is not a criterion.”
you ever lived, my humble wonderer,
you ever known why you are here?
you ever dreamt of distant galaxies,
you ever thought the magic is near?
your earthy days have passed so emptily,
many years you have wondered for!
me, we enjoy the art of living...
should know you haven’t lived at all...
healthy ill are hooked on nonsense...
should know, my friend... I give you some advice:
should think: “Who the devil are they,
decide what in the earth is wrong or right?”
can only see the masks and substance,
unclear things are their taboo!
is real for us is their fiction,
lives in coffins are seen to me and you...
have never lived and won’t live forever!
just walk around and will soon go away...
will be forgotten by all people -
will disappear, this is what I say...
they were born they haven’t known,
to fly in silence through the worlds,
to be the authors of their justice,
to rule their fates despite the threats of gods!
are those depending on illusions!
are weak and their souls are poor...
minds are a result of bad diffusions,
magic won’t impress a man like you!
“normality” is not a criterion!
feelings are not at all a sin...
are just some stupid superstitions,
a road on which we all have been...
The beginning of June was pleasant with warm weather and a lack of the
impertinent rains which had tired everyone during spring. The sun rose high and
it was already midday. A young fellow named Florian walked along one of the
main streets of the city. To his left, the Opera House looked down from above.
There were few people in Freedom Avenue, and for some reason it amazed him
because this place is usually so overcrowded by this time of day that one can
Florian had celebrated his 22nd birthday recently. But his birthday
wasn’t the most important event for him this year. Much more important was the
day when he and nineteen of his fellow students received their lawyers'
diplomas – that was the event!
He was dressed in black shoes, jeans and a shirt to match the color of his
shoes. The wooden hooked handle of his umbrella hung on the tightly pressed
fingers of his left hand – although the weather was good, the weather forecast
on TV promised heavy rain with thunder in the afternoon.
A big clock in the city hall sang out one, and the young man sped up his pace.
He was going to the cafeteria “Library” where an important appointment was
scheduled for him, for which he was already a little late. Nothing can be worse
than waiting and hurrying. Florian didn’t want to hurry after someone, nor did
he want someone to wait for him. He has always tried to be punctual. Yet his
profession required him to show this wonderful quality. Looking forward he
began to move faster, slightly hitting the pavement with the tip of his
umbrella at each step.
A man sitting at the door of a grocery store caused Florian to slow down and
sacrifice his reputation as a man who is always on time for appointments. It
was the first time in his life that he had seen someone so dirty. The man’s
neck was dark gray, his hands were peeling, and the skin under his finger-nails
was black. Only the middle of his face was washed, an area not larger than a
palm. The young man hadn’t seen him before. Perhaps he had never been there before…
The dirty man without a job and a permanent place of living had been handsome
once, but he had gotten married to a functioning alcoholic and stupidly lost
all his money. He also lost nearly all of his teeth, hair and the forefinger of
his right hand. The grip of the four-fingered hand was not as strong as it used
to be, so the loafer dropped an empty white plastic cup intended for the
collection of donations thrown into it by passers-by. A blast of wind carried
it even further – under the wheels of cars on the road. But the man didn’t get
upset. He took out another plastic cup from his rag-bag.
His hands trembled and he often dropped various things. Nevertheless, he was a
drunkard so heavy that even five people would be unable to snatch a bottle out
of his hands. It was hard for Florian to look at that… but, to whomsoever much
is given, of him shall be much required! So, perhaps the social position of
this loafer wasn’t the worst of all.
When Florian entered the cafeteria “Library” his girlfriend Oblina was already
waiting for him. It was the only time in his life that she had come first.
Oblina was usually terribly late on various silly pretexts. This was the case
even when the young man himself came 15-20 minutes later than scheduled.
Although the place was overcrowded with students watching something on TV, he
noticed Oblina at once. He had learned about her being there having seen her
car outdoors – a tasteless yellow Renault presented to her by her father on her
18th birthday, which he had bought on credit. She was 19 now, and
she passed to the third year of study at the University, but she was still
unable to drive well. A crumpled front and rear bumpers, as well as a deep dent
on the right wing testified to that.
The girl was sitting at their favorite table in the corner of the room facing
him. He hadn’t seen Oblina for a whole three weeks because of his practical
training with a law firm located in another city. After this evening he would
not see her again till New Year. But during this time they could eat some
exotic dish, drink a couple of cocktails and have some fun on the refreshing,
newly washed sheet of her bed.
Oblina’s mother and father had left for some recreational resort, so the whole
house was at her disposal. Florian choked up thinking of what he was in for
after this dinner, and some part of him regretted they were wasting time on
eating and drinking. However, the other part felt it would be better not to
hurry and treat this dinner calmly and sensibly.
