My hands are freezing and my body feels alien to me. God I wish the winter would be over soon, although it has just started. The light is way too bright, blinding me and exposing the big paradox of the room: sterile and dirty. Cosy and strange. I don’t want to stay but I don’t want to go, either.
“Do you watch basketball?” he asks.
“No,” I answer while he makes himself comfortable, putting his legs across the couch, not bothering to switch his tracksuit to something more appropriate for a visit he had anticipated in advance.
He pours us whiskey. He lights up a joint. I inhale. He exhales.
“What do you have there?” He jerks his head towards the weird shape of my purse.
“It’s a book.”
“You read?” he says with a sneer. “What is it, 50 shades of Grey?”
“It’s called Postcapitalism.”
Now he whistles and sends me a dubious look.
“So you think you know something about politics? Well, let me tell you something. There will be no such thing. And even if it was about to happen, it would never work. You know why? Because we made the biggest mistake ever by dismissing the ancient Greek political system.”
“Obviously it wasn’t sustainable enough to last.”
“Obviously you don’t know shit.” And he starts going on and on about the stupidity of democracy, how there should only be the wisest men on top to make decisions with clearly no space for discussion. In his speech he neither addresses the concept of postcapitalism nor does he give me any opportunity to engage in the dialogue. For every word I say he puts on a mocking expression, utters something about my foolishness, and replies with a statement completely or at least mostly beside the point.
“Even if you made a special test for everybody in order to select the smartest bunch of us all, intelligence is not enough for you to be defined as an optimal politician. What about the needs of groups which would never be addressed because they wouldn’t have anybody at the top to speak for them?” I finally manage to give a replica.
He murmurs something indistinguishable, then he says: “So you just want everybody to be happy?”
“Well … that would be nice.” I don’t really know how that is relevant.
“So you want everybody to walk around with a constant smile on their faces? To grin and never be in a bad mood? I wouldn’t want to live in that kind of society!”
He talks like he owns the world and I am too confused by his response to know what to say. He is reviewing previous-existing political ideologies before he moves on to internet issues. But at least I am beautiful. This is why I am here, right? If there is one thing my parents gave me, it was the awareness of my fair skin and full lips and big green eyes. They told me I should take good care of my long silky hair and I did, oh yes, I did. Now they fall over my forehead, down my shoulders, down my waist – and when I touch it, well, I always remember that if nothing else, at least I am beautiful. He thinks I am beautiful, too. I can tell. The look I got so accustomed to that it is nothing special to me anymore – in fact, it became close to repulsive.
“It is nice that you came. Didn’t think you would,” he says while he is caressing my leg. I am still frozen, holding onto my chair, slowly turning into a statue. If only he was smaller, I would be able to relax.
“Why is that?” I manage to say quietly.
“I thought you had a boyfriend.”
“And then what happened?”
“Well, obviously, we broke up.”
“Why?” He is persistent while he looks me in the eyes and starts touching my thigh.
“Does it matter? I am here, aren’t I?”
“So, after you were done with your long term relationship, you decided to go and fuck around? Not that I am judging,” he quickly adds.
“It is funny, I imagine you do fuck around a lot and yet it does not cross my mind to say to you that I’m not judging.” My reply bewilders him. After three sips of whiskey and with the help of anger suddenly taking over me, my voice is no longer quiet and shy.
“That’s the thing with you, people. You think you are so much better than others because you say you don’t judge like presumably other people do – yet you are no hero for stating you do not judge me because even the mention of the state itself implies you do think the act is worthy of condemnation.” I would like to repeat myself five times more just to say what I have to say and say it for all the times I didn’t say it.
He starts kissing me. I feel his hands all over my body but I am no longer aroused. I let him take me but all I can think of is the conversation we had before about Marxism and how capitalism is not working as well and how robots will soon be able to fight our battles but even if the thought of men not being forced to go to the army and kill each other brings smile to my face, that smile is a second later swiped away by a realisation that robots going to war means robots killing people, too … how can we let that happen? What will happen? Can that happen?
And then everything stops. He backs away and never have I ever seen such a frightened look on man’s face.
“I am going to go to sleep. I have to work tomorrow,” he explains while starting to prepare the bed.
“Ok. I will go home then.”
“Why? Don’t you want to spend the night here?” He genuinely is surprised.
“I want to go home. I won’t be able to sleep for some hours now, I woke up at three pm.” Why do I even have to explain that?
I call a cab. He kisses me good night. I walk out. I get into the cab. What am I doing?
“Wild night out, yeah?” the driver asks me.
“No … I just had drinks with my friend. I won’t see her for a long time.” Why do I lie?
“Yes. I am moving to Germany.”
“Let me tell you a joke. Why did Hitler really kill himself?” He is old, the driver, probably sixty years old. He doesn’t give me the time to answer: “Because he got the bill for the gas!”
I was warned that in Germany you should not make jokes about Hitler. I don’t understand. I am not emotionally involved in the subject. I don’t know how it feels like. I can try but I cannot comprehend it, nor do I have an interest in doing so.
“You know who wrote great war novels?” he goes on when I remain silent.
“Hemingway?” I ask.
“No, I hate that guy. He just … writes too much! Who cares about all pineapple trees, dear Lord, just get to the point. He also killed himself. Who would have thought.”
“Yeah, who would have thought? He had a great career, he was intelligent, and he had a beautiful wife.” I stop abruptly. Beautiful wife. He had many wives, but there is only one whose name I remember: Martha Gellhorn. American novelist. Travel writer. A journalist. War correspondent. One of the greatest war correspondents! So great The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism was named after her!
“He had a wife? Never heard of her.”
“She was great,” I say. “Don’t you mind working so late at night?” I just want to change the subject.
“Nah, it’s all right. I see all sorts of stuff.”
“Like what?” Now I really am interested.
“Many stuff … for example, there is a girl I take home almost every day or night. During the day you can see how super intelligent she is. Good girl, soon to be a lawyer. But when the night falls … well, she becomes so stupid. She would give herself to anybody! Such a shame … such a good girl.” Once again I remain silent. My home is only seconds away and hmm, what can I do? I pay my bill and leave.
I get into the apartment. My flatmate is still awake for some reason. I hug her and then I hug our dog. I notice the dog has very big nipples.
“Is she alright?” I ask my flatmate.
“Yeah, she is fine … it happens once in a while because she had babies, you know, and the milk is still there. It’s a sort of a false pregnancy.”
Oh, so you are more of a woman than we are, I think.
My hand stops and lingers in the air before it could reach the poor dog and pet it. Inert. Oh that look of horror. Or is it surprise? What was known becomes unknown and what was unknown becomes known. There are so many fights to fight and I am so tired.