Yossi Faybish - hobbies - greeneyeslittlegreenmenandspinach
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Russian Roulette

    Shanghai, the sleazy part of town. Big red brother released his stranglehold on the dark, back alley businesses, and a flourishing range of one on one commerce opportunities started popping up like mushrooms under a shit dripping tree. Drugs, gambling, whores... what better hiding place from New York’s Italian mafia than the Chinese mafia protectorate. As long as I kept out of local trouble I felt safe, nobody was gonna find me here as nobody was gonna try and get their balls chopped off. Not because the local colors cared for me or anything, but because they cared for their own independence.

    I rolled off the small bed, feeling sweaty and stinking, the small overhead fan making mostly noise and moving very little air around. My back was acting on me lately, fifty seven years and going strong everywhere except for my back. I tried to stretch, felt the pang and almost fell back on the bed. Somehow I made it to the shower hoping there would be water today... there was. I put a chair inside the stained tube, sat on it leaning on the wall, and let the water flow over me. My daily ceremony, flashes of the not so distant past popping in and out of my mind... forgotten family, gambling, drinking... I was reluctant to play the last scenes in my mind, those before I had to disappear. Three months now in this exile, condemned for life but who cared? All contacts cut, a new world, the end of the world... I landed with about nineteen hundred dollars in my pocket, took a ten hours train drive to erase my tracks, changed destination five times, and finally landed in hell, the best hiding place in the world. I found immediately a job as a dish washer in a local eating joint, the owner happily paying me twenty five bucks per week just for the attraction I proved for the locals - a white man washing dishes for them yellow men, I didn’t give a shit and they came to the eatery just to watch me. And with twenty five bucks per week in China one could go a long way. I even got the small room above the place for free, just against a promise I would not look for a “job” at the competition. I chuckled, finished showering, dressed and went out. Bicycles, thousands of them, noise, dust, and the inevitable red dressed maidens at almost every door.

    I could get laid with two of them for a full night for five dollars in hard currency. They tried to tempt me as I passed by, squeezing my crotch, pulling down the top of the dress and trying to blind me with a flash of an underdeveloped breast, pulling up the already high hem and fingering a shaved slit surrounded by blue stains... It was hard at the start to refrain from puking in the street, I reserved this honor to my dirty john once I reached my room, the images chasing me like a gloating bunch of sneering demons asking for release in the shallow depths of the stained bowl. Kids, fifteen year, maybe seventeen, occasionally the seasoned old whore. And occasionally the virgin, age undefined under the layers of paint, hanging on the arm of a proud pimp asking for bids for “breaking her up”. I made it my business to look the other way, not my country, not my people, it was my hiding hell and hell comes with all kinds of appendages.

    Flashes... forty years ago... my beautiful Belle fifteen years of green eyed age and red haired heaven... my first and last love... savagely raped, sodomized, cut, beaten, left for dead by a drunken sailor never to be caught... my beautiful Belle forever empty eyed and empty minded in a soul empty sanatorium... her prison to the end of her life, I visited her only once, my mind broke never to be mended again... left town, left family, got lost... never touched a woman again...

    I got to the smoke house, got a loaded pipe for a few Yuan, lowest quality opium but who cared as long as it made one forget the passing of time and passing of life. I liked the stuff, somehow I did not get addicted to it, maybe it was somewhere in my future and when that time came I could always jump in front of a bus. They probably wouldn’t even push the brakes for a white guy in this yellow corner of the world. I found an empty corner next to an empty eyed fat (a local exception) short legged guy, sat down and started pulling the smoke in. Calm descending, blankness, nothingness.

    I got back to my work place in time for the first dishes to be washed. I put on the apron which Li Hua scrubbed religiously every day to a blinding white, pulled my sleeves up and got going. The main flood of people was at least one hour away, so for the time being it was easy. The first tourists were already around pointing towards me with dry fingers and laughing loudly, most of the time with at least one tooth missing up front. It was fine, that’s why I was paid king’s ransom here and it suited me perfectly. Anyway I did not understand a word they were saying, maybe they were complimenting my hairy hands. I shot a glance towards Lee, as I called her after giving up trying to pronounce Li Hua correctly for a full week and finally giving up in anger as she, together with the place’s owner, almost had to be hospitalized with laugh cramps. Li Hua ...graceful flower in free translation, and so suitable a name to a woman I guess I’ve never seen. I winced as the thought passed my mind, for a split second thinking Belle, for a split second drowning in memories of infinite green, then shook my head savagely seeing the worry in Lee’s eyes, smiled at her, winked (she didn’t know about winking till I taught her about it) and returned my attention to the dishes.

    How did it click between us, I do not remember. Click is a big word, shall I use get along? I estimated her to be around twenty years of age, modesty never allowing her to tell me the real number. She agreed she was young enough to be my daughter. Her raven black hair always short, tidy, a natural gleam to it which could reflect a laser light and blind you. Eyes almost invariably cast shyly down, yet in those few courageous moments when she dared look at me I thought I was looking into the darkest and deepest pits of hell, her irises almost invisible if it was not for the unexplained green short flashes that seemed to pop now and then in the pitch black nothingness surrounding them. And those lips, always meticulously lined red... were they actually painted red or was it their natural color which my westerly trained mind refused to accept as evidence? Her English was excellent... I read a lot... was her explanation for it, though it could not explain the good accent. I guess she listened a lot to foreign radio and was ashamed to confess to it. We had long talks, started as a trickle and developed into a flood. Mostly I let her talk, funny, she was almost not talking to any of her countrymen yet here she was talking to me in a foreign language as if I was her best of friends, or... was there more in those furtive glances always shying away from me as I occasionally caught her staring my way? Did she sense in me something I knew was dead and buried so many years ago, did she sense a spark still shining there and she was willing to uncover it because... because of what? Because I was the exotic stranger? Because she knew more than I knew? Because I never ever tried to touch her?

    “I was sold at the age of seven, to work here. My parents were poor and they got one thousand American dollars for me. This is a fortune in this country. I am happy here. I could go to school, and I was never molested. I have to work hard but I have a place to sleep and I have what to eat. This place enjoys triad... Chinese mafia protection and is therefore safe. My master is blood related to one of the local chief’s bodyguards. It helps.”

    “Does it not bother you to see all those young, child hookers in the streets?”

    She looked up at me, one of those few occasions when she blessed me with a close up occasion to get lost into those masterpieces called eyes, her pale skin smooth to perfection, her lips just for a short moment allowing a tip of tongue to wet their edges.

    “Why are you here, Josh? What was your crime over there? You could not harm a fly, I know. You could kill a man, I know.”

    I held her regard. She didn’t back up. She held mine, questions burning inside those depths, fires raging, passion hiding and screaming to get out...

    Flashes... damn flashes so near, so recent, was it three months already?... I was hiccupping my way home. Finished my “shift” as a bouncer in that damn noisy fashionable bistro, had a few large beers and dragged my feet to the apartment. I was not afraid of muggers, the Italians kept the streets clean to get it safe for sex and drugs and booze and gambling “tourists” to venture there. Screams... I saw thin tall wiry handsome Rafaello holding her hanging by the hair and hitting her in the breast... “one hundred fucking dollars... where are the one hundred fucking dollars?...” ... hit her again... scream... his fist slammed into her mouth and she sprawled on the pavement. The other hookers looked impassively elsewhere... they better not see... Rafaello, big boss’s nephew and probable follower. He started kicking her, she could not scream any more, only softly moaning each time the shoe hit her. “One hundred fucking dollars...” ...I knew her, called herself Melancholy, fifteen years old and a baby in the apartment she shared with Rosa who right now was busy looking the other way too. I fished in my pockets, limping and hiccupping my way close to him. He saw me coming and waited, curious probably as to my want, smiling, lighting a cigar. I looked at the bills, trying to focus on the digits, located the one with Franklin and let the others drop on the pavement, made a crumpled ball out of it and when I reached him stuffed it in his jacket’s pocket. He did not refuse it, just smiled and blew the stinking smoke in my face. Then he hit her. Then I hit him.

    We were both too slow. I was soaked in alcohol, he didn’t expect it coming. His head started moving away a fraction of second too late and my raising fist missed his chin, my little finger’s knuckle hitting the bone of his nose straight up into his brains. He dropped dead. I dragged Melancholy all the way to Rosa, dragged my ass home, took whatever money I had in the mattress and left for Beijing.

    She looked at me, holding my regard as if one of us was made of stone. Then a big round shining blob rolled down her cheek and she did not try to stop it. She bent over, lightly kissed my lips and rushed away to her room. It was my first kiss in forty years.


    It was the busiest hour of the day. The place was densely packed with hungry characters, a strange mix of blue shirted dirty fingernail types and white shirted silk tied piano fingers types. I was busy with my dish washing making sure I was clearly seen by all, following a well rehearsed routine. Lee was busy rushing between the tables and serving the food, and my Chinese boss - who by now got used to me calling him Franklin - happily counting in the rolling Yuan’s. The sudden death of the white noised buzz in the big room forced me to turn around sharply. The perennially sniveling human they called cook joined me, drawing up on his nose. Three immaculately dressed characters were by the door, hands crossed over the chest, simply waiting. Within seconds the place was empty, some freshly served dishes and drinks not yet touched. It was a surrealistic picture, the bubbling Pepsi glasses, the steaming plates, the half eaten slices of bread bearing teeth marks left in disarray on the tables... I saw the black Mercedes in front of the building, one of the characters went outside and opened the door and a pair of long legs sheathed in the most perfect of nylons pushed their way into the world followed in the sleekest of movements by the first of Chinese empresses I have ever seen. Gucci dress and glasses, Armani shoes, Hermes scarf, Chanel necklace, Stern bejeweled watch. I had no problem recognizing perfection once seen, having served so many years in some of the most exclusive joints in New York and having learned to identify rich and self confident and powerful. Another character opened the door for her, she got in, and waited until a table and chair were cleaned into a spotless new identity before seating herself down. Leg over leg as if born that way, a long golden cigarette holder between perfect lips (and this time I was certain they were painted red) and perfect teeth.

    My boss waited till at a signal unperceived by me he approached the table and sat in front of her. Eyes downcast, mumbling something. She spoke a few sentences in a clearly commanding tone to which he responded in a wailing tone. Then she gave a short command to one of her guards and he barked a few sentences in Chinese towards Lee. I saw her paling, approaching and sitting at a nearby table, eyes down, watching the floor at her feet. A few more exchanges ensued between the woman and my boss, her tone growing in impatience, his tone growing in distress. I had grown to consider the guy a decent human being, nothing like the caricature western media tends to associate with the lower class citizens in such countries and in such ill famed suburbs. I got a strange feeling at the bottom of my stomach and I tried to ask the cook in my slowest and clearest possible English what was going on.

    “She wants buy Li Hua...” I had him repeat the name several times since I was not sure I got it correctly. “Big client... Indonesia... wants virgin. Not girl... woman. Li Hua woman, virgin. She wants buy Li Hua. Five hundred dollar...” And the number clearly overawed him by the way he said it and stopped drawing on his nose.

    The scene in the room was getting violent. One of the guards approached the owner and slapped him in the face. I saw the shiver in the immobile figure of Lee. A second slap followed throwing his head forcefully back. Then the guy took out a wad of notes from his breast pocket and counted slowly five bills onto the table top, carefully fanning them out. At a nod from the lady he added a sixth bill and stuffed the wad back into his pocket. He made a sign towards Lee and she stood up. I could not see her eyes, I could feel her terror.

    I felt the sudden cold of long ago descend into my mind, a mix of flashes suddenly flooding my eyes and brain, a pain descending along my arms and ending in my fingertips. The cook gasped as I stepped forward and tried to hold me by the shirt, failing to do so.

    Three guns appeared out of nowhere pointing straight at my chest. I didn’t think myself yet in danger of any kind. These were trained dogs allowed to snarl but not allowed to bite as long as not commanded to do so. It did not look as if she intends to command them so, not at this stage with curiosity as common a streak in these demon messengers as in ordinary human beings. I approached her table and she signaled my dizzied boss to release his chair. He did so and moved to the back of the room. Lee lifted her eyes towards me for an almost immeasurable moment... what did I read there?... terror changed to... what?... was it supplication, pity, a worry as undefined as it was deep?...

    I sat facing the woman, the eyeglasses hiding the eyes completely, the bemused smile accentuating her mouth’s perfection. The notes fanned on the desk brittle new paper in sequential numbered order, certainly not counterfeit.

    “Yes, what is your subject of interest stranger?” Perfect English, Oxford accent, the new class of highly educated triad chiefs, unbeatable. I was taken aback for a second, blinked, and fixed my eyes on the perfectly reflective surface of those impenetrable glasses. What did you study there lady, classical literature?

    “I will counter bid for her.”

    She did not laugh right away. Then she started laughing, tears rolling down her eyes till she had to remove her glasses and dry them. It was the second time to be taken aback, as I looked into a pair of pale blue intelligent cold eyes that could have competed with an ozone free spot in the sky over the Antarctic. A black haired blue eyed Chinese triad chief young woman... of all the impossible combinations...

    “And what will your bid be?...” mockingly...

    I did some fast mental calculations, whatever I had left...

    “Eleven hundred dollars, cash.”

    “You will have to do much better than that, white boy.”

    “What is the present offer?”

    “When you get there I will tell you. Can you get there?”

    Could I get there, whatever there might have been? No way. She picked her glasses, about to wear them, about to leave. One of the body guards took hold of Lee’s elbow... Rage, the blind rage conquering my senses... the stiletto jumped from my sleeve into my palm and squeezed against her throat, her guards powerlessly holding their guns, frightened.

    “And if I bid you your life?...” I asked, knowing the futility, the sterility of my threat.

    She exploded in laughter again, as if facing a retarded child playing with matches, yet careful not to bend her head forward towards the sharp tip facing her. Then took hold of the tip between delicate thumb and forefinger, pulled it effortlessly from my grip and placed it on the table, handle my way. The bodyguards were about to jump me, with two barked sharp orders they stopped and bow headed exited the room. We stayed in, facing each other across the table. The desperate desperado, the invincible master conquistador.

    “You know that whatever you do of the kind she is doomed. Funny, no one informed me there is something going on between you two.”

    “There is nothing going on between us two.”

    “Your bid? Your time is limited.” Suddenly she was serious, business like, cool. Certainly the next triad big chief, I told myself.

    “Russian roulette,” I answered. I heard the cook gasp in the background, I saw Lee lifting her eyes towards me, all her storms cumulated into one long imploring request. Russian roulette, one gun, one bullet, six positions, and clients around the table betting thousands on the chances. Usually offered to drug addicts, hookers out of glory, traitors to the cause. Roll the barrel and pull the trigger. Take your chances to make twenty five hundred hard American dollars and run away or die trying. The house always wins taking a percentage of all the bets.

    Interest sparked for a moment in her eyes, dying as fast.

    “Twenty five hundred dollars, five chances out of six, and not reaching even the half of the current offer.” She was about to get up.

    Big Russian roulette,” I said, emphasizing the Big. “No money for me. She is free, forever. And lots of money in it for you, the first white to ever participate in it. I know you are short of candidates right now.”

    “Sixth position,” she said, eyes narrowed.

    “Sixth position,” I acquiesced.

    She snapped her fingers, putting the glasses back in place. I guessed we were closely watched from somewhere. The three guys appeared again, as quiet and composed as earlier. She said a few words to one of them and he produced two cuts of paper, one pink in front of her, one blue in front of me, an ink pad between us. I squeezed my thumb on the ink pad and then placed it on my blue paper cut. She placed her thumb on the ink pad and placed it on her pink paper cut. Then she picked up the blue paper, handed it to the body guard, stood up and parted with no additional word. The guard picked the ink pad and followed with the other two. I watched them enter their car and leaving, almost wishing to hear tires screaming yet knowing nothing of the kind would happen. I stood up myself, feeling suddenly tired, drained, lifeless. I picked up the pink piece of paper, blew on it softly to ensure the ink dried up, and handed it to Lee. Then got up to my room, lay on the bed, and fell asleep.


    I heard the door clicking shut, the soft yellow light penetrating from the street lamps through the dirty glass panes creating an eerie atmosphere of another reality, of magic. A rustling noise in the room, the breeze of a moving figure close to my bed, the hiss of a striking match and the stink of phosphor choking shortly my breath before the soft glow of a thick candle’s wicker took over the responsibility for lighting my bedside and filling my nostrils with vanilla perfume. A second hiss, further away on the floor, a taller thinner candle this time, lilac blossom mingling with the vanilla and letting dark fumes ascend hungrily towards the ceiling. I pushed myself up, back against the bed head, hands at the nape of my head, watching fascinated the fairy sliding across my floor.

    “Lee...” I whispered, and she rushed over, squeezed the tip of her index finger to my mouth, for a short moment letting it enter and touch my teeth, then she went back to unwrapping her gifts bouquet.

    Candles were blooming all over the floor, one more, and one more, and another, were there so many candles in China?... some in glasses, some thick sitting on their own weight, some needle thin... I watched her lighting those, waiting patiently till a few drops of hot wax dripped on the floor, or back of the chair, or window sill and then waiting again till they were fixed in place before moving to the next one. I stopped counting, the play of light and shadow and smell dizzying my interpretation of reality and dream, the few added sticks of incense and opium smoldering pots playing havoc with my sanity. She picked up a large enameled bowl and went to the bathroom, I heard water filling it, she came back and placed it on the table between the candles, opened a jar of bathing salts and let its contents pour in, stirring. Then came to my bed side and kneeled down, waiting, looking at me, blazing at me. I touched the silken cloth wrapped around her shoulders, touching in passing the skin of her neck and feeling the tingle of thousands of tiny needles waking to life and stinging my fingertips. I pulled it gently down, first exposing the base of her neck, then her narrow shoulders... her skin the perfection of the cloth wrapping it, I pulled it further down starting to see a begin of breasts, the first time ever she allowed anyone a glimpse underneath her clothing. Further down, a shallow cleavage elongating as the roundness of breasts emerged further and further and finally, after hesitatingly hanging for a few seconds on her nipples, the cloth fell down to her waist letting a pair of hard dark nipples bite into the room’s air and my mind’s crave. She got up and bent over, letting her breasts touch my mouth, kissed my forehead and returned to the table, took a soft sponge and dipped it in the water then started running it over the upper part of her body. Almost ritually washing herself, mindless of the hungry stranger’s eyes following her. First the neck, rivulets flowing down her shoulders and breasts as she squashed the soaked sponge on her skin, eyes closed, dreamy... then she dipped it again, lifted her hands and started washing under her armpits, slowly lowering the sponge till it moved underneath her breasts pushing them up with the sponge enveloping the young flesh, the rigid nipples, on down her belly. Water was soaking into the lower part of her dressing, large wet stains growing constantly, some water dripping to the feet in sparkling splashes. I watched the thousands of fluttering glints reflecting from her chest, neck, a primeval strange creature strewn with thousands of fire spots sunk into the skin and aiming at swallowing me...

    She approached the bed again, not kneeling this time, I untied the knot around her middle, the full gown fell to the floor and her hand guided my fingers to touch the softness of the virginal hair hiding her secrets in blushing modesty and wanton passion. She handed me the sponge and I started washing her lower part of body, running it over her hips, along her thighs until I reached between her toes, carefully washing each toe, then back up again on the inner skin of her thigh until I reached the soft spot where my fingers wandered inside for a second, and as I was pulling them out she took my hand and forced my fingers inside with desperation, power, rage. She forced me to lie down again, removed my shirt and threw it off the bed, opened my belt and pulled my trousers down, then my underwear, turned me around and for a few moments I thought she was going away as I heard the slapping of bare feet on the floor. Then the steps returned and I felt the trickle of warm fragrance loaded water tickling my back as she started softly rubbing the sponge into my skin. First my shoulders, my back, then softly around my waist, between my buttocks softly, carefully, as if pampering a baby and afraid to hurt him, a mix of water and sponge and skin and I did not know what touches me when and moans which I identified as mine started mingling with hers. Her hand pushed between my legs, touching my genitals, pushing beyond my belly until her fingers found my belly button, my hips arching up, the sponge never leaving her hold, I was getting maddeningly hungry for her fingers touch, for her hand, for her flesh.... she outguessed me. She turned me around and as I was mindlessly grabbing for her she jumped giggling off the bed and returned within seconds with a bowl filled to the rim with fresh flower petals... love games... She sat across my chest and started spreading the petals around us, as my fingers touched her belly and started ascending towards her breasts. She pulled another fistful of petals and threw them in the air waiting for them to fall upon us, I reached her breasts, I squeezed her nipples, she moaned throwing the full bowl content in the air and dropping it on the floor then her hands gripped my shoulders, her teeth sunk into my lips and her mouth started devouring mine with animal voracity. Her waist kept sliding down from my chest to my belly, the wet spot between her widely separated thighs leaving humid traces all along, the smell of lust attacking my body with thunderous demands, she reached my awaiting hurting need, I felt it sliding along the valley between her buttocks before she arched up, tried to fit the entry perfectly and then with one mighty shove she pushed down... I felt the hymen ripping apart, I felt the stream of blood flowing down from her along my thighs and onto the bed, I felt myself exploding the way I did not feel for all my thousands of year of wait... tearing through her insides, filling her with beauty, satisfaction, delight, happiness. She screamed, then she cried, then she kissed me soaking my lungs right into hers and shaving under her fingernails long layers of my shoulders’ skin.

