сряда, 18 юни 2008 г.
The terrace door on the top floor of a luxury new building opens and a thin man in his fifties, dressed in a vest and Mickey Mouse-stamped shorts comes out. On the sidewalk below, an old lady with freshly dyed hair and a cane and with a newspaper in hand is walking a red cocker spaniel.
Ronnie! Ronnie! He’s gone again.
The dog dashes to the street between several new, ridiculously expensive cars that are parked on the sidewalk. The long tail of one of the cars makes a passing bus dangerously enter the other lane. The old lady tries to squeeze her large belly between the car and the building, fails to do that and instead goes on the street. She sways around the parked car, goes up on the sidewalk again and then enters a dark tunnel leading to the building’s backyard where Ronnie the dog had disappeared.
The terrace door on the seventh floor has been shut and now the man walks through a narrow hollway. He enters a toilet-turned-photo-lab and turns over the photos in the developing tray. The man transfers the photos into the fixing liquid with a pair of metal pincers and goes out on the other terrace which faces the back yard.
There is a playground in the yard and two branchless, dry poplar trees. Some stylishly furnished apartments can be seen on the other side of the yard. There are sun-beds on the terraces and pots with decorative palm trees. The two old chimneys of the old apartment building, squeezed between the two new buildings, break the visible luxury into two separate worlds. An airplane threateningly lowers above the roofs. A couple of pigeons fly off, startled by the noise and circle the back yard for a while. Finally, the birds land on the playground. A mentally impaired woman in her 30s is going down the children slide. Then, she starts chasing the spaniel, crying loudly and laughing hysterically. The old lady now sits on a bench and reads her newspaper. She seems not to care too much about her dog anymore. In the apartment on the other side, the tightly shut curtains suddenly open and show a luxurious bedroom with mahogany furniture and Chinese lamps on the floor. A 17 year old girl comes out from the bathroom in the back of the apartment. She is dressed in man’s shorts and a loose t-shirt. She moves uncertainly towards the window and her head is bowed down. She removes the towel and curtly flings her hair backwards. She looks right towards the man on the terrace then reaches across the bed to plug her hair-dryer. She starts drying her hair and occasionally casts looks that meet the eye of the man. He is embarrassed and pretends to be looking someplace else and goes back into his apartment...
The police station, next morning. A policeman is interviewing the man from the terrace.
-The Municipality sold me the attic at a very good price after I photographed the prom of the Minister of Culture’s daughter. I teach photography free lance at 135th High School. I am happy that I managed to woo a 20 year old teaching student with almond eyes and an innocent smile. I was the first man in her life and I was the first who had ever really noticed her. Iveta grew up with a military dad who hated women and a younger brother who was her mother’s favorite and she was longing for a caress. She had taste for art and was happy to join me to exhibition openings or to art-parties. I forgot to tell you that recently I celebrated my 56th birthday and all my friends envied me for the fragile flower I had under my wing. They also had short-term flirts with young models or acting students but all they did was to a wild, unrestrained session of sex after a lot of alcohol and drugs. My case was different as Iveta was in love and she was pure. She could not introduce me to her father who was military attaché in Belgrade and was rarely at home for she feared he might just shoot me. So, she told her parents I was some ten years younger and that I was her friend and photography teacher and that we had nothing going on. Her mother must have felt that this was not true but pretended to believe her.
Today I am especially happy because I finally have a shop of my own – all my life I had been renting one. I live with my elderly dad who is half-deaf and who never accepted the fact that chose to be a man of art. He worked in a heavy metal plant all his life. Our worlds were far apart – as far as the Sun and the Moon.
I am happy but I kinda get bored. I always wanted to have a young girlfriend, but now it is different. I have one and she calls me hundred times a day and her eyes ask for a more serious relationship. She pretends to joke that I am just a passing phase, until she is mature enough. But I know that it isn’t so and I am not that happy anymore. But tonight, I feel happier because Iveta has to study for some tests and will not join me for the party. These days, the fear of engagement is turning into fear of bad performance in bed. Besides, I have to take a leak right now. And I am preparing for a new show in France. I had invited some friends to help me choose which photos to show there.
