Book: Diary of a Loser
Diary of a Loser
© Эдуард Лимонов
© translated by Alexei Pavlenko
More than any other writer today, Limonov extends the great Russian tradition of rebel-writers. Limonov has become the champion of a legacy which spans from Avvakum to Radishchev to Dostoevsky to Mayakovsky to Gorky to Solzhentitsyn. As was true with each of his predecessors, Limonov – his life and his works – projects an image of scandal and struggle to his contemporaries. Many are scandalized by his exposure of what they consider shameful; others are embarrassed by his uncompromising political position. Yet, in spite and because of this his defiant voice is instantly recognized by millions. The distinguishing quality of this writer comes from his life and his writing converged into a signal feat of rebellion – it threatens the authorities both political and literary. Just as with the other rebel-writers, Limonov is now in prison. Unlike Gorky and Solzhenitsyn, however, who in their later years were ensconced in a comfortable settlement with the status quo, Limonov grows more defiant with age. In The Diary of a Loser, 1983, Limonov is prophetic in his expectation of his old age:
Retirement Insurance Policy! Indeed! Me, fishing at some creek in Oklahoma, drinking Schlitz-lite, wiping my bald skull, sniffing the old cunt, my wife-granny?
Oh, no! It's better to be a lone wolf, to have a clear vision of the rubber-insulated electric chair in your future, and in spite of that, rejoin my guys and cry out in a hoarse voice: Kill 'em! For that is life! Kill 'em all! Those who are not with us are against us!»
This is a first English translation of The Diary of a Loser in its entirety. This is a surprising fact since it is Limonov's only major book written during his sojourn abroad (1974-1991) which has not been translated. The other two novels (It's Me, Eddie, English translation in 1983; His Butler's Story, translated from French in 1987) belonging to the New York trilogy have appeared in French, English and other European languages. Moreover, The Diary is widely recognized as his best literary achievement. The Diary displays Limonov at his best both as a lyric poet of rare intensity and originality, and as a prose writer of an extraordinarily compact and memorable language. The Diary stands as the only work where these two voices – the «I» of the sophisticated lyric poet, and the «I» of the tough, ruthless and sarcastic prosaist – coexist to create a cohesive narrative. In fact, throughout the narrative, Limonov manages to interweave three related but distinct stories: the heroic life of the protagonist (Eduard's future), the desperate account of his love for Elena (Eduard's past), and the day-to-day trivia of the present that makes Eddie's story poignant and tangible.
The Diary's first entries overlap with It's Me, Eddie; the final entries describe Eddie's employment at the millionaire's house, the subject of His Butler's Story. While The Diary is linked to other parts of the trilogy by its themes and characters, it stands apart in its form. The entries are succinct, two-three paragraph recordings of Eddie's life: his fantasies, his real experiences, varied impressions of New York, and political and philosophical statements.
There is no apparent sequence to the journal's entries; gradually, however, there emerges an image of the narrator and his story. The reader learns that Eddie is a lonely Russian poet living on welfare in a hotel subsidized by the city for the «underprivileged.» (Eddie slept in the streets before he moved into the hotel). He is a defiant loser, humiliated by, yet scornful of, the New World, and this civilization which he wishes annihilate. «And it's not just to the ground as it says in the International.» But go «deeper, uprooting, leaving behind no trace, just dust – destroy it like the conquerors destroyed ancient cities and then plowed over it.»
Eventually, Eddie finds work, gets off welfare, starts a relationship with the millionaires' housekeeper, rents an apartment and seems to begin his integration into American society. But as the finale of The Diary shows, the promise of successful integration is a ruse. Eddie will remain true to his nonconformist identity; he will remain loyal to the «glorious tribe of losers.»
The main value of this book – the feature which will insure its posterity – is the vivid and accurate portrait of the protagonist. Though this hero does not enjoy the respect afforded to the established characters of the Russian literature of the 19th century, Eddie'c very lack of established-ness coupled with his defiance in the face of personal loss makes him one of the most viable protagonists of the 20th century. Eddie has become an aspect of Russian consciousness, particularly that of a Russian abroad. Now, in one way or another, every Russian has to deal with the Eddie within. This is why, ultimately, this book had to be translated.
In translating this work I have tackled the problem that plagues every translator: How to reproduce in another language the impact the text carries in the original. The main challenge here was to re-capture the distinguishing quality of Limonov's narrative mentioned earlier: the interweaving of the two voices, one lyric, even tender, the other tough and abrasive. As can be expected, I ran into particular difficulty translating the expletives which according to their context were used pejoratively or endearingly. Russian is blessed with a rich lexicon of «strong words.» Moreover, every Russian specimen of mat (four letter word) can be used as a verb in all of its inflections.
The other difficulty was in translating the words Limonov borrowed from English: party, drink, T-shirt (tishotka), and others. This parallel edition of The Diary makes it easy for the reader to judge how I managed in this translation to match the original.
It was my great fortune to have assistance from my friend and colleague at Colorado College, Neale Reinitz. An expert on Edmund Wilson and 18th-century English prose, Neale proved invaluable in finding just the right English words when no dictionary proved useful.
I thank my student Suzanne Sataline who proofread the final copy of this translation. She has made numerous incisive suggestions every one of which has made this translation better.
I'm grateful to Vasily Gydov, the manager of this project.
Dedicated to losers
«Typically, losers settle among the people of various nations. This great and valiant tribe is scattered all over the world. In Anglophone countries they are referred to as «losers,» that is those who have lost out. This tribe is far more populous than the Jews, though no less enterprising or brave. They are exceedingly patient: it's not uncommon for them to feed on hopes all their lives… One characteristic feature should be noted: after achieving success, men and women of this tribe easily renounce their own kind, adopt the customs and the way of life of the people among whom they've become successful, and then nothing reminds them of when they belonged to the glorious tribe of losers…»
If you write all day long and in the evening turn on the only two lamps in your cell, then step out onto the narrow strip of the hotel balcony and position yourself there, leaning as far as possible towards the street and the sky, then you can see from the corner of your eye: people, it's as if they had come to see me, as if it's a celebration. It works too, if you crowd the table with glasses.
And people? Where are the people? Well, they're on the left and the right, sitting in such a way that they can't be seen from the window, beyond the reach of your gaze…
Rustle in the morning. Snow. Through the half-closed eyelashes, without his glasses – near-sighted – from a lonely hotel bed, with anxious interest: snow.
Suddenly he rememberes his two wives. With one he stared out the window – young he was, twenty two – kissing luxuriously and languorously. Luxurious this woman was, languorous. They stared at the snow. The scent of some kind of perfume, an October-novemberish phonograph record, and sadness. With the other one too, he more than once – out into the open window – catching the flakes with hair and lips. How happy he was!
Aimless motion. Instead of reading with a dictionary, a smart American book that's good for his ambition, he wastes a whole hour staring at the window recalling his high-school knowledge. The altitude of the clouds, maybe it depends on the wind? And over the Atlantic too? It melts in the water? Emptiness. The poor fish! Cold. The poor dead in the ground. Br-r-r! Frightened, he bares his arm. God forbid dying in winter. Snow. Apparently all day long.
Nowhere to go. Parents aren't waiting – there are none. Friends aren't waiting – there are none. The lover isn't waiting – he or she doesn't exist. The work isn't waiting – there's none – it's merged with me. Drinking buddies aren't waiting – I quit drinking. It stinks. Why get up at all?
What's funny is that it snows upwards too.
Bangs over his eyes, he sways and strokes – through the pants – the useless prick.
There was this girl. Ugly. Used to call her at night, then go to her. Pounced on her right by the door. She was ecstatic, then asked to meet during daytime. Said she loved me: ruined everything. In the mornings, in the American room with Beardsley, Yves Montand slowly sang. It was much better at night. Without taking off his coat, right on the floor.
«Strawberry Jam,» $1.79. In the mornings, toast – butter and jam. The appealing scent of toasted bread. What do I need this all for, Eduard Veniaminovich – son of Veniami'n Ivanovich – baptized in accordance with the Russian Orthodox rite, born in 1943?
I take a knife, I sit and stare. For hours I would stroke it, and when I had a drink, I would kiss it. What do I want, what do I pray for? No idea. And – it does happen – before the burning candle, to the Fiery Jesus I pray for love. To the young Jesus, give me love!
Basically I can't say a single prayer properly, and, besides, I know very little about these things.
There was this other girl too. Daughter of a well-known man. The girl fascinated me. For the first time in a long while. I knew I was in love – became very stupid. Fifteen years difference, only four meetings, two kisses – what pathetic arithmetic! Telephone, the monster. Parents interfering; she herself not that interested. Our worlds moved at different tempos. In her age everything is sleepy and barely moving. In mine, it's an insane spinning. In the case of this girl it's all uncertain. It didn't break, just got lost somewhere in the phone wires, rolled into some hollow, some ditch and is just lying there. It.
The snowfall isn't as dense now, there's more air between the flakes, their shape has changed. With the light in my room and the two spots on my left contact lens, it's as if I'm immersed in some Egyptian gloom, in the infirmary illumination, in that other light.
I'm in a Chinese blouse of violet silk. Picked it from the ground by some doorway. Didn't even need to wash it, it was clean. Maybe a drunk left it, or someone picky got rid of it. It fit. I love it. And it's silk. Silk I like.
There was this guy. Danced. A nice guy, very. Will give you anything you ask. Five or six years older than I. Stayed with him once. He was affectionate. Too furry though, and his prick, pardon me, was too big. «I came,» he said, «inside of you.» So you did, big deal. Gave me cufflinks in the morning. Gold. It was sad. I like it when it's sad. Why didn't I stay with him? (And I didn't.) Well, do you know, I hate the quiet life. With him the quiet life awaited me. I always flee from the good.
Shall I have a piece of candy? Yesterday I bought some Russian candy on First Avenue downtown. I wouldn't bother if it were just for me. There is this girl – a daughter of an alcoholic and a murderer; I bought it for her; she likes candy. Instead of her American name, I refer to her as Nyushka. «In my past life,» she says «I was a religious prostitute in Greece.» She was a cat too. Took off for New Orleans. Twice was all we saw of each other. The dreams she had – the last one about being raped by seven men! She was beautiful.
There was – for 24 hours – this other one. So thin and tiny, where does she get her energy? Kept pushing me into bed with her – hilarious. She got me in there, lay down, white breasts, a twenty-year-old woman. And what a woman! We sat at Johnny Day's – a restaurant in the Village, drank wine. «I love you,» she said. «You are my kind, the only one.» Came back, went to bed, only two hours before the flight (she was flying off). Like some wild creatures, couldn't pull us apart. Barely let go. Wrote her a letter: my prick, I wrote, is longing for you, it misses your c. She replied. It happens.
Crazy about white. Four pairs of white pants – and I want more. In winter too, I wear white pants. Once in the rain, on grimy uptown Broadway, at night, a half-drunk Russian intellectual told me with admiration: «You're like a ray of light in this dark kingdom. All around is grime and there you are – stunning – pressing on in your white pants. Right on!» Paid me a compliment. The snow now is barely visible: horizontally swift, fine. In a day, I'll be born. My birthday. I shall spend it alone, writing something refined, feasting on meat and wine. Then I'll go to Eighth Avenue and choose myself a prostitute. An inexpensive one. Most likely white. Semi-beautiful, semi-vulgar.
It stopped snowing. My bed, though neatly made, appears to have a flaw, a deficiency. I see it by looking at it from a distance but it's impossible to explain. And at the moment the thunder rumbles. Now, suddenly everything is illuminated, now it's dark again.
If you go out of the hotel about one in the afternoon and head downtown along any avenue, you'll keep on walking into the sun. And it's warm, even if it's February.
Sometimes, even in the eyes of the very rich – especially women – I see a wild sorrow. They are well-bred, diligent, they never tell, never betray. But this is when I want to embrace a dried-up old woman – a former beauty – press her gray head to my chest and stroke her short snow-white hair, saying: «It's okay, my little one, hush, it's all right. Let go; well, there's nothing we can do. Hush, my little one!»
I remember some names.
Especially Manfred and Siegfried.
I don't know where they came from, but they – these names – are within me.
Manfred is sitting on a bank; Siegfried is swimming in a lake.
«Pretty white lilies,» says Manfred.
«I don't know where to swim,» cries Siegfried
«Swim towards my voice,» cries Manfred.
Siegfried comes out of the water. Manfred throws a sheet over him and dries him.
Drying him, he kisses him at the same time. Descending with kisses along Siegfried's pure skin, half-way down to the ground he discovers something. His lips remain at that spot.
The music of the forest accompanies this prolonged tryst.
Whatever they wear afterwards, no matter what outfit…
Whether they're offered a carriage or they ride in a car…
I love the evening sky. The narrowing summer evening.
The quiet melancholy of my own past youth.
And – unexpectedly – you, my lovely friend.
My pale, flower-like dancing friend.
Kitchen gardens on the Lower East Side. Turnip and carrots.
Garlic blossoms in Harlem. A Fifth Avenue garbage tree lets its fruit drop on the ground
The wind shakes the golden, swampy bamboo groves of the East Village.
The birds are chirping, the dragonflies buzzing.
Mister Smith and Mister Johnson are marching in the rubber hunting boots along the washed-out Broadway left bank. From time to time, Smith aims his rifle and shoots at a duck fluttering out of the thicket.
The busiest spot is where the sign «West 49th Street» remains. This is the only place to cross to the other bank of Broadway. There, in the ruins, game is bartered for coffee and sugar, and fur for fish and bones. They also sell clothes, it's in great demand.
It's April. Feels good. Mm-m, sweet air! Finally, we can get warm. The inhabitants of the once great city, scratching themselves, soak in the sun.
Do you happen to like the term «civil war»?
I love it.
I love insanity. My entire life is proof of this. It's not logic, it's ecstasy I cultivate. My morbid sensations give me pleasure.
And when I need to torture somebody, I come out at night and look for a victim.
A few times already, I've tried some things and was delighted.
Today, I found a dollar on the ground. Then I bought myself tulips.
Day before yesterday, I stabbed my wife. She got off cheap, though.
I have a mysterious relationship with this woman. It appears simple at first glance – she left me a year ago. But what can a crowd really know about her and me?
Some things exist invisible to the eye.
One of us is a victim, one of us is a torturer. From time to time, we switch the roles. Even the most intelligent won't be able to make anything out of this. Only the devil can make sense of it. He's the one who made this mess in the first place.
On the face of it, it appears as though it's she and Limonov. But I'm telling you: it's a lot more complicated.
Occasionally, I go out for a walk with the collar up on my fur coat. To the passers-by, these are merely boots and hats in the store windows. For me, these boots and hats have long ceased to be just that; they are sharp and mysterious symbols and signs that prophesy and menace, and sometimes I run for life, as though they really pursue me. And they really do, especially those black, knee-high boots on 45th street; they scare me. They exude a melody, an odor, and they smile.
The amusing city I live in now has a lot that I like. It, New York, is quite spacious. Its trash is the most beautiful in the world. A man I know tries to draw trash. But for now it doesn't come out well. That is, he's a good, solid artist, but you have to draw trash as you would flowers. There was one artist I knew – he was crazy – oh, how he drew flowers! He was my friend; he slept under the grand piano occasionally. Actually, this was so long ago that I get a headache.
Naturally, I can also appreciate simple joys. For example, I'm looking forward to spring. I'm not saying that spring is a blessing: I'm looking forward to spring as a time for rotting, and yes rot pleases me. At last, all that was swelling during winter now bursts and becomes exposed – the pus oozes out, the faces speak for themselves, and our city turns into one huge throng of crawling flesh – the flesh that's characterized by the aimless Brownian motion, as I was taught in school, in those semidark science labs, by the smart Jewish teachers waving their flasks and retorts.
I was never cruel. I never burned cats or dogs, never chopped their tails or paws off, never hunted for rats or birds. Aimlessly I roamed through the fields and woods. There was no pleasure for me in torturing plants or animals. I had no knowledge yet of the happiness in torturing humans.
I happened on the Great Discovery just a few days before I turned thirty-three. This was the most fantastic time in my life. I was in a rare shape – the woman I loved left me, laughing diobolically – I soared, I suffered every day and every night – I writhed in hysterics and masturbation – this was very complicated. I swallowed my own sperm alternating it with swigs of wine-nectar and ambrosia of gods. It was then that boredom disappeared from my life, and I began a life of celebration.
I made the Great Discovery when I was strangling my wife. That is when, without finishing her off, I let her go. I looked at her, at this bitch, pushy and proud of her victories – proud for the quantity and quality of pricks that entered her. I looked…she was… Oh, this moment I'll never forget. It's only for this that life is worth living. SHE GRUNTED. Her robe was unbuttoned, her empty, cotton-like breasts puffed up, on her pretty belly there was an unpretty crease. And she wanted to live. I could say to her: kiss my feet, eat my excrement, lick me – she would obey instantly. Strangely smiling, I felt her bare breasts – my head wasn't exactly clear, but what was there to be clear about? I felt pleasure overflowing me. «I'll fuck you and will let you go,» I told her. But then I didn't need to fuck her. At that moment the orgasm overtook me – it shot out in my pants, and instinctively I rubbed against the back of the dumb wooden bench we were sitting on (and which served as a couch to our poor family). And then I understood that I LOVE VIOLENCE. And I felt peace and calm. And all the worries of the world, in soft, cotton clouds, flew away into the transcendental black sky. That's how I made the Great Discovery. Humans are just morbidly pathetic flesh – give it a firm squeeze and where's he that philosophized, or did business, and where's she that was so-and-so, and allegedly loved and this and that – they just grunt and cry. AND BEG…
I live with my discovery. It feels good to live with it. I'm not cruel at all; many consider me a nice guy. But somehow I'm indifferent to traveling and don't really want money. My passion is different. I can't deny myself the pleasure of seeing a person in such a grunting state, and it's especially delightful with those who might be sexually intimate with me. I really feel like it. You see, that orgasm has stuck in my mind, and I want to repeat it.
Naturally, I fear the law. I won't risk rashly. I'm not afraid of the punishment per se, but I may lose the opportunity for my possible future pleasures.
When April and May come and the snakes of the first leaves sneak out and the buds burst, and women begin to stink from under their skirts or through the cloth of their pants – our city secretaries turn grubby, their faces covered with pimples. When the next absolutely necessary revolution will take place in nature, I'll try a few tricks. I know the state I'll be in then and shiver in anticipation… Some collect butterflies, others – genial and docile jocks – play ball. And me, I'm just strange.
I see: almost everybody is unhappy. What can you do with them?
Some – often actors – tired by the age of forty, take up with somebody and go on living together. Because it's scary, you see, to go on alone. By this time they're not too choosy and just put up with one another. Whatever it takes – only not to be alone – because it's scary, you know. And their naked eyes burn with terror when suddenly they appear on the cover of People, clutching each other – scared to be torn apart.
In New York, the dead are almost invisible. Somehow it's managed that they're removed from life unnoticed. The corpses are never kept at home, I believe; they are not exhibited to friends for the final farewell. In this way, some aspects of life are missing, however.
I remember living in a room in Moscow. Once, late at night, returning home, I see that the lights are on. That's unusual. My housemates, ordinary folk, workers, are always asleep at this hour. I come in and everything becomes clear. «Tolik is done suffering!» says the old woman neighbor. Tolik – a maintenance man, 44, wheezing behind the wall from stomach cancer – has departed this world. «Go, take a look!» the old woman pushes me along. «We've already washed and dressed him.»
I went along, being a Russian like them, feeling respect for death.
He was stretched on the table, dressed in a black suit, without shoes, but with socks on. «Touch him – his feet are cold already,» said the old woman, squeezing his foot. I too touched it; it was cold. The belongings of the maintenance man Tolik were given away, as is customary. I, too, got two white shirts and leather gloves, almost new. But they were all too big. He was a big guy. I gave them away to someone. To Voroshilov the artist, I think.
I wonder if Diane von Furstenberg or Jackie Onassis are happy? You won't learn this from the magazines, won't see it on TV, they themselves won't tell you about it. On TV there was a show about apes. The inquisitive Japanese were studying them in Africa.
The apes looked happy, but then this one bald guy-ape went into such fierce hysterics that I had to change my opinion. Probably he was sick of the woods – tree trunks, endless tree trunks. The way they were lying there was good though. The kids, the girls, the adult females – some stroke each other, some do other things out of mutual affection. That's what we should adopt from them.
Ah, that daughter of that Madam. The Madam, judging from the name, was a woman of very easy virtue, and so the daughter, obviously, is also quite dubious, because, as they say, like mother like daughter. Her whole personality is contained by her name. Just imagine for a moment if you will: since Madam Ango has breached all the norms of decency and even her name sounds dubious, then what sort of a little thing would the daughter of Madam Ango be? It's just pure debauchery. She wears her fur coat – all naked underneath – and then she's off to a restaurant, a rose or some other flower in her hair; and at the restaurant she causes a brawl, and the men fight for the she-devil. The blood is spilled, the mirrors are crushed, the tuxedoes and tails are torn. And she just exudes the scent of her cool skin from under her fur coat; she bares a breast with her nipple indecently cracked – she's happy.
She's lives alone. Rents an apartment. Now a man moves in with her, now a whole dozen keep visiting her. There's no system to it. She dresses so that everything is obvious to all: her hat, to one side, so you can't see half of her face. She'll wear any kind of white pants, or a dress that's like a flag trailing behind her for half a block. She's long past sixteen, yet there is no sign of maturity. She smokes, drinks, and sniffs like a horse. Secretly from all, she suffers from poor health. Loves to fuck, even puffs and pants. She'll come to a bad end.
She twiddles a long cigarette holder with her fingers. She'll come to a bad end. Will die in the gutter. Still, she's fun.
Her value system is founded on champagne and caviar. In the novels, the daughter of Madam Ango marries a general or a senator or dies from some fateful, vicious disease (tuberculosis, cancer) – not so in real life, not always.
Loves her c. Affectionately refers to it by diminutive names using various suffixes and endings.
I've never met a person before whom I could kneel down, kiss his feet, and prostrate myself. I would do that, I would follow and serve him. But there's no such person. Everyone is serving. No one is leading. There's no one leading on a new path.
There's no one on the path.
I see a clean yard. I see young people, men and women. They sit in the Oriental manner – they sing touching each other and swaying in synch. «Are you afraid of water?» I ask myself, awake now. «It's been a long time since I've seen it,» I reply to myself.
