Small Deaths in a Black and White Town

18 Apr

I don’t know what you call it in English. A rug beater, maybe. It’s made of bamboo or something wooden and strong like that. Has a long handle. Looks like a paddle, but slightly longer than a tennis racquet. How you use it is: you take down your rugs, down into the courtyard, hang them on the rusty, iron bar the government has provided to all schemes, and use it to beat the dust and dirt out of them. That was my job then. I would take out my mis-understood feelings of my father beating me, on the rugs, downstairs in the courtyard of our scheme, swallowing the dust. I would take them out on the cat, as well, holding him down and spanking him hard as he made the most heart-wrenching sounds. And now thinking about it I can’t bear it. I did many violent things to somehow come to terms with the beatings. Nobody really thinks about how that bleeds into other people’s lives. Or animals’.

The afternoon the Arabs came in Soviet-made Volgas and Zaporozhets, wielding Kalashnikovs I was watching Planet of the Apes on the tele. Later, they opened up the secret files and we found out the Arabs were given student visas and had been housed in security-monitored rooms at the Intercontinental Hotel. They cut down a pensioner sitting on a bench inside the courtyard, two small girls making a house from sticks and mud, the old woman from Stairs B, and a bald man in a cheap suit. No one knew why. We were told via megaphones to stay inside and close the windows. Quickly, a black Lada pulled in and arrested a young woman, and a red bus backed into the courtyard and removed the corpses. After that, a woman brought down her rugs and hung them to be beaten.

On Wednesdays they cut the hot water. Mum fills pots, heats them on the stove, and dumps them into the bathtub. We own a Water-Pik. No one uses it except me. To launch the jet of water out the small holes cut into the concrete of the building, and down onto the boulevard at unsuspecting people, six floors below. We own lots of jars in the pantry. Some are filled with jelly. Most are empty. Sometimes I help my father carry vegetables back from the market in a burlap sack.

To-day we are having fried cabbage.


2 Responses to “Small Deaths in a Black and White Town”

  1. DAMM 18/04/2011 at 1:14 PM #

    OK had to let this one digest a little. Well crafted and told but I think the strongest thing you havedone here is make me even more glad that I have jelly.

  2. Pruteanu 18/04/2011 at 1:21 PM #

    Yea. That’s good. It’s all inconsequential stuff, really. It only matters to those directly affected by the events. You got out of it exactly what I wanted. Or you needed. I think nowadays the “art of the long, thoughtful novel” is quickly changing–despite valiant attempts by the Franzens and DFWs of our generation. What is replacing the long form is a type of short, disconnected (seemingly) prose/story. At least that’s where I’m going w/the stuff on here and the book of shorts I’m re-writing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: