-room a large hall divided into booths with screens separating the prisoner from the visitor. A few convicts were allowed to receive their people at the Garden of Eden, which was a courtyard placed at the center of the five blocks of the Detention House, an oasis of trees with a water fountain in its center. A few privileged convicts could receive intimate visits: they could spend the whole weekend with their wives or girlfriends. The prisoners who shared cells had to regroup themselves to allow the couple privacy. I'll take you for a walk in the Garden of Eden, but don't you dare look at any prisoner's wife or girlfriend, Mephisto warned him. If a convict catches you looking at his woman, you're a dead man. I thought you were going to tell me not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge! But you're the Devil, not God... Daniel pretended to wince at his own joke. All right, I promise not to look at any women. What about you, don't you have any visitors? I'm a lonely man. I ran away from home when I was fourteen. I couldn't stand my father anymore. He used to come home drunk every night and beat me. I never talked to my family again. And I never married because, well, you know my preferences. But you could have had a steady relationship with a guy. Not really. My life has always been too busy, and I'm not an easy person to live with, admitted Mephisto. What about you? Do you want to know if I have a girlfriend waiting for me out there? Nope. My latest girlfriend passed the admission tests to the State University of Londrina and decided to move there. So we broke up. It wasn't working, anyway. We were always fighting with each other. That wasn't a subject Daniel liked to talk about, so he steered the conversation back to the visitors. Who else in our floor gets visits?

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The Professor receives a lot of visitors, from his family, friends and former students. He always meets them in the Garden of Eden. He's divorced from his wife, and doesn't get intimate visits. Julinho's mother and two sisters visit him every week. Julinho'sjumbois always the best, but Alfeu takes everything for himself. Jumbo? That's what we call the bags the families bring the prisoners. Julinho's mother always fills a bag with fruits and sweets for him, explainedMephisto. Then he went on, Alfeu receives visits from many lawyers, but not from his family. The Oldie...have you met the Old School Guy already? He's our neighbor to the left, correct? The Professor talked about him, and I saw him leaving his shack once, but I've never talked to him. The Oldie is quite a guy. He has a wife and a lover. I mean a female lover...he's a real macho guy. The two women know about each other, and they take turns to visit him. Daniel laughed and was curious to meet the Oldie. In the Garden of Eden, Daniel saw the Professor talking with a group of friends. Among the people in the circle there was a young man in his twenties who seemed to be his son. Julinho was seated with his mother and two elder sisters on a stone bench, eating cookies and drinking soda. He seemed so young, so different from when he was in his shack, tirelessly working to please Alfeu! Shadow was there, too, talking with a teen girl. Was she his daughter or his girlfriend? Daniel remembered Mephisto'swarning, that he shouldn't look at the prisoners' women. Anyway, Daniel didn't want to know. Thinking of people like Shadow left him depressed. He gazed at the trees, instead, and basked in the sun. The azaleas were blooming and coloring the Garden magnificently. _________ One morning, after lunch, Daniel heard screams coming from the gallery. He was about to go out to see what was happening, but Mephisto stopped him. Are you crazy? When you hear screams, shots or anything that may be a sign of violence, shut the door, lock the frog and try to keep out of shooting range. If things get really ugly, go hide behind the cupboard. You don't have to do it now, though, because...I know what's happening. What is it? asked Daniel, shaky. Some guys decided to finish off a convict from the second floor. What exactly do you mean by 'finish off'? Mephisto shrugged. Beat him or stab him to death.

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What has this guy done? He snitched on another convict. Reported him to the administration, said Mephisto. And you agree with this? What about the Professor, does he agree with this, too? Listen, Daniel, it's not up to me or the Professor to agree or disagree. There isn't anything we can do about these settlings of scores. We don't want to get involved with this kind of thing. A leader of this group came to us and said, 'this guy will be finished off because he did such and such, do you have a problem with that?' Then we said, 'this is not our problem, we have nothing to do with it.' Is it horrible? Yes, it is. But get this into your head: there isn't anything we can do excepttry to survive and develop another kind of relationship between prisoners inside the Detention House, so that those who agree with our principles can find an alternative. We can slowly change things. This block is the most peaceful one exactly because people respect the Professor. In spite of that, bad things like that happen sometimes. And the prison administration doesn't do anything? They can't do anything either. There's always some guy who goes to the administration and confesses the crime. It's usually someone indebted to the killers and who's coerced to confess to avoid being finished off himself, explained Mephisto. What if one day they decideyouhave to be finished off? I do my best not to violate their rules, and they respect me, but if that happens and they refuse to even negotiate, it will be my end. _________ Gradually, Daniel got accustomed to living with Mephisto. He stopped feeling embarrassed when they stumbled into each other, when he had to undress before Mephisto, or when Mephisto was naked before him.Not that he didn't notice the way Mephisto looked at him, not that he felt really at ease before that look, but he had learned to trust his companion to a certain degree. After many debates, Mephisto let Daniel practice weightlifting with the Old School Guy and capoeira with Master Bumblebee at the sport training rooms, located around the central courtyard on the first floor. However, Mephisto would make a point of taking him to his classes and bringing him back to their shack every time. The Old School Guy was a sexagenarian burglar who liked to tell stories of his good old days, especially of his legendary escapes from several prisons. A tall, strong and brawny fellow with gray-flecked hair, the Oldie practiced weightlifting and taught whoever wanted to lifthis first weights. Daniel could barely lift the twenty kilo barbell, but was determined to succeed. He wanted to learn to defend himself, and weightlifting and capoeira were the only available forms of training in the Detention House besides boxing, a sport that Daniel didn't appreciate.

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The Oldie didn't cut any slack for beginners like him. Daniel's back hurt and his face grew hot as if it was going to explode. Are you a man or not? shouted the Oldie, trying to encourage him. Hmm, I think you're a pansy... When Daniel was trying to lift the barbell but couldn't stand the weight any longer, the Oldie struck his back with a stick. The shock and fright triggered an adrenaline rush that helped Daniel to finish lifting the barbell. After the first day of training, when Daniel took off his t-shirt before Mephisto, the latter inquired him. What's this red bruise on your back? Did someone beat you? It's nothing. The Oldie beats all his pupils to stimulate them. What kind of stimulus is that? Don't look at me like that. It works. When you're about to give up, he beats your back with a stick and, well, you pick up steam. Mephisto shook his head. I don't know, fish. I think you shouldn't let him take such liberties with you. What will people say if they find out I let a convict beat my chicken? Daniel shrugged. The convicts' twisted morality gave him headaches. The Oldie is a nice guy. Besides me, there are only three guys in my class. None of them will tell anyone else, because the Oldie beats them too! The first times Daniel listened to the Oldie's stories, he was impressed. But when Daniel mentioned to Mephisto the story of the Oldie's spectacular escape from the Ilha Grande Prison, involving the threatening of a jailer and a guard with a syringe supposedly containing AIDS-contaminated blood taken from a convict, the theft of a fishing boat, a pursuit by sharks and an attack by seagulls, Mephisto burst in laughter and mocked Daniel for being so nave. He sold you a hog, fish. Get smart. A hog? asked Daniel. That's a prison expression, meaning that what he told you is bullshit. But you and the Professor said I could trust the Oldie. Mephisto rolled his eyes. When we say you can trustsomeone, that means that guy won't screw you over. Like, he won't attack you frombehind, or something like that. But that doesn't mean that everything he says is true. That doesn't mean the guy won't try to con you, you understand? That's what the old school guys are: they're tricksters and swindlers. They're nice guys, but you can't trust everything they tell you. _________ Master Bumblebee, an old black man with white hair and sweet almond eyes, began his class by saying that the beginners (among them, Daniel) should focus on theginga5. He taught Capoeira Angola, the oldest and most traditional style. Class started with a warm-up, which consisted of calisthenic and

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stretching exercises. The warm-up was followed by the training of individual strikes, including dodges and falls. Watching Daniel's first movements, Master Bumblebee told him he had good reflexes and would be a wonderful dodger when he had learned theginga.After the individual training, the apprentices were paired off in couples. An experienced apprentice was selected to practice with Daniel: Lando, a black young man with outstanding flexibility. The Master advised Lando to practice only sequences of single strikes and dodges with Daniel, since it was Daniel's first class. Daniel gaped at Lando's grace. I've been practicing my whole life, said Lando, the whiteness of his smile contrasting with the dark color of his skin. It's not a big deal. Some masters, like Master Bimba, say too much flexibility is bad for playing capoeira. Daniel found this remark interesting and enigmatic, but not very helpful: he still felt awkward and lost. At the end of the training in couples, the Master told him, Don't worry. For the first six months you'll feel like a fish out of water, but then your body will start swinging as if byitself when theberimbauplays. At the end of the class, theroda6 was formed. As Daniel was a beginner, he only watched, thrilled, as the most experienced players moved gracefully to the sound of theberimbau, atabaqueand tambourine. _________ Sometimes Daniel spent hours thinking on the prison system and classifying the prisoners. He talked a lot with the Professor about it, and the Professor explained everything to him with patience and interest. Mephisto, however, would look at Daniel suspiciously and tell him that children shouldn't get involved with adult matters. But Daniel was a journalist and a social scientist by vocation: he wanted to study the people and the social relations he was witnessing in prison so that, oneday, he could write a great investigative reporting book. You have to read Foucault, told him the Professor once, pulling outDiscipline and Punishfrom his bookshelves. Daniel was fascinated byDiscipline and Punish.The whole discussion on the Panopticon architecture gave him many ideas on the role of architecture in controlling the inmates inside the prison. He started to develop his own ideas on the subject. In the beginning, he didn't discuss them with the Professor. He wanted to research andgain a full picture of the subject before talking to him. On the other hand, when Daniel walked with Mephisto through the galleries and saw drugged or drunken prisoners talking to imaginary people, he wondered whether all his sociology and philosophyweren't useless, whether what he was seeing wasn't just the same misery that could be found everywhere, only extremely concentrated. Prison was just a microcosm of the larger society, to put it in more elegant words. Julinho had grown attached to Daniel and often visited him in his shack, especially when Mephisto wasn't there. Mephisto had authorized Daniel to let Julinho in, because Julinho didn't represent any kind of threat. However, talking with Julinho left Daniel downcast. Julinho seemed convinced that Daniel and Mephisto's relationship was similar to the one he had with Alfeu, and Daniel couldn't tell him the truth. Because Julinho considered him his equal, he told him stories that horrified Daniel. Alfeu, besides expecting Julinho to take care of all the housework, submitted him to all kinds of sexual humiliation, like

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tying him to the bed, beating him, forcing him to have sex even when Julinho was exhausted. But the worst part was that Julinho thought that it was all right, that he should be considered a privileged person for having someone to protect him. Julinho was very proud of Alfeu because he was an important lawyer. The fact that Alfeu was a lawyer made Daniel despise him even more. Alfeu seemed to be evil personified, and he didn't even have the excuse of not havinghad a chance in life. Mephisto advised Daniel not to judge Julinho and Alfeu. He believed Julinho liked the whole situation much more than Daniel thought. Daniel doubted that. _________ On Daniel's second Saturday in the Detention House, Sarar warned him that his parents would come to visit him. Daniel felt ecstatically happy. He looked into the bathroom mirror and, because he didn't want to scare his parents, he was glad to see that the scar on his forehead was disappearing. He took a bath, put on his khaki trousers and the white t-shirt that Mephisto had bought him and, nervously, listened to Mephisto's explanations and advice. Don't forget to remind them to bring the things you need on their next visit, because they can't possibly have brought everything you need now. They are newbies in this, too. Man, you're fucking crazy, said Daniel. You just think about thejumbo.I'm going to see my mom and my dad! Mephisto shrugged. Have fun. Daniel realized he had been a bit harsh, and tried to make amends. Don't be upset. I know I have a great debt to you. If they bring me some money, I'll be able to... Don't be stupid. I was thinking of you, not of this fucking debt. Forget the debt and go see your parents. Daniel's heart was racing when he entered the visiting-room. His father was sitting behind the screen. He looked well, his brown hair with gray strands well-combed and correctly cut, as always. But when Daniel sat on the stool before him, on the other side of the screen, he noticed the lines of concern on his forehead.Hi, Dad. Did you have to wait very long in line? A couple of hours.How are things going, Son? Fine. How are you feeling? I'm fine, but a bit worried. Is there any way of getting me out of here? I didn't kill anyone, you know that. I know, Son. Bureaucracy is a nightmare, but we're doing our best to get you out of here as quickly as possible. We have already requested a writ ofhabeas corpus.Are they treating you well? Is there

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anything that you need? The only thing they give us here is food. I have no clothes, no toiletries, nothing. And the prison food is horrible. If you can bring me some extra items, I'd be thankful. We've brought you a bag with some clothes and other stuff. Your mother wants to talk to you. We can talk again later. His father stood up and Daniel's mother sat on the stool. Daniel had missed her so much, and she was so beautiful, her long brown hair loose and flowing, her lilac eyes gleaming with unshed tears! Daniel wanted to hug her, but the damned screen didn't let him. Hi, Son. Mom... he said, his voice faltering. Are you all right? she asked. Yes, Mom. Tell me what you need. Daniel smiled. I need a few pair of socks, underwear, t-shirts...a coat... We have already brought you all that. It's in the bag, said his mother. We didn't bring you any classy or expensive clothes, because we thought that, well, it wouldn't be wise to arouse envy in a place like this. So we've brought you old and comfy things. The clothes you liked to wear at home. You did well, Mom. You two are great. Next time, if you can, please bring me a blanket. It's beginning to get cold at night, it's almostwinter . As for the food, I think the most practical is canned food. We don't have refrigerators here. I've brought you a jar of strawberry jam, your favorite. Thank you, Mom. What about Sophia? How's she doing? She's fine. Your father was afraid to bring her, but next time she'll come with us. She sent you a pile of comics. Cool! The rest of the conversation seemed to drag painfully. It was difficult to tell his parents what happened inside the prison, and Daniel didn't really want to do that. He kept asking about outside mechanically. The truth was that what happened outside didn't interest him at all, since he couldn't participate in anything. It was, on the contrary, depressing to think that life went on out there and that he had been excluded from it. In spite of all the awkwardness of their meeting, when the jailer announced that the visiting time had ended, Daniel felt a knot in his throat. It was hard to say goodbye to his mom and dad and go back

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inside. The jailer handed him the bag his parents had left him. Daniel's father wanted to give him some money, but the jailer told him that that was not allowed, that he should have brought some packs of cigarettes. Then Daniel's father told him he would bring a box of cigarettes the next day and leave it at the lobby. Back to his shack, Daniel found Mephisto clipping dinner. My father will bring me squares tomorrow, and then I'll be able to pay you, announced Daniel. Can you please forget about that? What did they bring you? Daniel opened the bag and dumped its contents on the bed: five pairs of briefs, three pairs of socks, two t-shirts, a pair of jeans, a pair of pajamas, a jumper, an old wool sweater.A jar of strawberry jam and a box of chocolates.A pile of Sandman and other comics. Daniel looked at his treasure and beamed. Woo-hoo! Mephisto gazed at him with an amused gleam in his eyes. If you share your chocolates and your strawberry jam with me, we can call it quits. Of course I'll share them with you. You always shared everything with me! But I'm making a point of paying for those things you bought me when I arrived here. Let's change the subject, or I'll be offended, stated Mephisto. Daniel didn't say anything else. The next day, however, as soon as he received the packs of cigarettes, Daniel went to a small market run by the prisoners on the fourth floor and bought a stock of supplies for both of them: a box of crackers, a pack of cookies, a can of guava paste, cheese, and salami. Mephisto became angry when he found out that Daniel had gone downstairs alone, but his anger didn't last long. With time, Mephisto started giving him more freedom. Now that everyone in the block knew Daniel and was aware that he was Mephisto'schicken,he didn't run as much of a risk as before. Upon Daniel's insistence, after a couple of weeks Mephisto decided to let him go to his weightlifting and capoeira classes alone. Daniel's parents continued bringing him provisions, clothes and packs of cigarettes every week, which helped Daniel to recover his sense of dignity in front of the other prisoners and especially with Mephisto. Still, even knowing he wasn't guilty of the crime he was being charged with, he felt bad for causing his family so much trouble.

