El Draque

30 Sep

–Ten out of ten clowns were tormentors. For example, Kafka’s father Hermann made him believe he turned into an insect. What is this?
–A mojito.
–What is it? It tastes awful.
When Vajna explained what the barkeep had put in the drink all I could taste was mint. Mint and mercury. The heavy metal tang came from an old filling, which had dislodged only slightly after a mortar concussion on an otherwise quiet Sunday in the Balkans. Over the course of the week the dimethylmercury had decided to break off into small, carbon-like pieces and shed capriciously during the course of every meal.
(–You can’t chew gum anymore, Yankee)
–I’m almost with you.
–What? What is that?
(–A mojito, I told you.)
–What you just said, I mean.
Vajna was humming The Church. Someone was asleep upstairs. We sat at the table with three ghosts playing cards, drinking Cuban highballs, and smoking menthols. This was it. This was what we wanted.
–It goes back to the sixteenth century. It used to be called El Draque, in honour of Sir Francis Drake. It was made with tafia, a primitive predecessor of rum, Vajna said.
–It’s still awful. El Draque sounds like The Devil in my language, besides.
The mint leaves were shredded and badly bruised and muddied the thing. We heard rustling upstairs in a bed made of wooden planks low to the floor.
–Pay close attention to this, Vajna said. –What is happening here, it is a kind of madness that will go unnoticed by the West.
–Bullshit. These pictures will all be used as evidence when the monsters go to trial at The Hague.
–You have too much faith in the processes of the world.
–This needs a dash of Angostura bitters, that’s the problem.
(Whoever heard of drinking Cuban highballs in the Balkans?)
–In our experience, we have found that even the most devout of Muslims drink the alcohol, Vajna said. They have machines now that persuade them to let go of God even.
Vajna’s narration of their torture devices bled out and faded into a quiet morning in the countryside twenty-nine years ago. I smoked hand-rolled cigarettes with Cesare behind a ruined log barn at the edge of the forest. Afterward, we threw out the extinguished butts and chewed mint leaves from the field in order to disguise our breath. Grandfather was splitting wood. The taste of mint leaves bled back into our mojitos.
–If you could have her back for ten minutes, Vajna said, which ten would you choose?
–You are ruthless. What is this again?
–White rum, sugarcane juice, lime, carbonated water, and mint.
There were footsteps upstairs. The floorboards creaked. Vajna looked at the ceiling apologetically.
He said.
–It’s not made well, the floor. All that separates us is one story.

(Author’s Notes)


6 Responses to “El Draque”

  1. Slyboots 30/09/2008 at 10:23 AM #

    Gotta make do with a quote for you today. “When the world is coming down, you make the best of what’s still around.” Because I am feeling distinctly Henny Pennyish, and the sky appears to be falling all over the place. But here, here it’s all about the writing. And I like that.

    Back to the mine, over and out, saith this canary.

  2. (S)wine 30/09/2008 at 10:25 AM #

    I loves me some Police. Especially from Zenyatta Mondatta.
    Man in a Suitcase

  3. Geoff 01/10/2008 at 2:31 PM #

    I agree with Slyboots. It’s refreshing to be with the words, the writing. The rest of the world will continue, for better or worse, but the writing will continue — words will always make a difference. Please keep creating those sentences, Alex. The world needs them now more than ever.

  4. jason 02/10/2008 at 9:04 AM #

    it pains me to have to be so complementary to a police fan (better than a sting solo fan, i suppose) but that last line is a killer. a killer. it is currently pissing me off to no end that i didn’t write it myself. i drink my perfectly mixed dry martini to you, sir.

  5. (S)wine 02/10/2008 at 9:15 AM #

    Thank you, sir. I am happy you’ve noticed the last line. The entire piece depends on that. I am an EARLY Police fan, up to Zenyatta. I am sorry to disappoint.

  6. jason 02/10/2008 at 12:16 PM #

    you are actually far too much of a gentlemen to refer to yourself as swine. and if i’m being honest, i have a small spot in my heart reserved for outlandos d’amour. a small spot.

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