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Translated by Luís Rodolfo Cabral Copyright © 2017 - Marcus Deminco All Rights Reserved | Salvador-Bahia-Brazil ISBN: 9781520612744 Independently published

Prohibited the total or partial reproduction by any means or process, including graphic characteristics and/or editorials. Copyright infringement is a crime (Criminal Code, art. 184 and Paragraphs, and law nº 6,895, of 12/17/1980) subject to search and seizure and claims several (Law No. 9,610/98).

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If you seek a pleasant, mild and serene reading, which makes time pass quickly like a gentle evening breeze, I recommend you read any other writer, milder and more affectionate. I don't write for readers defined by letter, nor for eyes subordinated to words. For those with no imagination, who can only see what the eyes can show, I believe that postcards, photographs and colorful magazines are worthier than my visceral search for expressing in words what I truly feel. (Marcus Deminco) ___________________________________ _________________

THIS is just a Previous Version with some chapters of the original Best-seller Vertygo – The Suicide of Lukas.

PREFACE C H A P T ER 1 – P l a nn in g D e a t h C H A P T ER 2 – S a y i n g G o o d b y e T o L if e C H A P T ER 3 – Or d e r in g H i s O w n F un e r a l C H A P T ER 4 – T h e L as t L u n c h C H A P T ER 5 – S ho p p in g C H A P T ER 6 – Fr o m T h e 2 2 n d F l o or A B O UT T H E W R I T ER CREDITS

AS A FIRST EXPLANATION, it’s important to mention that my relationship with Marcus Deminco is sui generis. We have never met in person, and I only heard about him after watching one of his interviews on an internet channel. His professional speech was personal and emotional; it was about Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). I cannot explain the reasons why — well, maybe divinities could — but I felt touched by his words. Not that I suffer from a disorder, at least, not from that disorder in particular. Later, I decided to write him a letter, and, to my biggest surprise, I got a beautiful reply. We then started exchanging messages on a virtual basis. He knew me by intimate descriptions, and he let himself to be known in every line he wrote. Everything he wrote, I read, and it always fascinates me. On the design of the book, The Secret of Clarice Lispector, I felt extremely proud I was one of the first to read his work. After commenting on such unique narrative — it was a case of an innate talent common in genius — who are sometimes misunderstood. I know misunderstanding very well. Geniality, I always pursue it. To get too intimate with Clarice Lispector was certainly a Herculean task. And Marcus Deminco did it with mastery. He was careful to elaborate the phrases, to keep an accurate writing, and to create ideas. All of these have a great contribution to the greatness of his work. The repercussion of his work proves my point of view. Surprisingly — my friend both virtual and real — have invited me to preface his anticipated next book, which discusses suicide. Would it be a

provocation? Was it an arbitrary exercise of a some kind of incomprehensible irony I’m not aware of? Well, Deminco is aware that I have been facing a serious health problem for five years, and I have no much hope of getting cured in short term. I have had twelve surgeries. Was he seeing a potential suicide in me? At some point, was this nefarious idea arisen from my situation? Was this the real reason he chose me to write a preface for his new work? In our talks, I have always identified myself as a stoic man by nature. I believe in duty, in honor, and in virtue. But, unlike the ancient Stoics, I don’t accept or even support the idea of suicide, which for me seems to be an escape, a relief to a distress or choking, held most of the times during serious psychiatric/ pathological state of mind in a period of time when the human being is completely devoid of their free will. Do we really have this kind of free will? Well, this is a point for another discussion. Whenever one mentions suicide, I remember the poet William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), who had a terrible life, suffered from many diseases, amputated one of his leg, and, despite all his suffering, wrote a short poem that registers one of the phrases that excite me the most: "Under the bludgeoning of chance, my head is bloody, but unbowed". For me, such verses are a creed, and in my belief, the idea of suicide cannot stand. As a jurist, it’s mandatory for me to invoke the legislation to curb any praises for such matter. Although suicide isn’t a crime, to encourage that practice can lead to a number of legal consequences. For example, in an insurance contract, it’s stipulated in Art. 798 of the Civil Code that " the beneficiary isn’t entitled to capital stipulated when the insured commits suicide in the first two years of the initial period of the contract, or their renewal after suspended [...]" and the sole paragraph of the same article prescribes that "[...] it’s null the contractual clause which excludes the payment of capital by suicide of the insured". About the same

subject, the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court, in docket n. º105, has ruled that "unless there has been premeditation, the suicide of the insured doesn’t exempt the insurer from insurance payment", bringing the discussion of suicidal premeditation to the civil law. How to find out if there was premeditation unless you find documents or recordings? Forethoughts are very difficult to prove under civil law, and most of the times, it’s related to the criminal law. Criminal law, in his Art. 122, rules it’s a crime to induce, instigate or assist someone to kill himself. It provides penalty of two to six years of imprisonment in case death is consummate, or one to three years in case of personal injury, and the person doesn’t die. To induce to suicide ... What is really to induce someone to suicide? This is a subject we can discuss later. In a survey published in 2014, the World Health Organization registered that a person kills himself every 40 seconds, every day, and it’s total of nearly 800,000 deaths a year. Li Xianjun, an expert from the Center for Research of Mental Crises in Benjin, draws attention to the fact that there are about 2 million of unsuccessful suicides. So, there are almost 3 million people, every year, trying to ruin their lives. Why? Mental illness? Delusions? Financial problems? Whatever it’s, the number is too scary. Hence, I worry that my friend Deminco writes a book about suicide. Wouldn't that be an encouragement for people to pull the trigger? Aren't we fed up with so much death and violence? I raise my voice against the withdrawal of life, no matter how bad life seems. Still, Marcus Deminco will always have in me a patron, a lawyer, regardless of what he decides to write about. Once, at the beginning of the 20th century, XIX, an editor refused to publish a work of Lord George Byron, claiming that the reading of his verses and stories could provoke more delicate minds to suicide. Editor Murray managed to avoid some, certainly. Would be the case to act with the same prudence? __________________ Rodrigo Martiniano Tardeli Jurist, theologian, philosopher and University professor in undergraduate courses in São PauloSP, Brazil.

Morumbi, São Paulo, Brazil. Sunday — 5:45 am

THE FIRST SUNRAYS shone in the grey sky and went through the windows. In that small bedroom, there wasn’t a single sign of chances. Locked inside in his world of solitude, Lukas de Castro could not even close his own eyes. There he was, drowned in gloomy thoughts and hopeless anguish. Lukas felt he had faltered in life and didn’t hold the slightest of moral energy to overcome such situation, so he decided that thirty-three years of life was time enough for no longer experiencing life. Lukas could not feel excitement. He felt no love, anger, libido, revolt, faith... Absolutely nothing! Except a nagging and uncontrollable desire to die. Nothing seemed to make sense for Lukas. All those Xanax pills that once made him feel triumph, are now just a resilient sense of worthlessness, and his laughter slowly rusted in apathy for each and every one. His dreams, in which his strength used to remain, could not rescue him from his own destiny. Lukas now feels that the pleasure of life turned out to be as frivolous as his biggest ambitions. His enthusiasm was stolen in some part of his brain, and that caused him to disabled happiness and will to live. Lukas' life became a simple routine task, a nuisance-stormy penitence. Bored to death. Bored to himself. Lukas had entirely surrendered to idleness. He quit teaching Anthroponomy in a prestigious university in town. Dust had covered his collection of books and CDs. He felt so idle that he didn’t have the mood to light his long-time beloved Sasieni pipe in a cigarette holder. Lukas

