The Police are your friends – A Polícia é seus amigos
A huge fat and round moon greeted Robin as he stepped onto the monochrome mosaic footpath; the noise, the crush of people, the sweat, the alcohol, the testosterone and oestrogen that permeated the air and the darkness of the birthday party in the club now behind him as he embraced the bright, cool early morning air. Deciding that it would be a complete waste of such a beautiful night to take a taxi, he set off for home on foot – a journey of maybe 30 minutes – the treed avenues, casting their majestic yet macabre blue-black shadows onto the cobbled road only adding to the beauty of the night as he allowed his feet to do what they do best.
As with any journey on foot, it was accomplished by placing one foot in front of the other and Robin soon found himself nearing home and was in bright and cheerful spirits as he turned into the street that would take him there. The pale and mischievous moonlight hid the deception of his choice of paths until he finally twigged: this was not the yellow brick road that leads to home; instead it was a dark and stony cobbled street that led into the heart of a favela, where the cobble stones abruptly ended along with the façade of wealth and the road became a rough and rutted well-worn red clay path which bifurcated into equally well-worn but narrower paths. This realisation that he had missed his street by one bothered him not one iota as he reasoned he could simply pass through the favela and continue his journey just as easily as if he’d taken the next turn as intended, having already done so during the day on more than one occasion.
The boca of the favela was well lit and a group of strapping, slim, young, swarthy locals lounged under the lamp light exchanging exaggerated tales of past derring do as Robin entered. Naturally, unaccustomed as they were to strange Englishmen wandering through their domain in the middle of the night, they were curious about his presence. Quite at ease, he recounted a brief resume of how he came to encroach upon their territory that night, finding the audience both attentive and seemingly rapt with his inept and childish Portuguese. He was caught totally off´guard when he suddenly found himself flat on his back; saw nothing coming nor even who was responsible for putting him on the ground in the first place, but on the ground he was and unable to hide from the fact that the intention of this group of lads was definitely less than charitable. He only had his mobile phone on him plus a small amount of cash in his wallet, so was not overly concerned as the reality sank in, but he was not about to give up those precious items up without a fight. Though one of the lads was sitting on his chest, another securing his now outstretched arms, and another firmly holding his ankles, Robin struggled valiantly, protecting his assets the only way he knew how: rolling around like the next maggot to be impaled on the hook. Reflecting on this later, Robin realised that his impromptu response was perhaps not the most healthful and may even have incited a somewhat more aggressive response, but it seemed as if the last thing the lads wanted to do was hurt him. Despite his struggles, he and his worldly goods were soon separated and the group of youths soon dissolved into the shadows of the night.
Robin quickly clambered to his feet, finding himself completely intact and surprisingly unharmed. A lad of perhaps 9 or 10 looked on wistfully.
– Oi, tio! Sinto muito o que aconteceu – Hey, uncle, I’m really sorry about what happened –
– Realmente, foi nada, – Really, it was nothing, Robin replied nonchalantly, shaking his head and brushing the perceived dust from his clothes.
– Na verdade, não me importa nenhuma que eles pegarem o dinheiro na minha carteira e o meu celular – Actually, it doesn’t bother me at all that they took the money in my wallet and my mobile, Robin explained.
– Mas, eu tive identidade ingles na minha carteira que eu preciso– but I had English ID in my wallet that I need.
– Deixe comigo, tio. Eu volto, – Leave it to me, uncle; I’ll be back – the mixed blood kid reassured him and swiftly slipped into the darkness of the surroundings. With nothing better to do as he collected his wits, Robin did just that, somewhat surprised as the menino returned in less than two minutes, triumphantly holding his wallet aloft and a mouthful of ivory teeth grinning at him through the darkness.
– Muito obrigado, amiguinho, – Many thanks, my little friend, – Robin said accepting the wallet from the lad’s hand, taking his small hand within his own much larger one and pumping it in gratitude without too much force so as not to damage it and wrapped his arms around him in a customary embrace. His wallet, however, was completely devoid of contents – no money and no I.D..
– Desculpe, – Sorry, – the kid responded genuinely, perhaps apologising more for the actions of his brethren than his failure to recover Robin’s documents.
– Não, não, tudo bem, amigo, a culpa não é sua, – No, no, it’s okay my friend, it’s not your fault, – Robin replied placatingly, putting a reassuring hand on the lad’s shoulder.
The erstwhile quiet of the morning air was suddenly shattered by the screeching tyres of a police car that appeared from nowhere and ground to a halt no more than ten feet from Robin’s feet. Four heavily armed officers, wearing bullet proof vests over their uniform, exited the vehicle in an obviously well rehearsed ballet and their boot clad feet clomped on the hard earth as they set off in search of their quarry. Robin, already unsettled by the recent robbery, merely gawped open mouthed at them, scarcely believing what he was witnessing. In less than three minutes, the four heavily armed agents returned with four seemingly unrepentant and unwilling hostages, now secured by handcuffs and a gun barrel poking into the smalls of their backs, which seemed to aid in their pacification. He couldn’t be absolutely certain, due to the vagaries of the light as well as his memories, but Robin was fairly confident that the four were at least part of the gang that had just robbed him and couldn’t help but wonder at the marvels of the universe and the karma of cause and effect.
Allowing the tense situation to defuse a little, Robin waited until the robbers were safely ensconced in the car and approached one of the officers who appeared, despite the rough and lumpy uniform, to be decidedly female.
– Olhe só, eu já fui asultado, – Look here, I was just mugged, – Robin said by way of introduction, however he was completely unprepared for the reaction he received.
The female police officer reacted like a cat that had just had icy water thrown upon it whilst being threatened by a stray dog with no obvious love for felines. Due to his poor grasp of the Portuguese language and the rapidity of the delivery, Robin understood almost nothing spat from her mouth, but did manage to decipher that she was suggesting that he had gone there to buy drugs and the situation had turned bad. Although everything about her seemed to be female, the manner in which she behaved was completely the opposite of everything Robin regarded as being feminine.
He tried to reassure her that her take on the situation was simply not based on his reality, but she reacted as if he were nothing more than yet another annoying irritant in her daily work life that needed to be dealt with swiftly and with finality, as she was trained. She then aimed her rifle at his belly and screamed further indecipherable obscenities at him. Feeling infinitely more intimidated by her than the youths that had just robbed him, yet had not laid one finger upon him in anger or otherwise, Robin sighed, and sarcastically thanked her for her help and turned for home, more shocked and saddened by the police reaction than anything else that had happened on that most adventurous of Brazilian nights. His second mugging of his life was indeed very different to his first, he mused as he trudged homeward bound, this time taking the route he had originally intended!