Half an hour later, there are five of us. Two lonely lady reporters that write about art for major city newspapers and desperately hunt for a husband in the art circles and two of my rich colleagues who started shooting fashion models in their ateliers long time ago. The men selected the photos but the reporters argued that we must choose others. One of them quickly got drunk with wine and almost fell in my lap while praising my art. I felt her sweaty breath traced with mouth-freshener and gum that had been chewed for too long. My talent was so great that I was about to be world famous, she said. So far I simply hadn’t had a chance but tomorrow my fate was about to change, she said. I start wondering how will I get away from her – enough with these unsatisfied female journalists. I say that I have to go and get more booze and I go out though I know that a have some bottles in my photo storage upstairs. On the stairs I almost stumble in a girl that sits there, crying. I notice that she is wearing just shorts and a t-shirt, her feet are bare and she is shivering. I stop and go back.
-You have a problem, girl?
The girl doesn’t answer but she is not crying anymore and just stares at me with her big brown eyes. Suddenly, she jumps and hangs on my neck. The door to my apartment opens and my five year older colleague looks at us lustily and approvingly.
- Zaffy, get me a pack of smokes, will ya! And who’s the young lady?
-I’m Annie. I live on the other side!
The colleague had come closer and now extends his hand.
-Nice to meet you, name’s Angelov! It is not fair, Zaffy, you always get the good stuff!
The older of the two reporters, the one that I had just skipped, is now out at the stairs and looks at us with an open mouth and a quickly sobering gaze. Her make-up is smeared with drunken tears. Annie tugs at my sleeve.
My door closed and locked, come and help me. I have nowhere to go and we just might have to break the door.
We both go down the stairs. I don’t know for how long I had walked without a single word. I was holding Annie’s ice cold, sweating hand and wondered how to begin.
Have we met before?
Have we met before, Annie! Do not pretend that you do not know me.
Suddenly, I realized. Annie was in my photography class in 135th High School. I turn around and Annie’s gone. I bend down in front of the window of the basement shop for cigarettes, booze & snacks down the street.
A bottle of Svishtov Rosè and a pack of Bilbos.
I put the money on the plastic plate, while the lady is passing me the bag with the wine and the cigarettes when someone tugs at my sleeve strongly.
We dash through some bushes and remains of construction supplies that had left from the new buildings. Two blocks later, Annie finally stops. Just in time or I would kick the bucket. Annie sits on a broken children swing, hanging from one side.
I love you ever since our first photography class. But you chose to shoot Madlen naked.
What is that crap, Annie?
Annie takes out a picture from her t-shirt. On the pale light of the street light I see that it is a nude photo.
Chill, man, I forgive you! I even feel sorry for you – Madlen is a lowly bitch, I know she must’ve lied to you. I know what it is to be lied to!
The girl pretends to be turning the pages of an invisible notebook.
Information retrieved. Presently, Madlen is servicing Deyan Trayanov, member of parliament and father of the dumb, naïve and virgin Annie. But we can offer you this dumb, naïve and virgin Annie... You do like little sugars that never have been licked, don’t you.
I reach to slap Annie on the face but I feel dizzy and I fall from the swing.
I see only military boots around me. I haven’t seen so many since I was in the army, am I dreaming? My head feels sticky with something. A bunch of football hools stand around a children climber in the middle of the playground. One of them had stretched Annie on the ground and had taken off her shorts.
Now I am going to see what kinda man you are with these cool Mickey Mouse shorts.
I get up but it is very, very hard. I am ready to run off.
Look now, who woke up. Good morning, old faggot! You are too tanned, are you a gypsy?
Hey, Saw, Let’s fuck the gypsy!
I see a boot flying to meet my face...
I wake up in the morning in a pool of blood. Annie lies beside me with a broken bottle sticking from her stomach. Her shorts lay several meters away. A group of early seniors stands near by and poke me with their canes. When they see that I wake up they move away just in case. They whisper among themselves...
The tape in the tape recorder is over. The cop takes the thin man to his cell. The photographer stares at the damp stains on the wall under the pale light of the light bulb in the corner of the hallway.
This is the one that photographs small girls.
This is not him. This one is darker, a gypsy, a rapist!
Poor girl! I bet you a pack of yoghurt that the ambulance will not come before the police.
Police sirens sound and a jeep with roof lights on stops in the middle of the grass near the climber. I see boots walking around my head again.
You motherfucking gypsy! You dog! I’ll make you bark right now!
A boot flies to meet my head....
A quiet, sunny, summer morning. Senior citizens walk dogs around the old apartment buildings. An airplane flies over very low and heads to Western Europe.
A man in his fifties yawns on a terrace, full of empty boxes and jars. From the inside of the apartment comes out a girl, dressed and made up like a stripper.
See ya, I am late for school?
Before you go, honey, would you give me my glasses! I think a man was killed down there.
The large orange disk of the rising sun slowly turns into a small, 20-watt prison light bulb.