7. Metamorphosis

Daniel had become accustomed to the prison routine. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings he

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practiced weightlifting with the Oldie. On Wednesday mornings he trained in capoeira. In his free time, he helped Mephisto clean the shack and in the kitchen. Between lunch and dinner, while Mephisto attended to his mysterious business affairs, Daniel would read in the Professor's shack and talk with the Professor. Some days Daniel and Mephisto took dinner at three PM and had tea at night; other days they did the opposite: they saved dinner for a late clipping and had tea in the afternoon. Sometimes, when Mephisto was free in the afternoon, they would have tea in the Professor's shack. At night, after either dinner or tea, Daniel read in bed, or talked with Mephisto. Talking with Mephisto was, however, a difficult art, even after many days of living together. Mephisto didn't do small talk. With Mephisto, every conversation had to have a purpose, everything had to be important.Not that he didn't know how to joke, but his jokes always had a serious core. Except, perhaps, when he mocked Daniel.When Daniel first put on the flannel pajamas his mother had brought him Mephisto asked if she had brought him his teddy bear too. And they weren't even childish pajamas: it was a classy pajama set, striped in white and blue! Daniel warned Mephisto that if he continued to tease him, he would stop lending him the Sandman comics that Mephisto had been eagerly devouring. _________ One day, when Daniel was returning from his capoeira class, a young black man with frizzy hair wearing a yellow stained t-shirt approached him in the fifth-floor gallery, with a knife in his hand. Keep walking, dude. Let's go to your shack. You're gonna give me all your decks of squares, unless you wanna become Swiss cheese. Daniel's heart was beating erratically, but he tried to calm down. Okay, he said, and continued walking with the crack addict behind him, poking his knife in Daniel's neck. There wasn't anyone in the corridor. Suddenly, Daniel did a capoeira move he had learned while he was training with Lando a few days ago: he turned around and dodged, leaning to one side, then applied arasteira7 on his aggressor. The guy fell flat on his back, and Daniel ran through the gallery, leaving him behind. He was panting when he entered the shack and closed the door. Mephisto approached him and asked what the problem was. Daniel finished locking the door before telling Mephisto what had happened, stopping to breathe every minute. As he listened to Daniel's story, Mephisto pushed him aside to open the latch again. Daniel held his arm. Don't go after him. This will only make things worse. Please. Mephisto made a desperate gesture. But this motherfucker is a threat. We've got to do something. He will find his own destiny, as the convicts say. If he's attacking people in the galleries, he won't last long.

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Mephisto let go of the latch, took a deep breath and turned to Daniel. Are you okay? My foot hurts, but it will be fine. There was wonder and concern in the look Mephisto gave him. Did anyone else see what happened? I don't think so. Thank God. I'd have been in trouble, if they'd seen my prison wife beating a convict... Daniel frowned. It took him a few seconds to understand the logic of what Mephisto had just said. The stupid prison morality. Right... A prison wife has to be submissive, and can't beat a convict, even in self-defense. I can't believe these people! You can't believe it, but that's how things are here. If I were to give you advice, I'd tell you never to do what you just did. Never, ever attack an armed convict. But you got out pretty well, and as nobody saw it, I can only congratulate you. Thanks to Master Bumblebee's classes! Yeah, but now we'll have to do something about this beamer. I think I know who he is. His nick is Disquietude. I'm going to talk to Umbelino. Disquietude!You convicts make up some weird nicknames. But please, don't do that. They'll finish off the guy. I don't want to be the one responsible for... Mephisto interrupted him. That's not what I meant. I'm going to talk to Umbelino to see if he agrees with transferring the guy to another block. I've never asked anyone to finish off anyone, Daniel. That's not my style. Daniel felt relieved. Perhaps they would send the crack addict to the Dungeons, and that was horrible, but the guy wouldn't last long, anyway. If the drug didn't kill him, some dealer would.All right. And there's another thing: from now on, you won't go out alone anymore, stated Mephisto. Daniel moaned.Oh, no. Don't give me that. It's not my fault. I can't let my kid walk around alone, especially knowing how dangerous he is! Daniel couldn't suppress the laughter, in spite of his anger. So I can't be strong and defend myself. I have to be weak, so that you have to protect me. Exactly.Mephisto pulled out the stool from under the table and placed it beside the bunk. Sit down. Let me take a look at your foot. Daniel obeyed. Mephisto pulled a tube of cream from the shelves, sat on Daniel's bed before the stool

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and carefully took off Daniel's right shoe, then his sock. He gently held Daniel's foot between his hands and massaged it with the soothing cream. At first, Daniel shivered with its coldness, but then he felt an intense heat spreading through his body, and bit his lip not to moan in pleasure. I'm rusty now, but I learned capoeira too, said Mephisto, with an unusual gleam in his eyes. Really? asked Daniel, his voice so hoarse that he couldn't even recognize it. When my foot gets well, we can train together. Who taught you? A neighbor, when I was twelve. Daniel was glad that for the first time Mephisto was talking about his own life, and decided to inquire further. Did you like him? He was my first crush. But he was probably older than you, objected Daniel. He was seven years older. Why do you find that strange? Oh, nothing, said Daniel. Mephisto stared at him intently, as if trying to read his thoughts. When you're young, it's normal to like older guys. Nowadays I prefer younger men, but this is not an absolute rule. Age is just one of the factors. Okay. You don't have to give me any explanations, said Daniel, embarrassed. I know I don't. Everything I say, I say because I want to. Daniel felt the heat spreading through his body again. You never told me your real name... Mephisto lowered his eyes, looking surprisingly shy. Vladimir. Vladimir, as in Lenin? Mephisto laughed.Yes, brat.As in Lenin, Herzog8...and also Nabokov. Can I call you Vladimir, instead of Mephisto? asked Daniel, in a sudden impulse. Mephisto stared at him for a long time before saying, Call me Vlado, then.But only when we're alone. If people hear you calling me that, they'll start calling me 'Vlad the Impaler,' 'Count Dracula,' or something like that. Vlado.I like it. That's what I'll call you, from now on. Still massaging Daniel's foot, Mephisto told him that Vlado wasa Slavic name meaning rule, and Vladimir was to rule with glory, but that some people thought it could mean to rule peacefully, because of the many senses of the Slavic word myr.

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Daniel vaguely thought that all those meanings of the word could be applied to Mephisto. Mephisto's low, velvety voice lulled his thoughts as the firm touch of his hands made Daniel long for something else, something he didn't even know how to define. Later, when Daniel was in the shower, he masturbated imagining it was Mephisto's hand that was caressing him. At first, that image scared him, but he soothed himself with the thought that it was just a fantasy, that it didn't mean anything. _________ Daniel didn't know how to cook and, in his first days in prison, he had no interest in learning. He thought it best to split the tasks in such a way that Mephisto took care of the food. Soon he found out, however, that there wasn't much to do in the shack between the lock- down and the sleeping hours. He spent most of his days reading in the Professor's shack, but even for a typical library rat like him, there were times when too much of a good thing was just too much. Mephisto was an avid reader, too. When he wasn't reading, cleaning or cooking, he would make small but necessary repairs. To escape from boredom, Daniel began helping him whenever he could. Surprisingly, the task that most pleased Daniel was cooking. He asked his mother to bring him a basic cooking book and started to experiment. Mephisto couldn't help criticizing him or giving him advice, but Daniel was used to his authoritarian tone. And there were moments when they had fun together, finding alternatives to unavailable ingredients in recipes, or adapting the recipes for cooking on their makeshift stove a dish that was supposed to be baked in the oven. You and Mephisto seem to be getting along quite well, commentedthe Professor one afternoon. Daniel felt himself blushing and tried to conceal his embarrassment. Well, yes, we are. He's very closed off. If you two became friends, it would be good for him. Daniel had a sudden inspiration. When are you going to show me his entry in yourEncyclopaedia Infernalis? Oh...Why not now? The Professor typed a few letters on his laptop keyboard, and then turned the screen to face Daniel. On the screen, there was the illustration of an armored fish, as thin as an eel but with sharp teeth and powerful jaws, the Mephistosphinx abyssalis.The entry said: Lives in the abyssal depths and feeds on copepods and small shrimps. When chasing prey, his appearance is calm and harmless, but the prey invariably ends up falling in his ingenious traps. He lives alone and rarely mates, but when he does, he fiercely protects his family. Daniel was a bit disappointed. I don't agree with you. He's not like that. He's not treacherous. The Professor arched up an eyebrow. Be careful. Haven't you just read that his appearance is calm and harmless when he's chasing prey?

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Daniel remembered, once again, Josiah's warning about Mephisto. So you think I'm prey for him? The Professor shrugged. How can I know? He's a sphinx, as his name says:Mephistosphinx. That's true. He's a mystery. If you're right and he considers me prey, how can I protect myself? Oh, don't worry too much. Mephisto has his mysterious ways and ends up getting what he wants, but he's not going to hurt you. On the contrary, he protects you fiercely. When I say you may be prey, I don't mean that he's going to eatyou. Well, not literally... addedthe Professor mischievously. Daniel felt his face burning. The Professor was clearly mocking him, and he was falling in his traps like a fool. He decided to change the subject. What about my entry? Have you finished it? Hmm, not yet.You are going through a metamorphosis. We have to wait until your transformation is complete. Daniel wanted to punch the Professor. Sometimes he was really annoying. _________ Daniel noticed that some afternoons Mephisto would come back to the shack with his hair wet and smelling of different soap. It wasn't Daniel's business, but he was puzzled. One day he found a small box full of condoms on one of the lower shelves. He pondered the subject and had an idea: he counted the condoms and wrote the number in a notebook his mother had given him to write his Prison Diary. His suspicions were confirmed: every time Mephisto came back with his hair wet, a condom had disappeared from the box. Daniel mentioned to Julinho his suspicions that Mephisto had anotherguy in the Detention House. Julinho advised Daniel to pretend that he didn't know anything, because that's how men are: theygo in ravage mode when they see a nice ass. Daniel suppressed his laughter at Julinho's ideas, but the possibility that Mephisto might be behaving in such a vulgar manner left him disappointed. Daniel started watching Mephisto every day after lunch, instead of going to the Professor's shack. One day he saw Mephisto fumbling around with the shelves and discreetly pulling the small box out to grab a condom, which he put into the pocket of his trousers. I have some business to attend to. I won't be long, said Mephisto, as always. As soon as Mephisto stepped out, Daniel opened the door and saw Mephisto walking along the left side of the corridor and turning around the corner. Daniel ran to the corner and stopped to see Mephisto passing through the barred door before the staircase. He waited a few seconds and ran to the staircase, and then down the stairs. On the fourth floor, he didn't see Mephisto, and concluded he had continued descending the stairs, for he couldn't have disappeared so fast. Daniel went quickly down to the third floor and saw Mephisto walking along the gallery and entering a shack.

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His heart leaping in his chest, Daniel passed through the barred door and ran to the door where Mephisto had just entered, and which was being locked at that very moment. Daniel peeked through the hatch before anyone inside the shack could pull the Fuck-in- Peace closed. To his surprise, however, the door was opened, and he found himself face-to-face with a young man of about his age, with long, lush black hair, porcelain skin and a half-open silk robe. Hello. What can I do for you? asked the young man. Daniel couldn't find the words. He had to find an excuse quickly. But when he was going to open his mouth, Mephisto was already at the door, looking at him bewilderedly. Daniel! Before Daniel could speak, Mephisto turned to the young man, Adonis, excuse me, I'll talk to you later. Mephisto held Daniel by the arm, firmly but not enough to hurt him. Let's go back to our shack. Mephisto didn't let go of Daniel's arm as they went upstairs and through the fifth floor gallery. Daniel was feeling devastated and ridiculous at the same time. When they entered their shack and Mephisto locked the door, Daniel leaned on the set of bunk beds and waited. He didn't know what to say. Mephisto's eyebrows knit together in puzzlement. Why did you go there? To gain courage, Daniel gathered the anger and disappointment he was feeling. I wanted to know whowas the faggot you were fucking . Mephisto glared daggers at him, and crossed his arms in front of his chest. And are you satisfied, now? No. He isn't vulgar enough, replied Daniel. You deserve worse than that. For a moment, Daniel thought Mephisto was going to slap him, and braced himself for it, but the slap never came. Mephisto clenched both fists, clearly struggling to control his anger. Then he took a deep breath before saying, in his most menacing tone, You're entitled to your opinions, but you don't have the right to interfere in my personal life. If you are a homophobe and... I'm not a homophobe! protested Daniel. I have many gay friends. I have no problem with gays. But my friends don't rape guys twenty years younger than they are. Now listen here. Mephisto was breathing hard. Back off. I don't want to hurt you, and Im starting to think about it. Yeah, sure, said Daniel sardonically. You're the greatest protector of the afflicted. Don't play with fire, brat. Think of what youre saying and dont be a coward. Look straight into my eyes. Get one thing into your head: I've never raped anyone. Never, you understand?Never. Adonis is a whore. He's very well paid to do what he does. More than that: heenjoyswhat he does. But he's about twenty years younger than you.

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He's of age, or he wouldn't be here, said Mephisto. Daniel sat on his bed, lacking arguments. He felt twice defeated. Mephisto was still staring at him, as if trying to decipher him. What's your problem? Is it the age difference? Does that shock you? I don't know. If that's the problem, I'm sorry, but things are different here. Age is not as important as in your bourgeois world. It's not that. It's just that...I thought you were different. Mephisto crossed his arms again. Different? What do you mean, different? You thought I was asexual? A celibate?A saint? Well, I'm not. I like sex. When I can't find anyone to have sex with me for the mere pleasure of it, I don't mind paying for it. Daniel shook his head. Forget it. Mephisto sat on the other end of the bed and kept looking at Daniel, frowning. Suddenly, Daniel saw a light sparking in the depths of the black eyes. You're jealous, said Mephisto. No! shouted Daniel, standing up so that he wouldn't have to face Mephisto. It's nothing of that sort. I was just thinking of all this shit that happens here. What men like Shadow and Alfeudo. I thought you were different, but now I see you're not as different as I had thought. But let it be. Like you said, your life is not my business. Go back to your Adonis, if that's what you want. Mephisto stood up. I'm going to take a walk to clear my mind, hesaid, stomping out of the shack. _________ Mephisto returned a few minutes before the Cleaners arrived bringing dinner. From then on he didn't talk to Daniel unless absolutely necessary. Daniel tried to go on as if nothing had happened, but failed miserably. The next day the Professor noticed there was something wrong. What happened between you and Mephisto? It's nothing serious. We had a disagreement.

