H - The Killer
“The war broke out; it broke out” – I heard while standing at the window of my flat, in a building somewhere round the suburbs of Tirana. As I live in the second floor, my eyes didn’t managed to see where the fires come from; I wonder what kind of war and, more over, where was it taking place? The fear instinct this word bears, made me leave the window, close it tightly, as if the bullets would not break through the glasses of our window almost falling down by the putrefaction caused by rain and moisture. .
It was approaching the darkness and my father has not at home yet. Mum, a bit nervously, told me to go to the bedroom, which I shared with my grandma and have a sleep. She frowns off and on being both worried and surprised why dad was not coming back home. Sometimes there was a dead silence inside the bedroom, and at other times the fires reached our ears, not guessing where from! They were becoming recurrent, more disturbing, more maddening. At times it seemed they were shooting over the floor above us, sometimes near and sometimes far away. I could not explain, but I was embraced by a strange feeling, a jumble of anxious frightening and dazing. If it was something to happen, I wish we were altogether, father with us. Such idea made me fear. But, strange enough, he was tarrying, as if doing on purpose. On the other hand, I had never thought to be an eyewitness of a war, so easyŠit made me wander. I had read historical books, I had seen documentary films on the 2nd World War, I hadŠ how many “I had-s”Šbut is it really true it was breaking?! .
In my attempts to sleep, I heard a kind of dab, or it seemed so. Do you know how? It was like a dogtrot. ” Eh” I said to myself, “fantasizes of my mind” What the hell of type I am! I strived to sleep but the eyelids did not convinced the order of the sleep. Again the same dogtrots, even more stronger and nervously. What seemed stranger was the fact that the dogtrots became powerful whenever there were shots in the air. .
I crept gently out the bed down the carpet and came up to my grandmother’s bed. I’d rather whisper to her not to be heard outside. .
-Grandma, do you hear anything? – I asked.
-No, what is it? – she replied surprisingly. .
-It seems there are some dabs. Somebody is behind the window -I explained with a frightened faint voice. .
-No, my darling, take a sleep! -she said caressingly. .
“Eh” I thought, ” the poor grandma hardly hears when there is a noise inside, how can I expect her to hear from outside?” Maybe I loved to give way to my fantasy.
The backfires of the arms I never happened to know went on in the twilight of the evening. .
This time I could not be mistaken in my divinations. It was heard a powerful pitter – patter of some feet not only inside our bedroom but also in the kitchen, where my mum was. .
-Uuu, my God, if only my son was here! Might it be any burglar trying to enter – my grandma began to hypothesize with the portentous feeling characterizing the old age. They say I take after her. I fuss about things with no reason. “Well, I am asking you now, what do you think, don’t I have the reason to worry about? Who is cracking at the back of the window? .
My grandma and I embraced tightly listening to the repeated trots behind the window glasses. Did we get used to such trots or we wished to convince ourselves we really heard them. We did not dare to draw the curtains, either. The thick velvet curtains, which mum had recently put to be protected from the sun rays and mostly not to be seen from outside on evenings, did not allow us to look through. There passed some time thinking over and it seemed I was forgetting the trotting behind the window-glasses. Perhaps we were targeted! I dared to move up and go to the kitchen to share my anxiety with mum. She is of a courageous nature. At least, so it seemed to me. We both came back to the dark bedroom. We didn’t dare to switch on the light fearing “the outsider” might look inside. .
-What is happening to us, my daughter?! We haven’t done anything bed or speaking ill to anybody as to owe their revenge?! – my grandmother soliloquizing rather than expecting reply.
-Wait, take it easy, let me draw the curtain a little bit, – said mum – and see who could be there. .
So she did. .
-Uauuu, what’s that?! – she screamed stepping back, her face growing pale and in a hurry she threw off the opened tip of the curtain. “What’s that monstrous face up here! A scruffy long haired! Better a suicide than being killed by that bitch! – went on my mum. .
In some other case I would laugh at my mother’s rancor and the passion she uttered the words, but not right now when I was feeling the death so near. .
-Well, but why the hell he doesn’t come in?! – I remarked. Does he wish to torment us psychologically first?! Who might be, anyway? Might it be any “jay” my father expelled from his job and now wishing to get revenge? We are lost! – I said to myself. .
