And then there was no need for a carrot (2)

It was not yet the time to approach her, the little girl with her nearly finished snowman. The old physicist was wrong, time had nothing to do with relativity, and he knew that because he met it once. It was another age and another place, although it was on an island back then too.

Time and space were just two of the aspects. There was also death, and maybe creation and they were all just functions of the being that was Universe itself. That being, however, was a child. Not one like Lucy, with her snowman and her need for a carrot, but a spoiled brat who would turn against you on a whim. The only reason why a five year old would not tear you to pieces is because it doesn’t have the physical capability to do so. The Universe was the exception, Sinttaal had felt it.

Yet even with his intimate knowledge of time, he still couldn’t believe how much had passed since he had last been awake. By the modern count the age was called the 20th century, and by his calculations, he had been sleeping for more than eleven thousand years.

He could still feel that cursed smell of salt and seaweed. It had been around him for so long that it might have impregnated itself in his nostrils, make itself impossible to cleanse. But there were so many things to be done…he knew he would enjoy this age. Once he had been a god, maybe he would become one again. Not for the worshipping and the power or the adulation of crowds, no, those were byproducts. What he needed was a purpose to sate his hunger for greatness and a steady supply of female flesh to sate his hunger for fear.

Yes, those were the days, back in the old world…

Back then, life was easier. As ruler of his people, it was his duty to expand the empire, to make sure that every soldier in his army had had the pleasure of bathing in enemy blood, drench themselves in their wine and their women with only the smell of burning flesh and the cries of the victims accompanying them on their march. But this couldn’t go on forever. Soon there were no more lands to conquer; the empire had reached the edges of the world. There was nothing on the horizon but the great blue line where the sun god went to sleep every evening, and that line was impossible to reach. The world belonged to his people, and they soon became corrupted by the riches bestowed upon them. They turned on one another and, of course, they turned against him.

There was the blade.

And the poison it had been soaked in.

Then there was the funeral pyre and his helpless screams as the fire singed his flesh.

But he would not die.

They carried his tortured body to the temple and chained him there, hoping for Death to arrive and finally take him. She did come one day, after three hundred years, like any woman being fashionably late.

She smiled and her smile was painful. She unbounded his chains and her touch made the burnt flesh writhe in pain. And then she would writhe in pain as he chocked her, bashing her head against the stone floor.

Of course, he hadn’t kill Death, just his personal version. It was immortality he had gained, but also an eternity of pain. Soon he would find the way to ease that pain.

He was immortal. Impossible to destroy. Not even the gods of his people were like him, and they were soon forgotten. The people had a living God to pray to, a God who could speak and answer, and it was their king nonetheless.

Things soon changed. Who would dare to be corrupt when the God could be watching? Who would dare to speak up against such a powerful being? Who would dare to even whisper when they noticed how the young women in the capital began missing?

Their flesh was soft and tender, but devouring it was just the dessert. The main course was their fear as they were brought before him, chains around their delicate wrists.

The first fear was only out of respect for such a powerful and wise being. Then, as they gradually began to understand what their fate would be, it grew into a delicious terror. And when he finally bit into their flesh, that flesh would be soaked in fear, sweet and delicate as no dessert could ever be.


Routine (4)

We reached my apartment just in time to open another bottle. I hate tequila so we resorted to opening one of my cheap whiskey bottles. She sat on the couch with her glass and smiled.

‘You were amazing. Really, I have never seen anything like it’

‘Glad to be of help. But what was you ex doing in the cemetery anyway?’

‘Well, he was very drunk, obviously, and he’s into some occult bullshit I don’t understand or care about. But the hit…I’m just saying, you were great. Nobody has ever done something like this for me’

I looked at her. She still had that arrogant smile but she also had a blue dress. And she was beautiful, her eyes shining, maybe from too much booze. Maybe that fight I couldn’t quite remember got her wet. God knows I was never able to understand women.

‘I’m thinking of making a living out of this. Like a private eye agency. You have somebody who deserves getting hit with a shovel, you call me. I could make a fortune’

‘It’s a good business idea’

I sat next to her. Her skin smelled like cigarette smoke. Her mouth smelled like whiskey. And I realized I could do this. I could lay off the booze for a while, maybe try to actually begin a relationship with her. She was funny and definitely not boring. And apparently she knew how to drink properly.