Enter into that clean yard, to those people, regardless of what they wear, regardless of how much or little they eat – just be with them – just feel their hands and be, without any malice, together.
Buy me white clothes! Give me fire in my hands! Cut my collar off. Send me to the guillotine. I want to die young. Put a violent end to my life, bleed me, kill me, torture and hack me to pieces! There cannot be an old Limonov! Do this within the next few years. Best time – April or May!
During the misty spring days, our New York is remarkably beautiful for a lonely person.
In that mist, it feels good to look for tulips on the tops of skyscrapers, flying gently, solo, from one roof to the other on homespun silk wings.
Black fabrics absorb the sun well. It feels good to sweat in them in the spring. Once, maybe, I had a coat like this. I can't remember now. It feels good to: Let the coat drop into the puddles, step over it, enter through the door – it'll bang behind my back – buy some fried food, drink some alcohol, wipe my face with the napkin, get off a chair, say: ha-ha-ha! Exit through the door, turn left at the corner, get the knife out, hide it in my right sleeve, dive into the entrance of Your house, stab the doorman, jump into the elevator, and find myself on the nineteenth floor, kiss You on Your silly lips, take your fucking clothes off, fuck you – panting – into the tight, child's-like orifice, into your weak and silly hole, and start toward the door while receiving a hot piece of metal lodged in my stomach, then die on the parquet floor. It was only You that I ever loved, I think. And at the very last moment, a glimpse of the policeman's shoes.
«Gabriel, my friend, do you happen to enjoy torture? Actually, it's pleasant, isn't it, to observe some twisted features.»
«I like torture mixed with sex. The pure pain is not pleasant for the observer, Edward.»
«That's right, Gabriel. But I'm an Asian, and in these matters the oriental sophistication is well known. We Asians like to have our experiments.»
A sad career of a major from some Southern country proceeded under the cypresses and palm trees.
I love: the tree of death, bloody around the trunk, and somebody's fate, shortnened in order to use it as an example.
A knife that pierced a map.
An officer in a beret – that's my aide.
Blood in the bandages of a soldier who fell into the grass.
The scent of eau-du-cologne and cognac.
I love my future.
And the black Southern shadows.
And a twenty-three-year-old woman, who sneaked in to shoot me.
Yesterday, a black man walks along Broadway and repeats melancholically: «I love King-Kong… I love King-Kong… I love King-Kong…»
I smiled at him. And he smiled. We exchanged glances like conspirators.
We're in the know. And the big ape has nothing to do with it either.
Yesterday, again, I saw one of ours. Bending, making an artistic gesture, he offered a car the right of way. It was he who smiled at me in that way. My own father never smiled at me like that. It's clear, this guy too is one of ours.
Two in one day – not bad.
Jule, the hairdresser, Serge, the collector of stamps, and I somehow gut to be good friends and formed a group. A passion for flying together at sunset united us. On a clear day you can often see us gliding over the hills and lakes near the town of St. Paul. Three of us are suspended – reclining – over the big pine grove to the south-east of Peoria: we breathe in the aromas.
At times we get tired. The hairdresser suffers the most. He's fat. And to keep pace with the others, he energetically flaps his arms and legs, rowing – his strokes wide and awkward. Poor guy sweats – after all, he's married.
At my age – always observing – I know everything about people. They're very funny. Some dance, others sing. Many get drunk or blow smoke. A man, staid and quiet throughout the evening, suddenly leaps up and performs a savage, unconscious dance.
I know it all. It's boring. This guy is old, this one's getting old. That one's getting ready to get old.
It's as though the purpose of life is for A to land a good job, for В to publish a book, for C to find a good husband, for D to buy a brownstone in New York.
I'm a Mongol. My mother is from Kazan. We Mongols are cunning and wise. I walk among the crowd with my long bangs; I smile politely and I hide my primitive Mongol boredom – it was born in the blackened steppes, in the towns' ruins when all the men were hacked to pieces, all the meet eaten, and all the captive women fucked – what else is there on the earth? Fullness of life. O brother, what a bore!
And there's no one my heart is reaching out to – observing…
Coming out of a store (and it's warm out), crossing the street with a bag of groceries, waiting for the light to turn green (and on the other side facing me are school kids, the youngest, with their teacher-this is Second Avenue), I see HER.
She's about six, her princess-like hair is down, her sheepskin coat (trimmed with fur and embroidered) is open. Shamelessly, she pulls up with her little hand her checked skirt and scratches her slit. Bare legs (just socks) loom all the way up to where they join in the slit.
And it's horribly exciting, these bare, plump legs, this enchanting, serious little face with full lips. God, I ached all over, and she just calmly scratched her slit. The light turned and they proceeded along. I turned: galloping, her backpack on her shoulders, she leaned on the arms of two boys…
A TV Ad:
Before boarding a plane, people walk through customs – the automatic doors keep hissing – everyone has a Specialist calculator in their pocket or a purse. Young women, men, the old, blacks, whites – everyone has it.
«Fuck your calculator – ain't nothin' I'm gonna count! Fuck your calculator – aint nothin' I'm gonna count!» I suddenly sang loud and pretty and jumped in response to this ad. Though I wasn't the audience they counted on.
«Hey, boatman, take me across to the other bank of Broadway. I'm going to buy a little salt for my family. There are twenty-eight of us, three don't eat sait,» and he steps onto the ferry's wet, rough boards. The families from the left and the right banks somehow managed to get the ferry going. «Matches, Sait» – you can already see it; it's hidden in the rocks and ruins. The sun shines on it.
«On your way here bring me a bouquet, Rosalie.
I'll pay you back right away. Buy me the blue Irisis because my right lung hurts me something terrible today».
«In the wind, freezing, icy,
A Chinese beauty's yellow, shaved slit is cold.
«Corne, crawl onto my blue cock, you maggoty meat…»
How lovely you were by the three pine trees,
When the wind starts.
I'm sad. You already died.
And took away with you your cannon ball breasts.
Calmly across the yellow land. Our wind rolls on.
You're not on my cock. My cock is empty. And only an outburst of a landscape. And a piece of an eye.»
I wrote this looking at a Chinese painting.
It's great in May, in the wonderful wet May, to be a head of All Russian Emergency Committee, to be in Odessa, and, wearing a leather jacket, to stand on a balcony facing the sea, to adjust the pince-nez and breathe in the intoxicating aromas.
And then to return to the interior of the room and, coughing, lighting up a cigarette, begin the interrogation of a princess N who is deeply implicated m the counterrevolutionary plot and who is famous for her remarkable beauty – the twenty-two-year-old princess.
I used to get on the bike and cry. Gloomy sky, an April noon. It's sad too when in March-April there's no money and it's snowing.
Like now. In the window are Broadway's chipped buildings, and you've moved – this is the fourth day in a dirty hotel, alone, and already a second year without love. And a quarter for a phone call. It's even sadder when the subtle scent of hot iron starts wafting in from the radiator. How I start sobbing then…
The iron is clicking, it's snowing for a long time. What poison these spring days are! And you can't even press your cheek against your submachine gun. Yes, it'd help.
I'll take a big fish, I'll put it on a rock, and having wiped the rock with my sleeve, I'll eat the fish, sinking my hands in it. It's good – the smoked fish. And a jug of white wine is next to me. And the sun is busy beating down on my head. And the birds are singing. And my heart is rejoicing at something, though why should it rejoice? Yes, even this pittance is enough – the wine, the fish, the birds singing. It's a good thing I'm not a viscount or a marquis, otherwise it would be too much to bear.
Let's go for a swim. The water is warm. We'll dip our bodies into a lake. In a lake, there's no anxiety as there is in a sea and in an ocean. We'll stretch out in this thin water, though it'll be harder to swim. We'll lie on our backs, we'll see a copper sunset and heavy clouds. We'll remember the past and we'll start crying in the water. And along the shore, a man carrying a bag will walk by, or maybe he'll be carrying a sack.
Let's go for a swim but not together and on different days. After all, it's been a long time since we were man and wife. It's just that we were young together.
My poor baby, sweetheart, my dear sleepyhead. Recall how we stormed the botanical garden when the bullets knocked the branches off the fan palms. The greasy aloe dripped its sap right onto the faces of the wounded, the blue pines cast shadow on the perished, and in the midst of this blazing hell the demented countess Eva Gonzales kept appearing in her white hat and in her white dress, all in tatters. Recall how we chased her away and how a peacock farm squalled when it was accidentally riddled with a burst of machine-gun fire. And the wind smelled of soot and flowers. And we knew that we'd all be slaughtered for sure, and that the new 1933rd year will grow old without us. And they'll again rebuild the border patrol house…
Like I said, the wind in the botanical garden smelled of flowers, of tropical flowers and tombs. And some of our guys peeled away their mustaches, running for their lives, hiding – in vain – deep in the trees, or in the bony bamboo.
And I recall a certain Carlos Akun: his lips in blue lipstick, he kept laughing hysterically at his torn-away arm. Oh, the smells of the botanical garden!
Our wounds were rotting like the fruits. Like the fruits were rotting our wounds.
The mug our Limonov has – it's pretty big. He's well built, like a soldier. But on the old pictures he looks pathetic like Jesus. A weakling, you know. An intellectual, a poet. «A poet with glass wings,» as one old asshole characterized him, contemptuously.
Nowadays Eduardo guffaws at these pictures.
If on a warm humid evening you carefully put on some make-up by the mirror, pull a purple hat down over your eyes, put on long black stockings, a see-through black garter belt, lace panties, and a dress fluttering and hanging strangely on you and then go for a walk, swinging your purse – this will evoke in your body and soul feminine sensations. And even more if you meet a sad, red-necked sailor from a lonely ship. Oh, how blue his eyes are!
The hounds bark, the horses neigh, the deer snort…
And what a forehead she has – round, depraved, her purse is murky, she's wearing jeans, and a shirt of a girl-tramp. There are many like her on the two shores of our great empire, both here and in California. She lies down here, she sits down there, takes a bite, lights up a cigarette…
During the absence of her king (he was hunting), the queen says that she misses him – no one believes her. The courtiers politely clear their throats, the king laughs – everyone knows that the queen is an out-and-out slut. That is everyone with the exception of a court jester huddling in a corner of a picture. He's a secret admirer and the author of the romantic hymns. Though the entire palace and its inhabitants know about the jester's passion – the queen is an out-and-out slut, and her forehead is round.
Shit! Imagine me lounging at a cute little restaurant – I cross my legs and call on the servants. And the girls – lovely and hungry – I bring them along. «You cocksuckers,» I address the servants poetically, «bring in the girls! Feed the girls, give them Russian caviar, vodka, bring 'em all kinds of juices and whiskey. I'll take 'em dancing afterwards. Come-on, move and make sure everything is high-quality; for the girls, I want everything the best, the most expensive. If I find something amiss, I'll shoot every (how many are you here?) fifth one».
That's what I call pleasure. And we arrived not in any old car but in an armored carrier, it puffs outside by the door, its machine guns stick out rudely in all directions. The driver, by the way, is a Brazilian.
I always keep my knife in my pocket. I walk along a street and the knife is open in my pocket – I can stroke the blade. I get home, sit at the table – there, I have two knives. When I write something, I play with them automatically. When I go to sleep, I have yet another knife, the main one, the biggest-it's kept under my pillow. Thus my entire life is surrounded by knives.
And safety is not really the reason why – what can you do against this world with just a knife? I keep it for the pleasure of seeing and feeling a knife. A revolver is a different matter altogether – it only requires a decision; a knife is braver.
And to tell you the truth, I've always been and remained to this day a criminal from the working-class suburbs: I see trouble – I go for the knife. Whenever I look at my picture where I'm nineteen – the crooked grin, the cruel eyes and lips, the shape of the nose – it's plenty clear, it explains the knives. And you were saying how I've changed.
But have I really? I just put on the glasses and let my hair grow long.
I have nobody to fuck now, guys! That is, yes I do, I have two objects, but I don't love them. I'm ashamed to fuck them, though I do sometimes when I'm drunk and smoked out, though I berate myself afterwards. No, honest, I have nobody to fuck now. You see I'm not lying, I'm not striking a pose.
«My prick, you're my baby, unemployed, an integral part of me. Poor baby. If you could only live by yourself, separately, just using the smarts of the dashing fellow Eddie Limonov, then you'd be really happy.»
My ancestors, I bet, loved the earth. As soon as spring comes I'm tormented by a longing to plough and sow, to feel soil with my hand, to run to the earth. I'm sure I'd make a good, thrifty peasant. The females would love and fear me, and so would my sons and neighbors: The neighborhood. I'd probably be rich and would get drunk just twice a year to maintain the order. So why did my destiny bring me here, to this hotel on Broadway?
Let's go into the temple. We'll steal in quietly. We'll light the candles and we'll commit a sin. It's not like I'm going lie on top of you or anything like that-we'll do this in a cheep, depraved way, the way they have it in the porno-magazine. Standing, you'll rest your arms, face, and shoulders on the pulpit. I'll fold up your black coat: your white behind bare-I'll roll my eyes from this vision of the aging, white dampness. You'll squat a little and, not without some effort, settle my prick into your well-we'll go for a ride. We'll be accompanied by the soft winds and gazes of our Lord and by this whole interior of stone, wooden, and redolent beauty… And the ohs, and the sighs, and the candles' shimmer, and in some nooks there's the sensation: it's a Christmas tree, it's the New Year's celebration, it's the childhood and mama baked some sweet pies. You eat them and it's warm in the stomach. And you eat them for the last time.
We shot the sisters as we were supposed to – at the sunrise. There were my three Croatian friends, an Austrian from the Sixth International and a deputy from the Italian ultra Castelli, a Japanese Ioshimura, and me – the Emissary Extraordinaire of the Annihilation League. We've designed the execution in the style of the beginning of the 20th century. We've chosen the mustached Bozhimir to announce the sentence. The mountain bushes were already broken in by the sun's edge, when these women fell into the dewy grass. We stood opposite them as it's depicted in all the classical paintings. We've divided our targets: one sister per three shooters.
At this point, I'm not sure the death sentence was necessary, but perhaps it was made necessary by this severe, mountainous country. Perhaps, had this taken place in some coastal town where the wine screams and sparkles, where there's dancing to the vinyl in a cafe, then there would not be an execution but simply a rape, and even then I don't mean a gangrape. I as the Annihilation League representative was their chief.
Nonetheless, before the execution the youngest Jewess was brought to me and lying in her white tatters, she was quite lovely. And as I was shooting, I aimed at that spot. As it is, I'm known for my eccentricities but I couldn't hold myself.
If I lie down to sleep, I'll envelope myself into pork's fat or lamb's fat. And I won't be cold, just as long as it doesn't start growing into me. Before sitting yourself down, spread onto the seat a thin layer of meat. Girdle yourself with meat to cover your naked parts. When it will wear off, throw it away, find another meat.
Put a fat, chubby piece of meat under your head.
Frame and hang meat on your wall.
(And never part with your knife.)
A nurse was sitting in a corner.
Paul was standing by the window, he was smiling.
Jean was standing by the door, he was smiling.
Pierre was standing by the wall, he was smiling.
The nurse became frightened by their smiles.
In the town of Arle, the reception desk at twelfth municipal hospital opens at 6 a.m. The sick entertain bizarre fantasies-the General Council of the Sick, their trade union has voted unanimously and now the hospital opens with the burst of the fountain in the yard-and this even in the winter, at 6 a.m. Through the doors, in walk the new arrivals – words fail to describe them. One has to see these faces, the expression of these faces.
A Russian newspaper smells of graves and an old man's urine. Everything is paltry and pathetic – outdated – from the ads to the articles to the poems. Even Aunt Mary's recipe is there. And what do you think it is? Why of course it's a «Low-Fat Barley Soup.» What can be more disgusting and mediocre? It's not a goose, not a duck, not even simply a huge steak, no – it's a low-fat barley soup. It's as if to say-Look how mediocre, how drab, how defeated by life we are.
A certain K.Mondrianov asks M.Polshtoff to send his address. Why the fuck – I'd like to ask – why the fuck do you need his address? To get dead bored together. It'd be better for them not to be together, or to befriend Mr. Smith or Mr. Jones-these are healthy, jolly fellows. Instead they want to exchange the addresses, pathetic nobodies.
There are late lieutenants and eternal cornets. «By the grace of God, lieutenant B. quietly passed away in a nursing home.» This is followed by a long list of relatives and uncle Misha (why was he marked off?) who mourn. In reality, they're probably delighted, got drunk celebrating the departure of the eighty-nine-year-old (!) vegetable who had tormented all these relatives and who emptied their savings.
«At the age of 80, an untimely death of Kolchak's accountant.» Admiral Kolchak-the shaving of his cheeks is even mentioned in Mandelshtam's poetry sixty years ago. «Untimely,» at the age of 80?! When would it be «timely» then? At 120, maybe?!
An ad: «I make small electrical installations.» My friend, why make them small? Make them as big as the whole world makes them, as Americans, French, and other people. Someone asks «a lady in a fur coat to return an envelope with stamps which she mistakenly took on March 11.» Madam, don't return these stamps. Instead, buy envelopes, as many as you can-be generous-put a sheet of paper with my cry only: ah-a-a-ah-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! And send this to all the countries in the world – as many as you have stamps for.
It's good to kill a strong, tanned man-your enemy. And it's good to kill him on a hot summer day, near the sea water, on warm rocks, so that the blood streaks the shallow waters by the shore. And in the act you also get stabbed in the hip, and limping you disappear into the coastal mountains. And you walk on, breathing the wind, smelling of the fight's sweat, blood, and gun powder, then you scramble deep into the wormwood thicket and fall asleep. You wake up – it's night, the stars, the black sky, and below are the town lights where you descend and find both wine and meat and couples dancing to an accordion… You descend slowly. «Adios, adios, San-Juan,» a hoarse voice reaches you.
«We're alive, Eduardo,» you think as you stumble over the rocks. «Alive,» you tell yourself ecstatically, «yes, alive!»
Evening. Prostitutes lick their lips. I lick mine looking at them on the sly, pretending that I'm not interested. All I have is 60 cents in my pocket – and that's it. And, for some reason, I fancy that I'm an ancient Egyptian. And I'm drawn by the blue night's abyss, mesmerized, my inflamed eyes glued to the prostitutes – I feel them over with my eyes, feel their legs, follow their blue tongues. It follows then that I love rot and decay. Yes, that's what follows.
Back home, I'm excited. I'm going to get rid of my old pants, the ones I brought with me from Russia – fuck 'em. At least I'm busy with something.
Incredible! The city of Muchachu was captured by pigmies!
«Four feet tall,» the radio says laconically.
I was overjoyed. It's delightful when the city of Muchachu is captured by pigmies.
Did it occur to them to rape all the big women there and set the city on fire?
Our writer frequently goes out with the clear intention of selling himself to somebody, or simply to sleep with a first passer-by, be it a woman or a man. From under his French cap, his curious eyes stick out. He's elegant, his face is dark, he's dressed in purple.
«Go ahead, feel me up, touch me. I'll go with you wherever you wish. When you touch me, I'm all languor, I want to die.
I have no morals, no nothing. I want some affection. Fuck me, or I will fuck you. You, the gray-haired one, take me with you. I'm good. I'm just like a boy. I'm a Russian writer. Or you, lady. My eyes are green – I'll give a lot of pleasure».
An unbelievable thunderstorm. He turned off the light. Tanned, naked, he lay down on the bed, crawled all the way into a corner and lay there, happy. The windows were open, the smell of fresh greenery and rain wafted in from New York. And for the first time, he felt acute pleasure at the fact that he's lonely, that the hotel where he lives is cheap and dirty and that its inhabited by alcoholics, drug-addicts, and prostitutes, and that he's unemployed and lives off a beggarly and embarrassing dole, which, in any event, allows him to walk about for days on end.
The thunderstorm was compelling proof that even in this state he's happy. And he lay smiling in the darkness, listening to the rain and getting up from time to time and looking out onto the storm.
I've always been poor. I like being poor, there's something artistic and creative about it, it's pretty. You know that I'm an aesthete. And there's more than enough aestheticism in being poor.
Sometimes I fancy that I'm eating a Dutch still-life painting.
Not all of them, of course, but those that are modest I eat. A boiled, unpeeled, cold potato is languishing alone on a pale oval platter in the neighborhood of a piece of gray bread and-suddenly, outrageously, a bright green onion and glistening salt. A non-poet would gobble this up from the paper, in a hurry, using his grubby fingers.
And a non-aesthete would do the same.
I, using a fork and a knife, take my time – that's why my meal appears like a remarkably beautiful surgical incision. It's pretty and precise – the only difference is that surgery is executed in other hues. Mine are softer and more misty.
I really love being poor. Spend half a day deciding whether to go to the Playboy Cinema – two movies for a dollar – or whether the movies are worth that much money. Or should I walk hungry around the Village, where I get hit by a peculiar aroma coming from behind every door?
I really love being poor, being an exacting, clean, neat, poor thirty-four-year-old man – in truth, completely lonely. And I love my quiet sadness on account of this. And I love my white handkerchief in my pocket.
I want to write about velvet and its hues.
About the marijuana smoke, and about the other smoke. About the purple morning grass, it was noticed by the driver who brought the corpse to the «Medical Purposes» building.
I want to feel what Elena felt after she became unfaithful to her husband, Eduard Limonov, and was walking home through New York, when the sun was setting.
I want to break in on a premiere of a new ballet at the Met and mow down the diamond-clad audience with a pretty new army machine-gun And what can be done about it, if that is what I want?
I do try to suppress these desires but it doesn't work too well.
to be whispered with an orchestral accompaniment
I kiss my Russian Revolution
On her sweaty boyish fair locks
Sticking out from under her navy or army cap.
I kiss her scratched Russian white hands,
I cry and I say:
White, you're my white one! Red, you're my red one!
Gay and beautiful, forgive me!
I mistook you for the general's hat of a Georgian,
And of all these military and civilian types
Who grew up on your grave -
All these disgusting fat grave worms.
Those whom I oppose, and who oppose me and my poems.
I cry about you in New York, in the city of damp Atlantic winds, where pestilence flourishes endlessly, where people-slaves serve people-masters who in turn are also slaves.