    We lay hugging like a pair of locked vises for a full hour, her head on my chest, maybe sleeping, our shared aromatic wetness gluing us together. Then we made love again. Then again. Then again. Fifteen times. When I woke up in the morning the room was clean. Dry. No petals, no candles. I did not dream, I knew it. There was a spot of dried blood on the bed sheet to prove me of my sanity. I love you, Lee, I whispered loudly, I love you graceful flower. Thank you for making this life worth living, if only for one single night.


    They bathed me, shaved me, manicured me, cologned me, combed me, dressed me in the best of tuxedoes and shoes. The event was unique, the bets reaching the skies, none of the candidates was forced to participate, all were volunteers for the money, starting at fifty for the first position and increasing ten thousand for each next place. Of course it wasn’t legal, it added to the glamour, tension, mystery. So did the randomness of the event, only when they reached six candidates. The bets were in the hundreds of thousands and even more with each push of the trigger. I looked around me. No local colors in the betting ranges - there were clearly Americans, a few Arabs, some Spanish looking types which I guessed were South Americans, a few Far Eastern faces. A few women, thickly bejeweled and heavily cosmetically engineered. All with that rich man’s lust for gambling in their eyes, each paying an entry fee of one hundred grand for the right to participate in the bloodiness of this unique event.

    I looked at the other five guinea pigs, as I called myself and the others. Five men, one woman. All Chinese and only one westerner - myself. Their positions were drawn by lot, I volunteered to the last position - the best paid. We were seated around a round table, the Smith & Wesson loaded with the single bullet placed in position one, whirred around only one time at the start. Then each pushes the trigger against his or her head once and moves the gun to the next one. One of us dies tonight. Unless the bullet is a dud which one knows only after the last squeeze of the trigger. It never happened before.

    It was five minutes to midnight, five minutes before it was set to start. Bids were raging more than usual, with one westerner around the table especially in position six. Everything was clean, correct, no cheating, food and drinks free. Everyone in the room had to place at least one bet. They all did and their excitement was slowly peaking. I was calm, I’ve never been that calm and satisfied in my whole life. Lee left for her folks, taking with her all my money, I forced her to. She was clearly in love with me, there was no future with me and she had to leave. I commanded her to leave and she obeyed. I obey you because you are my husband she said in tears, before getting on the train. We kissed there in the open view of thousands of non appreciating Chinese, our mouths biting memories from each other’s. Then she parted. I could live, I could die after tonight. I certainly lived one night in my life, I smiled to myself and I had the impression my smile triggered another range of bets.

    Midnight, the bell rang, the bets stopped, the first one, a man raised the gun to his head and after a short hesitation pulled the trigger. Click! Noise, shouts, as a second betting round ran its course and the second candidate to death, the woman, pushed the trigger against her head. Click! Impassively she pushed the unsmoking beast to her neighbor on the right, waiting. He was a short, dark guy, his eyes seemed to get wild, sweat bobbing on his forehead, a slight shake of hand visible... careful man, I told myself, control yourself or you will never live to enjoy your win even if you don’t drill a hole yourself in your brains. As if he heard me, he suddenly calmed down, waiting for the third round of growing bets to end. Bell. Click! Three to go. Was I afraid? I could not judge. I guess, not surprisingly so, that I was not. I kept my physical eyes open while my inner eyes were closed watching openly the only meaningful events in my life. Funny, at such an advanced age and the only meaningful events are three women in your life. A green eyed teenage beauty who broke unwillingly my heart forever, a broken bodied teenage hooker who proved to me I still cared for my humanity, and a black eyed Chinese... I wonder, was she a teenager?... woman who captured my heart and mended it for the wonder of one long night worth of an uncountable number of lives and as many deaths. I smiled for the second time this evening just as I heard the fourth Click! hammering its way home. Fifty percent chance. I looked at my neighbor to the left, the gun in front of him, certainly aware of the same statistics that were playing in my mind. Only he probably cared. I did not. The roar in the room was terrifying. Then the bell. Then the quiet. Then the Click!

    One hundred percent chance. Today I die. The gun was lying in front of me waiting, eager to lodge its lethal child inside my brains and drag me to a place I did not believe in. Screams, shouts, people squeezing across from me waiting to see me fail, eager to see me go for it, the lust for blood in all those eyes. My only chance blind luck. The dud which never happened before. The last bets were wild. Few were those playing the odds of a dud bullet and their bets were in the millions. The house owners were sweating profusely, such a bid could bring a loss which would force them into committing suicide or face the triad’s wrath. They were supposed to have checked the gun for any malfunction, to have chosen the most perfect bullets manufacturer and then the manufacturer’s best bullet, no chance to fail. Yet a chance there always was. The last bets were placed. I watched the faces across from me, gaping mouths, bobbing Adam’s apples, bloodshot eyes, slow motion... Bell. Perfect quiet. I put the gun against my temple and squeezed the trigger in the slowest most nerve wracking way.

    The loud bang smashed the head against the chair’s support as the bullet passed through the skull and lodged itself noisily in the armored side plate of the chair. Blood, some bone splinters. Quiet.



French Fries

    “I like my french fries with mayonnaise,” I said, dipping my first crispy potato stud in the oily yellow stuff and sighing with satisfaction while snapping its soft whitish belly.

    “I like mayonnaise too,” she said, dipping her first in red ketchup. Followed by a second one in ketchup too. Then a third one.

    I watched amused, following my personal call for gluttony by a thick threesome dipped and munched together. After she delivered her tenth potato piece to the unforgiving jaws of her mouth, continuously insisting on dipping them in ketchup, I could not resist any further.

    “You said you liked them with mayonnaise,” I said as politely as possible. After all one had to be extremely careful with sacred gobbling rites and their mystical meaning to different people in different places. Not necessarily mystical people nor mystical places.

    “I said I liked mayonnaise, I did not say I liked french fries with mayonnaise,” she answered unperturbed, took a few gulps of the red soda stuff burping softly and apologetically, and continued chewing, eyeing me in a strange way. My fingers were greasy with yellow leftovers, and I hardly resisted an impulse to wipe them on my trousers.

    “Do you have a hanky?” I asked her, showing the fingers of my left hand.

    She took my hand in hers, took my fingers in her mouth and sucked noisily. When they got out they were glittering and clean.

    “Here, what do you need a hanky for? The perfect ecological solution.” She smiled and I felt like eating her alive. Even though she was full of ketchup and I was basically a mayonnaise guy. Her legs hooked around my left ankle underneath the table and I responded in kind, never for a moment stopping my chewing. After all, with the energy we expended the last few days, I needed to resource myself or risk dying dehydrated and desolidated... I choked on my potato with the excitement of finally inventing another word that was bound to become an instant hit. I kept deluding myself with similar thoughts for quite a number of years now, didn’t see any wrong in that as I pulled out of my pocket a piece of paper and a pen and jotted the invention down.

    “You are a funny guy, you know?” she tried to say, sputtering dirty red pieces of fries over the white table cloth. I expected the next step to be sputtering the same red pieces through her nose as she would go into her habitual fit of uncontrolled laughter which got us kicked out by now from one restaurant and two fast food joints. But, remarkably enough, this time she succeeded to get the urge under control. “I guess I am in love with you because you like mayonnaise,” she added. “Maybe also because you have a way with words, but definitely mayonnaise.” She kicked my left shin viciously with her right heel, thus ending the war for liberation raging underneath the table in a most decisive manner, got up and came to sit next to me. “And stop calling me a liar. And... DON’T!” Her command was soft, mighty, imperative. Even imperious and imperial, I chuckled internally while shivering externally.

    My tongue, which was about to sneak out to catch on its tip the smudge of mayonnaise which squirted its way at the corner of my mouth, retreated to its adobe obediently. I waited, my fate uncertain, my eyes focusing on her nose in cross manner as she approached her face to mine, and then with one long languorous move licked away the smudge from the strategic spot. Then she sucked one finger clean, dipped it in my mayonnaise and ran it along my lips smearing them with a thick yellow layer. Her tongue followed, slowly, ensuring a spick-and-span run of lips left end to right end and back. She was completely unconcerned with the disgusted looks on the faces of the few present customers, so deep in their disgust that they kept cranking their heads to better satisfy their disgustability crave by ensuring themselves with a better viewing angle.

    She kept humming softly, something between a nightingale’s song and a locomotive’s puff. I refrained from pulling out my piece of paper and writing disgustability on it, for the simple practical reason that I wanted to live. I preferred to wait. After examining my lower lip from uncomfortably close by for several seconds, then moving to my upper lip for a similar period of time and licking away sharply one spot which did not pass her inspection, she sat herself on my lap looking as serious as the Vatican’s Daily. I dared not move, even though at that close range her left eye was looking into my left eye and her right into my right at cross purposes. As said above, my survival instincts grabbed control over my laughing drive.

    “I told you I liked mayonnaise,” the nightingale sang and the locomotive puffed. “I am not hungry anymore,” the locomotive puffed. “I love you,” the nightingale sang.

    I breathed, relieved. So maybe I would live to see another day after all, was the message she was trying to tell me. Was this the message? The mayonnaise might have gotten to my head, dizzying my senses, I kept telling myself. And thinking this way might have meant it was worse than I originally surmised, I thought on. And remembering it meant the situation was desperate, I shivered.

    “I love you... madly...” I told her, biting deeply into her ketchup laden lips. And suddenly it seemed like french fries did not matter anymore.




    I picked up the grain of sand from her hand, pried her fingers open as she refused to part with it, placed it carefully in a vise and with hammer and chisel started working on it. From time to time opening the vise, inspecting it against the sun, rotating it and hammering on. She looked at me bemused, head cocked to one side and eyes flashing restrained mirth. Finally she could not hold it in any longer.

    “What are you doing?” she asked.

    I did not answer, kept chiseling my way into the stubborn silica and stopped just when her hand was on the vise’s lever ready to roll it open.

    “I am fulfilling your dream. I am chiseling a love poem. I am writing you a kiss.”

    “A kiss in one grain of sand? Do you really see what you are doing? Can I look at it?”

    “No need for me to see, I feel it,” I said, opening the vise’s lever and catching the grain in my hand. I looked at it again against the sun, smiled knowingly, turned it around and then, happy with the result dropped it in an empty jar. Then picked up another grain, let her kiss it and started working on it. “Do you nevertheless need to see it?” I asked mockingly, with deep emphasis on you.

    “You are crazy, you know?” She was behind me, arms around my waist clasped in front of me, lips on my neck.

    “Not more than you,” I answered, chiseling on. The second grain joined the first one.

    The sun was setting, the small jar was almost three quarters full and she never released my waist from her hold. Neither removed her lips from my neck. My fingers started getting sore but I was not going to stop working, not until I finished the beach. Then we would have to move on to another beach. My mind was calculating roughly how many jars I would need... getting into the billions didn’t worry me, I was crazy anyway. And she did not mind, she loved me.

    I felt the pressure around my waist easing and the lips deserting their duty on my neck. She moved in front of me, took the hammer and chisel away from my unwilling hands and threw them far away.

    “You are crazy, you know?” she repeated herself, as if her mind was stuck on this page of her lexicon and refused to move on.

    “You said it already. Isn’t that why you love me?” I asked innocently. Well, after all I was innocently crazy and I liked my newly defined status.

    She picked up the jar, looking at it thoughtfully. Then she wet her lips with her tongue and let them sink in the top layer of sand, hardly reaching it by pouting her lips forward. When she removed her mouth her lips were covered with a thin layer of sparkling specks. I did not fight it when she twined her fingers at the nape of my neck pulling my head down towards her and grinding that layer of sharp silica against the demanding layers of my own lips, cutting their way in like thousands of miniature meat cleavers. I felt the warmth of blood painting my lips’ corners as she reluctantly let go of me a long time after.

    “You are crazy, you know?” I told her, not daring touch neither my painful lips nor the glimmer of hers. “Why did you do it?”

    “First, this is my text line, you thief of lines and kisses,” she smiled, then picked up the jar again and slowly turned it upside down. The breeze picked up the flowing rivulet and scattered it over lands unknown. “Secondly, were these grains not supposed to be poems, kisses, seeds of our love? You said so, did you lie to me?”

    “I did not lie to you,” I said, meekly, remembering myself being caught stealing the neighbor’s apples. “And these grains were not supposed to be poems, kisses, seeds, they were poems, kisses, seeds...” I felt like crying. “Now they are gone, my poems, kisses, seeds...”

    “You are crazy, you know?” She exploded in a tinkles laden laughter, happy to have gotten back in control of the master communications phrase, and jumped into my arms. I had no choice but catch her and allow her cheek to lean on my shoulder. Women, always exploiting us, though it was not clear to me what exactly was it that she was exploiting there, but it was a reassuring thought to a certain extent. Meaning I was at least conscious of... “Shush...” she shushed me, and I became aware that I was probably mumbling incoherent phrases... “Do you really want to know why?” I nodded but she repeated her question.

    “Yes,” I said and the sound of my voice seemed to satisfy her. I had to lean my ear close to her mouth to hear her whisper.

    “Because I share your dream. And I long to share your poems, and kisses, and seeds of love. Forever.” Her hold around my neck tightened. “And because I love you.”

    My sorrowful tears were instantly put to shame by the sudden flow of joyful tears. I may be crazy, I thought, so what? So may she be, who cares? And I didn’t even care to think as far as who cares? as I watched fascinated a flock of white pterodactyls suddenly dive out of the dimming blue, snatch each a shimmering point out of thin air and powerfully flap back up and away within seconds. How long did the mirage last?... I didn’t know. When finally my eyesight cleared into focus again I leaned my mouth towards her ear and it was my turn to whisper.

    “Your love seeds are being carried away, they will grow into an endless garden, eternal.”

    She did not answer right away and I kissed her just to make sure she was alive. The taste of sand I picked from her lips was grinding heavenly between my teeth. She seemed to be sleep talking, and I was not so sure I got whatever it was she tried to get me to hear. But the closest I could guess was...

    Our love seeds are being carried away, they will grow into an endless garden, eternal.”




    I was getting all scratchy and itchy and mottled, my left side tingling and I didn’t blow my nose now in... how long was it?... seven thousand twenty eight years? At the beginning I was still counting the human years, then I moved to centuries, then I just kept on guessing, more out of boredom than out of interest. C’mon, girls, it cannot take so long to find me even if I hid in a pearl shell and rolled in the ocean, how big after all is the ocean, it is just... an ocean. The thought of it made me throw up again, this was the only aspect which really bothered me in the game, seven thousand years was not a lot, but still... throwing up for the most part of it was no fun.

    I waited another year before deciding that it was not funny anymore, then started scratching the shell from the inside. I couldn’t sense any of my sisters near by, but the sound would certainly guide them to me without losing face. I smiled to myself imagining their frustration at not being able to find me by themselves, though I would never boast about it. After all I loved them, well... a little bit.

    I kept scratching, waiting any moment to hear their approaching whistle. Somehow the sounds I started hearing did not sound like my sisters and for a moment I panicked. Then I introverted shortly remembering who I was, picked up from my mental library what I considered the right decoding pattern and time flow rate and listened attentively. Maybe the game changed meantime and they cheated on me? A tiny blade penetrated between the two shell halves tickling my middle while melting away, and I exploded in laughter just as the shell popped open. The top jumped away and just in front of my eyes there was this ugly, huge, monstrous half size she troll (I sensed female patterns there) who started screaming its head off as if it was seeing me. And if it was... oh, motherly father... I started screaming in perfect emulation to its sound hoping this would calm it down and immediately stretched from my pearl size to a hill size while trying to pick her up in my tree size teeth, in the universal sign of love and friendship. She just kept on screaming, even louder now, with sounds which did not match any pattern in my library, ran a short distance away and started climbing a tree trying to get away from me. It really embarrassed and saddened me, no other creature I ever allowed to see me was afraid of me, and this little troll was making me feel a disgrace to my race. I almost decided to change my time frame again and vanish back into the shell and then transcend back home covered in shame, when I saw her slip from a branch and fall down. I was not a genius in my class but it was clear to me that at this rate of acceleration she would simply splash and die the moment she touched the hard ground, and something deep in my making told me this was the kind of event one does not allow to happen even to trolls... I stretched my third limb overcoming my guts’ deep disgust and let her soak into my body, softly cushioning her fall... hey, she was not disgusting to touch at all, contrary to what I expected. Actually she was quite smooth, and hard, and warm... I growled happily and tried again to pick her up in my teeth....

    “P... p... pleas...ssse... do... do... n’t ee... eat mmm... me...”

    I immediately locked into the right translation, understood her words, let her down to ground and started bawling the troll way... or maybe I should say human way since this was what I picked from her mind. Oh, the distress was unbearable... a living creature thinking I was going to eat it.... my bawling grew in intensity, each tear creating a foot deep crater as it fell to the ground. I was careful to miss her so as not to squash her, then adapted my density so that the tears were like this place’s water. I was so upset at her that suddenly I hovered above her and let one tear fall right on top of her, wetting her head to toe. She yelped and stopped crying. Then I felt hunger growl inside me (the time rate for these humans was a lousy one) took a bite at the tree, sat down and started munching, still crying uncontrollably. I was upset, but careful enough to remember adapting my invisibility to this world’s other creatures, letting the right coding pattern only in this young creature’s mind. So she continued seeing me, though she seemed to start calming down.

    I watched her attentively. We were both sniffling. Last time I’ve seen this race, if it was the same race, they were still naked and hairy and dirty and had no idea about fire. Seemed they developed so fast, a mere several thousands local years and look at this place. True, they were still traveling in long tin noisy boxes, one of which was flying over my head right now, but at least they discovered speech. I did the most unethical of things in all worlds and hoped I would be able to mask it well enough from my sisters, looked mentally around, and hastily read the little creature’s mind as she was sitting there, eyeing me with fear and... curiosity. Maybe?... I showed my teeth again and tried to pick her up and she started screaming again... no, definitely still primitive this race. I started searching clues in the information I gathered from her head trying to get a reasonable way to approach her, the mess inside that bone box was incredible and even for my race’s absolute adaptability I had some problems. True, I was still a baby. In another hundred thousand human years I would be perfect.

    I found it. Incredible, simple, so suitable for a creature with this size and local age and mental pattern... suddenly I felt a tenderness conquering my insides as I looked at her and screamed at her... adapting my voice fast enough to a whisper before permanent damage was done and hoping that the accent I emulated was suitable.

    “Are you twelve year old? Are you a poet?” I would not have guessed that this primitive race discovered a way to create art with their primitive language and sounds. But I read it in her mind, clearly. I saw her looking up at my three stories high bulk, somehow my munching got her to smile, or was it my accent? And what was that red color mounting in her cheeks, she was not going to die now... I sifted fast in the knowledge I stole... blushing they called it?

    “You are not going to eat me, are you? And I am twelve year old...” The blush got deeper. “And I write stories. Also poems. Stupid poems.”

    I read a few of them in her mind, sounded nice to my inexperienced perception.

    “And you like... Japanese fairies?” I was getting mixed up again, what was a fairy?... and suddenly she laughed like only a kid... hey, that’s what she was, a human female kid... like only a kid could laugh.

    “And you are a monster, huge and stinking, and my fairy will kick your butt if you eat me.”

    I was not going to let myself be intimidated by a primitive human she thingy, especially after understanding what she meant by “stinking” and “butt” though I did not possess such a thing as “butt”. But she possessed one and she knew what it meant. And how could she call me stinking when I was cleaning myself every century of their time? I tried to smell myself... I smelled so nicely of horse manure, something may have been wrong with this kid’s smelling senses. I was so mad that I decided to take my terrible revenge on her and still keep to my ethical behavior, and metamorphosed within seconds to whatever was in her mind displayed as “fairy”. The wings were not functional and the golden dust made me sneeze but I could simulate it all so good that she fell back on her butt... ha-ha... and stayed quiet for at least five minutes. Suddenly I did not feel any need for revenge anymore, just pure sadness at having played this trick on her. I was about to metamorphose back when she clambered to her feet, hugged me and kissed my cheek. My simulated fairy was so real that it blushed... hey, wait till I tell my sisters how good I became in such short time. I was not even disgusted by it, actually liked it.