At a first glance it was pretty obvious that Oblina was worried about
something, yet not too much insight was required to understand why. On the
following day he was flying off to a big city in a strange country so that the
day after tomorrow he could start his work in a solid law firm dealing with
various cases of large companies. Half of the world was to separate them for a
whole six months. They had never been apart for so long before.
He could always tell if she was troubled about something and knew all the signs
of it. Oblina withdrew into herself, stroked everything that came her way with
her hands – napkins, her skirt, his tie – as if she were smoothing out a way to
some peaceful harbor for both of them. She never laughed and became ridiculously
serious and wise. At such moments she seemed very amusing to him, as if she
were a little girl who had put on her mom’s dress. He simply couldn’t take her
Her present anxiety didn’t have any logical sense as well; but Florian knew
that anxiety and logic rarely go hand in hand. In the long run, he would never
have accepted this job if Oblina had not forced him to do so. She didn’t let
him miss such an opportunity and rejected all his counter arguments pitilessly
insisting that nothing was too bad if he tried his hand at it at least for half
a year: “If you don’t like it – come back home. But you are sure to like it!”
This job was exactly what they both wanted to do, a job of their common dream,
and they both knew about it. And if he liked it – but he was sure to like it –
and wanted to stay in the strange country, she would be able to come to him.
The University he graduated from, of which she was now a student, had
connections with that law firm, so the question of whether she would be
accepted never sprang up. They would start living together then. Dressed in
lacy pants she would serve him tea with doughnuts in a family way, then they
would be able to screw.
Florian agreed to her reasoning. He has always thought that the word “pants”
was a thousand times sexier than “panties”. So he agreed to take up this job
and was sent to another city to undertake three weeks of training in order to
get an introduction to his profession. So, now he was back, and she was
smoothing out a paper napkin which didn’t amaze him at all.
He elbowed his way to Oblina through the crowded hall, bent over the table,
kissed her and only then sat down in front of her. She didn’t move her lips in
response, so he contented himself by dabbing her temple and leaving some traces
of her brownish foundation on his lips.
– Virgil, we’ve come, – said Florian taking the toy out of his pocket and
putting it on the table.
He always did it. No matter where he was going, he took with him a small rubber
polar bear not larger than half a pencil in size, talked to him as if he were
alive… and sometimes even walked him.
Oblina was an ordinary “dudine” wench, very primitive in view and peppered. Yet
she was spoiled by her rich parents. She always had a layer of make-up
foundation on her face as if she were suntanned. Her bookworm hair was
bleached-out and dyed in the color of chaff. Her eyebrows were plucked
absolutely and there were two narrow stripes drawn with a brown pencil in their
An empty glass of Martini was standing before her, and when a waitress came up
to her she ordered another one, not forgetting to ask for a jug of beer for
Despite her artificial look the young fellow enjoyed looking at her, he liked
the smooth contour of her neck, dull glitter of her hair, and at first he
simply kept the conversation alive, murmuring something not to the point and
almost not listening to her. So, one couldn’t say they had nothing to talk
Florian began to comprehend something only when Oblina told him that he should
treat his stay in a big city in a strange country as a rest from their
relations, and even at that moment he decided she was only kidding. He didn’t
understand how serious Oblina was until she told him it would be better if they
both spent some time with other people.
– Being undressed? – he asked her jokingly.
– It won’t hurt, – Oblina answered, swallowing half a glass of Martini in one
The way she swallowed it sloshed him with a cold shower of anticipation more
than words could do. Obviously, this girl had been drinking to keep her spirits
up even before he came. She had drunk at least one dose, or even two.
– Do you think I can’t wait for a few months? – Florian tried to make it clear.
A trite joke about masturbation was supposed here, but a strange thing
happened. For some reason the young fellow’s throat became dry and he couldn’t
say a word.
– You know, I don’t want to worry about what will happen in a few months. We
don’t know what we’ll feel in a few months. What I will feel. I don’t want you
to think you have to come back just to make us be together. Or to be sure I
will come there. We’d better worry about what is happening now. Look at it from
the following perspective. How many girls have you been close to? For the whole
of your life?
Florian shuddered in surprise. So many times he had seen this frown of
concentration on her face which suited her so much, but it had never frightened
– You know the answer yourself, – he uttered.
– No one except me, – she confirmed. – But nobody does it this way. Nobody
spends their whole life with the first person he slept with. At least these
days. Not a single man on the planet. There should be other relations. At least
two or three.
