The morning after my first date with my beloved Alazne, I woke up with the impression that I had spent my dreams wandering around some country-sized amusement park while holding on to Alazne’s arm, and the bizarre attractions we dared to experience, which featured skeletons playing chess, robotic aliens and incongruous octopuses, drained our energies and left us traumatized. With such an aftertaste, it’s hard for me to consider the date a success, but as I eat cereal in the kitchen I can’t tear my gaze away from the photo I took of my girlfriend. She’s truly my girlfriend. I don’t think it’s registering properly. Back when I was a ghost, I couldn’t prevent myself from getting obsessed with Alazne; I wanted nothing more than to spend time around her and to fantasize about holding her in my arms and kissing her. I had known I would never be able to feel Alazne’s warmth, but yesterday we made out in the street like a teenage couple. Still, I’m staying calm about it. I guess that human beings can get used to any change in their circumstances, for good or for ill.
Given how exhausted Alazne ended up yesterday, I would understand if my cellphone stayed silent for the entire day. I’ll have to make do with gawking every five minutes at my only photo of her.
It’s been like twenty minutes since I finished my bowl of cereal, and I have done nothing else than rest my face on my palm, sigh and zoom into different areas of Alazne’s photo on my phone. A movement on the ouija board I set on the dining table distracts me. I spot the planchette levitating, but then it drops onto the board. I hadn’t thought about Kateryna; I have the window open, and the cold, humid breeze that gets in not only masks Kat’s presence, but also evidences that we’ll suffer some rain by the end of the day.
I get closer to the ouija board to figure out what Kateryna wants to say, but first of all I need to share my thoughts.
“Hey, Kat, isn’t my Alazne the cutest in the world?” I ask in a voice bursting with pride.
The planchette twitches, then remains still for a few seconds. It spells out THOUGHT I WAS.
“That’s some healthy self-esteem, Kateryna. I wish I could accept myself so easily.”
The metallic bowl that holds a couple of oranges and a pear slides a few centimeters as if Kat had targeted it by mistake with her poltergeist powers. Or worse: she’s annoyed and wants to remind me that she can turn any object into a projectile, as if I had forgotten the ruinous state of this house before Ainhoa bothered herself tidying up most of the mess.
The planchette spells out YOU TOLD ME.
Kateryna is right about that. I had that reaction to the first photo I saw of her, taken back when she believed she was going to marry Asier and live a life together that wouldn’t end up in suicide. I haven’t allowed myself to forget Asier’s nefarious influence, but I mainly distributed every framed picture of Kateryna around the house because looking at her Ukrainian, model-like features brightens my day, and makes me horny.
“Ah, yes,” I say, sounding guilty. “Well, Kateryna, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, for sure. I’d venture to say that there are few in the whole world that could compare. But you are beautiful in the same way the sun is beautiful, you know? It outshines everything else, but looking straight at it will burn holes in your eyes. Only astronauts wearing impossibly strong sunglasses and revolutionary heat resistant spacesuits could come up to you and hug you tight like you deserve. My Alazne is the most beautiful woman in the range of people with whom I could feasably spend the rest of my life.”
The planchette spells out DONT KNOW ABOUT THAT.
“I’m sorry, Kat. I’m just trying to express my admiration for you in words, and it isn’t working very well. I’ll use simpler words. I’ll say that you are a goddess among women, my dear Kateryna.”
The planchette moves in a flurry, as Kateryna’s side of the conversation sounds more like an annoyed rant.
“Yes, yes, I agree,” I lie, because I didn’t catch any of that. “Listen, you were lying next to me in bed those times I was holding your picture while training how to masturbate this penis properly, right? You told me you witnessed all of it. Didn’t you feel flattered? You saw how quickly this thing got hard merely by looking at static images of you!”
The planchette spells out FELT EXPOSED.
“Oh, dear Kat! You shouldn’t have felt that way! I would never ever do anything to hurt you! If anything, each of those sessions, how pleasurable they felt and the volume of semen I was able to shoot are testament to how gorgeous you are.”
UNBELIEVABLE, the planchette spells out.
“Back when I had my original female body, I couldn’t leave around measurable puddles of how excited each target of my masturbatory sessions got me. I wasn’t a squirter. But now, it’s all laid out in the open. I wouldn’t have to take out the trash as often if I wasn’t thinking of you this much.”
WOW, the planchette spells out.
