The fat guy got off first, face like a flattened canister and pinkish skin. The skunk. He was hauling a ginormous bag. Sweating, the damn stinker. He’d sat next to me the whole trip, stuck in the seat, incapable of moving. Overflowing sideways, cramming into me. I wouldn’t even dare getting up for three seconds, he could’ve crushed me. He could’ve collapse over me, jamming me between him and the hag sitting by the aisle. That way I could’ve tasted them both: a mixture of puckered skin, mildewy stench and cologne. It would’ve stank to high heaven.
Next was the young man wearing a suit and croc leather boots. He’d unbuttoned his shirt and stuck his tie into the handbag. He walked with a bowlegged gait, his pants fluttering around his finger-thin legs. He was dragging along his girlfriend clung to his arm. She had her sunglasses on so the light wouldn’t bother her. She was dizzy. Hiding under a furry coat, letting herself be carried over the stairs. She staggered, didn’t even know where she was going. She slept the whole trip, her head into his lap. Except when we took off and she made a weak scream (whooaaaa), stuck to her seat. Then started to laugh like a fool. I looked at her then, between the seats: her pupils were dilated, her eyes injected and lachrymose. She was high on ecstasy. The stewardesses asked her if she was alright and she said Fiiiiine, she said, Fiiinest, again, slobbering. Then she fell asleep, just like that.
After them, out came the woman with log-thick shins. She said goodbye and rushed outside. She didn’t get far. Her heel broke on the boarding ladder. She stopped to take off her shoe, kept everybody waiting. But for her, I wouldn’t have known what to do. She saved me, the sow. When cravings came over me. To quench them, I stared at her. I stared at her overturned lip, the snout and flapped ears, the thick three-ringed fatty neck, the little hands with wurst-like fingers until my stomach turned. Until I felt nauseated.
It was that stewardess, the blonde German. When she leaned over that fatso next to me to ask him about his health, she was worried about him overflowing. The whole seat got under his skin. Then I caught a whiff of the German’s hair. Blond long hair, she fluttered it across my cheek, touched it, a little on my neck, too. I slobbered, my eyes stuck on the tight buttocks under her black pants. She was looking good, the tigress. Moved sensually. When she handed me the coffee and food, I touched her fingers, as by mistake. They were warm and delicate. I wanted to stop her hand, to grab her wrist. Lucky the sow was there asking her for another coke and struck me with her ugliness. Or I would’ve gone phut. When cravings get over me, I go phut. I’m slipping and nobody can bring me back. Last time wasn’t good at all. How I’d wished then to have such a little sow with me. To poke me with its snout. To laugh hoarsely next to the bed. To belch and sneer with two missing teeth. I’d have been calmer, wouldn’ve gone all the way.
The last one was a bearded man wearing coat and hat, then him. Right in front of me. Red and freckled neck, broad shoulders and thick legs. Smelled good. It was Gucci getting off him, the mole. Little wonder. He greeted the stewardesses in English, showing them his teeth. I got shaky, I would’ve put him down right there, smacking his bulldog jaws. Anything, but not the children. Not the little piggies. There are limits.
I tailed him all the way to the passport control booth. I breathed into his neck. Flanked him tight. In the bus, I stuck myself to him from the side. It was freshly shaven, the shark. Not one little thread of hair on his cheek. Like a baby’s butt, like a little piggie’s butt. A few beads of sweat dripped in rivulets down his neck. Sliding slowly under the collar of his shirt. He wasn’t wearing a tie, and the shirt had two buttons open. For his chest and curly hair to show.
Then, in the bus, I could’ve. There. But it wouldn’t’ve been a good idea. Because of the commotion; everybody would’ve hit the ceiling. Not many people can stand the blood.
He turned his face to me, the driver had stopped the bus and opened the doors. He bumped into my shoulders by accident. Smiled apologetically. Showed me his long biters, the groundhog. His mouth was small, barely seen under his large jaws. And he had a gentle, watery stare. Wouldn’t’ve thought it. Seeing him so close, you wouldn’t have thought it. What if he wasn’t him? the question struck me. I shook myself right there: how could he not be him? Impossible—it was him. His kind are like that (it’s how it’s supposed to be, otherwise they wouldn’t succeed): gentle. Mellow. Humane, you would wanna say if you didn’t know better, the dogs.
I got off the bus and followed him closely up to the passport control booth. The sow got between us. With her right shoe in hand and barefoot. She wasn’t wearing socks. I could see her overlapped toes. Her big toe was a little apart from the rest. Crooked and wide, like an upturned spoon. She wore red polish, shining under the neon light. As if the polish would’ve made some difference. Waste of time. She was holding me back, he’d finished and was heading toward the exit. I was losing him. The woman in front of me smiled to the officer who was trying to confront her snout with the one in the passport picture. It took longer than it should’ve, the officer wasn’t convinced. She changed her look over time, the sow. Her face was completely ruined. Aging was destroying her.