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The Professor shook his head. Daniel, Daniel... Don't mistreat my friend like that. Me? What have I done? What did he tell you? Nothing.You know how he is: closed as a clam. Then why do you think the fault is mine? The Professor smiled.Because you look guilty. Unfortunately for Daniel, it was true: he felt guilty, and very confused. The following days, Mephisto kept his distance. He didn't come back with his hair wet anymore, and the condoms remained untouched in the small box, but he tried to stay as far from Daniel as possible for as long as he could. On the fifth night after their fight, Daniel went to bed but couldn't get to sleep. Mephisto had turned off the shack lights, climbed up to his bunk and turned on the small lamp he used to read in bed. Daniel was tired of that situation. The accusations he had thrown at Mephisto were ridiculous, he acknowledged that now. Mephisto hadn't done anything wrong. It was obvious that Mephisto wasn't a rapist. Josiah must have made that up, to scare Daniel. Or, supposing that Mephisto had beena short-eyes once, he had surely changed, for Daniel had been sleeping in the same room as him for a month and a half, and Mephisto had never touched him in a sexual way. Although Daniel was eaten up with jealousy, he acknowledged that Mephisto had the right to have sex with whomever he wished. He was tired of feeling guilty and missed his conversations with Mephisto. Daniel stood up and was surprised to see that, in spite of having a book in hishands, Mephisto wasn't either reading or sleeping. He was just lying there in silence looking at the wall. Seeing Daniel on his feet, Mephisto raised his head, propping himself up on his elbows. What is it? Daniel came closer to him. I'm sorry, Vlado. Youre right. I apologize. Mephisto's eyes clouded up as he held Daniel's hand with his own and squeezed it softly before taking it to his lips and pressing a tender kiss on it. Good night, Daniel. Daniel came back to his bed with his heart racing fast. Mephisto turned off the small lamp, but Daniel thought he would never be able to sleep again. Mephisto's kiss replayed in his mind over andover, and a tingling heat spread through his body. Daniel wondered what was happening with himself. Was he turning gay? It was probably from being in prison for too long. There was too much emotional pressure, too much tension, too much loneliness. _________ Sunday was a melancholy day for the prisoners who didn't receive intimate visits. Perhaps for that reason, on the next Sunday Mephisto invited Daniel to thepastelaria9that a convict called Garapa10 had

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opened on the third floor. Garapa was sellingcaipirinha made with CrazyMary, thecachaadistilled in Block Five, and insisted they try it. They ended up agreeing, and Garapa poured a glass for each of them. Thecaipirinhawas excellent, and Daniel ordered another glass, under Mephisto's scandalized look. They sat at a small wooden table facing each other. At the table beside theirs, a transvestite was sitting on a convict's lap. At another table, Umbelino, a local leader who belonged to a criminal organization,a secession from the Radical Vanguard of Crime, was talking to three other prisoners in a low voice. How can they distillcachaainside the prison? drawled Daniel, his head starting to feel light and wooly. It's made from popcorn, said Mephisto. You just have to mix some popcorn kernels with sugar and fruit peels in a pot, close it tight and let it brew for a week. After that, you pour the mixture into a can with a hole on top, and insert a small hose connected to a copper serpentine. Then you put the tin on the stove to boil, and keep refreshing the hose with cool water. The contact of the vapor with the copper serpentine causes the liquid to condense. The convicts put a bottle at the end of the serpentine to collect the cachaa. It's a very strongcachaa,so stop drinking it now. I don't want to have to carry you back to the shack. The image of Mephisto carrying him in his arms didn't displease Daniel at all. Hmmm... I want you to carry me back. Don't talk nonsense. Stand up. Let's go back to the shack now. Walking. Daniel pouted.Killjoy. On their way back to the shack, Daniel couldn't walk straight and kept purposefully stumbling against Mephisto, who glared at him, but held him firmly. When they arrived in the shack, Mephisto forced him to drink a glass of water, then a mug of tea. Daniel watched Mephisto preparing tea on the makeshift stove on the table and wondered how he could have found Mephisto ugly. It was as if, for the first time, Daniel was seeing Mephisto like he really was. And he was very attractive, with his lean body, deft hands, deep black eyes... Don't look at me like that, brat, murmured Mephisto, his voice hoarse. If I didn't know you were four sheets to the wind, I'd pounce on you right now... As Mephisto would not come to Daniel, Daniel went to Mephisto and clutched him tightly. Mephisto embraced him back, but with restraint. Daniel listened to his companion's heart hammering against his own. Mephisto buried his nose on the curve of Daniel's neck and his lips touched the sensitive skin just for a brief moment. Daniel was overcome with lust, but Mephisto slowly pushed him away. If that's what you really want, said Mephisto, you'll have to come to me when you're sober, you understand? Now drink your tea and go to bed. _________ The next day, Daniel was sober, but still tortured by a burning lust. His mother had included a

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shampoo in the latestjumbo,and Daniel had told Mephisto he could use it too. In the evening, when Mephisto stepped out of the shower naked and smelling of the subtle fragrance of that shampoo, Daniel couldn't take his eyes off him. Mephisto didn't even seem to notice; he combed his hair in front of the bathroom mirror, then dressed himself and started preparing tea. At sleeping time, Mephisto took off his t-shirt and his trousers and went up to his bed just with his briefs on, as he did every night. As Mephisto read on the upper bed, Daniel tossed and turned on the lower bed, unable to sleep. To hell with everything, he thought.After all, if Mephisto was a dark angel and lived in hell, that was where Daniel wanted to be, too. He stood up and climbed the ladder to the upper bed. Mephisto put down his book and just waited... Daniel started taking off his pajama shirt, under the older man's intense look. When he was in his briefs, he lay beside Mephisto, under the two Mexican-style bedspreads Mephisto had been using now that Daniel had his own blankets. Daniel wrapped an arm around his waist and felt Mephisto dragging in a ragged breath before embracing him back. Daniel... If you knew how many times I dreamed of this... I don't know what to do, said Daniel shyly. I've never done anything...with a man. Mephisto kissed his forehead, his eyelids, but didn't touch Daniel's lips. Let me take care of you, he murmured, his lips barely brushing Daniel's. I won't do anything you don't want me to. Vlado... Kiss me, please. For a moment, Daniel thought Mephisto was never going to kiss him, but suddenly their lips touched again, and this time it was for real. Mephisto tilted his head so that his nose didn't get in the way. Daniel knew how to kiss. He had dated three girls, and had even had a steady girlfriend with whom he had had sex occasionally. But when Mephisto captured his lips and their bodies pressed against each other, Daniel realized there was no possible comparison between what he had experienced with the girls and what Mephisto was doing to him. Mephisto was pure desire, and a desire so intense that it spread like a fire through Daniel's body. It shouldn't be so good, thought Daniel. It shouldn't feel like the fulfilling of a long-held dream. Daniel was surprised to hear a moan escaping his own throat. Mephisto tore his lips from Daniel's and stared at him. I hadn't realized before that there's a violet gleam in your eyes. A violet gleam?Daniel had never noticed it himself. His mother had lilac eyes, so it wouldn't be surprising. Daniel brushed aside a strand of black hair (smooth, he noticed the new shampoo was really good) that had fallen across Mephisto's face. Yours are jet- black, but sometimes it looks like there's fire in them, said Daniel, fearing he had said a clich that would trigger more clichs until he was

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drowned in a sea of sugary clichs. He was glad when Mephisto didn't answer with words, but by kissing him again, more passionately than before. Daniel surrendered to the lust and possessiveness that emanated from the older man, expecting to feel at any moment some kind of disgust for what he was doing, exchanging caresses with another man. But all that he felt was Mephisto Mephisto's body molding to his, his tongue claiming acceptance, his hands awakening every part of Daniel's body, setting him on fire. Everything was Mephisto, and everything was right it couldn't be more right. His lips never leaving Daniel's, Mephisto ran his hand down Daniel's back and rested it on his buttocks. Daniel had neither fear nor shame, just desire. Mephisto pushed aside the bedspreads and started to explore Daniel's body with hands and mouth. He circled the shell of Daniel's ear with his tongue and worried the lobe between his teeth. Then he slowly inched his way down, brushing the sensitive skin of Daniel's neck, shoulders and collar bone. When Mephisto circled one of his nipples with the tip of his tongue, Daniel moaned in pleasure. Mephisto licked the small rosebud, blew cool air over it, and then sucked hard. Daniel wriggled in response. Oh... Mephisto sounded fascinated. You have sensitive nipples. Like mine. If that was a hint for Daniel to do the same to Mephisto, Daniel wouldn't shy away: he combed his fingers through Mephisto's chest hair, found a nipple and rolled it between his fingers. Mephisto moaned and, lying back, held Daniel's nape to pull his head down to one of his nipples. Daniel sucked enthusiastically, intoxicated by the male scent that rose from his lover's body. Mephisto slipped a hand inside Daniel's briefs and squeezed his buttocks. Daniel's cock throbbed. Vlado... I won't last long, he warned. Teenagers... grumbled Mephisto, and pulled Daniel's briefs down in a slow and unbelievably sensual move. Daniel felt relieved to be free from the confinement of his briefs. They often saw each other naked, but now it was different. Mephisto devoured him with his eyes, as if in wonder because Daniel was fully erect for him. Daniel reached out for him, eager for contact, but Mephisto kept his distance while he removed his own briefs. Seeing how big the other man's erect cock was, Daniel felt intimidated. It was as if he had finally realized what he was doing he was having sex with another man. But Mephisto lay down beside him again and embraced him, and Daniel forgot any fears or objections he might have had. When Mephisto's fingers curled around his cock, Daniel almost exploded. Mephisto guided his right hand and showed him how to use it to rub cock against cock. Do you like this? asked Mephisto huskily. Yes, answered Daniel, panting, relishing the silky feeling of Mephisto's cock against his own. As they stroked each other, Mephisto bent his head a little to kiss him.

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Squeezed between Mephisto's hand and cock, and between luscious kisses, Daniel was in paradise. They both found a perfect rhythm. Tension built inside Daniel, slowly, until it reached its peak and the world shattered in a shower of excruciating pleasure, his semen covering Mephisto's hand. Mephisto continued thrusting against him, faster and faster, sweating, panting, until he finally came too, his body arching up convulsively and his semen spurting and mixing with Daniel's. Mephisto collapsed on top of him; Daniel rested an arm on his lover's back. Mephisto rolled off him to lay by his side, wrap a possessive arm around his waist and gaze at him with an inquisitive look. Mephisto looked so fragile, so vulnerable right now that Daniel hugged him tight, pressing their bodies together again. I think I'm going to fall for you, confessed Daniel. What are you waiting for? asked Mephisto, in a relieved and playful tone. I want to be sure that this isn't a dream. Mephisto's eyes scanned the bed. If it were a dream, we wouldn't have to wash the sheets.He quirked up an eyebrow. Would you like a shower? Though Daniel was tired and satiated, the idea of a shower held new promises of pleasure.Promises that were fulfilled a few minutes later, under the tepid water. Imperfect as the settings might be, a new world was being unveiled to Daniel.

8.Famiglia

The Professor noticed it as soon as Daniel entered his shack early in the morning. You're glowing today. Daniel blushed and tried to sound nonchalant. Yeah, this morning I woke up with this silly smile on my face, I don't know why. Is he that good? asked the Professor, arching up an eyebrow. Daniel felt his face become even redder. I have no idea what you're talking about. Don't worry, he didn't tell me anything. But when I saw him earlier this morning, he had that same silly smile on his face, as you put it. Because a silly smile like that doesn't match his face, I had him do just silly errands today. I don't want to run any risks.

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Daniel pulled the armchair closer to the Professor's desk. What exactly is it that he does for you? We're just friends, joked the Professor. No, seriously. Oh, you're clever enough to know that I cannot tell you that. I can only tell you that from here we handle important activities that ensure the comfort and safety of many people who rely on us, said the Professor. Including me. Yes, in a way. He doesn't do anything that involves violence, does he? No, Daniel, don't worry. Let's say that he's my spokesperson. He has always done the 'diplomatic' part of the operations, not the military one. However, he's a fantastic strategist and helps me to structure the military part, too. Anyway, we don't have any military structure here, in the Detention House. We just talk to the leadership... Daniel interrupted him: Like Umbelino? Yes, Umbelino is an important leader in this block. We talk to people, promote contacts,facilitate agreements, those sorts of thing. Do you talk with members of organized crime? There don't seem to be many people from the Radical Vanguard of Crime in our block. The RVC is stronger in Block Five. In our block, Umbelino leda secession , and they ended up forming a smaller, inner group called simply The Movement, explained the Professor. Daniel decided to ask the question that had been nagging him since he had known Mephisto and the Professor.Why me? I mean, why are you protecting me? I think you already know the answer. Because Mephisto chose me? He went to the Infirmary to ask Dr. Lopes for some pills for my blood pressure. I suffer from high blood-pressure, explained the Professor. That was when he saw you there. He came back telling me there was a new prisoner in the Infirmary who appeared to be barely of age, and who was obviously a middle or upper-middle class young man. He was afraid you might be slaughtered by the bullies, and he told me what a shame this would be, because you were probably an intelligent, cultivated young man who might be of help. He told you all that? But he didn't even talk to me in the Infirmary!

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The doctor told him you were a college student. Besides, Mephisto is very intuitive, and can tell who you are just by looking at you. Oh, but not like you. You seem to read other people's minds! exclaimedDaniel. The Professor smirked. It's true, that's one of my gifts. I'm very observant. Daniel pondered on what the Professor had told him, that he mightbe of help. So you're planning to use me somehow. The Professor frowned. Touseis an ugly expression. That's not how we work. You will never be pressured into doing anything you don't want to do. We just see you...as a friend. We believe you are worthy of our friendship. I belong to thefamiglia,joked Daniel, affecting an Italian accent. The Professor laughed. You're really a very smart young man. Mephisto wasn't mistaken about you. Daniel felt flattered, in spite of the Professor's patronizing tone. A few details still troubled him, though. When you said I might be prey for Mephisto, and that he always gets what he wants...what exactly did you mean? Did heplanall that? What do you mean, 'all that'? Daniel felt exasperated. I don't know! The Professor shook his head. Sometimes I forget you're still a teenager. Why worry so much? He likes you a lot, this is evident. Is it so bad to have let yourself be seduced, if that's the case, when you know the guy cares about you? That was a good question a question Daniel didn't feel able to answer yet. I don't know. I don't like to be manipulated. No one likes it. And yet we're always letting ourselves be manipulated! It's inescapable. The Professor had a Mona Lisa smile on his face. I also think there's a strong dose of paranoia in your concerns, which is not surprising, considering you're a middle-class young man who suddenly found himself surrounded by ugly, dirty and bad guys. Daniel sighed.Daniel in the lions' den. Precisely. Only instead of an angel of God, two dark angels came to protect me. Would you rather have a pink angel with a golden halo, and playing a heavenly harp?

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Daniel grimaced.Ugh, no. I think I found the angels who best fit my needs! _________ Daniel and Mephisto started sleeping together on the lower bed. Both were thin, and Mephisto, who had made a point of sleeping on the side away from the wall, said he didn't mind sleeping in a narrow space. This way I can benefit from the sheets and blankets your mother brought you, he joked, snuggling up to Daniel. And I thought you wanted to sleep with me because of my charm and personality. How nave of me, retorted Daniel, also playfully. The Professor always says you're Machiavellian. You've been talking too much with him. In spite of the playful tone, there was also a concern in Mephisto's voice that didn't go unnoticed to Daniel. What would you think if I started working for him too? asked Daniel, and felt Mephisto tensing. Did he ask you that? Mephisto asked No! I'm just speculating. Well, stop speculating, then. I don't want to see you involved in any of this, snapped Mephisto. Daniel, you're still young, and you won't stay long in prison. If you stay out of trouble, you can start your life all overagain, go back to college, and so on. Daniel wrapped an arm around Mephisto's waist. I know, Vlado. Don't worry. I won't get into trouble. Daniel thought it best to change the subject. Theres something that I'd like to know. When did you decide that you wanted me? Mephisto brushed the knots of his fingers on Daniel's face. When I saw you in the Infirmary.Dr. Lopes asked me to find a safe place to put you. I wasn't very enthusiastic about the idea, but when I saw you... Dr. Lopes is part of your organization? Dr. Lopes is, so to speak, a good friend of ours, answered Mephisto, a soft sardonic smile on his lips. Daniel rolled his eyes at the euphemisms employed by the Professor and Mephisto, but he understood why they had to use such coded language. Thinking of what Mephisto had said, another detail came to his attention. So you fell in love with me just because of my good looks? Who said I fell in love with you? asked Mephisto, trying to sound sarcastic, but with an unmistakably

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affectionate tone. Daniel looked at him sideways. If you don't behave, I'll send you to the upper bed. Mephisto cupped Daniel's cock with his hand. You wouldn't do that, murmured Mephisto, in a silky voice, rubbing his thumb teasingly across the head. Daniel's cock reacted immediately to the touch, and Daniel couldn't concentrate on anything else. You've asked me when I decided that I 'wanted' you. Mephisto cruelly withdrew his hand and rested it on Daniel's waist. That was the question I replied to when I first answered. 'Falling in love' is something more complicated. I don't know. I just know that, when I saw you in Shadow's hands, I realized I couldn't stand losing you. I cursed myself for that. Why? asked Daniel. Am I that bad? Because I didn't have any hopes. I never thought I could have you. I knew you were repulsed by me. Daniel felt his heart shrink and stroked the smooth hair on Mephisto's chest. Vlado... When I arrived here, the jailer who escorted me, Josiah, told me you werea short -eyes and you were going to rape me. Mephisto froze and became paler than the white sheets.Son of a bitch. I'm going to kill that motherfucker. Sh, calm down. Forget about this. I shouldn't have told you that, but I had to explain why I was afraid of you. So he just told you, 'He's ashort-eyes and is going to rape you'? He said you werea short -eyes, a rapist. That you liked boys my age, that you were lurking in the Infirmary, stalking me, and that I was going to be your dessert. How can people be so rotten? The jailers do this on purpose. They like to terrify the fish. I should have realized that could happen, I should have warned you! Mephisto took a deep breath and traced Daniel's lips with the tip of his fingers. I'm sorry, Dan. That shouldn't have happened. It's over, now. And thats not the only reason why I was afraid. It's just that...all thats happened, even what happened between us, was new to me. It still is. I know. Let's not talk about this now, okay? asked Daniel, approaching his lips from Mephisto's. Mephisto answered with an almost chaste kiss, simply allowing his lips to settle lightly on Daniel's. _________