I kissed her. Sucked one drop of whiskey from one of her teeth. Her blue dress smelled like a memory.

Do we ever wake up? And when we do, why is the world so blurry, the breath so bad and the eyes so red? That’s what we do, we get up, pour another drink to sober up, kill the headache.

So what are we supposed to do?

When you wake up with your clothes dirty and they have stains all over them. Earth and grass. You wake up next to a loved one. But her face is a bit rotten. Her blue dress, the one they buried her with, smells like cigarette smoke. Her dead mouth has whiskey dripping out of it.

Did you?

Did her ghost drink with you last night?

Because you definitely dug her grave up and brought her home where she belongs. She might be dead but you realize that you missed her too much. And maybe this is a better routine than your previous one. One day you will have to give her up, when she will be too rotten. One day you will have to bring back the shovel to that nice, balding bartender. But not today. Today you will have some coffee and maybe some morning sex. And tomorrow morning you might probably do the same.

And then there was no need for a carrot (1)

Mother must have been drinking her sleeping potion again. It didn’t matter, not as long as there was the snowman she needed finishing. The sun would settle soon and there was still much work to be done.

She remembered a picture from one of her coloring books. Snowmen always had carrot noses and of course there were no carrots just lying around, waiting to be picked and used properly. She wondered if carrots ever dreamed of becoming noses, like she used to dream of becoming a doctor. She needed to find a cure for mommy’s sickness, and the sickness was called “suffering” and “daddy leaving”, and the treatment was in the sleeping potion bottle, the one on the shelf in the kitchen. A bottle with a red label she couldn’t read entirely. The potion was golden brown and mommy said she is too young to have any.

Mother must have been drinking her sleeping potion again because she said she would be gone for only five minutes and Lucy knew almost half an hour had passed already. Of course she couldn’t tell exactly, but mommy promised to buy her a red wrist watch for her upcoming birthday and then she would be able to know what time it is.

It was time to continue work with the snowman.

There was no point in asking for help. She didn’t know why the other kids ignored her. It had something with their parents and her mother but no one, and especially not mommy, had ever taken the time to explain to her what was wrong.

Maybe it was something wrong with her, that’s why others didn’t like her.

But somehow she could tell it had something to do with mommy. Mommy was different. That much she had noticed herself: other mommies had jobs and only one or two men around them, and one of them was always the daddy. Mommy rarely left the house and she had many friends. When they came to visit, Mommy locked her up in her room for an hour or so, although she had understood she was not allowed to leave her room when mother had guests. But that was called “precaution”. Lucy couldn’t give a textbook definition of the word, or understand one entirely, but it seems it was something absolutely necessary in some cases.

Gathering all the snow she needed was hard work but, little by little, she had managed to sculpt the snowman’s lower part. She could hear the other children playing but at that moment they didn’t matter.

There was a snowball thrown at her, she could hear the whistle as it passed by her left ear. It hit the nearby wall with a thump, a white spot on the red bricks. She didn’t turn around, but heard the boy’s mother scolding him. It didn’t matter, there was a snowman to be done, plus that boy, Trevor, was now forced to leave the playground with his mother. And he was a lousy shot.

The man on the bench was smiling.

Routine (3)

And so we left the pub. I was holding her arm. The sound of her high heels against the pavement sounded like a military march and I was an armed soldier, parading with a shovel on my shoulder, ready to die for King and Country but settling for some anonymous pussy. The rhythm of her steps was perfect.

At that time of night the streets were deserted and nobody could admire us. What a fine couple we were! She was leading me and I let her. The night air was cool and I could feel the smell of her skin, the perfume she was using. I recognized it. It’s not like I am an expert on this sort of matters but this was Ming Shoo. It was her perfume. My lost love, my car crash victim, my blue dress wearing goddess reduced to a fistful of flesh. But somehow I was walking with another blue dress, one with a fur coat covering it, marching sound of high heels and a vicious smile. And I was her shovel-wielding avenger, all bottled anger, all empty bottle of whiskey, all fucked up and liking it.

I had given up a routine but was ready to embrace another. I would have forever walked the streets of this misbegotten city with a shovel on my shoulder, ready to hit, always preparing, never prepared, a one soldier army.

