Martin Foreman
First and Fiftieth


The Stories
   Kitchen Table
   Night Traffic
   Basement
   Pokhara
   Foucault's Nightmare
   Homophobia, Darling
   Cold Silence
   Los Feliz
   Judy
   Ten Million Years
   The Last Saturday in May
   Angel
   First and Fiftieth
   Ben and Joe's
   Sunset



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   A View from the Edge
   Arbery Books
   Arbery Productions
   God would be an atheist

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Judy


A carioca* in her forties
opening paragraphs


No, the pain’s not so bad, not today. Some days I can barely get out of bed. Every bone aches and my body’s as stiff as a board. I lie here watching television and videos of Her films and tell the boys to make their own breakfast. If he’s not in a hurry Valdemir brings me a cafezinho. At lunchtime, if I’m up to it, I boil myself some soup.

On a good day, though, I’m up with the lark. By the middle of the morning the house is

pic: coolestspringbreak.com
* cariocas are people from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
clean and I’m washed and dressed. Nothing flashy. Plain colours. High neckline and knee length. And I never let anyone see me without make-up.

Women respect you for keeping up standards. Especially around here. They know how tough it is. Joanna next door, the one with three kids and the husband that drinks, she always compliments me. So does Betinha, the one with the small shop. She’s had more than her share of life’s troubles. One man shot by the police, another doing time and problems with her health. Won’t say what, but you can tell it’s serious. She understands what I’ve been through.

Men are a horse of a different colour, but at least they’re polite. Now. There were comments from a couple of young hoodlums when I moved in. I warned them they were playing with fire, but that didn’t stop them. Well, it wasn’t long before the whole neighbourhood heard who had been visiting that whore Isabel down on the main road - not to mention a few details that I don’t bring up in polite company.

How times have changed. Years ago they would have worshipped me. I had it all. Top billing at the Alaska. An apartment in Copacabana. Money in the bank. Friends in high places. Men at my feet. Now, look at me. Look around. Bare walls, bare floor, cupboard bare. All my friends have gone. It’s enough to make you weep.

I suppose it could be worse. I’ve survived. So many haven’t. Sometimes I look through my albums and remember the ones that have gone. Look, there’s Tico, one of the first to get AIDS. No-one would visit him. Even I didn’t, to my shame. We were all afraid we’d catch it from him. He died alone, God have mercy on his soul. That’s Jane Honda. She gave me my first break. An angel. She was strangled by some thug who probably didn’t know what he was getting into and didn’t like it when he found out. That was typical of her; she loved surprising people and look where it got her. That’s César. A beautiful dancer; AIDS got him too. Chico. Alfredo. Gone. It tears my heart out.

I can’t complain. I get by. I live off what Edson and Valdemir pay me. They get the bedroom and I sleep out here. They’re good boys. Edson drives a bus. He has a sweetheart in Duque de Caxias he says he’s going to marry. He’ll break her heart if he does. He can never resist a pretty face. “Men were born to scatter their seed and that’s all there is to it, Dona Judy,” he says. He’s so goodlooking he gets to scatter it almost every day. It upsets me sometimes, all the women he deceives, but there’s nothing I can do. We all have to learn in our own way. Valdemir’s the quiet one. Works in a hardware store and goes to nightschool. He wants to be a teacher. Between you and me, I think he prefers men. It’s a pity if it’s true. He’ll never have much luck. He’s too skinny and serious. Gay men are like all men. It’s the body they go for, not the mind. So Valdemir sleeps alone, while Edson’s out half the night.


Next story: Ten Million Years




All Rights Reserved / World Copyright © Martin Foreman 2015




"Sometimes you sit, watch the trains, the sunset, the rain. Sometimes you talk. Tell your story if you've a mind to. Trouble is, memory changes things. Things you want to forget. Things you want to remember that never happened. Happens to everybody. Gets so, nobody's story's true. Not yours, not mine. But it's all we've got."

First and Fiftieth



Background & Comment

The inspiration for Judy came from three or four people whom I knew when I was living in Rio in the 1980s or whom I saw on stage or television.


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