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Now that Daniel was sleeping with Mephisto, he thought it might be easier to talk with Julinho about their respective husbands, but soon he realized he was mistaken. He couldn't tell Julinho that Mephisto didn't force him to do anything, that he was attentive, caring and didn't even suggest that Daniel should let him fuck him. Even without knowing these details, Julinho found their relationship weird. He couldn't understand why it was Mephisto who usually cooked for Daniel, and why Mephisto agreed to share all the housework with his chicken. It's not normal, Dani. If you like it that way, it's okay, but if I were you, I'd hate it. I wouldn't know what to do if Alfeu didn't give me directions. Why? Wouldn't you like to do other things, things that you can'tdo because you spend all your time working for Alfeu? Oh, no, I'd feel empty, you know? I need someone to tell me what to do, otherwise I'm completely lost. Besides, I have to do things for him, because, well, he's a lawyer, he has more important things to do. I like to think that he needs me. Have you always been like that? I mean, before you came to prison? Julinho shrugged. Before I came to prison, my mom bossed me around all the time. Why were you arrested? My dad took a hike and left Mom raising five children alone. I had to become anaviozinho11, what else could I do? One day the Military Police mounted a blitz on my shantytown, and we got busted. I was arrested almost six months ago and I haven't gone to trial yet. Alfeu says I may get about five years. Daniel pitied Julinho, but Julinho didn't look unhappy at all. That was something Daniel couldn't understand, let alone accept. Although he had never talked to Alfeu, Daniel felt repulsed by him. Alfeu wasn't even attractive, with his rough skin and froglike face. Why did Julinho submit to him? Perhaps Julinho's life outside the prison had been so bad that the hell he was going through now didn't seem worse in comparison. _________ The first disagreement Daniel had with Mephisto after they started sleeping together was, once again, caused by jealousy. This time, however, the green-eyed monster's victim was Mephisto. They were walking back from Daniel's capoeira class to their shack when Mephisto said in a low voice, so that no one but Daniel could hear, I saw you playing capoeira with thatLando.You seem to be prettyattunedto each other. Daniel held back a fit of laughter. Oh, yeah, we are. Our bodies fit perfectly together. And his dark skin contrasts with mine. It's very...sensual.

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Mephisto held his arm so tightly that Daniel almost cried out in pain. Daniel was sure Mephisto was going to remind him of the prison rules, that he was his owner and Daniel couldn't be caught with another man, but nothing like that happened. Mephisto released his arm instead, and kept walking without looking at him. Daniel tried to hold his arm, but Mephisto shrugged him off. Daniel insisted. Don't be silly. I was joking. You know I'm not attracted to men. Mephisto gazed at him in disbelief. You'll have to make up a better excuse. That one doesn't hold water anymore. No, it's true. I don't like men.Just you. They were in the middle of the corridor, but Mephisto stared at him with that intense, penetrating look that always made Daniel melt. Finally breaking the spell, Mephisto grabbed his arm again to push him along.All right. But don't ever play with me like that again. The next days, Daniel repeatedly invited Mephisto to play capoeira with him, but Mephisto squirmed away saying he didn't want to be compared with the other one. Daniel understood his feelings. Lando played capoeira exceedingly well, and Mephisto hadn't practiced for many years. Mephisto knew he couldn't beat Lando at that. _________ One day when Mephisto left on a mysterious mission to Block Five, authorized by the administration, Daniel spent the afternoon talking to the Professor, amidst books and coffee cups. That was when he finally decided to disclose to the Professor the ideas on the prison system he had been working on for many days. I've been thinking about the space and time organization in prison, began Daniel. Nothing is random in this organization. Everything has a function. Nothing is gratuitous or superfluous. Each space is conceived to serve a unique function. There are spaces for circulation, for work, for sleeping, for eating, and so on. No indetermination, no ambiguity is allowed. Everything follows a disciplinary plan. The disciplining of the daily life, completed the Professor. Please go on. This disciplining is achieved by the imposition of rigid spaces, spaces that don't allow new forms of appropriation. The Professor nodded. Every space is assigned a predetermined plan of activities.

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Exactly.The same happens with the time attributions. These rigid, absurd schedules imposed on us have determined functions, and force us to be in determined places at determined times. Everything follows a control strategy. And can you figure out why this has to be as it is? asked the Professor. They want to destroy every possibility of individual action. The lack of privacy, or to put it better, the elimination of the possibility of privacy is an important factor. Daniel tried not to forget to mention any detail. The imposition of spatial obstacles is another factor.The same for the time control, and the constant vigilance. The prisoner is submitted to a completely artificial lifestyle. Don't you think youre seeing just one side of the coin? asked the Professor. What do you mean? You haven't mentioned the resistance put up by the prisoners. Day by day, the prisoners fight against those restrictions in many different ways, argued the Professor. Daniel drained his cup of coffee. Oh, I thought about that, too: theprisoners' informal organization. From what I've read, in every prison the prisoners create this kind of informal organization and establish parallel rules for living in community. Those rules may be of interest to the prisons' administrations, but many times they are opposed to the administration's interests. It's a rich, complex process. Very well observed, commented the Professor. You can see this informal resistance in action in every detail of the routines we establish here. For instance, the Fuck-in-Peace we use to recover privacy in our shacks, the clippings we make to introduce variations in our daily food, the bribes we give the officials to have them do small favors that go against the administration rules, and even the obedience to moral and customary rules that differ a lot from those that the administration would like to impose. Those internal, informal rules are allowed because the administrators want to avoid trouble, and the easiest way to do that is to let the prisoners' leadership control the prisoners, replied Daniel. The Professor stared at Daniel silently for a few moments before saying, You're describing perfectly our socio-political system. The Professor looked genuinely impressed. Now, can you tell me where I stand in the system you described? Daniel frowned. I've been burning my neurons up trying to figure this out. One day Zelo told me... Zelo is that bank robber from the second floor, right? Where have you met him? We're in the same weightlifting class, explained Daniel. Oh, right. He said robbers shouldn't hang around with drug dealers, because drug dealers are friends with the cops. I think he has a point.

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Yes, he has a point, but that is a very limited way of seeing things, said the Professor. Oh, I thought you might say something like that. The division established by Zelo is outdated, obsolete. The modern networks of power have many branches and are very complex. The various centers of power differ a lot in their purposes and procedures... Daniel felt thrilled. I've been talking to many prisoners...including some leaders, especially among the Cleaners...and I think you're the only one who understands that clearly. Do you think I'd be exaggerating if I said you're trying to create a post-modern informal network? The Professor laughed.Not at all, you're not exaggerating. However...you are seeing things from a socio-political point-of-view. It'snatural, because that is the area you are most interested in. But I have psychological concerns, too. The Professor had told him that before, but Daniel hadn't thought about that aspect. Could you detail this further? The Professor dwelled on the question for a few seconds before saying, I try to put different people together to produce new interactions. There is a socio-political aspect to it, but I also do that because I think people need to do new things, create new paths. For instance, when I assign Mephisto a task, I don't have just the goals of our organization in mind. I have also in mind that Mephisto needs to be challenged, needs to get away from the routine. Today, for example, I sent him to Block Five to talk with their leadership. It's a very important mission, not only to us, but to the administration. The administrators trust us and know that we too are interested in keeping the Detention House in order. But when I decided to assign this task to Mephisto, I had also in mind that such a mission might be good for him, in many ways: it might strengthen his leadership, make him more confident and give him new perspectives. Wow, I never thought you were so deeply into those things, saidDaniel, impressed. Sometimes I go as far as to choose random tasks just to force both myself and Mephisto not to cling to a too rigid, mechanical routine. I try to do the same thing to other people with whom I talk. The Professor looked at Daniel fixedly. I try to do the same thing to you, too. Oh, I think I know what you mean. You and Mephisto have tried to give me opportunities to learn, to understand the prison world and question what's around me, but in a, let's say, monitored way. Monitored and safe. Andit's working fine, isn't it, Mephisto? asked the Professor, looking at somewhere behind Daniel. Daniel turned around and saw Mephisto. How long had he been there, listening to their conversation? You two spend the afternoons in this psychosocial masturbation? asked Mephisto, a mischievous glint in his eyes.

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Not always, said Daniel. Sometimes we just read in silence. You two are too brainy. You live in a dream world, said Mephisto, approaching Daniel and resting his hand on his shoulder. Don't pay attention to him, Daniel, said the Professor. When it comes to political articulation, I'm nothing compared to Mephisto. He's insuperable. Yet, he's absolutely intuitive. I didn't learn from books, like you. I learned the hard way: livingin the real world, said Mephisto. Lucifer, we may talk about thepracticalresults of my mission tomorrow. As for the psychological results, the benefits are ambiguous. Block Five is in a process of complete deterioration. Compared to theirs, our block is paradise. I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse. But enough of prattling, it's time for the afternoon counting. Let's go back to our shack, brat. _________ At night, in bed, Mephisto spread some cream on his hand and started massaging the area between Daniel's buttocks with his forefinger. Between kisses and caresses, the finger slowly slipped inside him. Daniel felt a little discomfort, but was also very curious about it. Does it hurt? asked Mephisto, focused on his movements, going deeper and deeper. No. It just feels...weird. Do you want me to stop? No, it's not bad. Mephisto curled his finger slightly and a jolt of pleasure hit Daniel. Aaaaaah!Vlado, what have you...? What was that? Daniel's cock throbbed and all that Daniel could think was that he wanted more of that. Mephisto laughed. We've found your G-spot. Mephisto repeated the movement, and Daniel saw stars. Mercilessly Mephisto curled his finger again, and Daniel's body arched up off the bed, waves of pleasure going through him until bliss filled him completely. When Daniel returned to earth, he gazed at Mephisto. So this is how...? You'd like to know if that's what a passive guy feels when he comes? From the way you reacted, you risk liking the experiencetoo much.But it's not everyone who's that lucky. Would you like to...? mumbled Daniel, feeling shy and awkward.

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Would you like me to? asked Mephisto, surprised. I think I'd like to try it. Daniel... Mephisto's voice was husky with emotion. We'll have to wait a few days. Some months ago, Dr. Lopes had everyone in the block tested for HIV. My test result was negative, but the doctor advised me to have another test in six months, just to be sure. I've always used condoms since I came to jail. There's no other option, because almost all the whores are HIV carriers. Still I think I should take the test again before, you know... It's already been six months since I had the test. I haven't taken it again because... I didn't think you'd want to... It's okay. But can't we do it if you use a condom? I don't want to hurt you. You're a virgin. Oh... Daniel felt his face grow hot. It was weird, to think that he was a virgin...again. Okay. Mephisto kissed him slowly, pulling him against his body, and then whispered, Unless you want to reverse the positions. Daniel widened his eyes. He knew how hard it was for Mephisto to even think about that possibility. But you're not a bottom. Neither are you. You're not even gay, added Mephisto. If you never bottomed, I don't want to hurt you either, stated Daniel. Oh, I bottomed a few times. It's not my favorite position, though. And because sexual relations in prison are usually power relations, it's natural that I didn't want to even think about it. But, with you, it's different. Mephisto knew how to make Daniel feel special and leave him speechless. You... You're amazing, Daniel managed to say when he could find his voice again. But it's not fair. Let's take the test, we both, and when we have the results, if everything's fine, we'll do it. Have you ever had unprotected sex? With my girlfriend, last year.Two or three times.You know how things are, said Daniel. Oh, I know how it is to be a teen. When I left my parents' home, I moved into my lover's place... Was he a drug dealer? He was. But the problem was that, two years later, I found out that he had AIDS. He didn't know it, either. No one knew about the disease back then. Daniel widened his eyes. Didn't you catch it?

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I didn't. I was lucky.More lucky than wise. It must have been horrible. I took care of him for more than six months, until he died. He grew weaker day by day... He slowly faded away. Mephisto swallowed hard. I don't want to talk about it. It was really horrible. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, too. I spoiled the mood, didn't I? Dan... Come here and kiss me. _________ When Daniel went to the Infirmary and asked to be tested for HIV, Dr. Lopes looked at him with surprise, and then disappointment. I thought you would be spared. It took Daniel some time to understand what he meant. And when he understood it, it took him even more time to decide what to say. It's not what you're thinking. Really?Mephisto came here yesterday, asking to be tested. Today, it's you. I've been working here for many years, Daniel, and I'm not nave. I'm not denying I have a relationship with him. But it's consensual, and I don't work for him. Dr. Lopes shook his head, incredulous. I thought I could trust him. It's true, doctor. He's the one who usually cooks, and we share the housework. He works much harder than I do. You're not even a homosexual, protested the doctor. That shouldn't have happened to you. Well, I have already told you it's consensual, but if you don't believe me, there's nothing I can do, said Daniel, resentful. I can get you transferred to another block, if you want it. But I like being where I am right now. I'm very thankful to you for putting me there. The doctor took a deep breath.Very well. Let's do the test, then. At least youre taking precautions. 9. The Invasion One night Daniel woke up to ghastly screams. Confused, he noticed that Mephisto was awake too, on his side on the bed. What's happening? Mephisto was tense, his breath uneven. It's Shadow. I don't know if you know that he's a crack dealer... No, I didn't know that.

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He is. And a boy from the third floor got addicted and can't pay his debts. And so what? In cases like that, as you have probably noticed, the debtor is usually finished off. But Shadow offered him...an alternative. A shiver ran down Daniel's spine when he understood what the alternative was. Ah. He took the boy as his chicken. Yes. Now that Daniel knew Mephisto and life in prison better, he had some idea of how Mephisto felt, of the contradictions that were probably tearing up his soul. Mephisto, in spite of his authoritarian manner, was a good man. Life sucks, said Daniel, embracing his companion. _________ Every time his father or his lawyer, Mr. Fagundes, visited him, Daniel asked about his writ ofhabeas corpus,and the answer was always the same: no one could tell when the trial might take place. Daniel had been in prison for almost two months, and he was getting tired of waiting. One morning a young man from the fourth floor, Giba, was found dead in one of the galleries, with a cocaine syringe beside his corpse on the floor. Mephisto was troubled andangry, for he was sure Giba wasn't a coke addict. Daniel heard rumors in the corridors that Giba had arrived in the Detention House eight months ago and since then he had been waiting for the writ ofhabeas corpusto be heard. Despair took hold of Daniel. For the first time, he thought he might never be able to get out of prison. It was an ironic coincidence that just when Daniel was feeling most discouraged, the Oldie called him aside at the end of one of his weightlifting classes and waited until everyone else had left the classroom to say, in a casual tone, We're ready to bust out in a few days. If you want in, tell me now. Daniel widened his eyes. Er... Can't you give me any details? No way.It's a take-it-or-leave-it thing. What about Mephisto? Can he be included, too? The Oldie snorted. He doesn't want to even talk about it. Can I talk to him first? asked Daniel. Eh, I don't like the sound of this, butit's okay, he already knows. But don't talk to anyone else. I'll wait for your answer until tomorrow. Carrion, my cellie, is in too. Come to my shack tomorrow after lunch, if you decide to join. Okay.