didn’t respond to common stimuli. He wasn’t bother with the unbearable barking sound from the neighbor's dog. He didn’t care if wrong mail had been delivered to his address. Lukas. Or Lucas. After all, for him, it didn’t matter his name being spelled with the K or with the C. The letter K is his name was a foolish pride he once carried. The letter K is his name had become as meaningless as his own existence. There was a time when Lukas used to boast that his first name had a Latin origin, meaning "bright". It’s now the time when Lukas sees no brilliance in his name, in life. Lukas had lost his light. Likewise, he had lost a concise or etymologically appropriate explanation to justify his surname. De Castro. For him, it meant ―pre-Roman fortified castle‖. Lukas de Castro. Bright castle. A fortress with its own light. Exactly what he didn’t feel like. Filled with certainty, Lukas thought that killing himself was the only way to dispel the suffering once and for all, so he started to sketch his ultimate reaction. He got up from bed, breathed in all the air he could, and said it out loud: Damn! I will be much better tomorrow morning. — At the same time, as he uttered those words, he thought of his dear parents. A sense of remorse that a such defying situation would cause to them came to his soul, he pictured all the disappointment he would cause to his closest students with such catastrophic attitude. Those were the thoughts in his head to prevent him from doing the worst. From all of them, it bothered him the most the fact that many would judge him on that premeditated resignation. A coward, they would say. That was something he didn’t want to be remember as. However, there was no introspective attempt to restore the joy in his life. Lukas' shoulders had already fallen on the inertia of his body in a demonstration of his impotence when facing illness. He winkled his forehead trying to hold a teardrop. Lukas was chronically depressed, and decided the end in his own life. Only urgency and coldness remained. He used to be a calm, reasonable guy. Rarely involved in physical fights. In the national referendum, he voted in favor of banning the legal trade of firearms. Now, for the first time, he felt sorry for not having one gun: a shot in the roof of my

mouth... Or even better: a shot at the bottom of one of my eardrums... yes, this would cease once and for all this suffering I have been living. Among the thoughts, Lukas didn’t like the idea of cutting his wrists and bleeding to death alone: I guess this would be too slow, and I would agonize in pain, too. Or worse scenario: after a while, my body would be decaying, in state of putrefaction. And soon, the bad smell of my rotting bones would be disturbing the entire neighborhood. No! Never! I don’t deserve to die like that. At first, Lukas thought it would be a great idea to jump from the window of his room. He intuitively measured the distance from the fourth floor where he lived to the rug in the main entrance of the building. In a second thought: maybe it’s not high enough. There’s a high chance I can only break some bones... and it can make end up in a wheelchair... this would be even more painful than what I’m already living. Not to mention the possibility of getting quadriplegic, and that will probably cancel the chances to kill myself. I would be impotent, limited, and at the mercy of euthanasia. I know that even thoug h I grant full autonomy to others, or sign terms, or beg down on my knees before the most irresponsible doctor I could find, they wouldn’t apply me an intravenous injection of Sodium Thiopental to sedate me, another of Pancuronium Bromide to relax my muscles and paralyze my diaphragm and lungs, and a final dose of Potassium Chloride to cease my heartbeat forever. This is what I call a death, it matches the meaning of the Greek word, euthanasia (eu = good; tanatos = death). It sounds like a good plan. But what doctor would help me with that? Obviously none! Especially, because of that stupid part of the traditional Hippocratic Oath: ―[…] I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course […]‖ There were plenty of suicidal ideas in his head. From the medieval idea of hanging himself, to the outrageous plan of placing one end of a hose in his mouth and the other in the tailpipe of his car. After a long time taken by these extraordinary suicidal strategies, he decided to do something less aggressive and less painful: how about taking four boxes of Clonazepam and some of Escitaloprans... all at

once? I still have some pills left! I would probably lose my consciousness slowly... in overdose... before closing my eyes forever. Done! This is perfect! It wouldn’t look as cruel as slitting wrists, and it wouldn’t make my bedroom floor covered in blood. Besides, my body would remain untouched for my memorial service. Although taking pills seems to be a more appropriate way to die, and possibly the least painful, Lukas hesitated. He remembered that he had once read some articles about how people regret committing suicide minutes after it’s done. Lukas was sure that if he was going to do it, it needed to be once, for all, and well done. He knew that one out of ten successfully committed suicide was a failure. What if I regret? I would have to call someone to take me to the hospital. This is such a humiliation. Having my stomach pumped to extract the pills I took isn’t a pleasant scene to picture. No! This is the first time I try to kill me. I intend to do it right. With no regrets. I don’t want to bother anyone. Amid of ideas of a perfect way to suicide, an intriguing question briefly brightened his mind for a few moments: who will pay my credit card bills when I’m gone? This uncertainty was the only joy Lukas had for the few hours prior to his death. He decided that he deserved, at least, an apotheotic end.

Lukas felt excited about dying, so he thoroughly planned to run all the errands for that day; his last day in life, as he was planning. Oddly, the day he decided to be his last day, a reasonable thought came to mind to cheer him up: Today, I will enjoy myself! I will go on a shopping spree, max my credit card, eat everyt hing I always wanted to eat, and then I will jump out of the highest floor of a luxury hotel. I will die with finesse, elegance and dignity.

For Lukas, it was a great sense of satisfaction to die at the same age Christ was when he died. He believed that age would have symbolic meaning, a glorifying death for a professor who loved History. After rambling on by himself, Lukas started doing analogies about his death and some historical facts, and suddenly he remembered of some classes he taught about infamous suicides: the haraquiris, the kamikazes, Hannibal, Cleopatra... But, unlike those, Professor de Castro — as he was also known among his students — would not do it for pride, for ideology, much less for love. Lukas decided he would commit suicide due to misfortune; the only way to extinguish his long-time suffering. Still, in the most intimate part of his ego, vanity remains, begging for a portion of glamour in his ultimate act. Lukas wasn’t intending to be gone like an indigent. He was hoping to be remembered, somehow. Following his thoughts, Lukas slowly started some kind of personal farewell liturgy: he made up his bed, washed the dishes piled in the filth kitchen, and carefully swept every corner of his apartment. After that, he took a hot shower, and shaved the beard he was growing for five weeks. He combed his hair, and brushed his teeth. Finally, he recorded a new voice message in the answering machine:

Hi. You called Lukas de Castro. Right now I’m not available, and probably I never will be. But, please don’t worry. I plan to go now to a place much better than here. Oh! Also don’t wait for the return of this call. I won't be able to make phone calls from there. Thank you! — It didn’t really matter for Lukas how freaky that message was. Quite puzzling? Possibly. But that was exactly how he wanted his last record in the answering machine to sound. Later, he picked up from the shelf his favorite Billie Holiday album, and put it on the stereo. Lukas chose the track " Please don't talk about me when I’m gone ", and pressed the repeat button indistinctly. He was hoping that song to be playing for at least the next five days, so that when someone came to rescue his belongings, it would still be playing his favorite song. Lukas put on some dark

clothes in order to show his own grief, put on some perfume and his favorite pair of black shoes. In his leather wallet, he kept all the cash and credit card he had, including those he had never used. That was a funny aspect of Lukas personality, he agreed to receive credit cards just to keep short those unbearable conversations with credit card operators. In a demonstration of ludicrous contradiction between insanity and consciousness, by the time he was leaving home, Lukas took a pencil, and write the following message:

To my parents, If you are reading this letter, it’s a sign I may no longer be among you. I don't expect you to understand what even I cannot understand. I just hope that, somehow, someday, you can forgive me for what I have done. While I’m writing this letter, I feel sober and lucid, and I know my decision will cause you pain. But I cannot postpone the end anymore. In the last couple of days, I have been entirely possessed by a sudden and unexplainable desire to die. I don't know exactly the reasons why; I just feel it. I don't know when this feeling has appeared but the truth is, for a long time, I've been gradually decaying. I lost heart, reason and will to stay alive. I tried to react, I tried to fight. I have been taking strong medications but there haven’t been any signs of improvement. I know that tomorrow is going to be a gray day again. I know that nothing in the world is going to fill the void in me, nor to rip that anguish out of me. Please, forgive me! I can't stand living if death is living within. It's funny how death makes us so pensive. Only today I’m able to understand how much I love you. Only today words are not enough to express my feelings. Only today I’m not ashamed to say it again: I love you, my dear parents. Only today, I can swallow pride, selfishness and vanity, I can see thought them. Only today I can recognize how much you did to me. Thank you very much for all. Forgive me! I’m leaving you this apartment, my car and all my other belongings. Tell Beatrice she was my one true love. My

coworkers from university, my students, and my friends... I want them all in my memorial service. Please don't let anyone call me a weak or a coward. And once again, I’m truly sorry. With all the love that remains in me, Goodbye. From you son,

Lukas de Castro.