“You’re not just an inspiration for my masturbation sessions, you’re an inspiration for everything in life. You gave me the strength to take control of Asier’s life and his fortune. I’m not just living in his house, dear Kateryna, I’ve made it into a home, but it would feel empty if you weren’t here with me. And I have already offered Alazne to move in whenever she wants! Imagine, all of us living together. I want us to become a happy family.”
HIS DICK HAS TAKEN OVER YOUR MIND, the planchette spells out.
I sigh sadly. I consider it for a moment. Is possessing a body like inheriting someone’s titan?
“That’s where you are wrong, Kat, because I was an unrelenting pursuer of women even when I had a woman’s body. You should have seen me back in the day.”
I WOULD HAVE FLED, the board replies.
“You’d need to be fast then, because no woman could ever resist my advances, straight or otherwise. I was like a barbarian conqueror of pussy.”
WHAT ABOUT GHOST WHORES IN THE AFTERLIFE, the planchette spells out.
“They don’t have genitals anymore, just a cold, sad echo of physical contact when you dare touch them, and it feels so wrong that ghosts don’t go around fondling other ghosts. And as you know, I couldn’t even fuck myself. I wanted to be a beautiful, powerful and sensual woman who could have any girl she wanted. I needed to possess them all. But everything turned grey and tasteless until this stupid Asier veered into my lane.”
DISGUSTING CHEATER, the board answers.
“He was stupid, as I said. He squandered his life with short-term pleasures and long-term misery.”
SO DID YOU.
I lower my head, then swallow my suddenly foul-tasting saliva.
“I never cheated, though. Serial monogamist. Not that I officially dated that much.” I point at the ouija board. “You know what I did? I saved the damn world from a bunch of demons that wanted to enslave it.”
YOU DID NOT.
“… Yeah, I didn’t. I didn’t do anything good for anybody else. But this case is different, you know? With Alazne, I mean. My pursuit of all those nameless girls in the past was pure horniness, but now there is extreme horniness added to the purest love imaginable. That’s what I have in store for my woman. I will date the hell out of my Alazne, and one day I will marry her and put some babies in her. We’ll become a happy family until we die. I will never stray.”
I HOPE SO.
“It’s inevitable that we will love each other for the rest of our lives. We’re going to be together until one of us physically cannot be anymore. I just know it.”
My pleasant chat with Kateryna served to take my mind off the fact that I feel like a teenager in love. I wander around the house, and even venture out beyond the gate of our little community to relax by gazing at the countryside, as I keep replaying in my mind every moment of my first date with Alazne. I try to rescue the feeling of how warm and delicate she felt in my manly arms, the texture of her light brown hair when I ran my fingers through it, the taste of her saliva, the slow and loving touch of her tongue as it caressed mine. But the minutes keep passing, the sky is getting cloudier and darker, the breeze is picking up, and my anxiety turns my thoughts into wondering why I haven’t received any text from Alazne today. Because she’s likely still unconscious from yesterday’s exhaustion, and may only wake up in the afternoon. No, I reply to myself. Truly, why hasn’t Alazne messaged me?
I feel so bad that I start writing a message. It takes me a while to put together the text Hey darling. How are you doing?. My hand trembles as I steel myself to send it, but I end up groaning and deleting it.
When I close my eyes I can see Alazne sitting next to me during that precarious boat ride, when I realized that my beloved was losing tears like a broken dam would lose water. And I caused those tears, didn’t I? If only, because I dragged her out to an exhausting date. How horrible of a person am I to make the love of my life lose most of her body’s water content through her eye holes? And she later mentioned that I wasn’t right for her, didn’t she? Alazne’s other half must be waiting for her somewhere in this wide, stupid world, but I’m now preventing her from searching for him. Because it’s a him, I know it, while I only wear a man’s body, and my real self doesn’t have male genitals.
These thoughts are too much for me, and I can’t bear staying in Asier’s house a second longer. I head out the door and walk towards the center of the city, hoping that buying a bunch of stuff I don’t need will distract me. It takes me around twelve minutes to finally reach Donostia street, which isn’t located in Donostia but in this city, which is Hondarribia. From there I can descend some stairs into the older area of the city, that contains most of the opportunities to spend money. I have to admit, though, that the view of all those quaint houses, oddly distributed because plenty of those streets popped up back when people didn’t care about anything, that view as I was saying, does make me feel better, because it’s not an extension of my concerns, but just a city with houses and all that stuff. And beyond the houses await the waters of the Txingudi bay, where the Bidasoa river disembogues the piss and shit of everyone in the surrounding cities, apart from water from up in the mountains, I suppose. Rivers have to come from somewhere.