I caught him on his way out. Waiting for his luggage, lucky me. A big red suitcase. He intended to stay longer. Had lot of work to do around here. Searching, probably. Or something was prearranged for him. Waiting, probably. New opportunities. You can do that, everything goes here. In our country, everything’s allowed. There are limits, though. Even here, there are limits.
He took a cab. I followed him in another cab, right behind him all over the city. The driver would scowl, thought it was like in a movie. I told him to keep close, as close as it gets, so I wouldn’t let him get away. We would stop alongside him at the stoplights, I could see him. He was sitting in the back seat and kept punching the keys on his phone. Planning his meetings. His visits. Wanted to see first. To smell, the skunk. To taste them, maybe. To hold them to his chest. I tightened my hand on the car’s door handle. Let the window down and spat outside. I felt pressure at the base of my neck, I needed a drink, I couldn’t hold it much longer. But drink gives me cravings, too.
Last time I had one too many, that’s how it happened. I drank too much and got the cravings while I was still at the bar. I gulped down my beer, that’s what I did. Then I got out into the night and scanned around. By the bus stop, I leaned against a street light. It was pleasant outside, it had stopped raining. At the bus stop—two people, two young men, two wolfs with sprawling hair. They had tattooes on both their hands, and one of them wore an oxbow in his nose and three others in his left ear. This is how it is over there. It’s their fashion, their country.
She came out of the shadows, like a scented whiff, out from an alleyway. She sat on the bench, her legs closely knit and her bag over them, protecting her. The wolves watched her, watched her, that’s what they did. I watched her too, smelling her, watching her—I was slobbering. Then I followed her, took the bus and got off after her. While in the bus, she started to talk on the phone, arguing. I was close to her, hanging from a handrail, smelling her, hearing what she was saying. She was arguing over the phone with the nanny who left earlier and let the child sleeping and she left earlier. She was screaming on the phone, then got off the bus, me behind her. She almost shouted on the phone, broke out in tears, the nanny couldn’t stayed and left the child alone, sleeping. She left, that’s what she did.
I was dizzy and slobbery. I was craving, could barely walk, keeping my fists clenched. The nanny had left and she was in a hurry.
I let her enter the building, I entered it too, sneaking through the opening of the door, like a snake I wound, yes I was. She took the elevator, and I with her, like a snake. She threw me a few glances, she was fidgety and nervous, worried and beautiful, that’s how she was. I was slobbering, but she couldn’t see it cause I pretended to cough and took my handkerchief to my mouth. She had long legs and thin ankles, wore a skirt and black stockings, the vixen. She was redheaded and freckled, had narrow shoulders and small ears, a thin neck and long fingers. She had on a white blouse and a grey coat, unbuttoned. I’m dying for white blouses, dying. Around the neck she wore a thin necklace with a medallion, some kind of butterfly or a leaf, I couldn’t see it too well. But it suited her fine, she looked perfect.
I didn’t wait for her to enter the apartment. After she opened the door, I pushed her inside, like I madman, I did. The child was sleeping, there was nobody home, the lights were all out. I wasn’t thinking straight, I had too much to drink, I wasn’t thinking straight, that’s what I was doing.
The cab pulled over at some hotel downtown. He had money, the pug. I got off, too. I let him go inside, to check in. I lit a cigarette and made my plan. I was walking in circles making my plans. I went inside the hotel, looked around. At the reception, a bustard of a girl that saw me stirred. She nodded her little head towards me, pushed out her curvy chest and asked me whether she could help me. Not now, I said. Soon.
I called Monica, told her what to do. She didn’t cross me. She wouldn’t dare. She knew what would happen to her if she did, because I had showed her so many times before. When cravings get over me, she comes in handy. When I can’t find anyone, she’s there for me. She helps me, the little hen. She doesn’t know, but she helps me. I will tell her once, Will you help me, little hen, I don’t know what I’d do without you. She’ll love it. Whores are like that, if you show them a little tenderness, they soften all over. If you cuddle them a little, they start to cry. They have a good soul, these whores.