Lukas kissed the letter. Taken by a bitter taste of blame, he carefully placed it under the stereo, which, by that time, was playing "Please don't talk about me when I’m gone" for the seventh time. For the last time, Lukas took a look around the small world he used to love. A world as small as his apartment, as beloved as life used to be. He looked to his favorite spot in the sofa, to his few bottles of booze in the bar, to the final exams from last semester which will never be graded, to a few boxes of antidepressants and anxiolytics now with no use, and to the pictures of his childhood that will never come back. Lukas looked to his pillow, an everlasting companion for solitude, to his appreciated Lucite pipe, and to his lovely collection of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington, his favorite singers. So many books left, they will never be opened... He abruptly slammed the door, and without a second thought, locked inside his history and past forever. Lukas killed himself for the first time that Sunday.

THE PURPLE COLOUR OF his eyelid, that was the first thing he noticed in his reflection in the elevator mirror. His undefined countenance resembled sadness, and what he saw was a stranger; an exhausted individual, hitting the rock bottom. Lukas wrinkled his eyebrows, and as he faced himself in the mirror, he asked in stupor: all my youthful spirit, all my physical strength, all that strong feelings I had, where have they all gone? How can I give up everything after so many fights, so many achievements? How can I give up on life? How can I? — Confused, Lukas had no strength for fighting against the anxiety plaguing inside. Later, like an exercise for hope or improvement, an overwhelming sense of grief gave him an answer like a muttering voice in his ear: death is the only cure! As soon as he reached the entrance hall of the building, he ran into a disfigured world with no relation to his shattered universe. Lukas saw the light of the dawn. However, he could not see any sense for that numerous people walking on the street, for that uncountable vehicles going back and forth, coming in and out. He saw a world with no logic. Without a hurry, he put his sunglasses on, and parked the car in the garage. Lukas was sure he was never going to drive again, so he decided to go on foot. As he was about to pass through the exit gate, he made a point of walking to the sentry box, and greet the doorman politely: "How is it going, Afonso?‖ "Going alright, Mr. Castro, what about you, sir?"

"You know I’m no sir. You can treat me as a you, it’s respectful enough, you know..."Lukas replied what he usually replies to the doorman when he called him sir. This time, however, he continued his saying in a lower tone: "...but today is the last day..." "Excuse me? What are you saying?‖ questioned the doorman. "It's nothing, Afonso! I was just muttering" Lukas quickly changed the subject: "In fact, I just passed by to thank you for all these years. You have always been polite and considerate with me." "Are you moving?" Afonso asked, curious. "Possibly. Let's say that today I'm more reflective. Today I realized that I have been living here for more than two years, and never have I thanked you." Afonso smiled, disconcerted. In the building, Afonso felt like he was a distinguished man for that special treatment. At the other side of the street, Professor de Castro hailed a taxi cab, and left without a previous itinerary. "Good morning! I need to go around... Sightseeing, you know?" Confused, Lukas tried to explain the taxi driver where to go. The driver didn’t understand very well what he meant, and much less struggled to attempt. Astonished but pleased with that idea of driving around São Paulo with no destination, the driver thought to himself: Ow...I wish all my passengers only ask me to drive around…I would be rich! At the exact moment they were driving through Jardim Paulistano, more precisely at Honório Líbero Street, Lukas saw a place. Through the back passenger window and through the black lenses of his sunglasses, he could see it: there is it, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. Seeing that church made him fearfully recall some uncertainties about death: the eternal fire, limbo, valley of suicides.

He even recalled some terrorist and inhuman actions from the Church in the Middle Ages: for them, the suicides are exempt from blessings in Heaven. And although he wished not to believe in nothing of these, thought it better to apologize to the sacred. "Wait for me right here!" he ordered the taxi driver, and left the car. After he walked on the main entrance of the Church, he went down on his knees before a beautiful varnished-wooden image of Christ. He briefly made the sign of the cross, and slowly approached the altar. It wasn’t a usual Sunday mass. There was a limited number of mourners, and the priest seemed to be saying a special prayer for them: "We pray here today on the soul of our sister Catarina, who left us seven days ago. May God rest her soul in eternal peace‌" Lukas deliberately sat far away from the altar, next to a lady who seemed not to share that mourning. Intrigued and curious, Lukas pulled the glasses off his face, and unkindly interrupted that elderly woman in her prayers: "Could you tell me what's going on here?" She briefly ceased counting her silent prayers in those small red beads linked to a metal crucifix involving one of her hands, and carefully explained: "Well, right after the usual schedule of masses, we have baptisms, Eucharist, weddings or celebrations in memory of the deceased." "So, those who mourn there, right in front of the altar, must be relatives and friends of someone who is gone, right?" Lukas asked her. ―Possibly. In a seventh day mass, people are still very distressed. It's something very recent and painful, especially when it comes to a child who died in such tragic way," the woman replied in a tone implying she was aware of the situation.

The gentleman sitting in the front seat turned his neck, and coughed to call attention. Lukas didn’t intend to be rude, much less inelegant. However, that judgmental look and that intimidating ahem were not enough to disperse his ravishing curiosity. He knew it was an improper place for a conversation, but curiosity spoke louder so Lukas continued his inquiries, in a lower tone this time: "What happened exactly with this child? How was it? Where did it happen?" "Haven't you read the news? Haven't you watched TV? There has been a tragic accident. Just terrible! Her parents and she were driving to the coast on vacation, and suddenly head-on collided with a truck. All of them instantly died, except for Catarina, who was rescued. Unfortunately, she succumbed to death in hospital a morning later. She was only four years old. Poor child... God rest her soul in peace!" "God rest her soul in peace!" Lukas repeated in haunted amazement. "What a tragedy! This a very sad situation! Poor girl...‖ Lukas tried to end conversation, after that morbid dialogue. "I'll pray for the soul of little Catarina. Have a nice day." The lady gently smiled, and started recounting her prayer in the chaplet in her hands. Without faith, and for long-time no prayers. Lukas tried to remember The Lord's Prayer words. Starting and restarting over and over: […] Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come... Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed [...] — But It was impossible. Questions, doubts and uncertainties were blowing out his concentration, causing him internal disturbances. So much contradiction life brings. People come and go. Some simply want to find a place to shelter. That poor girl left so early. If she had lived, would she be so tired and hoping to die? Filled with that stupid and incomprehensible delusion of venerating the initial letter in his own name, Lukas started to wonder: Was it Catarina or Katarina?

With the C or with the K? What difference does it make now? — Lukas was a connoisseur of anthroponomy, and he was certain of one thing: the name Catarina originates from Greek, and means pure. If names etymology relates to destination, this poor child will definitely not be rotting on any valley of suicides, nor she will burn in eternal fire, or be exempted from receiving the blessings in Heaven. For I... Well, I’m about to commit the profane sacrilege of abnegating the gift of life... I don't even know what will happen to me after death... No clue of my whereabouts. If there’s whereabouts to know! If there is after. Fearful and without any concrete formulation about the course of his soul, once again he knelt by the beautiful wooden image of Christ, and apologized, begged for mercy with strength and devotion. He was hoping that somehow this repentance could soften his penance, make the gates of heaven open more easily for his entrance, and encourage the angels to be more flexible and understanding of the reasons of a suicidal. Prior to leaving the Church, for ulterior and ignored motives, a sudden new introspective inquiry made him noticing what was already obvious: it may be not be economically reasonable to die. To have a proper burial in a good graveyard, to be buried in a fancy coffin, full of arrangements may cost a lot. Picture the price of a seventh -day mass. In addition, there’s all the suffering I caused to my parents. It wouldn't be fair. I need to take care of it immediately. Lukas promptly rose, put the sunglasses back on his face, and made cross sign for the last time, before repeating to himself: In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen. Doing that was the first part of his secret tacit ritual.