    “My name is Steph. Are you real?”

    “Of course I am real. My name is...” I guess it sounded horrible to her since she made this horrible human face, so I decide to do it differently. “Okay, just call me Bill.”

    “But Bill is a boy’s name.” Those humans were a difficult species.

    “So what is a female name?”

    “A girl name, you mean. I will call you Billie, like my mom. Boy, will she have a fit when I bring you home.” Girl... boy... she was getting me even more mixed up, but the fairy patterns I decided to assume helped me get over it quite quickly. I think I was even starting to enjoy playing with this small female... oops, girl. I smiled, showing small fairy teeth and this time she did not run away screaming.

    “OK, call me Billie. Can you write a poem about it?”

    “Billie Billie
    Pepper chili
    You are silly
    Trilly trilly...”

    I did not find any trilly in my dictionary nor in hers.

    “Hey, what is trilly?” I asked her.

    “Nothing, just had to make a fast rhyme. Can I show you to my mom?”

    Strange creatures, I thought again, though I started finding this little girl quite charming, if to use one of their words. I had to make up my mind fast. I was a baby and I would be forgiven, but if my sisters came along and saw me showing myself to these creatures it could become quite dangerous for them. Since they got in their first school grade a few earth millenniums ago they became quite sticky with their ethics, and letting any primitive species know about us was considered a risk to be prevented at any cost. I shivered when I remembered them lecturing me about it and the way they insisted on at any cost. I stuck my imaginative tongue at them and decided to act my age, after all I was a baby and babies are supposed to have fun till they grow up.

    “Okay, but... can I pick you in my teeth? I must show you my friendship somehow.”

    She did not look too convinced, so I smiled showing again my small teeth (which could bite a rock to dust but she did not know it) and she sighed and kind of reluctantly agreed.

    “And you promise not to let me fall? You are a fairy and you may lose your magic if I stop believing in you.”

    “That’s human nonsense” I answered, not knowing how it popped into my mind, picked her by her belt and soared to treetop height, trying to keep the wings fluttering as if they were really working. For a few delirious moments I changed my pattern so everybody could see me and almost dropped her when I exploded in a huge laughter seeing people on the ground starting to point up at us and screaming and running away. They were screaming witch... witch... “Your humans don’t seem to like fairies like you do...” I tried to say with mouth closed, fearing to drop her.

    “My humans are stupid...” she shrieked with childish glee and happiness, “...but my mom is great, she believes in fairies too. She has a collection of plastic fairies.”

    “But you know I am not a real fairy, don’t you?”

    “I am a kid, I know what I want to know. You are a fairy!” Childish resolute determination. Well, maybe this race was not so bad after all, this kid was thinking my way. I wondered if there were others of the same kind, as I turned myself back into invisible, including her in my pattern and landed before the house I picked up in her mind. There I made myself visible again. A funny kind of human immediately attacked me... hey, what was that?... I sensed a mess of unclear patterns showing anger, fear, and... protection towards this kid. It kept jumping tearing pieces off my simulated body, then again, then again.

    “Zander, Zander... down... down you stupid beast... down or I skin you alive...” a redheaded troll... oops, she human, came running out of the house with a broom in her hand and started hitting the yapping, barking four legged human. I understood quite fast that this was another species actually, a dog, and irrelevant of the broom hitting it, it kept trying to bite away pieces of me. It was tickling and I started laughing my head off as the thing called woman finally succeeded to leash him away and was looking gap mouthed at the pieces of torn flesh that hung from my body with no blood coming out of it. I remembered my mistake too late.

    “Steph, in the house!...” she commanded, frightened, facing me with the stick part of the broom.

    “But mom...”

    “In the house!...” she screamed again, running back to release the dog.

    “Mom!...” shrieked the kid, “...mom ...this is a fairy. She is my friend.”

    The woman stopped, turned around, her chest heaving, her eyes frightened yet determined, something changing in her expression as she looked at her daughter, then at my dry “wounds” then at her smiling daughter... I looked desperately for understanding her emotions transformation in my assumed human thought outline... I think... I think that if I was human I would have called it changing into a... beautiful smile? I was probably looking at a member of this species that them humans would have called gorgeously beautiful. I smiled, remembering that I was still holding the kid in my teeth, and let her drop to ground on all fours. Then did a fast repair to my damaged body parts and picked up the most impressive of human smiles which I could identify in her memories. She gasped and dropped the broom.

    “How did you do that?” she asked.

    “Did what?” I asked, losing control on my wings and having one start flapping forwards hitting me in the face, while the other continued functioning normally. Seems I made an immediate friend in her (those humans were fast to make friends, I thought) since she joined her daughter in the laughter, before she answered.

    “You smiled just like my mom...” Well, that explained it, humans seemed to have some tribal affinities to each other... actually, not so unlike us on our home planet, I thought. I decided to stop the fluttering altogether, rolled the wings like scrolls on my back, tore a piece of bark and sat down munching. I was so hungry... and it was so slow with these small fairy teeth... “What did she mean by fairy? Fairies don’t exist, I know it for a fact, what kind of a trick is that?” Her eyes bright with expectation, her voice hesitating. “And you stink.” It almost angered me, then I understood I had to bend down to their level so I analyzed her mind and chose a disgusting smell of roses for myself. “That’s much better,” she said and I felt like throwing up at the stank. I was not so sure I liked this planet, too complex for a baby like me. Maybe my sisters could deal with it better. “Do you want to come into the house?”

    The tone this time was friendly, I even thought she started liking me. I followed her into the house, the kid holding my right hand and jumping on one leg. I tried to pat the dog on the head as we passed close to it, it snapped off one of the fingers and started chewing it; I grew a replacement immediately before the two humans would freak out - I was getting quite sensitive to their reactions by now, hey, maybe my babyhood was about to end soon?

    I made a show of “flying” in, hit my head on the upper part of the door sill and Steph shrieked with merry laughter. Those humans they cry at pain, they laugh at pain, I estimated it would take them a few millenniums of their time to grow up. I followed their example and sat on the sofa next to the mom figure, carefully adjusting my density so that I did not crush it underneath me - priding myself for remembering to do it. I looked around, the place was stuffed with teddy bears, and tiger figures and fairy puppets.

    “I see you like puppets,” I told Steph. She smiled.

    “These are my mom’s.” I looked at the mom and again this blushing phenomenon took place. She looked embarrassed, yet somehow happy and relaxed.

    “I like puppets. I believe in fairies. What is your name?” she asked, carefully touching my wing with her fingers.

    “Billie,” I said, and as she looked at me askew I told her my real name. When she finished rolling on the floor and wiping her eyes she said... “Okay, Billie it is...” then she rolled some more, and finally calmed down. They liked laughing, humans. I liked them. “And my name is Billie too, so we have at least that in common. Would you like to eat something?” I guess my simulation of human stomach was making weird noises. I looked around, there were no trees there, just some red flowers, didn’t look nourishing at all. I decided to skip the offer and shook my head. “Are you really a fairy?” she asked further.

    I paused before answering her. I peeked indiscreetly inside her mind (I was getting good at this) searching for a clue to the correct answer I should be giving. I saw there wonder, hope, mistrust, childish happiness, funnily there was no much difference between her and her daughter. No wonder with such a short time difference between them, so inefficient for grooming children... I was getting carried away with sudden longing for my world, my motherly father, even for my sisters... I snapped back into reality before I lost control of my shape.

    “No I am not. I am just what you would call an alien baby. I am only twenty thousand year old, and I can change my shape as I wish. I was here playing with my sisters. I miss them.” Unexpectedly, even for me, I started crying and my fairy eyes started dropping tears just like a human’s. I climbed into her lap hugging her neck and buried my head in her bosom, shaking and miserable. I felt her hands going around me and hugging me, patting my head slightly, and I felt Steph coming behind me and hugging me as well. Somehow it felt nice, there was something to this human warmth that was simply conquering, penetrating into my heart and giving me a sense of almost home, of pleasure, love, I felt protected. Thinking that actually I could have smashed any of them with just a thought. Even their smell didn’t matter anymore.

    “You are soft. You smell nice,” I told the mother. “I am sorry I am not a fairy. I can do tricks if you want. I can fly and make things move without touching them, I can even...”

    The sudden scream of sirens interrupted my talking flood. I lifted my head and looked at Billie. Her face changed from pleased to deep worry. She got up, carrying me in her arms.

    “What the hell, this is not hurricane season.”

    She went outside with Steph holding her other hand and gasped, a terrifying sound like none I found in her previous memories. I turned my head to look at whatever it was she was looking at and for a few moments I remained locked in my human perception, the sense of terror crawling through my mind into my body, into my senses. The street was full with other humans, all of them frozen into an instance of full and absolute terror, all of them regarding the same way, upwards, eastwards... descending... oh, no, my sisters were coming back for me. My fairy body absorbed the human terror as well, it felt a sudden need to release liquids, what they called pee, but I controlled it feeling instinctively it was the wrong thing to do. I started whimpering and hugged Billie’s neck tighter. I felt her body start to shake as she hugged Steph close to her, unable to tear her eyes from the oncoming terror.

    They were approaching as two balls of fire, huge, their heat slowly getting felt, flames leaping in and out of their shapes as they merged from time to time into one, then separated again, a whistling noise drowning the sirens sound getting stronger and stronger...

    “I am sorry...” I whispered in her ear, “...these are my sisters coming for me, they will destroy you, it is part of our laws, no one is allowed to see us and stay alive. It is part of our self protection... I am sorry...” I expected her to throw me down to the ground, start cursing me and screaming at me. Instead she just hugged me tighter and whispered...

    “You are only a baby... I will protect you... don’t worry...”

    Steph took hold of my hand, squeezing her body tight into her mother’s side, her voice shivery...

    “Yes, I will protect you too...” she pitched in, as the dog approached them dragging a torn piece of rope from its neck, ears lowered, teeth showing and a low growl escaping its throat. Three puny creatures facing with some kind of undefined courage the thing that pictured in their minds as Armageddon.

    It is then that it happened. It snapped. I would never have imagined that it would be humans making it happen. I always imagined it as a ceremony where all our motherly fathers would stand around greeting me for the biggest and most courageous achievement of my baby life, and in a planet wide festival celebrate my transition from baby to brother. And here I was on this alien human planet, dressed up like a human carnival fairy, held in the arms of a she human woman, and promised the protection of a she human child and her pet. And here it snapped.

    I slid down from Billie’s arms, she tried to hold me back but there was no way she could. I tiptoed as high as I could and kissed her cheek, then bent towards Steph kissing her cheek as well, then bent towards the dog kissing him on the top of his head and losing my nose in his mouth in the process. It was all irrelevant. It was time for me to be found and take my lawful place in the world as a brother. Even if I had to break the law doing that.

    “I am going to be your fairy...” I whispered back, “...isn’t a fairy supposed to protect its humans?”

    I changed my density, moved my time scale to my old setting, retraced into a pearl size the density of the center of a sun and shot upwards to meet the approaching fury. My size increasing the closer I got, my inner fires whirling and twisting and growing wildly till we clashed in a mess of fire and abandon and hell. I took hold of their squirming angry screeching forms and with one long whip of my comet tail I dragged them out of Earth and on into space. All it took was parts of a second. And now I was a brother and my sisters had no choice but obey me.

    “You broke the law. You are going to stand trial, even if you are a brother now.”

    “I am a brother now because I broke the law. I will take my chances.”


    The phenomenon passed almost unmentioned in the news. There were speculations of a secret new army rocket experiment, even of a Russian out of control atomic explosion in space. The Geiger meters showed nothing, mass hallucination was the next best explanation.


    “Yes, Steph...”

    “Did it really happen? Are there fairies out there somewhere and we are not allowed to see them?”

    She hugged her daughter, swinging back and forth in the creaking wooden swing.

    “I guess there are,” she said, touching her own cheek and looking at the fine little pearl encrusted in Steph’s cheek as well. The dog did not seem to mind the pearl on his forehead. He was too busy munching something that looked very much like a human nose.



Love, Three

    “So much on my mind, I am so tired, I wish to close my eyes and never wake up...” I stirred underneath her, almost jumping up in alarm. She closed her fingers around my wrist and settled her head better on my chest. “Never interrupt a lady,” she smiled, “and if you jump my head will splash on the stone,” she smiled again, “...and never wake up from this dream,” she concluded, closing her eyes.

    It was late afternoon, cloudy, cool. Her pale skin was shivering partly with pleasure and partly freezing, as she insisted earlier on with loud tones that I should wear the jacket. Modern women can be at times... how shall I say it correctly... delightful? Our squirrel approached again. It became our squirel yesterday after we fed it pizza leftovers till it almost couldn’t climb up its tree. The rest went to the angry gulls that kept hovering noisily. None of them became our gull, all of them looked just too much alike.

    “He is back again,” I told her, and she opened one lazy eye to look at it. We decided it is a he because of its unshaven look. Just like my legs... she laughed yesterday forcing me to get my face scratched by her shins’ spiky surface, today they were as smooth as satin. She sat up slowly in order not to scare away the little animal and accepted, protesting unconvincingly, to share the relative protection of the single jacket. I moved my arm around her shoulders, the grip on her flesh powerful, painful. “Do you think he will be here also next time when I come?” I asked, and the shudder in her body had nothing to do with the descending dusk.

    “Is there a next time?” I barely could hear her voice, the glint in her eye undisguisable as a dew drop. I let her bite half a biscuit, bit a small piece myself and threw the rest to the squirrel. It did not try to climb back up the tree with it, but started chewing it right next to us.

    “Is there a sun tomorrow?” I answered unoriginally, and as she clutched my back into a wild kiss our furry friend almost choked on its biscuit crumb. Then, probably laughing in its own language to human folly, it kept chewing watching us closely.

    “These are three questions in a row,” she said, “and no answer. He will miss you.”

    “I will miss you too,” I answered out of context. Who cares about context when twenty four hours were all that was left of heaven. “I promise to feed this same squirrel again, here, in this place. I promise, and I never broke a promise to a squirrel before.”

    “Will you break your promise to me?”

    “Did I make one?”


    Alone. Darkness, wind. No squirrels, no gulls, just lovers in pain.

    “I promise never to break any promise you would wish me to make, promises of love, promises of sharing, promises of returning.” Quietly, meaning every word.

    “Beautiful promises,” she kissed the words into my mouth, waiting, missing something.

    “I promise to remember...” I added, and the fire pouring into my mouth could have never had originated from a human...




    I was rich. Not stinking rich but rich. I owned a penthouse in Manhattan overlooking Central Park, had two collection Cadillac’s in my garage and one Ford T, almost as many pairs of shoes as Isabella Marcos, my bank account was close to about two million bucks and growing, and I was a minority partner at 10% in the scandal newspaper for which I worked and which brought me all this small fortune. Scandal sells, whatever all those righteous souls may claim on the competition pages, and the “outraged ones” were actually our best customers. Where else would they get material to get outraged at? Either at the fact that we disclosed all those intimate-better-kept-secret facts, or at the facts themselves. Sometimes at both. Hypocrites. No, it did not provide me with any satisfaction disclosing all the dirt I did, I was the truth banner bearer only in the few cases in which I (or rather the newspaper) was sued, and just for the jury’s sake. Basically I was just good at snooping, finding, and shooting down, and the fat bonuses justified it all. My conscience? Somehow I always succeeded to battle it down with the same arguments I used officially in the courtroom, “the people have the right to know the truth”. Because at least I did not lie. Did I say hypocrites? Yes, I was one of them. Bottom line was money.

    It was the third day in a row I went to the flea market to watch the guy. Thin, dark features, black clothes, black hat, the long side curls rolled around his ears clearly identifying him as one of “my people”, an orthodox Jew belonging to one of the many sects populating Brooklyn, deeply devoted to religious studies and way of life. Unlike free me. I knew these circles very well, after all some of my scandals covered them too. I was not very popular there, as you may guess, yet neither did I care much about it. I was great at my job and they were part of the game, nothing personal. I didn’t think they cared deeply either, somehow things didn’t change there, as if this was the way it was always to be - past, present and future. One scandal more or less was not what was going to change their ways after living through exiles, inquisitions, pogroms, and gas chambers. And after some time I moved my attention elsewhere and our different ways differed even further. Now I was looking at this guy sitting there in all his luxurious isolation, a wooden board marked with strange letters and signs, probably Hebrew, on a table in front of him, and a mark saying one million dollars next to it. One million dollars! In the flea market! My goodness, this was the biggest human joke ever and no wonder there were always crowds around him laughing, pointing and taking pictures. Seemed he did not mind posing with them, or discussing with them godly philosophies in perfect English with a strong Yiddish accent. If there ever was a weirdo – this was the one.

    The first two days I thought this was some candid camera arrangement. But after carefully observing his coming each morning with the first junk sellers, and leaving late evening with the last ones, carefully packing and carrying his piece of wood to the bus as if he was carrying the world’s fate in his hands, I concluded the guy was genuine. Genuinely crazy. My bloodhound’s nose kept telling me there was the leading edge of a story there, yet I wanted to persuade myself even further before trying to make something out of it. My newspaper was at this moment in time focusing on the living scandals of dead actresses, so sidetracking to Jewish religious nuts would not be perceived positively. Unless I had a real supercase on my hands. That, I did not yet know.

    The day was drawing to an end, the crowds got thinner, and I saw him watching the skies as if seeking advice if he should already go. I never saw him watching his hand watch, maybe he didn’t even have one.

    “Hi,” I said, approaching him and inspecting his wooden board from close quarters. I did not see anything special to it, the letters and signs burnt into the wasted wood, a few holes pointing to wood worms clearly visible around the edges... one million dollars? “One million dollars?” I asked him, not mockingly but rather seriously. “Are you not afraid to carry it around if it is so valuable? And even if it is - who will come to the flea market expecting to find such treasures? Are you sure it is not some advertising gimmick of a kind people still have to discover?”

    He looked up at me from his sitting position, his eyes alert and intelligent, his manner slow and uncaring.

    “Who will rob me for a piece of rotting wood? And which gallery will accept a piece of rotting wood on display? This is as good a place to find a buyer as any, and if the buyer comes, blessed be he. If he doesn’t, blessed be he still, I don’t hold it against him.” He smiled. I’ve seen healthier teeth in my life, but the smile was as friendly as if he had just found a long lost brother. Well, to a certain extent I was one such.

    “And why would anyone even think of paying you such a ridiculous price for this ridiculous board. It looks to me quite remindful of an Ouija board, and I can buy ten for ten bucks, minus the worms. You know what – I give you one hundred bucks for your board. Cash. Can I have it?” I was testing the water, playing, trying to find a foothold, an angle to the story if there was one. And if not, well, I would survive a hundred dollars less in my pocket.

    His smile did not change.

    “Well, you are quite close in your guess, you know? This is a divination board, and a bit more. And your offer is quite generous but the price still stays at one million dollars, otherwise it is useless to you and I will not sell it to you.” He took out a velvet cloth and started wrapping the board in it.

    “You do not expect anyone to think seriously about buying this thing without being given some clear explanation as to the reason of the price – is it some kind of exceptional antique, is it the key to some hidden treasure, can it guess tomorrow’s shares market value with it?” Again, I was not mocking and in no mocking mood, I was genuinely curious and the guy did not seem so weird at close quarters. It was not yet a story, but my curiosity was picked.

    “Listen,” he said, “I must leave or I will be late for evening prayer. Why don’t you come tomorrow and then I can answer your questions. They are fair and I see no harm in answering them. Right now I must leave.”

    He picked the board under his arm and left without saying goodbye. I moved him back into “weird” zone. At least until tomorrow.

    I was in no special hurry to return next day, so after waking up around lunch time and slapping the naked buttocks next to me - no, I was not having a fling, I was seriously and deadly in love with the creature moaning disapproval and sinking her head deeper into the pillow – I performed all usual morning trimmings to my person, took my Japanese Micra car (yes, traitor me...) and drove to the flea market. It was Thursday, I guessed I would not find him there the following two days so I wanted to meet him today. I had no particular questions in mind, intending to play it on the fly and hopefully get him do most of the talking.

