sâmbătă, 24 aprilie 2010

Short story by Radu Vartolomei


Rare were those nights when he could feel life draining away in his veins and he had to face it. This was just one of those nights.
Maybe he had just too much coffee and what he felt in the back of the neck was his pulsating heart, drown in bitter liquid. Yes. He was probably imagining it. Just a trick of his sleep starved mind.
He knew it was late. He could feel that from his wife’s deep sleep and from the heartbeats of their unborn child. They were so pretty sleeping just over there, beside him.
They had a ruff week, he knew that, on Monday they were immigrants , on Tuesday their child was already a passport bearing citizen of that kingdom on the edge of the world and by Friday they were all back in the comfortable unhappiness that the East End so generously provided.
So contempt they were, pour little souls, rapt around in there blanket, finely woven out of fear of change, protecting them from the storm raging inside him.
“Are you dreaming?” he asked himself in the rarefied light.
No he wasn't. His dreams were all in English or in that other language that his mind was speaking some times and he could not understand.
Come to think about it, he didn't dream since he came back to Romania.
Liar! He was dreaming every day, walking down the street, when he was seeing people that couldn't be there, or when he was seeing the main boulevard in the East End turn in a fjord and the municipal police station guarding it transforming in to a castle. Yes. He was dreaming every day but didn't want to admit it to himself.
His bed did not serve his purpose no more so he slowly got up, being careful not to let his wife feel their bed turning into just her bed. He could have had a smoke, cigarettes were still cheap or he could have had another cup of java, coffee was always biter, but he chose instead to get quietly dressed and slowly walk out the door in a way in which he could not feel his apartment turn into someone else's home.
“There's no need to hurry now!” he told himself. “You can take it easy. The hard part is over. You’re staying!”
The ex-immigrant turned on his mp3 player; he still had the music downloaded in the days when he could see from his other apartment's window the edge of the world.
Outside it was poring, he shouldn't be sad. The song's lyrics were in English, his steps were still Romanian to the core and the numbness he felt was just fatigue setting in.
“Did you fell asleep?”
No, he wasn't sleeping. If he were, he would have dreamt of being an angel, a cherub to be precise. A cherub dressed in two of his wings like the immigrant dressed in his foreign accent, with foreheads that changed among themselves so often that he was always flying disoriented and, of course, with a flaming sword sharpened to perfection by his daily grind in the factory.
If he could, he would have gone to a church, an empty one like a Lutheran cathedral or one of those adorned with a miracle-making icon like the one in the old merchant's church in the center of town.
Somebody should invent Lutheran churches with miracle-making icons! If he is to comeback to the land's end he will personally build a church that is Lutheran outside but has a Christ Pantocrator all-knowingly adorning the ceiling.
The streets of the East End were pretty strange with all that rain pouring down, half riverbed, half tarmac and with a bit of effort, even half fjord. He felt like flying a bit. Not much, like in the old days, when he was imagining himself flying over the mountains and the sees to get in his wife’s bed in the East End. No! Just a bit, 'till the center of the town.
“Cherubs have four wings. Two for flying and the other two for redemption. How the sleepy taxi drivers in the taxi station nearby would have looked at him if they could only read his mind.
“Redemption? What's that about?” Taxi drivers are saved in the good old fashion Romanian orthodox faith, not like that in some orthodox-protestant gibberish from some far away heresy!
“I redeem myself, you redeem yourself, they don't redeem themselves.” Was that correct? Was his English still usable?  
The merchant's church was locked. The sky is closed at night for redemptions. Taxi drivers don't get salvation ‘till early next morning.
He led a cigarette watching the evangelist's four beasts adorning the church's old gate. Strange beasts they were. The immigrant could just make them up in the reddish lights of the cigarette. The eagle, the lion, the bull and the fourth one, the... Come on! He must know the fourth head. They were the heads of his cherub body. Lion ,bull, eagle and...what was his fourth head?” Make yourself comfortable 'cause you are not leaving 'till you find out what you other head is.”
He was so preoccupied with that problem that he did not even noticed when he passed through the gate. Did he fell asleep?
The miracle-making icon was beautiful but hidden by the chains left behind by the believers that got their wishes granted.
“What do ya' want?” Asked the Virgin Mary holding her baby Jesus from underneath the tokens of faith.
“I'd like to be happy. Can I?”
“Didn't I grant you that wish last time ya' were here”
“Well... I don't know exactly. Did I make the right choice”
“O.K. I can sea how ya're pined...I'll help you again but...now ya' owe me a Lutheran church with a miracle-making icon. Got it?!”
“Yes ma'am, I got it.”
“Good! Now go away. Su' little one 'cause in the morning I has some faithful comin' to get some salvation and I has work to do. They already knows what they want. Serious people with serious wishes, not like ya', I mean.”
Now he knew for certain that he was dreaming. It can't be happening! No way.
“Hey! Hey! Snake du norsk?” The police officer asked him while he was waking up in front of Frogner Kirke. He was numbed, he probably slept for a very long time.
“No! Sorry lads, I only speak English.”
“Are you O.K.? What are you doing here so early in the morning?”
“Nothing much! Just looking for a bit of redemption.”

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