"HOW WAS THE MASS?" the driver gently asked Lukas. He knew he didn’t have much to talk about, at least he was just trying to make a conversation. "Exciting... I do hope that God is as merciful as people believe. This is the only way He can forgive me!" Lukas responded, thoughtful and confused. "Forgive you? What do you mean, sir?" the driver asked instinctively, in a demonstration of curiosity. "Yes, forgive me. Anyways, today you are going to be my driver, and I don't even know your name, yet," Lukas asked, changing the subject rapidly: "What's your name?" "It's Messias, sir." "Pleasure to meet you, Messias. My name is Lukas de Castro. But, Lukas with the K!‖ He emphasized, and then continued talking about his personal beliefs: "You know Messias? There are moments in life that the letter K is what matters the least," he said laughing at himself. The driver also laughed, trying to look polite but he didn’t understand why such silly joke could make someone laugh; in his eyes, that passenger was one of the weirdest guys he ever driven in his car. In order to keep the atmosphere friendly, he wittily asked:

"Well... Where should we go now, sir?‖ "Uh… All I need to do now is to buy a nice coffin and to hire a funeral service." Glancing his passenger in the rearview with terrified, bulging eyes, Messias held back of asking him more questions. Unfortunately, there was no other way of understanding the situation, except for asking Lukas. So he did: "What happened? Is there a problem? Are any of your relatives with a serious disease?" "Let's just say there is. It's a long story... I promise you I’ll explain it later. But first, I will need your help.‖ By that moment, the taxi driver not only lost the momentary concentration in traffic, but also could not control his own thoughts which were in a thin line between macabre and sinister: what the hell is this nut up to? Is he planning to kill someone? Is it the reason why he needs my help? This is good, very good... If he kills someone, I'd end up being indicted as his partner in crime; is it fair? No way! I have a wife and two children to assist, and I’ve never been in any sort of crime. I have never stolen; I have never killed. Well, sometimes I fail to withhold taxes... which, in Brazil, it's like acting on self defense. But I’m not paying the piper, I’m not being an accessory to a crime. I’ll drop this nuts in the first corner and get away with it. Luckily, as if he was reading the driver's mind, professor De Castro anticipating his first lie: "Don't worry, Messias. Actually, there is this great friend of mine in hospital and his condition is irreversible. The doctors have already stated he could leave us at any time. I just want to take care of the funeral expenses. This is my last chance to be supportive and helpful, you know?" He tried to comfort the terrified driver. And to relax him even more, he continued with his made-up story:

"When I said need your help, I meant I need you to do something to me tomorrow morning. I’ve bought some souvenirs, and I want to leave them in my parents’ place, so I thought I'd pay you some money to drop off these gifts. I have a business trip, it was in short notice, so I guess I won't be able to give them myself. So what do you say? Oh, you’ll get a good payment for that little help." Quite relieved, Messias punished himself in silence for thinking so much shameless slander of that man he was driving. Not to mention the joyful feeling he felt about the money he was promised to receive for a silly delivery service. Instantly, his impressions on that eccentric passenger has changed from water to wine: "Well, alright, sir. You can rely on me!" "Now that we make things clear, could you please take me to a funeral home? Do you know any around?" "Sure, sir! There's one near here,‖ in an attempt to create a friendlier environment in the car, Messias joked: "I just can't assure you if their services are good or not; I have never hired such services, and I don't even understand anything about funeral homes." They both laughed.

About six minutes later, when the car stopped at a red light in Brigadeiro Faria Lima Avenue, Lukas was thrilled to see a beggar child. Wearing a small jeans short and a torn T-shirt, inappropriate for the cool breeze that were sweeping São Paulo that Sunday, that frail boy was shivering. Contrary to expectations for what

do in a weather like it was, he was launching with mastery his juggling in the air from a hand to another in order to gain some money. For the few drivers that were passing back and forth, that performance of a solely street child wasn’t of the slightest importance. After all, that scene of a beggar child isn’t an unusual scenario in the streets of São Paulo. An unusual situation is to be waiting in a traffic light without seeing them, they would say. But perhaps, when one notices the manifestation of a near-death experience, they feel more willing to fill the gaps and to appreciate life. It was just the way Lukas felt as he was getting closer to his end of life: reflective, sensitive, and able to experience compassionate, humanitarian feelings more effectively. By looking to the beggar child, Lukas had an unusual degree of sensibility. He whistled in order to draw the boy's attention. Then, without a fuss, he got his wallet from his pocket, and gave the boy some money. A gentle expression of happiness stamped the child's face; it was something that only the ones who are content with little and who don’t experience greed can express. Seeing that smile filled Lukas with a load of blame: How could I let so many things unsaid and undone? How many of these children have passed unnoticed before my selfish and greedy eyes? In the front seat, however, Messias didn’t have thoughts as good as those. From the rearview mirror, he carefully noticed every detail and attitude of his mysterious passenger. Looking at that benevolent, charitable gesture, he felt optimistic: if he’s giving such sum of money to a beggar, he must not be lying about paying me well for deliveries. May God listen to my thoughts! A few moments later, at the Eusébio Matoso Avenue, they could see a huge house taking almost an entire block. The dark green writing is his white wall read: Funeral Group — São Paulo. "Do you think it's open, sir?" the driver asked, as he was parking the taxi in front of the place.

"Let's see. If it's closed, then it's a bad sign. It's a sign that we're losing our rights. Now it seems that we no more have the right to choose to die on Sundays," mocked the professor, convinced that the place should be open. Politely, as well-educated man are, he told the driver: "Please. Wait for me here," he slammed the door, and got out of the car. "Good afternoon! How may I help you?" a well-dressed service vendor asked. "I don't know for sure, but I need to buy a luxury coffin, with beautiful wreaths. I need to buy a lot in a pleasant cemetery, as well," Lukas answered decidedly not to be stingy in his own funeral. "There are several types coffins, sir. What was the person like?" the seller questioned naively, without understanding what that confused man wanted. But after all, who would think that a sane person would order his own funeral? Without knowing exactly what shortcut he should take to express his plans without telling it, Lukas retold the same made-up story he had told to Messias: "Actually, this person isn't really dead. But, since the doctor assured us the situation is irreversible, I thought it would be prudent to anticipate things. He’s a great friend of mine, and I wanted to give him a proper burial. With the very best, as he deserves." "Well, alright, sir. People think they are immortal, and tend to leave all these details for last minute. And it's funny because in the last minute, they won't be here anymore. As a result, most of the times a makeshift funeral is what's left to be done. But don't worry. You have come to the right place. Here we have some great offers!" assured the salesman in tie. He continued:

"What's your friend like? I need, at least, an idea of his size and body type to check if the most appropriate coffin is available in stock. Where does he live?‖ he asked, and explained: ―By tradition, many people usually prefer to bury their relatives in neighborhoods they live, or in cemeteries where they already have a family vault..." Petrified with the natural way the seller talked about burials, Lukas felt weird. In that room, he was surrounded by coffins of every type and prices. He was speechless with the amount of payment facilities and with all the information the seller knew by heart: ten installments, credit cards, invoice. And, according to the seller, if you purchase a whole lot in a cemetery near to the fancy neighborhood of Morumbi, you can get discount to all the members of your family. At Valley of Peace Cemetery, the 7th day masses, the 30th day masses and 1 year masses are for free in the greatest ecumenical chapel of cemeteries in Latin America. Moreover, if you hire any of their services, you can get 24/7 assistance, a ceremonial and dispatch service; all of these for free. "We also have the following extra services: florist, with all kinds of funeral floral ornamentation; memorial announcement on internet, newspaper and radio; funeral assembly and decoration with special equipment, special room for the family; embalming, facial reconstruction, and other procedures performed by specialized professionals," the seller proceeded explaining uninterruptedly all advantages to hire their services. Scared and, at the same time angry, Lukas, for a moment, almost gave up on ordering his funeral: even in the most absurd situations I have ever lived, I could ever wonder they sold funeral services in offers or promotional packages. This is the top of Disgrace! — However, rather than giving up to pay off all the expenses, Lukas decided to hire their services; he would feel bad if he left any pendency payment to his parents.