And at nights. In my filthy hotel. Lonely, Russian, dumb, I dream, dream, dream about you – who perished innocently, still a youth, beautiful, smiling, still alive. With scarlet lips – white-necked, tender. Scratched hands on a rifle strap, speaking Russian – Revolution, my love!
And it's a summer civil war
In a city hot as a dream.
And the head of the uprising, half-Latino, half-Russian Victor, and Rita, a woman with straight hair, and blue-haired, gay Kendall – all of them came to my room in the morning and stood by the door. Victor is threatening me with the muzzle of his gun because I've betrayed the cause of the World Revolution for the sake of the spider-thin arms of the fifteen-year-old daughter of President Alberti, for the sake of Celestina, her pink dresses, her smiles from the sea, her small child s peepee, and her always pinched ear lobes; for the sake of the porcupines in her papa's garden and the snails on the fence.
All this has lead me to this morning: my best comrade in arms and former lover Victor tells me, whispering, terrible words; the hysterical Kendall in a thin jacket doesn't look away; and there is Rita's precipitous face…
And little Celestina cried for a long time, shaking her naked breasts while her father, the honorable President, was entering the capital with a tank division. The loyal western outskirts were shaken up, and our comrades were being shot in the courtyards.
I'm so fucking horny today! Shove my prick in deep, deep into that slit the color of beat-up strawberries and then let you, the whole world, go to hell. But then what an abyss after the orgasm, how it gapes! How metallic, how cold the world is afterwards! It takes no effort then to sentence anyone to death; and if one is sentencing an angel, it will be even more exciting.
Yesterday, around 1 a.m. I ran into a fellow – white suit with a dark, nonchalantly half-undone bow tie. He had just rolled out of a restaurant, quite drunk (swaying), artsy. Seeing me, he came to, turned, and fixed his gaze on my bangs… But I had to pee real bad. I was in a hurry and didn't stop.
Later, having peed in an all-night accessible spot – known to me only – in the hall of a building on 58th street, I regretted it. What a blockhead! I should have gone with him and taken $54 and tomorrow morning I would have bought those white glossy boots on Broadway, I could put them on right in the store.
If it's May and you're sitting in a garden and crying, it's incredibly good. Someone close to you has died, and you're sorry.
An untanned, plump relative in a dark dress arrives, her eyes swollen from tears. And you take her by her white hand, you get closer, you embrace her and say: «Sally, dearest, how awful, what a loss!» You embrace you are overflowing with tears. And as you mourn and make body contact, you feel a terrible desire. It's embarrassing, illicit, and inappropriate.
And she feels it too, especially if she's the spouse of the deceased. And with closed eyes we both plunge headlong into that abyss…
And the casket with the deceased goes spiraling up into the heavens. It speeds away.
I love being an adventurist. It often saves me. Suddenly it rains and I am depressed, and poor, and want to cry. And then I think, «Hey, you're an adventurist. There are all sorts of things that happen. Don't give up, boy, you've chosen that road yourself, you didn't want a normal life, now you have to stick with what you have.»
That's when I re-adjust myself and start calling this one and that one, pretending that I'm a lamb, lying through my teeth and then, voila, in a couple of hours I'm strutting around in high society talking to famous people, grabbing beautiful women by the hand, talking rubbish in a penetrating voice. One word leads to another-the next thing, you greet the morning in a luxurious bed, the first rays tickle your face through the curtains, and they bring you coffee in bed. «I want vodka,» you say. It's unbelievable but they bring vodka too. You make a face but you drink it nevertheless – you did ask for it.
I love being an adventurist.
I'm a bitch. And it's sad that I'm a bitch and that I don't love anyone anymore. And it's no excuse either that I used to love. I keep smoking and thinking stubbornly, «Bitch, bitch, that's just it, you're a bitch.» And I look sadly out the window at the clouds a la Italia under the skyscrapers. They're called cumulus, I think.
A luxurious summer morning over the East River. It's me, sitting on a bench in the millionaire's garden. A young Italian, an itinerant laborer, envies me. He looks through the fence at the inaccessible garden. «There,» he thinks «this rich guy is sitting and drinking coffee. Why did this scum,» thinks the laborer, «get up so early, at eight in the morning, to look at the water?»
In fact, I don't have any right to be sitting in the millionaire's garden. I have no right to be drinking this coffee I didn't work for, or put my bare feet on someone's grass while touching, from time to time, the body of a twenty-one-year-old girl sitting next to me. A prodigal writer, a good-for-nothing foreigner, an FBI client, a poet with dangerous ideas. A millionaire's housekeeper's lover.
That water cruise in a small cabin with her will stay with me forever. In the morning I lugged the suitcase across that entire Southern town, the suitcase full of her pretty rags, her beloved fragrant essences. We barely found a car to take us to another town and careened along the mountain roads with a driver in a leather jacket. Wild flowers burst along the sides of the road, and a low sea flashed in our eyes during the turns, and life was like gunfire from a revolver, like random, terrifying gunfire from a revolver.
TV shows that no one remembers even half an hour later. Dumb actresses, familiar and boorish actors. Moronic movies, they're for slaves and for people with the brains of a cat. They respond to the five senses, forty work hours a week, air conditioners, conversations with pregnant women, strikes, commercials…
And the only time there's something dear and close and normal is when they show the rapist of an eleven-year-old girl. It turns out that only this kind of person still values freshness, beauty and authenticity.
Just break the window and jump into the store.
Take anything you want: the suits, these magnificent walking sticks, the compelling soft hats, the varnished boots and the affectionate scarves. Negotiate your way between flowers (your shoulders touching the palm tree leaves), and find a strong light and elegant suitcase and pile everything into it. Finally, don a cynic's dark glasses, cover your locks with a hat, and strut out of the display window. And let that obnoxious siren whine. It's quite possible that you'll have enough time to escape. Just don't fuss.
In the morning, in the Cairo airport, drink Turkish coffee, breathe in its aroma with the fresh cigarette smoke, and stare brazenly at the ladies. And their daughters discreetly wet their underpants from your forty-year-old stare.
Bare my chest and – sweet mother! Lenka! Parents!… «Go ahead, shoot, you bastards, my sweet ones!» On a fierce earth with the soft hips. What a blessed and important business Death is! He extends his hand, «Let's be off, Eddie!» – breathless. And you recall the slanting rain at the corner of Petrovka street and the boulevard. And sweet mother, Lenka, parents, Anna!… at my strange La tin-American land. With bare chest.
I used to return from a woman to my room at the hotel, having drunk and fucked through the night, feeling gifted like a flower, healthy, excited.
The elevator is out of order, there's a stench at the door of my room, shit from somebody's dog or a human being. I enter, angry, smart, and the cockroaches scatter from the table drawers in all directions. «Jesus! Motherfucker!» I think to myself and suddenly burst out laughing as though I've just discovered myself for the first time… «The worse it gets, the better it gets. Fuck New York!»
There's a sound of bottles falling from the windows. Seagulls fly around the yard for some reason.
Young people are often lazy, they don't want to work. And they're right. Later they'll have no choice, they'll have to. But they were right. What's so wonderful about work, what's to be proud of? «I work, I pay taxes.» This way one's whole life passes in submission.
Personally, I only like to write and not always. But generally I prefer to do nothing. To cogitate. To recall someone's poems. To lie in the sun. To eat meat. To drink wine. To make love and organize a revolution. And to write sometimes.
I don't believe that there's really someone who for eight hours a day, five days a week, likes to type, or sew men's shirts, or pick up garbage from the streets. Once in a while it's fun to sew a shirt. It's exciting to type out a few pages – I can do it! See how well it comes out! But to do this throughout one's life!? I don't believe it, and many facts confirm this. One woman won a lottery – she'll be paid one thousand dollars a week until the day she dies. So what do you think she said she'd do first? «Stop working,» of course. So, the young people are right without realizing it. I'm for them. I support them.
You're walking in the morning again through New York, going «home» – cogitating – and you run into your ex. She's tall and thin, wearing pants and a belt with a huge buckle. Her fashionable rags are hanging down. Toothy. She has had her teeth redone, not because they were bad but because they were not photogenic.
Her upper lip is trimmed; her nose is powdered over; her neck is tense. She looks insolent but there's shame in her eyes.
We talk and go our separate ways. Walking, you think to yourself: Ah, Elena, Elena you too did not escape the common lot of females. It's a damned pity, real pity. You did something wrong. You can dump Eddie Limonov, why not? But there's something wrong. There's definitely something wrong…
Most of all I hate the rich old ladies. Each one conceals some vileness. Lucky traders of their cunts. They lucked out. I hate them either with or without their puny dogs. And I hate them in the stores too. And when they eat.
Even young women are disgusting when they eat. Usually they're voracious and greedy, especially after a few weeks of having sex with you, when they're certain that you are theirs and they can relax. This is when you see them the way they are. Poor boy, you imagined she was a princess, an angel. She gobbles the pieces of meat like a python, grunts over the brown sauce, wraps her lips in thick red wine, hisses voluptuously with the mixture of pineapple and coconut – she copulates with the food.
Hotels, hotels – the entire 59th Street of Central Park South is a gilded street. Once here, at night, a drunken couple started hugging me. I was dumbstruck. My usual reaction: hand in the pocket, going for the knife…
«But, I thought then, they're not hurting me. Still, they're touching my body.»
I left, steering clear of this temptation.
They were drunk, could they've guessed? He or she? That a well-built man in a cap who looked like an artist could stab them easily. You, the bourgeoisie, have your fun, but don't get carried away. And don't hug me. Because I'm angry you see.
A Japanese restaurant is good in dank weather: hot napkins and warm sake, while the North-Wester is blowing. It's especially good before assassinating a Prime Minister, while you're spending the last of your money in a squalling November.
Central Park. July. Two young pale-faced freaks in glasses – one has a long, attentive nose – hand sheets of printed text to each other. I glance over – it's a script. Okay, okay, long noses, you'll get there. With your old necks, with your wide-open jabot shirts and gold chains on your freckled wiener-like arms, you'll make it to Hollywood. And you'll get to screw the young dumb models and aspiring actresses. Next to them a full-blooded Mexican family had claimed a spot. They had blankets, children, thermoses and three transistor radios. They won't make it to Hollywood.
And passing by was I – red scum – long, curly hair, dark skin and black thoughts. E.Limonov, a man from Russia. And what is amazing – a talented non-Jew.
Mom, listen Mom. I despise you.
And Dad too.
It's as if you're of a different race, never mind a tribe.
Once, I was painting a studio for Frank, a jeweler – he has a long Italian last name. His little girl, Ellen – three years old – was hanging around near me.
«My Dad Frank is my Mom's husband,» she announces. «Do you have a wife?»
«My wife has left me,» I tell her while I keep painting, squatting down. «That's very mean,» the child says seriously. And then obviously to cheer me up she declares: «Here, watch how I jump.» She gets up from the floor and jumps, throwing her little hands and feet to the side. «That's because I'm light. I'm still a kid, you know. I won't be able to jump like that when I'm a grown-up,» she explains.
I get up, put the brush away and try to jump like Ellen. Apparently I don't do too well because she laughs. «You're heavy,» she says. When I ask her how old she is (a corny, idiotic, and ingratiating question of a grown-up who's trying to make conversation with a child – her father had already told me she was three), she answers that she has already had three birthdays. «And how old are you?» she asks. «Thirty-one,» I lie. (In fact, I'm thirty-five.)
«You are old,» she says.
«Maybe not very old?» I ask hopefully.
«No, you're old,» the truth-loving child says, lowering her eyes.
After that she teaches me English words. «Repeat after me,» the little Italian girl tells me in a severe tone of voice. I repeat after her.
All things considered, we're doing great. We're getting along famously and are happy with each other.
From Brandenburg runs a beautiful summer road, lined along both sides luxurious beeches and plane trees. The road leads to Oranienburg, which is only a stone's throw from sleepy Winnenburg.
Beyond the big sleepy lakes on the outskirts of Winnenburg, there's a valley with remarkable grapes unique to the area, grapes like the Blue Velvet and Rosaly. Nearby the southwestern exit from the valley – the only one accessible by an automobile – there's a hotel, «Eccentrics' Shelter,» whose owner, Frau Maria, remarkably resembles Madam Recamier. «Our entire life is a joke,» she likes to say in rainy weather, and then she inevitably performs with great gusto a well-known old love song «Burn Bright My Star.»
Who would have expected this? Nonetheless, last Friday, a student, Savitsky, and a Jewish miss, Klinestock, committed suicide simultaneously. Singing, they crossed the valley and drowned in the ponds, I mean those by the lake.
To be a passer-by on every beach. To be a foreigner, a fly-by-night from another country. To manage without books or apartments. To throw a dozen finished volumes into a hotel's dumpster and then – in accordance with the secret instructions of the Extraordinary Annihilation League conveyed through an agent – a girl in a purple hat, named Madeleine. Moving on and on, setting up conspiracies and at times unloading your own gun into the pink faces and stomachs of men sentenced by the League – usually they're between forty and sixty years-old.
Early morning. A tempting thirteen-year-old babysitter arrives. Sunburned nose, blonde, long legs. I want to get up from the table, get rid of these tiresome adults and their conversations, take the girl by the hand and go with her into the new morning. She still believes in something. She still loves for no particular reason – for shaggy hair, for unconventional ideas, for her first sex.
«Cocksucker!» you say bitterly into nowhere, being one on one with yourself. You smoke another cigarette, and yet another. Or you walk from corner to corner. Or you stare out the window. «Cocksucker!» And this exclamation has more meaning than most books, including the famous old Bible.
It doesn't interest me anymore. Okay, a woman: a head, hair, two arms, two legs, that opening in between her legs covered with furry growth. So what? I did use to love women, loved to get to know them, loved to study them, loved their orgasms, loved to watch their faces distorted at that moment. But now I've left that to ordinary folk, and I only find pleasure in the struggle against this society and societies in general. Nonetheless, yesterday I was disturbed by a five-year-old girl. An unashamed little creature was rolling on a low toy bicycle – her legs wide apart, showing off her pubis. And there it was, a pink opening like a hole from a bullet. A bullet hole.
I'm not an impotent, dirty old man. Women on the streets look at me with definite interest, but that bullet hole was so indecent that I turned my head in terror. It was much more indecent than the fat prostitute who showed a mangled cunt which I once saw early in my youth.
An evil child.
And old man sticks his prick into a virgin and sways voluptuously over her. A virgin has a certain burning sensation and receives great pleasure from his gray hair and creased skin. She feels like a child, a little girl, and it's very bad that an old man is fucking her. And because it's bad, the virgin enjoys it. She claws the old man's chest.
A youth weeping stupidly is outside the frames of the picture. God forbid, he may even kill himself. «Chili out, buddy. The virgin is just a senseless, twenty-one-year-old flower.» Sometimes the guy calms down, sometimes he doesn't.
Who's that knocking at the door? Oh, it's nobody, it's that good-for-nothing writer, Eddie Limonov, a thirty-four-year-old fucker, God's creation, a creature.
«Oh, it's yet another Russian!» said a great lover of cherries Misha Baryshnikov when someone asked him, «Who's this?»
I liked that. That's just who I am: yet another Russian.
Suddenly, it turns out that for the past two months he's been having sex with a girl who has hereditary syphilis – can you imagine? It's that millionaire's housekeeper. She announced it to him. «And if I'm already infected with it?» thought he – a question worth pondering. But being a reckless adventurer in the extreme, it occurred to him, not without some consternation, that even this is interesting to him; he perceives it as a fascinating fact in his biography. Isn't that something!
Later it turned out that it's not syphilis but some kind of benign plague.
Well, yes, I would want some kind of terrifically exciting relationships amid a group of people, and women of course, all on a moving ship. It's just a pleasure trip with no particular destination.
A ship is convenient – no chance to escape. Besides, a crowded space breeds perverse relationships.
And the quickly changing backdrop of shores, landscapes, and ports is necessary for an impatient person. It is a very tense situation which is resolved only with a murder. Blood makes everyone huddle together as though they were a family.
A girl I love but don't fuck often comes to visit me. Our only intimacy is my toilet. When her visit is long, she uses my toilet. She says in English, «May I use your toilet?» And she uses it.
After she leaves I sit on that same spot and reflect that it was here that she bared her little bum, and that everything else was displayed here as well.
And I get aroused.
The world of dirty pictures, cheap sex, seedy magazines, the world of sperm and cream, of dank cotton balls scattered everywhere, of a prostitute's tiny underwear, of shaved pubis and sweaty wrinkled necks. An aging model in the morning is horrible: the crumpled ears, the smell of all those make-up cleansers, lackluster eyes, lashless and browless. And the body – it's been bathed over and over again and then fucked again, the fucking poor body is getting soft, the way aged bodies do – you touch it and it moves in ripples. And only the big, sad, child-like brown eyes from under the bangs – bewildered: why?
«Shall I come outside alone? Sit on an empty beach?
In a thick knitted cardigan, keeping warm my cunt, which has a period. (An inane stare at the ocean.)
Shall I wait for the silly, bearded actor, my lover with an incipient belly?
Shall I watch a drifting stick?
There was I time I was a girl.
I believed in the white dress and a wedding.
And I destroyed everything, and now I feel like crying.
Morning. I looked at my shit in the toilet bowl. Cucumber seeds stick out. They don't get digested, it turns out. Made a discovery at thirty-four. The cucumbers were old, the seeds hard. It's fall.
The invitation to a reception at this prominent lady's garden has reached me (the lonely one) too. Through a newspaper. There were all those illegitimate haves:
Beautiful women who at the right time married impotent freaks, thanks to whom they now show off their titles and money.
Old men from the art world who have outlived their much more gifted contemporaries and are thus considered geniuses today. Their only achievement is their longevity.
Economists and businessmen who, had they not inherited a couple million from their fathers, would have started out life in a seedy hotel and died of hunger and weakness…
All in all, there were all those I despise.
You desire a woman. A girl. And one you haven't met. Yes, there's salt and pepper in my blood. «All the same, I'm sure I'll meet her, and I will, I will be happy! Again – I will be happy – in a different way.
And I'll perish in a revolutionary war. I don't wish to be an old shit in the service of this society. I don't want to fuck just anybody, I want to fuck my beloved!
Yes, it's my beloved I want to fuck!
How sweet it is to fuck your beloved!»
The image becomes blurry. Have patience, sir. And she'll come to you, and she'll tilt her plumed hat… that's not it, sorry – she'll be wearing an infantry khaki jacket. How sweet it is to fuck your beloved!
A small young woman ringing the bell at a German banker's villa. The old pensive Rhine flows on amidst the green landscape. Life is neat and boring.
And nothing but a bullet will rip the air.
And it's beautiful – the banker falling down by the door – nodding – at the feet of his young bitch of a wife.
Whatever you say, August is drawing to a close, and the leaves of ivy on «our» cottage begin to fall. Dry and gray, they lie on the metal chairs out on the terrace.
I can't think about it for long – it's obvious that it's just a sign sent to me by the leaves, a sign of change, the sign of a question: «And what about you?» Well, me too – it's not a tank top anymore but a shirt; it's not the two-year-old sandals but boots. There's gray in my shaggy hair, and the angry face of a savage rat is combined whimsically with the remaining poetic gentleness and charm. What can you do? This is me.
Being human is very stupid.
I saw something stirring in the bushes of Central Park. A little black creature, either a bird or a rat. I looked, I got curious, I began to sift through the bushes, fussing and running around, peeking from this side and that – I wasted a good five minutes and then thought: «What the fuck! I'm supposed to be on my fucking way to my hotel, this is not my fucking business!»
And I left.
A visit with a crazy cost me a lot of blood. He turned out to be fat – belly and thighs. Semiparalized, he rode around in his well-lit studio in his chair.
His crumbling consciousness was a characteristic feature of his insanity. He had me pulling out (and then putting back) layers of yellow, dusty letters and sketches, all the while spying lest I disturb the order (the chaos) in which they were arranged. Once, under his instructions, I had to rifle through some twenty-six pieces of paper before he was satisfied with a pink scrap. But then he ordered that I return the scrap to its place. His other feats: he put on my glasses and tried to give me his phone book for a present.
The crazy was quite sentimental – he kept reminiscing about his numerous wives. It was as though all the women he or I mentioned used to be his wives.
Many of the crazy's sketches were chaotic, mere daubs, but some – particularly a yellow and green portrait with a double face, and the birth of Venus from the foam of a wave – were striking in their nervous power.
I barely survived the two hours with this crazy. Precisely because it was this particular crazy. It seemed that there was some resemblance to me. The others sickos I could take with no sweat. The purpose of my visit was to bring him Russian cabbage soup – the crazy had Russian parents.
For my hotel depression, for being completely lonely, for dog shit by my door, for watching TV all night alone, for the inaccessible redolent beauties seen at the expensive stores, for life without smiles, and for all the other delights I want to get even with this world.
And it won't do getting on top of a roof with a shotgun to shoot at the passers-by. They're not to blame, they're victims themselves. Instead, this whole system must be brought crashing down, so that there's no stone left unturned. I want to raze all the institutions.- I want this so bad my stomach hurts. It's like wanting to go for a walk barefoot on the fresh spring grass.
And have it so that no one is privileged materially over others. And so that neither the actors, nor the singers, nor the presidents have more than the other folk. And get rid of that disgusting money altogether. And burn the banks to the ground. And leave this Babylon, let it be overgrown with grass, let it crumble and fall, let the ocean eat it away.
When you see all the stuff that remains after one dies, you realize how stupid it is to collect it in the first place. Knick knacks, brick-a-brack, journals and magazines, everything that's left, goes out to the street and into a dumpster.
The heirs took all the valuables but these letters. The letters with blurried words. From an inamorata. And only a curious, sad fellow like me stands by an open trash bag and rummages through someone's cinders.
It happens too that they bring me pants and jackets – for free – from an auction, left by the dead. I reflect on them for a long time. Then, of course, I do go ahead and alter them.
Out of all the memories I have of picking flowers, there's one that's especially vivid – out in the Koktebel mountains in Crimea.
I went to pick wild tulips early in the morning, right after it had stopped raining. I reached the right spot up the clouds and there – only in the shafts of light-I managed to fish out flowers from the dark and wet grass. I wasn't satisfied until I had a fresh, taut bunch in my hands. I was happy. There was no one in the mountains. And the trail is barely visible even five steps away. «Devil's Finger,» a cliff, was covered by fog – as though it was never there.
