Swimming in the Dust

/, Literature, Blesok no. 71-73/Swimming in the Dust

Swimming in the Dust

We entered the subway and left for the stadium. It was late in the afternoon. Somebody said that we had to go early, to find place in front of the stage itself, and off we went. We were among the first ones at the gate. There were still four more hours to the start of the concert. If they saw when we came, they would let us in not in the first rows, but on the stage itself, I thought. Somebody proposed that we took Stolichnaya for the concert. Nearby there was a self-service supermarket, just like in Skopje. Same shelves, same surly saleswomen, mirrors on the ceiling to see who’s steeling. Somebody said they would not let us in with alcohol. That is why we also took some plastic bottled soda, to hide the vodka in that bottle. For the start we took two bottles, half a litter each. Then we thought that it would be enough for the whole evening, but it turned out that we were just starting. In the three and a half hours until they opened NEP gates, we went to the store several times. We fucked up all of our forints. I went once again and I stole a bottle. There were so many Bowie fans inside that nobody noticed. Mars carried a waist bag and he put all of our documents inside. He seemed the most sober of all. And he was the oldest and therefore the safest. We watched the passports as the apples of our eyes: the red passports with the coat of arms of SFRY, that we used to go wherever we wanted and whenever we wanted. Now some people write essays about those passports. But to pay so much attention to a document is too much for me. A document of a failed, disintegrated and fucked up… state that as if have burned with the fierce fire of the torches of its associated republics & provinces.

We entered as a herd, as a pack, as a stampede. As if we chased the immobile stage. Somebody said it was important to be in the first rows. Even if I had not wanted to go along with it, the crowd was carrying me as a small drop of sweat on a hot body entering the sea.
We lined up in front of the stage as tame sheep, devoted followers of the sub-culture cult, we – the rockers and new-romantics and the other clans, ready for a show and spectacle. To see a man who made the revolution in the music before most of us could hear that music at all. Because at that time we have listened to kid’s lullabies.
But it’s not all that simple: first we had to listen to the opening band. Some idiots from Timişoara suburbs… I have nothing against Timişoara or any other city except by my native one. But the guys sucked.

I was so drunk at the concert that I don’t really remember everything. I only know that the music seemed quiet, and immediately next to me there was a blonde with a nice fragrance and fat fingers. We spoke about the music in the break, Turk said we only listened to the monitors and the small amplifiers from the stage. And it was the Sound & Vision tour. There was nothing special to see either. I was never a fan of close encounters with the celebrities. I didn’t speak about the blonde with anybody, until several years later, when a girlfriend of mine told me that after Bowie’s concert in Zagreb she returned to Skopje, climbed on a building and wanted to kill herself by jumping from the 15th floor. I had to tell her what a windbag she was, and I told her that while she yearned for Bowie from the distance, I fucked a blonde before his eyes in the first row under the stage at the Budapest concert. She was not sure if I was pulling her leg, but after this our relationship improved: every time she would start to dramatize, I would give her a story to slam her from the ground.
We handed each other the plastic bottle full with Stolichnaya mixed with the juice taste. We handed it to each other like a joint. Bowie was in white, he smiled with his porcelain teeth and lipstick covered lips. But from that distance I could not see if they were porcelain. I knew the story about his teeth; I had seen photographs where he smiled with some black pieces hanging from his gums, the remains of his neglected teeth. I was really pissed. I travelled a thousand and some kilometers for this concert, and all I could see were flaws. Probably because it didn’t get to me. It didn’t pass through me, it just passed by. Station to station… As a train by a provincial station. The bad thing was that I was the station. By the road, huh. Covered with dust and silence, in the middle of the crowd, sweat and noise.

We started to exit in the same way we entered. A herd of freaked-out cows. Of course, I lost them all. Mars with the passports, my cousin Vlado the Turk, and the one who might have had the vodka bottle, if there was any vodka in it. I went to the subway station. The lights of Budapest swam around me. I was like a big, round fish. Dizzy. I entered the subway without a ticket, I didn’t have a fucking forint. It would be great if they caught me, I thought, and I have no passport. I lit a cigarette as I waited for the train. That was forbidden, too. It would be great, I thought… but nobody said anything about the cigarette. The subway station was filled with Bowie fans that were drunk and high. I was just one of them. A drop in the sea of sweat crowd and noise.
I looked at the station clock. Our train was leaving in 25 minutes. I am stuck here, fuck it…

I ran from the subway station to the train station and then to the itinerary board and I ran to the platform where my train was, and through the cars, until I found them all together. The only thing missing was the vodka.
“Fuck it, I thought you left me with the Hungarians…”
“Who would take you, look at yourself.” said Turk.
“Fuck it, I was running, not bathing. I’m never leaving my passport with somebody else, even if I’m dead drunk.” I said between two breaths.
“Everything is here, all that you need.” said somebody. And he gave me a bottle of water. It was everything that I needed, and he was right. Who was that man? Was it Džirlo? Maybe. The more I think about it, the more certain I am that it was him. This is maybe not important for the story, but it’s important for me: I want to remember everybody that I was with at some moment of my life. Not because I think that my life is very important for anybody else but me, but because all those people and places made me what I am, regardless of how short and superficial those meetings were. The dust falls on quiet, dead places. Never before I’ve allowed myself to see it pile: I always wanted to make that small effort for an extra stroke. To swim through it. To upset it. First inside me. Then it would be easier. My breath will be smoother and I will breathe deeper, I thought.
But I was already here, inside it. It covered me every day, bit by bit. Unnoticeably. Mimicrically.

The invitation waited for me by the typewriter. September 19, it said. It was late. Everybody was asleep. I went to the kitchen and I found one of my father’s bottles. I poured a double and I sat in front of the typewriter. The dawn was breaking outside. I looked at the calendar. It was September 18. I looked at my hair. It was under my chest. All of this will be gone tomorrow, I thought, the hair, her photographs on the wall, my solitary awaiting of the dawn. Tomorrow, at 24:00 I’ll be at “Marshal Tito” barracks in Zagreb, military post ххххх. Bottoms up and I poured another one.

Later in the day, in decent hours, around noon, I called Ozana.
“I’m coming tomorrow morning.” I told her.
“I’ll wait for you at the station.”
“I’ll come with short hair.”
“I’ll recognize you.”

Around five in the afternoon some people gathered in my house. To see me off to the Yugoslav National Army. We sat and tried to have fun. Tuff luck. Emily, my sister from the class, took care of my hair in the bathroom. First she made a thick braid. Then somebody took my picture. Everybody loved my long hair. It would have been good if they had been my army superiors. But they weren’t. So I said good-bye to the hair as early as the morning. Nobody would butcher me there, I said. Nobody would torment me. Emily took the scissors, several cuts and it was over. Then she fine-tuned, I shaved and I was ready for the army. At least that’s what I thought.
In the living room, Giš lectured on how the army was unnecessary and how the Yugoslav National Army destroyed the people. As if I entered my own memorial service. My father was getting tipsy, my mother was shaken, my sister handed the drinks all over the room. I felt like going out and leaving them all in this blessed grief. Emily took my hand and took me into the room. The reacted pathetically. They were shaken. As if my hair had been the essence of my whole existence.
“Kirca, now the neighbors will not look at me crossed.” I told my father and I sat next to him. I poured a drink and we emptied the glasses. His eyes filled with tears. As mine just have now.

2018-08-21T17:22:54+00:00 June 30th, 2010|Categories: Prose, Literature, Blesok no. 71-73|0 Comments