My mother’s dread increased my heart’s bumping assuring me that the trots on the window-glass was not my figment. My jaws were shivering from fear and I tried to hold them tight. My eyes ready to shed tears. I didn’t wish to add up the fear and the nightmare waiting for the “killer” to break through the rotten window and kill us. We were snuggled up in my bed and came nearer each other whenever they shot with Kallaschnikov-gun. .
-He must have known that my son isn’t in and is waiting for him- whispered my grandma shivering. If he is going to kill us all, let’s take me. Who do I live for without you? .
My God! Instantly the room seemed to judder. The rattle-shots from outside were soon followed by the cracks of the window. “This is the end!, I thought. The shots came from very near. ” My God, that was the destiny”. I embraced my mother who shut her eyes instinctively . My eyes were fixed at the window. For the first time I was thrilled by bravery. I had read that the man is emboldened by a holly power before death. .
The window was forcefully opened, but the thick velvet curtains hindered the quick entrance of the “killer”. That made him furious. His big head head, which seemed huge behind the curtains, was tearing them off. His fury was compared to that of the bull in front of the red cloth. Within a few minutes there followed some other shots which were not only getting into “killer’s” nerves but ours as well, as we were already abhorred partly by the fear of “war” and partly by the game the “killer” has chosen to play with us. .
In tenth of seconds, mum pushed my arms away of her neck and sprang up. -Where are you going? – she voiced bravely, and grabbed the walking stick of my grandma, which she had it easily. .
Suddenly the killer jumped over and mum kicked him with all her might. A neigh, like a clash, prevailed the whole room. “Now he’s gonna kill us” I thought faintly. Because of my mother’s hits and the uninterrupted attempts of the killer, the curtains’ casing dropped. The horror was beyond the limits. I saw the window hogged not by a man, but by a black monster, long haired, with the lengthy muzzle and eyes of cyclopean dimensions. Either it was the beginning of my aberration or my fantasy was seated cross-legged into my brain. .
I opened my eyes widely. The light in the corridor coming through the opened door enabled me to see at the window. Yes, I was not wrong. We had been petrified into the fear’dig for about one hour by a HORSE!? .
-A horse! – I pronounced half-voiced. – Mum, a horse! – I exclaimed for a second time, strongly, to better hear with my own ears, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The killer- the horse was looking at me as if asking for help. He nodded his head as to release his neck. I couldn’t understand yet, had we been horrified by the horse or we were tormenting him!? .
I ran to my mum who had was lying over the carpet half fainted. I instantly forgot the “killer” and quickly stepped on to get a glass of water. After mum became conscious, I looked after my grandma. Poor old woman! She was cowered, her eyes up praying to the God.
-I became ninety and never heard of such thing! – she said in a trembling voice. – Having the horse up at the window, in the second floor, never seen in my life! .
It had passed over a quarter of an hour walking up and down to mum, to grandma, to the horse-killer. Bewildered, I forgot to turn on the light. Since I was still standing up, I came up the door where the switch was and I turned it on. The light disturbed a little bit the “killer”. Poor horse! What the hell he happened up there!? I recalled the fact that the neighbor living in the first floor built a garage the metal coverage of which reached up half a meter down our window.
I approached the poor “killer” which had made our hearts thrilled to see closely out of the window. A thick rope, looped twice round his leg, was knotted tightly to the iron rod edgeways our window, where our neighbor had fixed his TV antenna. They say the neighbor’s son dwelt with misdeeds. Even this poor horse was one of his deeds, somewhere stolen for sale. Whenever there were shots, our “killer” gave the willies and tried to free the legs by stamping them. We gently pushed away the horse to close the window, but we didn’t untie the rope. .
We forgave the “killer” for the horror caused to us. I am sure he will condone us for not untying him. This time, the “proprietor” of the horse might really kill us. It’s quite worth the saying ” It happens only once man can escape from the death”.
Published 11 February 2002
Original in Albanian
Translated by Shpresa Mati
First published by Mehr Licht!
Contributed by Mehr Licht! © Bieta Sulo / Mehr Licht! / Velija Cultural Foundation / EurozinePDF/PRINT