When I returned, my beloved was still asleep. I put the tulips in water in many vases and lay down with my beloved. It began to rain again… And all of this, alas, has passed…
Happiness is a state when you're able to love the present. Not the past, not the future, but the present.
There are things that are impossible to recall or to describe so that others can understand. For example, hunger, that epiphany of hunger that you reach when you're hard up for months and don't have enough to eat.
A flaming bowl of soup is transfigured into a solar disk – you remember it for years.
What wonderful and bloody horrors occur to you when you're hungry! What executions and tortures you invent for the rich and well-fed when you bump into them in the streets, as they come out of the brightly lit restaurant doors in fur coats and tatters! And what pleasure – indescribable for an ordinary man, a man with hungry eyes – if you manage to fuck a rich girl. You meet her somewhere accidentally, and then you fuck her. «I, a plebeian, lumpen, still I'm fucking you, that's right, I'm fucking you.»
It's a supreme kind of sex if you have a woman who's higher than you, who's clean and belongs to another. Now that I've come of age I often feel like fucking a wellgroomed, high-society lady, on her way to becoming a plump, respectable mother, a wife to some gray-haired idiot.
I want to fuck her in a rude, inconsiderate way, peasantlike, and no foreplay or petting either. Freud, Freid, however you pronounce it, Old Sigmund, whenever this heavy ass appears from under her redolent rags, I forget everything you've taught me and there's only vengeance, vengeance, and vengeance: «I'm fucking their woman without any right, their woman!» They say black men feel this when they have a white woman. I'm not black but I feel it.
I'm hiding, waiting in secret. I'm learning. I'm sitting in the kitchen of the millionaire's house (I'm the maid's friend and lover) – who can notice me? I'm biding my time until my personal 1917 will thunder in. But until then I scrub the rooms, or I touch up a door, or I screw in a bolt, or sew a skirt, or alter pants – I earn my keep. The wife of a lord – a visitor from London – paid me a compliment yesterday, «Such beautiful boots you have!» I wanted to reply by telling her, «What a nondescript mug you have. You and your queen too. But I kept quiet. I'm not going to insult her, I thought. What does she know about me, anyway?
A friend or lover of the same lady – a famous architect, passing through the kitchen to get his yet another drink, glanced at my hands and became ecstatic. «You have the hands of a creative person,» he proclaimed. This time I couldn't deny myself the pleasure and said – carefully and with malice that only I could appreciate: «Perhaps of a destructive person, who knows?»
That's how I walk in the midst of enemies. I learn, I sit quietly in a corner. I don't open my mouth much, I do more listening. I'm waiting, gathering my strength. Then we'll talk. At the moment, I'm in training.
And that lady from London – she even has her own elephant. I saw the picture: she's sitting on her elephant. In London.
Autumn. It's gotten cold. And at the hotel, when I get to my floor, it's dirty, warm and smells of cunt. It's even cozy. Many prostitutes live here, that's the reason.
You walk down the street, your cap on, your velvet jacket fits nicely. Well-built, you encounter the frequent glances of women. You know the reason – you look European, your face is delicate and somehow tormented. Women like that. Still, you can't use your fortune of good looks to your advantage – your accommodations are horrid: the dirty hotel. It's unlikely that a woman would go to such a place. Besides, you have no money. You can't even treat a woman to a drink – not one glass. So you trudge on.
Again, I have to wait. If I sell the book, there'll at least be some money. But until then, it's just sitting and waiting and being thankful for whatever comes your way – broads, ugly or handicapped. And sometimes, with luck, something rare happens.
Go on, talk after that about a just social structure. It will be just when sex won't depend on money:
«Hello, Madam. Do you like me?»
«And I like you. How much money do you have?»
«And I have $2.60. Let's get some wine and then go to my dirty hotel.»
And so they did.
An unidentified body in the Long Island waters. Damp autumn fog hovers over the unidentified body, it licks the heels of the unidentified body.
Who was she? With an ordinary expression on her face did she sit at a restaurant, speaking in a ringing voice? Did she spread like a shadow under her man's wiry abdomen? My God, why do you whip our poor bodies? Why do you freeze them, pierce them through and beat them?… Sometimes there's no blood, but often it is sticky and coagulates…
Autumn ground, the roots of plants cut by a shovel, a young dead hand in a sandy puddle. The sleeve of a cotton sweater. The body laps together with coins in a pocket of her denim skirt. They did not fall out. I'm staring – forgive me – the way a lover would stare at his beloved. The weather is nasty, swampy, and the body laps in the water, its head and its hair swaying, its left hand swinging. And there's also the ocean, the grimy ocean.
I'm a terribly curious person. I remember that I kept shoving my prick towards the dog so he could lick it. I was 24 then. It was winter, and I was sitting on a red couch.
But the dog wasn't too interested. He licked it a few times and that was it.
All my life, my prick keeps bothering me.
And in that same house there was, aside from the dog, another temptation: a landlady's thirteen-year-old daughter. I remember how – my fingers trembling – I measured the distance between her breasts. I was sewing a white blouse for her. Her mother was there, and so was my then wife. They stared.
The blouse was intended for some kind of Young Pioneer celebration.
My sweet mother! Such rejoicing in the window!
The Revolution, mother, has come – festive and triumphant!
With flowers and branches. Such joy, mother!
Hey, guys, let's run outside! The Revolution, like Christ, has come to our town. Over there they take from the rich and give to the poor. And over there they prepare the tables, and people of all types embrace one another. It's good over there, the lanes are sprinkled with sand…
The ruddy cheeks of a woman at the beginning of her decline, her wrinkled neck-these are wildly sexy.
She wears her cap askew like a hooligan. Still beautiful, wearing tough rain-and-wind gear, she's on her way somewhere on the bus. She looks at me through the mist, sitting so that her head is level with my waist, as I stand next to her. From time to time she raises her head, takes a look and gives me a crooked smile from under her cap.
I know what she sees. I always wear pants so tight they almost burst at the seams and when I have a hard-on it's terribly conspicuous. And due to her ruddy cheeks and the wrinkles on her neck my prick is up and it stays that way.
Neither she nor I are embarrassed. There even appears to be a kind of a warm intimacy. Unfortunately, the bus turns from 57th Street onto Fifth Avenue. I have to get off here. We smile at each other for the last time. Farewell, little cap…
Leaving a woman I've never loved – on the corner, in the wind, in tears she ran after me without even putting on her shoes – I almost cried. (It's that millionaire's housekeeper.) Still, rudely, maliciously, I left with tender and pitiful thoughts of her within myself.
Walking up to 2nd Avenue, suddenly I couldn't bear it, and started sobbing under the horrible lights of the cars turning right. I pulled my cap down over my eyebrows. The abandoned woman – her wounded pose and her wretchedness – reminded me of my mother at the Kharkov Airport timidly waving goodbye to her only son, who was leaving forever, whom she would never see again. God, I'm cruel!
What drives us on, why can't we stay with those who love us, where we find warmth and care and happiness? Housekeeper, forgive me for Christ's sake, will you?
The left side of Lincoln Center reminds me a lot of a cemetery. The black stone benches, the straight rows of trees between and above them. Amazingly dark foliage intensifies the resemblance, though there are no tombstones.
Sometimes I come by and take a seat by myself in the October sun; I think about people; I sigh. More often than not my thoughts are sad and pensive. I'm thirty-four, and I'm beginning to get tired of human interaction.
Today there's one cherry lying on the slab at the foot of a bench. I glance around, stretch my hand, grab it and eat it. The cherry turns out to be a tiny apple, you know that kind, they call it crabapple. At that time the disappearing sun reappears. And what sort of cherries could there be in October!?
Boys are better than girls at surviving summers. Girls feel summers with their stomachs and their insides. For girls, summer is sticky, it's very hard for them to resist their own flesh in the summer. They're anxious, timid, and their nerves go in knots around them and outside their clothes. They keep thinking that they're being pelted to death with apples, or that they're being bathed in hot jelly made of inseets. There's always the danger of being tickled or of something crawling where it's not supposed to. (Generally, a woman's perennial state is the sensation of an impending sneeze every minute of her life.)
It's frightful to be a girl in the summer. Since I feel this, I question which I am more of – a boy or a girl? Yet all along I'm positively certain that I'm a queer man of thirty-four years of age, somewhat refined in the French manner, having a disorganized sex life.
We came over to my place, to my stinking hotel, we undressed and suddenly I embraced her so, embraced her – so tender.
The poor, already bedraggled twenty-six-year-old girl: how exhausted we are in our endless search for love!
I stroked and caressed her all night long, imagining that she was my daughter. My poor little daughter. She also was quite thin and short. And so today, like normal people I have a kind of family. We keep each other warm in October under a coarse army blanket with the letters US printed on it.
And in the morning the sun rolled in through the window and spread out on the blanket.
Mumbling something, my child rolled over, pressed herself against me, and fell asleep again, breathing heavily. And she has the reputation of an out-and-out whore!
Those haughty rich. They ride horses wearing made-to-order beautiful suits. In the magazine pictures, they stand around in evening wear; their diamonds glitter from their ears, necks, and fingers; their hair is beautifully cut. They sit at snow-white tables. They're protected by the army, police, and hired bodyguards. And we, the hungry, look at them with envy. You just wait!
If you love money, why don't you get involved in counterfeiting? This polysyllable will bring you a pretty hefty profit. Counterfeiting successfully, you could travel, fall in love, live at ease, stay at better hotels and avoid the Nordic zones, slush and blizzard. Plying this trade you can randomly point with your aristocratic finger to a spot on a globe: «Let's go here. No, better, let's go there!»
You'll cultivate your whimsy. You'll devote a lot of time to science. In this way, you'll be able to turn yourself into an astronomer or a sailor.
I love the smell of black pepper, of perfume and liqueurs, and the smell of small extremist newspapers which call for destruction and for building nothing.
At the present I'm in love with young Z. I met him at one poorly attended gathering. He wears an English hat (he came from England a few years ago), he's poor and very handsome. He's talented, he writes his articles like a poet. I remembered one of his passages – this is where the snail is crawling up the sleeve of a dead guerrilla fighter and a butterfly is landing on his neck – and now keep repeating: «The snail is crawling and the butterfly landing» – and the dead man's nose has pollen on it.
The photographer is in love with me. One morning, when it was dawn, after a night at a big discotheque, I told him that I didn't want to fuck him, that I'm erratic and very capricious, and that, after all, I've switched to women (which was partly true), and that I was very sleepy.
If you're in love with someone, how can you fuck with others? I do, however, need a picture of myself shot in his misty, decadent style.
You, Eddie, good-for-nothing, spoiled fellow that you are. And the city where you live, the one you've chosen, resembles Sodom. It does take after it. What a perverse town! It's true, there's no denying it, you felt great at the discotheque yesterday, it was fun. But if you look at it with another pair of eyes something quite different turns up, doesn't it?
It's as though all the characters came out of Fellini's «Satiricon.» The in-your-face hairdos of different kinds, the whoreish little faces, brazen, made-up; everyone, of either sex, is elevated by high heels. One black fellow has taken off his pants and is dancing with just a white T-shirt covering his ass – it's not clear whether he has any underpants on. The right-hand section of the hall is gay: some are wearing lipstick; boys and men dance embracing each other – they gaze at each other lovingly and smooch. One guy has a wide, especially-designed suit, a black shirt, and a white silk scarf; another, with a sweaty, damp-haired chest, is in briefs; a third one…
The music is deafening, the air – hot and savage – is filled with marijuana. Everyone smokes openly. And everyone drinks. It's badly over-crowded.
The females – indecent, alluring – wear wanton attire, representing every epoch and nation. Many have only stockings on. And you, Eddie, are here as well. And you too frisk around convulsively, morbidly, and have already smoked some grass, and don't feel tired at all. And the woman with you, though she's seven years younger, she's too old for you: it's obvious – she's tired. And so, instead of going home at 6:00, when they close, you go at 4:20. For this kind of place people must be real young. No older than twenty, with stamina.
Oh dear, there's no avoiding it – our Rome will fall. It's not for nothing that these lesbian cuties, these delicate girls rub against each other's bellies and do not look at the boys. In this multi-colored, pulsating light, the faces appear odd and savage. The only thing lacking here is a good bloody fight.
Even if you're a philosopher, go ahead, visit a discotheque, and don't be standing there as if you're rooted to the ground – dance, then you'll learn something.
I saw my ex there that night. Smoking from a long black cigarette-holder, surrounded by a retinue of black guys (one was wearing a scintillating trench coat), she was in a white hat.
And you love it, Eddie, admit it.
I do confess that I wanted to stop the music and make an announcent: Guys, the machine guns will be distributed at the door in ten minutes. Our target is Fifth Avenue. I'll be in charge!
And out they run…
A car speeds up a parkway. This is the state of New Jersey. I'm drinking an expensive Italian wine straight from the bottle. The housekeeper is at the helm. We've made up. What can you do? I need her, and she needs me.
The bright patches of autumnal plants strike the eye. The car stops at my request. I take a few steps into the woods and having unbuttoned my white trousers, I let out a jet and notice an abnormal multitude of huge toadstools in the woods.
Done with the jet, my prick back in the pants, I tear away one huge mushroom and carry it as an ironic gift to the millionaire's housekeeper. She's irritated and I laugh under the setting sun over the spacious state of New Jersey. Our relationship is almost that of a loved but naughty son with a loving long-suffering mother, though I'm older than she by twelve years.
And we're going to some hospital where her eighty-eight-year-old grandfather is recuperating from his heart attack. She turns the ignition, and I take the bottle again. The car speeds off on the parkway.
My last wife, Lenka, she was a whore by nature, I think. Yet there was something in her – elusive – that made me happy. Maybe that's what it was – her being a whore. After all, I too am a whore by nature.
She was exceptionally beautiful, it was flattering. I was enormously ambitious but that wasn't the most important thing. She, as it turns out, was right for my love.
My image of love – I admit it now – was and is vulgar in a folksy kind of a way. You know the kind: blonde, slender, seductive girl-lady wearing a hat. And indeed Lenka wore a hat; she also was a poet.
So, what do you expect from a provincial junior poet? Eddie fell head over hills for Lenka. And to be honest, even now my heart skips a beat whenever I glimpse in a crowd a tall, shapely figure wearing a hat.
Life is given to you, go ahead, live!
Oh mother, I'm afraid!
Live! Don't be afraid!
I'm afraid, afraid of yellow drawings, of dusty beams of light, of headaches, of the old people, of pills, of children crying in the morning, of puppies' shit, of a dead bird, and of a broken blue family vase. I'm also afraid of my real surname, of my past's scum, of the letter «p,» of rolled-up blueprints, and of white bread, when it's very, very white.
This is what saves me: hearing; lemons and oranges; a new sunny morning; dad's revolver; fine, well-knit clothes; speeding in a car.
Germany once again devours her own children. Her best, the flower of the nation, its hope. There's blood on Germany's lips; her fingers are bloody. The three were murdered in the jail. Friends, my dear ones, farewell, comrades! We'll lower our black flags. We'll take vengeance on the executioners.
On a horrible gray German morning, they entered the cell, shot them twice, and hanged them. «Don't kill, don't kill, don't kill the unarmed souls in the cell!»
I'm sitting in the window overgrown with wild grapes. I'm sitting and looking at the river some twenty meters away from me.
Sun. These are the last days of October. The millionaire's garden.
The big tree at the center of the garden has hardly shed any leaves. The birds and wasps keep circling around me, relishing the wild grapes. Now and then the tugboats cross the East River. It's a weekend. The river shimmers serenely, and the leaves hardly quiver – the air is serene; serene too is the flowing of the rock music out of speakers covered with household cloth; the music alternates with fulsome commercials and news.
It's as though everything's all right. It's even surprising and great. Nobody's bothering me and I don't even need any alcohol, of which there's plenty – the best stuff – in the cellar of the millionaire's house. But I don't want to dim this autumnal radiance.
The world, life – everything – has stopped. The sun on my face, reconciliation in my heart.
It's all a lie, though. Tomorrow or the day after, the world will explode again… The clean hair will get dirty again, the wind will soil it, the rain will soak it, a woman will betray, and I will kiss the red leaf which fell on this page. Hello, nature!
People, kill me beautifully, please!
I've fucked a girl. 21. A good American Jewish girl with fair skin and luxuriant hair. The breasts are big and soft. The orifice overflows with mucous.
It happened in Soho, at a loft under construction – metal, cement, wood, plaster, bricks and plywood were scattered everywhere. A ruffled floor and a shattered ceiling. Her room – more or less clear of all the debris – yellow with all five (!) doors opening onto the construction chaos, and a huge window shining terribly with the lights of the World Trade Center – two sinister boxes bled their light into the window.
Even in the darkness, just by touch, I knew that I was dealing with a Jewish body. There was something special that can't be defined by words. We fucked, having smoked pot. The time passed. And her socks had been knitted and were of different colors – in the rush, we didn't even take them off (neither did we my clothes). We fucked sweet, so sweet.
Her Jewish grandfather and grandmother came over here some time in the past from Russia. The great migration took place so that the granddaughter would meet a Russian guy here and so that they would fuck.
In the morning, I'm in a supermarket, standing in an «8 Items or Less» line where there are usually old men and women. They get up before others – they can't sleep – their wasted lives keep them awake, tormenting them. Some buy three potatoes, others drop their plastic and paper bags, then try with their gnarled hands to pick them up, while I notice that a hunched monster has the hands of a young damsel – the same fresh, bright fingernails, fingers and palms almost untouched by time.
This discovery, for some reason, fills me with disgust and makes me sick.
And though on the way out of the supermarket I hold the door and help to bring out the old lady's shopping cart, I'm not looking at her. I feel like annihilating her without having to touch her: I would douse her with some solution, zip her with a machine-gun and let the ambulance immediately rush her off the street. Her presence defiles the air; the old woman is monstrously indecent and pathological. Lord, how can you bear this?
Eddie is boisterous; Eddie is quiet. Like a boy, sad, he sits at one corner of his bed. He's tired. Two hours later he frolics like a child. He's naughty. He drinks wine and recites poetry. He shows off his wit over the telephone.
But suddenly the weather changes, it rains, and it's boring and gray… And now Eddie starts sobbing. Falling face dawn on his bed, he even remembers his mom and dad. He laments too about his wife: «Lenka, my beloved!» he whispers. «My silly one, weak, tender, my traitress, my girl. The last time we met I wanted to kiss your hands and feet! Lenka, my weakling, the world is so empty and small!»
Then Eddie calms down and takes a book, he reads Che Guevara's letters. He reached Che's last letter to his parents, the line about «the small soldier of the 20th century's fortune» – suddenly he felt a burst of tears simultaneously with the pricking at the roots of the hair all over his body.
«My proud, magnificent, and modest – Spanish – Che…»
This other time a guest at the millionaire's house – rich, either a Hindu or an Iranian – pops in with a stunningly beautiful, tall and pretentious girl. The housekeeper's girlfriend made a pretentious drink as ordered by the Iranian, while in the millionaire's leather study, the beauty enunciated some words over the phone in agitated tones.
As they were leaving, our eyes met, and we found something in one another, discovered it suddenly because we lowered our gazes and smiled. She's funny and so am I. I knew this kind of smile, just as I knew what it led to. But I also knew that this could never be. I'm a servant's friend, and so there's a class wall between us. She left with this visiting businessman. Forever.
The gleam of her violet eyes, the surge of her skirt, the curve of her youthful, slender figure – naturally, nobody introduced us – whoever introduces servant's friends? «This is Edward, he's from Russia, just a month ago he was on welfare as an impoverished and incapable member of society, and now he's waiting for opening as a cook.» This fucking life!
She stepped into the night, the young beauty sped away in a car. And you get nothing, Edward, nothing! Edward, the fucking treasure. Only nobody wants this Edward-treasure.
And I bet they set off to the Hotel Regina, yes, to Regina…
I slept poorly because at 1 a.m. a bitch next door started to howl and cry. The dog stopped-whipped by her drunken owner – only at 3:00 a.m.
The wretched dwellers of skid row for some reason bring in animals who are just as wretched. There's an unbearable stench and puddles of dog piss in the elevator. Perhaps this is because our residents want to resemble the rich, or maybe they're not as lonely with dogs…
Generally, the interior of the Embassy Hotel resembles the ruins of war. Two rooms and part of a hallway burned down back in April. So they stay boarded up, and nobody bothers to fix either the sooty hall or the ill-fated rooms. A whole fifth floor burned down a week ago.
In the elevator and in the hall you're offered all kinds of drugs, and if you're riding with a pimp, he'll offer you women: «Corne on over, buddy, whenever you have an extra $20 to spend.»
The dog's piss – diluted by rain at the hotel's entrance – has a sad smell. In the lobby, a young, well-dressed crazy black woman reasons monstrously aloud about the difference between the words «God» and «dog.»
The rain beats the shit out of this November day. Now I have a new social face – no more a welfare recipient but a cafe cook. I got up late and am sitting at the same residence – the hotel – looking through the window at the rain and waiting until I have to leave for work.
Pelmeni, borsht, Russian turnovers, pies and other delicacies are awaiting me at work. Boredom and nonsense are awaiting me at work: young A., a totally vacuous man who unfortunately speaks Russian. Waiting there are two middle-aged Latino dishwashers, who unfortunately speak no Russian, not even English, who nonetheless are a lot more likable than the inane and dim-sighted A., and another colleague of mine, G., an overeducated snob and a homosexual in high boots.
Arab guys and two black fellows from the West Indies await me. The refrigerator, the passageways, the corners and cupboards, the short vicious quarrels on political topics await me. The dullness of life awaits me, while I love a different outlook on life.
A very different outlook on life.
«We'll get over this too,» I think listlessly.
I also think that the last time I cut the beets into pieces that were too big – it doesn't look good in a spoon…
Once – all covered by flour – I stayed alone in the kitchen making pelmeni until midnight. The two Latinos, the dishwashers, washed the pans right after I used them. Not a word in English.
«Here, Eduardo, are your future friends, the soldiers. Talk to them,» I told myself. «You're standing face to face with them.» They treated me to their strong coffee. And I poured them some wine that I had stolen. And I let them go early. I left late. Comrade Limonov, the commander.
