Don't say nothin'
This is for real
Peter Gabriel, Digging in the Dirt
Aw, fuck these drops. Fuckin' drops. Hot nights. Lights – the lights'll go out. Drops under your armpits. Tricklin' down, drive you crazy. It's the beer. Beer makes drops. On the bottle first – cold ones. Then on your skin. My skin's cold, too. Clammy. But under my armpits. Drive you fuckin' crazy.
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Sun'll be up soon. Balcony's filthy. Needs a clean. When we gonna do some sweepin' up round here? And what's the sun think it's doin', goin' up? Only just gone down. It was as hot as fuck. Now it'll start again. Just when it was okay to be alive for a while. Hour or so. Now, in the mornin'. It was dark and quiet. What the fuck.
Should I have a stretch?
If this ain't just a pile of shite. Is this what we were fightin' for? Yeh, the hell we were. With what? Fightin', I mean. With your prick, soldier boy, as the comrade sergeant used to say. Fuck me, the day really is breakin'. No shite. Don't let 'em mess you about, Pero. Don't let 'em mess you about. Another drop. The sun'll be on the power station any minute. We had the power, just like that, no need to fight. Yep. Into action, against the odds, black metal gods. Today it's nothin' but fuckin' poseurs. Any minute, and we'll be up shit creek again. Any minute, Ljubljana'll fuckin' well explode with light. But what the hell, you sit down in front of the telly and have a beer or two. And a couple of grappas.
But the telly can do your head in. Fuck me, the night's short, eh? and this fuckin' Formula One. And these live broadcasts, middle of the fuckin' night. Got to be really tough for that. Up at three in the mornin'. Got to have enough beers in the fridge and grappa in the cupboard. And a will of iron. Yep. Okay, if I'd gone to bed when the race finished. But who can sleep in this fuckin' heat? Anyway, the beer really helps you sweat. Somethin' to do with some enzyme for water retention. Heard that on Discovery Channel once. Important information. If only they'd had some decent planes on Discovery last night. But no, had to watch some dumb platypuses.
Hey, I didn't know these platypuses laid eggs. Or maybe they don't – fuck it, I dunno, maybe I got mixed up. My heart wasn't really in it. I'd rather have had Messerschmidts.
But yeh, for fuck's sake, who's ever seen anythin' like it – watchin' programmes on some freaky Australian creatures out of sheer misery and then... Here we go, dawn's breakin', my heroic comrades.
But they're cool animals those, whether or not they lay eggs. I'd have one like a shot, as a pet like, if I had a house with a garden and a river runnin' through it. Okay, yeh, a river, that's a bit much. A pond. Or a well, you know?
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Or even better, what about a beaver. Beavers rule, know what I mean? Fresh college beaver. You sit there nicely by the water, like, and the beavers saunter past.
What the hell, fuckin' beavers, what are you blabberin' on about? Like you're ever gonna have a house and garden. Sellin' newspapers for Christ's sake, even this pad is a fuckin' luxury. And it's rented from some relative for a hundred marks. In Fuzine, the fuckin' ghetto, man. A garden and a well, you daft cunt, you can't even sort out this balcony.
I must be fuckin' losin' it, really.
It ain't my kind of scene anyway, it's Bertl's.
Bertl used to go on like that. Where the fuck is he? Haven't seen 'im for ages. Last time he was... what, I dunno, studyin' law or somethin'. The great defender of the poor and all. He said he'd help us out if the cops hassled us for nickin' beer crates from the student hostel. Yeh, said that some time in the first term, I think. Then there was the exams, and then the career in law was over pronto, if I remember correctly. Yeh, we were demolishin' a kitchen in the hostel and those student wankers called the cops. This cop says, employment. Bertl says, law student. The cop says, listen lad, don't fuck with me or you'll be out that fuckin' window.
Those were the days.
Yep, those were the fuckin' days. Even when there was no place to go. We had to demolish student kitchens. Now I've got my own fuckin' place, now there's no more Bertl. No sign of 'im. Fuck it.
Some of the others, too. Flint, for example. What happened to Flint? and Vasja? Fuck me, those were the days. Or Irena. Irena my own true love, thy name shallst never be taken in vain. You only hung out with the other chicks, didn't give a toss about blokes.
Should I have a stretch? Nah, what's the point?
Bertl and Tric said you were OK. Just a bit snooty. But what they liked about you, you always laid out for some booze, even if you weren't drinkin'. That made you popular on the park scene, alright. But I drank (why shouldn't I?) and had the hots for you. For your cute little tushie. And that pseudo-punk haircut. But you were cold like Celtic Frost, To Mega Therion – hey, fuck it, Irena, if only we could, now I've got my own place, a romantic evening, that'd be somethin' else. These are different times, eh? I mean, that was fifteen years ago, for suck's sake.
