Arts & Entertainment

Willy Loman Comes to Brazil

By Aleksey Bashtavenko

Academic Composition

Marvin sat at a dimly lit bar near the Galeao airport in Rio de Janeiro, engaged in conversation with a potential client. He leaned in, his crouchy posture giving an air of confidentiality to their discussion. With every word, he weaved his signature charm, enticing the client with tales of his past exploits.

“I once blew a 0.015 in Miami,” Marvin said with a chuckle, a glint of mischief in his eyes. “And the cops let me walk home like nothing ever happened.”

The client’s fascination and skepticism only deepened as Marvin got up from his bar stool, reaching for his motorcycle helmet with a sense of nonchalance. He flashed a complacent grin, seemingly undeterred by any hint of disapproval.

“Life is easier when you are polite, professional, and respectful,” he replied with a casual shrug, as if his charm alone could exempt him from any consequences. He exuded an air of invincibility, confident that his charisma and slick talk could smooth over any potential issues.

The client, growing increasingly uneasy, voiced his concern about the legality of Marvin’s decision to drive after having had a few drinks. “Isn’t that dangerous? What if something happens?” they questioned, their concern tinged with a hint of disbelief.

Marvin’s scoff was swift and dismissive. “Laws? Laws in this country? There are no laws here!” he proclaimed with a sly smile as if he had uncovered some secret that others were blind to.

His chameleon-like nature extended beyond his wardrobe. Marvin had a remarkable skill for adjusting his speech and mannerisms to mirror those around him. In the company of high society, he would adopt a refined and eloquent way of speaking, charming them with his wit and eloquence. Amongst more casual circles, his speech would take on a relaxed and colloquial tone, creating an illusion of familiarity and camaraderie

In the United States, Marvin’s legal career spiraled into a whirlwind of unprofessional behavior. Disbarred for his gross misconduct, he left behind a trail of broken promises and shattered trust. He claimed to be a master of justice, yet he couldn’t resist the temptation of drunk driving, careening headlong into a collision with reality.

Undeterred by his fall from grace, Marvin tried his hand at being a paralegal, but he quickly grew disdainful of such “lowly” work. The stench of humility was unbearable to him, and so he sought refuge in his comfort zone, determined to return to what he knew best.

With a swagger in his step and a charming grin, Marvin strutted into a car dealership, offering his services as a salesman. When asked about his experience in sales, he promptly declared his legal background as the pinnacle of salesmanship. Why, of course, what better way to woo customers than with persuasive legal jargon and dubious claims of success?

The dealership, perhaps bewitched by his audacity, fell for his ruse, hiring him without a second thought.

In the hustle and bustle of the American car dealership, Marvin found himself in his element. Armed with his disingenuous charm and slick sales pitch, he quickly climbed the ranks, making a small fortune in a little over a year. His ability to spin tales and convince customers of anything he wished to sell earned him a reputation as one of the top salesmen in the business.

Yet, fate had a different plan for Marvin. Circumstances beyond his control forced him to consider a new chapter in his life. One day, a burly-looking man stormed into the dealership, his face flushed with anger. He demanded that Marvin accept the car he had bought and offer a full refund, threatening him with menacing words that sent shivers down Marvin’s spine. “I’ll f****ng find you, a**hole!” he bellowed, his voice echoing through the office.

Upon arriving in Brazil, Marvin’s eyes sparkled with dreams of exploiting what Roberto Schwarz had referred to as “corrosive tolerance.” He realized that the Brazilians were willing to overlook immoral behavior if wrapped in the cloak of false charm. Here was a haven for his slick and superficial ways, a place where he could flourish in his self-centered pursuits. In Rio de Janeiro, Marvin found solace in the land of the malandragem—the city’s artful tricksters and con artists. The streets buzzed with a peculiar charm, and the siren call of “corrosive tolerance” whispered sweetly in his ears. In this realm of cunning deceit, he felt a sense of liberation, a freedom from the shadows of his past.

With the fortune he amassed from his successful stint at the car dealership, Marvin found himself living comfortably in Brazil for the first few months. The easy life in Rio de Janeiro seemed to be a paradise for him, filled with the allure of sunny days, picturesque beaches, and a plethora of cheap pleasures to indulge in.

