David Machado was born in Lisbon in 1978. He has a degree in economics from ISEG, Lisbon's School of Economics and Management, but soon devoted himself to writing fiction and children's literature.
In 2005, he was awarded the Branquinho da Fonseca Prize for his children's book A Noite dos Animais Inventados and, in 2010, he was awarded the SPA/RTP Author Prize, in the category for Best Children and Youth book, for O Tubarão na Banheira.
He is the author of the short story collection Histórias Possíveis and the novels O Fabuloso Teatro do Gigante, Deixem Falar as Pedras and Índice Médio de Felicidade, as well as the children's books Os Quatro Comandantes da Cama Voadora, Um Homem Verde num Buraco Muito Fundo, A Mala Assombrada, Parece Um Pássaro and Acho Que Posso Ajudar. He has contributed work to the literary collections A Misteriosa Mulher da Ópera, Contos de Verão and O Segredo, and has published short stories in Portuguese and foreign newspapers and magazines.
Translated by Rui Vitorino Azevedo
“We did something wrong,” he said.
“What did we do wrong?”
“The site,” he said. “The site isn't working.”
Can you believe it? The guy was still trying to figure out the site. You weren't even here about half a year ago and Xavier was still worried about that shitty site. Because you put that into his head. You didn't shut up about the site for months. It was a foolproof idea. We were going to sell the business a year later with a 10,000% profit. We'd pay off the instalment loans, our children's education, lead a comfortable lifestyle, the whole film; and we were going to do something good, we were going to help people. I heard you talk about that so many times. I even started to believe it too. It seemed to be a great idea. To be honest, it still seems to me to be a great idea. But the truth is that we put money into it, money that I now need, money that might have stopped you from doing what you did, and we never saw that money again. And Xavier had all that work programming the site, weeks without sleeping, and when it was finally ready nothing happened. Months passed and still nothing happened. He was right: the site wasn't working. It's just that, well, for me it stopped being important a long time ago. But almost a year later Xavier was still trying to figure it out.
I didn't want to have that useless conversation, but I tried to be patient.
“What do you want to do?” I asked him. “We can't put more money in.”
He closed his laptop monitor a little and his face filled with shadows. He said:
“There are people using the site. The problem is that none of those people need help.”
In short, the problem was this: we created a social network where people who need help and people who are willing to help can meet. During the first 11 months that the site was live, 26 people signed up. Of those 26, there are 14 that never wrote anything, four that write regularly explaining that they need help jerking off, wiping their ass, cutting their toe nails, etc., three that use the site to stay in contact with each other without having ever made any request for help, and one that occasionally announces their availability to help whoever with whatever may be needed, in any place and at any time, and for that reason has a nine seater van.