Texte

"Vertumnus"
(translated by Kika Bomer)

My pockets were empty and only one comfort remained: I could stay at my cousin's.
I hurried there through the misty night between the cement-gray houses, led by the colors of a taxi coach. I crossed a track littered with cigarette butts and ashes. Further ahead a small, older man ducked greedily between trash cans, touching and exploring their depths.
A large dog blocked my way. A mutt, but almost a Doberman. He snarled and his growl was full of violence and warning. Overcome with fear I avoided him and stumbled across the street, feeling cold in my center again, so that my skin became moist like a glass pane with one side in the heat, the other in frost.
The dog slowly pursued me; he silently set one paw in front of the other and didn't let me out of his sight until I broke the peacefulness of the night and yelled, "Go away, get!" The dog hesitated, and intimidated by my resistance he froze with his paws stretched forward. Above us window wings moved in soft slow motion, while pale sleeping faces bent over towards us. They damned me for my vitality and wished something else for me, but the dog let me go, turned around, defeated, and I could keep hurrying to visit a friend of happier days, who forgave my pathetic introversion of the last years, the way one translated a lover's coquettishness for graciousness.
I smiled at the blank windows, which threw back to me my profile. The city reminded me of the face of a young girl who I once was: the tears that welled out of her eyes were at the same time plugs against the opening outwards.
The gate was open. I switched on the light in order to find the way to the elevator. It looked shabbier than ever¯I'd used it every day¯and as I slammed the door, it waggled back and forth. Hesitantly it obeyed the push of the button and struggled upwards.
I had to climb the last stairway up to my cousin's apartment on the roof. There was junk lying on the stairs, old furniture that almost blocked the way. I tripped. The entrance to Michael's apartment was filthy, the door warped as if unoccupied rooms were behind it. The door opened with a delicate push of my hand and I felt around for a light switch. Light. Blank walls under the ceiling, the tiles laying on rough rafters. Thick layers of dust covered the floorboards and whirled up under my feet, turned pirouettes and sunk heavily down.
This was not what I expected or was looking for.
My life had become unhinged, and I'd hoped to seize one piece of it at Michael's, but he'd also disappeared, and the horror I'd tried like a blind person to ignore in the last few days came over me in this emptiness.
Under the slope of the ceiling I discovered the old, small box, which had stood in the living room of Michael's apartment. I found trashy literature, dime novels he'd collected with boyish enthusiasm. They gave me no clue about his disappearance and fell out of my hands in scraps of yellow, rough paper.
Sweat ran down my forehead again. I became nauseous and vomited in a dark corner of the room.
I'd traversed the city through the underworld of the metro's opened shafts in vain. Everyone I sought had disappeared, only I remained, despairing. For the first time it occurred to me that the only thing the disappeared had in common was the fact that I had given to them a part of myself. I could be the one that brought to them destruction, although I didn't know why.
I walked to the stairwell. I wasn't alone anymore. My thighs and arms started to tremble. The elevator opened. I tip-toed between piles of junk. The elevator and I reached the fourth floor at the same time, I was sneaking down and it creaked upwards.
I crouched and ran. The noise I made surrounded me. The person who stepped out of the elevator looked at me. For a moment I saw the shadows of green-uniformed figures. I saw red eyes in bloodless faces; I saw how they aimed weapons at me; I saw them rush after me with movements like sleepwalkers. A small fat man wearing a light trench coat climbed towards Michael's apartment without noticing them or me. I was on the run again. ...

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