Taddeo gets up with the sun; he prides himself on not being one of those Brazilians who think every day should be carnaval. He looks out his twelfth floor window at glass and concrete towers that are home to people from all countries of the world, people who live peacefully together. He’s proud of his adopted city.
I find the cinema just minutes from the busy train station. There’s not a soul in sight, but I am nervous, so I fold my umbrella quickly and creep down the narrow stairs. There is an umbrella stand at the top of the stairs but I can’t risk having it stolen. I like the soiled posters lining the walls, wonderful Japanese erotic noir. I go immediately to the window, where I am greeted by a silver-toothed little man whose boyish grin reminds me somehow of Mickey Rooney. No name-tags in this joint. He is middle-aged. His teeth glisten with silver and gold like the Mexican lady serving my favorite burritos in La Puente. He doesn’t look up. He reaches for my five-thousand yen note with two hands extended. He smiles wildly, perhaps idiotically. He pulls out some bills. “Just one? Is that right?” “Yeah,” I say. His furrowed brow suggests deep thought. He looks at the fiver I have handed to him. He strikes a few buttons on his calculator. Suddenly, he hesitates and then reaches into a little drawer beneath the counter. “It’s 2,000 yen at this time, you know.” “Yes, that’ll be fine.” He opens the plastic pouch to his right, pulls out three one-thousand yen notes, folds them and counts them twice before handing them over. We don’t make eye contact. I thank him in my poor Japanese: “Arigato gozaimasu.” He bows slightly, still grinning from ear to ear.