Dead End

by Cristina Nemerovschi (Morgothya) [Romania]

Translation from Romanian by Elena Lavinia Diaconescu, MTTLC student

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He only remembered that today was the day of his death.

He chose in a hurry a shirt from the wardrobe, knowing he was late. He gave up his half-ceremonial that he usually did when having meetings with clients – he chose only a quick shaving and a perfunctory brushing of teeth, then ran out from his apartment.

It was raining and he thought he would mud his trousers. “Damn it!” he said and stopped a taxi. He let the taxi driver not too much tip and immediately had an acute feeling of displeasure, which he felt like a pebble in his shoe. Involuntarily, he thought that it might be the last tip and the last ride.

The doorman greeted him indifferently. He called the elevator.

Till the 11th floor, he thought that, generally, he did not believe in prophecies, in paranormal things used for reading the future. He had visited that fortune teller due to a wish, that now he was despising: to please V. She thought this crap to be funny and educative. He did not believe it neither when he listened to the toothless hag, nor he believes it now. What rot!

That hag did not know a thing about him. She did not have the least idea. She was a stupid hag, whom once it occurred at random and thought to throw it on the table through the cards of tarot in order to impress V. The pussies always swallow everything. After he had gotten out from the hag’s hovel, he thought somehow with a release that the day which the hag foretold would come in more than two years. “Till then I am ok”, he said to himself and laughed, of course, of the naivety and the ridicule of his thought.

The boss greeted him and reminded him of the meeting that was going to take place at 10 o’clock. He entered into his office and opened the laptop. “This is the most familiar view”, he thought, while noticing that he had not made any changes in his apartment for quite some time. He arrogated them to the lack of time, fatigue, boredom, but also to the fact that he had been alone for six months. He had had only one night stands for which he had never bothered about letting down the lid of the wc after pissing.

Maybe spending more hours at the office than at home was a plausible explanation.

The hag told him that it would come in an ordinary day and it would not have anything dreadfully.

“What rot!” He thought for the third time that day. “These fortune tellers should be exterminated. They get only farts into people’s head.”

He checked his mail. As usual, nothing was important, the boss had sent him a reminder for the 10 o’clock meeting. It was early, some interesting things would come out, as usual, after the lunch break: an interesting invitation for playing cards, for bowling, for going to the gym or to somebody’s birthday or just for drinking a beer. He took a coffee with milk and without sugar.

V. obviously believed it. She had started crying and had been moved for the rest of the day. She had tried to find out more details from the witch, but the hag had refused to give her more answers. She had been foretold that she would have five children. Half a year later, after a gynecologic control due to an infection at the ovaries, she found out that she could not get pregnant. It is obvious what a professional the hag was…

Maybe the Tartarean hag was the reason why the relation with V. had run off the rails and after that it had gone to pot. Who knows? If he met her again, he would probably break a chair into her head. The hag’s head, he means. “Bald woodpecker”.

The meeting was going to begin in a few minutes. He took his laptop and got out of the office.

Nobody had come yet in the meeting room, so he thought he had time to go pee, if that crap was going to last more than two hours, it never knows. He let the laptop opened on the conference table in front of his visit card ( G.D. – financial consultant) and entered into the wc. He was about to slip at the door. That moron scrubwoman had washed on the floor again. More seriously, she was still in the wc, washing with the mop and grumbling out. “Fuck the hags!”, he said to himself. “All they do is to put one’s spoke”, he also thought, while realizing that going pee would remain just a dream. He had never been able to go pee with somebody else in the room. He had no time to open his cleavage, that the hag started talking to him, beyond the bathroom door. “Fuck those who let so much hair on the floor. I wish the hair remains into their throats, and they choke with it! Look what the jackasses had done, they had flooded the wc. Poor me, I have to clean after these people who seem to be pigs, I would have better gone to the sty!” He obviously did not answer her. He flushed without peeing at all. He swore her. It occurred to him to go down at the 10th floor and pee, there it probably would not be a moron to wash the wc at that hour. “ Damn them! They cannot come with half an hour earlier in order to do their work, damn these lazy stinking women. They stay late at night and watch soap operas on Acasa TV channel.

