Friday, June 2, 2017

Ark, by Andrea Bodnárová

Snapshots from the microcosmos. The uniqueness of mundane details and daily weirdness.

We are sitting in Lužánky by the fountain, me, Tomáš, Pavel and some friend of theirs, whose name I don’t remember. After drinking a certain amount of red wine, Pavel decides to go and relieve himself. He performs this action by standing on the edge of the fountain and pissing right into the water. I comment on the advantage of the male anatomy. After a couple of minutes Tomáš gets up as well and, inspired by Pavel, swiftly decides to also use the fountain, the difference being him sitting down. He comes back with wet feet, it’s the same as peeing in the pool when you’re a kid, he says.
A few hours later, the company slowly dies out and now it’s only me and Tomáš. We decide to sleep here, to try how it feels, with the nights in August slowly getting chillier. We wake up about an hour later, hearing voices and splashing. Some group of people has decided to freshen up at the fountain at 3 a.m., nude apparently, as they highlight vigorously. We don’t look to check it though, we are sleeping. Probably it’s the same as when kids pee in a pool they’re in.
The sleepover doesn’t really work out in the end, however. At 4.30 a.m. even Tomáš starts to feel cold (how surprising, wearing shorts and sandals), so we pack up and go back to his place.
„You know what, I’ve never met this Matúš person and from what I’ve been hearing, he doesn’t even seem like a real human being, it’s almost as if he was a fictional character.“
„Oh yes, we are definitely pretending he’s not actually from Prešov.“
Andrej looks at me in amused disbelief. Marek’s excitement rises exponentially as I shake my head, chuckling.
„Ok, it’s not about him cooking every day at 2 a.m., smoking weed without opening the window, listening to shitty reggae. It’s not about him having incredibly loud sex with everything that he can stick his dick in. But he’s always such an important and wise person that knows everything. He was also talking shit about our roommate’s new relationship, because she dumped him. He kept saying they broke up, because she was a lesbian now, which obviously wasn’t true. But I guess we could imagine he was so bad, she actually decided to just stop dating men forever because of him.“
„That is truly Matúš! This is so much fun to listen to.“ Marek enthusiastically waves the tea kettle. Andrej is inspecting a small box with buttons, sitting on top of the pile of cables on the table, amused. A faint sound of cooing and wings flapping resonates in the courtyard. Marek moves the teacups away from the turntables, computer parts and other unidentifiable electronic remnants.
“Also, when we were living at Cihlářská, we didn’t have any smoking restrictions in our flat. We decided, we’re gonna smoke in the kitchen, with the open window, as in the common space. What you did in your own room was your decision. But Matúš was smoking at the toilet, because he had to, or I don’t know, to successfully take a shit. I told him not to do that; he said ok and then I found a cigarette butt burned to the flusher. Matúš was the type of person to try to convince you he wasn’t smoking at the toilet, while coming out of there with a cigarette lit.”
Marek grabs the kettle and casually starts pouring water into a hole in the floor.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“Oh, you’ve never seen me do this?”
“.... what...where does that even go..”
“Oh, I don’t know, that’s our black hole! We pour leftover water in it.”
“... why the hell would you... I don’t even...”
I look at Andrej, he ponders, “I think there’s a dance studio downstairs, isn’t there?”
“Oh yeah, might be!”
Andrej puts the teacup on a small shelf. “What about going for a smoke? Let’s go next door, we’re not supposed to smoke in here.” We cross the hallway to find ourselves in an electronic hanging garden, the greenery balancing out the shelves filled with cables, cars roaring behind the huge windows overlooking Koliště. I make myself comfortable on the old couch.
“Hah, this is gonna be fun during the Christmas market, shitty music all day round.” Marek lights a cigarette with a dreamy look on his face. I light one as well.
It’s Sunday, 11 a.m. and we pass another closed coffee shop. Naďa is reaching a breaking point.
“A fucking Crocs shoe! I should’ve stuffed it in his ass! Why the fuck does he need to look for a fucking Crocs shoe on Sunday fucking morning! ‘Hey Tomáš, have you seen my left Crocs? If you find it, just leave it in the middle of the room.’ I’m gonna stuff it down your throat if I ever fucking see you again. CHOKE ON THAT CROCS!”
There’s an open restaurant on the left side of the street, but they don’t have a smoking section. I ask about a coffee to go, the bartender shakes his head. They don’t have any paper cups.
“Does nobody drink coffee in this city on Sunday morning? Also Tomáš has no coffee in his house? How can they fucking live like that, the fucking young chemist could have left some, while he was howling about his fucking Crocs...”
“He doesn’t drink coffee, he also didn’t have any tea, the one that’s in the kitchen is mine.”
Naďa lights a cigarette, desperately. I’m weighing our options. We cross and walk down Bayerova, nothing there either. The staff sitting outside, drinking and smoking, kills our hopes, as they are yet to open. But supposedly there’s a newly opened hipster café down at Lidická.
“There’s ONE open café in Brno??! ONE!”
“Hah well you know, you’re supposed to be spending time with your family, or in the church, like a well-mannered person.”