The night is coming on, wasn’t much longer. Now I had to wait, just that. I had time, wasn’t going anywhere. All the time in the world. I walked into a bar and ordered a beer. A long-haired man waited on me, he had a smattering of a beard, he was a slob. He had dirty nails and bad teeth, the mouse. Wore rings on every finger and leather bracelets. Near him a brunette, garish makeup, black polish and purple lips. She was wiping the counter with a rag. She touched me with her finger, touched my hand. She didn’t know, the vixen. I was getting dizzy, that’s what I was doing. I hadn’t eaten anything on the plane and I was getting dizzy. The bar started to fill with people and smoke, it was hard for me to breathe. But it wasn’t long now, the night was coming on. The brunette took my empty glass and asked me if I wanted another. She didn’t know, the she-cat. I grabbed her wrist and pulled her over. I said something into her ear. Her skin crawled under my breath. I was drooling. I caressed her wrist gently. She drew back her hand and passed it through her hair. Through her hair, and looked past me. She left the counter and went somewhere in the back. I followed her. There was a sign on the door saying Bar Personnel Only, something like that. I opened the door and looked inside. She was there, fixing herself. She was changing her clothes, took her blouse off, leaving only her bra on. She was putting on a t-shirt, pulling it over her head. I was quivering. Scratching the door with my nails. I wanted to come in, to barge in, to grab her by the throat and hurl her onto the floor. To tear her t-shirt and her bra. I looked around warily—the bartender was frowning at me, he was wondering what business did I have there, the mouse. He was about to come over, put down the glass he was washing and waved at me.
I left, got back to the counter and asked him for another beer. The last time hadn’t been good. I have to stop, last time hadn’t been good at all. When I pushed her inside, all the lights were out and I wasn’t thinking straight, I was slobbery and dizzy. Then I brought my hand to her mouth. She bit me, blood gushed out, but I was enjoying it. I liked the pain. I pushed her, flung her onto the couch and hit her. She fainted. I pushed aside her grey coat and tore her blouse, I’m dying for white blouses, dying. Maybe that’s why I never stopped. Went all the way. I was dying for her torn white blouse, dying. I pulled it up onto her face, stuffed it into her mouth, that’s what I did. I was drooling over her white blouse, stuffing it into her mouth. I bit her, I licked her, I strangled her. And didn’t stop, that’s what I did. It didn’t come out well at all.
It was night already. It was late, it was fine. I left the bar, outside it was raining, but it was fine. I was coming nearer the hotel when I called Monica. She took care of it. He was waiting for her. The dog, was waiting for her, didn’t say no. Just as I suspected. They appear to be like that, mellow, but don’t say no. Humane, you’d say, the bitches, if you wouldn’t know better. Monica was in the parking lot, her coat on. That’s what I’d told her, Put your black coat on, he’ll love it, he can’t possibly not love it. And a red scarf around your neck, like a pioneer tie. Just for him to see it, to open it, that’s all. She listened to me. Otherwise she knew what’ll come to her. If all turn out fine, I’ll cuddle her, she has a good soul, the whore.
We got inside together. There was another receptionist, this time a stocky midget with short fingers and sharp nails. She looked at us over her glasses. She didn’t say a word, she saw Monica and didn’t say nothing. She knew her, everybody knows Monica, all hotels know her. She’s an old acquaintance. All hotels know and take her side, it can’t be any other way. She let us go upstairs, the guinea hen. Whitout any argue.
We stopped by his room and I stuck my ear to the door. The TV was on. I waved to Monica, it was time. She rapped gently, then louder. The bitch peeked through the peephole, didn’t open the door right away, he peeked and saw Monica who pulled aside her coat and posed naked, wearing only the red tie. He liked that, the mole. He liked it, cause he opened the door hurriedly, in a rush.
Anything, but not the children. Not the little piggies. There are limits. The little piggie was watching me, I was biting, licking and strangling her, and the little piggie watched. I’d forgot about him, completely, he was in the house, sleeping, and I forgot. I heard him, he said, mutter, mutter. I stopped, but it was too late, it didn’t turn out well at all. The little piggie just stood there, near me, his mouth smeared with chocolate. He was holding a chocolate bar in his hand, bit into it. He’d woken up and run into the kitchen first, the craver. He was wearing a blue pajamas with white dots. He was cute, the hogling. Chubby.
I like children. I’m dying for them. I wouldn’t hurt them ever, never would touch them. I’m fond of them, little puppies. Small and cute, putting on airs like grownups. Smart and playful. Dying for chocolate, that’s how they are. And for lollypops, too. The hogling was looking at me and I got sad, right there on the spot. I’d left him alone, didn’t stop in time. And he was there while I was strangling her mutter. I was strangling her and he, dirty with chocolate on his mouth, had his eyes on me, crying. He was about four. Cute, that chubby. But he saddened me, right there. He didn’t understand what was happening, mutter had her blouse stuffed into her mouth, head backwards, limp into my arms and I over her, my head turned to him. I got up and sat into a chair. Mutter isn’t anymore, I said to him, mutter is gone, that’s what I said, it didn’t turn out well at all. Now you’re alone, you little piggie. I like children, wouldn’t hurt them ever, wouldn’t hurt you, you chubby one, I said to him, but now mutter is gone. And I must go, I can’t take you with me. You’ll stay here until polizei arrives and take you. Finish your chocolate, it’s good, the chocolate, isn’t it, you little piggie? It’s good, you chubby, I know, I like it too. And I like you, you roly-poly, but I’m going now.
