by Alexandru Potcoavă [Romania]
translated from Romanian by Graham Mummery & Alina-Olimpia Miron [MTTLC student]
“How’s my darling wife?” Colonel Petrescu’s vodka-soaked voice roared from the hallway.
“I’m good, of course!” replied the lady-colonel from the living-room, in an irritated tone, while perusing a Soviet fashion magazine. “Finished the application?”
“Finished for the day!“ the colonel roared yet again and stormed into the parlor, tramping his way towards the sofa.
The woman raised her eyes.
“Out of here with those boots! How many times do I have to tell you? Don’t bring mud into my living-room!”
The colonel froze in the middle of the Persian rug, looked down and retreated before smiling stupidly.
“Do forgive me, my dear, I always forget!” the husband said from the hallway, trying to take off his boots. “Darling, be a dear and put away that magazine? Will you come and help me out here?“
From the room came the sound of magazines being shut violently before ending up flung on the carpet.
‘Always the same! Every evening!’ the lady-colonel exclaimed still seated.
‘What am I? Your wife? Your servant? And, after all, what are you? Private or officer? And if you’re an officer, where’s your arse-licker? Well?’
Colonel Petrescu planted himself on the living-room threshold, one leg booted and the other bootless.
‘Servant you say? You want a fuck? Here’s my dick then, damn it!’
The military man leaped at the sofa and this time was unstoppable. The Persian rug now looked half trampled, half flat. As if someone had played muddy hopscotch on it.
The colonel threw himself on his woman and quickly finding the perfect place to unleash his temper.
‘There you are’ the satisfied man said, getting to his feet. ‘Now, what’s for dinner?’
However, the lady colonel went straight to the toilet and locked herself in. She turned on the water and started to cleanse herself between her legs. Outside, the colonel stood on his bootless foot and, using his boot heel, unhinged the door.
‘Whore!’ the man said, appearing in the crack. ‘Don’t you shut the door to my face! You hear me?’
The wife threw him an ironic look while her hand went rapidly back and forth from the water jet to labia.
‘You knew I was a whore when you married me! Why did you do it?’
Colonel Petrescu didn’t waste another minute. In two shakes of a lamb’s tail he kneeled near his wife, removed her hand and started to lick the furry lips of her sex.
‘I’m so sorry, sweet wife!’ the man mumbled.
‘And send someone in tomorrow to fix the door!’ moaned Otilia bitterly, propping her rear against the wall.
From Coca Nistor’s apartment one could hear all kind of noises at any time of day or night. Broken bottles, gramophone discs full of fading after having been listened to on and on, hysterical laughs and goaded moaning.
Coca Nistor’s illegal brothel had hosted the Hungarian , German, Romanian and Soviet armies, all at once or one at a time. An entire world war had unfolded in Olga, Hilda and Otilia’s beds, at the ground floor of the house on 29, Carol I Boulevard. The last victims: Colonel Petrescu and Coca Nistor. While everybody was drunk with joy because of the peace, Major Petrescu, as happy as anybody, showed up at the brothel door, a bottle of champagne and a bouquet of flowers under his arm. He rang three times, as any client who knew the code and almost dropped the flowers on Coca when he opened the door.
‘Where’s Otilia?’ the future colonel tramped anxiously.
‘She’s with a client. You’ll have to wait a bit. Please, take a seat. Would you like some cognac? It’s awfully good! Smuggled!’
‘No cognac!’ the military raised his voice and barged in Otilia’s room, breaking the door on his way. He found her sitting doggy-style, while a Russian colonel was reddening her buttocks. He made a dart for him, broke the champagne bottle in his head and kissed the woman on the butt, throwing the bouquet on the pillow.
‘Dear girl, I’ve come to take you! Get dressed!’
‘What about Coca? Have you spoken to him?’
Major Petrescu took his pistol from its casing.
‘Just get dressed!’ the man cut her short, rolling the Russian off the bed with his leg. ‘Come on!’
The officer went in search of Coca on the hallway.
‘Now listen here! Either Otilia comes with me and I let you be or she comes with me and I wipe out this joint!’
‘Otilia is mine, major!’ the pimp cut in, swearing him. She’ll still be here when your bucket’s filled up!’ the owner of the establishment –former railway worker at the boiler house – haughtily added. His face was had no trace of soot on it, but his wide nails were a different matter.
The major put the pistol to his head.
Coca clasped his thick fists. He punched the officer right in the chest, quickly tilting his head. The man went to pieces on the floor. The other one took the pistol, unloaded it and threw the weapon in Major Petrescu’s lap.
When he came to, the officer was seen to the door and kicked outside. Coca was standing in the doorway.
‘Old man, you may have the pistol, but I have the bullets! Remember that!’ the pimp laughed. After which he slammed the door, went to Otilia’s room and slapped her a couple of times. Then he lifted the Russian, put some ice on the back of his neck and sent him away.
The following day, Major Petrescu was hear knocking at the same door. Behind him, on the steps, there was a group of military police men. Hardly had the person inside opened the door, when two sturdy fellows jumped on him. They quickly immobilized him, while the officer woke Otilia up. He watched her eyes, swollen from the beating she had had.
‘I thought I told you to get dressed!’ he smiled.
‘What about Coca?’ she looked at him scared.
‘Coca’s about to get himself iceed!’ the man grinned.
The brothel went down the same day. Olga returned to her parents and Hilda went in search of one of her faithful customers, an SS officer from Timişoara who was pushing snow away in Siberia. Otilia arrived at Major Petrescu’s house and, within a month, she had become the Lady-Major Petrescu, and, within a few years, she was promoted Lady-Colonel.
Coca Nistor was sentenced to fifteen years for attacking an Soviet officer and a couple more for procuring. However, he only served seven years before he died at the culvert, his face in a wheelbarrow. Tired as hell, he suffocated in the earth he had kept pushing.
The Franţiu family moved in the empty apartment. The first thing they did: they redecorated the rooms and keyed the croaking piano in the parlor. A white piano, with a tail, which mister Franţiu used to play Chopin’s Nocturnes on until around 2008 when, alone in the world and having Alzheimer’s, he died having forgotten to put the top on the keyboard.