I walk aimlessly while looking at the shops of both sides of the narrow streets. I browse absentmindedly the women’s clothing displayed outside of a store in San Pedro street. My head hurts.
“Are you looking for something in particular?” asks me a woman in her forties, I guess an employee of the store instead of some random person.
I stare at her for a moment, then I realize that I was trying to find clothes that would fit me.
“Shit, I forgot I’m not a woman anymore,” I say.
The woman raises an eyebrow, then looks at me sideways.
“Ah, I see. It’s a shame that you’d make a very pretty girl, but for your age…”
Now she’s calling me old?
“You are likely far older,” I tell her.
She gives me a nasty look.
“Come on, let’s go. Go spend your money somewhere else.”
“Yeah, well,” I choose as a retort while I’m already walking away.
She’s right, though. I’m a complete psycho.
I make my way through nearby streets, now wandering towards the port. I don’t know what is it about Hondarribia, but it awakens a strange nostalgia in me even though I never visited it before I settled in this area as a ghost. It has a peculiar charm, and it often smells like fish. I suppose that in the past they also hauled to this town the whales they hunted in the wide open sea. It’s a bad idea to hunt whales, though, probably because there are few of them. However, I have never seen ghost whales, so when they die they likely move on to the beyond immediately. That means that whales do not hold regrets. Maybe I should resent those thick bastards, then. I can’t connect with anyone who does anything else than just breathe in this world and doesn’t start piling up regrets immediately.
Shit, I can’t deal with this constant rumination. How is Alazne going to feel about our relationship when she wakes up? I get the feeling that she’ll be distraught because she allowed someone to disturb her peace and isolation. Maybe she will feel unworthy of being looked at as warmly as I do. Maybe she believes she won’t be able to gather the strength to face me again, and that she will end up fucking up this relationship anyway, so it would be better to give up and never contact me again. That would kill me inside. I decide that if I don’t hear from Alazne in forty eight hours, I’ll head up to the rooftop of the highest building around and take a swan dive. My girlfriend loves that song, so when she ends up finding out, at least she’ll get the reference.
I give up on walking around and figuring out how to waste my money, so I enter a restaurant next to the port promenade and order some seafood. Around twelve and a half, my phone vibrates while playing the notification sound of a message. I almost drop the device on my hot plate of spicy mussels.
The message says I had the best time yesterday. Thank you. She also sends me an animation of two full lips kissing.
I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack and die. After repeatedly rereading the message and observing the cartoon lips, I drink more grape juice and think about what I’m going to reply. I can tell that Alazne just woke up. Hell, it’s around the time she used to wake up back when I lived with her as a ghost and she wasn’t forced to drag herself out of bed to go to work. During those periods, though, she either had been fired or quit, so she had become increasingly depressed.
I wish I had the guts to tell her that I’m a ghost. I wish I had the guts to jump off a building right now to put an end to this. No, I don’t really believe that. I’m just afraid of being rejected.
It was my pleasure, I send back. I hope you’re feeling well today.
I’m feeling wonderful now that you’re in my life, she replies.
I can barely pass air through my distended nostrils, and my forehead is sweating. I shouldn’t have ordered the spicy mussels.
I love you, I write, and I accidentally press send. A moment later I see the red dot that indicates that Alazne has written a message but hasn’t sent it. Aw, shit.
I love you too.
I want to cry.
I can barely keep my eyes open, Alazne sends. I woke up because I needed to pee, but I think I’m going back to bed after I eat some cereal.
Rest all you need, I reply. I’m eating some seafood next to the port in Hondarribia. We can see each other as soon as you want.
I wait a few minutes, but I guess that was her goodbye. Ah, she always looked so cute while she slept. How can someone be so perfect? She’s the only person who has made me feel alive, saving me from the usual maelstrom of confusion, anger and despair. In any case, I’m not worried anymore. I will stick around, walk along the Butrón promenade while inhaling all those crab-like smells, and in general rejoice because I am alive and because the woman of my life wants me too.
Around three and a half in the afternoon, the temperature took a nose dive. That cold front that I had seen coming from the restaurant of the Monte Igueldo amusement park has covered the entire sky in grey blue clouds that look eager to discharge their fluids onto the helpless world below. I could smell the water in the air, so I bought an umbrella, which was a pleasant moment because it reminded me that I can buy anything without looking at the price tag. I headed home. I felt a primal need to enclose myself within walls and a roof.