He decided to go pee more probably during the meeting break. He stopped in front of the mirror and began to wash his hands. He cast an absent look at himself. He was strange and each time he looked into the mirror, he was surprised of him getting old. He was not quite surprised, but more perplexed, as if he had gotten drunk at night, had fallen asleep and had woken up ten years older in the morning, as if he had expected to remain somewhere into a more intimate and known past. He realized that, even if the hag’s prophecy had come true, it would have represented no tragic event at all. To die at the age 35 it is almost something normal. Many people die at 35. You have already lived half of your life, because the years after turning 60 do not count anymore. He dried his hands and looked disgustedly at the scrubwoman who kept talking: “Piss on the floor! Shit everywhere…look, he clogged the wc, fucking bastards!”

The conference room was full of people. He found his place where a stupid woman had sat down, although he had let his computer opened and had the label with his name. He asked her impolitely to move over. On certain occasions, he realized that his misogynist spirit from his prime of life was still there. At first side he usually hated the chicks, he did not trust any of them till the disproof. But the disproof usually did not appear. V. was one of the fewest who had succeeded in passing over the cynic wall that he created for all of them. “One of the fewest or the only one?” he thought while meeting his boss’s eye. “Yes, I have exaggerated again”, he said to himself. He tried to ignore them all and focused only on the presentation.

Of course, he had asked himself many times how it would be. He read many books about death, as a teenager he had been a fan of heavy metal and had written poems about hell, curses and nonentity. How would it really be? The romantic image with rivers of fire and boilers with tar had vanished from his mind. Undoubtedly, it was going to be more concrete. He inclined to believe that it would be something painful, not the death itself, but the moments before it.

The boss asked him with a severe voice to present the diagrams. He stood up and went to the panel. He took in everyone at a glance. They had that unmistakable air that children have when you get them along to visit a nasty aunt, who talks squeakily and stinks, and whom their parents had given severe instructions before; as if they had been forbidden to raise and go, because that it would have offended the stinky squeaky woman. But these people were no longer children. “They are losers” he thought, although at first, he did not realize it precisely. They looked at him with inexpressive eyes, without knowing what they were doing in that meeting room; they came there from inertia and waited for nothing. That stupid blonde who had sat on his chair earlier was looking stealthily into a little mirror that she hold in her palm, in order to arrange her ear rings. She was a cow! She probably felt as if she was seducing.

How would he feel if he stopped her breath? Would he enjoy to thrust his fingers deeper and deeper in her soft flesh, in order to feel her tremble, her fear, to look her in the eye all that time, till her life leaves her ugly body and remains only a hideous toy, as she really is, although she tries to fool everybody that she is alive and feels.

He wondered, as he had not done it for a long time, what he was doing in all that crap. If the others were the losers, where was his place in all this? What made him different? He had not asked himself about this for a few years, since he started to ignore the fact that there could be other life, other preoccupations, other friends, other… passions, but this word has already sounded perverse and worthless.

V. has always thought about death, at a certain moment she even had become a little obsessed about it. She did all the stupid tests that she had found on the internet, which had promised to reveal exactly the day of her death. All these seemed a stupidity to him. He did not believe or wish to know about them. This obsession of hers, but also other fads caused the break up. After just a few weeks, it seemed he had never loved her and it had only been an easy-going relationship.