– Is this how you call it? “Relations”? Elegantly and with so much taste.
– OK, – Oblina said. – First you should screw some other girls.
The people watching TV roared approvingly at something. And the barman even
began to applaud looking at the flat screen.
Florian wanted to say something but his mouth was dry, his tongue refused to
move and he had to take a gulp of beer. The beer that remained at the bottom of
the glass was enough at least for one gulp. He didn’t remember how this beer
appeared on the table, nor did he remember how he drank it. The beer was
lukewarm and salty like sea water. So, she waited to this day on purpose, she
wanted to tell him this two minutes before his departure, to tell him this…
– So, do you want to break off with me? Do you want to get free from me? And
you were waiting till the very last moment to tell me this?
A waitress with an empty tray and a plastic smile emerged at their table.
– Will you order something? – she asked. – Maybe something to drink?
– Another Martini, please, and another beer, – Oblina replied joyfully.
– I don’t want beer, – Florian said and couldn’t recognize his hoarse,
childishly offended voice.
– We’ll both take lime martini then, – Oblina decided.
The waitress went away.
– What’s the hell is going on? I have a ticket for the plane in my pocket, a
flat has already been leased out. They expect me to appear at work on Monday
morning, the 10th of June, and you are giving me all this bullshit.
What result do you hope for? Do you want me to call them tomorrow morning and
say: “Thank you for offering me the job for which seven hundred people fought,
but I have to refrain from it after some thinking?” Are you checking whom I
love more: you or this job? Well, if this is checking, then it is time for you
to understand that you are thinking like a child which is even offensive to me.
In the long run, it is you who sent me to work there!
– No, Florian, I really want you to go away, I want you to…
– To saw somebody else’s “plank”?
Oblina shrugged her shoulders roughly. Florian was amazed at himself. He would
never have expected his voice to sound so terribly. She simply nodded to this
and took a drink from her glass convulsively.
– Sooner or later you will do this.
A senseless phrase once said by his father ran through Florian’s mind: “You can
live your life either like a crippled or a weakling, or…” The young fellow
wasn’t sure his dad could ever say anything like that and, although this phrase
could be imaginary and fully fictional, it came upon his mind as clearly as if
it were a line from some favorite song.
The waitress put his martini before him cautiously and he nearly emptied the
glass, having drunk one third of it in one go. He had never drunk martini
before, so a sweet acute burn caught him unaware. Martini went slowly down his
throat and occupied his lungs. His chest was like a burning furnace, his sweat
pinched his face. His hand stretched to his throat itself, found the knot of
his tie and loosened it. Why should he have put on a shirt with a tie? It made
him burn now. He was in hell.
– You will always be tormented by the question of what you have missed, –
Oblina went on. – This is what all men are. And I just face the truth. I don’t
want to marry you and after some time win you away from my female friends and
our baby sitter. I don’t want to be a reason of your regrets.
Florian tried to regain his composure and come back to the tone of patient, mild
humor. He somehow managed to restore his patience, but couldn’t do anything
about mild humor.
– Don’t tell me what other people think! I love you. You drive me mad more than
it’s at all possible, but I want to live each of these annoying minutes with
you, if you understand me, – he looked at her. – I know what I want. I want to
live the life I’ve been dreaming of for so many years. How many times did we
discuss the names of our future children? Do you think all this was a mad
– I think it’s a part of our main problem. You live as if we already have
children, as if we are married. But we have no children and we are not married.
Children already exist in your imagination because you live in your fantasy,
not in the real world. But I’m not sure if I’d like to ever have children at
A hope… and a thought of a loving wife and sweet children flashed through his
mind and blinked off immediately. This is how a sailor sees the roofs of his
town and church domes from the ship sinking near his home coast. They glitter
before his eyes for a moment and then disappear forever in wild waters.
Florian twitched his tie off himself and threw it on the table. It was
unbearable for him now to feel something on his neck.
– But you’ve nearly deceived me. Last eight thousand times we talked about it
you seemed to like it.
– I even don’t know what exactly I like. Since the time we’ve met I’ve had no
chance to get free from you and think about my own life. I didn’t have a single
– Do you mean to say I suffocate you? Is this what you want to tell me?
Oblina turned away from the guy whom she had dated up to this day and stared
into the depth of the hall with her empty eyes letting his wrath subside. He
sighed deeply with a whistle and ordered himself not to shout but try to say
something clever again.
– Do you remember that day on the tree? – he asked. – In the shanty we couldn’t
find any more with white curtains? You said things like that don’t happen to
ordinary couples. You said we were different. You said our love was something
special, and only one couple in a million can get what we are given. You said
we were made for each other. You said the signs of destiny can’t be ignored.
