by Fabian Anton (Romania)
Translation from Romanian by Laura Badea, MTTLC student
re-write by Robert Fenhagen
pentru versiunea română click aici
Like any cool story, it started off with something silly—even stupid.
It had been evening, around eleven p.m., and I’d spotted Dia, and her crew of nutters, but didn’t want to have anything to do with them, but you know how it is when someone, who you haven’t seen for about a million years insists that you get together with them, so I went. She had Raul and some guy named Mike by her side and off we went.
It went downhill from there.
I took the insanity of the clubs for a full six hours—laughing with Dia about times, crazy times in the past, dancing, and forcing Mike’s hand off of my ass. Sometimes being cute on the outside just is not all a person is, Mike.
Anyway, after saying all of the by-bys, giving and getting all of the fake kiss-kisses—all except for Mike, who made one last testosterone-fueled attempt to shove his tongue down my throat, I left and began wandering home—soon bored in a big city.
It’s not as if I’m strange, or anything; after all, any twenty-four year old girl would feel bored wandering the streets on a really warm night.
I passed the restaurant, Unreah, closed; I passed Casa Eliad, closed—I didn’t pass the bus stop, which was thankfully not closed, even though it was 11:30. The idiots of the street department had removed all of the benches, so I lowered my cute rear end onto the curb.
I plugged my earphones in, zipped through my play list—Slayer, Motley, Judas, but after a while, it even got boring listening to music, so took my plugs out and sat there on the curb in the purple dark– feeling somewhere between homicide and suicide.
Instead of killing someone, or myself, I began playing my hand game.
I did this by holding my palms together, and squinting and getting really close, I moved a bit more under the street light and could see all of the tiny lines that ran along my wrists, on my fingers, all of those lines, and imagine…….
Maybe streets and cities, and all kinds of things.
If you do this, no matter the hour and the mood, dawn or midnight, you will notice, between the millions of lines and even smaller lines than run across your wrist, your palm, your fingers, in all this madness with no traffic signs, one way streets, alleys, and boulevards of skin and flesh, there is but one road that starts from the middle of the right palm, and slowly climbs, crossing the left palm.
Ever since I was a little girl, I had my soldiers march up this road. You know… to wherever they needed to guard.—marching up each finger of the right hand and on my left hand, I built three cities–one on each bone of my fingers. On each bone, one city with the same name. Therefore, I have four color- cities, four cinnamon-cities and four milk cities (I was eating cinnamon toast and drinking milk when I ‘discovered’ my cities)
City dwellers and rosy cheeked young ladies promenade about my cities, strolling on flesh byways. Twenty-seven thousand clowns parading on streets and boulevards of skin, on Sundays, rainy days, and legal holidays! If this is difficult to understand, just use your imagination and imagine you’re a cute, bored twenty-four year old girl, with a wild imagination.
That’s easy enough, isn’t it?
I don’t know how much time I spent with my cinnamon and milk companions, but, when the bus came, I took my cities and clowns, and we all climbed aboard like the well trained battalion that we were.
There was a bald, short sighted old man contemplating nothing. He had a checked shirt, with ballpoint pen in his shirt pocket. Next to him were a few sheets of paper, with indecipherable print—maybe the bald guy was a spy. In that case, where was his fake hair?
Behind him was crippled beggar, with an accordion decorated with beer bottle tags sat– his accordion squeaking each time the bus went over a pot-hole.–a terrifying tune coming from the Tuborg-Salitos-Ursus box. (Is this a type of accordion?)
The other side bus was even more interesting and hilarious.
An Emo-kid with a pierced lower lip had his tentacles wrapped around some chick (his girlfriend, I suppose). Her longish fingers keep rolling a withered carnation—a carnation that wasn’t quite dead, but should have been. Ugh.
On my hands and wrists, all manner of activity was going on—military and civilian.
I watched my hands—at least, that was interesting at 00:27), when the human flora and fauna of the 313 bus after midnight became depressing, and finally got up (the bald bugger crams his knees together to let me pass. His shortsighted eyes glued to my ass.
Excuse me, please!
Maybe he’s not a spy, but rather your run of the mill pervert.
I moved to another seat, but the outside world was dark.
There you go…
The palms are free again.
Cities, open your gates!
City dwellers and rosy cheeked young ladies. Twenty seven thousand clowns parading in the purple night. Water and cinnamon. Colors. Letters and torches. And an scar alley, just one, starting at the middle of the right palm and going up slowly, very slowly…
How much did it hurt when I fell out of a tree when I was ten years old?
To whom was I climbing?
