Translated by DEAN THOMAS ELLIS
I wake up on a plane. The flight attendant asks me if I’d like to eat. She has a red mouth and looks like an out-of-focus Kate Winslet, which makes me think of my wife, or, should I say, “ex-wife.” What an odd title for such a serious, blissful woman. In the dream I am on the way to Brussels to ask the president of the European Union why Europe is collapsing. “Would you like anything else?” On my fourth attempt, I manage to break open the transparent wrapping, and bite into the snack cake. The flavor of plastic orchards beneath wide stagnant skies. I wake up on a plane. The flight attendant asks me if I’d like to eat. Her teeth are smudged with lipstick and this reminds me of my girlfriend or, should I say, “lover.” If the term isn’t utterly antiquated; the girl is alarmingly young. A devastating close-up, a flash into a dark hotel room. The truth is that, after the divorce, the nakedness of this woman fifteen years younger than me lost all its menace. “Thank you, thank you very much.” In the dream Lisbon is a city obliterated by aerial bombardment and I am stuck in what used to be a street or a plaza trying to figure out on which side lies the river. Inside the transparent plastic, the brown cake is a tumor. How many lives are implicated in the fact that this is here, right in front of me, atop this little tray table the color of the sky? I wake up on a plane. The flight attendant asks me if I’d like to eat. I want to eat her, grab her by the ass, bite the red from her mouth, suck on her foreign tongue until she is nothing more than a body, but I simply nod yes. Through the window, I see the fields of Europe, its houses, roads, rivers; everything diminishing magnificently. The sun’s rays cut across the plane like a golden girder. I close my eyes. There is nobody for me to call, no one in the entire world, but Europe is saved and the Union is on the path to happiness. “May I order some coffee?”
Jacinto Lucas Pires was born in Porto in 1974 and lives in Lisbon. He is a writer and a playwright. The True Actor (published in the US by Dzanc, translation by Jaime Braz and Dean Thomas Ellis) won the 2013 DST Distinguished Literature Award for the best book published in Portugal in the past two years.
“The True Actor is a true pleasure—wise and funny with a subtle gravity and a wild hallucinatory streak. It brilliantly examines the state of a nation through one man’s state of mind. Jacinto Lucas Pires is a powerful voice in modern fiction, charming, fearless, flourishing at the crossroads of the playful and the dire.” —Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts and The Ask
Lucas Pires won the prestigious Prémio Europa/David Mourão-Ferreira (Bari University, Italy/Instituto Camões, Portugal) in 2008. Grosso modo, a short-story collection, came out last year, in Portuguese (Cotovia). Jacinto Lucas Pires has written three novels, two short-story collections and two non-fiction books. He has written several theater plays, staged by different groups. He plays with the band Os Quais, and he keeps the blog O que eu gosto de bombas de gasolina. His soccer column appears in O Jogo. He comments on political issues at Renascença Radio.
Photo from Flickr Creative Commons.