I’m walking through the quiet, residential neighborhoods towards my gated community adjoined to a graveyard. The rain is cold, which makes me narrow my shoulders although most of the drops bounce on the umbrella or slide off its fabric. The rain has that clean, earthy smell that reminds me that nature is still present and powerful. I come across few people on foot, and they are hiding their faces under their own umbrellas.
At four fifteen in the afternoon I was following the upward slope of the narrow Gabriel Aresti street, passing in front of small yards hidden behind hedges, when my phone vibrates in my pocket. I stop and hold my umbrella awkwardly under my arm so I can read Alazne’s message as soon as humanly possible.
I’ve been lazing around for an hour, as awake as I’m going to be today, the message says.
While I’m picturing her either lying on her bed or lounging in front of her computer, as I used to watch her do, Alazne sends me other messages.
I haven’t showered nor done any of the things I’m supposed to do today. But I’m missing something.
The next thing that I receive is a photo. In it, Alazne has pulled up the shirt of her pyjamas to show her bare, milk-white midriff from slightly under her breasts down to a couple of millimeters of her pink cotton panties. With her left hand, which I can’t see, she must be hugging against her chest the stuffed seal that she won at the shooting gallery, because the photo features the seal’s dark tail, spotted with grey circles. Alazne’s right hand is arched close to her panty line, and her fingers are touching the light hair, thin like a spider’s thread, on her lower abdomen. Her index and middle fingers are wet.
She adds a message: I need my real seal in my bed.
A warm shiver runs through me, and I almost drop my umbrella. The rain falls on my hair and flows down the back of my neck. When I pull the umbrella back towards me, its shaft hits me in the head. My mouth is salivating. I breathe deeper as I zoom into Alazne’s oval bellybutton, which I want to explore with my tongue. I also focus on how her skin delineates her lower ribs, and on the slight, narrowing slope from her abdomen towards her light brown pubes, which the photo unfortunately doesn’t show.
Although my mind is devolving into that of a feral animal, I wonder how I should feel about being compared to a seal. No, I don’t have to wonder how that feels, because my hard dick is bending painfully against my tight underwear and jeans, tenting the fabrics to their limits. My heart is beating in my neck. The scent of Alazne’s love must be dripping from her fingers, and I feel I should be able to smell it through my phone. I need to suck those fingers that have caressed her holy button.
I change the phone to my left hand as I hold the umbrella awkwardly under my armpit, and with my right hand I fondle the length of my erection though my pants. My chest is tight and my heartbeat feels heavy.
Back when I lived in Alazne’s place as a ghost, I witnessed many instances in which Alazne lay on her back on her unmade bed, took off her pants and panties and rubbed her delicious-looking pussy while playing in her mind some erotic fantasy. For minutes she rolled slowly as she caressed her clit rhythmically. She panted, her eyes rolled back, drool trickled from her mouth. To be honest, although I adored those displays, I preferred the times that she masturbated to videos, because I could then learn what excited her. But now Alazne must have been touching herself while thinking about us, held in each other’s arms, silently reading everything the other needed to tell through the bumps on our tongues. Why am I a city away?
“So that’s how it is, huh, Alazne?” I whisper to myself, almost breathless. “Oh, you’ve done it now. You have no clue what kind of natural disaster you’ve just unleashed.”
I’m about to slip my hand down my underwear when a man’s voice shouts at my back.
“Hey! What the fuck are you doing, you damned pervert?”
I turn around so fast that I almost slip on the wet pavement. I find myself staring at a brick red Toyota 4Runner 4×4 car, that must have been driving up this one-way road only to stop when the driver noticed me fondling myself. And the man has gone as far as lowering the passenger side window and sitting closer to it. He has light blonde hair, as well as a two weeks old beard, and pale blue eyes that look incongruous with the disdain evident in his glare. His general facial features and his accent, that of someone who has lived in the area for maybe a decade, suggest that he’s Eastern European. He is also well-built, and he wears a faded old shirt with some paint stains. He may do construction work. I suppose that he could be considered handsome, if you are into shady thugs. Many women are in that market, for sure. Not me, because I want pussy.
“I asked you a question, motherfucker!” he says in a tone that implies he is used to having people obeying him immediately.
The guy keeps staring in my direction. I look behind me to see who he’s addressing, but there’s only a hedge. Being a ghost is a constant game of ‘are you talking to me?’, one that rarely ends with a shootout at a whorehouse. And most of the time I got the impression that breathing people were addressing me even though I knew they didn’t know I existed. I guess that everyone’s consciousness relies on the belief that other beings around you acknowledge your existence, and if that can’t be the case, the delusion that they do is good enough. Still, talking through people is rude, whether you can see them or not. Wait a moment, I haven’t been a ghost for some time now.