She smiled softly when we reached the gate. It was a local cemetery, a small one. I think it belonged to Unitarian Universalists so you could find members of almost any religion buried there. She opened the gate for me.

At that point…honestly, the whisky and the cold air got to me because that’s the part I still can’t remember. Not that it matters, but honestly, looking back, it kind of was a night to remember.

Spiders (2)

I got out, sworn never to approach that building again and hit the nearest pub. The bartender looked at me and poured me a scotch, double, no ice, and I could see in his eyes that, apparently, I had the looks of a man who needed the entire bottle.

‘You’re having the worst day of your life’

It wasn’t a question. I nodded in approval and emptied the glass. So much for my rehab, but, then again, I hadn’t decided to go for the “complete drought” version, rather just limit the quantities to that of a normal human being.

‘So what’s the problem, boss?’

‘Did you ever realize how many fucked up people live in this town?’

‘Many times! Some of them are my clients; others are my clients’ friends. And some are my clients’ friends’ acquaintances. It’s like a web, you know…’

The man had a point and we shared some metaphors, apparently. Anyway, after my two arachnid encounters, I wasn’t up for much conversation anyway. I emptied my second glass, paid for my drinks and left the pub. Before walking out, I turned around and asked:

‘You wouldn’t happen to know some room-renting decent fellow?’

He approached me and handed the newspaper to me. An ad had been underlined with red marker. It was the second “exotic” one. This one mentioned “preferably outcasts”, which apparently meant “Goth, gay, artists”, and, though I didn’t fit in any of the three categories, I wanted to visit the place, maybe see if the owner wanted to rent a room or open a circus.

The address was somewhere in the opposite part of town, some neighborhood I had never heard of, somewhere near the airport. I didn’t want to take a cab, given the shortage of funds I was facing. Yeah, I know, I just drank two scotches, but a man has to have priorities. The booze had already enveloped my head and the sun wasn’t a big help either. I sat down on the sidewalk, lit a cigarette and, as always, started to write a pros and cons list in my mind. It had nothing to do with the room renting; it was more of a short version of my life: so, M.Z., age 20, college student, no money, no job and soon no place to live. Add a series of soft addictions. A woman hundreds of kilometers away, who actually wanted to do something important with her life, a woman I loved so much it was the only person I would actually listen to, though on rare occasions. I was fucked but at least I had the common sense to admit it.

Walking across town, the effect of the booze had started to wear off. I wanted a coffee, a strong, independent black coffee.

I soon found myself in front of the apartment with the outcasts. The door didn’t look gay or Goth, not even artistic. It was a rather usual door. That was a bit disappointing.

So I rang the doorbell and this chick opened, a twenty-something petite brunette, with a Sweeney Todd-like lock of white hair, just like that mutant from X-men.

‘What is it?’ she asked.

‘Yeah…about the room’

‘Come in’

I followed her in, noticing for a second there she had the ass of a goddess. Small, but firm, well built, with a fine curve. It reminded me of an ass I loved; only that one was a bit bigger and fleshier.

‘So what’s your name?’

‘Call me M.’ I answered.

‘Like that James Bond character?’

‘Whatever. Can I see the room?’

She opened a door to the left. The wrong one. There was a guy in there, polishing his toenails. So there was a Goth and a gay, and I was supposed to be the artist? Like that will ever happen. All the scribbling I do is just to give me the illusion that I’m actually trying to do something with my life, not simply spend other people’s money.

‘So you want to move in?’

‘Hold your horses, missy! I haven’t seen the kitchen, bathroom, all that jazz, you know? And at some point in the near future, my smarter and more beautiful half will join me’

‘Where is he now?’

‘She, not he!’

‘Sorry. OK, she!’

‘Abroad. Scholarship, shit like that.’

‘And you’re waiting for her?’


‘I don’t believe you’ she said, with a superior smug on her face. ‘You’re a man. You’re not waiting for her.’

‘Why would you assume such a thing?’

‘Because you are biologically incapable of fidelity’

Another spider, this one a venomous sort, some sharp tongue feminist lesbian punk with an ass that could make your cock play jingle bells. I was in-love.

‘I couldn’t agree more. I’m actually on treatment for a sex change operation’

‘You’re the comedian sort, right?’

