All posts by pawel kowaluk

We Seven

I just got into bed, getting ready for a good night’s sleep. I was alone, my wife had gone on a business trip, so I figured the whole entire bed belonged to me. I shuffled to the middle of the bed and lay with my arms and legs wide.

And I touched something foreign. Something I was not expecting there, so I flinched and a cool sweat covered my back. I pulled it out from beneath the covers and took a good look. It was most definitely a man’s speedo.

The most obnoxious thing that could ever exist, a speedo. A used one. And one that was definitely not mine. The conclusion was simple – my wife had a secret lover.

I jumped out of bed and prowled about the house, looking for more evidence of infidelity and before the clock struck four a.m. I had found plenty.

A torn condom wrapper in the garbage.

A toothbrush tucked away in the medicine cabinet.

A half-eaten bacon sandwich in a kitchen drawer.

A book of Jeremy Clarkson quotes.

A short grey hair in a box of noodles. (My hair is brown!)

The toilet seat up.

There they were, right in front of me, seven pieces of evidence proving betrayal. Seven, like the seven dwarfs… And then it hit me.

What if each of them was evidence of a separate betrayal? I wept and wept, until I had tears no more. If they were the seven dwarfs, then who was I?

The Doll

I bought a doll from an antique shop on Upper East Side. It had a white china face and beautiful silk clothes. It was centuries old, but extremely well preserved. I brought it home to Victoria.

“Thank you,” she said with a broad smile, “You’re so sweet. You always know what to get me. Where do you find such beautiful things?”

“I have an eye for beauty,” I said and she kissed me long and warm, and then loosened my tie, one of her many ways to initiate love.

When we lay awake later, staring into the skylight, she said: “The doll will keep me company when you are away. It will inspire me, and when I cannot write, it will comfort me. We will wait for you together.”

“It belonged,” I said, “To a French merchant’s daughter in the eighteenth century. He brought it for her from Switzerland. She was the first in his family to be born into luxury, you know. He was a self-made man.”

“Just like you,” she said.

Later on, when I knew the apartment would no longer bear witness to our love, I saw the doll on the shelf where she had left it. Long forgotten, part of an array of her possessions. Tokens of my devotion.

The Holy Cave

Brian was finally allowed to enter the Holy Cave. After the bumpy flight with bad food, the mix up with hotel reservations, the long ride on a crowded bus, the endless wait in line, he was now at one of the most sacred places of all human culture. A hub of five religions. The site of human communication with God.

The cave offered a breath of cool air, so important on a dry hot day as this one. The cave was peaceful and quiet. The cave was lit up by hundreds of tiny candles. (Who lights them up? Are they gas lights?) The cave was manned by polite priests in ancient robes who showed the way into the main chamber.

Brian stood at the center of the main chamber and he opened himself to the world of the divine. He ignored the drawings on the wall, they were made by those before him, and he looked at the black hole in the middle of the ceiling. This is where the prophets and the witch doctors saw God and fell to their knees listening to His voice. Brian trembled in anticipation.

“What went wrong?” he kept asking himself on the way out. “Did I get distracted by the trivial matters of everyday life? Did I not meditate enough in preparation for this? Perhaps I am not worthy?”

When he reached the exit, the light of day blinded him and noise flooded his ears. He saw an ocean of pilgrims waiting their turn, living their lives at the precipice of the divine. Selling chickens out of wheelbarrows.

You’re Embarassing Me

I was playing Xbox with my friends one evening. It was already dark outside and we were getting into this new game, even though all of us were pretending like it was not such a big deal. We sat around the couch, chair and floor all jaded and whatevered as we discovered the new features and DLCs.

When it was no longer my turn, I passed my controller to Jason and sat back. That is when I began to smell roasted nuts.

“Hey, your dad must be home,” somebody said, “He’s cooking something. Smells good.”

“Oh, boy,” I said, “Here we go.”

My dad slithered in through a crack in the door and said nothing, just showed off his blue face for a while. The guys stopped playing and looked at him, mesmerized. Then he spoke: “Would you boys like some roasted nuts?”

“Sure, Mr. D.,” said Jason.

“Stop it, dad, you’re embarrassing me,” I said.

“Let me get them for you,” said my father ignoring me completely. Then he rose to the ceiling slowly, operating in his own weird time dimension. It took an eternity before he touched the white plaster and stuck to it with the antennae of his dead fingers. Clung to it like a wet rag. Crawled all over it like an intrusion of cockroaches. Sang like a choir of schoolgirls on a Sunday night. Then floated to the floor slowly and produced seven (exactly) bowls of roasted nuts.

“Here you go, boys. Enjoy,” he said from outside the room.

“Your dad is a cool guy,” said Jason, “I mean, he’s okay.”

“Yeah, he’s an old dork,” I said.

“You’ll learn to appreciate him one day,” said Jason.

Secretly, I knew Jason was one of my father’s stupid selves. I just hoped the other guys had not figured that out.

Everybody Loves My Baby

Matthew rushed over to his fellows. It was a hot night and they were taking air in the garden just outside the dance hall. Their jackets on the railings, their shirtsleeves rolled up, they were smoking and talking in low raspy voices when he appeared.

“What is it, Matty? You look like you just seen the devil himself.”

“It’s nothing, I have to get back in there,” he was smiling, his cheeks were red. “I asked the band leader to play Everybody loves my Baby. I’m gonna ask Louise to dance with me.”

