Saturday, February 25, 2012

Crime without punishment

One of the things that's different about living in a small town in Brazil (from a Northern California suburb) is that we get a little more touched by others' personal tragedies, and we see how we might be living just on the other side of chaos, if that happens to be where our fates want to lead us. For someone who lives as much in her head as I do, it can be rather startling--and in fits of solipsism, I wonder if I perhaps caused these events externally because I'm working through those emotions as I write...

This week is Carnaval, when perhaps the energy runs a little wilder and police are a little busier. Earlier this week, the owner of Lagoinha's biggest tourist attraction, a waterfall on the edge of town, was targeted by brigands in a well-planned attack. His daughter living in the town center was abducted from her house, then his wife, and then he himself. He was brought back to his house where through what I see as monumental stupidity, he had 200,000 reais stashed (and likely had told someone about it, hence the brigands knowing), and he had to pay that money to release his wife and daughter. He was beaten up and then dumped in a town in the middle of nowhere, to give the kidnappers a long head start on their escape.

Brazilian police here are fairly incompetent--I probably would be too in their shoes, with inferior weapons and numbers. Anyhow, this could happen again easily, although no one can predict when. To whom--that might be a little easier to guess; what I've feared is that my family might be on someone's list, as in a small town we do stand out.

It's kind of terrible how the mind can't let go of things like this. Particularly mine, with its overactive imagination. I've already played out many scenarios--if I could possibly grab both my kids, what path I'd run, where I could hide, what I could do to keep them quiet. If I would get ticks if I huddled in the grass. If the chickens would freak out if I tried to hide in the coop. I've visualized being shot running, being cornered against the gate because I couldn't figure out which key opened it. I've tried to imagine how I could climb the fence holding a kid, and whether he would break bones if I dropped him down the other side. I've imagined holding my dog as he slowly dies from poisoned meat.

If my husband couldn't pay the ransom, would they chop off one of my fingers and send it as a warning? What would I do to stop the bleeding? Would I ever be able to do Rolfing again if I was missing a finger?

On a more mundane level, I've worried that I would be caught showering if they came at night, and whether they'd let me put clothes on. Or, would I be wearing a towel on my head and just be in my underwear, as I often am on hot nights like these? If I'm on my period, would I bleed through everything and stink up the room where I'm being held? Would my children be given anything to eat? I would doubtless stay awake all night--how much would my arms hurt from holding my kids while they slept?

What I haven't been able to imagine is shooting someone or defending myself in any way. I just can't go there.

In an odd bit of synchronicity, my main characters were kidnapped by brigands at about the same day as this incident occurred. I made the kidnappers cold and slightly insane, because when I imagine evil people I always think they must be insane otherwise how could they be so evil? But now I think about these people who did this, and I'm pretty sure they're not insane. They're desperate and deadened inside, but very, very sane. It's horrible to try to think of that perspective, but it's good to know what the shadow is capable of, if it's to be disarmed--for this type of thing to never happen closer to home.

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