He's moved, yes, he's moved! Got rid of Hotel Embassy and skid row. Now he's living in an apartment on the East Side, sharing it with a twenty-three-year-old Jewish kid. Our Eduardo has two small rooms. One is his bedroom, the other his study. And though he earns money with occasional dirty work, he has still made a step up the social ladder. He couldn't care a shit for this step, still he made it. It's accomplished.
Though the millionaire's housekeeper helps him, and though his income hardly exceeds $200 a month, still he became a full member of the capitalist society. He acquired a hat, put installed a mirror, spread the housekeeper's rug on the floor, and took her sheets and towels. Some folks gave him a bed, a table; pictures hang on the wall, a lamp shines on the desk. Life stirs again for the umpteenth time.
And on the wall there's an article about Eduardo in an Italian paper, with his picture. «This is just the beginning,» thinks the stubborn fellow, sitting under the article. And he stares out the window onto the cold December.
I met a girl at a party. She never took off her wig and kept adjusting it even when we made love and later when we showered together. Apparently, there was something serious about her hair, or maybe there was no hair at all under the wig. A Bald Diva, so to speak.
She didn't realize that this kind of nonsense hasn't bothered me for a long a time. The important thing is that her body pulled and tugged me towards her. I fucked her for two nights and one day in a row; I even scratched my prick against her until it bled. She had sheafs of pricks dancing in her eyes – she did, this Jewish girl.
During the short intermissions between our love-making we had only enough time to visit her friend at 25th Street – a black photographer, a tired fellow of about forty, a specialist in sado-masochism.
The girl was also a photographer. In her pictures, the nude models are clustered in fuzzy groups, their breasts and pubes bursting with sparks or radiating light.
Decorating my new apartment I've hung, among others, an old picture of Elena sitting naked on a tray, while I'm standing behind her in a National Hero jacket. I sit down on a hot radiator and say:
«This is it, Lenka! After two years I'm not afraid of you anymore. I've hung you on the wall. I've mastered you. I've overcome you, Lenka. You'll hang here as an historic exhibit. Actually, you'll provide an extra benefit to Eddie Limonov, your ex-husband, by encouraging the girls who visit me to become intimate with me. Since Eddie had such a beautiful wife, we have to put out for him – this is what the girls will think. So hang in there, Lenka, and help me even in that way, you bitch, whore…»
Eddie, Eddie baby,
You're a nice guy.
Beautiful and randy,
I love you, you're mine!
The songs we sing together,
The waltzes we dance -
You are tough like leather
The wound in your soul's immense!
– I sang this in conclusion.
«Girls, my dear ones!» On a cold rainy morning, lying under a blanket, just returned home in a leather coat, after taking a cab – he had uttered this aloud, addressing all the girls who have recently appeared around him, most of them twenty two years of age. I addressed those who take off their clothes with me, into whose tender and sensitive slits I insert my tender and sensitive tool and we go on rubbing against each other for a long, long time.
«Girls, my dear ones! You're the only ones I have in this world!» They arrive at my place by subway, wearing cheap nylon jackets in the cold, in the rain and snow, and they go to bed with me. «Please forgive me for something that I myself don't understand!»
Looking through the window: this babe trots along in a white beret, under it a tuft of blond hair. «Aha, coming from the supermarket, you slut. You cocksucking slut!» He thought crudely, feeling happy about his virility and charm, about being in his prime, and of his triumph over the recent horrors.
One day, at dawn, in dry February, I saw a big rust-colored rat on a deserted 5th Avenue. She came out of a hole in the underground (semi-underground) basement of a fashionable store and calmly crossed the avenue. A few days earlier in that icy year, my wife had walked out on me.
I'm vicious, I'm irritable, I'm no good, I'm not interesting. I think a lot about revolution and terrorism, and I think little about reality. I've lived long enough to have gray in my hair but I'm naive, as one girl, Virginia, told me. I'm a dreamer, as another girl said. I've prepared a bad future for myself, I'll come to a bad end, in horrible anguish, as one poet said.
«I'll die in anguish, in a prison or at the gallows,» as I have discovered and become frightened. I have no money, no one supports me. During the evening for the poet Voznesensky at Columbia University, the Russian literature professors stared at the poet's throat, but looked away while shaking my hand.
And yet I'm proud that I'm irritable, I'm proud that I'm vicious. And I'm certain that I'm good, way better than that lot – the narrow, domesticated professors and the tame, domesticated, pseudo-rebellious poets.
Nowadays, I want to be a man who, at night, opens a fence (a car door, castle gates) and says to a shivering youth (a quivering girl): Come in, my friend! (Come in, miss!) It's warm and pleasant in here. Take this gold and live it up.
I used to want to be a shivering youth, getting ready to jump off a bridge, who suddenly accosts a stunningly well-dressed gray-haired man who says: Are you poor? Did your lady abandon you? Stop it! There's no need. Don't kill yourself. Here's money. Take a trip somewhere. Relax. Live it up!
Once, during the usual boring merry-making at the millionaire's house, I ran downstairs, opened the door into the black December garden and stared sadly at the bulging river and at the patterned branches of trees against the troubled sky. There was also a sacramental moon and I was thinking about this lady-girl in a white, almost gossamer dress. She was laughing nervously and dancing with me hysterically, becoming wet through the dress (the sap of desire?). She was enticingly beautiful in her bitch-like, youthful passion – directed towards me, and towards everyone else. Towards the world.
Her hot neck, her long gloves-up to her elbow, smeared with brown grass – it was cold and shivery as we fucked under a tree, as though in a rush. It was a mixture of half-romance and half-pornography…
«Edward!» someone called from upstairs. Edward – that's me. The housekeeper's girlfriend walks up to me. «What are you doing out here alone?» she asked.
It's cold. Sometimes it rains. Today it's cold. It's been a year since – as I understand – I've been under the careful eye of the FBI. After the article carried some time ago by an Italian paper, they – one would think – focused on me even more. For now, it's just for my words and books, not for some subversive acts.
But the acts will follow. For some reason I'm looking out the window onto First Avenue, empty on this cold December night, and I think absentmindedly about my – Eddie's, Edka's, Edward's life. It shouldn't be too long, it seems. Neither should it be short.
I envision a summer exploit and summer blood. I contrive for myself a comfortable death, so to speak. Most likely, it's just that I've always hated the cold and adored the sun.
«It will happen, it will happen as you wish. Calm down. For now, go to the kitchen – you always get hungry at night – get out a piece of food that the kind housekeeper brought for you and eat-this is for the time being, just for the time being… You've already achieved something in this life – a case with your name on the cover is filed somewhere with the FBI. Shrug your shoulders. What of it? It means that everything's going the way it should.»
Mama mia! Life is like a dream: you can't even remember anything properly. Just a dream – the poems, Moscow, the wives who flashed by and disappeared, friends and tender admirers, the Russian landscape, Crimea and the Caucasus, the Moscow snow and the Moscow inky dusk.
I flew to Italy with a bow-tie – an artist and a conspirator, Asti Spumante, the Vatican museum, the attractive, red-haired woman who was divorcing her husband Arkady, leaving him for a disheveled musician – all this has passed… And there will be a lot more that will pass.
And suddenly I find myself on yours-theirs street in a suit from Pier Cardin, with a machine-gun in my right hand, and on the left, a thirteen-year-old boy, my friend, whose neck I'm squeezing as I lean on him – we're moving towards a shelter and this is Beirut or Hong Kong, and my left shoulder is shot through but the bone is okay.
Studying the new strange language, shooting at the moving target – you have to be brave, that's what history wants from us, that's what the always voracious, bloodthirsty nation wants; you have to be brave and reckless, Edka Limonov, you just have to, Brother.
If you're young and slim…
Oh, if you're young and slim, and you have more hair on your head than you fucking needed – your fluffy bangs cover your forehead – than it's no big deal that some of your hair is gray. Your hands are covered with nicks, scratches and cuts – this is because now you're building a loft, and now renovating a doctor's office. You're ambitious like a pig; you're ready at a moment's notice to appear on television and radio and give interviews to newspapers on any day; the others, however, live at a much slower pace and the books take a long time to get printed, and for now nobody is seriously interested in you, with the exception of homely girls.
Bought myself a Christmas tree – it's as though I'm playing a game. Though I didn't stand in line for this as I did in Russia, still I wasted a lot of time driving around with the millionaire's housekeeper from place to place downtown. By the end of the day, on the West Side Highway, right on Canal Street and the severe December Hudson River we – exhausted and angry and cold – found a whole crowd of Christmas trees and its vendors who, in order to keep warm, burned oil in barrels. The oil burned with the unreal red, infernal, flame.
We bought (the housekeeper haggled over the price) two trees. After tying them to our Jeep's roof, we took off. We got the Jeep from the millionaire's wife when she heard that Edward wanted to buy a Christmas tree. Three days ago, after getting drinking himself into oblivion at the millionaire's Christmas party, Edward kissed the millionaire's wife in front of all the three hundred guests. An idiot and a pig he is, that's for sure.
And the Christmas tree – that's for the sake of New Year's: it feels good to breathe in the aroma of childhood. I'll go ahead and buy myself some mandarines, here they're called «tangerines.» I'll run the strings through the tangerines' skin and will hang them on the tree. And, if I still have money, I'll get the candy and will hang the candy too. And the lights. And then I'll watch.
And I'll return home right before New Year's (or right after). I'll be drunk, and I'll lie down to sleep right under the tree. Hell, the way it's been going I don't get much chance to pamper myself.
The group consisting of the staid, bearded millionaire himself, his wife, her lover in a top hat and tails, and a black velvet cape, and all the children – all are off to a theater to see «Dracula,» and stop at a Chinese restaurant before that.
The housekeeper picked up little Michael from the Chinese restaurant at seven – he doesn't get to go to «Dracula»,- and we went to Bloomingsdale's to buy presents for the housekeeper's family. Little Michael gobbled his pop-corn; they showed the most exciting episode from the «Star Wars»; the pre-Christmas crowd; the sword sale, the models of which came from the movie – I felt like buying cologne and much, much more, or nothing at all. I had no money, just 50 cents and a subway token. Suddenly I caught myself posing, affecting Michael's father. I was in a hat and in a sheepskin coat with a wide collar, my face anguished – Michael's father indeed. The millionaire is a modern type – leaving for theater, he was in a dinner-jacket and in a Persian shirt with a stand-up collar, resembling a Russian golden shirt – it was embroidered with gold.
What an unearthly, heavenly-hellish time it was when Elena left me in February 1976. Oh Lord, how fortunate I am that I've lived through that time, through that misery.
The time of the naked heart! The time of strange air – burning like alcohol, of the growling monsters, of the whole nature's conspiracy against me, of the fire-spitting sky, and of the gaping earth waiting, quivering, for me.
So many unbelievable observations, nightmarish experiences! The sabretooth tigers and other ice-age beasts strolled about New York in the burning winter wind, the skies cracked splitting apart, and I – warm, wet, and small – barely escaped, jumping, the teeth, the stomachs, and the claws. I, the tiny bleeding clot.
And all around me the frightful words of the hunched philosopher thundered and rang: «The unfortunate one is the most fortunate!…he is the most fortunate!…the most fortunate!» But I didn't understand that then.
I wish I could experience that now, but that's impossible, quite impossible, unfortunately. That kind of a vision is granted only at a time of great misfortune, just once, and this experience borders only death.
The Neanderthal Boy
The Bald Diva
Upon reflecting about all my girls, I tend to conclude that the girl-photographer (the Bald Diva) – though a pretty demented specimen – is my highest achievement in sex now. Aside from the fact that I want her most of the time, she's more creative than all of Eddie's other girls – her strange pictures of naked women and men who radiate light.
The Bald Diva is superior to the asexual millionaire's housekeeper, she's also superior to the Neanderthal Boy as I call this short creature who's good in all ways – nice, helpful, fucks pleasantly, but, inevitably, in varying degrees, she smells of urine and looks remarkably like that cute Neanderthal Boy whom we all know from a textbook illustration. For now, the Neanderthal Boy does modern dancing and waits at a restaurant three times a week.
The Bald Diva is superior.
Had the millionaire's housekeeper died, I think I would make up a story about how tenderly I loved her and how sincerely I wept for her with the Bald Diva and how, on the following day the Neanderthal Boy came by, and she also wept – all of my girlfriends today are sentimental.
To be honest, I respect the millionaire's housekeeper: though not in good health she has a great deal of energy; though she's simple, she's capable of loving the complex, even decadent. With pride and adoration befitting a mother, she says that at the last party all women asked the hostess, «Who is this sexy guy?» – more than about any other men. «It's about you, Edward!»
It'd be interesting to take a peak into the soul of this strapping girl with big feet, protruding soft butt, and strangely long, chubby – still child's – hands. What's in there, in her soul? Why does she enjoy giving food and drink, and look after – in various ways – after this villain who's twelve years her senior, who obviously wants to be somewhere else, and in whose bathroom she finds women's wrist watches and probably even women's underwear. But the housekeeper doesn't complain. She graduated from a Catholic school. Had she died, she could be canonized saint.
But precisely because she hasn't died, I hate her sometimes for her caring for me, and I despise her for her being asexual. «The doctor told me that soon I'll be healthy and you'll be able to go inside of me,» she tells me with a lisp. If only she'd known how many times I've done this «going inside» with the Bald Diva (who begins to bore me now), she'd die of fear and envy.
Though the millionaire's housekeeper has a mere flu, I have an impression that she's almost dying. I love the dying, that's why I'm here in the New Year's night. She's in her bed on the fourth floor; she sighs and moans and reads the children's poet A.Milne, while I'm downstairs in the kitchen, having my own fun. I'm eating shchi with pies – I've made this all earlier. I'm drinking Stolichnaya and Martini, talk on the phone occasionally, and I keep my spirits up – everything will be all right, and although the life is closer to the end than to the beginning, we'll have time to show off our brilliance, Eduard Veniaminovich, we'll have time to frolic and to show our teeth and the sideview of our severe face, and then, with thunder and flames, we'll take off once and for all into the yawning abyss – death.
And in the meantime, a swan-like beauty – and there'll be more than one – will bend over me, you just wait.
Maybe you need to sleep, maybe you don't – I don't know. Maybe you need to stay up without sleep: write, seek inspiration, chew on your pen, waste paper. But for some reason I have no reason to do any of the above. I'm just sitting – vacantly – at the table, not going to bed; I'm quietly processing my thoughts, and this terribly slow process in the state of semi-consciousness is – as it turns out – a true sensation of life that is no more than the pulsating blood and this semi-delirium. It's like a bull's-bladder in the window of my grand-grand-grand-grand-grand-father's. There's a glimmer of light through the bladder.
Once – it was freezing cold – I, poorly dressed, was returning from the Bald Diva. In the subway, the RR line, there was a crazy guy – smiling, slobbering – he kept saying the names of the presidents and it was turning out that he was a relation to Roosevelt; in fact he was his son.
On the 6 train, the Lexington line, where I later transferred, there was another crazy. This time it was a black guy in boxers holding a pair of pants under his arm – he was a lot meaner. He harassed a black girl who was deathly scared and shoved people out of his way, and at the end, he chased away everyone from the car, everyone but me. Uneasy yet calm, I resolved to stab him in his belly if he touched me. He didn't, though he hobbled nearby.
It's snowing, and I'm thinking of how nice it would be to poison myself by drinking some bright and vile liquid, leaving a bit of it in a narrow glass. Poison myself while staring at the snow. And do this because I'm ecstatic about life, just because I'm ecstatic, yes, just out of awe and ecstasy.
I came out, straightened my jacket and said:
«You have to understand, guys, this is our final battle. It's unlikely that we'll escape, don't entertain any illusions. There's only one thing in this world that's higher than life: a good hero's death. Antonio and Barbara will go with me to the left room, to the windows, the others will do as they did yesterday. Sheila, put on that insane record, it fits the mood now. What a sunny morning we have today!»
«And what are they doing there downstairs? When are they going to start moving?» He asked Luciano who stood leaning against the hole in the wall.
The soldiers' black backs began to move around below on a far-off street.
The love for my revolver shows in that at night I often put the gun on a small pillow under a lamp in my study; I lovingly take it apart, lay out all the parts and admire them. He's my devoted, tough, and loyal friend. He's graceful, elegant, and his entire silhouette, as well as his parts, is endowed with strength, significance, and expression. When I look at my revolver, I feel good.
Usually I examine my revolver for a long time. Then I stroke it and grease it with the best grease I can find in our town.
Once, I had a young, white-breasted girl – I loved her a lot. We fucked many times a day, and when I got dead tired but still wanted to see how she twitches and cries from love's pleasures, I replaced my prick with a revolver. This was greatly successful and met with acclaim by my girlfriend. I always took the cartridges out though.
We were both mysterious crazies, she and I, that's why she turned away when I took the cartridges out, she wanted to believe that I didn't take all of them out and that maybe I had left one in, and she was scared.
New York looks leaden in the cold end-of-January twilight. Leaden pavement and the sky is the same; some houses are entirely leaden, some only in places. Yellow is especially dismal in such weather.
It's a frightening city, both to its observer and dweller. You hug the heater and look out the window: it's natural for a man to be scared but also to peak at the frightening.
And so I think: Why am I living here? Why am I not going to the woods and glades where it's green and the space is warm and gay all year round – it's possible to find this on earth. Why am I living here? See this vile brown smoke going up from the roof of a neighboring building? The Devil only knows. I don't understand this today. Ugh, what an inhuman abomination it is outside!
First, my roommate shaved his beard, now he's cut his hair. It seems like he started a new life.
I too want something new. I'll go to a store and will buy a new gun. Or two guns. I'll hang them on the walls, then I'll buy cartridges and gunpowder, and my life will change and it will flourish.
One of the guns, I've decided, will be a fowling piece, and I've known how to use it since childhood. I'll sow off its muzzle and if a mob bursts in here, it will be met by a dense charge of shot.
They don't like this, I know this since childhood. I remember my neighbor Mitka, he ran to the doorstep of his house and shot at the mob who came to kill him with picks and axes. How they screamed and ran away! And he shot just once! It was not Sicily where I lived, it was Ukraine.
I'm standing by the window, hands in my pockets, and I say to myself: «So, disgusted, are you? Feeling empty? Why the fuck did you masturbate then? You know this since your childhood, it's bad, even your mother told you so. Besides, it's embarrassing – there're plenty of females around. They always call you on the phone, and you masturbate, eh?»
«Well, the females are not my kind, there's no flame in them. Yes, I fuck them, but there's no great pleasure in it,» I reply to myself. «I can't find the one aflame, and so I've committed a sin, have entered the fantasy about this angel, tender and vicious.»
«Okay, what the fuck, go, take a nap, then have a good meal, drink a glass of gin, and go walk the streets, check out the faces. Who knows you may meet the angel for your loins, then you'll get scared, dumbfounded.»
Yellow cabs. The city – lines and numbers. Eighty-third Street, Eighty-foutth, Eighty-fifth… Or if you're going downtown, it's Eighty-second, Eighty-first… Or if you're counting towards the west, it's Second Avenue, Third Avenue…
An amazing boy with his mother – an arrogant dreamer, a model with a portfolio – emerging from a slick, polished car. «Bitch!» I hurled this spitefully at her. Couldn't control myself. A petty vengeance, old accounts going all the way back to my ex.
She turned around, surprised: What's he saying?
I smiled as rudely as I could.
She smiled back, thinking, «He must have the right to this tone of voice. An artist? An actor? Who the fuck knows, maybe some celebrity.» She smiled just in case and left. Her fair, serene little forehead, her rude derision toward – and the knowledge of these pathetic, pestering men: «They all want me.» Ah, sweet kitten, if I'd fallen for you, you'd learn what misery is real fast – I wouldn't burn you with a cigarette, I'd find a way to inflict real pain on you. I dove into a bar and had a Black Velvet – it's Guinness and champagne, just like the deceased little Irish poet George Reavy taught me.
The bitch's legs – daring, long, brazen – glinting from under her fur coat while her daddy, holding her little hand helped her out of the car. Oh if she could hit him in his balls with her lovely leg!
She probably has some scoundrel like me for a lover – an Italian, shorter than she.
They got up late. Had breakfast in the kitchen – cold roast beef, tea, an apple pie. Sitting at the sides of the small table, facing each other. Talked a little about everything. Including the article in the Village Voice about general asexuality. «But not us, not me,» thought the two.
Outside, the sky, rich after the blizzard, overflowed with blue. And then he caught himself waiting for her to leave. To be alone, to plunge into the books and the newspapers, to write, to go for a walk in the winter sun – to look at women, at the store windows… But she wasn't leaving. Out of growing hatred for her, he fucked her again. She left happy.
I'll walk to the sea. I'll sit and pull at the wet rope or a string. I'll eat some fish, drink some vodka, and get lost – stupid – in thought for a half hour. And all the while I'll stare at the sea, forgetting who I am, a fascist, a communist, or worse. I'll remember some Vera, no, that other corrupted girl, Marina who was in love with me in the Koktebel mountains…
I come to. I get bored of the sea and walk to the city where people are rushing about, making claims for love and attention of their close ones. I'll go and inseminate someone during a totally needless sex act on the fucked-out sheets. Let the belly puff up, let the unwanted baby grow.
How I wish I could gallop somewhere from the glade into the woods amid these cute, little curly headed pages in their white stockings – to follow that little seductive princess, smiling through the rosehips.
Gallop, go ahead! You're thirty-four, and the princess will call the police, the ambulance will come and then you'll have to explain that you're a page and where the other pages have disappeared.
This took place in Central Park where I chose and admired one little girl.
An old friend of mine called to ask if I wanted to go to a museum to see Arpa's exhibit. But I was sick of museums, of their order and quiet. I invited my friend to go check out garbage dumpsters later in the evening, and he agreed to do that instead of the museum.
Two hours later we walked the streets, sinking our eyes into the tempting bags (filled with pants? Shoes? Shirts? Gold?), the seductively swollen black bags, and us – examining, sniffing, involved – expectant fortune hunters. A lot more interesting than Arpa.
Sometimes I feel good about the police. They defend us from ourselves – the lonely and desperate selves. So that we don't kill each other. But during the revolution they should step aside. Don't interfere, you mustached fellows, it's none of your business. It's not for you stop. Change is taking place. And you just have to become one with the people. Otherwise you'll be trampled down. We'll trample over you. If you like, you can take part in it. Our revolution appeals to you too. She appeals even to the rich. It's not people, it's this civilization she's against.