He forgot about the presentation. He started looking on the window at the leaves that were flying chaotically and imagined that instead of leaves, his colleagues were falling from different floors, were flying together with the unnecessary papers that they had on the writing desk, into a whirl of files and ballpoints, agenda full of addresses, staplers and clips and post-it notes with the telephone numbers for ordering pizza; they were winding for a while in the air, then falling and ramming one by one of the pavement.; they were dispersing into a sort of crumbs. He did not succeed to figure it out what he was doing there, holding in a stupid way a ballpoint in his hand, pointing it unto the graphics. He knew nobody was interested in the topic, that they were there for collusion, for keeping their jobs, for crawling reluctantly another month, in order to pay the keeping and the bank rates. “Fuck them!”, it occurred to him. He had had rebellious outbreaks, but each time he resigned and apologized. Now it was different. Without saying a word, he left the meeting room, making everybody sit up and letting the boss with an angry expression on his face that he could not hide.

He ran up the stairs till the last floor of the building, and went out the terrace. The park and a part of the town, till Mihai Bratu could be seen from there. “What the fuck am I doing here, how have I become one of you?” It occurred to him again, suddenly, like a hit which was impossible to parry. He recalled himself as teenager, as student; the only truly self, the only period of his life in which he could communicate with himself, he understood himself, knew what he wanted and why he wanted, knew where he was going to. Now he was simply unable to retrieve anything of this and did not know who he was. The possibility of having lived somebody else’s life for the past ten years hit him with the brutality and certainty of a panic attack. He had nothing left, he had lost everything and needed not to be too reflexive in order to understand that.

It occurred to him that it was a good moment to commit suicide. He had no possibility to go back and start over again. It was too late. Ten years had hall-marked him, making him a stranger and a toy. He had nothing left. He took a turn to the edge of the terrace. Downstairs, there could be seen the parking line, the cars which were lined one by one and were coloured differently, but yet looking identical. They looked like the people from the offices. Every morning they dressed up in clothes of different colours, but had an ordinary life; the same days, the same people. He took another step. He knew he could not commit suicide. He knew he could have done it ten years ago, but even this he had lost. He was not free anymore. Life had become a stranger to him, he had lost control of it. It did not belong to him anymore. The deliverance had to come from elsewhere.

His colleagues began to get out of the building. It was lunch break. Suddenly, he felt hungry and realized he was nothing more than a performing dog that salivated when  confronting certain stimulus, in that case, the group of people with rumbling paunches who were going to satisfy their appetite. He went down.

The same feeling of futility hit him in the street. He realized he might not survive another day, knowing what he knew, at the same time knowing that it was too late to escape; knowing he was forever trapped here, into a trap that worked as long as he did not figure out that it was a trap. Yes, he had been very happy in his trap for a while, like the blind men who lived in a stinking pit, had their memory erased and thought this was the only possible world. This was not his world anymore.

Suddenly, he wished for something to happen and knew it would happen. He felt something in the air, as if a storm was about to come. A storm was coming indeed, but one he had never seen before. He went to it with all his body twittering, with the nostrils in the wind, smelling with all the pores opened, waiting to get the deliverance from somewhere, from anywhere. It had the smell of freedom and deliverance, of something atemporal that you had always wished for; like when you are a child and no gift please you, because you actually do not know what exactly you expect, but in the moment you finally get it, you recognize it. When crossing over, he saw her on the other side of the pavement, standing out so much from the rest of the people, “the rest of mortals”, he thought, and then he knew.

She was standing there, wearing a long, white dress, a pair of roman sandals, with shoe laces on the leg which were pressing her white and soft flesh from above the ankle. She had long red hair which was flowing in the wind that suddenly started freshening. She was smoking a cigarette without filter. She would have looked a bit hippie, if she had not had so much make-up. She looked through people and above them, as if she had not waited for anybody, but still she knew so well why she was there.

He wanted to wave her, but abstained himself. He crossed the intersection prudently, paying attention not to be hit by one of the cars that were running more chaotic than ever, even if it was late and it did not matter anymore.  In that moment he realized she looked like he had always imagined her to be.

“Fuck you, baby,  I have been waiting for you for so long !”, he said to her, a little excited, while she was putting out in the dust from the kerb the half smoked cigarette.


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