I have no idea.
Cities, open your gates!
I don’t know when he got next to me. I was busy with my city dwellers (You see, two stations more and off we go! We are at Paleologu; we will leave the bus right after the crossroads, not this station, the next, right next to the church… Here you are… Wait in line. No fuss and curses. After we leave the bus, you can knock yourselves out, but be quiet before. Is that clear?) , therefore I barely noticed someone had sat down next to me. He came from God knows where. He smelled like musk and rain and had a giant green and red backpack, and soon was prodding my left shoulder.
Nothing else, because I was only paying attention to my soldiers, who had to lock the gates of the cinnamon cities, and I could only think of that road which started from the middle of the right palm, slowly, very slowly climbing…
A damn speaker let out a squeaky voice announcing that the next station is… The doors opened. The soldiers were not moving. The city dwellers were waiting for my command. For one moment, the cool air on my cheek, in my hair.
When the doors closed, the bald-headed pervert’s window was in front of me, his face. And the smile the palm of his hand, glued to the dirty glass smearing it.
The road, starting at the middle of my palm and climbing slowly, very slowly, beyond the glass, among twelve other unknown cities, citadels of flesh and skin. And night time.
Dia wanted to go to the mountains. He wasn’t so keen on this, but I insisted and I persuaded him. To be honest, I wasn’t actually in the mood for it either, but I did it for Dia. I began walking back to Dia, with my hands shoved in the pockets of my coat.
I remember her call from long ago. What a horror.
That dumbass, Mike, had dumped her, and four months after the story she hadn’t even left the house. So I gave her a call one morning. After how are you girl? And another hour and a half of small talk, I said let’s go somewhere.
Where to? She asked. It seemed like a good plan, so I went on. The bad thing was that I couldn’t think of anything at that time. To be honest, I was in the mood for a girls’ night out, going out for drinks, then a movie, two glasses of Cola, two bags of popcorn… you know… the whole ritual. But Dia wanted to go to the mountains. And we went for that, because I didn’t want her to change her mind.
He wasn’t so keen on this, but I insisted and I persuaded him. So the usual crap followed. Clothes, crossword puzzle magazine, rechargeable batteries, IPod, camera.
(He wasn’t so keen on this, but I insisted.)
The road to popular Sambata was ok, because the Carpathian Mountains are always beautiful there weren’t too many tourists, thank the God of imaginations.
Perhaps a bit too hot, but we were hot as well, from all the singing, and the beer, and the
My Chemical Romance. When we got there, we left our luggage in the cabin by the monastery, we went to eat, then we did a bit of walking on the mountain, for a siesta, like the old folks say.
Hand in hand. City next to city. Especially since my battalions of city dwellers had got used t the new roads and the new flavors.
– Can I ask you something?
He gets up, barely running his hand up his hair.
Then, next to the window, throwing me a cold glance, rolling a thin cigarette between her fingers.
– Did you know?
I looked at her.
The cigarette ashes.
She shook her head.
She turns and looks out on the window for a moment.
– I believe you.
– I believe you. But I can’t understand why. And especially how the hell you were not able to figure it out.
I don’t say anything. I am drawing stupid figurines on pieces of newspaper, on the napkins, on the tablecloth.
– Has someone else called you?
I look at her.
– No. No one.
– Actually, I didn’t call anyone either. I don’t know, maybe you think I’m weird, or something, but… What can I say?
And to whom?
And, especially, what for?
Maria sits down in front of me. Then she gets up, picks up the ashtray and the pack of cigarettes. She gently pulls the chair in front of the table. She sits down again. The phone starts ringing in the hallway, but I am in no mood to pick it up.
– Should I pick up?
I shake my head.
– Perhaps they have some news… Who knows…
I shake my head.
It is past three.
– Perhaps they have some news…
I get up.
At this time, for sure there are no more visits from doctors, so we can enter easily.
I pick my jacket up from the chair.
Then, to Maria.
– I don’t know. We will find out right away.
The cold metal of the keys in the palm of my hand, among twenty seven thousands sad clowns.
– Let’s go.
Only a few hours left before his departure. Any departure must be met with silence. And with tea. This is what my grandmother used to say, that each departure must be met with silence and with tea. I have no idea what kind of tea, she never said that, I believe she didn’t have a clue, or she just didn’t want to bother. As long as it is tea. And silence.
Damn, in a few hours the dawn will come, and a departure. What a damn combo…
My hands around his mug. Perfusions. Battalions of soldiers, herds of clowns and singers and pale young ladies. The silence. Stupid colored branulas. The silence. The silence.