We've learned to walk like that from films and photographs. We've taken these faces from films and photographs. We've arranged our muscles exactly to their standards. We've named our children the brand names of cars and coal mines. One day someone – a traveling businessman or a nun – brings a book into a house and it totally overturns one's whole life. Or even a magazine, a newspaper – not a book – where an incidental sketch lashes your eyes with an electric whip – and so goes your life to hell, to a hole, out…
I want to write a book. It's a very nasty, bleak book where gasoline floats in the ocean, the wind rattles iron, rats run in rooms and even on the ceiling, and there are no cockroaches, only because they were eaten by the rats.
Flocks of winged, ugly, evil-smelling half-animals, half-insects obscure the sun; the trees are black and have shed their leaves; the freeze moves slowly from North to South; the earth cracks open in places and devours houses; there are fewer and fewer people; the planet looks abandoned.
It'll be a pocket-size book. The font will be unusually big and legible. After all, people's eyesight is steadily declining. Besides, if you're traveling in the dying earth, then you'd need of a guidebook.
Things are pretty bad. After all, the new fresh crowds will never come from Asia – there's no one there – mounted on the brown-eyed animals, and the last short Oiraty and their offspring thoughtfully grease their motorcycle parts in the absurdly cracked mountains.
Gogol and I, embracing each other, jolly and happy, in our dear Ukraine near Poltava. We're eating cherries and talking. Maybe vareniki, too. We're talking. That's the dream I had – Gogol and I. Wearing white – maybe it wasn't Ukraine – maybe it was Italy, Rome. Branches everywhere. It was hot, you know…
Were Leo Tolstoy alive now, I would hit him over the head with a log because of his stuffy moralism, because of his holier-than-thou tone, and because in his «great» works he didn't mention how he fucked a great number of female serfs on his estate.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, my double compatriot, deserves to be drowned in a prison latrine. «Why?» You ask. For his lack of brilliance, for the nagging dullness of his characters, for the army-prison-slavophile jackets with which he dressed all of his characters (and would dress the entire Russian nation, if he had his way), for the one-dimensional thoughts, for this whole preachy, provincial, stale and cheerless picture of the world – yes! For all this into the latrine he goes.
My roommate, a Jewish fellow, isn't living with me now – lives with his mother. I came by his room and saw a magazine «Club.» I took it and looked through it.
Nina's pulling at her cunt with her little fingers – thrusting it. Muriel, sprawling in a chair, breathes at me with her cunt. All these tender girls, equipped with stockings, belts, king-size beds, and plush sofas – they're either lying down – tempting – or are standing up, or even hanging, sometimes masturbating, waiting anxiously for a cock. «It's unlikely that I'll ever find a golden cunt like that,» thinks a man, an exhausted businessman or a bank employee, «such golden cunt.»
Dream! Fantasy! A tender, fire-spitting cunt; white and weak shoutders, so that you want to abuse them, bend them – thin long legs… Pah, motherfucker you, bourgeois society! You can't pass a news stand without having some fifty cunts shoot at you.
They wound and disturb…
Go ahead, if you can, sell your own genitals, too.
The old people warm their backs in the chairs under the setting sun – in the house across the street. I watched and watched and suddenly, «I won't, I won't, I won't,» I roared. And these white covers on the chairs are like the beginning of the end, like a rehearsal for the burial shroud. Fuck you! Coffee, marijuana, hash, alcohol, cocaine, heroin – whatever, as long as I'm hoisted in a noose, crooked like a crazy. Or become limp like a piece of meat, ooze out, break down, decompose – but not be normal like this hobble-hobble toward death.
Fuck you! I want to fuck, betray, shoot out the window, torture victims, plunder palaces – I want to walk with my blood aflame, my prick bursting with blood – fierce! And I want to rape proud women.
Retirement Insurance Policy! Indeed! Me, fishing at some creek in Oklahoma, drinking Schlitz-lite, wiping my bald skull, sniffing the old cunt, my wife/granny?
Oh, no! It's better to be a lone wolf, to have a clear vision of the rubber-insulated electric chair in your future, and in spite of that, rejoin my guys and cry out in a hoarse voice: Kill 'em! For that is life! Kill 'em all! Those who are not with us are against us!
I'm a good hand. I put up walls, smooth and solid; I paint them beautifully, quickly. The nails, as though alive, get hammered in all the right spots; the doors are hung though by themselves.
I've built a studio for a photographer, and I'll build another room if there's work. It's no big deal for me to build a house – there's magic in my hands. I'm a damn good worker, and I'm proud of that. I can bake a pie, I can cook shchi; I can put together a jacket, a coat – in my life, I've sewn thousands of pairs of trousers.
Had my life taken a different turn, I'd be a solid citizen. As it is, I hang out with the unsuccessful, I root for the losers. They're closer to my heart. This is my kind of a crowd – I tied my future to them.
I dream about a wild uprising. I cherish a Razin/Pugachyov-like uprising in my heart. That's why I'll never be a Nabokov. I'll never collect – walking with the bare, old, hairy, anglophone feet – butterflies in a glade. And I'll never be an obnoxious Norman Mailer, slapping the face of even more obnoxious Gore Vidal when the wrinkled Jacky O., would use her self-defense training, pulling us apart.
There is a type of blood that's pathetic and muddy, and then there's a type of blood that's bloody and clear – pure syrup. You won't fucking make a Mr. Writer out of me. And if I make a million, I'll spend it on weapons and will stage an uprising in some country.
I won't be buying castles or islands; I won't be piling up antiques or exchanging one cunt for a younger one – I'm not some silly artsy puppet or a grasping, hoarse rock star, a young proletarian. No, in this world, my entertainment is of an extraordinary nature…
The Bald Diva came by. I've discovered that her breasts have become bigger. I've asked her if I'm not imagining it. She confirmed it without commenting on it – «No, you're not imagining it, they're bigger.»
After I fucked her twice, she began to get ready to leave (this is unusual) by 10:00 pm. And only when she was at the door on her way out, she mentioned that she's going to get an abortion. I stroked her cheek, it disturbed me somewhere within me. It has happened to me dozens of times – but it has and will keep disturbing me. Had she found some dark path, she could have reached my heart – but neither she nor I knew this path. That's why, having carefully kissed each other, we said goodbye at the door. Remarkably reserved, unobtrusive, the Bald Diva awed me with her conduct. Nevertheless, she knew I was an adventurer – I told her that myself. A smart Jewish girl, she behaved accordingly. «Why impose? Thank goodness I have what I have,» she probably thought to herself.
I've promised to call her the following night, but didn't because I'm wicked. Besides – I thought – this will make her hate me: «He didn't even call to check on me.» This bitter thought will possibly keep her from loving me in vain – if not completely, then partly.
I have a pleasant appearance but I'm malicious. I'm interesting but malicious. They should be shot, the likes of me, so they don't go around spilling their malice. States (even though they're usually late) are right in shooting these types – they, the destructive types, need to be shot earlier.
What a rabid dog am I!
I remember how, a long time ago, I was riding in a cart in the Suma district. The horses gaily pulled on cart, the milk lapped in the pails. I was twelve and had a kind of crush on a twenty-year-old student Nina. I was staying at her place; because of the unheard of summer heat, we slept on the floor of a big wooden house. We slept on the floor because of the heat.
She slept with me in a lacy gown, and I felt a strange kind of anxiety. In her sleep, she hugged me with her slippery body. And I was jealous of a young peasant with a forelock, a tractor driver I think. And I remember how mosquitoes disfigured me when I went to pick black currents, standing knee-high in a swamp. I persisted in being angry with them and ran from them to the swamp. I responded to their calls only by nighttime.
The cows mooed, the bull threatened with his horns, the landscapes rolled up and down, a Ukrainian song blasted from beyond the reedy pond. The student Nina and her tractor driver probably hated me that summer.
And I remember the hay-making in August. The oxen pulled us along with the monstrously huge hay stacks, and the macho guys showed off their skill by deftly tossing the last of the stacks onto the top of our cart – Nina's and mine. Swish-swish! And the blue flies buzzing by the oxen tails, and then the palpitating, pellucid evening.
And I remember the villages overgrown by the cherry trees, surrounded by the fields of buckwheat. Have you ever driven across a buckwheat field? What then can we talk about if you've never driven in a cart across a buckwheat field?… From out of the villages' orchards old peasants in straw hats came to welcome us into their cool clean huts; they treated us to honey and warm bread – everything that makes the gray Ukrainian nationalists here go insane with nostalgia, making them turn and turn in their beds, thinking: «Our Ukraine is still alive.» And it will stay alive as long as people like Mr. Savenko (that's my real name) stir up trouble on this earth. Though I'm not a Ukrainian nationalist.
The time when I fucked the male strangers I happened to meet in some back alleys (I did this out of loneliness), and lived on welfare – that time has passed. Now I'm a full-fledged member of an American society, a working individual, a proletarian – I even try to pay taxes. And I stopped being a fag a long time ago.
Ah, the Jewish girls, the Jewish girls…
Energetic and curious, with luxuriant hair, tender and Romantic in the Oriental manner, they leave their parents' houses early. They bravely go into the world armed with diaphragms, contraceptive pills, and books on good nutrition. Enthusiastic, nosey, their brown eyes aglitter, they're first in any movement, be it women's lib, socialism, or terrorism.
They're first to run and get a new book by a celebrity poet, and you'll meet their swooning eyes if you look into a hall during a concert of any rock group or classical music performance. They study ballet and photography; they're independent and persistent. Though often truly lecherous and very sexy, they can restrain themselves for the sake of duty and family. One can find rare and refined flowers among them – these become courtesans and patrons of arts.
No matter how hard they try to get rid of the Jewish girls through the Auschwitzes and other powerful means, they keep running on the streets of the world's most cosmopolitan cities; their arms up, holding on to the bus handrail, they keep staring mistily at you; they keep giving to you – the Slavic and other nations' youth – their bodies.
An opera was performed. I walked in.
The electric chair – it's unpleasant and painful, and you get butterflies in your stomach as though at school before exams but it doesn't last. It's too bad though they don't show this on TV, and that the reporters don't get to ask questions before the departure to the other world, and that it's too clean and probably too bright from the artificial light.
It's easy to imagine one's own death in that chair-my crying mother (God forbid) brought over from Moscow in 1990, one of my wives (whichever one happens to be there). They shave the back of my head, give me the stinking prison shirt (I wonder if they wash them, or maybe the rich America gives a new shirt each time?). It's shit – death in the electric chair.
It's way better on the battlefield – you plop into the redolent grass and you often have time to say something graceful to your friend and sometimes you even find time to caress your girlfriend's face.
Eddie, that's what Kadik called me. Edward, do you remember Kadik? Edik and Kadik, Kadik and Edik, bosom buddies. Kadik – he's mother was a mail-carrier – learned how to play saxophone. He wasn't a bad kid, had his talents. Lidka ruined him. The first cunt he happened on. Was older than he. He ran outside to cry because of her. This was during a drunken wedding.
Borka Khrushkov fucked girls. And you didn't, and you didn't. But now you fuck any girl you meet, and who does Borka Khrushkov fuck? Probably just his wife, or maybe he's in prison, and so he doesn't fuck anyone. Poor Borka Khrushkov.
Edward is gobbling a chicken. It's hard as wood. He puffs and pants, trying his best. He's scratched his throat and has smeared chicken fat all over himself.
It serves him right – he bought it because it was so cheap. Who saw anything cheaper than this? Thirty-eight cents for a pound. It's twice as cheap as any ordinary cheap chicken. Now Edward's stuck. Don't buy cheap meat, gentlemen!
I'm not going to throw it away, I'll eat it up anyway. I'm not some picky American who leaves half a plate of meat and then throws it into the garbage. I come from a country where the wars and misfortunes came in droves this century. I treat food with care. I've never thrown food away. After I'm done eating, a cat or a dog has nothing to lick from my plate. I'm a Russian peasant by nature, as I've mentioned before. This frugality about food comes also from my hungry years in Moscow, it's not just genetic (both of my grandfathers were born in the country). I gnaw on the bones – be it fish or meat bones – I polish them all equally clean, and I never cut the fat out. I eat everything.
I've drawn a woman and put a cross in-between her legs. I was drawing unconsciously but all the arrows were directed at her. A wall of nasty arrows were menacing the naked woman with a cross between her legs while she was helplessly opening her arms. Instead of a head, the woman had a wheel, a depressing wheel.
The sheet of paper was full of horror and terror. Thus I was drawing unconsciously in dark blue ball-point pen while having a lively – jolly even – conversation over the phone with one of my girlfriends.
For some reason I've attached a lonely faucet at the bottom of the wall of arrows – two drops were falling from it. An indecent faucet with a valve.
Ah, Edka the poet. Fine job he has – toppling governments. Yes, it's subtle, it's exciting, it's huge money.
You come into the office, there sits Edka, the bespectacled poet, smiling politely. «Would you like to have a government toppled? How much will you pay?»
And it starts… Ah, Edka the poet from 1st Avenue in New York. Will I live long enough to see this come true, will I be able to?… And the dream is vivid, active, powerful.
Without saying goodbye, like an Englishman, a nervous paleontologist, an ichthyosauruses specialist, left a big, turgid party in a Greenwich Village basement apartment. I too was leaving, and we walked together along a row of houses. This is what he was saying:
«I love the kind of fish whose jaws you can walk right through, and keep walking in its stomach as though it were the State Department.
So that if you were to stroll there with a lady you wouldn't experience any discomfort and you wouldn't need to cling to the walls. Spaciousness is my first criterion for fish.»
With these words, the paleontologist jumped into a cab which just stopped in front of us and whirled away from me forever.
«Steal, steal, steal, take as much as you can barely carry. Heaps, piles, packs, bags, baskets can be taken from Bloomingdale's on bicycles, carts, and trucks to your apartment.
Cologne, a basket of perfume; let it lap there, green, all the hats, all kinds of fur coats, suits, and sweaters. Steal, take it, go ahead rob, have fun, enjoy it! And whatever you can't carry, chuck it into the mud, into the snow. Whatever we aren't taking, cut it up with the razor, so that nobody gets it. Here's a razor, it slips into my hand, go ahead! Wreck everything, put it through a grinder!
«Hit that lamp! Take the umbrella, Jean! Over the chandelier, Philip, frigging hit that mirror!» (Crash, crush!)
«And we were breaking our backs for this, knocking ourselves out, giving up our lives – here, take it! Hey, tear the women's underwear, cut it up both pink and blue. Cover the floor with the panties. See how big they are, Lazar! What a size! Imagine the ass they're for?!»
«We'll trash this department too. Let's dance on these pretty, white nightgowns. The nice middle-class wives fuck in these flannel rags at night and during the day, they put on these robes for their lovers – they show off their cunts when the flaps fly open, how do you like that?»
«Hit this, Karlos! Enrico, give us a hand! Run over here, Juan! It's what you were looking for, oro, gold!!!» (Grrrrr!)
«Let's get some grub in the food section! Want some chocolate? Here, put it into your pocket. Get a whole sack of it. Two sacks».
«Crash the glass!» (Bang!)
«Trash this shit!»
«Pull that rod out and hit this fucking hard!» (Wham! Crash!)
«Push that cunt with a chair – that will stop her from standing up for the bourgeois property!» «Don't kill me, boys!»
«Give it to this bitch. She has to be a manager, or even an owner.»
«Boys, boys! What are you doing? Please, don't!»
«Fuck that made-up bitch, go ahead guys!
It's a long time we've been dirt poor, our pricks smolder from lack of good clean meat!»
«And the pianos, Alexander, together with the outraged people we'll fling the pianos down the steps. They'll use it as firewood.» (Crrrush! Rrrrram!)
«And these beds too.» (Tra-da-da-da-da-drrrrrrrr!)
That's how on a nasty winter's day, I walked around Bloomingdale's and since I couldn't buy anything – I was completely broke and was hungry two days in a row – I heard all of the above coming to me from the outside.
I walked down Madison Avenue, the walk of a man who's seen everything in this life – dignified, tough, night like, wearing a leather coat and a cap pulled glumly over my eyes.
Coming towards me in a rain-coat was a blue-eyed little Jesus, pale, pretty, blond, in a watery way. He maimed his neck turning towards me, his eyes bulged toward me with awe and terror. He had finally met the animal he needed.
But I didn't move a hair; I pushed on knowing full well that he stopped and was staring at me, waiting, adoring me, and scared of me-leather clad, criminal, wicked.
An early morning – snow and sun. A man with a hooked nose and the eyes of a quiet killer watches how the big-ass workers demolish the bowels of a big house – they do it with the help of fire and a bulldozer's teeth. There's pleasure in the man's eye and his nose. He almost purrs dreamily.
Let's lie on our stomachs for a while. Fucking, sometimes, is boring. Hand me that flower and I – half-bored, half-curious – will touch your pink slit with it. Jesus, these blondes – can't even touch them…
After a long fuck I feel like I've had too much porridge-Still, her ass got me interested. How do you like an ass like that?… Pushing my thumb in between her puffy buns, I twist it a little. This way I get that orifice ready, as it were, unstuck, open. And then immediately I stick my prick in.
What a squall she lets out, how she jerks! But I don't let her go. I press her ass tight, my cock in there feels delightful. Go ahead, scream on, I don't care if you hurt, as long as I feel good. I even like that cry of pain, it's better with pain and screaming. I'll work you up so you collapse.
«A-a-ah! A-a-ah! A-a-ah!»
Back and forth, my cock's sliding in her gut. It feels good that she writhes and kicks with -her feet – my cock feels good, it's narrow in there, it's not like a cunt. A cunt is big but here the hole is small. And with the final fury at this busty bitch I almost tear something inside her against the firm head of my cock. Take it! My sperm like a machine-gun burst, shoots in, clogs her up.
I jerk my cock out and, kissing her, fall down on her tormented, pathetically quivering ass. You, my co-animal, my female, my dear little bitch!… Come on, stop howling. There. Forgive me!
If someone loves you but you don't love her, it's a savage, cave-like terror. Especially if that person is nice and kind. I know what it feels like because of my experience with the millionaire's housekeeper.
Once at night, she cried, screamed, and in her impotence, splashed wine on me, and then, in her wheezing whisper: «I adore you!» she said. She became upset, shifted into a nightmare, though I've never uttered anything to the effect that I don't love her, or that I'm leaving. She feels it in her gut that I'm just a passing visitor.
And how can I force myself to stay? I can't, alas. She feels to me like a best friend. You can't push yourself into love, you can't violate yourself. There's no one to blame. As to respecting her, I do very, very much respect her.
And I appreciate her. She's talented and kind. But I can't fuck with her, it's like a shameful incest, it's like fucking your own mother. It's the same feeling.
Houses. Spring. Inky sky. I'm walking, a genius like Rimbaud. Not quite spring, it's turning into spring. It smells of violets, though obviously there are no violets around. The vague hopes: to one day walk into a brightly-lit place and see the eyes and the entire radiant figure – brazen, smiling Her. Having never seen her before, I'll recognize her. I'll rush up to her: «Let's go!» Her icy hand. Laughter. «Let's! Mister Poet!» Her wrist bones are bruised.
How will I be able to fuck you, loving you so?! Under the palms, on holy Monday, on holy Friday, on the Sunday – Christ's day of resurrection, with the candles, praying, having kept the long fast, having been pricked by the thorns, barefoot, the thorns have pricked my penis and around the loins… you, thin-legged.
Sometimes I cry out of fury. Out of fury, I hit the palm of my hand with my own fist, I swear and tears burst from my eyes. And you? Do you do that? Can you?
It snowed in the morning, but by tea time the sky has cleared.
There was anxiety in the air, as though you're eleven and waiting either to be punished or rewarded for what you did earlier, and you're quivering at the vastness of your life ahead. And you loiter, walking from one corner of the room to another, pulling on the breast-band of your shorts.
In the morning, sitting by a sheet of paper, I stare out the window. The section of the First Avenue I'm able to observe is pretty deserted. You can rarely see more than one passer-by at each stare.
This is where I get stuck and can't come up with anything else. I'd like to say something about my insane anxieties, but the 1st Avenue in its yellow section has no connection to my anxieties. If there's one passerby per stare, what's to cause anxiety?
My inner life has turned into an outward one a long time ago so that I no longer know what's inside – it's probably that yellow section of the 1st Avenue with one sad passer-by on it, and my anxiety and the ever new morbid thoughts and sensations about Elena, about her body, about her fate and mine – all this is on the outside and perhaps is lying in the window.
The machine-guns, the parachutes, and the canons of my future appear very easily as my past, and the execution of the Chicago Anarchists at the end of the 19th century in a Chicago prison has been burning ahead of me in the black sky for twelve years – ahead, not behind. I read about it twelve years ago and, terrified, I «recognized» my own execution.
Meanwhile, it's already 11:00 a.m. The Bald Diva (I never fuck her in the morning) has gotten up and poked her head into my room – greeted me. Greetings, Bald Diva, you're a good woman, you like to – and knowhow to – fuck; now you're going to the bathroom, and you'll occupy it for a long time. I know you, yes I do.
I have an ambivalent attitude to the millionaire's housekeeper.
Sometimes she seems to me nice and kind. She's a real American heroine, a gal from the frontier. She's that kind – she'll get up on the wagon holding a gun and the reins, firing at the Indians and at bandits. She's the oldest daughter in a family with nine children. And in the wagon, the younger children, frightened, huddle together, and she keeps driving the horses on, keeps firing. A tough gal.
It's a misfortune that sometimes I see her in a different way too – a twisted mug, idiotic pants, pimples under her nose and her chin, barefoot – and it's not much fun, alas. I went to see her yesterday and saw her like that. Why did I go? The reason is cynical. I have to pay rent in a few days and – who wants me now?- I took from her the few dollars I was short on. She gave it to me gladly.
I'm horrified comparing the millionaire's housekeeper with Elena, whom I also saw yesterday. Elena is a voluptuous courtesan and of a high caliber at that. Every piece of her body is elegant and savagely, wickedly sexy. So what that Elena betrayed me, dumped me, and doesn't give a damn about my life, and the millionaire's housekeeper gives me food and drink, gives me presents and money and is loyal to me, body and soul? So what? Like the scraggliest and most ragged bitch in the neighborhood, Elena exudes an especially strong odor that attracts all the studs and me.