‘Nope, I’m serious. I’ve always wanted to enjoy the thrills of Sapphic romance so I’m doing my best to replace this odious twenty-six inches hunk of male flesh with a plastic version of equal dimensions in the form of a strap-on’

For a second there she didn’t know whether I was serious or not, but at least she didn’t kick me out of the apartment. We stared at each other for a second and then I was actually relieved to see her burst into laughter.

‘You’re a funny guy, you know that?’

‘I’ve been told that many times!’

She stared at me intensely.

‘You know…this whole eye-raping is getting exciting, but I’m not that type of guy’


‘Yeah, no disrespect, I mean, you are extremely hot and my twenty six inches are responding to that in an appropriate fashion, but I wouldn’t want to ruin your sexual orientation, plus there’s the other issue…’

‘With your smarter and more beautiful half?’


‘You are something…wanna get fucked up?’

I followed her into a room and she pulled out a small bag of weed from under the bed, some cigarette rolls and some filters, which I found rather amusing.

‘You smoke pot with a filter?’

‘I keep my measure in everything. Feel free to roll your own thing, whatever you like it’

And so I did. It was good stuff, tasted bittersweet.

‘I’m all alone’ she said.

‘We all are one way or another’

‘I had this…companion. My partner. She was sweet, innocent but with a slutty side that made me want to eat her in all imaginable ways, you know…the kind of woman you fuck to love and love to fuck’

‘So what happened?’

‘The slutty side took control when she moved to the capitol of our fair country. Now you get to see her nude pictures on the Internet. We haven’t talked in two years’

‘That is a sad story’

The following moments of silence were not awkward, only calming.

‘So how about you?’

‘She is everything I could ever want. She’s smart, funny, good looking on the verge of heavenly. More importantly, she accepts me for the miserable human being that I am and doesn’t try to correct me in an aggressive manner’

‘So you’re the romantic, subtle type?’

‘More like one who doesn’t share with other human beings, mainly because they are boring and I am boring as well’

Smoking pot helps. Plus, it didn’t interfere with my rehab program which was dedicated only to alcohol consumption. I was in a vicious mood, hating the world and myself with equal passion.

‘So do you smoke your pot with every guy who answers your add?’

‘No, you are my first!’

‘I’m flattered, but why?’

‘You seem interesting. Do you know how rare decent human beings are at this moment?’

It was the same question I had a few hours before. I knew the answer but remained silent. And a couple of moments later, the inevitable moment came to pass. What else but my usual alcohol-and-drugs fueled black-out?

I woke up several hours later, in the same room. I was all alone and the only thing that had waked me up was the sound of the cell phone, ringing desperately. I answered:

‘Hey, M!’

‘What the…ah, hello!’

It was my fucking landlord. The bastard kept calling me; he didn’t have the nerve to show up in person ever since he had so kindly suggested that I move out of his apartment. He needed money. I needed money as well but I didn’t kick people out of apartments. Life is cruel sometimes.

‘Have you found any place?’

‘Still looking’

‘OK, call me when you…’

I hung up. My head felt heavy and my mouth was dry. The Goth chick was nowhere to be found. I exited the room and found myself in the empty hallway. In the gay guy’s room there was some sex happening. For a second there, I thought I heard the Goth chick. Maybe the two of them were fucking, I mean they were both gay, right?

I went out of the apartment and headed to a newspaper stand. I wanted that coffee again, and then, I was going to visit another apartment.

Somewhere in the city, another spider was waiting for me.

Routine (2)

There was only this small pub still opened nearby. I went in, ordered a scotch, looked around. The drink was good, 18 year old Chivas kept in the freezer for half an hour, no ice. It’s something I can’t understand, the whole scotch on the rocks thing, it chills the drink but it also melts and messes up with the taste, cuts away some of that pleasant, unique burn down the throat.

There were few people around, a young couple, probably junkies, sipping mineral water and smiling at the bubbles. At the other side of the bar, an old man, more drunk than me. The bartender was a short fellow, probably the same age as me, with sleepy eyes and a hair issue, his wig was poor solution to it. He didn’t seem to be in the mood for a conversation. The old guy would probably bore me with stories from a past world war, the junkies didn’t seem capable of speaking at the time. But at least there were people around me and I could look at their faces instead of staring at a TV screen. Words, expressions, smiles, eyes, all way better than television. Better than the news. The news had been bad recently.

