[lit-ideas] PersonA - Ch 21

  • From: "phatic" <phatic@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2004 14:11:58 +0200

It was dripping slowly from the walls. It would gather up into little 
puddles, grow in weight, and slump pregnantly, before it let itself 
run down the wall towards the floor, where it would gather in a small 
pond. Drop after drop the pond grew, as did numerous other small 
ponds scattered along the wall, until one of the ponds bursted and 
flooded over itself, chasing the other ponds, making little streams 
across the floor and joining other streams and more streams until it 
started filling up the floor, until the floor was wet all over and it 
begun its climb up the wall.
        Inta observed the water rising around her, slowly engulfing her 
body, reluctantly swallowing her. It was absolutely quiet, she 
thought. No more voices drowning each other in choruses of demand and 
accusation, no more howls and screams of pain, but a soft whisper of 
wind in the far end of her ears. She thought about everything. Images 
were racing past her eyes, like in some old silent movie, and the odd 
analogy puzzled her, tickled her curiously. 
        Inta's grandmother was printing leaftlets in the basement. One night 
the secret police came knocking at her door. They were investigating 
a tip-off that her cousin, who rented a room in the attic, were in 
posession of an illegal radio. She had no choice but to let them in. 
Inta's grandmother her her cousin step out on the roof. Black boots 
clamped up the narrow staircase to the attic. 
        Inta's grandmother was nursing her baby, who would some 20 years 
later give birth to Inta, in her arms. Boots stomped around upstairs. 
A dirty spoon lay on the dinner table. Inta's mother needed new 
        Had all the traces of the printing press in the basement been 
removed? Ag, how fast her daughter grew! She needed new socks 
already. Why couldn't her husband clean up after his dinner? The 
water was rising. A black boot emerged from the attic. Not a sound 
from her cousin. He must be hiding on the roof.
        They didn't find anything. Thank God, have mercy on us. Inta's 
mother was smiling. She was laughing! What did it matter that Inta's 
grandfather couldn't always remember to put everything away? Inta's 
grandmother wanted to sit down to knit new socks for her daughter 
right away.
        It had to have been the neighbour's wife who had tipped off the 
police. A week later Inta's grandmother passed her on her way home 
from work. Inta's grandmother stared her neighbour fiercly in the 
eyes, slowed down, and launched a glow of spit in a fierceful arc, 
landing with a smack at the pavement before her neighbour. No further 
communication was maintained between them. 
        I'd like to know why our house had to be destroyed? It was a few 
extra steps to walk around it, but was it really necessary to throw a 
grenade at it? How is it possible to be <i>that</i> lazy? Dear 
Captain, can you give me an answer?
        A band was playing at the tip of her finger. The singer was playing 
guitar. He was round and balding. Dear Captain, can you open the 
border? Where else can we go? Can we please be allowed to cross your 
        The director, again. Always the director. Let's laugh at him, 
hahaha. Frogs quacking. Quack quack quack, blubber-blubber-blubber. 
Water everywhere, haha. Water all around me, haha. Water over me, 
haha. I'm floating in water, haha. 
        Then panick. Blood brushing her face red, turn, turn. Look up. 
Inta's face mirrored in the water, haha. She's above the water, haha, 
gave me the shakes, haha. 

"So you're saying that the way the computer is programmed is itself 
programmed? Is that why you're winning every time we play?" Diderik 
        "Yes, Sherlock. That is what I'm saying," Felix answered. 
        Diderik considered how the preceding programme worked. 
        "You can think of it as assembly language."
        Felix smiled. Diderik didn't want to leave Hotel Rio Grande du Sol. 
He looked miserably at his suitcases packed and squared up by the 
door of his room. Room 24. With bath and a balcony. Felix was resting 
against the headboard of the generous bed. 
        Think of it as if it never really happened. It was a fiction. Maybe 
it didn't happen? Perhaps it was some kind of vivid dream, a tangible 
thread of imagination? 
        "Where are you, Diderik? Come over here, you silly boy."
        They had drifted on balloons for two weeks. Diderik had shown Felix 
his collection of exotic wine leaves, and, in return Felix had given 
Diderik the grand tour of Uqbar at night. Sometime during that night 
Diderik had bought a new black denim jacket. He couldn't remember 
buying it, but when he woke up the next morning, his eyes fell 
directly on the denim jacket. Felix was humming to a song on the 

        running away,
        no entry today

Diderik was lying in Felix' arms, and slowly the tension in his body 
washed off him, and he could feel his leg muscles relaxing, his arms 
sliding across his chest, and a numbness lulling him into half-sleep. 
He saw his mouth open and someone urinating into it. It was his 
shame, ag, shame, and my narcissism, hoho, I'm a subject, and, yeah, 
it turns me on.

        not lonely today

Bellies, and underarms, and necks, and sweat, and shit, and urine, 
and body parts, and tongues, and sperm, and blood, and spit. Felix 
was giggling. Sweat and shit and spit. 
        "Whoa," Diderik said, sitting up with a start. 
        "You naughty boy," Felix said, putting his finger at the bridge of 
Diderik's nose, pointing between his eyes. "I have to go to work."
        Diderik watched him walk into the bathroom, and heard the water 
splash out of the shower.
        It was time to leave.