You see, gentlemen, that's how it works: vice is strong, beautiful, and attractive; virtue is mediocre and uninteresting even though it's directed at you.
Nonetheless, I think, there's some part of Edka Limonov – he as a down-to-earth fellow, to be exact – that's a part of the gal from the frontier. That's why he, Edka, has a relationship with her.
Did your abdomen ever hurt with the hurt of a many-hour-long desire and hard-on?
Did it hurt you in such a way that after you've said goodbye to your object of desire – your ex – and you were climbing the stairs to your apartment at night, then you couldn't move a step and your ascent to the fourth floor took twenty minutes?
That's what happened to me yesterday.
And could you, after two years of separation, fall in love – head over heels, horribly – with your ex who exudes the poison of sex, the nightmare of sex, who can be fucked into every spot of her body?
Elena has aged a little, she's terribly skinny, a skeleton, but viciously beautiful: her tiny sacks of breasts are wickedly indecent, her unbelievably narrow shoulders, her spiderlike dear hands, neck, face – all were aflame in my hands. A fragile marquise who can be satisfied only by a fiery stallion; sometimes she secludes herself and masturbates with a rose.
A madman, a peasant, I raised her long, black, Parisian house dress – she was sitting on a chair, I stroked her legs, I spread her knees and looked at her shaved slit. The white juice of desire slowly appeared.
The Bald Diva and I went to an S M meeting. She invited me – she's well connected in that world. For the uninitiated, I decipher: the meeting was for the sadists and masochists.
In a huge red loft, they talked first about finances and dues. And then there was a first lecture for the novices, an intro to Sadism as it were (an intro to Masochism they promised next time). One tough fellow lowered his pants and lied down – his ass up – on the knees of a fat blonde who demonstrated all kinds of gadgets to be applied sadistically to the fellow's ass: whips, lashes, a special tickling whip resembling a horse's tail, a special ass-spanking racket (that is «it» had only the shape of a racket) – «it makes a particularly intimidating Sound,» she commented with satisfaction. While explaining this, the blonde smiled winningly and spanked the fellow.
After a five-minute break, a girl with a vicious, dreamy face strung up another fellow with a moist, wispy beard and white body to a special beam up by the ceiling. She fastened his arms by chains and leather bracelets and began to whip and tickle him with the same gadgets, she also kissed him on his lips.
The fellow was left with just his underpants on, but when she turned him over, his ass facing the audience, his underpants were taken off too. It appeared that the fellow was genuinely shaking.
In spite of a certain air of neglect there, I liked the Sadists and the Masochists, especially the severe gray men with the wire eyeglasses who came from the «Bondage and Discipline» section. Actually, the majority of the male sadists wore glasses.
The S M folks treated us well. The black guy of about 45, who looked like a doctor and who was in charge – he was also a photographer and the Bald Diva's friend. From time to time he tried to talk the Bald Diva into joining his harem, two girls of which I saw that night. One was a model, slim, not bad at all, she was particularly nice to me.
Later, at my place, I fucked the Bald Diva without applying any of the special methods. I fucked her in a good old way, deeply, with relish, coming onto her very nice breasts.
And in the mountains there blossomed gigantic flowers visible from the valley. And she and I were both very ill, all covered in bandages, both after surgeries, and we were taken in wheelchairs to see each other, in accordance with the unexpected instructions of the president who had read my books. We were left in the sun, and she moved her lips smiling at me.
And though the guards were always around, we were finally happy that we wouldn't be able to run away from each other, and we kept staring at each other, getting our fill of each other. And after the hospital an inevitable court – along with the wide-open death – awaited us. And in the mountains gigantic flowers blossomed, and the yellow coastal sun smelled strangely.
«Should I rob a bank?» I say that in desperation, from being hungry and broke and dependent on the millionaire's housekeeper. But no, I'll get caught, I don't have the know-how, I won't succeed being in a strange country. My conscience wouldn't bother me – come on, what conscience? It's just that it's impractical to get into prison – I'll get a lot of years.
To plot against a state, that's another business, and the bigger the state the better, something like the USSR or the USA or China. It takes, of course, a long time to prepare a revolution-explosion, but if it succeeds there's no limit on the returns! Everything! Rapture and ecstasy! Shoulder straps embroidered with gold, decorated uniform, adoration of all women. Hundreds of thousands of young men yelling «Hooray!» standing at attention.
It's a profitable venture, revolution is, if you think about it. Yes, there's the risk of losing your life, but so you risk that when you cross the street.
And staying in prison for robbing a bank – they can give you twenty years for it. It's stupid, it's incredibly stupid.
«I know you, Limonov. You want to be standing in your Astrakhan hat on top of the mausoleum.» One shrewd guy from Simferopol told me. Yes, I do, oh yes, on top of the mausoleum and precisely wearing an Astrakhan hat, or even better – I'd get a Georgian papakha, that would be even more barbaric.
The woman – she's the cause of it all. Yes, they're a wicked lot… Now she wants me to use my smarts and conquer some country for her, even a small one, preferably an island state. To this I replied thusly (affecting a woman's voice):
«Please, Lee, sweetie, kill the president,» said Prusakova, raising her skirt and showing to Oswald «it» – her cunt. «No kill, no cunt.» «I will, I will, Marinka,» whispered Oswald. And he went to practice at the shooting gallery.
That's what I've told her. After all, telling the truth is the most perverted kind of pleasure.
And in 1978, women still say the things they said before B.C. and at the time of the Crusades. They say those things only to certain kinds of men, naturally, not to any man, only to the mad dogs like me. It makes me proud.
Boys and girls, adolescents – in the photographs they stand behind their crooked and coarse mothers and fathers. They give me hope.
Their eyes mistily and ecstatically directed towards the future. It's worth living for their sake.
A sunny, windy day. A certain palpitation in the air. Spring has arrived again in New York from the green-and gray-Atlantic, and the soul of every earthling gets thin, it contracts, and on the far-away cafe doors, or on the yellow wall of a wind-beaten house, there appear harsh, spring, emaciated, sophisticated profiles…
At this time of year, my dear mother, happiness is when you tear a harsh love letter into small elegant squares and watch them stream into the air, and you twitch in a thin coat or in cold leather.
Yes, we'll all die, and everything's taking place for a billionth time. Still it's fresh and for the first time you notice the little face of your vicious lady-love, your ex and you think, terrified: «My love.»
And this love has slim legs, a mad, reckless slit under the Yves Sant Lorant skirt, and a fur coat, a gift in return for certain favors from her most recent husband…
Mother dear, there's an incredible agitation in this spring of cold and metal, it's as though a whole culture – the Black German oaks and the Roman statues have crowded around Edka Limonov…
My fate has always been decided by some fellows, fuckers in the mysterious, unknown offices. That's why I'm still a loser because they – the mysterious bitches I've never met, the deciders of my fate – have never accepted me into the tribe of winners. It's been that way in Russia-a country at one end of the world, and now it's that way in America-a country at the opposite end.
Now, in the recesses of the massive Macmillan press, certain American misters and mistresses are deciding the fate of my novel It's Me, Eddie. They rub their foreheads, or they laugh. They put on or take off their neckties. They scratch their feet or their asses. They adjust their glasses. They doodle in their pads. They smoke and drink coffee. What will be the result of their secret meeting that I know nothing about?
And what does their future fucking decision has in common with my present talent, my value in the world? One female among them, Katie, is rooting for me – she has been to this day, as far as I know. She wants to accept me into the tribe of winners. It's a boring tribe, to be honest.
I have made an awesome oath to myself though: even if they accept me, I'll always remain a secret loser, and secretly I'll observe our customs and rituals. I'll share in our thrills and terrors.
All the same, having parents is disgusting, isn't it?
Mother's letter is all sheer nonsense, useless in life; there's a stifling atmosphere, nagging, pathetic information about maladies and depressions; miserably boring emotions, dissatisfaction and the sense of life wasted – these stare at you from every line, naked, like a face without skin. There's fear, the old age that came too soon (they've thought themselves old since their thirties!), the absence of one's own occupation in life – I don't mean something general, like father's military service – I mean one's own work which absorbs you entirely, and you belong to it from head to toe. And so now I've become the focus of it all – they think that had I stayed there, in that country with them, their life would be different.
No, it wouldn't be, I wouldn't have saved them.
Who's to blame? Father was terribly weak – he loved music but stayed in the military, he didn't have enough guts to take that step and leave. He was also gifted in mechanics – but he never developed that talent. He ended up being what his fate pushed him into.
Mother spent her entire life staying home when she loved being with people, loved theater.
This is how day by day their boring lives have wound down and left them, one on one, on some rocky island as it were, and the wind is blowing, and it's cold, and they nestle up to one another to get warm, and they cry out to me – who's far, far away – to save them.
But I don't feel sorry for them. And I'm happy that God took me away from them, from their old age (which I wouldn't comfort anyway), from their desperation, which can't be helped.
A bad son? No. Intelligent and therefore ruthless, strong and sad, I look at them from afar and I make a helpless gesture in dismay. What can I do when every one in this life has to fight the almighty Fate alone. And woe unto him who is weak.
Having written all this, I happened to look at the last letter they sent me, and oh horror and confirmation of my thoughts and feelings about them – the stamp on the envelope turned out to be a reproduction of Fedotov's painting, a hunchback kneeling down before his bride. Precisely. The letter arrived from the hunchbacked life.
Pumpkin. Vegetable. Wow, such yellow! Oh, so big and spekled. A mandarin (tangerine) is no worse – it's smooth, small, and smells wonderful. Especially when you peel its skin, which becomes wooden and stringy from the inside. I love these natural creations, and so yesterday a woman came over to my place. She had huge breasts and small red nipples. The woman was Mexican. She probably had a lot of Indian and Aztec blood too. I caressed the woman, and she admired my hands and allowed to penetrate her c. with my finger only, so I don't know much about her c, what it's like in a Mexican woman.
I wasn't upset, though – this was our first date. I'll have time to find out.
She had one other characteristic-very narrow fingernails, tiny, especially on her pinkies. This is very strange, you have to agree, when you consider her height (she's two inches taller than I), chest and wide hips. And strangely similar to her tiny nails was her narrow Aztec nose. That's how I keep myself entertained with nature. Otherwise, my life would be lonely and unprofitable.
When you're completely broke and hungry, your fury at the world increases; when you have a little money, the fury decreases. Out of pride and stubbornness (I didn't feel like begging the millionaire's housekeeper for money and food), I sustained myself for a week by alternating between the disgusting chicken soup and onions with potatoes. I slept a lot that week; I was chilled in the March air when taking walks, though before going out I gulped some gin from a bottle that I had stowed away for a rainy day.
In such a state of mind, the burning night lights and the male slaves behind the glass-windows of the small restaurants along First and Second Avenues where I went walking (free of charge, thanks goodness) spent their hard-earned dollars on the young female slaves – all this caused sharp pangs of envy in me.
Once running into a company of friends who just poured out squealing from a restaurant, I, animal-like, twisted and tensed my face and headed directly toward them, at their best girl and forced between them like a knife in my leather coat, squeezing my knife in my pocket, being ready for a bloody fight if the mustached ones start protesting. Nothing happened, though once I passed them, they hurled curses at me.
During one of these evenings – Saturday – it was pretty warm by that time, I, unconsciously, a new torture devised for myself – I found two clean but old armchairs by the Martel restaurant and decided to bring them to my place. For me, sustained by a watery broth that I kept diluting, the chairs turned out to be damn heavy. Carrying each one to my 1st Avenue apartment was a job from hell – I understood this when I carried the first chair. Some tipsy couples and companies were in my way, they were just spilling out onto the streets from the restaurants and discotheques – I looked absurd, lugging these torn chairs; girls, dressed-up for Saturday night, laughed at me; yellow dust kept pouring down on me from the chairs; everybody I saw on the street was taller than I. I was drenched in sweat. This is probably how a small, dark-eyed Jewish slave felt lugging some heavy load behind his master on a Saturnalia celebration in Rome; I, however, clenched my teeth and brought my chair to the stairwell where I hid, relieved. It wasn't much work to get the chair to the fifth floor – no one was looking at me there. Being stubborn, I went through the torture for a second time. I survived.
I gave up by the end of the week and took some money from the millionaire's housekeeper – I bought a piece of meat and some other food. Having eaten, I immediately became nicer.
I keep pacing – back and forth, back and forth – from one corner of the room to another. No work for two months. Now I look out the window, now I nap for a half or a full hour, now I light up a cigarette, now I sip some tea or some cheap broth, now I skim through a book – and the book is vulgar, stupid, and I push it away with a grimace, now I skim through another book, now I go down the stairs to check my mail box – no letters; now I look expectedly at my telephone – it's silent; now I go to the bathroom and stick my face in the mirror, I stroke my mug, I smooth the hair that stick out or curl up, I take a leak, now on a whim I draw a bathtub, I crawl in, I sit in the warm water, I get out, get dry and the window pulls me back again.
Out the window, it's humid and overcast. From the window in a house across mine, an old woman looks out from behind her plants. As always she's curious about life, like me – she wants change. I look at the old woman and I start pacing the room again. Now I sit down on one of the newly-acquired chairs, the ones I picked off the street and covered with some colored cloth – I sit there for a while. So goes by hour after hour: time goes to waste. I probe myself: does it bother me that hours go to waste? No, it doesn't, and, anyway, it can't be changed Life is rubbish, just rubbish.
Still, I have so much energy within – I could have really shown myself. There's no fucking chance to show yourself in this society – they've built up such barricades to block a person's way. That's why the society has become my main and primary enemy. And if you try to oppose it, getting a machine-gun is not an easy task. So I keep pacing – back and forth, back and forth – from one corner to another. Days go by. What's there to do – there's no work. And it's still muddy and cold outside.
Having reluctantly fucked one of my girlfriends – for some reason I got excited over her ample body – dozing off, I suddenly recalled how a policeman tried to seduce me, and I laughed outloud. It took place in the summer. I was invited, I think, by the Neanderthal Boy (maybe it was the housekeeper, I don't want to be exact) to go to the country, even to the ocean, to be with some big and far-flung family in a garden, where, having hung the arrows and lanterns, we/they were ready to picnic, to eat and drink. The host was a policeman, already graying, and his children of various ages ran around. His wife, a sizable woman with a red face, was busy preparing food.
Tying a ribbon with balloons and flags to some strange species of shrub, I noticed a great swarm of bees sitting and hovering over a shrub. «That's nothing!» said the gentle and nice policeman in shorts. «I want to show you this shrub from our house, from our window, and you'll see that over on the other side they have their nest.»
We went into the house. I looked at the bee's nest and politely expressed my awe. The policeman, looking at my bare arms (I was in a T-shirt), suddenly said, «You have a great tan. Your skin is practically brown! I've got a pretty good tan too,» he added, «though my skin isn't too fair to start with.» And he suddenly pulled his shorts down, appearing naked, his impressive penis hanging down severely. With this, the policeman looked at me half-inquisitively. I got embarrassed and mumbling, «yes-yes, nice tan…» I rushed out of the room.
I forgot about this episode half-an-hour later and would half probably forgotten about it entirely, thinking that «this» – he and his penis – appeared in my mind only, had we not needed a barbecue grill which the policeman, another guy, and I went looking for in the basement. The guy took the grill and went upstairs, I lingered to have a look at the policeman's weights. I didn't look for long though: the policeman mentioned his tan again, and again, in an instant, he bared his inquisitive penis. I turned away and ran out, and since then I made sure not to be left with him alone.
Down below, across from my window, by the store's display glass there often stand two or three police officers where they either catch the rays of the March sun or wait for somebody. One of them keeps looking onto the street from behind the corner. I have a desire – which I have no way of explaining – to throw, to drop a grenade or a bomb on them. I'm thinking this without any malice, as of something clearly self-evident, something like «here're the policemen, they have to be eliminated.»
I have neither a bomb, nor a grenade, nor a sniper gun which in my mind I exclude from my arsenal for eliminating policemen: «The trajectory will give me away,» I reflect. Besides, I want to get the operation over with quickly, I don't want an exchange of fire. That's why I'm leaning towards a bomb.
I even had a dream today that I've had thrown a bomb at them, not out of my window, but from the roof of the house where they stand. Perhaps it's their uniform that's the cause of my desire?
Recently a crowd of drunk young men kept me up – they hung around and yelled at the same spot where the policemen hung out earlier in the day. It was in the small hours of the night. I hated them. «You, disgusting pimples,» thought I, having turned the lights off, watching them from my dark window above. «It'd be great to slash your heads and throats with a burst of a machinegun lead.» Besides, they harass passers-by, even the elderly. The police officers are angels by comparison. Perhaps it's a case of atavism: like a duke or a prehistoric man, I consider the space below my window inviolable. Or like a cat, a lion, or a dog – is this my hunting ground? And these shit-heads – probably some students, or workers, or clerks – they got drunk and now think they're God's gift to the world. Fucking fish heads! They hung around and swore.
And I – without batting an eye – firmly sided with evil: with witches, vampires, sinners, Nazis, with Ravillac who murdered Henry IV, with Oswald who murdered Kennedy, with Che Guevara and the losers who haven't murdered anyone, those doormen who spend their entire lives stand at the entrances of rich houses, wearing uniforms, bowing their heads in deference, welcoming and seeing off rich old ladies, rich old men, and rich children. A doormen like that – within himself – stands all these years, teeth clenched, and something is growing within him, it sticks out, and at times he can hardly keep himself from raping a young, long-legged Kristie – daughter of the famous oil baron, she's sixteen, having fun living with her girlfriend in a huge apartment which takes the space of an entire story; boys and bleary-eyed men often drop by to visit her.
Yes, I've sided with evil – with the small newspapers, with the Xeroxed leaflets, with the movements and parties that have no chance. None whatsoever. I love political meetings with only a few people attending, I love cacophonous music performed by untrained musicians who have «Chronic losers» written on their faces. Go ahead, play on, my dear ones… And I hate symphony orchestras, ballet – I'd cut down all the cellists and violinists if I ever came to power.
Our city is quite imperial. Today I had a dream that a president's wife fell in love with me. Carter's? I don't think it was she – this one was young and I liked her, a blonde, and I kissed her and stroked her hand and made a date. She promised one but not tomorrow, she said, because she has to go with her husband on a pre-election campaign. And in my dream, the cars sent dust into the air. In one of the cars, somebody was standing in a white suit giving a speech about jam/marmalade. And the road was pretty shitty: pot-holes; the passengers were bobbing up and down like puppets.
Eddie, oh do I feel like shooting myself!
So that they welcome me as an April Fools' Day boy – happy, excited – into a guest room where every turn and movement mean something unusual, September- or April-like.
This civilization must be destroyed everywhere on earth – in Russia, in China, and in America. Destroy it – this goal must unite all those dissatisfied. And none of the privileged classes, none of the workers' dictatorship – why should the factory workers be better than anybody else? It's nonsense. Better is he who hates this civilization more. We don't answer the question – what shall we build on the cleared ground? We say, «Destruction is our goal.» And it's not just to the ground as it says in the «International.» We'll dig deeper, uprooting, leaving behind no trace, just dust – destroy it like the conquerors destroyed ancient cities and then plowed them under.
They will all come: Hooligans and those who are timid (timid ones are good in combat), drug-pushers, and those who hand out bordello ads. They will come – masturbators and lovers of porno magazines. They will come – those who wander alone in the museum halls, and those who leaf through books alone in the halls of free Christian libraries. They will come – those who, with no money to buy anything, loiter away their time at Macy's and Alexander's. They will come-those who drink just coffee for two hours straight at McDonald's and stare sadly out the window. They will come – those have lost in love, money, and work, and those who were unfortunate to be born in poor families.
They will come – those who are sick of everything, who already wasted part of their lives on the absurd, endless work in a bank or in some department store. They will come – the coal-miners who are sick of the mines, factory workers who hate their factory. They will come – the hobos and some staid family people who are sick of their families. They will come – soldiers from the army, students from their campuses. They will come-the brave and the strong from all fields of life, they'll come to distinguish themselves and to find glory.
They will come – the homosexuals, walking in pairs, hugging each other; young men and women in love will come, and so will the lesbians in flamboyant clothes. They will come – the actors, and so will the artists, and musicians, and writers whose work doesn't sell.
Everyone will call in. They'll take the arms, and they'll put an end to this order once and for all.
And city by city is conquered by the revolutionary forces of losers. Giving heed to the blood which flowed through the veins of many generations of losers, the soldiers of the imperial army tear off their imperial insignia and with ecstatic eyes and flowers on their hats, they return to their own tribe, they embrace their kin.
City by city, starting with the explosion in the Great New York, America is becoming free, and I, E.L., march in the lead column and everyone knows and loves me. And my hair is faded from the revolutionary summer.
And everything anti-human is crumbling down – the banks, the offices, the courts, the factories, all the chemicals, metals and other shit like that.
I don't want to fuck her (the Bald Diva) anymore. She's not my piece.
Doesn't excite me. Barely fucked her twice. All the same, I look at her as something crude, like a thickset wench with big ass and thighs. It doesn't excite me. I'm an unhappy man, right? And it turns out that I don't need females. And why is that that I choose the busty ones, why? The busty and crude ones?
My ideal, my secret, has finally formed within me now – a tender girl or boy with un-swollen limbs, slim, fragile, who lives in the world as though it's an enchanted garden. I stared – enraptured (not sexually) – at a rich lady's son sitting at his mother's birthday party, wearing a gray little jacket, the same color vest, a bright tie, and black velvet trousers. He had long dark hair – an eleven-year-old prince.
The females, they're just good buddies to me, that's all. I now understand all my torments. And the Bald Diva left with my craziness stuck all over her. Now, that you understand yourself so well, Edward, stop dragging the females to your place, picking them up at parties or elsewhere.
If, when awake on a rainy spring morning, and after you've stayed in your bed a little – thinking, listening to music – you are suddenly able to say to yourself honestly: «After all, I'm nobody in this life-I'm shit and dust,» then it's too early to give up on yourself. But it has to be honest – a confession to yourself, not for others.
Spring. I'm hungry.
The millionaire's housekeeper has lots of food and a variety of it, too. But I want my own food. That's why having stolen 950 from her piggy bank, I leave.
My remaining money is $1.50.
I buy a chicken at the store. It weighs 2.66 pounds, priced at 690 per pound, I pay $1.84. I have 610 left.