Before signing the papers, he made a point: so aren't we supposed to act naturally when talking about death? Let's see if he's really ready for what is coming — he vindictively thought to himself: Since we deal with death as a banal thing, I wouldn't have to be so cryptic about my plans. So, he looked at the seller, and calmly explained: "This is probably the last day of my life. I plan to kill myself tonight. I enjoyed all the services you offer, and I will be very honored and pleased to be buried by one of the people from your crew. I intend to be buried in the Morumbi Cemetery, and I hope I can count on all the benefits you offer. Including psychological assistance to my family and seventh day mass as a courtesy,‖ he took a short break, and then continued, still calm: "About the coffin, I'd be more satisfied if I could choose that one over there," he said pointing to a showy light-wood coffin with his right index finger. Pale, as if blood wasn’t circulating in his face, the seller tried to believe that situation was nothing but a bad joke. But, the seriousness stamped in his face didn’t give him any chance for doubt. He was really serious. Unarmed and without any sign of facial expression, the seller tried to persuade Lukas with vague arguments and justifications usually told to those who don’t see a meaning in anything anymore. "Sir! Don't do such thing! Life is like that. One day, we enjoy happiness, in another, we feel sorrow. But then everything goes away. Don't give into it. Be strong! Think about your friends, your relatives...‖ Irreducible, Lukas choose not to mention his real reasons, yet he thanked humanity of the seller — better late than never — and gently asked him to respect his personal decision and to provide all the necessary documentation as soon as possible…

Static and shocked, the seller wasn’t sure about how to proceed in such unusual situation. But he thought it wasn’t a good idea to remain silent, so he told stammering over the words: "I have never sold… anything…. for something… like this. I don't even… know if I can! You're…you’re alive,‖ the seller tried to continue stammering, when his client interrupted: "This is a good joke! Don't I have the right to die? You were the one who was talking to me in absolute natural way, and now you act scared like this?" Excited about death, and interested in caring for all the details, Lukas suddenly remembered a beautiful e-mail he had received from someone very special: "I have one last requirement." "What is?" he asked, trembling, anticipating another upcoming non-sense. "Once I received an e-mail from a friend, I don't remember the full content, but there is this part which I'd like to be written on my tombstone. It’s something like this: "...I asked God to complete my body. He Said No! His Spirit is complete,

your body is only temporary. I asked God to get rid of the pain. He Said No! Suffering takes you away from the world and brings you closer to me..." The seller listened to what Lukas was saying but still could not understand if this was a trick. They discussed for some time, and eventually Professor De Castro for the first used one of those many credit cards he had for his own funeral. He paid for the full package, and that made him very satisfied. The seller, on the other hand, was terrified yet silently thankful for the huge commission he was going to get from that sale. When Lukas was leaving, the seller warned:

"I won’t register your purchase until tomorrow night. So, if you give a second thought and change your mind, just call me and I'll cancel it, so, you won’t be charged," he assured. The seller was probably faking to care because, at that point, he was already taken by ambition and greed. He was expecting the commission for that sale, and that suicide was totally irrelevant, as long as it happens.

―HAVE YOU FINISHED, SIR?‖ Messias asked Lukas, as he was getting back to the taxi. "Yes! But there was this thing that made me very sad." "What was it, sir?" ―The fact that I won't make to the funeral. It's going to be a beautiful funeral ceremony, I bet, and I wish I could watch closely to check for every detail. I want to make sure if they’re actually putting the crowns of flowers as I hired, if they're delivering all the services offered…if they're meeting all the deals. I would love to see who is going to be crying, who isn’t going to drop a single tear, who is bad-mouthing me, and who isn’t coming to the funeral. That's it... It's a shame I cannot make it." Lukas sincerely admitted. "But how can you be so sure about that, sir? Only God knows when your friend will pass away. Maybe when you're back from your trip, he's still alive." "It's very unlikely..." Although he was sad about not witnessing his own burial, something suddenly rose inside. It was a great feeling of hope which changed an almost believable certainty into questionable assumptions: is there really a higher entity transcending matter? Is there another plan, another dimension? — Asking these questions to himself comforted him with many upcoming uncertainties. Uncertainties or possibilities? At that point of his life, Lukas chose to stand for possibilities

because, once he believes in spirituality, he believes that when He’s dead, he could watch his funeral. Lukas tried to clear his mind from discomfort, avoiding being obsessed with things that might bother. From now on, he was hoping nothing would bother him, not even the remorse feeling he assumed to cause to his parents; not even the conviction that he could have been much more humane and generous; not even the foolish fear of the limbo, the eternal fire, the Valley of the suicides. None of these, nothing at all, could stop him or make him change his mind: he was definitely going to kill himself that night. Having that conversation with Messias wasn’t taking him to any other different direction, so he changed the subject: "Well, what time it’s?" "It's around three in the afternoon, sir. Where would you like to go?" Whilst Messias was starving for food, Lukas, yet bored, had a strange and unexpected desire: he felt it would be a shame to die without never having tried, even once, a French dish. I refuse to die before going to a fancy French restaurant. — He thought to himself, and them said it out: "Let's have lunch! And you're my guest. Please, take me to the best French restaurant in town." Once again, Messias was confusingly surprised but increasingly happy with the taximeter getting closer to first three digits. At that time, Messias didn’t really wanted to hear any rational explanation Lukas would give for that ride, and without using that common strategy to first refuse to later accept, he was clear in his words: "Right away, sir!‖

At the very moment they were leaving EusĂŠbio Matoso Avenue, some loaded clouds covered the sky announcing a heavy rain. Weirdly, there was no traffic that afternoon, so they took Pinheiros St. and returned to Brigadeiro Faria Lima Avenue. When they were passing to the same traffic lights they passed some hours ago, Lukas tried to see that beggar child one last time. The rain was heavy, and it fogged the window. With the palm of his left hand, Lukas tried to defog the window, as he desperately looked for the boy lost midst of raindrops dripping in the window. He could not find him, so he sadly concluded he was never going to see that boy and his magical juggling. He blamed himself for a while before Messias parked the car on Jerome da Veiga St., and handled over the keys to a valet at Le Coq Hardy, a traditional French restaurant in SĂŁo Paulo which usually closes on Sundays, but fortunately it was open that day. In the restaurant, refinement and sophistication create a luxurious setting: an imposing entrance through a hallway properly decorated with rustic pieces, some plant arrangements, and a long red carpet. The finesse welcomed the guests in the wide main hall. There, a notable paradox between pitiable plight and extreme elegance: the taxi driver and his passenger among well-dressed clients. Yet visually different, both Messias and Lukas had plausible reasons not to give any importance to it. They remained unconcerned with those discrete looks of disapproval. Lukas soon was going to be dead, so shame was the last thing he would feel. Besides, he strongly knew that was the first and the last time he would go to that place. Messias, in contrast, had an expression of absolute insouciance. After all, he assumed that his passenger was going to pay for lunch, so all Messias did was sit and follow Lukas. Before he tried to understand some atypical classifications of dishes on the menu, Lukas ordered a shot of Glenfiddich 21- year-old with two ice cubes, as anyone could expect from a heavy whiskey drinker as he was. Although he thought French cuisine vocabulary was easy to misinterpret, he decided to take

risks, and not randomly choose a dish. He decided it to choose the dish with the most complex, elongated, difficult-to-pronounce name. He felt like they could taste better than the others. He took a last sip from his glass of whiskey, and waved at the waiter to politely order: "I'll have a Chateaubriand in Dijon Mustard sauce, and a Terrine of Duck Foie Gras au naturel." He was hoping that since those were very hard dishes to pronounce, they were presumably plenty of tasty food. "And to drink, sir?‖ the waiter asked. "What you recommend?" Lukas replied, without the slightest idea of what to drink. "French Bordeaux and French Bourgogne are greatly appreciated here." The waiter had a French accent that impressed Lukas so much he was easily convinced to choose one of them. The waiter's accent didn’t leave room for doubts: those were definitely the fanciest wine at Le Coq Hardy. The dishes were quick to arrive, and against his expectation, nothing matched his choosing criteria. Despite the complex, unpronounceable and impressive names, the dishes were all in small portion, a derisory amount of food. However, they notice the perfect symmetry in the plate they assumed to be the duck: it was surrounded by thin green leaves, balancing on top of each other. That impressive cohesion was similar to a work of an artist or an architect, not of a simple cook. It seemed like an impressionist work of art, or one of those Picasso's cubism canvas. In fact, the food looked like any other thing, but real food. Lukas and Messias struggled to start dismantling the rice, messing those other impeccable dishes. Above all, to do justice, the food was truly delectable and tasty. The thing is that after three or four medium-sized bites, they are gone, in some kind of punishment for the deadly sin of gluttony.

