Escalpo (a fragment by Ronaldo Bressane)

September 15, 2017




Music! Said Casandra, turning on the Bang & Olufsen in the corner of the room, adorned by a little stage. Gasping and grunting, Negroni climbed up until he reached her lap, as she stroked and pampered him around the ears, in the eyes, in the mouth.


I noted with regret that, despite the amount of sophisticated looking sofas, armchairs, carpets and white shelves, the only elements were the soundsystem, the gigantic tv, and the pug. No pictures, no photos, no pieces of art. Lindsay came back from the kitchen with a bottle of cold pisco and three little sticks and Cassandra told her: Come and see where I put the Bible you gave me.


I opened the bottle from Lindsay. Casandra pointed to a sideboard dominated by a huge book. The Bible in fact was the Sumo, Helmut Newton classic anthology. It was open on a double page that showed a female couple kissing, one with bare breasts, the other dressed in a man's tuxedo. It was a kind of altar next to the stage where the soundsystem reigned. Ohhh, Lindsay said, what a beautiful spot you chose. I thought you would like it, Casandra answered, stroking a lock of Lindsay’s hair, who pulled Casandra’s chin and kissed her. I felt like a waiter holding pisco's little tacos waiting for the two friends to finish the tender session, ended with a flickering of tongues, and I remembered the mixologist described by Jorge.

Casandra looked at me suspiciously. Lindsay picked up on her wary look, then introduced me, explaining that Ian Negromonte  is a multi award winning Brazilian comic book illustrator.

All in all, a very liberal type, so there was no need to be concerned, Lindsey laughed. After the pisco Negroni attached himself to Casandra, again nested himself on her lap, while she span spinning around the little stage like a dervish in a trance.


Lindsay invited me to the balcony to check out the view. She said Peñalolén was an old commune turned into a sophisticated neighborhood, which has always been a place for   mansions and large houses of the Chilean elite.

The most well known spot in the neighborhood is that park, she pointed out. There it was Villa Grimaldi. It was Pinochet's playground, where he used to carry out his experiments with those detained by the dictatorship. You know, at Grimaldi there were cubicles big enough for only one person to sit, and (de this person would spend days without water, food or daylight, told Lindsay, her eyes shining in what seemed to be a mixture of fascination and terror.

After the person left the cubicle, he was sent to the grill Grill? I asked; my knowledge on the Chilean dictatorship was limited to the anecdotes of Miguel Angel Flores. A grill is where the person was tied and given electric shocks. Electricity would run through the device and the person turned into an electric fish, an eel, some of them even had their spines broken due to the violence of the shock.

Sometimes it happened over two floors, with a relative or friend of the person being tortured  on the next floor up.

There was also a pool that was used for the full service: they threw the person into the water tied by their hands and feet, and given electric shocks in the water. When the person was about to drown, he was pulled back out , asked the same questions and then thrown into the water once again; and this lasted a whole day, sometimes two or three ... Terrible, I was astonished, taking another sip of pisco to better swallow this description. My arm ached.

Well, you should know that in Chile they did it all. We are the home of the most sophisticated torturers in Latin America, the guys even had a Manual of the Interrogator, you know? Then they say that torture is the art of extracting the truth through the techniques of the prescription of pain. They also liked the macaw duck, invented by yourselves, Brazilians, Lindsay smiled, pleased in detailing the hardships of the house of death. At Grimaldi they used to tie a person to the ground and run a Pick up over  their feet, then over  their legs, until  their skull was smashed under the wheels. Or they tied the person in to the bumper and dragged him along the streets all night after the curfew.

Not to mention the usual: beatings, rapes, baths of shit and piss, insisted Lindsay, getting closer. Or leaving a woman naked in a cubicle and throw in  starving rats. Hmm, they did that in 1984, I remembered, Orwell has  a similar description of torture with rats in the end of the book.

Yes, in Chile they put into practice what the Nazis wouldn’t do out of disgust, she agreed, taking another sip of pisco. Here, at least we're sending these people to jail. In Brazil the torturers are all on the loose. Yes, in Brazil, we are friends of our enemies, I said. Sometimes I wonder if this shows excessive love or an excess of cowardice.


Are you talking about marriage? Love and cowardice, where one thing begins and where the other ends? "interrupted Casandra, laughing, getting closer with a snuffly Negroni on her lap. Um, we have someone else disappointed with love here, laughed Lindsay, hugging her friend from behind and kissing her on the neck.

How long have you been together?

Both started laughing. We're not together! Laughed Casandra. In fact, we are not even here, see? None of us is here ...

Well, it's a great apartment this one we are not in, I praised.



 image Alex Silva



Ronaldo Bressane is a writer and journalist. The above, translated by Bressane, is a fragment of his latest novel "Escalpo" published in Brazil by Editora Reformatório.

More on him can be found on 










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