    He was there, just finishing posing with a family of five which I identified somehow as a family of touring Germans and making sure there was a man between him and the fatty matron of the family. I went straight over to him, opened the collapsible chair I brought over and sat down across from him, the board between us.

    “Hi,” I said originally. He did not answer right away and I saw him muttering something for some moments, I guess it was some kind of prayer since after that he picked out a few crackers from a brown bag and started munching. He offered me a few which I took and munched with him silently, for a few minutes. “So, since this is not a big secret, tell me about it,” I finally said, pointing at the board. “And something bothers me a bit since yesterday – you referred to the buyer as ‘him’, does it mean you will not sell it to a woman? Actually most of the fortune tellers in this world are women, and some of them as rich as Croesus...”

    Korach...” he interjected, smiling...

    “What was that?...” but as he did not seem to wish to elaborate, I continued. “...so basically you lose already most of your potential market.”

    Du bist ein Levy, weist du?” he said, taking me aback with words which I understood heaving heard my grandfolks talking this language, and which I did not hear now for at least twenty years. You are a Levi, do you know that? was what he was saying, and no, I didn’t know, and what the hell had it to do with anything?

    He finished the rest of the crackers from the bag, stuffed it in his pocket, repeated his mumbling from earlier on or maybe another one, then took my hand and laid it on the board. Well, if I was supposed to feel something, or get some visions or be struck by lightning... nothing happened. It was a piece of wood and it felt like a piece of wood.

    “How would you know that?” I asked, even though it had nothing to do with my real interest. Admittedly, the interest was dwindling by the second.

    “Listen, I will tell you, you will think me meshuge, and the rest is in the hands of the kodosh boruch hou. Okay? Can you just move here to my side, so if you are not the one, then the one has a chance to see it?”

    Well, he did sound a bit meshuge, or crazy in his language, but I removed my hand from the board and moved to his side, waiting. He closed his eyes and touched the board for several minutes. Then opened them, removed his hand and looked at me strangely, then started telling his story. And the more he was advancing the more I was getting disinterested. Scandals, blood, treason – this was reality and I could deal with. Mumbo jumbo was not in my line of business or interests.

    My original guess was right, the guy was a Kabbalist. One of the myriad of such groups which Judaism was rich with, dealing with interpretation of obscure phrases, looking for meaning in letters and their numerical values, trying to interpret in artefacts of the past the future to come, looking for paths to understand the true nature of divinity... each offshoot and its specialty. This guy’s group seemed to be dealing mostly with interpretations based on ancient artefacts, mainly such artefacts which had something to do with the first or second temple, and which they were seeking arduously. And after finishing learning whatever there was to learn from them they were simply destroying the artefact.

    “What, are you guys crazy? If such items are proven to originate from such antique times, and today it can be proven scientifically, then they are worth a fortune. You should sell them... you really are nuts...”

    He looked at me, what I was seeing in those eyes was probably pity at my ignorance and misunderstanding, and kept talking as if I did not interrupt at all. This board, he said, originated from the times of the... first temple... I almost choked and I was not sure if it was suppressed laughter or real awe that permeated me when hearing it. It was not in itself a sacred object, yet it was used by the great priests, the Cohanim, to divine the future and understand the past, and it was one of many. When the first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, the Levyim who were the high priests’ helpers, destroyed all divination boards to prevent them falling in the conquerors’ hands. All but this one, which one of the temple’s Yisroel workers smuggled out and then it moved on in his family for all generations till this day.

    “I am a direct descendant of the thief who stole this board, and so are all my sect’s members,” he concluded matter of factly. “Now we finished studying all we would ever need to know. It is time to destroy the board before it falls into unworthy hands.”

    “Wait a moment, wait a moment...” I jumped, not from the chair but into the discussion. “If this thing can really see into the future, or the past, or whatever – then it is priceless and one million dollars is a ridiculous price to ask for it. All you have to do is prove it. And if it is just a piece of wood then even my offered hundred bucks is ninety nine bucks too many.”

    Vo lo ishmau...” he mumbled patiently... “...you don’t listen. It is time to destroy the board before it falls into unworthy hands.”

    “And one million dollars is what will ensure it will fall into worthy hands? Just to be destroyed? You know, I could be a crazy guy who just happens to come by, have the million to spend and do it just for the heck of it. And I will not destroy it.”

    “This will not happen, we know.”

    “And how do you know? And what will you do with one million dollars? And why don’t you destroy it yourselves, why all this circus?”

    “Because we were guided to do it this way. And the money will go to tseduke, charity. And we are not allowed to destroy it ourselves, only a Levy whose blood line is directly related to the first temple’s serving Levyim is allowed to do it.”

    “You mean someone like me, this Levy thing you called me by?”

    “I mean you.”

    That clinched it for me. There was a limit to nonsense, and ridicule, and patience. I hit mine. It wasn’t funny no longer. I stood up, folded my chair and walked away in as rudely a manner as I could muster.

    “Hey, Jeremy,” he called after me. For a moment I was baffled, how the hell did he know my name. Then remembered my journalist accreditation hanging from my shirt’s pocket and the moment of surprise was over. I turned around nevertheless. “Nine, and one white,” he called.

    “Nine what?”

    But he was already leaving, the board under his arm, completely indifferent.

    I got back to my apartment, miffed and unhappy. I parked in the underground garage and took the high speed elevator to my floor, cursing my stupidity and loss of time, promising myself to make up for my shitty mood with sex, then more sex, and then lots and lots of sex. The elevator stopped on the ground floor to pick up a bunch of giggling girls, on their way up to some birthday party probably. A lady was accompanying them and she smiled at me apologetically... sorry for the noise... as she herded them all in counting... one, two... Somehow I was not at all surprised when she reached nine, all of them dressed as red fairies. All present... she cheered. She was also dressed as a fairy. White.

    Beatrice, my girlfriend, laughed her head off once I told her about it. She then apologized and made up for the fun with great sex, but it was clear to both of us that my mind was elsewhere. I hardly “made it” twice. We’ll make up for it later, she promised as she dressed and left for her night shift leaving me all smeared with shiny lipstick. I did not feel like taking it off. I did not feel like anything. I felt it approaching, the “collector’s syndrome” I feared so much and which cost me till now the two Cadillac’s and the one Ford T and which I thought vanquished forever. Beatrice being a major contributor to my normalization of senses. I suddenly feared a sudden recess into my past mindset of “have to have it” and this time for absolutely no logical reason and for a useless item. Wait a moment, maybe the guy drugged me? a pale thought passed my mind knowing it right away to be nonsense. But so was everything else.

    A few days later I was a walking package of raw nerves. Even Beatrice had to absorb from time to time the brunt of my illogical behaviour, luckily she loved me probably more than I loved her. Because with such outbursts I would have left. She did not. She knew the signs, she lived with them once already, she knew she helped me then and she knew she couldn’t help me now. Better said – she hoped she could.

    When I entered my department’s chief office and asked for one million dollars telling her the story and promising her a chance to print in today’s paper tomorrow’s lotto numbers, she kicked me out of her office shouting after me ...bring first the numbers then I will give you two millions... shrieking with laughter till her door clicked shut. Then I entered the newspaper’s owner (at 62% of the shares) office and told him the same story. He was ten years younger than me, and I hated it when he took me paternalistically by the shoulders and asked me suavely to give up crack. Then he reminded me that I still owed him a living scandal story about my assigned dead actress... what was her name?... Mary... Marina something?... the pervert clearly not knowing what he was talking about having inherited the position from his father... Marilyn was the name he was trying to remember and for a moment I felt like choking him.

    I got back home, pissed off, absurdly angry, ready to take it on poor Beatrice and knowing there was nothing I could do to prevent myself from doing it to me and to her. She was there, smiling. She took me by the hand and led me to a table set with newly purchased Morano glasses, Rosenthal dishes and gold plated Christoffe cutlery, pulled the chair for me and made me seat before shoving it underneath me then put a golden tipped fountain pen in my hand and one of my own checks in front of me.

    “I bought all which is on this table with my money. It is only money. I will survive. You have to buy this board with your money. It is only money. You will survive. If you don’t, we will not survive.” She went to her side of the table, sat down, poured freshly opened champagne in both our glasses and waited. I picked up the pen, wrote the number and signed. I was a free man. I smiled at her. She smiled back and the sex that night was nothing like I had ever experienced before.

    “I love you,” I whispered on her skin in the morning before dressing, picking my Micra, and driving to the flea market.


    I wanted to be alone with “it”. Beatrice left earlier than usual, promising not to return before I phoned her and asked her to come back. All trace of mockery absent from her voice. She faced it before. She knew the power some of my urges had over me and she insisted to be there to help. Yet she knew also when there was time to not be there till asked to. Quite a woman, I knew she would be the one to marry once marriage time came of age. Not yet, probably soon, I smiled to myself watching the object lying inertly on the living room table, one million dollars worth of worms with some wood around them. The laugh of the century, why didn’t I feel like laughing? Neither did that nut I bought it off, when he accepted my cheque as the most natural of things not asking even if it was covered, and then handed me the board in its velvety cloth.

    “A small advice,” he added before leaving, “if you want to interrogate it, make sure it has to do with issues or people pertaining to your faith, or touching your faith. Even remotely.”

    “Faith, which faith? I am as agnostic as the next lamp post.”

    “So am I, that’s why I study all my life,” he surprised me with his answer.

    “And...” I continued, “aren’t we all sons of Eve, therefore touching my faith?” emphasizing the “all” and the “my” as much as I could.

    “You’d make a good Yeshiva student,” he answered smiling, and this time we shook hands before he parted. I stayed behind with the parcel in my hand. Now I was home, looking at it. Not even knowing how to use it or interpret it or where did my sanity go forgetting me behind.

    I was glad there was no one around. It would have made me feel self conscious and I would have certainly failed if there was anything to succeed at. Now, alone, playing games was easy, no one was watching and lifting an inquisitive eyebrow.

    I started by talking to it, asking simple questions, slurping from time to time my deadly sweet Pepsi and feeling more ridiculous than a granny inside a strip cage. The wood stayed, well, wood. Then I tried a few phrases in broken Yiddish, whatever I remembered from my childhood, and if wood could laugh then certainly this wood was laughing at me. I decided to try the ridiculous way, picked a glass from the kitchen, turned it upside down on the board and put my finger on top of it. Let’s say it moves, how the hell will I interpret whatever it might say when I have no idea of Hebrew and Hebrew letters? Well let’s start with simple things like... what date is it today?...

    I jumped back, the glass dragging after my finger and breaking to the floor. The hell... it started moving... I swept the floor carefully, allowing myself the time to settle and calm my mind, picked another glass and placed it on the board. Then asked the same question again. If it was I who moved the glass around, then I was not aware of it, it moved eight times then it stopped. Yes, we were the 8th of august. Am I right handed or left handed? The glass moved to the right side of the board.

    I felt like something stronger than Pepsi, poured me a glass of stale champagne, leftovers from our wild night, sat down and started going for real, a smile spreading on my face wider and wider. If this was a trick then it was the best trick one million dollars could buy. If it was my sub consciousness “helping around”... well, then I had some mighty physical sub consciousness. And if it was for real?... I started sweating for real too, the possibilities travelling through my mind, the caution words of that Jewish seller dissipating to the winds, my finger on that glass following its traces with tighter and tighter questions. Not yet questions which necessitated real words. Those would come. Soon. How would I get the answer?... we’d see...

    I “played” with it for about two hours, a certain fatigue accumulating behind my eyes, yet the emerging adrenalin ensuring my body did not give in. I was approaching the moment I was going to ask the question I was preparing for, drilling myself into interpretations, allusions, conclusions. The moment arrived. I believed myself ready. I asked the question.

    “Did Marilyn commit suicide?” My finger was light on the glass. I knew the Yes and I knew the No, which one would it be? My jaw dropped as the glass floated to one corner of the board, settling itself on a symbol it never visited previously – an eye. It eluded me, what kind of answer was this? I put the glass again in the middle of the board and asked the same question again. The glass slid back to the eye, resting there motionless. I tried it a third time, now removing my finger from the glass completely for the first time, and after tilting the board so that the “eye corner” was raised higher than the rest of the board. The glass as impassively as a falling rock slid up the slant and settled itself on the eye. I started feeling the beginnings of frustration, and closed my eyes in an attempt to calm down. Music. I opened them fast. Quiet. Could be... I closed them again. Music. Soft.

    “Hi,” and the melodic overtones of that voice could not be mistaken amid a billion others.

    “Hi, Marilyn,” I responded, feeling the blood rush into my cheeks yet afraid to open my eyes and look in the mirror to ascertain it.

    “Hi, Jeremy.”

    “You know my name?”

    “Of course, you keep carrying that ridiculous journalist accreditation on your shirt even now.” Laughter, a small girl’s laughter, not a screen laughter.

    “You mean you can see me?”

    “In a manner of speaking, I can.”

    “Can I see you?” I asked, almost exploding.

    “In a manner of speaking you can. If you wish. But it will be the picture you remember of me. Not the real me.”

    “Why can’t I see the real you?”

    “Do you think you would like to see the real me? Or you’d rather keep the real image of me implanted in your brain by my managers and promoters and image creators?” A question. Seemingly indifferent. Maybe a bit of pain there. I hesitated in my answer. Maybe too long. “See, this is what I meant. So let’s go for the image of me, okay?”

    My fingers were about to break the chair’s seat, squashing the hard plastic almost into melting. I saw her. Goddess, dream, those lips, the beauty spot, the white dress working miracles on my raging imagination.

    “I see you,” I squeaked. “You are so beautiful.”

    “Of course I am, and thank you for the flattery. I am used to flattery.”

    “This is not flattery, you really are beautiful. Why should I flatter you? I have nothing to gain.”

    “You are after a story no? My story. A scoop. The scoop...” The earlier blood rush into my face was almost irrelevant compared to the present one. “You are a journalist, aren’t you? People are stories, for other people. They have no rights, newspapers bought the national rights to human rights, correct? And at the bottom of it there is money, always money. Money is what finally killed me. And lust. And fame. Not necessarily mine.”

    “And loneliness?”

    “What do you know about loneliness, Jeremy?”

    I wondered if being “there” helped her get additional insights into me, my life, my needs and aches. Maybe she was running a scandal newspaper over there and I was her subject? Would I want to be the subject? I suddenly cringed, memories of pain, of nights in front of a loaded gun aimed at my brains, the nights before Beatrice...

    “Sounds like you are interviewing me, Marilyn. My life is not as interesting as yours.”

    “Fame does not make life interesting, sick curiosity does. And greed. Your life is much more interesting than mine, my friend. But luckily for you, you are less famous. So no Jeremy is chasing you with telescopic cameras.”

    The whip, was she whipping me?...

    “I do not use cameras...” I moaned defensively.

    “Now, now, don’t you go timid on me suddenly, you use better than cameras, you use words, and bribes. And dead actresses have no way of protecting themselves. This is your new assignment, isn’t it? And I am your subject. And whatever truth you can find, be it as dirty as it may, ‘the masses have the right to know’, correct?”

    “I never lied before.”

    “And is it always necessary to show the truth? Would you like a love scene between you and Beatrice appear on the front page of your journal?”

    I did not answer. There was no answer, or actually there was and it was only too clear. I felt like she was slowly hypnotising me, the honey in that voice flowing into my veins, capturing me, inebriating me. I had to shake out of it, I had a mission, I had to find out. I was a journalist and journalist is a job and I was good at it. I needed facts, not stories, not romanticised assumptions, she was trying to move me off track and I had to fight back.


    “Norma Jean...” I heard the imploring sound in her voice, she was trying to protect herself or somebody, she was trying to talk to my conscience, she knew she was not able to lie... I locked my conscience away.

    “Marilyn,” I insisted, the callous sound in my voice hammering at my own brain yet I kept at it, steeling myself at performing my God given... God given?... a voice screamed in my head... job. “Marilyn, did you commit suicide?”

    Her image changed suddenly, her lips losing the glow, her dress losing the fluff, her breasts losing the pride, Norma Jean creeping out through the skin and taking over, reality kicking the brittle dream into pieces. I forgot I was in some kind of twilight zone, talking to images long dead and somehow connecting to them, communicating with them, forcing them into an ugly nakedness of soul, was I myself as ugly as my actions seemed to show me I was? I felt terrible embarrassment, the kind one may feel when falling upon an old actress bare of make-up and puffed with sleep, a peeping Tom barren of soul and going only for the money by exposing the bottom of human misery to the sensations hungry public. Stop, I suddenly wanted to say, but my mouth refused to obey. Stop, I screamed in my mind, but she did not seem to hear it. She answered.

    “Jeremy, somehow I cannot lie. I don’t know why. It is entirely in your hands now, you are scribbling all my words down without even knowing it. When you wake up it is up to you. The only thing I have left is my legend, my eternal youth, my myth. Please do not take these away from me. Nobody knows, you will, and you will decide if all will or just you. See, I am an eternal mother, Jeremy, to an eternally unborn baby. And I don’t want you to hurt my baby, please let it stay happy and unconscious forever. With me. This is the reason I died, Jeremy.”

    The words were sinking, slowly, relentlessly, the meaning, the terrible meaning behind these words drilling its way into my mind, clarity penetrating, my big journalistic scoop building itself into gigantic proportions, huge value, the Pulitzer prize, acclaim, big fat bonuses, partnership, a conscience to beat me for the rest of my life... I was swooning, I felt like fainting, like dying. She told me the department name. The room number. The drawer number, the file position, the proof. So easy to find once you knew where to look.

    “The father, can you tell me the father’s name?” I asked weakly.

    She did.


    I looked at the sheets of paper in my hand. My aberrant handwriting covering large patches of them with notes, quotes, numbers. I picked up the table lighter, let the flame touch the lower edge of one of the sheets and watched like a wondering kid the paper getting blackened into thin coal sheets, then crumbling into dust under my insisting fingers, then turning into fading black paint traces as it flushed down the sink.

    Then I took out my drill, drilled out the eye from the board and had it follow the path of the paper. That should suffice, somehow I knew it.

    I picked up the phone and called Beatrice.

    “Love, I felt never happier in my life, than at the moment I burnt one million dollars down the drain. Please come. I feel clean, happy, excited. I need you desperately, just to share my excitement. And by the way, I think I will start looking for another job.”

    She never asked me for details. She knew I would never tell her. She knew I was madly in love with her. This was all that mattered at that moment.



Looking Down, Looking Up

    shredding volley
    riding waves of raving folly,
    odd scraps of plunder
    hiding hind old crippled thunder,
    Mourning laments
    thick and slurry
    dished in mangled vulgar hurry,

    Crumbling body,
    dying time,
    fading senses,
    waning rhyme...

    “What are you doing there?”

    I heard the accent, definitely American. And definitely only an American would be nosy enough and high nosed enough to stick his nose (hey, three noses in a row...) in matters not his in a country not his in a language not his. I emphasized the masculinity of the remarks in my mind in disregard of and because of the fact that the voice was definitely a... feminine one. They and their politically correct sh... oops... I stopped thinking as the delicate balancing act I was performing demanded all my attention or disaster could ensue.

    Well, admittedly I did present some kind of an oddity under the grey Belgian skies of Brussels at this very moment. My car parked in customary double parking fashion, driver’s door wide open taking up at least another half of a car’s lane, and I perched on one leg at the side of a building bordering the pedestrian walkway and performing the most stupid of pantomimes for anyone paying any attention. Not that any real Belgian would ever pay any attention to anything short of a kid making noise in the apartment above. Thus one did not have to be a genius to guess the voice belonged to something very un-Belgian like. I leaned over the low balustrade making motions as if to chase ghosts away, with one finger moving softly back and forth towards the remote wall, looking closely, then repeating the motion. After about five minutes of this strange performance I finally cleaned my index finger on my trousers and turned towards my car.

    She was sitting on the hood, head to one side, a silly grin lighting her face (against deep reluctance I had to use the word lighting), and as I turned around she clapped her hands and saluted me in mock fashion as if I was supposed to know her for years now. Damn Americans, think they own the world I thought again, and thus satisfied with my silent declaration of independence I allowed myself a contemptuous look of superiority measuring the said specimen head to toes, then back up again. I was expecting a cringing look of disapproval, a snorting hurt look of I am not a female object of desire you retarded francophone chauvinist and an energetic depart with flaming cheeks and dancing buttocks. Well, my first disappointment... or was it a disappointment? She accepted my inspection with genuine pleasure showing in her eyes... her eyes... once I reached them again on my way back from her toes I froze. Something definitely green, definitely deep, definitely, well, indefinable clamped all of a sudden its hidden hand on my mind and with the rigidity of a desert desiccated rock kept my head in its temporary position in the final leg of its journey and didn’t let go. Mesmerized... bewitched... were the words jumping into my mind with an impossibility to do anything about it.