In his retracted behavior of guest, Messias remained passive in that situation: he wasn’t paying for that meal, so everything on the table looked extremely perfect to him. In order not to look starving, he follow Lukas' reaction, and said he didn’t like the food that much, either. Messias wasn’t even close to satisfy his hunger, and if he had chosen himself the place, they would have gone to restaurant that serves a greasy Brazilian black bean stew. On the other hand, he felt mixed feelings about that experience: a personal satisfaction for having lunch for free in an exquisite French restaurant, also and a sense of ignorance and of opportunism. Messias was so confused that he could never suspect that the word foi means liver, and gras means fat. Naively, he could never imagine that what he just had for lunch was nothing more spectacular than duck liver. Lukas, in turn, was satisfied. In his mind, he felt lucky that if in Heaven someone starts talking about foreign cuisines, he now can say he once had for lunch Chateaubriand in Dijon Mustard sauce, and Terrine of Duck Foie Gras au naturel, with Bourgogne. Finally, he asked for the bill, and without checking it, he used for the second time that day one of those credit cards he carried in his wallet.

São Paulo — South Zone. 5:30 pm

THE INTERMITTENT RAIN decreased, and a gentle breeze announced the early night. At the end of that opaque and dull afternoon, they finally left Le Coq Hardy. Castro was surprisingly happy for a guy who soon was going to kill himself. It had been a long time since he has last had some fun and experienced an exciting day. There had been a long since he last felt so alive. Apart from the joyful time, those were the few hours preceding his death: his blood was pulsing through his veins, his heart was beating faster, his whole body was getting taken by adrenaline. Thousands of expectations of how afterlife would be. He asked Messias to take him to the nearest mall. There were some details to adjust before committing suicide. In minutes they arrived at the parking lot of Iguatemi Shopping Center . As soon as they went down the elevator and reached to the upper floor, Castro again ran into an asymmetric world without any coherence or symbolism. Insensitive to any feeling, he walked through the corridors listlessly while some random thoughts were guiding him away towards any direction, and his eyes almost didn’t believe in what they saw at a store. Through the shiny window of Lenat tobacco shop, an almost unnoticeable artifact among others caught him in the eye. That object aroused a new interest to fulfill before his death: I won't die before enjoying this extraordinary Savinelli Italian pipe. — He thought to himself with excitement, and entered the tobacco shop.

"Good afternoon! How can I help you?" the seller started with all those polite rules and pragmatic norms. "I'd like to buy that pipe on window display," he answered, resolute. As if the amount of money needed for purchasing that item would make a difference for Lukas at that point, the seller, even without being asked, said in a tone of warning: "That one costs 445 Euros..." Lukas was dazzled with the multitude of items in that store, moreover he was excited with so many gadgets. Once again, in an attitude of detachment with prices, Lukas didn’t hesitate in satisfying his wish — after all, that is what credit cards are for — Increasingly aware that he wasn’t going to pay for any of those expenses, and extremely convinced that if that wasn’t his last day alive, he would never afford it, he believed that compulsive shopping was a thing to be done that day: Well, if today is my last day of life, it doesn't make any sense to live my last few hours caring about limits. Saving money? Why? I won't be here tomorrow — he thought to himself, before talking back to the seller: "Well... In addition to the Savinelli, I'll take a smoke pack of Borkum Riff Black Cavendish, and that lighter, please," he said pointing to a beautiful gold plated Passatore lighter. In the midst of that compulsive enthusiasm, he stopped for a moment, feeling that something wasn’t working in perfect harmony. Watching at his side, Messias had an embarrassing look. And Lukas, next to his companion, almost a servant, felt awfully egocentric. Conceding that the rest of vanity was claiming for refinement and glamour in his last day of life, Lukas’ ego was blackmailing him to leave this world with a good impression: he wanted to be remembered as an example of benevolent, sympathetic and righteous man. He suddenly surprised that humble cabdriver, giving him a beautiful chrome Mont Blanc keyring as a gift.

The seller packaged the goods in separate bags, and felt happy for he had just sold a Savinelli, a Passatore and a Mont Blanc, all of which isn’t common to sell in a single regular Sunday. Messias also left the store happy for it was nothing usual to receive gifts from a passenger. Lukas, in turn, could hardly believe that, after all this time sharing many types of pipes with friends, he would finally smoke a Borkum Riff Black Cavendish in his very own legitimate Savinelli. After leaving the store, as they were returning to the same corridor, a flashy glow coming from inside of a beautiful jewel store was like an invitation to Lukas' eyes. Astonished, he stopped in the front of a magnificent Bvlgari store, and those shinning watches immediately reminded him of his father's old passion: Gee... Since I was a kid I remember his thin forearms with a beautiful shiny watch around it. We had financial problems, so they all were always very simple, cheap and low valued. But t hey were shiny, always shiny. If we had had better conditions, my father would certainly wear one of these. Caught in an illusory sense of omnipotence for now he has so much money to spend on a single day, he went into the store to buy one of those expensive Bvlgari Solotempo watches to his father.

It's sad how the lack of money sometimes imposes limits, makes us powerless, and destroys many of our best dreams, letting us down and conformable with less than we want to. If the world was really a fair place, no one would deserve this beautiful watch more than my father. Well, now he can say he has one — he thought, proud to buy that expensive gift for his beloved father. After leaving the store, Lukas felt there was something missing. He now wanted to choose a good gift for his mother, to arrange with Messias to deliver the gifts, and to finally decide the most suitable apartment from which he would fall. Wandering in the mall, a place distracted him. He saw a beautiful, long black dress on the window display at a Dolce & Gabbana store. For a moment, he left

aside the gift for his mother, and inexplicably recalled Beatrice, his one true love. Like colorful slides in a presentation, he saw a memory of his six-year pleasurable relationship: travels, holidays... complicity, tenderness, few arguments. He blamed himself for losing her in a silly, trivial way: It was my fault! This damn depression. What woman in the world would resist so much low self-esteem, lack of confidence and insane jealousy? He was damn right to leave me. How could she put up with me, this is a hard work even for myself? I must have been a terrible partner... I was a nuisance, a torment — Lost in his thoughts, in his personal contrition, his fixation for anthroponyms instinctively reminded him: Beatrice... Beatrice... Beatrice comes from Latin... Beatrix. It means the one who makes someone happy. In this case, I can assure you that the anthroponomy was really accurate because I was truly happy with Bia. Maybe the desire to use his death to draw some attention to himself made him idealize the day of his funeral as a movie scene: Beatrice would be dressed in that beautiful black dress. Static, looking in the store window, he complained: This isn’t fair. After the whole plan I precisely I wrote I, now I understand I will be deprived of watching my own funeral. It’s not fair not to be around, to comfort my parents, nor to check who will cry more, or feel my eternal silence, or suffer more in the day of my death. Unfortunately, I won't have the time to treat different those who disdained my death and those who didn’t even shed tears for me. I won't even be able to distinguish those who were there just out of courtesy, and those who were there because they wanted to give me a last goodbye. I won't know who missed the ceremony, and I won't be able to thank those who carried my coffin. Unfortunately, I won't be able to respond the inevitable criticism of those who c alled me a weak or a coward for planned my own death. Even so, nothing makes me feel sorrier than being sure that I’m never going to see Beatrice again. Unless [...] — he stopped his dark thoughts for a moment, and continued: [...] unless it's really true those things about reincarnation and afterlife. I prefer and I have to believe that Spiritism isn’t a lie, like so many other religions. This is the only way I can oversee it all. Somewhere, somehow.