I got out on the street, sad—I’d gotten sad. I walked for a while, to get myself together. It was raining, but it was fine. The rain was good for me. I walked into a bar and asked for a beer, beer was good for me. I drank to him, he was dirty with chocolate all over his mouth and I’d left him all alone at home. Mutter couldn’t wipe his mouth anymore, and I drank to him. A pity came over me, I felt pity for you, poor little one, that’s what I said and drank to him. Not the children, never the children, there are limits. I drank and watched TV in the bar.
Then I saw him on the news. I saw his picture, his red face and bulldog jaws. They caught him smiling, he had a way of smiling lackadaisicaly, his head slightly leaned over to the right. I couldn’t see him too well, I didn’t get to study him thoroughly, they switched quickly to another piece of news, there wasn’t much to say: they were looking for him, he molested children, touched hoglings, that’s what he did, and now they were searching for him. I drank another beer, then I left, I had to go, had to go back to my country, polizei would ask questions, search for me, I had’t got time anymore.
He opened the door, but that was wrong. He saw me and flinched, I took him by surprise, I flung myself to him unexpectedly.
I hit him with the brass knuckle, shifted his bulldog jaw.
I pushed his chest, he was heavy, I pushed him hard with my shoulder. He tried to resist, but I punched him again and he fell.
I lodged the shiv into his neck, four times I did, four times and the blood spurted out as from a fountain.
He had to expect it, the dog, since he flew with me in the same plane. Since he saw me walking right past his seat. He settled in confortably. He set his seatbealt, extending his legs under the seat. Getting ready to flick through a magazine. He didn’t know, hadn’t the slightest inkling. But I felt him, I saw his jaws and his head slightly bent to the right, he was half-smiling cutely, his eyes on the magazine. For a moment I wasn’t sure it was him. For a moment, I thought it was just a resemblance, that I didn’t get a good look at the picture, couldn’t study him better. Then it dawned on me, it hit me: it was him, couldn’t be anyone else. The molester. The child tormenter. The bitch. They were looking for him, he was on the news, they were searching for him and I found him, that’s what I did.
He sat there calmly, eyes to the magazine, didn’t know. Not the children, you don’t touch the children, I felt like saying to him, to jump him and say, not the little piggies! Not the little piggies, dirty with chocolate around their mouths, not the chubby ones! The mutter, yes, maybe, sometimes the mutter, it happens, mutter gets nervous, has white blouses, I’m dying for them, dying. Mutter can faint and may never get up, it happens, but not the hoglings, there are limits! Not everything is allowed.
And he’d done it, he was doing it, and had to pay for it, I said to myself. I sneaked by the overflown rat beside my seat, I smelled his greasy sweat, when I made up my mind. He had to pay, somebody had to make him pay. I’ll take care of it, I told myself, fastening my seatbelt and smelling greasy sweat, I’ll take care, you hogling, mutter isn’t here anymore to wipe your mouth, but he’ll pay for this, not everything is allowed.
I look at him, in the hotel room. Blood pooled under his head. He has a funny posture, fallen sideways with his knees to his chest. Like a baby. I shifted his jaw, he has a horrible grimace, the brass knuckle bent his cheek bone. Like it’s not him, it seems. I take a better look, then change my point of view from a different angle. It seems like it’s not him, he doesn’t look like him. I couldn’t take a good look at the picture. I’d drunk beer, don’t even know how much, and the news wasn’t too much on. The picture was in the background and the TV away from my table, couldn’t take a good look at him.
Monica is still in the door frame. I tell her to shut the door and get inside, we did some noise, alright. Questions will start flying soon, the police will be here soon, I have to go. Monica knows what to do, she knows. I gave her clear instructions. She can handle it, the little hen. I will go now and she’ll answer all their questions. She helps me, the little hen, I don’t know what I’d do without her. I’ll tell her sometime. But not now, I must go.
I looked at him once again. No, it cannot not be him. It’s him, the molester, the child tormenter. Not the hoglings, I feel like telling him, not the little piggies, you animal! Not the children!
Translated into English by Dan BUTUZA
This short-story was first published, in Romanian, in the collection Sub mâinile mele, Karth Publishing House, Bucharest, 2014