“What the hell, man?” I say nervously. “You can see and hear me?”
“Of course I fucking can!” he says, emphasizing his words with head movements. “Have you lost your fucking mind?”
“There’s no need to include ‘fucking’ in every sentence. I can tell you are angry. Still, what’s your problem? Don’t you have a dick that often demands to be touched?”
“I don’t give a shit about your dick! Now answer my question: why are you still around here? You have some fucking nerve to be walking around like nothing!”
“I’m still around because… Well, I got things to do, you know?”
The guy looks as if he would love to jump out of his passenger-side window and pummel me against the pavement.
“You got ‘things to do’?” he asks shrilly, with a heavily accented bitterness. “You are spitting in our faces, you fucking clown. You know you are fucking doing it.”
“I have no clue why you care that I’m still lingering on this plane. We need to get rid of our reasons for holding on to our past, but sometimes those reasons aren’t clear enough to anybody, and in the worst case they aren’t solvable. In my case I doubt I will be able to move on to the beyond.” I remind myself that I’m possessing a dead man’s corpse. “Not that it matters at the moment, with the whole being alive thing.”
The man grimaces. His right eye is twitching.
“What are you talking about?” he almost roars.
I take a deep breath and raise my hands to pacify him.
“Listen, I’m sorry you had to witness me touching myself. I often forget that others can see me, and I didn’t even care much about that back when I breathed through my original body. If I offended you, I apologize.”
A woman holding a child’s hand, both people covered by the woman’s umbrella, hurry to pass by this mess on the other side of the street. The Eastern European man gets worried, or embarrassed, because he follows them discreetly with his gaze before glaring at me again.
“Get in my car,” he orders me icily. “We need to talk about this.”
I take a couple of steps back, and the pointy surface of the hedge ends up poking the back of my head. This is escalating weirdly and quickly.
“Getting into a random Eastern European thug’s car?!” I yell anxiously. “Are you trying to rape me or something?!”
The man lets out a confused noise, then shakes his head and scoots over to the passenger side of his car. He opens the door.
“I can’t keep blocking the road. Someone is going to drive this way eventually. Just get in, we’ll talk about the matter, figure things out.”
“Fuck no, I ain’t getting anywhere nor going nowhere with a shady guy like you. I don’t know who you are, I don’t care who you are, and I can touch myself in public if I want!”
The man snaps his head back. He stammers for a moment as if buffering. Then he only gets angrier.
“You think you can just pretend you don’t know me?!” he shouts as his face turns red.
I stare with a blank expression at the man. This is making less and less sense. Suddenly my phone vibrates in my hand, playing the sound that I have received a message. I quickly open it with my thumb. Alazne has sent me, Was the photo too much? Please tell me something.
I almost vomit, then my hands tremble with fury. This motherfucking thug has made my Alazne get worried because I didn’t get to send my praises for her holy photo.
I start punching in a reply, but the Eastern European man tries to interrupt me. I haven’t registered what he yelled at me. I lift an index finger ordering him to wait, and I send the message. I wrote to Alazne, A random guy just stopped me in the street, I’ll reply to your holy offering in a minute. Then I grit my teeth and turn towards the Eastern European construction person.
“Shut the fuck up, asshole. Look at your car. It’s fucking dirty as hell.”
“What’s it to you, you fucking…”
“It’s nothing to me. But you need to learn some manners. You can’t go around yelling at random people, whether or not they are touching themselves.”
The guy slaps the passenger door of his car. Although the anger in his face suggests he’ll shout even louder, he takes a deep breath and narrows his eyes.
“You are looking at me as if you seriously don’t recognize me. Is there something wrong with you, or are you such scum that you would move on that easily, forgetting everything?”
I take a good look at him while I try to seem indifferent rather than confused. I squint, but of course I don’t remember shit. This guy is likely someone that Asier dealt with. Don’t tell me that Asier was knee-deep in crap with the Russian mafia.
“Sorry, I don’t know you. But if you tell me your name I might be able to…”
“Oleksiy, damn it. You should know what you know me from.”
“Ah… You were one of Asier’s… business partners, maybe? Something drug-related? It’s just that you look so different with that beard and those clothes… And by Asier, I mean me, of course. I’m Asier.”