– It wasn’t a sign at all. We just slept over in somebody’s shanty on the tree.
Florian shook his head slowly. Talking to Oblina at that moment was like
wagging a finger at a swarm of bumble-bees. No sense at all, only painful
– Don’t you remember how we looked for it later? We had searched for it for the
whole summer but never found it. You also said it was our Secret House on a
– I said so because I didn’t want us to look for it any more. This is, Florian,
what I really mean. You and your mysterious way of thinking. A quickie can’t be
just a quickie. This must necessarily be a transcendental adventure changing
the course of your life. This is wild and gloomy and I am tired of pretending
it’s all right for me. Do you ever listen to what you say? Why, for goodness
sake, did we start talking about that shanty?
– I feel squeamish from such expressions.
– Don’t you like it? Don’t you like to listen to me talking about quickies?
Why? Doesn’t it coincide with your idea of me? You don’t need a real woman. You
need a holy spirit you can worship.
– So, you still don’t know what to order? – the waitress asked them – she was
standing at their table again.
– Bring us another couple, – Florian answered and she went away.
Oblina and he looked at each other. The young fellow caught hold of the edge of
the table feeling it would turn over next moment.
– We met when we were kids, – the girl broke off again. – We let it be
something more serious than it should be between schoolmates. Once we start
spending some time with other people, this may give some perspective to our relations.
Maybe we’ll resume them seeing that we still love each other as adults just as
it was when we were kids. I don’t know. Perhaps after some time we’ll look upon
what we give to each other from a different perspective.
– What do we give to each other? – Florian inquired. – You sound like a bank
clerk giving out loans.
Oblina rubbed her cheek with her hand smearing her make-up foundation across
her palm. Her eyes became miserable, and only now did the guy notice that she
was without her cross, the one he gave her some years ago. It was his first
present for her. Did his absence mean anything to her? Long before they first
made a decision to live together for the whole life this cross had become
something like a wedding ring for both of them. Florian couldn’t remember
seeing Oblina without it. This thought made him feel some dangerous cold
– Did you manage to find somebody for yourself? Somebody you want to screw to
give our relations some perspective?
– I haven’t thought about it yet. I just…
– You do think about it, yet very intensively. This is what everything boils
down to, you said it yourself. We need to do it with other people.
Oblina opened her mouth, then closed it and opened again.
– Yes, Florian, perhaps it is so, – she finally answered. – I mean I also must
sleep with somebody else. Otherwise it will be possible that you go there and
begin living like a monk. Once you know I do this, it will be easier for you to
do the same.
– So, it means you already have someone?
– There is one man to whom I… was close. Once or twice.
– While I was in another city, – he didn’t ask but rather stated. – Who is he?
– You’ve never met him. This doesn’t matter.
– Still I want to know.
– This is not important. I won’t ask you questions about what you do when you
– Questions about what and with whom I do there, – Florian corrected her.
– Yes, let it be so. No questions. I don’t want to know.
– But I want. When was it?
– What – was?
When did you begin to date with this guy? This week? What did you tell him? Did
you tell him it would be better to wait until I leave for my new job? Or did
you refuse to wait?
Oblina half-opened her mouth to give an answer, and he saw something small and
frightening in her eyes, and in a surge of fever he understood what he didn’t
want to understand. It became clear to him that she had been preparing herself
for this conversation for the whole spring, starting from the moment she had
first asked him to take up this job.
– How far did he go? Has he already had you? Maybe even twice?
The girl shook her head, but the guy didn’t understand if she meant “not” or
simply refused to answer his question. She was already dashing away her tears.
To his surprise, he had no desire to calm her down. He was in grips of something
he didn’t understand himself, some perverse mixture of wrath and excitement.
Some part of him discovered with surprise that it was pleasant to feel offended
and have an excuse for causing her pain. To see how much pain he could cause
her. He wanted to beat her up with his questions. At the same time, pictures
began to spring up before his eyes: Oblina kneeling down on a mess of crumpled
sheets, a bright shadow of half-opened drapes spreads across her body,
somebody’s hand stretches out to her naked hips. This picture outraged and
excited him equally.
– Florian, – she uttered. – Please…
– Stop saying your “please”! There are things you don’t tell me about. Things I
need to know. I need to know if you screwed him. Tell me if you screwed him.
– No, I didn’t.
– Good, – the guy nodded. – Has he ever been there – at your place when I
called you from another city? Did he sit there letting his hand go under your
– No, Florian, I met with him after classes at the University. And that’s all.
We only talked to each other. Mostly about study.
