Beads of sweat slowly raced down my back. Nothing unusual there as it was well over 100 degrees in the pub. Not bad for three in the morning. And I use the term “pub” in its loosest term. There were only two walls, either side, nothing at the front or back and a corrugated roof. The lack of walls and doors at the front and back was alleviated by the fact that the place never closed. The furniture looked like a three year old may have constructed it and probably had. The bar was inside a cage where the barman passed your drinks through the Steel bars. For the neighbourhood we were in though it was a classy joint. It could have been the Viper Lounge or Mahliki seeing as it was ideally situated directly in front of a shanty town.
Samba music blasted out of a make shift DJ platform, the bass ramped up so high that it reverberated through your body. Not so much as listening to the music but feeling it. Two girls danced topless on a table in the middle of the room, quite brave of them in my opinion as the table looked like it was held together with blue tac.
Five of us were sat on what could only be described as a picnic table made out of Lego. I can’t recall what Lager we were drinking but it was some bottled shite. I do remember the Cachaca chasers, a particularly nasty little shot peculiar to that area. The Lager was poured into plastic glasses, bottles not allowed. And it wasn’t poured in the traditional manner of holding the glass at a 45 degree angle and slowly emptying the bottles contents into the glass. The glasses were slapped on a table and poured as quickly as possible. There was a perfectly logical explanation for this as the barman only used his left hand; his right hand had a permanent tight grip on a shotgun draped over his right shoulder. The shotgun served two purposes as far as I could see. One was to detract undesirables which had obviously failed and the other was to camouflage the fact that his right ear had been cut off which also didn't work.
And the clientele were a real motley crew. Glasses weren’t allowed but every guy in there had a knife, machete or gun. I was waiting for some guy to walk in with a bazooka. There were probably thirty people sat about and apart from the two girls dancing I would say that the only other people not packing were Dave, Tony and myself. It wasn’t hard to spot either as most of the people had their weapon of choice placed on the table next to their drinks. Hardly any of the men were wearing tops, come to think of it neither were the women. I guess it looked like the inside of a plastic surgeons operating room there were so many scars on view.
Conversation was nigh on impossible because of the music which was okay because I was so pissed I couldn’t talk. Incredibly, behind the bar were hammocks with about half a dozen people sleeping. How they managed that I can only put down to the copious amount of drugs freely available. One dark haired beauty had caught my eye. She was quite tall, olive skinned, wearing a bikini top incasing breasts the size of small planets and intriguingly had a denim mini skirt on which barely covered her ten inch dick. I couldn't take my eyes off her/him.
Welcome to Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras 1985.
In one of the greatest ironies the World has ever thrown up, My mate Dave had gone to the biggest Footballing Nation on the planet to coach Rugby for nine months. Big Tony and I had flown out for the Mardi Gras and what an eye opener that was. Luckily the team Dave was coaching had some of the most vicious bastards ever to take a Rugby field playing for him. One guy, Santo R.I.P. an extremely violent little cunt, had taken Dave under his wing and introduced him to the seedier side of Rio.
Dave had picked us up at the airport and by the time we reached his gaffe we had been held up twice. You could't stop at a red light without someone prodding a gun through the window and demanding cash. After a few days I was handing out £10 bills to anyone who approached me, regardless of whether they were holding me up or asking for directions.
People would be waving guns about like you would wag a finger when talking to someone and after a few days there you were so used to it that you became oblivious to the danger you were in. Until the night described above.
In all probability we would have been skinned alive had we not been with Santo. We certainly wouldn't have gone to that area of town by choice and would probably have left in a body bag. The cheap drugs and Cachaca had kicked in and the bird with the dick was looking like a Goddess. Santo was egging me on whilst Dave was screaming something about standards and gayness. Suddenly Santo sat bolt upright and grabbed his gun. Three guys walked in and casually gunned down the DJ. The barman opened fire, straight over the top of our heads and I hit the floor in double quick time. Within 30 seconds six people were dead.
After the gunfire had stopped and I opened my eyes, Dave, Tony and I just stared at each other. I lifted my head over the table and Santo and his mate were sat there still drinking as if nothing had happened. I do not think I've ever been so scared in all my life.
I mention this because Dave rang me yesterday. One of the boys who played for him has organised a 25 year reunion next year and Dave has been invited. "Fancy coming?" he asked.
"Go fuck yourself Dave", I replied, "once was enough in this lifetime".