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André Timm

Translated by George Newton



The interior of the cargo plane is reminiscent of the innards of some mammoth-like creature. The metal structure of the fuselage is like a skeleton. Wind gusts through the olive-green uniforms. Parachutists lined up. An officer signals when it’s time for each of them to jump. Steel cables and carabiners slide down a pole on the roof over the aircraft. They come loose when they jump. The Captain is one of the parachutists. Around thirty-five years old. Tall, very skinny, light-brown hair, fair, arched eyebrows. The door is a rip in the abdomen of the Hércules C-130. The Captain prays quietly to Saint Michael, the protector of parachutists. At fifteen thousand feet, the Captain is ejected.


Free fall. Wind contorts his face. The Captain activates the parachute. Wind explodes. Thud. The drag force slows the velocity. Even so, the Captain hits the ground more forcefully than he should. He feels the impact in his right foot. On solid ground, he manoeuvres the parachute to counteract the force of the wind and walks away limping.


Mumbling. Military personnel gathered around a table. A magazine is passed from hand to hand. There’s a photo of the Captain printed inside. Green uniform, a badge with small silver wings and a maroon cap. The title: “Wages are low”. When the Captain enters the Mess, limping, the cadets applaud.


Small apartment. Dim light. Lampshade hanging over a Formica table. Light shines onto the Captain’s face, making his eyebrows appear even more arched. Papers spread over the table. Drawings that look as if they were done by a child. Outlines. A rough sketch shows the parts needed to build home-made bombs, two 1.5 V batteries, a timer, an electronic detonator, TNT, as well as places where they could be detonated.


Several cadets gathered around the Captain. Every sentence he says is greeted with shouts of agreement and enthusiasm. One of them yells, raising his arm in the air and holding the magazine rolled-up into a tube. A high-ranking officer passes by and looks straight at the Captain. He salutes him, but averts his gaze, looking intently at the ground. All of the cadets salute too. The officer stares at him for a few more seconds before leaving.


Dim light. Formica table. Lampshade hanging over it. The Captain is soldering together wires and parts. The smoke from the solder intertwines with the smoke from the lit cigarette resting in the ashtray. He moves slowly and with care. When he has finished putting together all the pieces of the bombs, he puts them inside a rucksack.


Several cadets play beach football. Some of them invite the Captain to join their team. He shakes his head and points to his right foot. He talks privately to some other cadets. He looks around and shows the roughly sketched plans. He catcalls two women walking by and then continues to talk in private.


The pale street lamps barely light up the street. The Captain parks his car a block away from the barracks. He walks stealthily, constantly looking around and behind him. He is holding the rucksack. There is a car parked just in front of the barracks. The Captain approaches carefully so that the soldiers in the watchtower don’t see him. He crouches down behind the vehicle. He slowly takes one of the bombs out of his rucksack. Once again, he looks all around him. He turns on the timer, which lets out a beep. He presses one of the buttons five times, and another button once, to set the timer. When the timer starts counting down, he realises that he programmed five seconds and not five minutes. He desperately gets up to run, but is let down by his right foot, which unable to cope with such a sudden movement, stops him from getting away quickly enough. The explosion can be heard several blocks away.

Brazil has been spared.


André was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and lives in Chapecó, SC, Brazil, since 2004. He wrote Insônia (2011) and Modos Inacabados de Morrer, a novel shortlisted for the Prêmio São Paulo de Literatura (2017) and published in Italy. In 2018, he won the Prêmio Off Flip, from Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty. In 2020, he launched his second novel, Morte Sul Peste Oeste.

George studies Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Oxford. Translating for his French family on their visits to the UK, George quickly became interested in translation and the nuances and power of language and its social role. Since then, George has learned several languages and engaged in the study of literature and linguistics at university.

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