“I’m supposed to be sleeping, that’s what it is! If it wasn’t for that idiot... young fucking chemist.. just take your fucking experiments or whatnot elsewhere with your stupid shoe before I smash your head with it...”
“That might be tricky though, with a Crocs shoe?”
“Why is he a young chemist again, by the way?”
“Because his room was filled with homemade drugs.”
“Aah ok, what an idiot, I’m sure he was snorting them from HIS FUCKING CROCS and that’s why he was looking for them.”
We enter the hipster café, which is also non-smoking. Nevertheless, they do offer coffee to go. While ordering, we notice a man sitting at the bar, holding a sleeping baby. We give each other a soft look. As we head further down the street, Naďa is in much better mood. We settle down in front of the fountain, which is completely drained.
“You know what, this Vincentka really is perfect, it tastes completely terrible, when you don’t need it and totally amazing, when you’re hungover. It’s like your body is asking for those minerals.”
She puts the bottle down on the bench, rolls a joint and offers me a drag. I decline. I take a sip from my coffee, arabica with milk. Naďa is smiling into the sun.
We cross the tram crossroads at Joštova and follow the tracks, spitting out snow as we walk.
“It’s so crazy all of this fell down in one day.”
I’m wiping my eyes, trying to get rid of the remnants of the snow. He’s trying to gain control of the dog, but with the former being too drunk and the latter too excited, the mission fails before it even starts.
“Oh look, there’s more fresh snow to jump into. Oh god why did I drink so much, I don’t even fucking have anything to celebrate.”
“Look, it’s still snowing. Celebrating, what?”
“This exam period is in total shambles. I wish it was already over.”
I submerge myself in the snow blanket, face down.
“I’m gonna be fucking wet.”
“Try rolling on your back as well!”
He’s standing over me with a look of an accomplished mentor, the snow glistening in his hair.
“Also these wool gloves are useless. But I can’t be bothered to look for any normal ones in my size.”
He lies down on his back with a heavenly look on his face. I almost decide to poke him, but he gets up before I manage to do it.
“Let’s compare our hands.”
Our palms gently touch, with slight uncertainty
“No, stop moving it upwards.”
He curls his fingers and grabs my hand.
“There, done.”
I flash a smile back.
“I’m so fucking drunk, I should go home.”
“Hah look the dog thinks we’re doing this to entertain him.”
He throws himself in the next drift, the dog joyfully jumping around. The pockets on my coat are full of snow.
“We should really go, yes...”
“Are you gonna get home ok?”
“Well, it’s not like it’s different from usual... now that there’s snow... unless I get stuck rolling around somewhere...”
He gleefully smiles, looking sleepy. The dog keeps on happily catching snowflakes in his mouth.
„Brno is a Noah’s Ark, but really screwed. Literally.“
Marika frowns at her salted caramel macaron, as if the pastry was objecting.
“Everyone’s fucking everyone else, or at least they know each other through someone else and nobody’s a normal couple.”
“Hah well, it’s a small place after all. And anyway, look at my relationships, I don’t even understand them half of the time.”
Marika chuckles.
“You know how we were talked about writing those cheap paperback novels to get rich, I think we should really do it. We don’t even have to think of a new setting, we can just use places that we know.”
“Yeah, it can also be inspired by real life, that’s easy and it sells.”
“Does it though? Who would want to read about my exciting adventures.”
“That means you’re relatable for the readers.”
“Can you maybe stop blowing cigarette smoke in my face?”
“Sorry. It’s the wind.”
“It’s not the wind.”
I put on a scarf and zip up my jacket. The cold coffee is not helping at all. A child approaches with a curious look on her face. Marika lightens up.
“Oh hello. You wanna know what that is? That’s a rolled up mattress. And this is a bed frame.”
The child pokes the pieces of wood sticking out of a cloth bag, perplexed. The bag tumbles over. The loud bang echoes in the courtyard.
“See you do have an exciting life. Right now we could assemble this bed here in front of this café and it could be a performance. If somebody filmed it. Or would it? We are already in a gallery, so...”
“We don’t have a hex key though.”
“Hm true. Well shit.”
The child starts climbing an art installation made out of plastic blocks.
“You know but I do sometimes feel like my life is a movie... “
“Like La Grande Bellezza, but without the parties, money and reputation? Sounds about right.”
“Well thank you, I also do appreciate you and your company very much. You also could have waited for me with the bed.”
“I didn’t notice you didn’t get in the first tram.”
“Well how was I supposed to, it was completely full.”
“You know what, just appreciate this nice coffee, the rest of your macaron, and the fact that you’re sitting here, resting, like the true café slacker.”
“And freezing.”
“Yes, exactly.”
“This is almost like some sort of a metaphor.”
“You’re always some sort of a metaphor.”
“Very true though.”
Marika takes the last sip of her coffee only to find out the cup is already empty.
“How about getting a cheesecake next time?”
“I’m always up for a cheesecake, you know that. But maybe let’s not take the bed with us again.”
“And what about that performance, ts.”
“It’s not a real performance, if it’s not documented.”
“Hm true. Ok let’s not.”
The sun rays are moving slowly towards the corner of the building. The courtyard is still.

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