The man looks to the side while frowning, then he stands up right in front of me. He’s about my size, but with bigger muscles. However, he’s now staring at me as if he himself isn’t quite sure with whom he’s dealing.
“So you are involved with nasty shit like that…?” the man says in a low voice. “I could tell from the beginning you weren’t any good.”
I hide half of my face with my hand for a moment. I need to think about Alazne, how I left her hanging, what she must be thinking because the last thing she knows is that a random guy was bothering me. I need to get rid of this thuggish bastard, whoever he is.
“Hey, buddy, look at this.” I point at the still healing wound near my hairline. “I hit my head very hard in a car crash. It might have ended up in the news. Since then I’ve had serious, and I mean real serious, problems to remember anything. I truly have no clue who you are.”
“You don’t remember anything at all?” he mumbles as his eyes grow colder.
I shake my head. This Oleksiy guy stares at me for a moment, then makes a fist with his right hand and strikes me in the gut. I bend over and cough, nearly puking. I drop my umbrella, which rolls around on the pavement, but I manage to keep holding on to my phone. I feel the cold rain on my neck.
“What the hell are you doing?!” I shout in a raspy voice. “That was unnecessary! I’m telling the truth, my memory is fucked up!”
He grabs my shirt and lifts me up to his face. One of his front teeth is discolored, as if the dentist who fixed it did a poor job.
“Amnesia?! That crap is made up for television! No way something that convenient happened to you! And the wound doesn’t look that bad!”
Amnesia may very well be made up for television, not that it would make any difference in my circumstances.
A couple of vehicles are slowing down as they realize that the Toyota 4Runner blocking the one-way road isn’t going to move. The occupants of the white van that stops right behind Oleksiy’ 4×4 don’t look the type to wait around patiently. The driver rolls down the window and shouts a question in a language I don’t understand.
“Hey, what’s going on here? Are you okay?” a man walking a dog on the other side of the street asks.
It’s all happening so fast… What do I do? If this guy knows Asier, then my whole plan may be ruined.
Oleksiy eyes the wound on my forehead, then his grip tightens as his face twists into an animalistic snarl.
“Whatever. You’ll come with me and I will explain it to you over again, if you want to play it that way.”
The rain keeps hitting my face, rolling down my skin, getting between my back and the clothes. My guts hurt, but adrenaline is rushing through my veins. Why am I tolerating being handled like this? Am I not a big man now? I put my phone in my pocket. With that hand I pry Oleksiy’s fingers off my shirt, then with my other arm I push him towards his Toyota. He stumbles two steps back and almost falls onto the passenger’s seat.
“Get the fuck out of here before I break your skinny ass!” I shout.
He raises himself and glances at me with a mix of anger and confusion. The even shadier driver of the white van is blowing its horn, and the guy walking his dog is sticking around, I guess because he lacks a sense of self-preservation.
I take out my phone and lift it to my ear while I glare at Oleksiy or whatever his name is.
“Hello, I’d like to report a stalker.”
Oleksiy fixes his T-shirt.
“Motherfucker, I can tell you haven’t dialed any number.”
“What’s going on?” the dog walker asks me.
I crane my neck to answer him.
“He’s my ex and he won’t leave me alone. My name’s Julián.”
Oleksiy groans loudly, looks back towards the angry driver of the white van, then gets into his own car. After he slams the passenger side’s door, he scoots over to the driver’s seat. He leans towards the open passenger window to yell at me.
“Alright, but now I know you still live in this city! I’m going to see you again!”
“I don’t know whether to feel threatened or flattered, sweetie,” I say loud enough for the witnesses.
Oleksiy grits his teeth and accelerates his Toyota. The white van and two other vehicles follow him.
I force myself to breathe steadily. I wipe the rainwater off my face, but new rain drops assault me. I’m cold, I feel like my ass is going to explode with diarrhea. When I bend over to pick up my umbrella, I realize that the dog walker, a nerdy-looking guy in his mid twenties, has crossed the road.
Without thinking, I ask, “Do you have a cigarette?”
He takes out the packet from his shirt’s pocket, opens it and offers me one. As I fish through my pockets for a lighter, the dog walker looks at me worried.
“I had a feeling that guy was no good when I saw him yelling at you.”
I chuckle nervously.
“I’d say that yelling at someone in the streets is a good sign of that person not being any good. What am I doing? Nevermind.”
I drop the cigarette onto the wet pavement, then grind it out with my heel.
“You shouldn’t smoke. It will kill you that much quicker.”