    “Hey, wake up...” a pair of fingers snapping right into my face relegated reality its unalienable rights and I jumped back, almost tumbling over the balustrade in my rear. She started laughing, bending down as if in terrible stomach pain, and finally pulled a hanky blowing her nose and pushing it into her narrow sleeve. “So, now that I passed the first inspection, and you almost broke your neck over it, care to tell me about this pantomime you were performing against this wall?”

    She was still hiccupping, then laughing, then hiccupping... I decided I had nothing to lose so I smiled back, went to my car, opened the passenger door and bowed in mock gallantry.

    “Would you take a coffee with me? Then I will tell you all about it.”

    She may have been confident, but not that confident. She hooked her eyes into mine, why was I feeling again this drilling sensation as if of twangs getting into depths of me never investigated before? Then the red of her hair passed in a flaming blur before my face as she got into the car, a white leg showing immodestly a bit more than expected to be shown, and allowing me to click the door closed behind her. I got behind the wheel and looked at her carefully from close by. Rounded lines, bordering on plumpy, rounded pouting lips bordering on indecency, a sea of freckles showing up on the temptation of bare shoulders...

    “You are not going to rape me or something?...” I asked, sounding almost hopeful.

    “A Belgian with a sense of humor and reasonable spoken English. How refreshing,” she retorted, pulling down the dress to her knees and watching straight ahead. “You forget that I am the stranger tempted into a strange car in a strange city, risking her life and virginity...” the smile was debilitating to my senses... “for the sake of knowing a secret she doesn’t really care for.”

    “So why accept the invitation?”

    “Maybe because it is not the secret so much as the secret’s owner that drew my attention.”

    I didn’t drive too far. Brussels is not a city short of coffee shops or tea rooms or bars or you name it. I squeezed my car into a tight spot, hang on the window an old pink police notice hoping the agent on duty would not pay attention to its age, took her hand with absolutely no hesitation and guided her to the back of a noisy bar which started filling up with youngsters in search of a good, even if ephemeral, time out. It was getting dark, I found a table towards the back of the establishment far from the huge loudspeakers, and pulled a chair for her.

    “Old fashioned...” she murmured.

    “Polite...” I smiled back and went to the counter ordering two beers. I returned to the table to find her in a heated discussion with an imposing youngster at the table next to ours. “New friends already? So short in our relationship and you are already cheating on me?”

    “Just asking him kindly and determinedly to respect the no smoking sign above his head. So short in our relationship and you try to get me drunk already? It was supposed to be a coffee.” She pulled the bottle from my hand, drank half of it in one go, dried her mouth with the back of her hand, and took out a small notice book from her purse. “Okay, now the truth and all truth and nothing but the truth. What was it all about there on the street?”

    “Hey, you a journalist or something? And here I was thinking the beautiful gringo fell under my Latino charms and I am in for an easy lay and easier good bye,” I answered, taking a long sip from my bottle and fixing those incredible eyes for the umpteenth time. She did not answered straight away, did not even smile.

    “I did not tell you I am a witch, did I?” she asked not releasing my regard for a second.

    “No, neither did I tell you I am in reality a frog just kissed into humanity by a princess which meanwhile ran away with the gardener,” making an effort not to avert my regard under the green salvo pouring from those eyes.

    “And neither did you tell me you did not have sex for at least five years now and you are still waiting for the big love of your life to sweep you off your feet.” This time she did smile and helped me close my hanging lower jaw. She finished her bottle, took mine and finished it as well, got up pushing unceremoniously past the big guy she had the argument with and returned with two other bottles. How the hell did she know it, I asked myself sipping carefully on my drink and watching her sipping on hers. “Simple,” she said, “I read it in your eyes. Otherwise I would not have joined you in that dilapidated car of yours.”

    “Dilapidated? This is a brand new BMW dear unnamed lady, a jewel, not a car.”

    “Not even a GPS...”

    “But one hundred and seventy horses...”

    “Give me just one horse, all of it muscle and sweating blood between my legs...”

    Here we were, not even knowing each other’s name and we were having already our first fight. Did it mean something?

    “I was saving a spider...” I said, waiting for her to finish spraying beer through her nose, coughing her laughter away, mopping the shirt of the big guy which did not seem too appreciative of the sudden humidity hitting his neck, and wiping watery eyes in a brand new hanky she pulled from her purse. This one found its way next to the previous one in her sleeve. “Do you collect them?” I asked.

    “Saving a spider?” she answered, disbelief, amusement, wonder, and... something else building itself inside those green sunsets.

    “Yes. A youngster. It suddenly dangled from a thin line just in front of my eyes inside the car. So I had to stop, I picked up the thin web in my fingers and you saw me just as I was trying to balance it and persuade it to attach itself to the wall.”

    “Saving a spider...” she repeated the words one mindedly, no question mark attached to the end of the statement this time, but distinctively hearing the three dotted infliction in her accent. “To be eaten by a bird, or squashed by a shoe, or dried by the sun, or die of pure and simple lack of flies supply.”

    “I had to make a choice. I made it. It is a life.”

    “It is a bug.”

    “It is a life. It was my choice. I made my choice.”

    “Are you some kind of a nut?” she asked, no mockery in her tone, just lots of question marks.

    “It’s a matter of definition,” I answered. “Yesterday I saved two bees. Define nut.”

    The hours crawled by, the bottles piled on our table, what did we discuss? What did we not? Life, creation, abortion, poetry, the war in Iraq, European disunity, famine, trust, loyalty, capital punishment, religion, free love... The subjects flowing into each other, the words flowing into the subjects. She looked at her watch. The ring on her finger as blinding as a sun at midday.

    “I will call you a cab,” I said.

    “Don’t you want to take me to the hotel?” she asked.

    “I drank too much,” I lied.

    “Thank you,” she lied.

    I watched the parting red tails of the cab as it swerved into traffic and within seconds disappearing from sight. Suddenly I had this guts wrenching feeling to have missed the one occasion in my life to life. I pulled the new, blue police notice from behind my car’s wiper... the bastards... returned to the bar and kept drinking by myself till I fell asleep in a pile of stinking vomit I didn’t even remember retching.


    I heard the knock on the door, and waited for the bell to ring. There was a knock again. I looked irritated at the wall clock, who the hell would knock on my door on a Saturday at twenty minutes past noon? I hope it is not again Jehovah’s Witnesses, I thought angrily as I went to the door with the half cut onion in one hand and the sharp knife in the other, ready to shove both in their faces and scare them away once and for all. I pulled the door open. An emaciated face, a pair of grey eyes, a battered suitcase carrying several unidentified stickers.

    “Your eyes are grey,” I said.

    “They are always grey when I am worried, or in pain, or angry.”

    “And which of those are you now?”

    “I don’t know yet. I will know soon. Am I late?” She was not laughing, not to the best of my interpretation of that haunted look on her face. I did not answer. I picked up the PDA from my shirt pocket, palming the onion like a beginner magician and picking it between thumb and forefinger, then pocked at its keys with the tip of the kitchen knife. “You will damage it,” she added, as I kept poking at the plastic screen leaving small indentations wherever I touched.

    “You are three years, seventy six days, fourteen hours and twenty two minutes late,” I finally answered, pocketing back the soiled computer. “And an advancing number of seconds,” I added, my face impassive, my chest thundering soundlessly.

    “I always sucked at math. Is it just late or too late?” she asked further, glints of green sparkling for a few moments in her eyes and drowning again in the grey mass.

    “How did you find me?” I asked back, not willing to answer, unable to answer.

    “I noted your car license plate number. It was easy.”

    “It was not easy, this was a leased car. I changed twice since.”

    “You will be surprised how easily corruptible lease companies are these days. It took me just one week to find you. Then three more weeks to find out if you were... free.”

    “Did you follow me?”


    “I thought you were a witch, you could know everything about me without asking.”

    “True, for that I would have to look into your eyes. I did not have the opportunity.”

    “And now that you have the opportunity what do you see?” I asked angrily, feeling my left hand squeezing the onion till drops started falling on the floor and the pungent odor started stinging my eyes. She got closer to me, eyes unblinking, breath irregular, gasping...

    “Five years plus three more and you have not yet touched a woman still waiting for the big love of your life to sweep you off your feet.”

    “Lucky guess...” I said, unconvinced.

    She looked at me for another full minute, then lowered her eyes to the onion in my hand and smiled.

    “Looks delicious. I am hungry.”

    I looked down at my right hand, the knuckles around the knife’s handle white, trembling.

    “Looks painful, sharp.”

    “Will you keep me out here until my cab comes?” It did not register on my mind immediately, I believed I filtered out some words, or maybe they were not said at all. I let her in, carrying her suitcase and amazed at its lightness. I lead her to my living room watching her sink gratefully into the deep armchair. Old Toy dragged his creaking frame forward wagging his tail in happy dog fashion, licked her knee several times, then lay at her feet falling asleep instantly. I returned to the kitchen and continued where I was interrupted from. “I did not know you had a dog.”

    “You did not know many things,” I answered, my efforts at indifference failing miserably, at least now there was the drinks counter which separated us. “Where have you been all this time?” I asked.

    “I was sick.”

    “Flu?” I asked, wishing almost immediately to have been better at hiding the derision in my voice.

    “Cancer,” she answered, and as I turned in one wild motion towards her I caught her looking at my back, smiling. “Now she left me, but one never knows.”

    I laid the knife on the kitchen table and went over to sit across from her.


    “Yes, you know, cancer and love are always she’s for me. Once they bite they never let go, same like a woman. Maybe a bad analogy, but both grow uncontrollably, both leave deep wounds in your body, both have this insatiable need to control your life.”

    “One is death. One is life.”

    “Well, no analogy is perfect.”

    “So is it a is or a was?”

    She hesitated, measuring carefully my regard, as I was watching here and there those green sparks trying to surface now and again, then sinking back into those immeasurable depths.

    “A was, but you never know. Look at me, it took me three years, seventy six days, fourteen hours and twenty two minutes to get back to you. She may come back as well, it is a she. Unpredictable. This part of the analogy works.”

    “You still wear your ring. Though I see it moved to your right hand.”

    “Divorced, one and a half years ago. We stayed good friends. The ring is a protection against certain characters.”

    “Like me.”

    “Unlike you.” She took the ring off her finger and placed it on the table. “I will leave it here, a memory. One needs memories to keep on living. I don’t think you have many. So for whatever it is worth I leave with you a memory. Will this stew take much longer? My stomach demands certain rights, you know... I may be a witch but I am a hungry witch.”

    “And what will be your memory?” I asked, fearful of any answer, unable to think any deeper than the sensation of pure fear that suddenly started sipping into my bones and was sinking now heavily and painfully in the rest of my body.

    “A good lunch?...” she exploded in laughter, waking up poor Toy who moved to another corner of the room, far from those noisy humans. Everything about her laughed, her face, her mouth, even her chest, so much thinner that the previous time I remembered. Yet there was quiet in her eyes, no laughter, no expectations, just grey clouds.

    “When is your cab coming?”

    “I asked for it at five.”

    “And when do you fly?”

    “Don’t know the time exactly, about eight, I have to look at the ticket.”

    “Can I see it?”

    “Of course.” She started digging inside her voluminous purse, pulling out the various occasional feminine traveler’s treasures - lipstick, several packs of hankies, an unopened pack of female pads... blushing... loose change, a few chocolate bars bitten into... “Here it is. Let’s see...”

    “May I?” She handed me over the tickets, the earlier blush deepening around her cheeks, down her neck. “You were here two months. It took you a week to find me. The rest to follow me. Today you fly back and you come to visit me just a few hours before your plane leaves. Why?”

    She started stuffing the things back into her purse, unceremoniously pushing the items one after the other in no special order.

    “Maybe because I did not intend to come even now. Maybe because I did not want to impose. Maybe because I am a sentimental fool.”

    “We are three years older, do you realize that?”

    “Yes, and since you are older than I am it means that percentage-wise the impact is stronger on me...” she was not going to cry but the twitch in her chin was unmistakable.

    “I thought you sucked at math.”

    “I lied.” She pulled a handkerchief from one of the packs and dabbed at her eyes. I did not react. Just got up and out of the room and returned a few moments later with an envelope in my hand. I opened it and pulled the thin piece of paper from inside and laid it on the table in front of her, next to the plane ticket. “What is this?” she asked, looking at the dried up beer label.

    “I peeled it from the first bottle of beer we drank together. I decided to keep it. Maybe because I am a sentimental fool too?”

    I got up, went to the kitchen again and returned with a pair of scissors, placing it between the ticket and the label. Then took the ring from the table top, slid it on the ring finger of her left hand and waited. Toy was watching us with big tired eyes from his safe corner. Then he crawled closer by, laid his head on his front paws to get a better look at the drama evolving before his eyes. Speaking of dog intuition...

    I regarded her eyes, watching another evolution. Uncertain what it was going to be. Yet knowing that one way or another it would be decided here, today. It could not have happened three years ago, it will not happen three years from now. Here, now. Something began to bubble in the depths of those eyes, little flickers lighting up and then turning off again, white spots penetrating the grey fog turning blue, turning green, turning white again, whirling waves hitting against the iris attempting to break it then giving in to the resilience of regard, will, determination... Her right hand moved picking up the scissors, her left hand moved picking up the ticket and with one swift swish cutting it in two. The eyes... suddenly thousands of fountains opened up pouring the richness of forest green inside the grey, beyond the grey, inside life.

    “Maybe because I am in love,” she said.

    “Maybe because I am in love,” I echoed.

    “Maybe because I am hungry,” she said.

    “Maybe because I am hungry,” I echoed.

    We kneeled against each other, the love, the hunger devouring us as our mouths fused in a raging abandon of blood, pain, and hope.


    Blinding flashes...
    scrambling lashes
    waking dragons drowned in ashes,
    attempted howling
    as the hurricane starts scowling,
    Sunshine streaming
    rich and raving
    feeding lust to ease the craving,

    Waking body,
    rolling time,
    screaming senses,
    smiling rhyme...



Mistake... This Is The Gate To Heaven

    I felt it coming for some time now, for several years. Lately however it seemed to be nearing till a matter of days was all I expected to have left till it will hit. So I had to do some intensive preparations. I was a law abiding citizen and did not want to break any of these, not even by committing simple traffic violations.

    I drove down the highway to my home and stopped at each speed limit panel and bent it down its middle so the numbers were not showing. Those I could not bend I sprayed with paint from a can. I took me a few hours, but then the job was perfectly done. I drove all the way back to see if I did not miss any, and by the three quarters of the way back home it hit me. I knew it was coming, still I was surprised when it happened. I gunned the motor to the floor, aimed at the next lamp post and made sure it will hit the car just left of the middle. I was a good driver, my aim was perfect, I was not breaking any speed limit laws. I did not hear the impact.


    I approached the impressive wall and pushed the button which a flashing arrow kept pointing at. The quiet was impressive, I could have heard my heart beat if there was one, yet before I could try to verify the veracity of the fact, a part of the wall the size of a door moved smoothly into a recess and a beautiful woman dressed in a long plain white kimono and wearing some kind of a wheel inside her hair appeared in the opening.

    She smiled at me a perfect smile, her teeth even, her eyes sparkling, her cheeks rosy like a morning’s sky. I looked up trying to identify the sun but all I got was some unclear haze stretching in every direction, forcing me to squint.

    “Yes?” she chimed.

    “I would like a room for tonight, are there any vacancies?”

    “Do you have a reservation?”

    “Did I have to make one?”

    “Certainly. We have enough rooms but only people with reservations can come in. Do you have a reservation?” she repeated patiently.

    “And how long ago did I have to make one?”

    “Well, several years ago. It is written in our marketing brochures.”

    “My dear lady, please listen, I am lost, I am tired, I need a hot meal, a hot bath, a bit of TV and then I hit the hay. Tomorrow I will be gone. I will pay double the price.”

    “It is not a matter of paying now, you should have paid long ago.”

    “And how would you expect me to pay if I did not even foresee to come over to this place?”

    “You really do not know where you are, do you?”

    “As far as I can recognize it, this is a nameless hotel, stuck in the middle of nowhere, business is weak and you should not turn a weary customer away. Courtesy. Business. All the right reasons. Correct? This is a hotel, right?”

    She looked at me the way one looks at a misplaced fly, smiled benevolently and full of understanding and shook her head.

    “Mistake... this is the gate to heaven.”

    “Yes, and I am father Christmas, and now it is the 4th of July.”

    “No, father Christmas is a fake and we have no calendar down here. Every day is the first day of eternity. Praise be.”

    “You sound like a TV evangelist, you know, except they say up not down here. Do you follow these programs by any chance?”

    “Oh, they use some of our material as well.”

    “Yes, and conning little old women out of their last penny for their ever more grandiose luxury boats.”

    “We are not responsible to the way our teaching is put to use. We just aim to get advance registrations to the rooms. We have responsibilities.”

    I heard the shuffling of feet and a bunch of little boys approached the gate hesitatingly. She smiled, moved aside and let them in. Then she moved in front of the gate again, blocking my view. I tried to peek past her shoulder, but I could not see anything except pure whiteness.

    “Why is it all so white in there? Don’t you have grass, trees, flowers? It is so damn boring. What are you doing all day long?”

    “Grass and other forms of vegetation don’t have souls, so they are not allowed in. Neither are dogs,” she added, pointing to a sign next to the gate showing a dog with a red line through it.”

    “So goats and camels are accepted?” I asked caustically, “I see no signs with red lines going through their shapes.”

    “Sorry, is this what you would habitually call humor?”

    “No, it is what I would habitually call sarcasm. How come you allowed these small kids in, with no parents, no reservation, no questions asked? I am glad you think they have souls.”

    Seemed that I got her a bit tense, since she smiled again.

    “Oh, kids are always welcome, they make such cute angels, we encourage kids to come here, it is written in our marketing brochure.”

    If I started feeling sarcastic somewhere along the way, now I started feeling something bubbling in my stomach.

    “You encourage kids coming here? Instead of letting them there up or down or wherever there is to play with other kids, be with their moms, fathers, families, you encourage them to arrive here? You should discourage children from arriving here. What is the matter with you people? And what is this wheel stuck in your hair?”

    Looked like I succeeded to ruffle her feathers.

    “This wheel stuck in my hair is a halo. And I am not people, I am angel. And not interfering there is part of our non intrusive policy and who are you to judge us on that? And don’t you use this vituperative tone here in front of this gate.” I think she was ready to slap me with one of those feathers she may have had, and I was getting ready to punch her nose.

    “Tell me you high nosed halo bearer, if you decided to change your policy would you be able to stop kids from coming here?”

    “Of course we would.”

    “So why the hell don’t you?”

    “It is up to the board of directors to decide on it. And it is not up to a visitor with no reservation to ask these questions.”

    “So why don’t you ask these questions?”

    “Questions are asked in Hell, this is Heaven as I told you.”

    “I think at this stage I would like to try getting a bed with Hell. Where is it?”

    “Down the road, go until you see a long queue.” She chuckled. “You have no choice getting in there either.”


    “Because they use there a bartering system. You have to bring with you references of people you sent here before you, or bring them with you. Did you send anybody there or here? Bet you did not. You also did not bring anybody along. So you have no chance. Ha.”

    I saw another group approaching soundlessly. The men stopped in front of the gate, a young guy painfully letting go of a girl’s hand as the women continued further on. They stopped in front of the wall where another gate opened and a male simile of my female gate keeper showed up to let them in. All the men who stopped in front of my gate were allowed in as well.

    “Why do you separate men from women?” I asked. “This is primitive.”

    “We have to keep perfect order here. Therefore we have to prevent fornication.”

    “We call it making love in my world...” my sarcasm was on the mount again. She continued as if I said nothing.

    “Like that they can concentrate on inner thoughts and elevation.”

    “Yes, thoughts of fornication and masturbation... don’t tell me you don’t have runaways here, people who try to steal away from one side of the camp to the other.”

    She smiled angelically again.

    “Of course we have crime, what do you think we are, savages? They are punished severely. One year of penitence.”

    “Yeah, don’t tell me, kneeling on corn seeds.”

    “How did you know it, this is a guarded secret...”

    “Lucky guess,” I spit the last words and made a move to go. “Tell me do you have any marketing brochures here?”

    Why the hell did she smile again? I picked up her wrists and looked at them. Then lifted her arms and peeked under her arm pits. Clean.