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Mephisto was waiting for him at the classroom door, looking impatient and suspicious. What did the Oldie want with you? I'll tell you in the shack. When they entered the shack, Daniel snapped, The Oldie invited me to escape with a bunch of guys. Mephisto paled immediately. You didn't accept it, did you? Well, I... Why? Did you accept it or not? insisted Mephisto. I told him I was going to think about it. And now you're going to say No. Daniel felt blood boiling in his veins. Well, it's up to me to decide. I don't know if you understand that I'm the one who decides about my life, not you. Except when you're about to make a big mistake.Just think, brat. Your family is well-off; you're an intelligent young man, a college student. There is no evidence against you; you have been framed. You won't stay here too long. But if you're caught in an escape attempt, you're screwed for good. Daniel knew he was right, but didn't want to admit it. You keep repeating that, but I'm still here. The judge has simply left my writ of habeas corpussitting in his drawer and no one can do anything about it. Daniel was exasperated. What about you? What if you have to stay seven years in this hell? This problem ismine alone. I won't get involved in an escape adventure. Even if the escape is successful, I don't have anything to do out there. I don't have any qualifications. The only 'job' I ever had was as a pusher. Running away would only complicate my life. Daniel leaned on the set of bunk beds, downcast. Why was life so complicated? Mephisto looked hurt. But it wasn't because of Mephisto that Daniel wanted to leave.On the contrary. What Daniel wanted was to leavewithMephisto. Daniel didn't know what to say, so he walked out and went to talk to the Professor in his shack. Oh, so you heard about that, said the Professor when Daniel mentioned the Oldie's invitation. You already knew about the Oldie's plans? Yes. And what's your opinion? You aren't thinking about escaping, are you? asked the Professor. Oh, Daniel...don'teven think about it.

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But what chances do I have, if I stay? You are going through a phase we all go through in prison. You have finally realized you won't leave this place tomorrow or next week. I've been there. I freaked out completely. Right, I know you're a damn good shrink, but what can I do? snappedDaniel. Do you think I have all the answers? I'm sorry, my friend, but many times I feel as lost as you are now. I can only advise you to calm down and be patient. Daniel sighed and didn't say anything. The Professor didn't take his eyes off him. It's a shame that we're going to lose the Oldie. I'll miss him, but there's nothing I can do. It's in his nature, said the Professor, typing something on his laptop and then turning the screen to Daniel. Here's the Oldie. Daniel saw the drawing of a sharklike fish and read: Hierochimaera fugax:A cartilaginous fish with powerful fins and impressive pulmonary capacity. The species has conserved the same basic characteristics for more than 150 million years. When imprisoned, he obsessively seeks to regain freedom. It is not so much that he cannot adapt to life in captivity; it's more that his life is senseless without the prospect of escaping. Daniel's ill humor faded slightly, and he let himself smile. Do you believe they'll be successful? It's risky. People who shouldn't know are already knowing or, at least, suspecting. I won't tell you anything else; it may be dangerous for you to know. I'll be informed of the day of the escape, and then I'll warn you, because things may become ugly and the best we can do is to keep as far from them as we can. _________ Two days later, in the middle of the afternoon, Mephisto arrived in the shack with a message from the Professor. That very afternoon, after the dinner distribution, Daniel and Mephisto should remain inside their shack. No matter what happened, they shouldn't go out. The day had come. Daniel didn't even have to ask. He knew he shouldn'task. Tension seemed to fill the air. When dinner arrived, Mephisto didn't want to eat, and Daniel decided not to eat either. They could have a clipping later, when things had gone back to normal. Everything seemed calm.Too calm. Mephisto locked the door with the latch. When everything is quiet like that, said Mephisto, youcan be sure something bad is going to happen. Soon the counting would start. But before any officials could appear at the hatch of the shack, someone screamed in the gallery, and many other screams followed.

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Keep cool and act as if nothing has happened, said Mephisto. Easier said than done.The screams got louder, and through the hatch slot, Daniel could see people running through the corridor. For about half an hour they stood there, doing nothing, just hearing the noises coming from the gallery and outdoors. Thick smoke started to come in through the window. Suddenly, barking dogs and volleys of shots were heard. Mephisto stood up immediately, pushed Daniel behind the cupboard and pulled the bathroom curtain shut to cover them. From the window behind them, smoke, screams and the sound of shots continued to enter. Mephisto embraced Daniel from behind, pressing him against the side of the cupboard. Daniel could hear both his heart and Mephisto's hammering wildly. What's happening? whispered Daniel. The Military Police invaded our block. Daniel froze. He was barely three years old when the Military Police had invaded Carandiru Prison, in So Paulo, and he hadn't watched Hector Babenco's movie, but his parents always talked about that fateful day with horror.One hundred and eleven deaths.The idea that a slaughter like that one could repeat itself now terrified Daniel. The shots seemed to be coming closer and closer. The roar of a helicopter got louder, and then started diminishing, as if the helicopter had got closer and gone away again. Suddenly, the bathroom curtain was pushed back by one, two, three bullets. Mephisto squeezed Daniel against the cupboard. They were shooting inside their shack through the slot of the hatch. When the shots stopped, Mephisto, without ever letting go of Daniel, loosened his grip. Daniel turned back and saw the curtain and the walls riddled with bullets. One of the bullets had hit the sink, cracking it. Shit. Are they killing everybody? asked Daniel, nearly hysterics. Keep cool. I'm freezing, man. I know. But hold on. They may come back. Many minutes passed by; the helicopter got close again. The smoke was getting thicker and darker. Finally, a strong, grave voice echoed in the shack. If there's anyone alive, come out naked and put your hands on the corridor wall. Mephisto released Daniel and started to undress. He took off everything, even his briefs, and walked out of the bathroom. Daniel imitated him and followed him across the shack. Mephisto opened the door. Two policemen were waiting for them at the door. One of them had a machine gun in his hand; the other one was holding a German shepherd by the collar.

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Put your hands on the wall, assholes! shouted the policeman with the machine gun. Mephisto obeyed, and Daniel too. Hey, Carlo, look at the faggot here, said the policeman to his partner. Isn't he the one who killed one of our fellows at a student protest? I'm going to beat the shit out of him. Daniel felt his knees weaken. Mephisto turned around to talk to the policeman. Leave him alone. The policeman violently kicked Mephisto's buttocks with his boot.Shut up, cocksucker. The policeman shoved Daniel against the wall, hit Daniel's shoulder with his nightstick and kicked his legs. Leave the boy alone, repeated Mephisto, struggling to face the policeman again. He's a protg of the Professor. He knows important people. If you don't stop now, you'll be in trouble. The policeman holding the dog said, Leave the faggots alone, Silas. We've got to take the rest of the scum from their shacks. Silas kicked Daniel in the middle of his back. The pain was so intense that Daniel howled and doubled over, falling on his knees. Mephisto knelt beside him and embraced him. Let's go, Carlo. As for you, said Silas to Daniel and Mephisto, you'vegot to go to the courtyard downstairs. If you're still here when we come back, I'm going to rip the guts out of you. Mephisto helped Daniel to stand up as the policemen walked to the Professor's shack. I'll help you. Come with me, said Mephisto. Daniel stumbled through the gallery, leaning on Mephisto, who kept murmuring words of encouragement. The worst is over. Let's go, Daniel. Going down the stairs with that terrible pain in his back was the most difficult part. Mephisto practically carried him through most of the way. On the fourth floor, a prisoner who was riddled by bullets, bleeding profusely, fell down before them. Dark clouds of smoke came from the galleries. On the flights of stairs from the third floor to the first floor, corpses were scattered and cascades of blood flowed down the steps. Some wounded convicts tried to run through the galleries, tripping and stumbling all over the place. One of them slid on the blood and fell down. A policeman pointed his machine gun to a group of prisoners and fired at them. Mephisto laid Daniel on the floor and covered him with his body, pretending they were dead. When the policeman walked away, Mephisto stood up and helped Daniel to get up again. Finally, they arrived at the central courtyard, where the surviving prisoners were being kept naked in the cold wind and seated in lines, with their arms crossed beneath their thighs and their head between

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their knees. The slightest move was violently punished by the policemen, who either hit the transgressors with their nightsticks or allowed the dogs to savage them. They stayed there for more than four hours, with the policemen and the excited dogs circling around them. A policeman kept hitting Daniel in the neck with his nightstick to force him to keep his head down. The only thought that comforted Daniel was that Mephisto was behind him, but the idea that the horror they had just gone through could start again terrified him. A police officer began to shout at a prisoner because the latter had moved. Out of the corner of his eye, Daniel saw the officer stick the bayonet in the prisoner's foot. The prisoner screamed, blood gushing from his foot. Darkness fell. The hot spots seemed to be under control, and the screams coming from inside the block became less frequent. At about 8 PM the prisoners were given permission to go back to their cells. The smell of burned and rotten flesh filled the air. Daniel dragged himself upstairs again, leaning on Mephisto. He needed medical care, but he knew there was no use in complaining: the Infirmary would be overcrowded with patients in a much worse state than he was. He just wanted to be back in their shack, go to bed and sleep it all away. As soon as they entered the shack, a policeman locked them inside. I'll take care of you, said Mephisto. I need to go to the bathroom. The shack was all messed up. The policemen must have searched the place for weapons and drugs. Everything was scattered around: thedinner they had stored to eat later; the food, clothes and books they kept on the shelves; their sheets and blankets. Mephisto moved things out of their way as they walked to the toilet. I'm okay, I can do it alone, said Daniel, embarrassed. All right, but if you need help, just call me. I'm going to look for your pajamas. When Daniel finished washing his hands, Mephisto had already found his pajamas and helped him to put them on. The sink cracked, but luckily it's not leaking, said Daniel. Don't worry about that, I'll fix that later. Hold on a little longer. I'll find you a painkiller. Eat some cookies, while you wait. Mephisto rescued a packet of chocolate cookies from a pile of things on the floor and handed it to Daniel. We didn't have dinner. I'm not hungry. Eat them anyway.

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Daniel was too drained to argue. He took a cookie and bit off a corner. Mephisto quickly located a pack of painkillers in the middle of the mess. He picked up a glass from the floor, washed it and filled it with water. As Daniel took the pill, Mephisto fumbled in the pile. Mephisto's bedspreads had been stained with bean broth, but Daniels sheets and blankets were apparently intact. Mephisto made the lower bed and helped Daniel to lie down. His back hurt so much when he lay down that he howled in pain. Mephisto covered him with the sheets and blankets; Daniel was shaking. What ab-bout you?Daniel managed to ask. D-did he hurt you badly? It was nothing, answered Mephisto as he dressed himself, putting on a pair of briefs and a jogging suit, and squatting beside Daniel's bed. Come to bed, said Daniel. You'll be more comfortable if you stay alone in bed. I don't want to hurt you. Besides, I have to clean and sort this mess. Daniel struggled to crawl closer to the wall so that Mephisto could fit beside him in bed. I'll feel better if you lie here with me. You can fix things later. What it matters is that we're alive. Daniel didn't have to insist. All right, said Mephisto. I'll join you in a minute. I've got to go to the bathroom. Less than two minutes later, Mephisto was slipping under the blankets beside him and carefully resting his arm on his waist. Daniel saw tears in Mephisto's eyes, and frowned. In reply to the silent question, Mephisto murmured, I couldn't protect you. I'll never forgive myself for that. You did what you could. You're not Superman. I'm going to get you out of here, Daniel. Mark my words. I'm going to get you out of here or my name isn't Vladimir Antunes de Souza. Daniel was surprised to find himself laughing, in spite of the hell they had just gone through. I had never heard your full name before. It's not a cool name like Mephisto, but it's the one on my ID. They stayed embraced in silence, eating chocolate cookies. Only then did Daniel venture to ask, Do you know what happened to the Professor?And Julinho?And the Oldie? No. I could only think of your safety. Tomorrow we'll know.

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10. Convalescence

In the morning, Mephisto prepared tea and helped Daniel to get up and sit on the stool. The shack was still a mess. Having breakfast in bed would be easier for you, but not in this bunk. Youd feel uncomfortable, said Mephisto. No problem. I think I didn't break any bones. Id take you to the Infirmary if they had an X-ray machine. As they dont haveone, that would only cause you more distress. Can't they send me to take an X-ray some place outside the prison? asked Daniel. They can, but you would need permission, and you know how bureaucracy is. That kind of permission never takes less than four days to be issued. Daniel lowered his head, feeling defeated. So that's it. They want us to die. Mephisto put the tea cup in front of Daniel. Drink your tea. You'll feel better. Daniel sipped his tea and bit into his buttered roll. Mephisto was right, to a point. The mere act of doing something routine like eating made him forget a bit about his personal problems. But he didnt feel any better, because he remembered the horrific slaughter they had witnessed. Did you know what happened to the others? When they unlocked the cells, you were sound asleep, so I went to the Professor's shack. Mephisto took a sip of his tea. He's feeling depressed, but he didn't suffer any physical injury. His shack was left untouched, too. When the cops saw his shack, they probably realized the Professor's not the kind of guy you should mess with. Mephisto held Daniel's hand. I'm sorry I couldn't prevent what happened to you. The Professor has a few contacts in the Military Police, but those cops who bullied us had probably never heard of him before. We should have thought of that before, you should have stayed in the Professor's shack and not with me, we... Daniel interrupted him. Vlado, it's okay. It's over. Feeling guilty won't do us any good. Tell me about the rest of the people. How is Julinho? Julinho's fine, but Alfeu caught a bad flu because of yesterday's cold wind. Julinho is taking care of

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him. One of our neighbors, Weasel, was shot in his shack. His cellmate, Top Secret, was bitten by one of the dogs and taken to a hospital. Thirty prisoners were killed and twenty prisoners were seriously injured. The Oldie fortunately managed to escape, along with Carrion and a lot of convicts from the fourth floor, and even some prisoners from other blocks. More than forty prisoners escaped. How did they manage to escape? Some people out there dug a tunnel from a house about 500 feetfrom here, using the existing sewer tunnels. The tunnel passed under the wall and ended in the back of the soccer field. The prisoners who knew of the plan pretended to be playing a match. The first convicts to enter the tunnel were the organizers of the escape, who were positioned at the edges of the field pretending to be watching the match. In the beginning, some prisoners formed a human wall so that no one could see what was happening behind them. But then an official figured it out, and the commotion started. Fuck... The official was hit with a board, and everyone ran to the tunnel, continued Mephisto. The convicts whose shacks had windows that overlook the field saw what was happening and ran downstairs to try to escape too. Umbelino and the officials tried to hold back the prisoners, but it was like trying to stop a tsunami. The number of people who escaped would have been bigger if people hadn't tried to enter the tunnel at the same time and two prisoners hadn't got stuck in the tunnel. Oh, my God!They must have been slaughtered. They were stabbed to death, but that was to no avail. The Military Police arrived before anyone could remove their corpses from there, said Mephisto, in a low, charged voice. Daniel squeezed Mephisto's hand between his. They were your friends? No. I have no friends here besides you and Lucifer. I liked the Oldie, and I like Umbelino and Garapa, but they aren't truly my friends. It's just that...it's a horrible death. Mephisto sighed. The Military Police arrived and... You saw what they did. The galleries and the staircase were covered with corpses. They shot everyone who was in their way. Some prisoners set fire to their shacks. Then the policemen started shooting everyone who was inside the shacks. They only stopped the massacre because the Professor used his cellphone to call the press and some politicians, and they pressured the Military Police to stop. Daniel pondered on the events Mephisto had just told him. You and the Professor knew what was going to happen. If you had warned the press and the politicians before... That would mean betraying the Oldie and the other convicts. Unacceptable. Daniel sighed. Mephisto was right. Shit. We're damned if we do and we're damned if we don't. That's how it is to be in jail. That's why you have to get out of here, said Mephisto determinedly.

