And about a year passed, and still the snake feeling was there, along with the two cats we had before the burglary. In the evening, when I would come home first and when one of them would greet me in the yard with a raised tail, with those small-step sinusoids in front of me and with that “mrreow” of theirs, still, electrified in my bowels, I would wonder whether I had let them out before I left or, again, they had left through a broken window or the main entrance which the burglar had left ajar on the way out.
Then one day, coming home from work, I saw a moped with an attached cart in the dead-end alley. Inside, a linen sack. A two-litre plastic bottle peeked from the unroped hole. The yard door – unchained. I felt a jolt in my jaw beneath the ears. I parked behind the moped, pulled the handbrake; he’s got nowhere to run. I walked into the yard. One metre… pressure beneath the ears, I could hear the blood… two metres… on the right, my fragrant maidenly hand creeping green and white on the wall was disappearing, it was fading… three metres… I saw only a narrow circle in front of me… four metres, the entrance was to the left, before me the huge rotund pillar… I stepped left toward the porch… I was on the porch, to my right was the sagging rosebush… I went toward the door… two, four stairs… I put my hand on the door handle… good, it was locked. I turned around, I saw a head through the entrance window, it was looking upwards, towards the two upper apartments, he did not see me… I jumped the four stairs, fists tightened… I landed in front of the thorny rose, blocking his way: he was mine!
“Stop!” I did not recognize my own voice.
A tallish, long-legged man stopped in front of me, astride; in his right hand he was holding a football; a skateboard in his left. A metre in front of me. He did not move. I did not move. I was just breathing like a beast. He was young. His shoulders were tightened as in a standing start, his legs apart and stiff as a sprinter with inexplicable relays in his hands.
“Drop that!” I growled.
He listened to me as if defeated – me, a teeny-tiny man, two feet smaller than him. But he did not drop them. He lowered them, slowly. His red sweatshirt was gross. His jeans did not fit him, too small. They were greasy. His shoes had holes at the big toe. The ball and the skate were on the ground. He straightened up in the same standing start position, but he was looking at me like Bambi in headlights.