I was waiting in the desultory heat for the bus that just wouldn't come. I think the mind starts creating entertainment when left in the limbo of a crowded sidewalk. Let's call it 'drama' for the purposes of this tale.
The current fashion in São Paulo is these giant handbags that I fondly call 'coffins'. This woman had a coffin she could easily fit herself in. Another lady rushed past, clutching her carrier bag of treasures. The coffin tore at the carrier bag and a small plastic dollar store guitar fell out. The woman motored on, not realising what had happened, quickly losing herself in the crowd.
Two policemen pulled up on their motorbikes and, brandishing guns, stopped a man from boarding a bus and questioned him. Coffin-woman came to her own conclusions. Her theory was that someone had robbed a bus, then thrown the little plastic guitar on the ground. "The guitar is evidence!" she'd proclaim, staring at it lying there as if it were a snake. I must tell you at this point that the little guitar was one of those really cheap, all plastic guitars, about 10" long.
The cops were still around. They were questioning every guy in a white surf shirt, beige baggies, carrying a backpack and talking into a mobile speaker earphone thingie (I've hit a blank on what they're called). Coincidentally, there were four of them.
I was worried that someone would step on the luckless guitar and break it. Explaining what I had seen, I picked it up and put it on one of the empty bus shelter seats. Either I explained badly or coffin-woman's story was way more believable, but the guy sitting next to the little guitar picked it up, sniffed it, shook it, listened for lurking evil, then gingerly put it down again.
Coffin-woman went up to the man and the guitar and expounded on her theory at length. We waited quite a long time, so the theory got more elaborate as time went on. Eventually, the strange backpack-surfer guys moved off in one direction and the cops in another, though the cops hung around a little way off, just watching. Coffin-woman's bus arrived. I was grateful.
Just then, out of the crowd came the original guitar lady... hot, bothered and looking quite desperate. The bus stops on this stretch run in a sort of alternating system. Some buses stopping at the one, the other buses stop then way further down. She had obviously been rushing to the next bus stop. She was back at our stop, as the bus she wanted stopped there. The first thing she did was scour the surroundings. She must have realised that she'd lost the guitar. I went to the seats to get it for her. It was gone! I looked everywhere. Now I'm wondering if the cops took it as evidence. It was nowhere to be seen. In her torn carrier bag was a little matching pink guitar. My heart broke for her. She eventually got on the same bus as me, looking very despondent. People who buy that kind of Christmas gift don't usually have the means to buy replacements. I wanted to give her a little something to get something for her kids, but the bus was jam packed. I was separated from her and didn't see her again. A pity really. I hope she found another way to get a little blue guitar for her child.