    “What are you doing?”

    “Looking for stamps of Made in Japan. I was wondering if you are not a new model of Tamaguchi.”


    “Yes, a toy robot.”

    “Oh...” she smiled, pointed at another sign bearing a sign of a toy with a red line crossing it.”No toys.”

    “Yeah, of course, no toys, no sex, no dogs. Just white. Like a nuts’ hospital. So do you have any brochures left so that I find my way easier around here next time around I may come, just to make sure I miss this place?”

    “Which language? We have all possible languages.”

    “Which language? What do we talk now, Sanskrit? Hey, do you maybe have one in human?”

    “Human? I don’t know of such a language.”

    “Figures out, I could have guessed as much. So make it English.”

    She handed me a brochure which started singing hymns the moment I touched it.

    “I will give you one word of warning though. There will not be a next time if you don’t hang around and try to apply higher up. The next time you will move into... nothing. You have to make your choice, now.”

    Visions of screaming asphalt flashed into my mind, noise...

    “I’d rather take my chances with a lamp post...” I raised my voice above the noise... now, why in hell did I just say that? She seemed to be thinking, trying to understand.

    “It is your last chance...”

    I did all the thinking I had to do. All it took was flashes of seconds. I knew my answer.

    “Don’t think too hard, you may yet get some wrinkles on that billiard smooth brain of yours...” I shouted the strongest I could... the noise was getting unbearable...


    My reflexes were perfect, my car was perfect, I saw that post rush towards me as I shook up from the somnolescence that flooded me and with crunching teeth I pulled the car back into the middle of the road fighting hard to control it and hoping no car was there alongside me. My heart was thumping wildly, adrenalin flowing out of my nostrils... what a long fading dream in a second long snooze which almost cost me my life. I had a few more miles to go till home and I started calming down. An unbearable desire to hold her hand flooded me all of a sudden... oh, I loved her so much... not even death will steal me away from your arms... I shouted mindlessly and happily at the indifferent windscreen reflecting a funny dying fire inside my eyes.

    Damn vandals...” I thought, seeing the speed sign bent right through its middle, just one mile before pulling into my street.




    A knock on the door, more like a scrapping sound. I got off the bed, hopped barefooted the few cold tiles to the door and opened it. And I knew I was a goner.

    She stood there. Huge, bubbling tar drooling past the gigantic muzzle drilling smoking holes into the wooden porch, hesitating flares escaping nostrils ready to turn any moment into a flaming tornado. A claw as big as a scythe’s blade and as sharp touched my chest and gently pushed me aside tearing my thin singlet in two pieces, and a narrow long red line decorated me nipple to navel. Then the massive bulk drew itself into my living room together with half of my entrance wall, all seven tons and one hundred feet of it coiling itself into one pile of bones, and nails, and scales watching me intently.

    She... why did I use the word “she” in my mind the moment I saw the giant dragon-like creature entering my world and home so unexpectedly? Dragons, there is no such thing as dragons I told myself, uncertain of reality or sanity as I watched those eyes fixing me with such... human?... stare. Green, never seen such green neither, ever in my life.

    The green of the heart of a blade of grass cut in two and bleeding drops of emerald? Maybe the green of a peacock’s awakening feather stolen from a divinity’s chest of morning’s pastels? Or, maybe, the green of a flame deprived of its blues and reds and yellows? Probably none. And all. And more.

    Me and my imagination and my stupid poetical mind. Snap. Dragons do not exist. I knew. If this one did, I would know for sure only when I sue the insurance company for the broken wall. If, on the other hand, it did not exist then it should talk. Only inexistent dragons talk. I was certain of that.

    The stare never wavered. Green.

    “Are you real?” I finally asked oxymoronically, kicking out of way a few broken bricks.

    She... I will have to use this term, sorry... laid that huge head on my shoulder making sure it did not weigh more than whatever it took to crush my bone, and doing her best to control that terrible drooling. Do dragons sing? The dragons visiting me, and this was the first one ever, seemed to have forgotten they were supposed to roar and simply sang a melodious...

    “Heal me... I am dying...”

    I shivered. That head was a walking furnace and yet I shivered as an ice claw gripped my heart and squeezed it mightily, skipping the pulp phase straight into non existence. When, where did I hear that voice before? And if not that then such.

    Was it Cio Cio San’s voice dropping crystal balls on a vibrating tongue mourning a love found and lost and never to be found again except beyond death? Maybe my mother’s voice singing child me to sleep never refusing an encore till I parted to worlds unreached but by my mind? Or, maybe, the siren queen cursing absurd fate to never have been allowed to gather Ulysses’ handsome curls to her desiring soft bosom? Probably none. And all. And more.

    Me and my imagination and my stupid poetical mind. Snap. The ugly head moved away from my shoulder and lay on the floor next to my foot, drooling death right through the disintegrating tiles. The eyes half closed, the light in the room dimming as they did so. Then they fully closed and if it wasn’t for the tiny flame still dancing inside the blackened nostrils I would have thought she died.

    “Are you hurt?” I asked, accepting the evidence of my eyes as calmly as if it was a wounded dog. “Where does it hurt?” I asked further.

    She did not answer, and I started moving slowly around her scaled muscle, looking for telling signs. It wasn’t hard to tell. Thick yellowish liquid was oozing out slowly from underneath the scales in many spots, slowly gliding down along the surface. I dipped my finger in it and smelled it carefully, then incredulously neared it to my lips and tasted it.

    “It is honey...” I blurted out surprised, “...and so much sweeter...” I added, licking my finger ecstatically and dipping it in the thick liquid again.

    “It is my milk, and it is my blood...” she sang, “...and humans beyond your senses hunt us for it. It gives them eternal youth. And eternal love. And we die, an eternal death.”

    Oh, the liquid pain in that song. Shame suddenly overwhelmed me, I rushed out through the hole in the wall spitting my guts out, then returned and kneeled in front of the monster. No more afraid, as she lifted her head again and raised her eyelids bathing me in that incredible green sunshine.

    “You said heal me... Tell me how?”

    Did she bat her eyes in gratitude to my lack of inquisitiveness, to my primitively simple acceptance of the facts? Or was it in unendurable pain?

    “They caught my mate before they caught me. They killed him, a male is useless to them. He tried to lead them away from me, it was only a short reprieve. They found me. They killed all my sucklings, ripping them off my tits, all one thousand of them. And they were getting ready to milk me and bleed me to death. I did the only thing I could do to save myself. I passed to this side of the senses. Hoping to find you.”

    “One thousand dragons killed in order to catch one? How many dragons were there left in your world at all?”

    “One thousand and one...”

    The number floated, simmered, then slowly sank into my conscience.

    “Then... you are the only one left? The last of your species?”

    “The last of my species.” The melody changed to a chant, shrill and thin, penetrating... “The last queen.” She stopped, and a flare out of control scorched my eyebrows. I did not even feel the burn. “I won’t stop bleeding till I die. Or...” she eyed me at length.

    “Or?...” I repeated after her, impatiently, feeding so much incoherence in that one syllabled word.

    “Or, first, a human this side of the senses saves me. Pulling my one thousand scales away uncovering my wounds, chewing them to soft mush in his mouth, and then sticking each one back upon its own wound. The only way. All one thousand of them.” She seemed to hesitate a moment. “And they are as bitter as raw gall. And they hurt.”

    “And how much time do you have?” I asked, no hesitation in my word, my mind, my question.

    “As long as I believe in life,” she answered, and closed her eyes again.

    How the hell did my mind blank out? I descended to the cellar and picked a pair of pincers, then mounted back to her side and started inspecting her shield. It was not difficult to identify the bleeding spots. I picked the edge of the first scale and pulled. It came off cleanly, easily... and the pain...

    “The pain in my chest, the burn, why this terrible pain?...” I screamed. She did not answer, the puncture underneath the scale exposed and breathing with pulsing honey and pulsating raw flesh... raw flesh, are dragons made of flesh? I asked myself as I smothered my scream, stuffed the corny piece in my mouth and started chewing slowly.

    If hell was bitter then certainly this was the taste of hell. Yet, I found it completely irrelevant - the pain, the taste as I finished the first one, took the mushy substance out of my mouth and stuck it upon the wound. The bleeding stopped. I moved to the next one.

    She did not wake up until I finished, three weeks later. I had to take small breaks – to eat, to sleep, but I never stopped. As if this was the only thing that mattered in my life. As if dragons existed. She did not wake up also after my three weeks’ toil, though I saw the first wounds closed and new scales starting to bud in place of the torn ones. I waited, patiently, after all I knew there might still have been work to do, she used the word first. I wondered what second would mean if at all, as I watched her hulk lying there, inert, the only proof of life being the small flame still dancing inside her nostrils changing slowly from red to a lively shade of green. I waited, three more weeks.

    She opened her eyes, a huge tongue slithered out and touched my knee awaking me with a shudder from my half crouching position. She yawned hungrily, exposing canines the size of her nails, then started uncoiling, rising towards the ceiling, tearing it open and rising further through the roof (my insurance won’t be any happier I smirked to myself, remembering earlier thoughts) until almost all of her hundred feet stretched into one muscular line, and then she roared. I’ve never heard a dragon roar before except as Hollywood Dolby sound effects in some over-rated movies. There was nothing in those artificial sounds to come even close to the terrifying sound which escaped that huge yawning mouth, a green flame as long as the body shooting forward and a mild earthquake almost dropping me on my back. She recoiled, gathering her body at my side, and the look in those eyes had nothing of the earlier plea or weakness.

    “You are so powerful, why are you afraid of the humans... your side of the senses?” I asked, wondering aloud.

    “Because they learned our terrible secret,” she said, the celestial melody back into her voice. “We do not kill. Even to protect our lives.” The impact of those words... I wanted to say something hard, human hard, but she simply sang me quiet, whispering... “And you are the only human ever who will see what you are going to see. Are you ready?”

    “Is this... the second?”

    “Your perception is sharp, my human. And the decision is... yours.”

    I did not even have the time to let my mouth open in wonderment. She squatted on her hind legs, closing her eyes, the two wings coming to the front and two nails uniting side by side and moving to the top of her chest then sliding down along what I may have called her belly, and as they moved the scales parted, the flesh parted, no blood, no sound... a dark cavity the size of a small room opening, the glitter of jumping sparks allowing from time to time a glimpse inside the darkness... emptiness... emptiness?...

    The rear wall of that inner cavity started bulging slowly, like skin stretching under the impulse of an impatient growth, contours defining themselves clearer with each passing moment, small protuberations growing into mounds, lines drawing themselves into the mass of flesh, details sharpening, stretching... movement... lights... I started shivering uncontrollably, my muscles losing the hold on my body, I started falling to the ground... the most gracious of female figures floated towards me as long tendrils connecting her spine to the cavity stretched effortlessly, captured me in her arms, and laid me gently on the breathing warmth of the cavity’s floor. Oh, the beauty of that hairless body, its green of skin, its green of eye, its green of nipple, its length of limb, its roundness of breast, its softness of touch... could one fall in love with an alien within seconds of its appearance and be willing to die the most horrible of deaths just for one night of love with her?... I could, I did.

    “Love me...” she sang, the same voice, the same melody, who was the dragon, who was the queen, were they... one?...

    I let my arms embrace her, my lips kiss her, my body get lost into her...

    Was this that ever eluding rhyme no poet ever finds whatever their effort and finally die dreaming solely of the pain of the wish? Maybe the warmth humans fight to find from the first moment they clutch at mother’s breast with demanding lips yet never ever achieve? Or, maybe, the love we all know exists somewhere in worlds beyond and over and yonder human reach? Probably none. And all. And more.

    Me and my imagination and my avid poetical mind. I refused to snap. Fearing the moment I would have to part. The moment came.

    “My race will survive, I am stronger, my children will carry your strength, your passion for life, for beauty, for love. I must go.”

    My last question, I had to ask it even if there might have been no answer there, I had to ask or sink into bottomless insanity.

    “Why me?”

    There was no sadness in those eyes, no regret, no pity, just tenderness... oh, such deep tenderness...

    “Because you are the only human this side of the senses to believe in dragons. And in eternal love.”

    She left my side of the senses. She was gone.


    “Dear sir, following recommendations of our mutually agreed upon consultant, we decided to refuse your claim for repairs to your house, till such time as your claims could be substantiated by supporting evidence as provided by independent investigators. Following your refusal to provide acceptable explanations to the damage which occurred to your dwelling we are sorry to inform you that we decided to discontinue our contractual agreement. You will be refunded any moneys paid to us pro-rata as per the time still left till the would-be normal conclusion of the contract.


    for the insurance company...”

    I had my proof. I wondered, creakingly swinging on the porch... would anyone ever believe me? Not that it mattered at all.




    I pushed the stick into the sixth, at the same time turning the switch in my mind to the comfortable dumb position which would carry me at a stressless 80mph along the habitual one hundred morning miles to work. I did not turn on the radio. Didn’t want to get distracted away from her.

    She was there, as usual. How she succeeded to get up every morning at exactly the right hour to ride alongside me for the full stretch of miles, I never asked. I didn’t actually care as long as she was there.

    I peeked from the corner of my left eye at her outline, keeping my right eye on the road. You never know when a semi-trailer driver may launch some forty odd tons attack against you. Her eyes were closed, her lips carrying that mysterious Gioconda smile that only women, and only some of them, seem to possess.

    I was wondering about her hair, did it grow so much just overnight or maybe she pleated some extensions in, enjoying the mild hurricane’s pull as it fluttered wildly ten feet behind her, the three forked ends of each strand shedding fire leaves rolling and roving and thrashing wildly till they hit the pavement leaving a trail of bubbling black asphalt blisters popping their heads like popcorn flowers...

    I didn’t envy the drivers behind us. Unless if they were not seeing her. I was not sure.

    One moment’s inattention and a truck driver almost got me. I returned both eyes to the road, and also my right hand to the steering wheel dropping in the process the pen and piece of paper which were taking my notes. I got control of the car again after a few slalom wonders, and scrambled between my feet to retrieve the pen. The paper rested on my thigh. I accelerated a bit, leaving far behind the blaring truck horn, the Doppler effect making it sound like a raging bull’s snort. I was not in the mood to engage into single digit limited vocabulary hostilities. I finally found the pen, sensing some movement to my left. She was trying to speak.

    It was almost frightening, she never tried it before. I saw her mouth forming the words but I couldn’t hear a thing, not with the window closed between us and the terrible noise her side of it. I glanced her way for a second pointing to my ear and trying to make her understand that I could not hear her. I should not have looked because she opened her eyes and I fell into them.

    I was lost. I didn’t know if it took years, I guessed it was seconds if to judge by the digital dashboard clock, once I found somehow my way back. Where have I been? And why did I return?... I fumed spitting bits of milk chocolate at the impotently blinking GPS system... “...next time I’ll buy a Scottish car...” I yelled at the indifferent screen, knowing for sure Scotland had no car industry, and probably meaning rather things like Nessie, and dragons, and wings... Where have I been?

    Were the laws of physics applicable there at all as I was falling to my life down an endless precipice finally sinking into a morass of red leaves and green petals and pink clouds, and the air brushing past me was skin and the butterflies hanging to me rhymed and prism shaped rolling tears were breaking the light into the music of kiss shaped soap bubbles?...

    My foot probably slid away from the gas pedal as I heard the horn approaching at a speed unsuitable to my health, the Doppler effect acting now in reverse making it sound like a nightingale’s trill. I kicked the mushroom to the floor loosing a few scraps of rubber in the process, and didn’t even take the time to be surprised as she disintegrated from the outer side of my window and reintegrated on my lap, ironing my pants smoothly against my thighs except for one spot which seemed to be reacting the other way around. Luckily she was transparent except for the unmistakable shimmer of her outline. I heard her giggle.

    “You should have better control of your... ahmm... senses...” ...trying not to sound crass. Arms moved behind my neck and a cheek rested against my shoulder, eyes closed again, quiet.

    “You should not surprise me like that...” I retorted, slowly recovering from the truck induced adrenalin boost into the inhaled warmth of her bosom’s touch.

    “I can leave if you wish...” she responded, starting to disentangle her fingers from the nape of my neck.

    “Stay...” I whispered, hearing echoes of myself reverberate inside the confined space. Maybe I shouted? The fingers tightened again, the pressure even stronger. The clean smell of feminine skin bathed in pure water started melting portions of the windscreen, rushing currents of air cutting into my flesh thin red lines. “Aren’t you cold?” I asked her.

    I saw the thin outline of her fingers opening two buttons of my shirt and penetrating inside, sliding across my ribs towards my back. I expected the motion to stop, it didn’t. The arm followed the fingers flowing inside the shirt and encircling my chest three times before the right shoulder followed suit, then chest, head, painted toenails, and finally the endlessly endless strands of hair pulling in from outside of the window. Traces of smoldering leaves floated gently to the car’s floor burning holes in the carpets, in the upholstery, big round holes in my trousers uncovering pale patches of blistering flesh and smelly burnt short hairs.

    I felt her spreading inside my clothes, patiently conquering hidden niches, penetrating inside my mouth, looking from behind my eyes, pulling at my chest’s hair, my nose hair, my... other hair... We felt like smiling.

    “You thought we...” I heard her saying, an inescapable image of a puppy cuddling all around me further nurturing our smile. “Here you go again... our...”

    “This is what love is about, isn’t it? There is no I... you... mine..., just we... us... ours...” I said. I sensed certain hesitation. “Are you still cold?” I asked further, the goosebumps on my skin like rice sized sand grains.

    “You hesitated,” she said, surprising me. Did I? Wasn’t it she?

    “Unjoin me,” I told her, all of a sudden knowing what I wanted to do, all of a sudden the clarity of it all enveloping me - the I, the you, the us, the joining of lives...

    “I know what you want to do. Are you sure?” she asked, slowly flowing out of my shirt, unembracing me, unblanketing me, an indefinite shape in my lap molding herself back into curves, fingers, breasts... Suddenly it was terribly cold, freezing.

    “We are cold...” someone said as I picked my pen and broke it in my fist spilling rivers of green ink in my palm, and started smearing it upon the image of her shape. She started materializing little by little, penetrating my visible spectrum in an explosion of green hues, patch after patch after patch... thighs, neck, lips... I felt like God, I felt like creator, I felt like man... until finally the splendor of the creature raped my insanely going mind and with a savage move I stabbed the broken pen’s jagged end mid of my chest, and as blood started gushing out I crushed her body against mine feeling the other end of the pen penetrate her breast and blood soaking inside the hollow recesses of her image...

    Her skin blooming into a flowing river smashing torrents of flowers against the yielding rocks of my flesh, red hot finger blades scorifying the components of my body into a storm of glowing cinders, lips... oh lips... oh lips turning dragons as we started drinking each other’s life till all that was left was tails trashing wildly pieces torn off a yielding sun...

    I heard the horn approaching, its vengeful pitiless nightingale trill victoriously gaining on us, huge wheels rolling over us, crushing, smashing, grinding... and as the raging bull snort triumphantly left behind the shapeless mass of wrinkled flaming metal, we soaked into each other, carelessly falling into a sun awaiting our blaze to send its million miles long tongue of fire licking mockingly the hidden gates of Eden...



If I Was In Love

    If I was in love

    I’d stuff my pockets apples ten
    And pebbles two, then two again,
    And ribbon twenty-seven yards,
    One shoebox brimming crystal shards,
    And marbles fifty, puppies one,
    And gators... well... I’d better none.

    Eleven notebooks scribbled green
    And colored pencils, say fifteen,
    A quote by Robert, one by Bill,
    And one by Maya’s ripping skill,
    A matchbox holding seven shells,
    Around my ankles – seven bells.


    “Security alert, security alert...” the horns started blaring all over the airport and uniformed police officers started chasing passengers out of the way with impending Armageddon on their tails. “Out of the way, out of the way...” they shouted, dropping sandwiches and pulling handguns, shotguns, riotguns from hip, thigh, armpit, sock, helmet holsters. I tried to move out of the way, my bulk hardly responding as panic started sinking into me as well. “You there stop!...” ...they were aiming their guns at somebody, I did my best to move faster... “You there, stop or we open fire!...” and tens of clicks of various metals and different calibers made a noise as if a field teeming with crickets started a new year’s concerto in mid May. I suddenly froze, something was wrong here... I was alone in the middle of the marble floor, various uniforms in various crouching or lying positions aiming some lethal piece of iron towards me, at least twenty five manufacturers about to make a fortune from selling the additional lead needed to fill in the emptying loads after some of these would fill my body... there was at least one bazooka there and a Derringer proudly held by an elderly Texan civilian (judging by his hat) which reminded me somehow of president Bush.