Eager to make the most of his newfound freedom, he purchased a sleek motorcycle, a symbol of his desire to explore and conquer the vast landscapes of Brazil. With his helmet strapped on, he embarked on border runs, venturing into neighboring countries to satiate his thirst for adventure. As he settled into his new life, Marvin began to consider ways to secure his place in Brazil more permanently. He knew that he couldn’t simply rely on his charm and deception to survive forever. The idea of becoming a legal resident in this land of malandragem and corrosive tolerance intrigued him, presenting a new challenge for the seasoned chameleon.

Marvin’s resourcefulness and cunning soon found a new outlet. He returned to doing what he knew best—legal work, albeit in a more unorthodox manner. Although no longer a licensed attorney, he offered a range of services to his fellow expatriates and locals alike. His repertoire ranged from simple tasks like finding the perfect outfit for someone or tracking down their favorite kind of Guinness, to navigating the convoluted maze of Brazilian bureaucracy for more complex matters. He became the go-to person for those seeking to become legal residents, buy real estate, or overcome any hurdles they faced in this foreign land.

In the land of samba and caipirinhas, Marvin reveled in the hedonistic pleasures Rio de Janeiro had to offer. He basked in the warmth of the beautiful weather, the allure of beautiful women, and the promise of a carefree lifestyle. He saw himself as the quintessential American in a land of opportunity—blinded to the harsh realities lurking beneath the surface.

As he maneuvered through the Brazilian culture with the grace of a bull in a china shop, Marvin failed to grasp the essence of this diverse nation. Language, to Marvin, was but a triviality—an inconvenience that he could easily bypass with his smug grin and a dismissive shrug. He treated Portuguese as a mere obstacle, something to be brushed aside in favor of his own language. He believed that his charm and salesmanship transcended barriers, and he had no qualms about flaunting his American ways as if they were the key to unlocking success in this new land.

Marvin was the epitome of a lawyer who detested the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. The mere thought of reading or learning something new that didn’t promise immediate financial gain left him with a sour taste in his mouth. To him, the value of any information was directly tied to the size of the reward it could bring. Marvin’s lack of authenticity and personal integrity were strikingly similar to Willy Loman’s in “The Death of a Salesman.” Just like Willy, Marvin had a tendency to prioritize image over substance, focusing solely on appearances and immediate financial gains.

In his attempts to charm and deceive, Marvin unwittingly mirrored the deceptive allure of Rio itself. Just as the city’s beauty masked its darker underbelly, so did Marvin’s charming façade conceals a character bereft of authenticity and self-awareness. His actions echoed the chaotic traffic of Rio’s streets, weaving through the tangled web of lies and half-truths he spun for his unsuspecting customers. With each passing day, Marvin reveled in the false sense of success he had created, blissfully ignorant of the reckoning that awaited him.

The sun hung low in the sky, casting a warm golden hue over the Ipanema boardwalk. The rhythmic sound of crashing waves provided a soothing backdrop to the scene unfolding at the beachfront bar. Marvin, clad in his signature tailored suit, exuded an air of confidence as he sat across from his latest customer—a Chinese-American woman with a determined glint in her eyes.

With animated gestures and a charismatic smile, Marvin regaled her with tales of his supposed success and the countless satisfied clients he had helped achieve their dreams. He spoke with the alacrity of a seasoned salesman, effortlessly weaving a web of charm around his attentive audience.

As the conversation deepened, the topic shifted to the woman’s ambitions—her desire to invest in real estate. Marvin’s eyes sparkled with opportunity, sensing the perfect moment to showcase his skills. He deftly positioned himself as the expert she needed, promising to guide her through the intricacies of the market and secure her financial future. Within the hour, she was hooked. With a combination of flattery and carefully crafted pitches, Marvin had her on the brink of signing up for a package of his services to the tune of $50,000. He relished the feeling of success, his ego-inflating with each word of praise the woman lavished upon him.

Just as the deal seemed sealed, fate intervened with an unforeseen twist. As Marvin reached out to adjust his collar, his shirt sleeve hitched up, revealing a Chinese character tattoo on his shoulder. Unbeknownst to him, this small glimpse would change the course of the conversation.

Inquisitive eyes landed on the mysterious ink, and the woman’s curiosity was piqued. She pointed at the character and asked Marvin what it meant. Ever the showman, he responded without hesitation, claiming it represented the essence of his character—self-discipline, the virtue he held in high regard.

Her brow furrowed slightly, and she shook her head gently. “No,” she corrected him, her tone tinged with amusement, “it means deceitful.”

Leave a Reply