An Artist

11. března 2009 v 17:21 | Cirrat |  Skřeky cizojazyčné
Série tří krátkých povídek, ve dvou se objevuje Nikita, třetí je cele věnována jiné postavě, kterou si vymyslela Mitarashi...

"I miss my father," Nikita said quietly.
They were sitting in a dark room, actually in the lavatory. The latrines stank to their right, a window without a glass, but adorned with thick metal bars, gaped into the greyish night and allowed big ugly-looking moths inside, where they were swirling around the single naked bulb.
"What did you say, Malchik?" asked the man behind Nikita. His face was severely mutilated, with his right eye and ear missing. "You know you have to talk to the mirror if I'm supposed to understand you."
Nikita raised his head and met the piercing one-eyed stare in the mirror. "Nothing; I was just thinking aloud. How long is it gonna take, Genya?"
"If you keep on twisting around like that, the rest of the night; and it's Working Day tomorrow."
"I don't care. I'm not a muzhik."
"Yeah, one can see that straight away." Yevgeni slapped the mosquito on his right bicep and swore in low voice.
"Lots of these sukas here, right? Do you think they are trying to get rid of us? ...Like, getting us infected with malaria?"
Yevgeni laughed silently, "Oh, you really are a boy. Here we are, way to the North, and malaria is a tropical disease. Of course, they don't have to care about our health; we are the enemies of the state after all. But not malaria…" He chuckled again and continued his work on the younger man's back. "I'm so glad that there were no swamps around Kabul."
"You were there?"
"In Kabul…? Yeah. Lost some parts there; soon after our colonel was lost, those dessert bastards attacked us and one of them got too close. If Alexeyev was still alive…" Yevgeni sighed.
Nikita felt his face freeze suddenly.
"Yeah, he was really a bastard sometimes, you couldn't get away with anything, but he really cared about his men. The one that came after his death cared more about his reputation with generals and their wives than he did about his unit. That's why we walked into that ambush in the first place; he refused to send out scouts."
"What was your rank?"
"Why do you want to know? Aren't you a bit nosy?"
"Just tell me."
"I was just a private; never got promoted." The older tattooist shrugged and looked at Nikita's back again, which was far too scarred for someone so young. Yevgeni sighed. This was their generation, part grew up never having to fight anyone besides the neighbour's son to get a ball, the other part paid with their lives and senses for them to grow up that way.
He glanced into the mirror. Nikita's face looked the same but the muscles on his back rolled around like a pissed walrus on an iceberg. "What's up, Niki?"
"Do you know how Alexeyev died?"
"Some sukin syn blew him up, as far as I know. What's going on? You want this tattoo or are you gonna twitch around like that the whole night?"
"Morozov ordered his death. He and five others were involved in trafficking Afghani opium into Russia and Papa nearly found out."
"Papa…? Did you just say...?"
"Yeah;" Nikita stared back in the mirror, his eyes colder than a six-month night at the polar circle.
"That's too bad, boy. So you're the kid we had to dope back then, huh?"
Nikita nodded. Yevgeni slapped him on the shoulder, "Okay, so I guess you know more about that or you wouldn't be here. Relax so that I can continue and you can tell me the whole story. Or we'll need another night to finish this one, and my schedule is full for the next several months."
Nikita grinned, "Yeah, you're famous around here."
"Famous? Heh, I'm the best, you sukin syn. Now, tell me the story. If I like it, I'll take it as your payment for my work."
Nikita spoke and under Yevgeni's hands, two bulls fought each other with the sunset behind them.