    A figure extracted itself from the surrounding crowd, a black woman, huge, gigantic, imposing and imperial, probably a general if to judge by the various shiny stuff on her shoulders, and advanced towards me holding in one hand a thick plastic shield and in the other Dirty Harry’s gun.

    “On the floor, on the double!...” her voice was not as imposing as her stature but the gun in her hand was. I tried to maneuver left, right, no way I could have lain down on the floor by sitting or bending, I was too stiff and my middle too bulky. In desperation I was about to let myself fall down when she screamed...”Don’t... move!...” and she signaled an aide to her side, conferring for a few seconds. “OK, no sudden movement, we don’t want nobody hurt, do we?” she added in imperfect English. Seeing as I did not respond (how could I with a mouth full of unswallowed saliva threatening to choke me), she continued “Okay, start emptying your pockets... slowly... one by one and one hand only, I want to see your hands all the time... understand me?” I understood enough and could move just enough to nod my head, and started lowering my right hand towards my trousers’ right pocket. I had a lot of pockets to go through, and more...

    An unending series of clicks and snaps and yowls and thumps started raining around me as I, slowly as ordered, started emptying my pockets, my shirt, my trousers, my waist, my shoes. Frowns changed into smiles followed by chuckles or exclamations of disgust, everybody’s gun (except the Texan’s) starting to lose its tension except for one moment when everybody jumped one step back and raised their gun up again for a few seconds. But this passed too. The last click to the floor, then quiet.

    I’ve never seen a mountain previously hanging its jaw so low. She was frozen for a few moments, as if her command reflected from me onto her, then shuddered awake again, dropped her shield with a thunder to the floor, holstered her gun and approached me. She carefully sidestepped the gator (don’t ask...) who was busy scratching its head with its rear foot, then turned his belly up waiting for my shoe to scratch it. The puppies kept snapping at her ankles, hanging to the cloth every time she lifted her foot till she carefully put it down again so as not to tread on them. She moved around me twice from right to left, then twice from left to right while her deputies were busy counting and registering the stuff around me. She made a sign and someone brought two chairs over, one for me and one for her, and she just sat there staring at me with incredulity, mirth, sarcasm, pity, rapture, serenity, and other synonyms and antonyms. She picked up Maya’s quote and kept looking down at it and up at me, as if she was one of those toys that keep nodding in the back of cars.

    “It is not allowed to bring apples into the country, you know? I will have to fine you for that. Let’s see...” and she took the list from the guy who just finished it. “So you have here twenty five apples, seventeen pebbles various sizes, one as big as a football helmet, three hundred thirty three yards of silk ribbon, three shoeboxes with no shoes but filled with broken colored church glass... you are lucky I didn’t hear of any churches vandalized around here..., five hundred seventy nine marbles, some of them probably mine lost long ago...” she smiled hugely which was, I guess, a good sign... “twenty two notebooks with green illegible scribbles, ninety nine colored pencils, some with broken tips, pieces of paper with quotes by Frost, by Shakespeare, by Poe, by Byron, by Angelou...” she lifted her head an looked at me long and hard... “a matchbox with seventeen shells, thirteen bells around your ankles, three live gone mad puppies, and one nine foot long alligator that missed being a belt and thinks of himself a brother to the puppies. Man, but do you have a problem...”

    She stood up, I stood up as well because I am polite by nature, she came towards me and suddenly hugged me... I felt being swallowed in the bosom of Abraham, warm, protected, loved, my bones breaking... wasn’t surprised to see her name was Sarah.

    “Man, but do you have a problem...” she repeated herself... “...man you are in love... madly so. Now take your stuff and go before I change my mind...” She stuffed though the Maya quote in her breast’s pocket, well, I did not insist, I had more of it.

    I started filling my pockets with the marbles, and pebbles, and puppies, the gator around my waist... in about ten minutes I was ready, and left to sounds of cheers and whistles and hat throwing. Only the old Texan seemed unconvinced and made a sign like... we’ll meet again...

    She waited on the other side, steaming, impatient.

    “What happened to you, I am waiting here for more than two hours?”

    “You’ll never believe what happened to me...” I answered, and she did her best to forgive me by jumping into my arms and taking over my breath... Where are those cops when you need them? was my last coherent thought as I waddled my way to her car and Elysium took over soon after. I guess she was right, that cop lady, I was madly in love.


    If you were in love... with me

    You’d stuff my pockets apples ten
    And pebbles two, then two again,
    And ribbon twenty-seven yards,
    One shoebox brimming crystal shards,
    And marbles fifty, puppies one,
    And gators... well... you’d better none.

    Eleven notebooks scribbled green
    And colored pencils, say fifteen,
    A quote by Robert, one by Bill,
    And one by Maya’s ripping skill,
    A matchbox holding seven shells,
    Around my ankles – seven bells.

    So she started stuffing my pockets with thirty-seven apples, twenty-two pebbles, three of them the size of a football helmet... well, I guess you start getting the picture...




    “I know the best kept secrets in the world of arts,” I told her proudly.

    “You are crazy,” she told me.

    “Wait till you hear what they are. Then you can decide for yourself,” I answered, not allowing her to get up from my lap.

    “I have to go to the little girls’ room,” she moaned against my neck.

    “Promise to come back?”

    “Promise to still be here?” She rushed away from me slapping out of way my cheeky hand and returned just a few moments later jumping straight back into my lap. Jumping, not sitting, squashing some things there. I did not complain, she amply compensated with other... things. Then she guided my hand back to wherever it was earlier on doing whatever it was doing earlier on, sighing contentedly into my shoulder. “Okay, now you can tell me.”

    “Promise not to laugh?”

    “What is it, promises day? Okay, promise.”

    “Okay, fine. You know of La Gioconda, right? Well, she actually had... green eyes.” I almost felt her internal muscles contracting in that supreme effort invested by a body to prevent itself from laughing before failing to do so. She did not fail, though I guess it cost her a year of life keeping her graveyard countenance. “Leonardo painted over the green, to keep her identity secret. She was his lover.” I added triumphantly. I think her muscles contracted a bit more.

    “You are so biased...” she finally managed to say and bit into my shoulder, the convulsions of her body certainly not those of suppressed laughter... well... I think so. I waited until she stopped squirming, before dropping my second bomb.

    “Juliet was originally a redhead. This detail was ordered erased with no trace by queen Victoria, since she was biased against the Irish...”

    “But the characters were Italian... and I still think you are biased...” she countered.

    “But Bill was English...” I counter countered with infallible logic. She returned her teeth to her favorite biting spot on my shoulder, deepening the crescent shaped marks on my flesh, while her legs tapped a curious sequence on the floor. I was surprised she was taking private dancing lessons without telling me. “Flamenco?” I asked smugly, knowledgeable. The stifled bellow down her throat got me worried for a few moments, but the bubbles escaping her nose allowed me to relax, she was still breathing, thank God. “I have one more, baby...”

    “No... or I die...” was what she was trying to say, I guess, such a curious statement come to think of it... her teeth grinding my shoulder’s bone by now. I won’t disgust you with what her fingers were doing.

    “Venus of Milo...”

    “Yes?...” ...despair...

    “Her missing arms were freckled...”

    The first two didn’t make her laugh, why this one? A piece of flesh dressed in a piece of shirt deserted my shoulder to wander away inside her mouth, and I could not hold her as she abandoned her fingers business and fell off my lap straight to the floor, banging her head on the wooden tiles. It would have stopped anyone dead in their tracks, not her. She kept rolling and laughing rolling and laughing from one end of the floor to the other and then back, banging her head into the furniture and this just drawing additional attacks of hysteria... I was lost, what was it so funny that I said which got her into this unforeseen attack? I tried to raise my finger to get her attention but she just freaked further out the moment she saw it. Woman... oh, the mystery of you, I thought philosophically and went for a pee. Then saw Ben Hur, Gone With the Wind, and Rocky I, II, and III before she started calming down. It was about twenty minutes into Rocky IV that she finally succeeded to get off the floor, hiccupping madly, blue bruises all over the visible parts of her body, then crawled into my lap curling like a cat and started licking my fingers. I was afraid she simply “lost it” so I let her do as she wished. I was still at a loss myself, working hard on recuperating.

    “You...” she tried, working hard on recovering leftovers of self respect and sanity, and twenty five minutes further into Rocky IV finally managing to control her giggle attacks and utter a clear... “You are so biased...” before resuming the unending hiccupping.”... not to mention plain crazy...” she added just as the movie trailer started rolling.

    “I wonder who of us is the crazier...” I answered carefully, reviewing in my mind the chromatographic tests ran secretly with smuggled equipment on the Gioconda, and deciding there was nothing wrong with them. “You don’t want to know how I know?”

    She moved into licking my neck, on the way up to my lips, and did not seem to have heard the question. Her eyes were closed, and the purring sound was probably... mine.

    “And kill the romance? You do are crazy to think I would want to know.” The licking stopped but not so the purring as she started unbuttoning my shirt. “I know another best kept secret in the world of the arts, and you may call it the fourth, and I wonder if I should tell you of it.”

    This was too much, challenging my laboriously found (and loftily paid for) information, challenging my intellectual curiosity, challenging my integrity...

    “You better do or there is no sex tonight for you...” I made my idle threat.

    “An idle threat and you know it...” she moved to the zipper now... “but I am good hearted. I will let you into it. After all it is only fair after you shared your...” for a moment I thought I would have to watch Ben Hur and Gone With the Wind and etc again, but she did succeed this time to control both hiccup and hysteria and looked straight into my eyes. Her hand, so close to its target, did not continue its perilous journey, holding me in an insupportable double moment of suspense. “Your art is only about... me - green, red, and freckled.” She smiled. I was floored. How the hell... “...do I know? Oh, so simple. You see, because you love me. And I know it.”

    “You are so biased...” I dared.

    “And you’re a damn plagiarist...” were the last words I understood coherently, as her hand resumed her journey and I was left to wonder inconclusively about all the nonsense they were teaching of birds and bees and apples... after all nobody seemed to know that Eve’s real name was... “...don’t say it...” she whispered, and after that nothing mattered anyway.




    She brought over a thick, multi-layered sandwich, a huge mug of coffee, a calories-rich cream-laden yellow cake, and a family size sack of chips. Yes, sack not bag. It wasn’t so clear which finger held what, but somehow she wiggled her way through the truck drivers noisily slurping their soup or munching their steak and fries, excused herself several times after bumping someone’s spoon away from his mouth, and finally reached my table, laid it all down with a thump, and sat on the chair across from me. I had never seen her in my life.

    I looked around, several empty tables were still available around the place, the waitresses hastily mopping after the parting customers ready for the ever oncoming wave. It was busy lunch time, the buzzing highway a never ending supply of hungry bellies, yet it seemed the place never filled up. The food wasn’t the greatest but it was, well, nourishing and I kept coming back whenever I was in the neighborhood. Which was about twice a year and for several days, certainly not their most loyal customer. And now wondering what was it that I did wrong this time to be bothered by this female, who certainly singled me out from all the diners, and decided to make my table her place of choice and the chair in front of me her place of residence for the next... whatever it took for her or me to finish our meal.

    “Hi,” she said, smiling, “Britney,” and she offered me her hand.

    “Hi, Jordan,” I answered politely, shaking her hand. It was a strong handshake, feminine yet assertive, the skin rough, the fingers short and powerful, the touch warm and pleasant.

    “I know,” she answered back, adding a pleasant smile to a pleasantly round face and took a deep bite into her sandwich. I did not act surprised, though I felt a bit annoyed at this response, and continued digging my own way into my choice of food. “Aren’t you going to ask me how I know?” she asked further, somehow keeping a certain grace around the act of talking with a mouth overflowing with bread and vegetables and ketchup.

    “I guess I don’t have to, if to judge by the introduction,” I smiled in spite of myself, my full mouth a suitable response to hers. “You are going to tell me anyway.” I wasn’t curious in the least, I learned fast enough to accept the casualty with which most Americans approached friends or strangers, and this was just another fixing nail in an already proven theory. I was in no hurry, my meeting at the publishing house a full two hours away and I was only at about half an hour’s drive distance.

    I finished my main dish before her and asked the waitress for another beer. The various local brands did not get me overly enthusiastic, but then I was not a great drinker either. So I accepted another big glass from the undefined sort the house tap was delivering, took a sip to down the leftovers of the sticky stuff in my throat, and waited politely for her to talk. At least I did not have to wait for her to finish the cake as well. She brought her bag up on the table, opened it and pulled out a thin book. Now, this was a surprise. I recognized the book immediately, the first edition of my first collection of poetry issued two years ago, now I was on my fifth collection and the least I expected was for someone to pull out this “antique” on me. I admit, though, it did warm my heart and my regard softened as well.

    “I see...” I mumbled, this time embarrassed, pulling the book towards me and looking at my picture on the back cover. Not a grand picture but sufficient to be recognized by, if someone really insisted. I opened it at the first page, where I usually signed them in the few signing sessions my editor organized with a few small shops, took out a pen and was getting ready to write a dedication. “To Britney?”

    “No, rather not...” she surprised me, pulling gently and firmly the book back towards her, yet leaving it on the table. “I have all of them, you know. But I carry with me this one only, all the time.” I remained with my hand holding the pen in the air, looking for something else to do with it... “Sorry, I think I embarrassed you. It is not a dedication I was looking for. It is an answer to a question which bothers me since the moment I bought this book and read it. Read it more than once, I have to say.” She lowered her eyes to the book, then raised them back and it was for the first time I paid attention the green glint shining in them. “And now that I can ask it I don’t find the heart to do it, maybe because I never expected this occasion to ever arise. I am sorry to have bothered you.” A bit of blush was mounting into her cheeks. “I am afraid I have made an ass of myself. Please excuse me. You are a good writer, of a certain kind, you know? I don’t know if to say I hope you know it or I hope you don’t.” She picked the book, dropped it in her bag and stood up. “I am glad to have met you, Jordan.”

    “Wait a second,” I said, feeling it was my turn to feel like an ass for unclear reasons, and I refused her offered hand. “I think I behaved in kind of an obtuse way and I wish to apologize for it. I am not used to strange women approaching me, and you may have found my behavior a bit strange. Sorry, I am not into enthusiasm but neither am I into insulting my admirers.” A smile was creeping up into her blush. “Maybe we can start again? Jordan, how are you?” I extended my hand, standing up to face her and feeling like a stand up comedian on his first stage show ready for any reaction, from standing ovation to stinking eggs. It was neither. She took a notebook from her bag, or purse, I never knew the difference between the two, shoved it into my extended hand and laughed shortly, something between angelic and devilish.

    “I may be fine, I don’t know. Maybe. You can finish my cake if you wish.” She went to the waitress, paid, and left without looking back. I watched through the window as she entered a van, reversed it expertly between two long trailers and took off into whatever unknown directions strange women take off into. It was almost like the start of a new poem.

    “Miss, can I pay, please?” I called the waitress which was serving us.

    “No need, the lady just paid for you,” she said, and started clearing the table.

    I sat down, feeling strangely detached, took another sip from my glass and then opened the notebook. For a few moments feeling terribly disappointed, as if some magic visited me for a few seconds and then simply evaporated... so after all just another crackpot chasing dreams of fame and glory wishing her poetry admired by a pseudo professional on her way to the hall of fame... were my first thoughts as I leafed through the pages, seeing the dense irregular writing arranged in blocks of identifiable single poems, and not reading even one word beyond merely getting the impressions on my retina. Then, finally curiosity getting the upper hand over disappointment, I read the first poem.

    “Sir, sir, are you ok?...” I jumped at the touch on my shoulder, and the waitress jumped back, shrieking then laughing. I did not feel the time passing. I looked bewildered at the clock on the wall... shit... no way to make thirty miles in fifteen minutes. I phoned the publisher apologizing for the delay, killing a relative in the process and blaming the many phone calls I had to make related to the matter, and rushed out to my car. I wasn’t as famous as allowing myself to insult a friendly editor slash publisher, and I was glad he was understanding and allowing me the benefit of doubt. Well, maybe it augured well to the reality of how he was seeing me versus the stories he was telling me how he was seeing me and my chances.

    I had to be careful and think about driving while driving, which I hated, I drive instinctively and if I think I am prone to errors. All those poems I read in that strange lady’s notebook, and I was only half way through it, there was something about them which gripped me from the first one and simply would not let go. Actually more than just something. There was a voice there which was not mine but so close to mine, there were messages there which sounded like questions to which my own poems were answers, there were answers to questions, and then there were those which simply seemed to have been molded in the shape of my mind’s way of thinking and now were resting asleep inside all those convolutions my brain was cursed with, and refused to get out. I was not one to believe in this kind of coincidence, yet... I had to admit, this notebook in my breast’s pocket was starting to burn a hole into the cotton on its way to my skin.

    I shook my head trying to concentrate on the meeting ahead, knowing what meager were my chances to succeed in the endeavor.


    It cost me one hundred bucks plus taxes to get her phone number (they refused to identify the address claiming it was illegal) through a local detectives’ agency, claiming scratches to my rental car. I placed the scratches there myself in case they checked it, which they did, and they took my personal details as well just for security. Which was ok with me. All I had was her license plate number, there were no identification traces of any kind in the notebook, and I wondered how did she leave it with me and then just took off knowing she would lose all this work. Maybe she had it all stored on a computer? I doubted, maybe a part of it but certainly not all.

    The voice which answered me was young and my first impulse was to lay the phone down. I didn’t. The voice called ...mommy, for you... and let the phone waiting in limbo till a mature, recognizable voice said...

    “Hello, this is Britney...”

    “Hi, this is Jordan, do you mind me calling your house?”

    The silence at the other end of the phone was thick, almost oppressive. I felt butterflies playing havoc in my stomach as she distributed some remote voiced commands, seemingly to a child, then returned her attention to me. Her voice was not stressed in any way, a shade of curiosity penetrating it nevertheless.

    “This is fine, how did you find me?”

    “This is one question I can answer easily. I have one hundred questions to you which you may or may not be able to answer. Would it be possible to meet... again?” I felt ridiculous, inexplicably gauche in my manner, and almost hoping for a negative answer so I could slam the phone and run away. She disappointed... did she?... my expectations by accepting to meet the next day at the same place, same time. “Same food?” I asked, trying to ease my own mind and sounding silly to my own ears.

    “Fine with me, I hope you liked the cake. This time I am going to eat it myself.”

    “And you will allow me to pay...”

    “Of course. You may even try to write me a poem...” and before I could respond she closed the line.

    I was there before her, waiting impatiently was probably the right way of describing my state of mind and I did not try to explain it to myself. I was ready though to absorb a lot of impressions from this meeting. Funny, I could not even begin to describe how I moved from complete indifference to a state of complete and unexplained internal agitation. Probably the famous storm in a glass of water I told myself unoriginally, knowing myself to be wrong once I saw her enter the place. This time I followed her all the way to my desk, my regard distorted to the extreme by the poems I read, by an imagination in overdrive, by a poem I wrote... I never took this kind of challenges seriously, what happened now? She wasn’t a beauty, she was nice, she wasn’t sculptured, she was well proportioned, she wasn’t smiling, she was radiating...



    We kissed lightly on the cheek and placed the order.

    “I have one hundred questions.”

    “I have one. I mean I have a hundred too, but I have one. Do I make sense?”

    “Perfectly. And this is probably not the question,” I answered. I waited for the waitress to put the drinks on the table, before continuing. “I read your notebook. All of it. Your style is completely different to mine. Yet if I had to write the feminine side of my poems, I would have written them the way you wrote it.”

    “Did it make sense to you?”

    “It did, too much actually.” I smiled, to hide my embarrassment. “I had sometimes the impression that it was some kind of dialogue, sometimes complementing, sometimes contradicting, but always related. May I ask you something, which you may find a bit offensive but it is not?”

    “Go ahead.”

    “Did you always read one of my poems before writing one of yours?”

    “Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. And sometimes it seemed like you were peeking above my shoulder and answering my writes. Which of course I have no way of proving to you.” She sipped on her iced tea gigantic glass, and placed it back on the table next to my gigantic glass of beer. The glass clinked dully. “I admit, I was reading a poem of yours, then after a few days something would pop into my head and I would put it on paper, almost never at home. That’s why I kept carrying this notebook with me. Yet sometimes things would pop in my head and I would jot them down, and only later I would find in your book a poem complementing mine. Weird, no?” It was her turn to smile, slipping into a short laughter. “I did not read your book in one go. I was sipping it in, slowly.”