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_________ The fear that the horror they had experienced could be repeated haunted Daniel. He couldn't sleep without painkillers. To make things worse, he also caught the flu that spread through the Detention House in the days that followed the massacre. His body and spirit were broken, and the hours he had spent naked in the courtyard under the cold wind had rendered him more vulnerable. For almost a week he had a high fever and stayed in bed. Besides sorting and cleaning the shack alone, Mephisto prepared special broths for him, gave him the medicines, and took care of him in every possible way. The Professor came to visit him every day, and Julinho would leave Alfeu for some minutes every afternoon to see Daniel. Other prisoners came to see him: Garapa, Vanessa, Lando (who was closely watched by Mephisto during all the time he spent in their shack) and, to Daniel's surprise, Master Bumblebee, who brought him some herbs that Mephisto used to make teas. The guaco tea was disgusting, even with honey, but put Daniel on his feet again, and Mephisto could leave the shack for some minutes to tend to the Professor's business. Mephisto came back at dinner time and told Daniel that the block was as silent and gloomy as a funeral. With thirty deaths, forty fugitives, twenty seriously injured convicts and dozens of sick prisoners, the galleries were deserted. Mephisto handed Daniel some papers he had brought with him: twomedical certificates, signed by Dr. Lopes, attesting that neither Daniel nor Mephisto were HIV-positive. Oh, great!Daniel was happy for Mephisto and, although he had never really believed he could be HIV-positive, for himself, but he also became tense. Mephisto gripped his shoulders tightly. Don't feel forced to do anything, Daniel. Everything's fine between us as it is, and it doesn't have to change. No! protested Daniel. I want to do it. But maybe this is not the best time... Of course it's not. You've been injured, and youre still in pain. Daniel embraced him. You're amazing, you know that? I know. But I'll only feel accomplished when I get you out of here. Tomorrow I'll have a serious talk with the Professor. You really want to get rid of me, don't you? Mephisto gently wrapped his arms around Daniel. It's not like I didn't want to have you with me forever. The problem is that this place is not safe for you. Mephisto stayed in silence for a few seconds, then pushed Daniel away a little to look into his eyes. A mischievous glint crossed his dark eyes. There are some other things we can do, now that we know that we both are safe... Daniel put an innocent face on.Really? Mephisto knelt before Daniel, pulled down his trousers and briefs, held the base of his cock, leaned

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closer and teasingly licked its tip. Daniel held Mephisto's head with both hands to keep him right there, but then he had a new idea. Vlado,let me do the same thing to you. Sixty-nine?I'm going to like that. Mephisto stood up. Let's go to bed, then. They undressed and lay side-by-side, head to crotch. Mephisto, who was the taller, had to curve his body a bit. I suppose you've never done this before. Never, answered Daniel. Be careful. Mind your teeth.Do as I'll do to you, but I'm bigger than you are. Don't choke yourself. The most sensitive parts are the head and the underside of the head, so you don't have to deep throat. Don't let me get too enthusiastic and go too deep. Oh, and you don't need to swallow, if I come into your mouth. Mephisto looked at him with a worried expression. If you don't want it, you don't have to do it at all. I want to, declared Daniel, loudly and proudly. They had been sleeping together for more than a month, and Daniel had grown accustomed to Mephisto's body, its smells, textures and tastes. The idea of sucking him wasn't unpleasant in the least. If you don't start it now, I'll start it first. Mephisto massaged Daniels balls in his hand, applying just the right pressure to make Daniel long for more. Then he held the base of Daniel's cock firmly, but without squeezing it. Daniel did the same thing to Mephisto. The mere idea that soon his cock would be into Mephisto's hot, wet mouth was enough to make him deliriously horny. They began to suck each other in unison. Daniel pulled down the foreskin with his lips and tried to imitate the skillfulness and gentleness with which Mephisto was sucking him. Daniel was intoxicated, dizzy with pleasure. Mephisto's cock throbbed against his tongue. It was getting more and more difficult to keep focused, and when Mephisto slipped a finger into his hole, Daniel didn't know where his body wanted to go: deeperinto Mephisto's mouth or farther onto his finger. Mephisto licked the head of Daniels cock, and Daniel jerked his hips forward desperately. Mephisto slid his lips down until Daniel could feel his tip hitting Mephisto's throat. Mephisto moved his hips back and forth in the same rhythm as he was sucking Daniel, faster and faster. Daniel realized he wouldn't last longer and closed his eyes, surrendering to the waves of pleasure sweeping over his body. When Daniel could breathe again, he felt eager to complete his mission. He held the root of Mephisto's cock, covered the head with his lips again, and then set up a rhythm, sliding up and down. He marveled when Mephisto's body contracted and a hot spurt of semen filled his mouth. Daniel swallowed the first spurt. It didnt taste bad. He had to pull his mouth away to breathe, but he kept licking and pumping as Mephisto emptied himself. Mephisto kissed the tip of his cock, and Daniel turned around in the bed to kiss his mouth, wanting to taste himself on Mephisto's lips.

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Mmm... murmured Mephisto appreciatively, between kisses. You seem to have healed well, brat. Daniel smiled. During the last few minutes, he had completely forgotten the pain in his back.

11. Parting Ways

The Professor called Daniel and Mephisto to his shack. They sat around the Professor's desk; Daniel in the armchair and Mephisto perched upon a stool. Daniel, even before the Military Police invasion our friend Mephisto was insisting that I should...activate my contacts to obtain your release. Now, after the invasion, hes been pestering me night and day. Mephisto rolled his eyes. Daniel sympathized with his companion's exasperation. He too was tired of the Professor's teasing. The question is, do you or dont you have any power to change this situation? Hmm... Maybe I have, maybe I have not. Nothing is simple. Can you stop beating around the bush and go straight to the point? insisted Daniel. Do you want something in return, I suppose. Mephisto stood up from his stool. Be careful, Lucifer, with what you're about to propose. I won't agree with anything that could put Daniel in any kind of... Calm down, man, said the Professor to Mephisto. I'm not going to ask Daniel to do anything that should disturb your sleep, or his. We'll see, said Mephisto, still on his feet. Ill be very sincere, Daniel. I cant promise you anything. We have a few contacts who act as 'process facilitators'... Process facilitators! repeated Daniel. Your terminology is fascinating, Professor. TheProfessorsmiled.Indeed.Bymeansof certain...stimuli...those process facilitators can act upon your behalf. If the conditions prove to be favorable, yourhabeas corpuspetition may be granted, and then you will be able to wait for your trial in freedom.

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Right, said Daniel. And that wasn't done before because? Maybe because there wasn't an interest? You and I are good friends, Daniel. It's not that I wasn't concerned about you. There are, however, many other prisoners in worse conditions than you are, and I try to tend to the most critical cases first. That was a rather cold approach, but Daniel understood the Professor's way of thinking. Perhaps in his place Daniel would do the same thing.All right. So, how can I contribute toaccelerate the process? asked Daniel, with dripping irony. Ill be very sincere: this process will incur a monetary cost, but I will not charge you for that. What Ill ask in return is a small favor. Mephisto crossed his arms in front of his body and glared at the Professor. Lucifer... Easy, Mephisto.As I told you, this is not anything that mightcause you stress. Daniel, all I want from you is that you learn to decipher a code. Ill teach you. A code. You're a very intelligent young man and will learn it easily. I will also show you a site on the Internet where Ill post a message when you leave prison. After you leave, all you need to do is enter this site on a day that Ill designate, decode the message, copy it on a piece of paper and take it to the place that will be specified in the message. Fine.It doesn't look difficult, said Daniel. You're a serpent, Lucifer, said Mephisto between gritted teeth. You didn't have to involve the boy in any of that. He's innocent, he's clean,he has never committed a crime. The Professor made an impatient gesture. Mephisto, your opinion has already been stated, and my decision has already been made. Now it's up to Daniel to decide. Mephisto shook his head, but kept silent. Daniel thought on the Professor's plan. It must be an important message, one that the Professor didn't find safe to send by cellphone, e-mail, post or a messenger. It might involve business, money... It seemed easy, but there might be risks involved. The Professor would be running risks, too, since Daniel would have to be released to be able to accomplish the plan. Either the Professor trusted him, or he didn't have any other alternative. Daniel could relate to that: he had no alternatives except to agree to the deal. When will our cryptography classes begin? The Professor smiled.Tomorrow. And don't worry: the 'facilitator' will be activated immediately. _________

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That night, Mephisto removed the mattress from the upper bed and put it on the floor, beside the set of bunk beds. Daniel didn't know what he intended to do, but could imagine it, and liked what he was imagining. Mephisto reached out for his hand; Daniel let himself be dragged onto the mattress, and lay down languidly. Mephisto held Daniel in his arms, exploring Daniel's body with deft hands, touching his most sensitive spots, eliciting the most pleasant sensations. Mephisto's smooth lips traveled down from his mouth to nibble at his earlobe. Daniel let a moan escape and held him tight, feeling vulnerable and eager for more. Moonlight crept through the window bars and bathed Mephisto's shoulders with a silver glow. Daniel was charmed, and once again wondered how he could have ever found Mephisto ugly. Mephisto turned Daniel face down and grazed his teeth on Daniel's neck, then licked his way down his spine. Daniel squirmed beneath him, his breath speeding up. The silky lips finally arrived at one of his buttocks, and not too sharp teeth plunged into the smooth flesh. Daniel couldn't hold back a cry of mild pain mixed with pleasure. Then Mephisto put him on all fours and separated his legs. Daniel saw Mephisto reaching out for the lube he had left on the lower bed, and took a deep breath, trying to relax. Mephisto gently inserted his forefinger between Daniel's buttocks, giving him time to get used to the feeling. Mephisto had done that many times before, had accustomed Daniel to the feeling of being penetrated by his fingers. Daniel told himself not to be afraid, and pushed back toward Mephisto. Mephisto's finger went deeper, probing, stretching him... When it touched his most sensitive spot, Daniel's body twitched. Mephisto added a second finger ever so gently, massaging him, preparing him. Leaning over Daniel's back, Mephisto licked the hollow of his neck as his free hand went to Daniel's chest to pinch one of his nipples. Daniel muffled a moan into the pillow when Mephisto removed his fingers. Daniel closed his eyes at the touch of Mephisto's cock against his cleft. It will hurt less if you push back against me, said Mephisto, clearly struggling to keep control, his voice husky and his breath uneven. Daniel bravely pushed backwards, and Mephisto plunged in. The first thrust was painful, but Daniel didn't want to stop. It had to work; he wanted it so much. I don't want to hurt you, Dan. Don't stop, said Daniel. You're so tight... Please. I want you, insisted Daniel. Mephisto thrust again, deeper, and Daniel started to like the feeling of having Mephisto inside him. It was uncomfortable, yet incredibly intimate. With each new thrust, Daniel felt tension building inside him, coiling tighter. Mephisto's hand closed

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around his cock, pumping it, speeding up until Daniel got lost in the rhythm of their joined bodies. It was as if they were melting together. Vlado... murmured Daniel, his heart hammering in his chest. Warm lips stroked Daniel's ear, making him shiver in pleasure. Daniel. They continued rocking together. Daniel felt Mephisto's cock throbbing inside him, and clenched his muscles. Mephisto let out a strangled moan. D-don't do that! Don't stop, was all that Daniel managed to say. Mephisto thrust inside again, harder, deeper, once, twice, and then a jolt of intense pleasure swept through Daniel. Then he felt Mephisto's warm seed filling him. The long spasm made Daniel's body buck, yet Mephisto's cock continued deep inside him. Daniel held Mephisto tight and they rocked together until the very end. Daniel was still floating on the clouds when Mephisto's hoarse voice came to him: Was it too horrible? Daniel opened his eyes and snuggled to his lover. It hurt in the beginning, but then it started to get better and better, and in the end, it was great. Who taught you that? What do you mean, 'that'? Since he was a child, Daniel had heard men talking of sex as a conquest, as a power play. In prison, this had reached a peak. It didn't matter whether it was hetero or gay sex, what it mattered was to takeadvantage, to dominate your partner and make him or her do as you wish. Who taught you to be so...unselfish? asked Daniel, uncertain about how to express himself. Ah. You want to know who taught me to be such a wonderfullover? Daniel laughed. Yes. I hope my answer doesn't shock you. Shock me? I was afraid of being jealous. I don't think you run this risk. I've never had a 'love of my life,' saidMephisto.At least not before you. Daniel closed his eyes again for a moment to savor those words.

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Then he opened them again, willing to face the truth, even if it could hurt him. Not even the guy who died of AIDS? A shadow clouded Mephisto's eyes. I was young. I was in love with him, it's true, but he had several lovers. Our relationship wasn't very good. Then who was the one who taught you? Mephisto looked tense, and his breath was labored. I learned with the whores, Daniel. Each one of them had different skills and different preferences. I didn't pay just for having pleasure, but to give pleasure, too. At first, Daniel found that creepy, and felt somewhat scared. Then the pieces of the Mephisto enigma started to fit into place and Daniel got even more scared when he realized how hard it must have been for Mephisto to have admitted that. Mephisto didn't take his eyes off him, as if waiting for his reaction. Daniel swallowed hard. I bet they couldn't believe how lucky they were. You find a guy who pays you and he's a wonderful lover, too? Unbelievable. Mephisto gave a shy, sleepy smile, weaved his fingers through Daniel's and, taking Daniel's hand to his lips,kissed his knuckles tenderly. Let's clean this mess up and go sleep in the bed. _________ The Professor waited until Daniel was comfortably seated in the armchair in front of his desk to ask, Did you know the prophet Daniel was also a cryptographer? No, I didn't! According to the fifth chapter of the book of Daniel, he decoded a message written on a wall of King Balthasar's palace: 'Men men tequl u-parsn.'The message refers to the end of King Balthasar's days. Indeed, Balthasar died moments after the message wasdeciphered. Will you teach me Daniel's code? Oh, no.Only the God of Israel could do that; I'm just a professor. The Professor's lips curled in an ironic smile. I will resort to a famous code. You probably heard about it: the Vigenre cipher. Oh, sure!BesidesThe Legacy of Ada Byron,by Sagdeev, I also readThe Da Vinci Code,by Dan Brown. And there's also a brief mention to Vigenre cipher in Umberto Eco'sFoucault's Pendulum. The Professor smiled. I knew you wouldn't disappoint me.Very well. Please explain to me how to build the Vigenre table.

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It's easy, said Daniel, visualizing the table in his head. First you have to write the whole alphabet in a row, from left to right, leaving the first square empty. After that, you do the same thing in the first column on the left. You write the alphabet from top to bottom, leaving that same square on the upper corner empty. Then you repeat the process, but without leaving any blank squares, starting from the A in the upper left corner, and you go on. You have to write out the alphabet twenty-six times in different rows, each alphabet shifted cyclically to the left compared to the previous alphabet. Perfect. I won't even ask you to demonstrate, since it's obvious that you know the procedure. Ill let you choose the keyword. Daniel thought for a couple of minutes, and then said, Lucifer. The Professor smiled again.Interesting. As no one calls me that except Mephisto, it looks good to me. Besides the keyword and the building of the table, there is only one other information that youll have to memorize: the address of the site where Ill post the message. Come closer and Ill show you where you can find it. Daniel circled the desk. The Professor typed a URL on his laptop and a password-protected page appeared on the screen. Youll have to memorize the password, too. Let's make it easier for you. The password will be my genus name in theEncyclopaedia Infernalis.Do you remember it? Psilocybe. Yes! Now choose an important year for you.An important historical year, for instance. 1968? Ah... It's a rather obvious password, isn't it? But we can reverse the numbers: Psilocybe8691. I will not change the password yet, for security reasons. Ill only do that when the moment to post the message comes. Do you think you can memorize both the password and the address? asked the Professor. Daniel read the URL on the address bar: http://panopti.com. He laughed.Very clever. I chose a symbolism no one but the two of us would understand. Great. I won't forget. Don't worry. Just one more detail. Ill have to include digits in the message. Ill write the numbers as words, but you should rewrite them as numbers, warned the Professor. You will understand when you decode the message. All right. Then it's a deal. As soon as you are informed of your release, Ill ask you the site URL and the password, to check if you haven't forgotten them. Only then will we schedule the day when I will post the message.