The heat was coming in waves, each more suffocating than the last. The air was shimmering above the sand and Yevgeni was glad they had at least a bit of shade under a big rock. They would have to stay there for some hours; no living thing could survive in that frying pan made of sand, rocks and sunlight.
He felt a slight pull at his fingertips but refused to grant it any attention. He knew that if he did he would definitely start to bite his nails again, only he had nothing left to bite there anymore. He knew he should not do it. It could make him too slow with a gun, but it was either that or alcohol…or drugs; and he hated the stupor of being drunk or doped. So there he was, with bleeding fingertips, as the poorly healed skin cracked and broke with every movement. He knew he should probably stop soon, there was a high risk of getting an infection, but it was a subconscious habit.
Sasha looked at him questionably and Yevgeni smiled back. He did not want to get into a conversation. The people around him were approximately six years younger than he was. Somehow, he was supposed to set an example for them, he had been here much longer and was much more experienced as a soldier; yet here he was, breaking from the inside as if he was made of glass.
Many of these young men had wanted to be soldiers and knew for several years that they would probably end up here. This was where history was made - or so they were told. Nobody prepared them for these ethnics, for people playing dirty. They were required to play dirty too - to slaughter entire villages, women and children included. To kill people who were accusing them of lies and of taking away their land. Their comrades were sprayed with acid from car batteries, slaughtered from behind in dark alleys; even the local prostitutes targeted them with assassination attempts.
Yevgeni did not know what the truth was anymore. He did what was required of him; he was a perfect killing machine. His hands were stained with blood, with the blood of his enemies as well as the blood of the dying friends he had stubbornly tried to rescue, and his own, coming from his torn and ragged fingertips. He saw too many deaths. He helped to load too many airplanes with coffins, knowing that the boys inside, who were supposed to care about how to pass their exams or how to get a girl and which movie were they going to see on Saturday, looked like minced meat. He saw too many young men boarding planes home - some with bandaged stumps oozing blood instead of hands or legs, some with bandaged heads, knowing they will never have the pleasure of looking at the faces of their loved ones again. He saw too many boys at the age where they were supposed to worry about getting a new record or their first motorcycle, charred screaming and writhing in pain, while the black mass that was supposed to be their skin cracked and refused to heal. He saw the son of his leader crying and trashing around hysterically after his parents were killed. Even the high dose of Morphine did not help the boy…although Yevgeni had to admit, albeit cynically, that the boy was much quieter after that.
Yevgeni shook himself up. He already knew that he would not sleep well that night...that he would probably have a nightmare again, but he could not endanger his unit. He took a cigarette out of the package and lit it. It was dull there, guarding the road to Khayrabad, but it had to be done. He took a few drags and looked around. Something about the silhouette of the shade was wrong. Out of habit, he did not speak aloud and just pointed it out for Sasha to look at it. The Asian-looking eyes opened wide, Sasha reached for his gun and the inferno started all around them.
Yevgeni cursed their new colonel silently. The man refused to send out scouts, saying that the rebels would surely not dare to come that close to the occupied zone. The problem was that nobody explained to the rebels that they were supposed to stick to his plans and so, here they were. Yevgeni yelled at the top of his lungs, drew his pistol and shot the nearest rebel. As he turned around, something hit the right side of his head and he suddenly felt something sticky flowing down his blouse. He finished his turn only to see some middle-aged stinking goat-eater with a bloodied knife in his hands. He tried to shoot him, but his pistol malfunctioned and as the red tip of the knife came near his head, his mind went completely blank.
The knifepoint never made it through his face to his neck. Before the Afghani could slit his throat, Vanya detonated the bomb they had hid under a rock. Stones rained down and covered everything and everyone. It took several hours for the rescue party to excavate the bodies. Yevgeni was the only one to survive - Sasha was killed with a knife, a stone crushed Vanya's body and the youngest one, Zachar, was shot through his head as he stood watch over the lonely road to Khayrabad.


There was something familiar about the man that stood in his small shop, lighting a cigarette. Yevgeni emerged from the back room and started to ask the stranger not to smoke in here but the look in his eyes stopped him. He was even more surprised when the man spoke to him in fluent Russian, "If you give me an ashtray, mister, I wouldn't have to drop the ash on your floor.'
He looked close, as close as his remaining eye allowed. There was definitely something very familiar about the tall man who came here in the middle of his perfect American morning and started to remind him of all the things he left behind.
"So, Genya, you still don't recognise me?" The stranger was smiling at him.
Yevgeni's eye narrowed. "No, I'm sorry, mister. Have we met before?"
"Well, let's help the memory then," the man rolled up his right sleeve. There he was, a writer sitting behind his desk laden with books, holding a quill and looking above his glasses severely at whoever it was who dared to disturb him.
"The very same, Genya!" The younger man laughed.
"How did you find me?"
"I wasn't looking for you, actually. I just arrived and decided to refresh some of your work, so I just asked around about who was the best - and they pointed me here."
"I'm glad to hear that," Yevgeni nodded, "But what do you mean, refreshing my work?"
"Unfortunately, I got quite a collection of scars and some of them run across the eagle you gave me. I don't think the bulls survived intact either."
"Okay, let me have a look."
"Now…? Here?"
"It's a tattoo shop. Do you need a written invitation or what?"
Nikita mumbled something to himself, but he took his shirt off. Yevgeni whistled softly.
"Yeah, you've definitely changed since we last met, Malchik. You've exercised, I see."
Where there was once just a skinny youth, muscles now bulged under lightly tanned skin, shaping a perfectly symmetric body. The old tattoo of two fighting bulls was criss-crossed with scars, some of the ridges reaching down to kidney level.
"And what are those?" asked the artist and traced the white lines with his fingertips.
"Some sucker with a broken bottle. It happened two years after you were released."
"Yeah, I thought I didn't remember those. Show me your chest now, boy."
Nikita smiled. He was thirty now and he could not think of anybody who would dare to call him 'boy', but it was different with Yevgeni. Soon after they met in prison Yevgeni looked after the young murderer and, after hearing he was the son of his colonel, the tattoo artist took it upon himself to raise Nikita in the ways of Bratva to cover his back. Genya was like the older brother Nikita never had and, being eleven years older, he made a habit calling the younger man 'boy'. It seemed that old habits die hard, even after all these years. Nikita turned around and Yevgeni 'tsk'ed.
"And just what have you been doing, Niki?"
"That was my last run. I was stuck on barbed wire and had to pull myself loose somehow. I'm afraid some skin stayed there…"
"Looks like, looks like. So, do you want to get started right away or are you hungry? There's a good restaurant nearby, it's not high-class but they cook well and the prices are fine."
"Something to eat sounds good; my treat. There are some stories to tell, mister," Nikita put on his shirt and buttoned it up.
Yevgeni turned the sign on the door to 'closed', locked his shop and the two men went down the street, talking lively and laughing. The sun was shining, children were playing on the streets and the sea gulls soared above the sea behind the houses. It was going to be a nice morning and a bright sunshiny day.

Komentáře jsou uzavřeny.

Aktuální články