The man referred to as A. in the notebooks is now thirty-one years old. I couldn't find much from investigating him. He went to the same primary and secondary school as my brother, but was expelled in 1997 and graduated in 1999 from a different institution. He passed the entrance exam for a local university and studied Industrial Engineering. Apparently he won three Regional Vale Tudo Championships in a row, on 1998, 1999 and 2000. Currently he works as a supervisor in the cargo company owned by his father. He has not married.
It wasn't hard to find A. at the harbor in the summer morning. He looks very much like he did as a teenager, but his hair is much shorter, and he has that tiredness that comes with adulthood. A black mark that appears to be part of a large tattoo peeks out from under the collar of his shirt.
I introduced myself as B.'s younger brother and he almost immediately recognized me after that. There was some effusive hugging and exclamations and asking me about my family and my studies. Then there was a lull as A. recalled my brother and momentarily stared off into the sea, from where a heavy mist was rolling in. I said that I wanted to ask him some questions for a family project that I was putting together for Art class. It seemed like a flimsy excuse as I said it but A. seemed to buy it.
We sat down at one of the many tiny seaside cafés; A. loosened his tie and crossed his arms, leaning back against the chair. A strident group of seagulls were feasting on a discarded fish only a few feet from us. I remembered that he had been a man of few words in his teens, but the years seemed to have mellowed him out.
The interview was very informative right up until the end.
You knew my brother for most of his life, right?
Yes... we became friends in the first or second grade, and we remained friends through high school and university. We couldn't see each other as often after graduation, but sometimes we managed.
I know this is kind of awkward, but, what do you think made you and my brother so close?
We... We had the same sense of humor, I guess... We were part of a bigger group, which was better.
What bigger group?
Well, you probably remember us visiting your brother as a big group when you were a boy. We were always hanging out with T., F., E...
I remember all of those people.
T. and F. also went to university with us. The four of us would get together sometimes after graduating. We all studied different things, of course, so we graduated at different times.
Do you know anything about T. and F. as of late?
I know that T. is in New York City. After she dropped out of Law, her parents sent her to a design institution abroad, and I think she was immediately hired by a New York design firm after graduation.
I don't know much about F... In 2006 he headed off to Honduras to live there and do social work for a while. I would get monthly letters from him, real letters, in the mail. Then he went to Africa to take some photographs for a magazine, or so I heard from his father. I actually had a business meeting with his father a week ago. He owns half the place, after all.
What about E.?
E. actually moved to Europe on the last year of secondary school... Nobody heard much from her again. I think T. got a couple emails from her and that was it.
E. was the girl that F. had a crush on for a while, right?
[Laughter] Yes... I can't believe you remember that.
I'm trying to remember another person who used to hang out with you... I think his name started with an N?
Oh... Yes, that was N. He was sort of friends with us over the last two years of secondary school, but I didn't see much of him because by then I'd been expelled.
Uh... Why did you get expelled again?
So... What's N. doing these days? Do you know?
[Clears throat] He died, in 2006. In the Nantes marketplace fire.
I see... Was there anyone else in your group?
That was most of it... D. was around sometimes, you probably remember her, with the red hair. I don't think you got to meet K...
I think I did.
Really? K. was a very odd person... She didn't go out that much. I think that was the whole group...
Wait, was K. the girl who almost blew up the school's boiler room? They still talked about that when I was in secondary.
[Laughter] Yes, that was her. I'm pretty sure it was a miscalculation on her part.
What are they doing?
Nothing much... D. went back to live with her family in the U.K. after she finished school, and K. sort of dropped off the radar... I think she might still live here, though.
I also remember another guy, though... He was kind of... Crazy-looking, I guess. I can't remember his name...
Who? [Long pause] What are you really here for?
I wanted to confirm memories I have of my brother and his friends... I've been having some dreams about it lately, sort of half-remembered childhood moments.
[Pause] I think your brother was friends with a guy from school who got into trouble many times... I think he passed away at some point.
Do you remember his name?
So... what did you do, as a group, usually?
Well, the usual teenage things...
Any record stores?
[Pause] Not record stores, I don't think so. Why do you ask?
No reason. Well, I guess that's all... [click]
[end of interview]
I don't have very much to say. A. became visibly defensive and clammed up towards the end of the interview. I wonder if he knew that I had found the notebooks.
Maybe the whole thing really was fiction, and A. was simply embarrassed that I'd found their collaborative creative writing project or something...
Or otherwise he didn't want to reveal the identity of X to me, for some reason.
Other than possibly K., it seems that A. is the only member of the group who is still alive and living in this city. Contacting anyone else will be more difficult.
December 15, 2011