10 grand? 20 grand? It didn't matter. Milla adjusted her hat, shaped 
as six white leaves folding around her head. She glanced quickly at 
the dance floor of Mighty Queen displayed on her home monitor, and 
called up her driver. She rolled a joint slowly, absentmindedly.
        What <i>were</i> the causes of her being here? Was it the business 
deals she had managed to cut at the right time? Was it something 
about her experience? Or had she in some way been predisposed to act 
in accord with those around her? 
        She had found the suit clad men somewhat pathetic and ridiculous 
from the start, but it made her good money and also the connection to 
Stimos, who managed TRU's operations in Uqbar. With his money she had 
started her first club, Directions, which made a certain success with 
the young professionals working for TRU and their subsidiaries. Six 
months later she opened Mighty Queen with her own money, and now 
Uqbar had become the biggest scream in Young, Urban Tourism, and 
Milla knew she had her share in the reputation. Stimos' officers were 
told to keep a low profile, around Milla's clubs, and instead to 
spend their time chasing away hoodlums and beggars. 
        Milla would spend most of the night in her private lounge on the 
second floor with panarama windows facing the dance floor. Her guests 
could see her silhouette if she moved close enough to the glass. She 
might have guests, and she would gracefully retreat if Director 
Stimos so desired, when he came around. 
        Other times she would dance on one of the podiums, and, often before 
closing time, she would excercise her body in the mass of sweaty 
bodies that moved in sync to the music, like some giant animal with 
hundreds of arms and legs. Her heart was pounding heavy, her ears 
ringing, and she would drop out of the ordinary train of things, and 
impressions would come at her simultaneously, ordered differently, 
and mixing with images she remembered from her past. 
        She could see the skin of the bodies rubbing up to her changing, 
taking on some kind of pattern, something like a snake skin. Milla 
would observe the small red veins in her guests' eyes, marvelling at 
the delicate texture of their veins, and recognizing that such were 
also her own eyes. She would close her eyes, and feel the pounding in 
her legs, arms, breasts, butt, and then the slow, oncoming heat in 
her pussy, spreading out gently like a late night bonfire. She was 
surrounded by men with mean, hard cocks, ready to take her, right 
there on the dance floor. 
        "Use me," she whispered. Make use of me, she thought. Put me to use.
        She opened her eyes, and was back into her ordinary world, with the 
image of Stimos on her mind, how she had suckled his dick, her hair 
made up pony-tails, and her butt spread wide for some young stud they 
had picked up at the club. Milla could come so hard when they used 
her like a bitch. She bit her lip, and was blinded by Stimos' spray 
in her face. 
        But there had been different times, as well. Like when they went to 
Stimos' ranch in the district, just the two of them. She knew it 
shouldn't last, and yet she had found some kind of father in the sick 
old man. He'd showed her how to take charge of herself and the 
business she was now running on her own accord. She was glad she'd 
lost Diderik. 
        She had planned it for a while. At the hotel in Bagdad she had met a 
"traveller", who was heading for Uqbar to meet some friends and take 
care of some business. They had met in the back of his red Alfa 
Romeo, and once she was almost caught out by Diderik when he asked 
her what that white stuff on her mouth was. She had to giggle, and 
said she'd just had a soft boiled egg. It must be the white. 
        He had started to suspect something on the way to Uqbar, giving in 
to fits of rage, yell at her, and demand that she satisfied him, 
which she would do quickly with her hand while reading her magazine. 
        "Can't you put that magazine away," he'd say to her as sternly as he 
could, and she might offer him a patronizing laughter, if she 
bothered. While Diderik had settled the business at the reception of 
Hotel Rio Grande du Sol, Milla had slipped into the elevator and 
sneaked out through the garage. She found a taxi and floated through 
this strange city on a cloud of relief. She didn't have so much 
money, but she had a place to stay, and she had an unshakeable faith 
in her own enterprise. 
        She had fun with her Romeo (and also some of his friends) for a 
while, before she met Suzie, and they moved in together. Suzie was 
sixteen and on the run from her parents. Milla had found work as 
bartender with a small club. They rented one room and spent all the 
time they had together on the matress in the middle of the floor. 
Milla would only get up to make food for Suzie and to visit the 
        Milla loved watching Suzie eat her food, even though she knew it 
made Suzie shy. So she would pretend to look away while Suzie was 
eating, but secretly watching her from the corner of her eye. She 
would soak Suzie in hot water in the tub and climb down to join her, 
their hands joined, roaming their skin. 
        She couldn't tell Suzie about her side-job after closing time, and 
after a while Suzie wanted to go home. Milla cried bitterly, but she 
knew it would have to end. She had wanted to tell her about her 
secrets, but it wasn't any point now. Suzie needed her family. She 
would come back. 
        But she didn't.
        Milla considered herself lucky to have found Stimos, but they were 
maintaining a strick business relationship now, and that's how she 
preferred it. She was financially independent of him, and, even 
though she still needed his consent in the management of Uqbar, she 
knew how to find him now. If it should be necessary.

"So you've turned this into a bildungsroman-cum-pornography," I said.
        "I wouldn't say that," Phatic said.
        The kind you want to identify me with is never innocent.


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  • » [lit-ideas] PersonA - Ch 21