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Drama on the Beco

Updated: Apr 8

Back on the Beco’s Bench (photo by author)

Week 21 brought drama to our little Beco!

Missing Neighbor

Lately, my favorite neighbor has not been seen much on our Beco. In the mornings, as I am sitting at my table with the French doors open to our little square below, he waves up as he strolls out of his apartment with his faithful little dog Graça at his heels.

It’s been over a week since I’ve seen him. At first, I noticed many of the villagers coming by all day long and peeking in his only window. He has a studio so my first reaction was to give the man some peace. In the mornings he might still have “Mrs. Last Night” in there. Surely they’ve seen him out at night in his best Armani T-shirt.

There was a core team there many times throughout the day. One I was certain was a close female relative, and the other was certainly his son.

Increased Activity on the Beco

One afternoon, there was an increased level of activity around the neighbor’s apartment. The usual suspects were peeking in his window as well as coming and going from his apartment. He was yelling occasionally which I thought might just be because of all the activity.

The longer this went on, the more I worried. He is probably the guy I want to speak with most and hear his stories of life in the Beco long before I arrived. He’s always so sweet, talking to me as I nod as if I can understand. If I tell him a new Portuguese word or phrase I’ve learned, he begins speaking to me like I’m suddenly fluent. I truly hoped he was okay but had become very worried for him.

The guy who I assume is his son, tried to give me updates using a combination of Portuguese and hand motions. When he made a slashing motion across his stomach and said the word “hospital” I assumed my little friend was headed for surgery.

Enter the Paramedics

His son had called the paramedics from our little square. It’s darn fortunate it was not an emergency as from my limited Portuguese, it seemed to take a while for him to make the paramedics understand the exact location of our Beco.

Finally, two paramedics arrived on foot and went inside to check out the situation. After a short time, they came back out with my buddy, flanking him on either side as he began the hike up the hill. I realized there is really no other way out of the Beco than to go up or down the hill. I somewhat expected one of the strapping lads to fireman’s carry him up the steps but it was not to be.

That night he was back in his apartment with the full guard checking in on him. I did not know what exactly happened at the hospital but apparently he was not in the clear yet. After the full-guard dispersed, his son spent the night, pacing, smoking and hacking up his lungs. I wondered what the appropriate Portuguese words were for “You keep that up and you’ll be the next person in the hospital”.

Moving Furniture onto the Beco

Moving Furniture onto the Beco

Tis Provides Moving Services

Thankfully, after a few days, my favorite neighbor was moving about the Beco, albeit a little more slowly, carrying his shiny new colostomy bag in a plastic grocery bag. One morning as I was working in my windows, I noticed him moving his furniture out of his studio apartment and onto our little square, still carrying his colostomy bag. I yelled down for him to stop in tones that should clearly convey the meaning of my words in any language.

When I got downstairs, I pointed to our bench and motioned for him to sit. As I was moving the rest of his furniture out for him, he instructed me precisely how to organize it on the square. I wondered if he might be moving outside permanently.

Soon, my favorite older lady came out and shook her head as she watched me relocate his furniture. She got on the phone and soon, the lady whom I suspect is a close relative, showed up to take charge. She spent the afternoon helping him micro-clean his apartment, restoring it to the state he prefers. He is an incredibly clean little dude.

Back to Normal on the Beco

That evening, after all the chaos of the day, he strolled out of his apartment on his cane, with Graça right behind him, and sat on our bench with a satisfied smile.

Once more, all is right on the Beco.

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