I emptied the glass, ordered another. It’s a strange thing about alcohol, how it messes up with your perception. Yes, there’s the blurred vision, the slurred speech, that amazing sensation that you are the king of the world, you can fuck all the girls and beat up all the guys, or vice versa, depending on your personal tastes, but there is actually one very short moment of perfect clarity. It usually comes between drink number two and drink number three, this special moment when you notice things you normally wouldn’t.

I enjoyed it.

All art, all literature speaks of fateful meetings, of star crossed lovers, of soul mates, of meetings that have to occur for the universe to continue functioning properly. Maybe this is real, not just the trademark of romanticism, but something that happens in real life. I was about to get back to my old life. My routine of sleepless drunken nights and bad breath, bloodshot eyes, headaches and late arrivals at work. Yet here I was in this pub when she came in.

She stood next to me, a thin silhouette wrapped and chocked in a blue dress, an elegant fur coat covering her shoulders. Amber eyes, thin lips curved in an arrogant smile. She ordered her tequila and her voice was like a low whisper. There was nothing pleasant about her. The kind of arrogant bitch who acts high class while getting shit faced in a cheap pub. I knew her type. I dated them.

‘Come here often?’

I turned to her. It was unexpected. I’m not handsome. I’m not sociable.

‘First time. I needed a hit’

‘I know the feeling’

These are probably the most pleasant moments, the beginning, the seconds of awkward silence when you try to find some new question, casual yet sufficient for a conversation to start.

‘So what are you here to heal?’

‘I lost somebody’

‘I guess that makes two of us. I’ve just found out that a…friend died in a car accident two days ago’

‘And I’m guessing you weren’t such close friends if you found out just now’

Yep, that was something her type would say. But you have to appreciate the honesty.

‘And you? Close friend?’

‘More like a former lover’

‘Got dumped?’

‘A long story but the answer would be yes. You want to hear it? Buy me a round!’

That was the point, right? To meet people. So I bought her a tequila. And it was as if I was listening to a recount of my own failed relationship. Yes, the bastard drank too much and couldn’t stop. Yes, he cheated on her with some ugly bitch he met at a party. And he did it while being drunk, then confessed, thinking alcohol was a good excuse. While she talked about it I emptied more and more glasses. It was painful. Like hearing your thoughts turned into a story. Like your mind was being stripped in front of a laughing crowd. A confessional with hidden microphones, loud speakers and a cheerful audience, hungry to hear more. Your own sins turned into reality television. I hated television. I hated her. I hated him and myself because we might as well have been the same person.

‘You want to get him? I can beat him up for you. Kick the shit out of him?’

‘I don’t know where he is right now’

‘Don’t matter! Hey, buddy!’

The bartender turned around, staring at us. He was doing some real efforts not to fall asleep.

‘You got a baseball bat or something back there with you?’

‘Buddy, you’re drunk and I don’t want any problems’

‘Let’s stick to my problem, then we solve yours. Got anything? I need to kick some ass. Whatever you have, I take it’

He looked me in the eyes and there was a hint of a smile on his face.

‘You know what? I really don’t care. All I want is for the two of you to get the hell out of my joint and let me go home. I don’t have a baseball bat but I have a shovel. You take it and then get the fuck out of here but I swear to God, if you break anything inside my pub, I will kill you. And if the cops get you, I don’t know who you are? Get it?’

Spiders (1)

I’m sure that at one point in your life you’ve seen a spider, clinging in the center of an enormous web, waiting patiently for his next winged lunch. I know it’s not some terribly original metaphor, but moving out brought the image of the spider in my head. Truth is, the number of creepy old people in this town is greatly underestimated. They put out the bait, in this case an ad, and wait. You call; they call you in to see the place. And when you get there you suddenly find yourself expecting them turn into some monstrous eight-legged acid-spitting beast. They’re ugly, they smell funny and the rooms they put out for rent seem to be an expression of their own aged, unwashed selves.

I was going through the ads in the paper, underlining a great deal of them. I wanted something nice, cheap enough and close enough, so none of the ads could fulfill all three conditions. Murphy would make some intelligent law for the aforementioned case, but I’m no Murphy and I never wanted to have anything to do with the law.