Regardless of being a Catholic, his faith made him remember the eighteenth article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance". And for need, for fear, or for guilt. Besides he was feeling that natural fear of those who had never died before, he didn’t really know what will come later, after his death. Still, full of beliefs, he connected again to spiritualism. After all, since he doesn’t know if there is a place to go after death, it gives him some comfort to understand the slightest chance of existence. Prior to entering the Dolce & Gabbana and buying that sumptuous mediumsized black dress to Beatrice, he thought to almost convincingly: she must still be medium sized, her body must not have changed much since we broke up six months ago. Finally, he left the store, and something worried him: If I'm not attending to my own funeral, how can I make sure the funeral company have kept all our contractual agreements? — In an outbreak, he remembered the anguish of his mother on the day of his uncle's death: Although my mom was shaken by the loss of his brother, she at least wanted to give him a proper, honorable burial, so she hired a funeral service. However, during the funeral, they were ruthless to take advantage my family's suffering, and tricked us. The casket was smaller than the one we paid. Even the flowers… they were wilted, and stupidly different from those ones we ordered. What if they do the same thing in my funeral? I’m going to be dead, I won't be able to open a dispute or sue them. Fair enough…That's all I needed to end in peace. This is really the height of absurdity... to take advantage of the dead [...] Few minutes later, Lukas reassured, and took a thing as foolproof: If I'm being punished for my suicide, and for so I will wander in the valleys of the suicides with all opportunistic, defamatory souls… and that funeral company cheats me, they may pay their dues in hell — he laughed on the inside, mocking the dire situation a dead person being at the mercy of an absurd possibility of being stolen.

Without any mental elaboration about the gift he would buy for his mother, he tried to search in random memories to try to remember all about her tastes and preferences. Amid the most distinct and diverse possibilities reflected, a sense of great certainty emerged from all other hypotheses previously contemplated: The best gift I could give to mom, without any doubt, would be a trip to Greece. Mom always says her biggest dream is to visit the Greek Islands. I could look for a travel agency, and arrange this trip before I kill myself. It would be a little awkward and morbid for a mother, to travel after the death of her son, especially if he was the one who bought the tickets. Then, he idealized something more symbolic. He wanted something that, somehow, stamped a memory, and represented all preciousness and importance his mother had in his life. While in distraction, wandering in the mall, he didn’t know what he was looking for. He was wandering in greater extremism, but extremism was eventually bandied by some shiny jewelry. They were so seductive that immediately overshadowed his doubts. Without much time for prolixity or more elaborated thoughts, he decided the gift should be simple and convenient. At least in that moment he had an attitude he didn’t used to have: practical. At the store, he didn’t ask any questions, not to accept the seller's appeals. Lukas preferred not to choose a jewel; the jewel must choose him. Among a variety of accessories exposed, from rubies, pearls and emeralds, a fancy collar, studded with diamonds caught his attention. He didn’t ask about the price. That was definitely the one. He ordered the jewel, as asked to be in the most beautiful gift wrapping they had.

Parking lot — Iguatemi. 7:43 pm

―WHERE ARE WE GOING NOW?‖ the driver inquired, attentive and interested. He was curious where that unpredictable passenger wanted to go. Lukas remember a place famous for over twenty-five years of tradition and for its elegance, grandeur, glamor and fame. It’s one of the best five-star hotels in São Paulo, and Lukas didn’t even consider any other place to die at. While Messias maneuvered the taxi out of parking lot on the top floor, Lukas replied, determined, revealing more than he should confide: "I want to spend my last night at that so-called five-star hotel, Maksoud Plaza."

"Your last night? What do you mean by your last night?" Messias wanted to make sure of what he had just heard, but he was puzzled and afraid of the answer. "I said, last?" "Yes! You did, sir" "No way! I didn’t say last," Lukas quickly dodged the question with a slight and nifty excuse:

"Well... I must have been confused. What I meant is that after such exhausting day, I was hoping to take rest in an exceptional place." In addition to make the situation even more tangled, he continued with an ambiguous frankness: "Today was my day. I wanted to spend money, to have a shopping spree. Fun with no limits. I had never done such thing in my whole life. Ever! I have always lived with limits, with rules... saving money... Anyway... Today I want the very best life can offer! I found out that tomorrow may be too late and might be too uncertain." ―Oh! Well... If that's what you want... As far as I could notice, you don't have money issues," said Messias, laughing, and continued: "Although I don't know about your wishes, I believe we are heading to a very appropriate place to make them come true. And I must admit I've never been in any of those rooms. But from what I hear from passengers, I guess it’s one of the most luxurious hotels in town." "I have never been there, either. I have only seen it in few quick glances, from a large distance. And those few times it happened, I saw it only by chance when I was stuck in traffic. But I’ve heard so many famous people talking about this place... the media... famous singers... celebrities... everybody seems to want to stay there, so I got the feeling one day I should stay there too. I am not a celebrity, you know. But I’m a child of God too!" Lukas explained. They went up Rebouças Avenue, and took Paulista Avenue in the direction of Paraíso Station. There wasn’t much traffic that day, so they easily reached Alameda Campinas and parked on the main facade of opulent Maksoud Plaza hotel. Before paying the taxi fare, Lukas took care to write down his parents' and Beatrice's addresses on a piece of paper. He gave the note to Messias, and in a gesture of trust, asked him to deliver those presents next morning.

"There's nothing to worry about, tomorrow I won't take a single passenger until I deliver these gifts. Please, call me tomorrow around noon to ask me if everything went fine," told Messias, giving in Lukas' hands one of his business cards with personal information, phone numbers, e-mail, fax, and even his taxi's plate number. Although he knew that he would never call any of those numbers, that he was aware he would never see that taxi driver again, Lukas politely folded the card and put it on the right pocket at the back of his black pants. Messias sounded sincere willing to do the deliver the next day, but what made Lukas settled was another certainty: I trust him. That's what I have to do. He doesn't know soon I'll be dead. What would he do if knew it? If he knew it, he surely would keep the watch and the collar for himself‌ he would keep the dress to give as a gift for his wife, girlfriend, lover... whatever. They said goodbye to each other. Lukas embraced Messias with greater intensity. Out of both, he was the only one who knew with exact precision that they will no longer meet each other again. Messias, without any suspicion, asked: "As soon as you learn the day and time of your trip, don't hesitate to call me, so I can take you to the airport, ok?" "Deal!" the teacher replied, walking out the car, carrying in his right hand the small bag with his pipe, his tobacco and his lighter. Then, he waved with his left hand to his transitional friend: "Goodbye!" "See you later!"