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_________ Two weeks after the Professor had activated his process facilitator, one of the jailers, Fontana, knocked on Mephisto and Daniel's door. Fontana, who was replacing Josiah since the latter had been sent to another block due to Mephisto's complaints, told Daniel the General Director wanted to see him in his office. Fontana had been sent to escort Daniel there. He'll probably notify you that you'll be released, said Mephisto. With some trepidation and anticipation, Daniel followed Fontana to the exit of the block. Then they crossed the Garden of Eden, passed the sentry box and entered the Administration block in complete silence. The Administration block was as unsophisticated as the other blocks, but its walls had been recently painted, which gave the building a cleaner and brighter look. They walked through a corridor lined with office doors until Fontana halted and knocked at one of them. The General Director, Mr. Alencar, the same director who had talked to Daniel when Daniel had arrived in the Detention House, shook Daniel's hand and congratulated him: his writ ofhabeas corpus had been granted, and he would leave the Detention House tomorrow. As Daniel walked back to his shack, uneasiness took hold of him. In spite of the misery and fear he had faced on daily basis, it wasn't going to be easy to leave his friends: the Professor, Master Bumblebee,Julinho ... As for Mephisto, Daniel didnt even want to think about it. He wasn't sure he could live without Mephisto. Of course he would come to visit him whenever he could, but it wouldn't be the same thing. Besides, he feared for Mephisto's safety in prison. Daniel entered the shack with his heart heavy, and confirmed the news to Mephisto. Mephisto tried to show firmness.Very well. That lifts a weight off my heart. You have to promise me that you'll carry on with yourlife, that you'll go back to college and forget all about this nightmare of a place. Daniel knew him well and could read behind the apparent harshness of those words. Vlado, I'll never, ever forget you. There's no way I'll stop coming here. You're saying that now, because our relationship was important for you while you were here. When you get out, everything will change. And that's a good thing. You're still going to court. The less contact you have with prisoners, the better. Forget it, okay? This is not going to happen. As soon as they give me permission, I'll be here, visiting you, said Daniel. I won't delude myself. Mephisto poured a cup of tea for himself and sipped it. There are thousands of girls waiting for you outside. In the beginning, you may miss me, but one day you'll be ashamed of what we had here. You won't understand why you ever felt attracted to an old pile of bones like me. Daniel came close to Mephisto and wrapped an arm around his waist sideways. This time you're wrong. First, because I'm not the kind of guy who jumps into bed with the first girl he sees. Ive always

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been very picky. But it's more than that. You're wrong because I changed a lot in this place. You don't think I can get out now and talk to my old friends as if nothing had happened, do you? They won't understand it, no matter how hard they try. Someone who didn't go through this experience can't understand. What we both have here is more important than anything else in my life. I believe you're sincere, but this will change with time, stated Mephisto. You're right: people out there have a different perception of time and space, and can't understand the way we live here. But when you get out,youwill be one of those who are out there, andyour perception of time and space, let alone your social perceptions, will start diverging from mine. What a bad time for you to embody the Professor! A pale smile hovered over Mephisto's face. Only you and the Professor are allowed to philosophize? Vlado, I can't deny that what you said makes sense. Maybe we need to be prepared for that, prepared to try to overcome this...asynchrony that may grow between us. But it's also true that I don't want to lose you, said Daniel. And you offend me by not believing my sincerity, or the depth of our relationship. His hand shaking, Mephisto smoothed Daniel's hair.All right. Let's not talk about that now. There's something else I want to tell you. Daniel stared at Mephisto solemnly. I don't want you to go back to that Adonis. I don't want you to be with any whore, prison wife, transvestite or whatever. I want you to promise you'll be faithful. Mephisto's lips curled in a sad smile. I promise, he said, finally returning Daniels embrace. Do you promise you won't share your shack with anyone? I'd rather live alone. Right now, there are many vacant shacks, because of the escape and the massacre. The General Director requested a meeting tomorrow with the Professor to discuss the occupation of the vacant shacks, so soon there will be some changes. I can't promise I won't share my shack with anyone, because I don't know what might happen. I can only promise you I'll be faithful... Mephisto gave a sardonic smile ...even if they put Mick Jagger in my shack. Mick Jagger is senile and decrepit. He's not your type. Then Orlando Bloom. Daniel laughed, and then got serious again. You can't live without sex. Don't think that I don't know. Mephisto frowned. Don't forget that you were the one who crawled into my bed the first time, not the other way round. Yes, but you were having fun with your Adonis and who knows who else.

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Mephisto made an impatient gesture. We had this talk before. If you think I can't keep my pants on, you're wrong. I know I may look like a sex maniac when I'm with you, but...you're not much different... That is the problem. Besides being a sex maniac, you...er...you make other people become sex maniacs, too. Mephisto laughed. I'm feeling like a Sex God. I'm flattered, but I believe you have aslightlydistorted view on this because...well, because you're crazy for me. Conceited, are we? said Daniel, struggling not to lose his focus and failing miserably because Mephisto had brought his face closer and was nibbling his earlobe. I'm crazy for you, too. I don't want to fight. You're leaving tomorrow morning. I want you to carry with you good memories of your last day here. So let's talk to the Professor now, and then we can come back here and spend the rest of the day... ...in bed, finished Mephisto. _________ The Professor embraced Daniel warmly. I'm very glad for you. Well miss you. This place will feel empty without you. A knot formed in Daniel's throat. I'll miss you, too. But I'll come visit you every week. I was thinking, said the Professor, looking at Mephisto. I'll add Daniel to the list of my visitors. This way hell be able to come sooner than if you, Mephisto, ask to add him, because you don't even have a visitors list. You know how the bureaucracy is. If I include Daniel in my list, he will probably be allowed to come...not next weekend, because today is Thursday already...but on the weekend after. Mephisto nodded. He had apparently given up convincing Daniel not to come back to visit. Thank you, said Daniel. Mephisto, can you please leave us alone for a moment? The Professors imperative tone made it sound more like an order than a request. Mephisto narrowed his eyes at the Professor and stormed out the shack without saying another word. The Professor gestured to Daniel to sit in the armchair, and when Daniel complied, he sat behind his desk. Let's talk about our plans, Daniel. Do you remember that site that I showed you? I want you to enter there next Monday morning, at 9 AM. Dont prepare anything in advance. Dont write the table on your computer. When the time comes, you may write the table on a piece of paper, or use a table printed in a book, if you can find one. After you enter the site and find the message, print it on a paper-sheet. When you finish decoding it, burn the pieces of papers where you wrote the table and the original message.Discreetly. Right.Next Monday morning.

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Ill keep the message online for about two hours, until 11 AM. Okay. As for the place you should take the message to, youll find out its address only when you decode the message, but I myself will inform the receiver of the message of the place and time. You don't need to worry about such details. You wont meet the receiver. You just have to take the decoded message to the right place in the right time, as indicated in the message. It's a deal. Do you live near the center of the city? asked the Professor. About ten minutes by car, why? Nothing important.Do you want to give me your home phone number, so that I can call you? If you prefer not to, Ill understand. I think it's better if I call you. From a public phone, said Daniel. Smart boy.Just don't talk about business.Only pleasantries. Sure. The Professor embraced Daniel again. Now go back to your shack and take care of Mephisto. He's trying to put up a tough face, but deep inside he's feeling miserable. He's going to miss you a lot. I know. Do you agree with him, that I'm going to change and stop coming here, after some time? The Professor shrugged. We and you will not be sharing the same experiences. Youll be in a totally different place. Youll enter a new flow of time. Youll have new socializing patterns. All those factors are very strong, Daniel. But only time can answer your question. Daniel sighed. Thank you for everything, Professor. _________ Daniel went to Julinho's shack to tell him the news. Much to his displeasure, Alfeu was there. Julinho was glad to see him, but sad because he was going to miss his friend. Daniel promised he would come to visit him every week. When Daniel was about to leave, Alfeu approached him. I would like to thank you for the friendship you showed to Julio while you were here. I want you to know that, although I did it at the Professor's request, I wouldn't have helped with the Courts legal procedures if it weren't for the affection Julio has for you and, I believe, that you have for him, too. Daniel stood there, speechless, for a few seconds. So Alfeu was the process facilitator the Professor had activated? Daniel struggled to recompose himself. I didn't know it was you. Thank you. Daniel held out his hand to Alfeu, who squeezed it so strongly that Daniel bit his lip not to scream in pain. We'll see each other tomorrow morning again, said Daniel to Julinho, before stepping out of the door.

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Back to his shack, Daniel inquired Mephisto, Why didn't you and the Professor tell me Alfeu was my 'process facilitator'? Alfeu told you?Son of a bitch. He wasn't supposed to tell anyone. Ah, so that's the way things are. It's the strangers who come to tell me things about me, because my friends don't tell me anything! You know very well that I don't want you involved in these things. Daniel sighed and sat down on the stool, feeling tired and confused. At the end of the day, I don't think Julinho's life is much different from most womens lives out there. That doesn't excuse Alfeu, but it makes me see things from a different point of view. Daniel shook his head. I think you're right. It's time for me to go, because I'm beginning to accept even people like Alfeu. If I stay here longer, even Shadow will start looking human to me. Mephisto ran his hand through Daniel's hair, which was already long enough to be messed up by Mephisto's caresses. _________ On the last night they spent together, Mephisto let Daniel top. They made love face-to-face, Mephisto with his legs on Daniel's shoulders. It was as if Mephisto could top from the bottom, leading the action, pulling Daniel toward his body, setting up a slow and comfortable rhythm, engulfing Daniel in a sea of bliss. They held hands, and a thrill of happiness ran through Daniel. Oh, if they could be like that for ever! He noticed he was completely inside Mephisto now. He pulled out a bit then thrust back in, over and over, running his free hand across Mephisto's chest and playing with his nipples. Mephisto took one of Daniel's fingers into his mouth and sucked it, flicking his tongue softly over it, and started clenching his buttocks around Daniel's cock in a way that made Daniel see stars. Daniel let out a muffled gasp and his next thrust was totally out of control. Mephisto groaned in pleasure, and Daniel let himself go, oblivious to everything else. They moved together, their bodies uniting and separating and uniting again in a frantic dance. Now Daniel was thrusting so hard and so deep that their chests were touching. Vlado... Yes, Dan... That's it. Right there... And Daniel felt pleasure growing inside both of them, every part of their bodies tensing. He shoved deep inside and stayed there, his cock emptying itself inside Mephisto. His heart was still beating unevenly when he lay down beside his lover. Mephisto stroked his face silently.

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_________ In the morning, the Professor gave a farewell party for Daniel, withpastisand sodas from Garapa's pastelaria.All the capoeira students were there. Master Bumblebee, who was deeply moved, made Daniel promise he wouldn't stop practicing. Julinho embraced Daniel with tears in his eyes. Daniel promised he would come to visit everyone. At 8 AM, Fontana, the jailer, came to fetch him. Daniel gave Mephisto a last embrace. Take care, brat, whispered Mephisto in his ear. I'll come back as soon as I can, said Daniel. Fontana took Daniel to the Administration, where he signed his release papers. When the bureaucratic formalities were done, Daniel was escorted to the clothes room, where he was given back the clothes he was wearing when he had been arrested.

12. Decisions

The reunion with his mother, father and sister at the gates of the Detention House was full of tears and embraces. Daniel felt weird. When he arrived home, everything seemed alien to him. It didn't feel like he had gone back to the past; it felt like he had come back to a world that wasn't his. It was going to be difficult to get used to life outside prison. His parents' and sister's questions embarrassed him. He didn't feel like telling his prison experiences to anyone. No one would understand. He knew, however, that it was important to make them realize that those experiences hadn't been completely negative, that there had also been a rich, positive side to them. He knew he would have to tell them about Mephisto, one day. Not everything, of course, but at least a part of what they had shared. So he tried to mention as many interesting, creative aspects of his life in prison as he could remember: the Professor's library; Daniel's discussions with the Professor; the capoeira and weightlifting classes; the Oldie's funny, fantastic stories. At first he found it hard to tell those stories to his family, but gradually the affection he felt for those he had recently left behind dominated him; his words started flowing more naturally, and he hoped he was sounding more convincing. It wasn't easy to talk about Mephisto, though. How could he tell his family the way Mephisto had protected him, cared about him? It was a minefield. Daniel just told them he had got along very well with his cellmate, who was a generous, intelligent man, and also a good cook. When Daniel revealed his intention of visiting his prison friends on Saturdays, his parents didn't like the idea, but he was of age, and they had never interfered in his life.

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On his first night without Mephisto, Daniel drowned in grief. He missed the warmth of Mephistos body, the touch of his hands,the smell of his skin.Daniel's clean, cozy bedroom and his sheets smelling of lavender nothing comforted him. He almost panicked at the thought that he would have to live without Mephisto for the rest of his life. The only idea that soothed him was that he could spend the next days thinking of the steps he would have to take to meet Mephisto again in a few days, and focusing on the action. On Monday morning, as he had promised the Professor, Daniel turned his computer on, entered the Internet and went to the panopti.com site. He typed the password, Psilocybe8691, and was given access to the page. There itwas, the coded message! Daniel printed it, left the site and cleared his browsing history. In a few minutes, Daniel decoded the first lines: Harmony Park bathrooms, last stall on the left.Under the loose tile on the window sill.July 3.At noon. It would be a piece of cake. Harmony Park was located midway between Daniel's house and the center of the city, and he used to pass by there quite often. July 3 was tomorrow, Tuesday. There was no time to lose. It took him more than one hour to decode the whole message, whichwas fifteen lines long. It was a chemical formula probably the formula of the hallucinogenic drug the Professor had created. The digits the Professor had mentioned in their last conversation were the indices of the elements. Daniel didn't want to memorize the formula. He put the piece of paper with the message in a locked drawer. The next morning, Daniel told his parents he was going to take a walk in the park, and then have lunch downtown and do some shopping. It wasn't a lie; he did exactly what he told them he would. At eleven thirty, he caught the bus. Five minutes later, he got off at the Harmony Park stop. The vastness of the horizon, the variety of colors and the sunshine dazzled him. He walked to the lake shore and sat down on a stone bench by the lake. A flock of white geese was gliding across the lake; a few ducks were sitting along the shore. Two white herons swooped gracefully across the blue sky. Daniel thought of Mephisto. Oh, how he wished Mephisto was there! It would be wonderful if they could simply walk along the lake together! At five to noon, Daniel entered the bathroom. He took his time, pretending to be washing his hands until the appointed stall became vacant. Then he strolled to the end of the corridor and went through the door on the left end. He closed the door and turned to the window. As the window was set high on the wall opposite to the door, he had to climb up on the toilet to reach the window sill. Then he located the loose tile and placed the folded piece of paper under it. He used the toilet, washed his hands, and stepped out of the bathroom. Feeling accomplished, he passed through the Harmony Park gates and walked toward downtown. He had lunch at one of his favorite restaurants, a Japanese sushi bar. He had missed sushi and sashimi in prison. He wondered if Mephisto liked Japanese food. They had seldom talked about things they couldn't get in prison;

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neitherhe nor Mephisto liked to talk about inaccessible things. He knew Mephisto liked lasagna and feijoadabecause those were dishes they could make in prison, buying products in the small market run by the prisoners or clipping the beans included in the meals they were given. He also knew Mephisto's favorite fruit and cookies. After lunch, Daniel went shopping things for Mephisto: a jar of peanut butter, a box of chocolates, a new bath towel,wool slippers to keep his feet warm... (He loved Mephisto's feet, his slender toes, and the high curve of his arch.) He wouldn't have to buy Mephisto a coat: Daniel had left him one of his own. He had also left his sheets and blankets. On Wednesday, Daniel went downtown again and called the Professor from a public phone. The Professor told him that Mephisto was fine, and that Daniel had to go to the Ministry of Justice to get the visitation permit. Daniel was lucky, for the Ministry was just a few blocks away. On Thursday, Daniel couldn't hold himself back anymore. He missed Mephisto so much that it hurt. He called the Professor in the morning and asked to talk to Mephisto. The Professor told him to call again in five minutes. When Daniel did that, Mephisto answered the phone. Hello? Hi, Vlado.How are you? I'm fine. Are you okay? Yes...Except that... I miss you.A lot. There was silence for a while, and then Daniel spoke again, Vlado? I miss you too, brat. Daniel let out his breath, relieved. I'm coming to see you on Saturday. I've got the visitation permit. Do you need anything? No. Just you, answered Mephisto, his voice hoarse and uneven. I'll bring chow, okay? As long as youre the dessert, said Mephisto. It was a private joke between them, since Daniel had disclosed to Mephisto what Josiah had told him on Daniels first day in the Detention House. Vlado, I'm in the middle of Independence Square, surrounded by a crowd. If you keep talking to me like that, with that sexy voice of yours, I'll disgrace myself, warned Daniel. Take care, brat. Don't worry about me. See you on Saturday, then. _________ On the weekend, with the visitation permit and a giantjumboin his hands, Daniel returned to the

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Detention House. He knew how long the wait in line could be, so he arrived a few minutes before 7 AM, when the guards would start letting the visitors in (visiting hours were from 7 AM to 4 PM). The line was already long. There were dozens of poor women carrying babies in their arms and surrounded by toddlers. Some of them had brought folding chairs and were comfortably seated. Others were talking cheerfully while their children played together. Daniel put thejumboon the ground and braced himself for a long wait. Two hours later he was allowed in. He had to submit to a search, like everybody else. The official who searched him was Sarar. The blond official joked about Daniel being Mephisto's chicken and made a point of touching and groping every inch of Daniel's body. He even probed Daniel's suitcase, bragging that he wouldn't let any safe12 getin. Daniel endured the humiliation with a stoicism he wouldn't have been capable of a few months ago. The Professor received him in the Garden of Eden. Welcome, Daniel! I knew youd be able to fulfill the mission I entrusted you, and that youd come to visit us. Fulfilling the 'mission' you entrusted me was easier than being searched at the entrance here, complained Daniel. I know. You must have arrived early. My son is still in the line, I believe. Daniel wondered if all the visitors suffered the same treatment he had been subjected to. He shivered when he thought that his parents might have had to go through that. He didn't want to discuss the details with the Professor, so he just said, It's not a pleasant experience. What you did will be very important for me and Mephisto when we get out of here, said the Professor, in a low voice. I'm not planning to carry on with my old business. Let's say that I sold my...project...for a considerable sum. Oh, that's great. Do you think you two can live on it for the rest of your lives? I believe so. I have already opened a few companies that are being run by people I trust. When we get out of prison, Ill hire Mephisto and pay him a good salary. I see... I hope everything turns out well. Speaking of Mephisto... Oh, of course.You must be as eager to see him as he is to see you. He's so tense that he didn't even have lunch. Nah, you're exaggerating. He didn't have lunch because I told him I was going to bring something. The Professor narrowed his eyes at him.All right, but I know my friend, and I know when he's tense. Come with me. Let's go inside and upstairs. Is that allowed? I have already talked to the Cleaners. Officially, youre my guest, but in reality youll spend the day in Mephisto's shack.