Day's really breakin'. There's a bus goin' by.
Been ages since I took an early mornin' bus home. When folks are on their way to work, all sullen like, and you blissful, yeh, now for bed.
Fuck it, if you didn't screw me up on purpose, that time in Piran. We dossed down in sleepin' bags up at the church. That wanker Humar kept on gettin' at you. He was bein' childish as fuck. How old was he anyway – sixteen? You must've been about fifteen. And I couldn't've been more than seventeen-eighteen, but it got on my fuckin' tits, how childish he was bein' – I mean, pushin' you, pullin' you around by the leg, like that was gonna impress a babe in a leather jacket. Until I – much to the amusement of the assembled company – stood up and fuckin' floored 'im with a kick in the mush and told 'im to bugger off to the other side of the church and leave civilized people fuckin' well alone.
It was so cool! and you looked at me – how? Not a word, full of meaning. You were fifteen, for fuck's sake! and off you went, buggered off up the steps. I stood there by the church, everybody else lyin' around.
What's that about, givin' a bloke a look like that and then doin' a bunk in the dark? Kept wonderin' for quite a while. Took one last long slug of vodka from the bottle. Hey, baby, love me like a reptile, love me like a reptile, went after you up the stairs. It was dark as an arsehole up there. You must be waitin' for me, your knight in shinin' armour, sortin' out some sixteen-year-old. Are you over by the wall, gazin' dreamily out to sea so I can come up and ask: "How come you look so sad?" Sure. Or are you hidin' round the corner, waitin' to jump out, cover my eyes with your hands and say "Guess who"? Or have you taken off your leather jacket and trainers and jeans, and you're standin' there just in that cut-off Motorhead T-shirt that looked so good on you down the pub, and you say ... "Excuse me... " No, fuck it, it was nothin' like that.
Suddenly I hear quiet laughter over in the dark, and then somethin' black starts movin' against the white wall, and I see Marta, Sandra, and all the other bitches are lyin' there in their sleepin' bags, and you with 'em, and you're lookin' at me and laughin'. Just look at those slags. Gawpin' at me like I'm some total git. And they're right. Mr Cool, who's just kicked some kid's ass, come for his reward. For his piece of fanny. You fuckin' idiot. What were you thinkin'?
Bertl. Haven't seen you for ages. Summat should fuckin' well be done about that. It should be remedied.
I'm shagged out. Should get up and go to bed. But I can't.
Oi, Bertl, do you remember? That time in that night club in Tolmin. We're standin' there and it's hot as hell, one single beer and I had sweat pourin' down my face – I just hate that. The locals said that this simply 'ad to be seen, that it was wild, unforgettable. We sat down, the booze was expensive as fuck but, thank god, the locals had some schnapps stashed under the table so you could get yerself a beer and manage somehow. And then, the artistic performance. Well, it really was wild. Up step two fat Ukrainian birds. Stilettos and stretch pants and all. Unbelievable, stretch pants, the blubber was wobblin' around like a fuckin' sea lion. And they start to kind of stagger sexily round the stage. The music total superpassionate fortissimo. I just stared, my tongue was danglin' in the schnapps, I couldn't believe it. The birds ditch the jackets, dump the T-shirts, and then, well, one of 'em starts to take off the stretch pants. But they wouldn't come – wouldn't go over the stilettos. Fuckin' shame. She was occupied for quite some time, sort of hoppin' on one leg, in rhythm.
But she was an inventive type. She was strugglin' for about a minute, then she swore in Ukrainian, fuck this, threw both 'er hands in the air and sat on the floor. She stuck 'er leg out towards 'er mate – the other one was in 'er knickers by then – and that one grabbed 'er pants and started pulling 'em off. Fuckin' unbelievable. I was pissin' myself. 'Er mate dragged 'er halfway across the stage on 'er arse before these supertight pants came off. Like a condom stretched over a fuckin' aubergine. Shite, that was somethin' else – the whole place was rollin' on the floor laughing. If the owner had a nose for business at all, he'd have offered 'em a contract for life, there and then – they were past it, so it wouldn't be for that long anyway. Let the Primorska yokels come and see what heights the art of stripping's reached in the land of the clowns.
Fuck it, my eyes are closin'.
Do you remember, Bertl?
You don't? Even the corpses of our nearest and dearest must remember that, for fuck's sake, that was the definitive striptease. Oh, right? Well, yeh, fuck it, you weren't really around ... then. Not on the scene. Not anymore.
Nah, you weren't around anymore. Neither was Flint. Or TriC for that matter. Just fuckin' kids, one hundred percent greenhorns. Course I remember 'em, I'm one of the fuckin' oldest.