For 600, I get a pack of Kents at a cigarette booth, and I go home happy.
I have one penny in my pocket.
In the bathroom at night, I smile in the mirror at myself – the comedy of life.
«That's right, buddy, isn't it a comedy?» It is, for sure. Yes, a comedy. Honest to God, it's funny to find yourself suddenly in America, in the bathroom at night, living alone, and you smile. You even laugh, in fact.
And the light? I didn't turn it on – it comes through the kitchen.
I'm waiting for a decision from this Macmillan place, I'm waiting… and before that, I was waiting to hear from other places.
«Be patient, be patient and see what you'll get. Once on a beautiful day, you'll wake up old as a rag, hurting all over, and by then your hand couldn't hold a gun.»
Ah, how often I've dreamt and still am dreaming about beautiful, terribly beautiful girls. But I don't have them, and when I finally get them, when I have money to buy them and mount them to fuck them, I think my only desire will be to kill them and nothing else.
To kill them because they didn't come to me, they neglected me when I was young and gifted like a flower, when I believed in the blinding love – the sun. But come they will – when I become a vile old rat.
Yesterday they brought in old and elegant furniture – proper chairs upholstered with cherry-colored velvet, a huge table on carved legs, a stained-glass dresser, and a bar.
For a month now, the entire three-room apartment has belonged to me. My room-mate, the Jewish kid, left. Now the millionaire's housekeeper pays a third of the rent and still lives at her place of work. It's possible that with the help of this furniture and money she wants to capture me gradually. She has her objectives. My job is not to give in.
Meanwhile, life is gradually returning to normal. And though I have no money to get bread, and I totally depend on the millionaire's housekeeper, I feel bourgeois.
And what of it, that's the way it ought to be – think I – admiring the twenty bottles of alcohol that I've already put in the bar. It's impossible for life to stand still, it must go somewhere. Let it be going according to my efforts and under my supervision – after all, it's me trying to rebuild my own harmony destroyed by Elena. It's true to be sure – this harmony will also collapse. Such is man's lot. And I drink a tumbler of sweet alcohol, a full tumbler, like a child: «To good fortune!»
In order to raise his spirits, he went on early-morning walks. Today, he set an objective – to cover thirty blocks to Macmillan Press, to check «how are things,» and then walk back.
The wind blew, the press was where it was supposed to be; he tried to penetrate its recesses with his inner eye, he strained himself but very quickly understood that it was useless, and he turned to go.
Exactly at that moment, two postal workers exerting themselves – rolled out past him a huge tub of mail. There were no letters, just parcels, thick, same-size parcels. «Manuscripts,» he understood, horrified. A tub of manuscripts! Two or more – three cubic meters of manuscripts have vanished in the recesses of the press. The vastness of human activity made him noxious.
He pulled on his cap and took off. With the press at his back, he was still searching in the bowels of this building for the captive of two months – his nervous book.
On a hot sunny spring day it's good to go into a shaded bedroom and lie down for a nap. And have the vague sounds of car horns and voices waft in from the street. It's good to fall asleep with you, embracing you, slim you. We wake up and it's already dark out, the street lights are on. You'll put on your lovely, silly dress and we'll go to a circus to see the Lilliputians and the animals.
I work every day now. I return exhausted. The New York Times and glossy magazines have beautiful girls in them, yes, in all the ads. They're pretty, sleek in appearance, alluring. They're just the ones to fuck and to enjoy life with. But no, the others, the rich and idle, fuck them and feel up the pretty girls during the lazy summer afternoons, while you have to drive in the rain and clouds, siteseeing American dull spots and the rain pours down onto the car. You're a laborer, poor, oppressed, ethnic minority, fixing x-ray machines, drilling holes in the concrete, tightening bolts, painting for B B Company. And you'll never fucking be able to publish your harmful book, you won't be able rise out of the shit and mud. And you'll die just like that – a low-paid laborer in a cap, schlepping with pensive eyes to all these Long Islands in the mornings…
The clean rich – they're contemptuous of those who masturbate. Because the rich don't masturbate, you see. They always have someone to fuck. They fuck the beautiful ones – the highest quality. This is the tough truth which must be faced squarely.
And so it's all over. The American bourgeois publishing house Macmillan has refused to publish my book. And the woman Katie didn't help. After the telephone call from my agent, I went to plaster and paint a ceiling at a rich house. I stood on a ladder with my head up all day long, got exhausted by nighttime and on the way home I sadly swore in a summer's late night. It was Friday, and the buzzing swarm of slaves was sucked in by restaurants and theaters. I've wasted almost a half year on Macmillan. Forty more times like that, and I'll be a useless gizzard. It's terrifying!
So the rich boy will die of cancer and I don't fucking care.
Yes, he's beautiful and I'm sorry, but I don't fucking care!
For example, when I painted the ceiling at their place, I went to get a vacuum from the basement. There, locked in, was a dog the size of a year-old calf, and behind a screen, two puppies, one hundred pounds each. And there are two other grown dogs of the same breed walking around the house. They're huge: the stench, trash, dirt – it's worse than stables. The rich live as if in an outhouse. What's the use of all the carpets and tapestries and perfuming their necks and behind their ears? Their place is still an outhouse. And their dirty rags are everywhere. Hence the cancer – from being idle and from the stench in the house. So, he'll die, the rich boy – and that's the way it should be. Why is it that we – I – paint their ceiling and pick up trash, and the Yugoslav lugs and packs their stuff, and the Chinese is a house slave? Why is it that we work while they do nothing in their rotten nest, they don't work and feed their sponger-dogs? Is it because they're more talented than the Yugoslav and I?
No, they're not. The Yugoslav can reason intelligently, and I too am not among the least – I have a clever pair of hands, and I have brains. And the old Chinese guy can play the violin and the piano. We do everything for them, and what do they do for us?
Why are they given the money?
Maybe it's God, maybe not, but the cancer came in at the right time – it's something like retribution. Let the rich boy die. I'll be glad even. What the hell, why must I pretend that I'm moved, that I sympathize, that I'm sorry. I'm not moved, I don't sympathize, and I'm not sorry! My own life – in earnest, the only one – is knocked down by all these fuckers. Go ahead, die, the doomed boy! No amount of cobalt or money will help you. Cancer does not defer to money. If you give it a billion even, it won't retract. And that's fair. At least in that everyone is equal. Just like the forty-four-year-old Moscow plumber Tolik, the boy will die.
I always look at people's faces on the street. There are very few who could kill. These are not necessarily morose or savage looking men. Among those who could kill I often encounter women, bespectacled nerds, even a multitude of children.
«Could kill,» as I understand it, are those who could kill right now, this very moment, regardless of their strength or of anybody's strength, regardless of the fact that they could be killed. «Could kill» is a definite inborn, blood inherited, and a realized resolve to kill.
It's better not to bother such people. It's better not to demand money from them if you're a mugger. It's better not to swear at them or shove them – it's better to leave them alone. With that kind, you can't stop half way if you yourself are not determined to kill. Leave them, go away while you're still in one piece, and don't look back. If you won't kill him, he'll kill you.
It's been three years since I realized that I could kill. I'm firmly aware of that whenever I go out on the street. That's why I always carry a knife. I won't think twice about it. I won't waiver. I won't think about a possible punishment. If they touch me – I'll kill them. That's why I live with a peace of mind and am un-afraid of anything. And I go wherever I like.
In general, however, I'm quite harmless.
The poetess L. is a nice gal. She's nothing special, though. Class D. I have them all in class D right now.
Sonya – the Jewish girl from my months of loneliness – used to be in D, in America however, she's E because she's a Russian. My agent C. is definitely a B, but I haven't fucked her – we have a strictly business relationship.
I very much want to run up this ladder and make a transition into at least class C, but a total absence of money, success and, most important, connections stand in my way. The best place to meet people is at parties, of course, but again I'm invited to D parties only.
The millionaire's housekeeper stands apart – she probably belongs to the category of angels, not women. A sexless peasant angel, standing on the side of the road leading toward church. I respect her more and more. She's my only relative on this earth that's why I exclude her from classification.
Almost all the girls and women from the Italian journalist's entourage – he wrote an article about me – are class C, and some are even B.
Class A are very beautiful, very talented, and very rich, I met some them at a few parties when I had just arrived in America and still had rich acquaintances.
I believe that below D class there's still E, F and maybe I. Yes, I'm sure that's the case. So, my girls get to be right in the middle. They're medium.
I believe there exists only one creature above A class. That's the one I'm after. But I have no idea where that is.
A lousy hot summer. The dead season.
My book is at four different publishers at the same time where it's being sluggishly read. Again, I'm waiting. Days go by, and there you have the everyday murder that civilization subjects us to.
Last month, I whitewashed and plastered two apartments; now, once a week, I vacuum and scrub the millionaire's house for which they pay me medium wage. My life hardly moves, the only change in it is getting some free vegetation – sixteen green plants: the rich family has moved to San Francisco. There are two palmtrees among the plants. Watering the plants-my new chore-gives me pleasure, and while watering them, I also converse with them.
The publishers are like dark towers looming in the backdrop of my consciousness, and I peer at these dark towers with hope and hatred. The murderers!
A writer lived across the street. He had no curtains in his fifth-floor apartment – the writer lived openly. Almost every night, in one of his windows, precisely where his bed stood, a girl appeared – putting on or taking off her clothes. There was a new girl every few days. Some of them, having put on their clothes, left – they didn't stay overnight; the others stayed and didn't leave. In those cases, the alarm-clock rang in the writer's apartment in the morning – the girls had to get up early to get to work (those were the kinds of girls the writer had). The writer wandered around naked, stumbling – half asleep – into furniture. He swore, cursing the girls and their work, feeling happy when they left, and falling asleep he promised never to get involved with them again. By nighttime, though, having had enough sleep, he again called some girl, invited her to come over and hear what new thing he had written. The writer, as you have obviously already understood, had a soft spot for sex. And this fact was plenty clear to the fifth floor residents in the house across the street.
Hotel Embassy, my most recent dwelling, was shut down because of sanitary and security considerations, because of its filth, brawls, robberies, terror and desolation inside. This was conveyed to me over the telephone by a short girl Teresa. «How could you live there, Edward?» the girl Teresa asked me. How could I? Just the way I did – I walked with a knife hidden in my boot. No one ever bothered me. I could live anywhere, no sweat. It's a pity about the Hotel Embassy, and I feel sad about it – I've spent eight months of my life there – pretty good, memorable ones. In the morning, sun flooded through my window. Life is life. And even when it appears to be bad, it's good.
Standing in the rain – it's been raining for three days now – I called my old friend. «Why on earth did you come out in such rain?» he asked, frightened, hearing the thunder in the receiver.
«Big deal!» said I.
«I'm reading a library book here, it's about life in Paris in the 1910's and 1920's, I'm rereading it. Yes, those were the times, nothing like today – doldrums…» He went on groaning in this way about the terrible weather, saying some more old and decrepit words.
I wanted to tell him that ultimately, by the most honest account, he's simply lazy, that his wife is efficient and has protected him from life – tough, hard but also joyful. And this has harmed him a lot. And that though he's been in America for a few years, he still doesn't know the language, doesn't know the people, and that if he continues like that, he'll come off track, won't finish his lap, and his daily work in the arts at home won't help him. Secretly I understood that this has already happened. He's weak, he has no strength to go on. He ought to go into life but he's holding on to his wife's warm skirt and lives in the shell of his apartment. There's a vast world outside and he's scared. It would be good for him if his wife died or left him. He's a gifted man, there's no doubting that, only one has to have strength in addition to being gifted.
Alone I remain – now, there's no one around who started on this road with me. Elena was devoured by a void and nothing, and now my friend is being sucked in by the quagmire. He's become an old asshole.
A dear old hag from the house across is probably happy and delighted – she has something to watch now. A house next to mine collapsed while it was being demolished, so the old woman has her fun and pleasure – she watches how the workers scurry about, how they clear the ruins, she watches the police, the crowds of people, and the firemen.
She's been enjoying this for five days now.
It's a godsend to her. Without it, she was bored – it's true, there was nothing special happening on our street. Then, practically before her eyes, the house fell down.
My house is partially damaged – there's no gas, and some tenants had to be evicted. I'm always accompanied by some natural disasters: in the Hotel Embassy I survived two fires – kept running around with my suitcase full of manuscripts – and now that house collapsed…
Out on the street, I chose the weakest, most pathetic, wretched, and ugly girls, I hunted them out, pursued them, and invited them over to my place. With long noses, liliputians, girls with no breasts at all, those who almost dragged their butts on the ground, girls with bad skin and thin hair, those with gaps in their teeth, with very thin necks, or girls with big bellies and very fat legs – they all have visited me. Some had no hair and wore wigs.
I chose them not only by their wretched looks but also by their peculiar harassed nervousness which distinguished their behavior on the street. Now they plodded along, now they suddenly sped up, almost running, constantly looking back, smiling for no reason, talking to themselves.
I've discovered that these rejects are much more sensual and interesting in sex than ordinary women, and they're vastly more interesting than beautiful women.
These melting candles whose lives appeared to be hardly flickering, turned out to be voluptuous and tireless. The big-bellied girls radiated such lust as would Mother Earth. I wanted to roll into the folds of such a belly and hide from misfortunes under it. And the girls with the anorexic skinny bodies of skeletons (my favorite ones), so skinny that you could easily see and feel your own penis in them – these were burning with the infernal flame.
I've started hunting for freaks because of my own misery. Beautiful women, spoiled by attention, wouldn't fuck me. I had no money to take them to the restaurants and public places that sustained their weak sensuality. That's why I've turned to the pathetic rejects who steal along the streets and who are afraid to look up at people in their self-abasement. Now I don't want to exchange my collection of defected creatures for the harem of beauties. For me, nobody will take the place of the anorexics and lilliputians.
Yearning after a prick, they cling to me like hot plants.
The millionaire's housekeeper, whom I had trusted like myself has left me. That's how it always happens – you never know where it's going to hit you.
Even though I never loved the millionaire's housekeeper, I feel restless, noxious, and hurt. Before this happened, I knew that someone (she) loved me on this earth, and that I had somewhere to go. The millionaire's house was like a club to me, and I – a lonely tramp – had found a teacher and a conversationalist in her. She gave me money and food. In short, the news about her betrayal was bitter to me.
It all happened in California. There she found a peasant like herself. He owns a book store, and the millionaire's housekeeper always had a soft spot for culture – I'm evidence. When I left California after a fight over some silliness, she stayed there and fucked the book store owner. Did he feel that she's totally frigid? Perhaps he too doesn't feel much? Or maybe they're compatible, while she and I weren't. I don't know. Nonetheless, the millionaire's housekeeper is now getting ready to move with her furniture and all her belongings to California. My apartment will become bare. The millionaire's housekeeper will take the furniture, and I'll remain hungry and skeptical of simple, kind girls who are able to walk hand in hand with a gifted man to the end of his entire hard journey, and die with him on the same day.
Though I've cheated on the millionaire's housekeeper an infinite number of times – I did it with anyone I could, even with her friend – I've always carefully hid this, and I haven't told her about it even now. I'm not a spiteful person, and despite all the betrayals, in my own way, spiritually, I was always faithful to her and didn't want to hurt her. I'm sad that the millionaire's housekeeper didn't have enough patience, and so she will remain where she's been: among her semi-provincial friends-forever. And it seems to me that peasant of hers in a checked shirt won't stay with her for long-his face is too oily. And it's possible that the millionaire's housekeeper will sink deep into her marijuana and will remain alone forever. All the women I've been involved with throughout my live have had bad luck.
Sometimes I have dreams about the housekeeper and her peasant making love, and though I tell myself that she's frigid, I hurt all the same.
In the old plays by Chekhov and O'Neill, I'm of one of those indicated by the stage directions: «A servant enters carrying a cup of tea,» or, «The factory workers sing.»
I'm also a cleaning man. I can also be referred as a «vacuum man,» since I work with a vacuum cleaner. I'm also a floor polisher because after vacuum-cleaning all five storeys of the millionaire's house, I spread the yellow polish (the stinky one) on the floors and then I polish it with a special brushing machine. I do this on Saturdays and for that purpose I take the train to New York.
The other five days of the week I'm a laborer, a mason, and a carpenter in a village one hundred miles from New York City, in the deep waters of the Hudson River Valley where I fled from the millionaire's housekeeper.
I (we) usually appear at the «side door,» from the «back stairs.» Our place is in the servants' room or in a basement where we stoke the stove, do laundry, iron, and more. And if we get old, we lie on the stove and exude an unpleasant odor.
During the day, I dig the ground and lay bricks. In the evenings, I usually pig out on food.
I get wild whenever I manage to discover something special in the refrigerator at the house of a lady I work for.
For example today I discovered up a very good salami. I was eating it through the entire evening. At first, I was hesitant: «I'll have just one more little piece.» Then, having found more meat at the other end of the house, I went on eating with energy and resolve.
«After all, she still has other meat,» I told myself.
Suddenly a loud blue October fly, a fucking bomber, landed on the salami. Her disgusting and rude – heavy – buzzing had been bothering me for a long time, and now he landed on my sausage! Enraged, I killed (one sharp, swift hit) the fly with the first chapter of a book I'm too lazy to write. And I returned to eating this superior, garlic flavored salami. This is how, more or less, I spend my evenings after work. Wearing two pairs of pants and five sweaters (the heat is off), I sit by a big dirty table under a desk lamp, and I keep pigging out.
Whenever I dig deep in the ground, I always find some dead animals – mice, frogs, even ground squirrels and moles.
And so it is now – we've dug a deep pit, and keep discovering dead animals there almost every day. The frozen frog (it's late fall), the ground squirrel – dead – with his little tail between his legs; the mouse lying with his little white helpless belly to the side – the belly is swollen. Perhaps, he overate.
The pit we dug is very big. We cleaned it out, we swept it out, we've prepared it like a bride. «Our pit is a bride!» I declared to our gang. The homosexual Carl thought it a brilliant metaphor.
I'm standing inside the pit and am drinking coffee that Carl had handed to me. The pit is like a pregnant bride. And inside the pit there's a white rock like a belly. It's white and it's brown like a stomach.
On May Day (and other holidays in Capitalist countries) women always get tipsy. They blush, they become merry and soft to the touch. They start smelling of perfume, they become mysterious. And by late night, after dancing, you better give them your cock. Not one of them wants to leave without getting it. Then a moment of silence and expectation follows.
Some, the very ugly ones, do leave without getting the cock.
You have to meet your death with resolve and panache – posing, defiant, acting up, celebrating, and best of all – smiling.
Like it or not, able or not – you have to.
If your knees are shaking, make it stop. Move around to conceal it. If your eyes are running, laugh – they'll think it's because of your laughing.
Dying is the most important business there is. You have to prepare yourself for it.
A bad death can spoil the most distinguished life.
Our birth does not depend on us, but our death does.
Hysteria and haste are just as bad.
You need to be measured. All the same – you have to go, though you never feel like it.
You should go either in a grand, reserved and staid manner, or even better, go hooligan-like, whistling, cheering: «You, motherfuckers!»
It feels good – to be a little tipsy, in white pants, digging with a short shovel – to plant asters with two girls, sisters, in October. I'm wearing a black sweater, a velvet mauve close-fitting jacket, solid boots, white pants soiled with mud, and a light cap. And an aster in my breast pocket.
And one of the sisters just survived a serious surgery, her lips and cheeks are pale, her gaze is meek and reserved.
Coming to this empty country house at the very edge of a township – beyond that hills and fields stretch out – I sit on the terrace for a long time, swaying in a wooden chair and looking at the tree crowns while leaves fall on me. It was such an abundant red leaf season.
Through the bushes and trees, I went up a hill. I sat on the logs that someone had dumped by a fence a long time ago, and I waited for twilight. Or I drank tea or lay on my back in the grass and was quiet.
Whenever I swung on the swing, it kept singing the same tune to me: «You-are-good-Eddie… You-are-good-Eddie… You-are-good-Eddie…»
The leaves were telling me about the pointlessness of any structures, and tea – the tea was for reminiscing. The cigarettes are also good for reminiscing, but I ran out two days ago.
This is how I visited this old country house, checking its empty rooms, peeking into its closets, sitting lackadaisically on a wooden bed that was painted like an icon. I had a feeling that my life was over, that I was a retired old man, that this was my estate. But my melancholy had no personal pain. One more week and my work here will be over, and I'll leave this township – it was just a pause in my breathless race.
I felt good at the old house yesterday where on one side there was only an open sky.
I keep lugging in sand for making mortar, or I level off the ground at the country house, as the owner asked. And there are so many worms! They squirm under the shovel.
Nice simple worms.
I love worms. They're my favorite animal.
If they happen to get into the cement, I carefully take them out.
It's just that they're cold at the end of October.
And in the morning the soil freezes.
Working here in the cold and in mud, without hot water or any kind of entertainment, I've come to the conclusion that there's nothing terrible with keeping people in concentration camps. Yes, it's work, it's cold, and the fact that they're deprived of their personal little initiatives (love, restaurants, etc.), why, that's actually good. After all, the majority of people has no idea what to do with their lives, or where they ought to take them. As to whether Jack gets to go to a restaurant today – the earth won't split into halves if he doesn't. All the same, people's lives are useless – the majority consumes everything it produces, so why not collect them into groups and engage them with some work. This will save them from all their worries. Otherwise, try and support your children, your wife, pay taxes…
The time has come for me now to change my name to «Comrade Z.» and to start a new life. The medieval Chinese adopted a new name every time they began a new period of their lives. One has to hide from all the old acquaintances, to go underground, to declare war on everyone.
Fighting is better than digging the ground, right? Fighting is a lot easier. It's just the risk of being killed.
«Mister Zed.» The millionaire's housekeeper – she has remained my closest friend – told me that Americans will pronounce my name as «Zee.»
Wonderful you are, oh bullet! Avenging! Hot!
It feels good to fire point-blank into the flaccid, protruding belly of the President of the United States of America protected only by a farmer's checked shirt, to get him right in between the two broad backs standing in the muggy exhibit of the farmers' achievements in Iowa, somewhere among the gigantic corn cobs and bulls who irrigate the soil with their yellow streams making holes in the ground. To run in the direction of new tractors, to burst into an experimental cottage and shut the door…
And while they push through the doors and windows, I can stand upright on top of the fireproof roof and put a hot bullet into my temple.