    “Like champagne?” I tried, making an effort to sound nonchalant and to keep myself from swallowing my saliva too obviously.

    “No, more like a warm morning sun on a cold winter day,” she answered with no hesitation.

    The food arrived and we started munching slowly, two strangers friends from the begin of time. I caught her once fixing me with a questioning gaze, which she averted immediately. I dared...

    “Are you married?”

    “Yes, two kids, a boy and a girl, nine and twelve. It was my girl who answered your phone. And you?”

    “Same, I mean married. I have two boys, both now out of home.”

    “And I guess your profession is not poet...” short laughter...”...or you’d look much more emaciated, I would say.” I joined in the laughter, choking slightly on my beer.

    “No, actually I work for an electronics company in Europe, I manage a services team. Writing is just a hobby.”

    “And love, is love a hobby too?”

    The blast, the question out of nowhere, the sudden electricity in the air, I expected at any moment lightning to jump from those eyes that suddenly fixed their gaze on mine and awaited an answer the way... well, if to judge by the intensity of the regard - the way a dying man awaits salvation. My goodness...

    “Is this your one question?” I asked back, more so to gain time than to know.

    “No, but it is leading to it.” The fingers around her glass tense, white...

    “No, love is not a hobby.” The fingers relaxed, the facial muscles relaxed. “I love my wife, in a way. Those poems are not about her. Are you sure you want to know?”

    “I do.”

    We found ourselves sitting in her car, given the luxury of not having to look at each other when we did not feel like it, and yet able to turn our heads from time to time and catch the other’s eye when it seemed appropriate.

    “I was thirsty for love, and I could not define it, something raging in my mind, screaming to be let out and burn the world and me with it, I was not looking for it, just thirsty for it. It found me, or so I thought. It was short, sharp, beautiful and left me with the pain of disappointment. I started writing. I defined my world, its borders, its limits, its shapes and colors, and I started writing about it. I defined the colors of my rainbows - seventeen of them, I defined the colors of my love - red and green and freckled, I defined the sounds - birds I could not pronounce their names, I defined the fragrances and the flowers - lilac, rose, daisy... And I fell in love. I was lost in love.”

    I looked her way, a lower lip trembling, a sparkle crawling down her cheek, lip, chin, falling into her lap. She barely could murmur, there was pain there...

    “So all of your poems were... a farce? Inflated words to a non existent entity, empty, imagination bare of essence and fabric? And I fell in love with this farce?”

    Of all the reactions this was the one I never expected. The words fell in love did not register immediately. The tears now flowing freely, her left hand took hold of the door’s handle ready to jump out... out of where?... to where?... The fingers of my left hand circled around her arm above the elbow and held it in a powerful grip.

    “Wait...” I tried to whisper but hearing it more like a shout, “...wait!” She let go of the door’s handle and shook my fingers away, looking surprised at the five marks left on her skin, then looking back at me. There were also other blue marks there, not mine. The question in her eyes burning more than ever, the need to know devastating.

    “Why did you hold me?” she asked.

    “Because I owe you the answer to your one question.”

    “You don’t know my question.”

    “But I know the answer,” I said. I reached into my pocket and picked up a piece of paper and unfolded it. I touched with two fingers the point on her arm where I grabbed her, brought them to my lips and whispered “...mezzuzah...”.

    “What was that?” she asked, surprised.

    “Love exists, dear Britney. Yes, love exists. It was not a farce what I lived, what I sensed, what I wrote about. It was reality, my reality. The one to come. The one I was looking for. I guess it just found me.” It was getting dusky. I turned on the little overhead light in the car and I started reading aloud.

    Love poetry, I said.

    Poetry, not story? she pouted her lips,
    Pulling her hand away from mine,
    Closing her eyes
    Retreating to her side of the car.
    Poetry is short,
    Easily forgotten,
    Words hiding meanings
    In obscure phrases.
    Story is rich,
    Has a beginning, an end, a content...
    Story is real.

    Poetry is sunrise,
    I said
    Short, devastating fire,
    Poetry is sunset,
    I said
    Short moments of glory,
    Dreams easily forgotten,
    Promises made in obscure phrases
    The music of words richer than earliest of morning trills.
    Story is real,
    Reality ends.
    Poetry is eternal.

    She opened her eyes, hesitatingly,
    Sliding back to my side of the car,
    Head on my shoulder,
    Arm around me.
    And I am?... she finally asked
    Almost afraid to be right.

    I kissed the top of her head.
    You are wrong... I said and she sighed happily.
    Sunrise, sunset, dreams, promises, music...
    You are poetry,

    I finished reading and folded back the sheet. Her eyes stayed closed. I was afraid I had just shattered her world.

    “I did not mean it seriously...” she murmured, lying.

    “I did...” I answered.

    She picked the paper from my hand, placed it between her notebook’s pages and dropped it on the chair in the rear. Then she touched my elbow with two fingers, brought them to her lips and whispered “...mezzuzah... whatever it means...”, giggling at the static sharp spark sound her fingers made when touching my flesh.

    “We just met... sparks already...”

    I had three more days in the states. We met every day, same place, same time, not same food. We did not discuss our private lives, just poetry, aspirations, dreams. We challenged each other for short poems and graded them, we changed the world and found better options than the human one, we spoke of past relationships, past loves, past disappointments. We did not touch beyond the peck on the cheek when meeting and when parting. She did not accompany me to the airport on the day I left, I did not insist. Were we afraid of something we found, something we knew and we did not want to share, express? Were we afraid of a certain finality attached to the sounds of a parting plane?

    “Are you back in six months?” Her voice soft, her face pale.

    “Yes, probably, depends on the publisher but it looks like this will become a standard for me for the coming years. Maybe one day I will become famous and then I will not have to entertain my public with signature sessions anymore.” My smile weak.

    “Am I your public?” The question open, clear.

    “No. My inspiration. I didn’t know. Now I do.” The answer open, clear. “Why don’t you allow me to sign your book, Britney?”

    “Because then you will not have to meet me again.” The blush deep. She leaned over the table, kissed me lightly on the lips, then picked up her bag and rushed out to the car. I followed it till thick dampness covered my field of view.


    I returned to work in an absent minded state of mind. Till this visit to the states I kept myself in an indifferent phase with relation to the world, my abstract mind tangled on its own plane in unending searches for absolution from the pains of life, while my practical mind was keeping busy with the usual acts of work, acts of duties, acts of family. Returning found this status quo imbalanced, tilting out of control into a new dimension unavailable - or rather unknown - to me till then, the stale dimension which sickly sweet kitsch writers flood their writes with and tend to call amongst others - soul; and which, till now, I tended to sidestep. It was beneath me. Now it was... absorbing me?

    It happened overnight. One day I was a sane being. The next I became obsessed, though the word does wrong to what I was feeling inside. Was the real term... in love? I shivered, remembering the pain and almost disaster my previous incursion into the in love dimension had brought over me. But once I sifted through all other options it seemed that this was the only one left over. Could it be after just a few days? Or maybe it was not just a few days, the last week just acting as the culmination of a lifetime... was it a lifetime? I asked myself... of wait?

    We kept communicating by email, at the beginning just reminding ourselves of the hours spent together and the questions left unanswered. Short mails, about once a week. Then it slid into personal lives, childhood, the emails getting intimate, longer, more frequent. My poetry writing style changed progressively as well, I surprised myself by seeing sunshine suddenly there where once had been mostly clouds and shadows. I alternated rhyme, free style, prose, I think that creativity suddenly surged in me, broke down dams and started flowing into my hand. In my poems, I was happy, in my poems, I was a man in love, in my poems, I made love to her.

    I remember hesitating seriously before sending her my first erotic write. There were hints in her own poems, which she was - rarely though - sending me. Until that first one we still kept a certain distance. We were friends, we moved from acquaintances to good friends and then to intimate friends. We knew a lot about each other’s spouses, my overly dependent one, her occasionally violent one, we knew a lot about each other’s children, health, we started exchanging what if‘s. I don’t know how or why I dared going this way, risking a complete shut down versus gaining a complete melt down, both roads were open and the risk, from my perspective, was huge. Still, I dared. I knew what I wanted to say if she accepted it, I did not know what I was going to say if she rejected it.

    I wrote

    Roving robins perching lightly on my fingers taut and thin
    Chirping gaily as they watch me picking freckles from your skin
    Huddling later in amazement as I touch a giving breast
    And the colors of desire wake up glows descending west...

    She answered

    In my chest awakens fire
    Stolen from your broken nail
    As it raped my silent lyre
    Letting songs of passion sail...

    I dared further, I wrote

    At a sign the flock’s dispersing, trilling echoes linger aft
    As my fingers’ deft desire in your flesh the glory graft,
    Color streaming through your body waits for dawn’s igniting spark
    As your back is slowly plying into love’s alluring arc...

    She answered

    Gleans my fingernail its duty
    From beneath your bleeding skin,
    Trails of love’s eternal beauty
    Merging pain in tender sin...

    I dared

    Ramming flesh assails your castle past your ramparts’ folding walls
    Pouring barrel loads of fire down the screaming tensing halls
    Sowing future’s waiting morrows with a plea beyond the urge
    And while silence falls enchanted, robins from your lips emerge...

    I waited. She did not answer right away. I knew she would. She answered.

    In my belly seeds be blooming,
    In my song a rhyme divine,
    As a life I will be grooming
    All of yours, and all of mine...

    I was quiet for a full week, did not happen earlier on, yet I knew it had to happen now, I knew I had to decide to say it and I wanted to say it after all hesitation was eradicated from my system, conscious or subconscious, real or imaginary. I wanted it crisp, clear, no hidden meaning, no dark corner. I calculated carefully the time, building up the chance that it would be her to a maximum possible, then dialed her home number. It rang three times before the receiver was picked up. It was her.

    “I love you,” I said, and let the receiver gently down.

    Three months later I landed again at the - by now familiar - bustling airport. The burly immigration officer was for once nice and did not ask me to empty all my pockets, inclusive the hidden ones (which I didn’t have but they insisted); the Beagle dogs of the department of agriculture did not bother me (I vacuum cleaned all my pockets from any crumbs leftovers, lesson learned); and my luggage for once did not get lost.

    She was waiting there, past the automated doors, a small bouquet of flowers... I was surprised to see a mix of roses and daisies and lilac, must have cost her a small fortune... in one hand, a Foo-Foo soda bottle in the other, hundreds of people pushing past her yet she was planted there as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. I came straight to her, smelled the flowers and laid them on my suitcase, took a Foo-Foo sip and laid it next to the flowers, and then I kissed her. I never kissed a woman before. True, I never kissed a woman before, not like that. I thought I did, I claimed I did, I did not. I felt hunger rising in me from ancestral times, from primitive ancestors and bleeding battles and stranded sailors and laden slaves, I felt searing passion riding my nervous system and pouring from my mouth straight down her throat, I bit hard into her lip and felt her biting back and for a few unidentified moments we were isolated from the throngs and the world and the universe. I gave up my hold reluctantly, as she picked up the flowers and the soda and I picked up the suitcase, and never let go of her hand for a single second even as she was driving, even as I was signing the registration papers for the hotel, even as I clicked the door shut behind us and took my revenge on the time which passed from the moment we left the airport till the moment I could kiss her again.

    We hardly got rid of our clothes, we made love again and again and again, alone in a world of scratches and bites and screams and desires and unquenched love and unquenched love and unquenched love... our only partners the sweat and the torn bed sheets.

    “You have a birthmark, heart shaped, here to the left of your forehead, close to the hair line...” she said, finishing inspecting my body inch by square inch for the third time. “Didn’t see it before.”

    “Not because it was not there,” I answered, laughing and biting her inspecting finger. “It’s in the family, on my father’s side, with all his siblings and their descendants. Funny, isn’t it? My kids have it too, and all my cousins on this side.”

    “Are they all poets too?”, she asked picking up one of her new notebooks and wearing that dreamy expression I knew preceded to her jotting something down.

    “No, I guess this is not where the poetry hides in my body.”

    “I know where poetry hides in your body,” she said, dropping her notebook suddenly then clambering upon me and kissing my left nipple. I knew what this act was supposed to precede.

    “This is where you hide...” I said, kissing her lightly, “...you are my poetry,” I added, kissing her savagely.

    This time she did accompany me to the airport. And on parting she looked small, lost, my tunnel vision placing her at the end of an inverted telescope and my breath dying with each step taking me away from her. Until I turned a corner and she was not there anymore.


    We were on emails again. After a few passionate outbursts close to my return home, we moved back into the routine pattern, not that the routine was anything less than passionate. But it was daily, more than once daily, still... daily. And daily is called in dictionaries routine. That routine could be so painful we learned it on our own skins.

    It happened about three months later, more or less. Of sudden. There were no warning signs, no clouds, the messages still burning the wires they were running through, both ways. I had just sent her my latest poem, waiting impatiently for her words of appreciation, of being impressed, and even though at times they were a bit exaggerated I knew she loved those poems. We invented a lovers language, she used to say, let’s keep the dictionary growing. I did my best to contribute to the dictionary’s bulk. She contributed diligently her part. Then one day it stopped. The flow. Died.

    I waited a few day’s, a bit stressed but it was more the longing for her which ate at my insides rather than any kind of worry. Then after three dry days and an empty mailbox the worry became real. I tried several follow up emails to my unanswered poem, then tried another email address she once gave me, one she used mainly for other activities like purchasing on line or similar non-personal uses. No result.

    In two weeks I was frantic. I suddenly realized that I had no way to access her if something happened to her, and accident, a family problem, I knew she was in some incapacity to contact me because otherwise... she would... wouldn’t she? I killed immediately any thoughts of games, or affairs, or lovers, not after what happened between us, I refused to think this way even though the green little devil was getting hyper active in my mind and started sticking his nose deeper and deeper, irrelevant how many times I cut this nose.

    I did not have even her address, my goodness, and when after a month I despaired to the point of risking ringing her house, I got an automated answering machine claiming the number was disconnected. I felt part of a bad practical joke or being sucked unknowingly into an emerging twilight zone. All I had in my hand was a roadside restaurant we used to eat in and a car plate number... I rang up my editor and begged him for a personal favor, all expenses on me, to trace the car plate to the address. His answer depressed me even further, the car plate had been scrapped and its records erased. So that short of being an FBI agent, I had no chance of finding anything more.

    The depression started finally showing up in my personal life. I found it impossible to keep it inside anymore. I turned into a zombie, which was not big news at home where my wife had learned to live with my moods for years now. However at work I risked getting fired and finally succeeded to settle into a field support role where all I needed to do was repair machines and have as little as possible interaction with people. I stopped eating regularly which seemed to add to my waist line, in three months - by the time I was supposed to go for my periodical visit to the states, I turned into a broken human. If human was the right word.

    I took a last trip to the states. I visited my publisher just as a matter of formality, it was clear to both of us that in my present state of mind and by the way I looked I better not do any signing parties. Contact me when you feel better, he called after me, and it looked to me as if he felt all of a sudden relieved to see me out of his office. I spent most of the time in the roadside restaurant, sitting close to the window and watching outside. I had my laptop with me but nothing meaningful was coming out from under my hands. A few badly written dark poems was all that resulted. The rest - I just counted cars. And hours. And empty nights. Finally I flew back to Europe knowing I would never return this side of the world. My love affair with America was over, better keep my dark mind the old side of the ocean.

    My last poem.

    Your skin will remember
    What you did forget
    And scream with the urge of repaying its debt,
    Remember will glints in the desert it knows
    When fingertips ripped it from death’s reaching claws.

    Your lips will unbury
    What your wish to hide
    The trial by fire through blistering pride,
    Unbury beneath aging layers of mud
    The lingering traces of passion and blood.

    Your heart will uncover
    What once you have known
    And carved is with silver through marrow and bone,
    Uncover a love which refuses to die
    When emerald teardrops each sunset you cry.

    I sent it to her unresponding mailbox. One never knows.

    Three years. Emptiness. So pure you could not even weigh it.


    My mailbox was so deserted, I stopped getting even junk mail. I was opening it about once a month, more like a reflex of checking up on my sanity rather than any other reason, making sure it was pristine clean, smiling knowledgeably to myself in appreciation of my great wisdom and foresight powers, then closing it. I was certainly on the sane side of the borderline separating those from those, but not by much. I thought I could hold on this way indefinitely, as long as nothing shattered the delicate balance.

    I grew a beard, sick of getting up for a shave each morning, I brought home my salary and entrusted it fully to my wife, I needed nothing except occasionally a glass of beer and long silent evenings on my balcony. I liked especially to sit there in the rain, forgetting life, forgetting time, counting teardrops... oops, why did I say it this way?... raindrops is what I meant. I tried to pick up smoking, then gave it up in disgust. If to die then better with a 9mm hole in my head rather than as a stinking cadaver on some hospital bed with all kinds of tubes penetrating my body at all kinds of angles. The 9mm highway was one I inspected more than once - its smoothness, its unpredictability, its unwavering promise. I tried to evaluate statistically my success chances by rigorously following up in writing the final position of the drum after one healthy roll per day, till that one time when I knew it would have been the last entry. Then I found that I was not selfish enough to leave behind a clean one holed dead body, and that I shall unfortunately keep dragging around the living multi-holed one, oozing its life through so many nails and screws and arrowheads holes... My mind was clearly in an uncontrolled state, and I locked the revolver away and never took it out again.

    I opened my mailbox. There was one message there, and I frowned. If a junk mailer found his way again to my door I would personally go wherever he was and blow his brains to smithereens, I promised myself, then pushed on the button open.

    “My love. I know what you went through. I went through the same. Forgive me, I know you can. If you are still coming to the states, you can call me at this cell number, it is always with me. I did not see any new books of you lately, are you still writing? I published my first book, it was out half a year ago. It is called Birthmark. I love you.”

    It was the first time she said I love you. I ordered the book through Amazon, ordered my ticket when the book arrived and flew over.

    I took the table we used upon a time. The place did not change much since the last time I visited, the waitresses were new and some items on the menu were replaced by new dishes. Except for that it looked like I had fallen through a hole in time to... when was it?... three, four years ago?

    I saw her parking her new van not far away from the window I was sitting at. She got out, two youngsters - a boy and a girl, probably her kids, got out as well and she gave them some money seeing them off to the nearby mall. Then she unlocked a toddler from a kid’s safety chair in the back, took her by the hand and entered the place. She knew where to find me. She looked... thin, a few age lines showing around her mouth, pale dark lines under her eyes uncleverly hidden by pinkish powder, she looked beautiful. I made a huge effort to stay calm, not to break down, not to cry, she made me promise all these things on the phone. I knew I was dying inside. I smiled.

    She smiled back, seating the little girl on a children’s adapted chair and sat next to her, facing me.

    “You don’t look good,” she said, her manner calm, her eyes like trapped ferrets in a cage.

    “I know, I don’t have to. You look great,” I answered.

    “Thanks, I have to.”

    “I know.”

    I kept eyeing the kid, now busy on sipping iceless lemonade - so much like her. Those green eyes, the flaming red hair falling over her eyes, the few freckles at the tip of her nose. Missing my life, feeling sorry on missing my life, not jealous, not envious, just flooded with sudden self pity at the famous could have been’s...

    “I see you have been keeping busy,” I tried a lame joke, not able to hide the pain in my voice yet passing a test in self control with honors. “What is her name?” I asked, waiting patiently for the waitress to place the order on the table and go away. “Almost like the old days...” I tried joking further, pointing at the food, then at the waitress.

    “Jordaine...” she said.

    It did not penetrate straight away. I was busy in some metaphysical thinking spheres before the word finally registered. Then it hit. Like a sledge hammer.

    “Jordaine...” she repeated, softly this time, kissing the little ball of fire on the head.

    I tried three times, each time the shiver so uncontrollable that I had to pull my hand back. On the fourth time she helped steady my hand, her fingers warm on my skin, as I pushed the lock of hair hanging above the girl’s left eye out of way. The stain was there, unmistakable, heart shaped, a few freckles disturbing its maddening uniformity, then disappeared again as the discontent kid shook her head in disapproval of me making all those rearrangements to her hair.

    “I am sorry...” I managed saying.

    “I am not...” she said.

    She pulled out the book from her purse, by now educated into knowing this was a purse, opened it at the first page and handed me a pen. The book looked well worn out, stained, several pages falling out of the seam.

    “Please sign it. Then I will know you do not hate me.”

    I signed it. I love you.

    Then I pulled out my own copy of her book, seeing the glint in her eye, and opened it in front of her.

    “Please sign it. Then I will know you loved me.”

    She signed it. I love you.






















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