Worm-infested cherries part 2.
By Biljana Malesevic
A long time ago, I was young woman who smoked a pack of expensive cigarettes a day, drank whiskey and best foreign beer. I wore silk thongs and short skirts, and I could put on make up so skillfully, that I looked like movie star. I used to sneak out of some stranger’s apartment early in the morning, wanting only a hot shower to rinse a strange smell from my body and to forget that night. And soon, I would did it all again, with some other person. Each night, other body smell, other skin, hair, some other body movements, different habits. There is something strangely comforting in habits, as you always know what to expect and surprises are rarely encountered. Just because of that, I never let myself relax and indulge in routine and predictable schedule. Once the chain of habits is broken, for whatever reason, and that always happens, it’s terribly painful. I've learned that at young age and therefore I’ve never allowed myself to get used to anyone or anything. Our habits control us and each change causes frustration. I used to change my lovers as soon as I began remembering the smell of them, as soon as I began expecting the meeting with them, as soon as I knew when it will happen and how it will look like. As soon as I realised that I knew unique map of his or hers body. I used to change apartments as soon as I would get tired of the walls, and when the look out the window would remain same for too long. I tried not to have any habits, never to make plans, never to expect anything from people and situations. It was almost a sure way to be protected from pain.
Oddly enough, even though I was the epitome of unreliable and selfish person, people liked me. Maybe that attitude which shows that you don’t care about anyone or anyone's opinion except your own gives to other people a deceptive sense that you must have valid reason for superior, selfish, royal behaviour. If you are self-conscious, quiet and take care of other people's emotions and needs, people think that you are inferior to them, they think of you as their doormat because you are presenting yourself as inferior to them. And that also I learned very early on, in hard way.
One February night, 12 years ago, I was coming out of “Moonlight” disco around three o'clock in the morning in the company of three young, good-looking men who were competing which one will take me to his apartment. It was below zero Celsius outside (32 F), heavily snowing and icy wind was cutting flesh to the bones. I wore a little black dress, soft black suede boots, and pretty much nothing else. My three cavaliers wore ski jackets filled with feathers and ankle high snow boots. My mind was blurred with vodka and whiskey, and through a drunken haze I saw only bright smiles, heard only compliments and promises, felt only heated hormones and expectations. I felt a warm hands in gloves on my frozen body, warm kisses on my neck and shoulders.
A moment later, as it seemed, I woke up in a dark, smelly room. Have I passed out from drinking, cold, or from the fact that I haven’t been eating for at least two days, or it was all that together, I didn’t know. Anyway, some "good soul", perhaps one of my three cavaliers, apparently decided that it wasn’t right for me to freeze to death in the February snow, in my little black dress, heels and a set of makeup, so he dragged me, judging by the smell, in a public toilet. To be honest, in this moment, death by being frozen and at least temporarily preserved in ice, did not seem like a bad idea. Long life is overrated. I tried to get up on my feet, but as soon as I straightened my head, nausea got me and before I had time to react, disgusting, sour mash of vomit started to come up my esophagus. I quickly turned my head down so it would end up on the floor instead of on my dress. Still a bit groggy but now somewhat more sober, I got up and stumbled around in the dark to find the switch or at least a sink. In the darkness, I managed to find a sink and refresh with some cold water. After some tumbling in the dark, I found the exit door and entered a corridor. The corridor was quiet and in total darkness, but conveniently narrow so that you can touch both walls with hands. Not long after, I was in some semi-lighted room that I recognised as “Moonlight” foyer. The room was eerily empty, and I've already noticed a comfortable couch as a possible place to sleep if it turns out that exit is locked. Without people, decoration and lighting, the foyer looked really pathetic, just cheap plastic and scratched glass, much like most human individuals who came into this disco. Weak foyer light was coming from the disco main dance hall and I could hear some people talking in there. Still unsteady, I was strongly tempted to just lie down and sleep on the couch in the lobby, but I managed to stagger to the big dance hall, hoping that there is still a chance to suffer hangover in my own apartment instead of here. Four men in strange and obviously very expensive silvery-gray suits stood in the dance hall not far from where I was hiding. Two of them were tall and slim, one rather short and heavy built and there was also a chubby older guy obviously much older than the other three. The hall was in semi-darkness, and I could not see their faces well, but I could hear them.
- "I don’t fucking care what your reasons are, John" - said older, chubby man - "what statistics tell me is that we did not achieve adequate results, which means heads are going to fly. Yours first, if this trend continues."
- "The dosage is difficult to assess, Daniel" – said one of two tall men - "You know how it is with people, unlike pigs or primates. Everyone reacts differently. "
- "Your job is to determine dosages" - said Daniel- "you know who you're dealing with, you got 'Moonlight', with certain, specific type of people to control. You did not get subway or shopping center, for God’s sake!"
- "Whiskey for promiscuity," - said short bulky man - "I think vodka also could do. If you ask me, I would set hormone level at twenty percent instead of fifteen. "
- "Twenty percent would create chaos," – John protested - "if you get contraceptives, plus sex toys, it would be good for profits, but I wouldn’t be hasty with high dosages. Don’t forget the incident on January 2011. And you should keep an eye on level of apathy of the working class. "
- "You can take medications and drugs for sexually transmitted diseases, and add it to the profit. As for my dosages for the working class, I never received any complaints. When I get them, I will revise the dose. Product range of contamination this year is much wider than ever. "
- "We have worst results in the area," - Daniel said, his voice was dead-serious, and scary - "I'm not interested in collateral damage, that's not our problem. Human sacrifice can always be justified and covered, there are Cleaners to worry about it, but the numbers remain to be seen. Your goal is known, how will you reach it, it's a matter of your strategy. "
I shook my head, convinced I was dreaming, or hallucinating in delirium tremens. If they see me, I'm a dead person, and what's worse, no one will be surprised if they find my corpse in the snow in front of the disco "Moonlight". Maybe they won’t even consider the autopsy to be necessary.
- "During last year there were too many cover-ups”- John said - "I can’t take more chances."
Daniel turned to him and from where I was standing, I could see one sinister eye, yellow as in reptiles that flashed angrily towards John. His skin looked scarred with some unusual texture, like in a lizard. I retreated a bit in darkness of foyer afraid that this yellow eye will see me. His voice froze me even though the threat was clearly directed to John.
- "You're getting too soft, Johnny boy, and your results suffer. We're losing control over the sector, and it is your responsibility. Remember that you are only human, like those you are poisoning, you are not one of us. Your motive is money and easy life. We can train other humans like you without any problem to replace you in short term, you're not irreplaceable. "
There was silence. I squeezed into a dark corner of the foyer pushing my own fist in my mouth.
- "I'll get it." - said John, defeated.
I heard footsteps moving away from me, thank God! Shortly afterwards, the light from the hall went out, leaving me in complete darkness. I sighed and curled up behind one of the couches to wait for dawn.