The first room I checked was what I had expected: the lair of Stephen King’s It with an addition of World War II furniture and the refreshing smell of a concentration camp’s morgue on a summer day.

The spider in this case looked like the concentration camp’s warden. He was a dirty old man, and when I say dirty I try to ignore the fact that the concept of shower had escaped him for the last twenty years or so. No, I’m talking about the pound of Camembert cheese mixed with camel shit that he was currently using for a brain.

We sat down in the kitchen and he told me about the couple that had lived in that room, some students, apparently. I’m not judging, but if you can think of leaving your girlfriend alone in the same house with that creepy old fuck, something is definitely not functioning in your melon. The old guy said something about the girl’s melons. He had this grin that could make recently ingested food turn Che Guevara on you.

‘They were extremely pleased here. And I was extremely pleased with them’ he said, still grinning.

The world is a bad place, I tell you. Just thinking that my woman was planning to return the next year made my skin crawl. The old man would have made anyone’s skin crawl. I needed to get out, erase the stupid smile off my face, and maybe puke. But I needed air, and a cigarette, and a two hour long shower. That grin made you feel a little raped.

So I got out, smiling, promising to call. I never did.

The next room I checked out was a few streets away, and the gods had smiled on me. Decent human beings are rarities. The soon-to-be-old lady was a rarity. Once again I sat in the kitchen, thinking for a second that if I can’t find a decent room I’ll rent a kitchen. All I needed there was somebody to do the cooking. I can handle the eating part. So we smoked a couple of cigarettes, talking about rents, taxes, bills and food recipes. She was nice, almost motherly, without any creepy dimensions of that particular concept.

I left, thinking about actually calling her back. The room was nice, she was nice, but all that niceness was beginning to worry me. There is always a catch when it comes to living with the landlord. Maybe she was actually a soon-to be-old crone with a penchant for meddling in other people’s lives. The worst part was that she could always kick me out. There were indeed some risks involved.

I didn’t take the chance. I was still looking, there were twenty more ads I could check, many more spiders to see.

I had about a week to solve all the problems: the room, re-enrolling in college, trying to finish the story I had been working on for the last year, a mediocre, action-driven piece of contemporary dark fantasy, which hopefully would not be considered some Anne Rice rip-off, though it did bear some similarities. Now, to all this shit you can add the self-imposed rehab I was attempting, the lack of money and the impossibility of finding some job, any job, and you get the perfect cocktail. You want to give it a name? How about “The most miserable months of my life”? Would that do?

Self-pitying and self-loathing are boring. Depression doesn’t suit me. Point is, you grow the necessary pair of genitalia and you deal with your shit, one at a time. However, turning from self-loathing to self-righteous is equally disgusting, so let’s drop it.

There were a couple of ads I wanted to check out of pure curiosity. I wasn’t interested in the room or the rent; I just wanted to see what exotic creatures would post such ads, and who was insane enough to actually consider moving in with them.

The first one was something about “home sweet home” and “mother’s care”, so I wanted to see if the owner was some old granny looking for a slave, a cock, or maybe both, since her ad was specifically addressed for males only. I had a hunch that after the meeting I’ll need a drink.

I was all alone, my woman was abroad (not a broad), my friends were out of town, and shit was pouring all over my life in frenzied bursts: no better time for a revelation and a self-imposed abstinence. Of course, there were some reasons behind the whole rehab thing: when you spend half a day with your head in the toilet, puking your entrails and some decayed rotting beer, your stomach aching so much you chip a tooth, it’s time for some serious repentance. Or you can continue but the whole path to self-destruction thing went out of fashion since the last century. Now it’s the time for Greenpeace-loving substance-free hippies engaging in group masturbation while saving the planet, the golden age of soulless, brainless people.

And, yes, I was right. The old bitch was fucking weird. There was something about her, the way she talked, her gestures, her mimic; it was a most pervert variant of motherhood, drenched in the stench of a sixty year-old pussy. The woman had no notion of personal hygiene, besides being a Freudian nightmare. Half the time I was there she kept holding my hand, talking with a voice that would’ve made Tom Waits sound like a soprano. It’s true that there are a lot of species of spiders, but this one seemed to be the female version of the old guy from the first apartment I had visited.

I used the same repertoire, very polite, with the stupid smile in its rightful place.