Carnavale (Story by Risa Peris)

Rio de Janeiro – 2017
The streets were a mess. I was with my girlfriend, Tina, on vacation. It sounds strange to call her my girlfriend. We were both 45 years old. Lawyers and Dunhill & Kurtz. The biggest white collar crime law firm in the United States. We had been drinking since the morning. When we stumbled onto the crowded, chaotic streets we were sloshed. We were holding hands. “Don’t let go,” she said. A crowd of young people came rushing towards us. I let go of Tina and the young people kept running down the street. “Tina,” I yelled. I couldn’t see her. I yelled and yelled. All I could hear was the crowds. Giddy on booze and happiness. I walked the streets. No Tina. I no longer knew how to get back to the hotel so I managed to find a cab who would weave its way through the crowds. In the hotel, I told the concierge and she called the manager. The manager called the police. Everyone was very polite and kind. Tina never came back to the hotel. I stayed called the law firm. They gave me two weeks. When two weeks became three they said I had to come back. “I’m sorry about Tina. You need to come back.” I was in a state of unrest the entire flight back to New York. I called the police in Rio every day. They had unidentified bodies and would share pictures but none were Tina.

Rio de Janeiro – 2018
It’s Carnavale again. I came back to look for Tina. I walked as many streets as I could in two weeks. I couldn’t find her. The police in New York confirmed there was no activity on her accounts. I packed her things in her apartment and put them in storage. “Return to me, Tina. Return to me.” I cried stuffing her Anne Klein into boxes. A year went by and now I am back. There was chaos. Usual. The streets were festive. Crowds everywhere. I walked the streets. “Tina,” I yelled. “Tina.” I stayed for two weeks. I spoke to the police. I looked at photos of dead bodies. I cried. “None of them are her,” I said.

Rio de Janeiro – 2019
I am back. Carnavale again. The same hotel. Three years in a row. I went to the police. “Very odd,” said the officer. “That she should just disappear.” He stubbed out a cigarette. “Are you sure none of these photos look vaguely like Tina?” He had a book of bodies with smashed faces and limbs. “No, no,” I cried. The officer shrugged. “Maybe you should leave the past in the past,” he said. I could hear singing in the streets. I went back to the hotel and drank from the mini bar. From my hotel window I could see the parade below. Noise lifted up and into my head. That’s when I heard her. “Oh, Richard.” I turned and Tina was in front of me. Her dark hair was streaming with water. “Don’t you remember? You killed me. You smashed my head in with a rock from the beach. I confronted you. You had embezzled from the law firm. I couldn’t hide the crime any longer.” I started crying. “I loved you, Tina.” Her skin started graying and festering. Worms were eating at her. “I know. But you loved yourself more. We could have confronted this. You would have did some time. But now you must go away for murder. In Brazil. It will be so rough for you. So terrible.” I was crying uncontrollably. “I love you, Tina. That’s why I kept coming back.” She was disintegrating before my eyes. “And now you must pay,” she said. She was now horrid and monstrous. I fled and went to the police station. The crowds in the street, with their boisterous inanity, halted me. I went to the police. “I did it. I did. I killed her. Tina. She was going to turn me into the law firm. I had to do it. I had to.” Tears were streaming down my eyes. No one really paid attention to me. The blubbering American. A detective took me into the office. “You didn’t kill her you fool. She’s in Columbia.” They showed me a picture of a woman that looked like Tina. It wasn’t her though. I could tell by the slant of her eyes. “Go back to New York. Your girl works for the Cartel.” I wiped my eyes and staggered into the festive Carnivale streets. I got a drink and smiled. For the first time in three years I smiled. I got away with murder. Now I had to get away with embezzlement. I would blame Tina. Yes, Tina did it. I killed my love and now you are an embezzler. And a Cartel member. It was perfect. Her death was perfect.

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