“Easy there, Matty, you’ll huff yourself to death,” and they all laughed at their own youth an ┬ávigor. But all he could think about were her black hair and brown eyes.

It was the last night of summer. The next day they would all ship off to Berkeley, Brown, Harvard, and West Point.

Help Me, Rhonda

Jim thought he could find his way in a European city but he did not take into account the insane street plan that grew across the ages like a schizophrenic tumor, very few of the streets perpendicular and none of them parallel. He spent hours navigating the maze until he gave up and entered a cafe which was tucked away far from the routes frequented by tourists. He took a seat in the corner and ordered the local coffee specialty.

Returning to the hotel was his main fixation because he had a call to dial into. An early morning in his corporate headquarters was an evening in this holiday retreat and he still had two hours to get there. Nevertheless, it seemed very abstract in his current situation, in this dark cafe.

He found himself lost in thought looking at a painting on the wall in front of him. It was a girl in a white blouse and red skirt, dancing one of the hot dances of the place where he was vacationing. He imagined her come here, to this very cafe, late in the evening, to dance to the music of the local bohemians. He imagined her in love with one of them and several of them in love with her. He was sure she spent longer then necessary preparing to leave her home, eager to get there, yet desperate to make them wait. To make them desire her.

He tried to guess her name, but all that came to mind was Rhonda, which did not fit. The name brought his mind back home, to the land of gasoline, abundant in lawnmowers and bowl-a-ramas. He thought of the afternoon call again, so abstract and distant a second ago. He wanted to return to the reveries about the girl, but he could not, so he paid his bill and left in a hurry.

He was scared the girl’s name would be printed at the bottom of the frame and he would glance it by chance. He became jealous of the painter who made his love for the girl immortal.

An Evil, Evil Man

Emily was so lucky to be married to Lord Havisham. She was scared at first, when mother told her she was to be betrothed. But then he arrived at their estate in a brand new automobile, she was smitten. They were wed on a May day.

He was older, his hair was sprinkled with grey, and she was only fourteen. But he was gentle enough to wait until the night of her fifteenth birthday before deflowering her. He was the kindest of husbands and hardly ever caused her any pain.

But when she was nineteen, she began to notice a frightening change in her beloved husband. From time to time, he would snap at her. He was oftendays irritated, locked himself in the study and did not speak to her, nor did he dine with her on those gloomy days. He would make comments about her talking to younger men, guests at their house as if he was jealous.

One day she saw him angry with one of the workers in the field. He screamed at the poor fellow and then gave him a good thrashing. She was so terrified that she ran back into the house and cried. She knew there and then her husband’s core had become corrupted because of lack of church-going and too much focus on Money. He was no longer kind, not as kind as Hubert or Humphrey. She could no longer see herself spending the rest of her life with him.

However, she could not imagine life without him. So she wept some more.

Our Future Together

They were sitting at a cafe, waiting for their orders of coffee and apple pie. Actually, she was only having coffee because she was on a diet.

“I think it’s going to rain,” he said.

“I wish I could be out of town now,” she said, “In the forest somewhere. Waiting for the rain.”

He liked the vision, it reminded him of something out of Tolkien. Forests were never real places to him.

“One day,” she said, “I want to have a house in the middle of a forest. All green, lots of space for friends to come over and have barbecues together. Dogs. Long walks. Would you like that?”

He wanted to do business. He wanted to take the tram to the center and go from club to club all night. He wanted to get a haircut without planning a trip, just pop out and get back. He wanted to have coffee at a cafe. Thoughts of suicide came to his mind.

“I don’t really want a future,” he said morbidly.

“You don’t want any future? Or just a future with me?”

He hesitated. “Any future,” he said and she proceeded to consoling him until the waiter came and made them sit still as he put the plates and cups on the table.

Love Is Lost Forever?

Riding on the train, I was reading text messages from my ex-girlfriend. There were definite signs of me becoming too clingy towards the end, but I moved further back in time.

“I will stay out longer. Don’t wait up.” I remembered writing that one. I was out all night dancing with this girl who seemed attractive in comparison but I guess just because she was new.

“I’m coming home, should I pick up anything?” This text I guess showed how routine it was.

“Been thinking about you all day.” Oh, those were the days.

“I will love you always.” She wrote that one. I guess she stopped loving me after she found out I was sleeping around. But why did she cry? Pride?

I smiled and switched to reading the texts from the current girl and the train raged on to an unknown terminus.

When I Was a Child…

The three of them were sitting together one evening, drinking wine and talking. There was candle light and soft music in the background.

“Do you remember that place we spent the night when we took that road trip in spring?”

“Yes, it had a wooden fence around and that green kind of fence made of plants. What is that called?”

“A hedge,” she laughed, “Only you could forget a word like that.”

“Yes, a hedge. And the building was wood and stone.”

“The rooms were nice and cozy. We each had a separate room. Mine had a balcony.”

“And there was a little desk on the mezzanine. You remember? With a typewriter. They said Hemingway used to write there.”

“No, I think it was Truman Capote.”

“Well, whoever it was, the place was really nice. And classy.”

“I had pleasant dreams back there. I dreamed about the woods.”

“When I was a child, my parents told me it was a sin to have dreams. I always lied and told them I never had any.”

“And then for breakfast they served poached eggs.”

“Oh yes, they were lovely.”