– Did you think of him when I slept with you?
– My god, of course I didn’t. How can you ask about such things?
– I ask you because I want to know everything. I want to know everything down
to the last shitty detail you refuse to tell me, to know each of your dirty
– Because this way it will be easier for me to hate you.
The waitress was standing strenuously near their table and while she was giving
them fresh juices she nearly turned to stone.
– Why on earth are you staring at us? – the young fellow asked her and she
stepped back irresolutely.
The waitress wasn’t the only one who stared at them. Heads from nearby tables
were turning to them. Some of the viewers looked at them seriously whereas
others, mostly young couples, were watching them with merry shining eyes trying
not to burst out laughing. Nothing can be more amusing than a loud public
When the young fellow glanced at his girl again she was already standing behind
her chair. She held his tie in her hands. When Florian tossed it away, she
picked it up and since that time she had been folding and smoothing it out
– Where are you going? – he asked her and caught her by the shoulder at the
moment she was trying to pass him by.
Oblina swayed and hit herself against the table. She was drunk. They both were
– Florian, – she said. – My hand.
Only then he realized how firmly he squeezed her shoulder, digging his fingers
into her skin so fiercely that her bone could be felt. A significant effort was
required from him to unclamp his hand.
– I’m not running away, – the girl said. – I simply need to make myself up a
little, – she pointed to her face.
We didn’t finish our conversation. There are a lot of things you still haven’t
told me about.
– Even if there are things I don’t want to tell you about – this is out of best
intentions. I simply don’t want you to feel hurt.
– It’s too late to speak about it.
– Because I love you.
“You said – and I believed you, you repeated – and I began to doubt, you began
to insist, and I understood you were lying to me!” – he remembered a proverb.
– I don’t believe you, – he replied. – Do you believe her? – he asked the small
rubber polar bear toy.
Florian said it, first of all, in order to cause her pain. He felt a wild surge
of delight seeing that his words had an effect on her. Tears began to flow from
her eyes. She swayed and caught the table with her hand in order to keep
– You see, even the bear doesn’t believe you!
– Please try to understand that if I conceal something, it means I want to
protect you. I know how good you are. You deserve more than you get walking
around with me.
– In the long run, we’ve agreed on some points. I really deserve something better.
Oblina was waiting for Florian to say something else, but he couldn’t because
he was short of breath again. She turned away and began to move through the
crowd to the ladies’ room, having left 1/3 of juice at the bottom of her glass.
As he watched her going away, he finished his martini.
She looked good in the white blouse and grey skirt she was wearing; the guy saw
several students turning their heads to her as she moved, then one of them told
something and the other one began to laugh. It seemed to Florian that his blood
coagulated and ran more slowly through his veins; he could feel his pulse
beating in his temples. He didn’t even realize that some man was standing at
their table, he couldn’t hear him say “I’m sorry” and couldn’t even see him
until the man bent and looked him straight in the eyes. He had the figure of a
muscleman, his white shirt fitting his shoulders tightly. Small foolish eyes
looked from under the bony ledge of his forehead.
– I’m sorry, – he repeated. – We must ask you and your wife to leave this
place. We can’t allow you to offend our employees.
– She’s not my wife. She’s just a woman I used to screw.
– I don’t want to hear such expressions here, – the big man said reservedly (a
barman? a bouncer?). – Use them in some other place.
Florian rose, felt his wallet in his pocket, put two hundreds on the table,
took his polar bear and headed off to the door. He was seized by the feeling of
“Leave her here”, – he thought.
While he was sitting in front of Oblina, he wanted to tear all her secrets out
of her and simultaneously cause her as many unpleasant feelings as possible.
But now, when he couldn’t see her, he could sigh with relief and understand
that it would be a gross mistake to provide her with new opportunities to
justify her actions. He no longer wanted to hang around there giving her a
chance to dilute his burning hatred with tears and new conversations about her
love for him. He didn’t want to understand anything, nor did he want to feel
She will come back soon and find their table empty. His absence will tell her
more than he could say if he had stayed. It doesn’t matter if she is with her
car and he is supposed to offer her to take a taxi. Florian is not a postman,
and Oblina is not a pocket to deliver her to the addressee. She is a big girl,
she can decide herself not to get behind the wheel while drunk. Isn’t it the
main point of her screwing somebody else while he is out of town? To prove she
is already an adult? He felt… no, he didn’t feel anything at that moment!
Never in his life was Florian so certain of his being right and, as he
approached the door, he could hear something like applause, stamping of feet
and clapping of hands which sounded more and more loudly until he finally
opened the door and saw a heavy shower pouring from the sky.
of the fragment.