Stupefied, Lukas walked in slow steps for the fascinating entrance hall of Maksoud Plaza Hotel. When he reached that majestic lobby, he was surprised with every detail that surrounded him: fountains, shopping arcades, restaurants, bars, panoramic elevators, gardens with tropical plants, art pieces, and a sculptural sunroof. All in sophistication and in flawless good taste. His eyes were lost amid such intense refinement. Then, he saw in short distance a name written on the badge of a well-dressed receptionist: Raimundo. As usual, he instinctively tried to correlate that name with its origin and derivation. However, this time, there was some peeve: There were so many other, better names for a receptionist to greet me, why should it have to be someone named Raimundo? Raimundo originates from Portuguese, our official language in Brazil, and it means wise protector. I now realize, with obvious evidence, that onomastics, anthroponomy and etymology make no sense… at least, when it comes to our own future. If Raimundo really meant great protector, this man wouldn't have been receptionist but a soldier, a policeman, or perhaps a secret agent. This is what great protectors do. If he was really as wise as his name suggests, he certainly wouldn't be a receptionist, at all. However, I must recognize that, if I were so fortified and bright as my given name suggests, I would never decide to kill myself. Anyways, I wish I hadn't bother my students with all this bullshit. It's just a shame. Now I don't have enough time to say how sorry I’m for my classes, for talking about such things with no use and meaning. That's what I feel after recognizing the unavoidable uncertainties of our destiny — Lukas thought to himself, while heading to the man named Raimundo to check in. "Good evening, sir!" the receptionist welcomed politely. Lukas could not stop staring to that badge attached to his shirt pocket with extreme disappointment: What the hell? Will the last person whom I will speak in this damn life be called Raimundo? What the hell? Raimundo? — It’s not understandable why Lukas had such

distaste and annoyance for a regular Brazilian name like Raimundo. Possibly, it was just that he didn’t like the name. I just wish it was any other name. Any other name as common as Raimundo. It could be Antônio, José, Joaquim... I wouldn't mind. But why the hell, Raimundo? Why Raimundo? — Lukas briefly thought about it in silence, without expressing his frustration. He remained in polite attitude, and tried to match the good education the receptionist was showing. Lukas struggled to be gentle and to overcome his unreasonable disaffection. "Good evening! I'd like to stay in a good room. For single night. I prefer to stay in high floor, with a panoramic view of the city.‖ In fact, it has to be high enough so I don't take risk of not dying — he thought to himself as the attentive receptionist began to search for the rooms available that day. Then, Raimundo said the lines he knew by heart: ―Maksoud Plaza has very comfortable rooms and suites. They are all furnished with great elegance. All equipment is in high technology, and our building have fire protection. You can access your room using a magnetic safety card. The rooms have special remote control for air conditioning and for lighting...‖ Impatient, and trying to shorten that detailed explanation, Lukas badly wanted to learn what services like Room Office, Fast Track Internet, ReadyWeb, Business Cells Center or Skyline Lounge Club really meant. Much less was he interested in inquiring about the benefits and services offered to guests. Out of those extravagances, he knew he wasn’t going to use any of them because they were useless for his secret liturgy. For that moment, what he needed wasn’t much, just a cozy room in a fairly high floor where he could take a nice shower, order a good meal, light his pipe, and die in peace and glamour.

Lukas was quite uncomfortable with that non-stop talk. To put an end to that endless explanations about the incredible and unimaginable services the hotel can offer, Lukas spoke: "I won't have enough time to enjoy any of these, as a matter of fact. All I need is just a nice, cozy room for the night. That's all!" he interrupted the receptionist. "Forgive me, sir," Raimundo tried to apologize, and continued: "You have already told me you are staying here for a single night, I’m sorry. We are so used to explain everything in details... I’m sorry!" "No problem, man!" Lukas tried to reassure him. After a quick look in some kind of printed room catalogue, and analyzing all the rooms available, from the executive room with a double bed, to the Trianon Presidential Suite with a king sized bed, Lukas resolutely said: "Done! I've made my choice, I'll stay in this one,‖ Lukas said, enthusiastic, pointing with the index finger of his right hand to a picture in the catalogue: Premium Brazilian Luxury Suite. […] It’s on the 22nd floor, so I won't have a chance to survive. This is perfect! Also, since I have hired the services of embalming and facial reconstruction, that funeral home surely will restore all the damages in my body as a result of the violent impact from the fall. My body will be impeccable, proper for the funeral. That's exactly what we agreed and so I hope it’s! "You've made a great choice, sir!" the receptionist said, interrupting Lukas' unaccompanied delusions, before repeatedly emphasizing the room features: "Premium Brazilian Luxury Suite is a 300-square-meter lounge, with a wonderful view of town. There is a large living room with bar, convertible sofa, and dining table. There is also room office with: Fast Track Internet, Ready Web and Dial Up Internet, multiple telephones, TV with international channels. It has

a king-sized bed, a reading area, toilet area with a closet, and a digital safe. There are two bathrooms in Carrara marble, hair dryer, bathrobe, slippers and amenities. Social environments with portable lighting controls, air conditioning, and lounge music. Light armor and strict control of noise. Technical Concierge and 24/7 Room Service. Firefighting system in one of the highest international standard. Free access to our Fitness Center and to our smoking area...‖ Even jaded about those repetitive explanations, professor acknowledged how important a single detail can be. One of these details in roadmaps, that we are boringly and tiringly repeated by receptionists in order to explain all the benefits and advantages of the establishments in which they work. A single detail can ruin a plan. "Well... I'd like to stay in one of those rooms for smokers," he decided. After all, what he most wanted was to die peacefully, without bothering anyone else. He considered it would not be fair to exhale smoke from his authentic Savinelli, and take a risk of being harassed, stopped or even warned for not respecting the rules. Lukas wanted just to kill himself quietly, without further dire and without causing problems to anyone else. "What's your name, Sir?" the receptionist asked, giving Lukas a form. "My name is Lukas. With the K," he pointed out as usual. Once again, he thought to himself: what a big mistake this meaningless letter K is. Soon none of that will have the slightest importance — Lukas began to fill the form, and searched for the required documents in his wallet. After filling the form, he paid the fare in advance, using one of the cards he carried in his wallet. Everything seemed fair and appropriate. He said goodbye to his nemesis, created in a personal linguistic disagreement. He got the key card to open the door of his suite, and went on to one four panoramic lifts in the Atrium Lobby. By the time he reached the 20th floor, he enjoyed the incredible internal architecture of Maksoud Plaza for a few seconds. He saw, right below his feet: a

fountain, and some galleries of shops, escalators, gardens, and a plethora of great details. Although such amusement soon isn’t making much sense, Lukas felt a sense of pride. At least he was going to die in a place well-known for being so exquisite, renowned and magnificent.

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Marcus Deminco (Salvador-BA. Set, 28 1976). Brazilian writer and psychologist; Doctor Honoris Causa in Attention Deficit Disorder/ Hyperactivity Disorder; Practitioner and Tutor of Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP); Portal of Psychologists Newsletter Subscriber. Wrote several texts, phrases and thoughts shared on numerous websites and social networks. Author of ‘Why read Paulo Coelho?’ Praised and shared by Paulo Coelho himself among his readers. Marcus Deminco is author of: 1) Me and My Friend ADD - Autobiography of a guy with Attention Deficit Disorder. 2) The Secret of Clarice Lispector 3) VERTYGO - The Suicide of Lukas (Portuguese Edition) 4) VERTYGO - The Suicide of Lukas (English Edition) 5) Neuro-Linguistic Programming: beginning by the beginning. 6) Messages to Post, Like and Share. Vol. 1 7) Messages to Post, Like and Share. Vol. 2 8) Messages to Post, Like and Share. Vol. 3 9) E-cards text collection. Vol. 1 10) E-cards text collection. Vol. 2


Awards and Tributes ___________________________________

1.1. Author of ‘Estafeta Sem Rumo’ − Cecilio Barros Barros Pessoa Awards of Anthology − Academy of Letters, Arts and Sciences of Arraial do Cabo - RJ. 1.2. Doctor Honoris Causa in ADHD by the Brazilian Association of Psychosomatic Medicine in recognition of the scientific contribution and social relevance of the book: Me & My Friend ADHD − Autobiography of a guy with Attention Deficit Disorder. 1.3. One of the winners of Além da Terra, Além do Céu prize of contemporary Brazilian poetry awarded by Chiado Editora.


Talk to Marcus Deminco ___________________________________________________________

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The previous version of vertygo the suicide of lukas  
The previous version of vertygo the suicide of lukas  

THIS is just a Previous Version with some chapters of the original Best-seller Vertygo – The Suicide of Lukas. __________________ Multivers...