Shite, there's no fuckin' water ... I forgot. Shite. They put up a notice sayin' somethin' about mains repairs, somethin' about shuttin' off the water. For a whole day. And me, what a moron. I didn't ... I haven't stocked up.
Fuck it. Who needs fuckin' water, anyway. It ain't like havin' the lift out of action. If the lift's buggered, that really is shite. About three hundred and forty-three stairs. I've got a fridge full of booze. Why don't I go and call Bertl ... And Tric ... And Flint ... And IRENA! Fuck, that'd be somethin' else.
Bertl is sittin' on the floor ... And Flint's pullin' his jeans off, over his trainers
Eat it, it's nice, I say to the guinea pig, and he fuckin' wolfs down the bits of rat poison from the spoon, eat, my children, eat and multiply. OK, we've taken care of this one, I shake off the remains of the white powder from my hands, put the spoon on the table, and the guinea pig looks around carefully, wonderin' if he should do a bunk right away or piss on the couch first and then consider further action. Guinea pigs are great couch-pissers – it's a habit they don't lose, even when they master certain tricks – it gives 'em some kind of charm, gives 'em character. I just watch 'im, but as I watch 'im and his unsuspectin' glances around, I can't help goin' soft all of a sudden, I'm startin' to feel sorry I gave 'im rat poison to eat, there's a moment when I feel pressure in my stomach and I'm sorry, I'd like to undo it somehow, if I could – I dunno, can you get a guinea pig to throw up, get the poison out? No, shite, it's started to act strange, looks around with an expression of surprise now, looks at me suspiciously, his feeder, his provider; he listens to his insides, there's poison in there, works on the nerves, he suddenly twists, hops, hops again, high, real fuckin' high, higher than when he was runnin' around the livin' room with me on his tail, chasin' 'im on all fours to tickle his back.
"Will you be finished soon?" ask Janina and Mirsad with interest. They're fully dressed and standin' at the door with suitcases and train tickets in their hands, they're ready. Hang on a sec, I'll be right there, and I get back to work. I'm squeezin' Irena's throat and I slam 'er head against the wooden floor a couple of times. She looks drowsy, she doesn't look as if my efforts are doin' 'er much harm, even when I put all my strength into it, I'm squeezin' 'er throat so that my hands hurt, at the same time bangin' the back of 'er neck against the floor. She looks dizzy. She obviously has no idea what's goin' on around 'er and keeps askin' what this is all about.
"Pero, no, you're hurting me," she says without openin' 'er eyes, a thin line of blood slowly runnin' from the corner of 'er mouth. I stare at it impatiently, faster, I say, spill over, spurt blood, die, why the fuck are you askin' me all this, "Why are you doing this to me, Pero? I just want to sleep." By every logic she should have a brain haemorrhage by now, I must've broken the base of 'er skull, just how fuckin' long can all this take? "Cut it out, Pero, I'm going to get angry." I can feel two pairs of eyes on the back of my neck, Janina and Mirsad are waitin' for me, the fuckin' train leaves in twenty minutes, and Irena refuses to show any signs of the nausea typical of brain haemorrhage, nausea that inevitably leads directly to death, demise, el morte. And then at last! She opens 'er mouth slightly, it's bright red, like with blood, I can see somethin' black in there. I shove two fingers in and grab whatever it is, pull it out.
There's a small black lighter between my fingers. That's all.
Sweat is pourin' down my forehead, my throat's tight, "Don't you ever fuckin' mean to die?" I'd like to shout, and I keep bangin' 'er head against the floor and the table leg, I'm embarrassed in front of the other two, embarrassed in front of Irena who just doesn't get what I'm doin' to 'er and why I don't leave 'er alone and let 'er sleep. Finally I just let go of 'er so she slumps on the edge of the rug and curls up like a foetus, puts 'er hands under 'er left cheek, a shattered expression on 'er face, I get up and stare at 'er with horror, I feel a few drops of 'er blood on my chin.
"Maybe it'd be better in hexameter," I say, fuck knows why I say it, am I a total fuckin' moron, what am I babblin' on about here? and I wipe my face with my sleeve and stare at the two at the door, they look at me contemptuous like, Mirsad's lightin' a fag, Janina puts down 'er bag and fixes 'er black nylon tights, twisted below the knee, so that 'er long, straight black hair waves in the air.
"Hey, my head hurts," says Irena down on the floor. I can hear a bird singin' outside. Fuck me, when am I ever gonna get things sorted? A nightingale, a fuckin' nightingale, warblin' away, and everythin'.
Original in Slovenian
Translation by David Limon
© Andrej E. Skubic