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Can't we get in trouble for that? I don't think we will, but yes, we can. Well only be safe when Congress recognizes the right to same sex unions. Then youll be able to request intimate visits. In some Argentinian and Mexican prisons, homosexual prisoners are already entitled to intimate visits. Three months ago, the lesbian convicts of a female prison of So Jos do Rio Preto, in So Paulo State, were given permission to receive intimate visits. But here in the Detention House the old, stupid rules are still in place. Until the law changes, we have to do things our way... _________ As Daniel entered the block, the foul smell of the Detention House surrounded him. He found it odd that in just nine days he could have become unused to that smell. The idea that he was already changing and that soon he would have adapted to the life outside made him feel even worse. The Professor left him in front of Mephisto's shack, and Daniel went through the door with his heart pounding in his chest. Mephisto's somber expression brightened the moment his eyes fell upon Daniel. They made their way to each other into the narrow shack and embraced. Daniel melted into his arms. That was where he belonged. He would never get unused tothat. They undressed each other on their way to bed, between kisses and caresses. Nine days of abstinence made them more passionate than ever, but Mephisto surprised him, enfolding him in his tenderness. Mephisto kissed his eyelids, traced his lips with his forefinger, and brushed his knuckles on Daniels face. He made Daniel moan by nibbling his earlobe the way Daniel most liked. His pointy, wet tongue circled Daniel's nipples, as if avoiding them, and trailed a wet line down his chest to his navel, which Mephisto lapped and licked thoroughly. Daniel marvelled when Mephisto caught his hand in his own and sucked his fingers one by one. Then Mephisto knelt at his feet on the bed and did the same to his toes. Daniel was hard as a rock, and Mephisto hadn't even touched any of Daniels strictly erotic parts. Mephisto rolled him onto his stomach and massaged his shoulders, then his back and, finally, his buttocks. When skillful fingers slithered between his cheeks, Daniel stopped breathing for a while. Mephisto lay on top of him, and Daniel could hear his heart and his lovers beating wildly together. Daniel turned over beneath him, and the shock of their naked bodies meeting face to face was so strong that they both groaned at the same time. Mephisto played with his nipples for a long while, biting, licking, sucking, and pinching them mercilessly. Daniel took his time, too, letting lips and tongue explore the texture of Mephisto's chest. He tugged at a few hairs with his teeth, and heard a sharp gasp. While he was busy up there, his hand was exploring Mephisto's stomach, the fine line of hairs leading downwards. Mephisto shifted just slightly, trying to urge Daniel's hand lower, and started preparing Daniel with his long, lube-covered fingers. Daniel obligingly let his fingers curl around the hard cock, and gently pulled back the foreskin. Mephisto hissed. I want you now.

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I'm ready, Vlado. Mephisto spread a layer of lube on his erect cock and, not wasting time, put Daniel's legs on his shoulders and entered him smoothly. Daniel was so excited that he almost came immediately. Mephisto stayed motionless for some time. Oh, please, said Daniel. Then Mephisto started moving again, very slowly, and cupped Daniel's cock as he thrust in. He pulled out almost completely and angled his next thrust slightly; Daniel felt a shock of pleasure run through him, and pushed back again. Another thrust, even deeper. You feel so good, Dan. Mephisto withdrew and shoved back in fully. It feltincredible, Mephistos cock filling him over and over and his smooth hand pumping him, thumb rubbing over the tip of Daniels cock. Daniel felt himself tensing, sensations building up in him until he was gasping with need. The hand on his cock sped up a fraction; the thrusts shifted angle yet again, sending ecstasy spinning through him. He abandoned himself to the amazing sensation of their bodies joining as one. Mephisto kept his slow pace, making love to him until both came together. Daniel wanted to say something to Mephisto, but words failed him. Then he noticed Mephisto was staring at him with a concerned look. Did I hurt you? asked Mephisto. Daniel snuggled up to him.On the contrary. This time it was like... I don't know how to explain. It felt like we were as one. Mephisto smiled and embraced him as if he would never let him go. You have no idea how I missed you. Before you arrived in prison, I lived here alone. I slept alone, and I liked it. But I've grown so accustomed to your presence that, when you left, this place became unbearable. The only way I could stand it was pretending you were here with me. I spent the last nine days talking to an imaginary Daniel. The sheets you left... I didnt have them washed until yesterday. Your smell in the sheets comforted me at night. Oh... Daniel was left speechless for a while. No one had ever told him anything so sensually and physically romantic. I, too, imagined you were in my bed at night. I missed you a lot, but I didn't lose hope. I knew I'd come back. You told your parents? About us?Not yet. I'll try to tell them slowly, gradually. I have already convinced them that it was important for me to come visit my prison friends. What if the Ministry hadnt given you permission to come? Ah, I'd kill a policeman for real, so Id get arrested again!

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Mephisto shook his head,then laughed, and Daniel laughed too. Then Mephisto peeked inside thejumboDaniel had left beside the bunk. Have you gone insane? Who paid for all that? If you keep spending your father's money on me like that, what will they think of me? Mephisto's reaction frightened Daniel. He realized Mephisto was right, to a certain point, but he hadnt expected that reaction. Daniel had only wanted to make Mephisto's life more comfortable. Mephisto put thejumbodown and took Daniel's face between his hands. I'm sorry. I'm such a jerk. I didn't want to make you sad. I liked everything you brought.Especially the slippers. Daniel felt relieved, but also a bit embarrassed. Do you think that giving you wool slippers is too gay? Mephisto laughed.Extremely gay. But theyre black, your favorite color. Theyre discreet and elegant, objected Daniel. Oh, but the mere fact that you thought of giving me slippers is gay. Daniel shrugged and cuddled up against Mephisto again. I'm going to find some kind of job next semester, and earn my own money. Don't do that. If you can live off your parents,do it until you finish your studies. As I couldn't attend classes this semester, I won't be able to enlist in most second semester subjects. The first semester subjects are prerequisites to almost all the second semester ones, explained Daniel. I can work as a freelancer, proofreading, revising and editing books and articles for publishers and newspapers. It will be good for me. It seems like a good idea. But don't spend too much money on me. You may not believe me, but this is not a happy ending for you, saidMephisto gravely. Why? You're going to be released in eight or nine months. Of course I can be convicted, and that would be bad, but I learned a lot while I was here, I think I can survive.If you come to visit me every weekend. I'll never leave you alone here. If you're imprisoned again, I'll manage to come back. But that's not what I meant. What I meant was that even if Im released, if you stay with me you'll see that I'll never be a free man, in spite of what Lucifer might tell you. Lucifer is an optimist. He believes he has guaranteed our future. But everything he has was built with illicit money. So, even when I'm out of prison, my past will never leave me. Why did the Professor become an acid dealer? Mephisto shrugged. He said he got tired of working for people who ignored or underestimated his work. Hes a genius. The universitys bureaucracy and low salaries weighed in his decision, but I believe that, deep inside, he enjoys the game, the challenge of doing forbidden things. He likes being in control

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and manipulating people. Hes different from me in that respect. He enjoys the risk, while Id live a square life, if I could. But you run more risks than he, objected Daniel. Yes, but I dont do that for pleasure. I do that because once you join, theres no way out. Thats why Ive always told you not to get involved. Do you repent for what you did? As a drug dealer, I mean. No, Father Daniel, I do not repent. I had to survive somehow. I didnt have many chances. And people have always used drugs, since time immemorial. It's natural for us humans to try to reach other dimensions. We want to open doors to worlds we can't access with our usual five senses. It's true that it's dangerous, and not everyone has the maturity or the mental stability to deal with the drug effects. That's why I'd never sell crack or heroin. Pot is a light drug, less dangerous than many legal drugs. I myself like to smoke a joint now and then. As for acid, I only took it three times. You know I'm a control freak. I don't like drugs that take my control away. Mephisto looked at Daniel fixedly. All right, Father Daniel, I confess. Sometimes I questioned myself about that, about selling a drug that I myself couldn't deal with. That's one of the reasons why I encouraged Lucifer when he started researching Serendipity. Serendipity? That's what we called the hallucinogen that Lucifer created. It was still a secret... We weren't exactly advertising it, because, although he had tested its effects on mice, on himself and on some of the people who worked for him, there was still a chance that the drug had a different effect in other people. Why did you encourage him to create Serendipity? Because it was a lighter drug thanLSD, and because I personally liked its effects. Serendipity enhances your capacity to establish relationships between different things, or facts. It makes you more lucid, more open to new ideas, explained Mephisto. At least that was how I felt every time I took it, and from what Lucifer told me, the same happened to him. How interesting!I almost regret the fact that he has sold the formula. Mephisto frowned. Lucifer sold the formula, but I'm sure he didn't forget it. If he manages to get out of here, he'll be able to make it for home consumption. I'm not sure I like the idea of you trying Serendipity, but we may talk about it, one day, if the possibility arises. It will be great, the three of us out there, and you and I together. Daniel became thoughtful. There's something I don't understand. If you don't repent for your past sins, said he, with a sarcastic edge, why do you hate so much the idea of using illicit money? I'm getting old. I don't want to be arrested again, and I wouldn't like to see you involved in anything illegal. Can't you start over again by yourself, without getting involved in Lucifer's business?

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Mephisto shook his head.An ex-convict?An ex-dealer? You're delusional. Maybe there's a way. Maybe I can help you. Anyway, I don't care. I accept you as you are, with your past and all the problems it may bring to us. Life is never perfect. I can be half your age, but I figured that out already. Daniel stroked Mephisto's hair. What there is between us is more important than a perfect life. This is the most beautiful thing anyone ever said to me, brat. _________ They had fun taking bath together, and Mephisto dried Daniel with his new towel. Then Mephisto reheated the lasagna Daniel had brought, opened a bottle of wine the Professor had given them to celebrate Daniel's first visit, and they had lunch. Afterwards, Daniel tried to find his other friends in the block, but most of them were with their relatives or out of their usual placeson visiting days, everything was different in prison. He found Julinho with his mother and sisters in the Garden of Eden. Julinho bounced happily when he saw Daniel and embraced him warmly, but had to divide his attention between Daniel and his relatives. Daniel felt sad when he realized it would be difficult to keep in touch with his former friends in the Detention House. Maybe it was best this way, though. The fewer people he had to meet, the more time he could devote to Mephisto. Daniel returned to Mephisto's shack, and they spent the rest of his visiting time in bed. There was always the Professor, too. Daniel couldn't and wouldn't ignore him. A few minutes before the end of visiting time, Daniel went looking for him. Peeking through the open door of the Professor's shack, Daniel saw him working on his laptop. Have your people already left? The Professor raised his eyes at him and smiled. I sent everyone away, hoping that you might want to see me before leaving. You and I didn't even have time to talk! Daniel sighed, still at the Professor's door. I wish I could stay until tomorrow. Oh, come in just for a minute, I want to show you something. The Professor walked to his desk, circled it and typed something on his laptop keyboard. Then he turned the screen to Daniel. I haven't done the drawing yet, but the text is here. Daniel read: Lampanyctusphotophagus.A small lantern fishwho lives in the abyssal zone of the ocean. Feeds off the light of other organisms, but strangely the other organisms are not deprived of light because of that. TheLampanyctus photophagusbecomes more and more brilliant and illuminates everything around it. Who's that? asked Daniel, intrigued.

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It's you, of course! Me? Wow, thank you, but I'm just a brat, as Mephisto says. No, you don't fool me. You're a monster. Everyone I included in myEncyclopaedia Infernalisis a monster. You think we're all monsters? Monsters, or dark angels, if you prefer.Those beings who try to make their weirdest dreams come true and who let themselves be guided by the delirious pleasure of those dreams. You're poetic today. Did Mephisto read my entry? Not in its definitive form. But he unknowingly helped me to compose it. How come? The Professor rested his hands on the desk and stared at Daniel, who had seated in the armchair. When you left, everything became dull, colorless. When I saw Mephisto the day after your departure, I was scared by the darkness I saw in him, and asked him, 'Was our life that gloomy before Daniel arrived, and we didn't notice it?' And he answered, No. He arrived and very slowly, he started brightening our lives. We got used to his light, and now that he's gone, we're in complete darkness. Daniel's eyes stung with unshed tears. You like him a lot. I'm glad that he has you. The Professor smiled. Aren't you jealous? Oh, a little.But it's good to know that he has someone who understands him. The Professor covered Daniel's hand with his. Don't worry. I'll do my best to protect our dark angel, and I'm sure hell protect me, too. Speaking of the devil, hes waiting for you at the door, said the Professor in a low voice, gesturing toward the door with his head. But I would like to escort you to the exit gates. After all, you are my visitor, officially, added the Professor with a mischievous glint in his eyes. And Daniel walked to the gates of the Detention House escorted by his two dark angels. He could not imagine a better escort, and he was confident that the same scene would be repeated over and over again in the next months. He hoped he could convince Mephisto as soon as possible that the bond formed between them would last forever.

A. J. MIRAGis a Brazilian writer, and an English/Portuguese, French/Portuguese translator. She lives a calm life in So Paulo, the busiest city of the country.Clippingsisher first novella. You can write to A. J. Mirag at ajmirag@gmail.com.

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Notes:

1 A very strong, almost toxic, disinfectant. 2 The jailer's nickname, "Sarar," is the name given by Brazilians to mixed-blood people with tight curly blond (or red) hair, light skin, blue (or green) eyes, broad nose, and thick lips. 3 A dish made with manioc flour. 4 A kind of samba played in parties. 5 It can be translated as "swing", but it's more than that. "Ginga" is a form of personal expression and style. 6 Capoeira is played in aroda,which is a circle of participants. 7 To apply (or to give) arasteirais "to trip somebody up. 8 Vladimir Herzog was a Brazilian journalist who was tortured and killed by the military during the time of the dictatorship. 9 Pastel(pluralpastis)is a salty snack made with a thin pastry envelope containing minced meat, cheese, shrimp or another filling, and then fried. There are also sweetpastis,which may contain banana or other fillings.Pastelariais a shop that sellspastis. 10 The name "Garapa" means "sugar-cane juice. 11 Literally "little plane.It refers to a youngster who works as a drug carrier. 12 In Brazilian prison slang, a prisoner who conceals an object in his/her anus is called "a safe.

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