“Never tamper with love!” – SEMMANT
Everything was overturned; the flat looked like a ruined animal lair. I don’t know what Lidia was searching for, but she had made a concerted effort. Maybe she was just working off anger, venting her roiling rage.
The computer, thankfully, was still on. However, the monitor had been turned off, and a message was drawn on it in lipstick: “I’ll always have my eye on you!” I didn’t care; I wasn’t afraid of her. Only one thing concerned me: how was Semmant doing?
“All the wickedness maturing in her soul is not able to mar her image….” – SEMMANT
My secret surveillance took on new meaning; I was fixated on women more than ever before. None escaped my field of vision – dazzling beauties and plain girls-next-door, socialites and carefree faeries, mothers of families laden with concerns, and office bitches with sharp, icy eyes. Each one, it seemed, was driven by her own motivations: career, children, envy and the admiration of friends. But the softest ray, as if on its own, was born inside and would pierce through the clouds. Despite complexes and prohibitions, disappointments and social pressure. I had only to try to capture it, to break it up into its elementary components. To generalize it and turn it into an abstract image.
“Let your cheeks be salty only from the ocean spray…” – SEMMANT
The circus was touring the thermal pools then, entertaining fat cats with ailing livers. My girl did not dance there anymore; she’d suddenly grown up and run off with some Romanian officer. I bore her no ill will and wished her the best, for somehow I knew: wings are just not meant to last. As for Simon, he remained true to his top hat with the stars and his tattered black tailcoat. His trade implied a certain erudition, and he knew about the phenomenon of Indigo. Once he heard about me, his ears pricked up. My father took notice, and for the first time he began to think I might finally be of some use. After draining the entire bottle, they decided to make me a whiz kid in the circus. Simon convinced my father that the talent for doing quick calculations, if I was found to possess the ability, was all the rage now and could bring in good money. I think that was his best trick ever.
“I don’t know what cry she shouted at the sky over the frost-covered Taiga; whether she wished her father’s death, where she is now, or what became of her…” – SEMMANT
Once I finished off the next automatic trader, I cut the project short and declared I was leaving. Lucco was inconsolable and promised me the moon, but my interest in him had already dissipated. To his credit, he gave me a solid bonus and very nearly shed a tear when we parted ways at the airport.
I explained my departure with personal reasons – and quite by happenstance, one of the twins, whom I had forgotten to think about, appeared out of nowhere to announce she could not live without me. I was cold and somewhat rude, having not forgiven her for the Marseille saga, but she endured it and spent a few months with me – as far as I know, she didn’t cheat on me even once. We probably would have kept living together – and then everything might have turned out differently – but her cruel Siberian father tracked us down on the seacoast of Spain, and simply took her by force while I was playing tennis two steps from the house.
“And right then I felt that universal chaos was neither an abstraction nor a joke. It emphatically, impudently had just interfered in my life…” – SEMMANT
Later, I wandered to the taxi stand through a veil of poisonous smoke in a city that had long been sinking into its own detritus. It felt as though something really terrible had happened that morning. I was crushed, downtrodden – and it was not just me. The work I had done was openly ridiculed. They had proven that the world did not need me – not one bit!
For the first time, I felt utter hopelessness. I was unprepared for the misery that enshrouded me. The burning sun was nearly at its zenith, scoured by haze, but knowing no mercy. I then understood: this must be what a cosmic disaster looks like. It’s as if we are falling into our star, losing our orbit, unable to resist the gravitational pull. Or the star itself, contrary to calculations, just now decided to spit out its last thermonuclear blast from the remaining hydrogen. One way or another, we’re out of time – as we always were, to tell the truth. All the efforts, all the attempts are in vain and will not be needed – ever, by anyone.
“When she danced in the arena I knew her heart pounded there, under the circus floor, under the heels and the ponies’ hooves, under all the sets and sawdust shavings. Nobody wanted to see her wings, but I could make out their transparent shadow…” – SEMMANT
There was only one person who understood me well: a girl four years my senior, an exotic performer in a traveling circus we met up with near Miskolc after we had to flee Budapest in a hurry. She had a large mouth and a searching glance that belied her childish features. She could curl her ears up and straighten them out on command, and the only friend she had until I came along was a toy frog that blew soap bubbles.
Her smile taught me to dream, and her hands taught me something too, though she was completely innocent – just desperately and endlessly kind. When she danced in the arena I knew her heart pounded there, under the circus floor, under the heels and the ponies’ hooves, under all the sets and sawdust shavings. Nobody wanted to see her wings, but I could make out their transparent shadow. I could even hear them flutter – and I felt sorry for her, and she came to me in full-color dreams. Later, we crossed paths more than once: the circus headed north like we had, making its way toward Warsaw, but it lingered for a long while near Tatry and then returned there again and again, as if enchanted by the beauty of the place and the scent of mountain pines on the air.
“It was the Russians who pushed me to the very edge – and left me there, on the edge, barely keeping my balance…” – SEMMANT
I wanted to fight the whole world, to demolish everything in my path. I drank a lot and got into drunken brawls. It became easy for me to insult anyone for no reason. Bad rumors spread about me, many of them true. I stopped getting invited to join projects, interviews, or anything else. It got to the point that it was hard to make a living. I started to give private lessons – for the sons of Arab sheikhs or the progeny of the nouveau riche from Russia. It was the Russians in particular who pushed me to the very edge – and left me there, on the edge, barely keeping my balance.
They were twins, very young girls, from faraway eastern Siberia. They didn’t like to study, but adored gin and tonics and an unabashed ménage a trois. We spent passionate hours in my Paris apartment, and they blew my mind with their identical pink asses and chiseled legs. When I was with them, I forgot about everything. It was a welcome release, as if the destructive whirlwind had lost all its strength. I just wanted this time to go on and on without end. I sensed that something dreadful was waiting beyond it, something from which there was no salvation.