Any resemblance between this work and actual events can be ruled out.
– If you are a cop, because of that.
– If you are a criminal, because of that.
– If you have been beaten up, because of that.
– And anyway.
Consequently, it is also not difficult to see that the characters are not actual persons. If you read this to the end, you’ll realize why it isn’t about you.
In order to avoid any lengthy, endless debates about the rights of the author, let’s make it clear right here and now, from the start, that all of this is just a product of my diseased mind.
It is worth noting that I don’t just have a filthy mouth when I’m quoting. Sometimes, one or two little birds fly from the words. And let’s not forget NC–17! So, if you haven’t grown up yet, go read something else.
I was a cute, honey blonde little girl. My mom and pop’s favorite. Everyone loved me and vice versa. I grew up in a rosy dreamworld. I had everything I wanted and I was very close to being spoiled. This was the front my parents wanted to show the world.
But reality was very different. My mother and father hated each other. They were like fire and water. My mother was a hysterical hypochondriac with a touch of neurosis, while my father was an alcoholic with anger management issues. Their relationship would make a great case study – psychiatry students would kill for a story like it. Day and night, our home was constantly filled with the sounds of their incessant fighting. It wasn’t uncommon for one or two electrical items to fly through the air during a quarrel, typically the telephone, but sometimes it was a heavier piece of furniture or occasionally even a kitchen knife.
I loved peace and quiet, but I never got any of that at home. So, I fled. Whenever I could, I found refuge with the neighbors or friends. When I had no other choice, there was a cherry tree in the yard – I climbed it, lay on one of the branches and lost myself in music. I equipped myself with a can of cola, nail varnish, and whatever I just so happened to be reading at the time, just like anyone else would have in their living room. It wasn’t very comfortable there, though. In the springtime, I had to contend with falling flower petals and bees, and by the time the cherries had ripened, there was overripe fruit and bird shit. In the fall, dead leaves everywhere. Yet, even with all of this, it was still much better than the drama at home.
Despite the circumstances, my mother expected me to be a good and well-mannered little girl, so that acquaintances wouldn’t be able to accuse her of not raising me properly. I don’t know why she felt compelled to conform to the expectations of others. We were all white trash. They were and we were. We lived in the projects. The neighborhood wasn’t bad, but it was home only to simple folk. They laughed out loud at the way we lived. Also, of course, at how mom tried to make them believe the opposite. I have no idea how she could be naive enough to think that it could ever work – the walls were paper thin, and anybody who wasn’t deaf could hear everything that was going on.
Anyone who ever witnessed my father yell, or maybe even got a couple of punches from him at the bar, was scared of him. Of course, this didn’t mean that they didn’t talk behind his back. Regardless, he always suspected that it was me who let slip about our family life when I hung out with friends. He also kept up appearances. I remember once when the inevitable daily altercation was underway, he had slammed the door so hard that it almost fell right off the wall, frame and all. Once out in the common hallway, pop politely flashed a smile at a passing neighbor, who then pressed himself tightly against the wall and was so frightened that he almost peed his pants. Even then, he didn’t realize that he’d caused any embarrassment.
The other reason why I would gladly spend time anywhere but home was my mom’s healthy cooking. Healthy meant we had organic cookies at home and not much else. Sometimes she made vegetable stew, but the only way to get it out of the pot was with TNT because it was as hard as concrete. The pancakes were the best. They were as thick as the soles of shoes and tasted the same too. She didn’t use salt in her cooking – she called it coffin dust. There wasn’t any sugar at home either, because she claimed that food naturally contained just the right amount that was needed. When guests came around, which happened once a year, she cooked meat soup and turned this occasion into something of a national event. The recipe was as follows: she threw all the ingredients into a cooking pot, waited ten minutes, and then, as soon as the very first bubble came to the top of the water, she turned off the gas under the pot. The result should have been marketed as a laxative. You swallowed a spoonful and once it hit your stomach, you then ran off to spray the toilet bowl. Some of her creations were just simply beyond description. Really. I would stand in front of the pot, stirring the filth that was green, red and yellow all at the same time, and had the consistency of snot. I couldn’t place it in any class of food that I knew of. One thing’s for sure – she put oatmeal and turmeric into everything. Sweet and savory alike; these were staples of hers. It occurred to me that I might cook for myself. I got some tips from the neighbor about how to do this, but as there was nothing at home to prepare food from, my idea fell through. On the bright side, I never had a problem with my weight. At five foot nine in height, I weighed one hundred and seventeen pounds. When I was in the hospital with pneumonia, I put on ten pounds just because of the hospital food. The doctors couldn’t believe it – I ended up being examined because of my weight gain as well.
Although my parents were abject failures, they both held me to impossible standards. They expected me to be a perfect student and excel at sports, and so I had to produce results. But I didn’t win the occasional swimming competition to prove myself at home. That was of no interest to me at all. Whenever I won a medal, I didn’t even take it home. I just loved to swim. When I was in the mood and got my act together, I could easily win a competition. However, due to the lack of a competitive spirit, it never crossed my mind to pursue swimming in the long term. Studying was another thing altogether. I was a top student almost all the way through school and had to put in zero effort. My parents realized this, and so they never ever gave me any credit for it.
I had to grow up quickly. I was precocious from the beginning, so it wasn’t very difficult for me. At school, I dealt in doctor’s notes, school-subsidized milk, and any and all types of stuff the others would pay me money for. I hung around the cafeteria, waiting for my chance to grab free food. By the time I was twelve years old, I had learned how to get hold of anything that I needed at the time.
I didn’t miss praise – I got along fine without it – and I didn’t want to change my parents either, that would have been impossible. I didn’t care how they lived. In truth, I just wanted them to leave me alone, so that I could spend as much time away from them as possible.
My only hope for freedom was to leave once I’d reached the age when the authorities would no longer hunt me down and take me back to where I’d escaped from.
Being a music lover and an exhibitionist, I felt most in my element when clubbing. My life was on a roll, and I faked my student ID so that I could get in even though I was barely fourteen. At ten every evening, I climbed out the balcony and didn’t return home until dawn. Of course, it was just my mom who didn’t know about it. My pop always woke up, but he wasn’t concerned –
I think he just laughed it off. I had foresight on my side. I always had dog food with me and when I got back, I threw it onto the balcony so that the dog would make less of a fuss over my return. That way I could generally get back to bed without making too much noise.
Veroni, who I often went out partying with, was a bubbly and attractive girl who was three years older than I was. She had a shapely body, a pretty face and long, black hair. Guys liked her, and she liked them back. She wasn’t too bright, but she had enough common sense: she always managed to get her hands on a flashy gift from her current boyfriend, such as a ride to school in his new BMW, and, of course, as much drink as she could handle at parties.
Once, when we were heading home after a party, three guys stopped us in a dark, deserted little alley. A fat dude and two skinny ones. They grabbed hold of us, and while I was hunched over on my stomach, one of them held me down and put a knife to my throat. The fat ass, the boss, then decided that, as Veroni had fainted from the two slaps she’d received, she was the easier option – he would rape her in his car. I was powerless to help her. As I looked on, I couldn’t help thinking that if I didn’t do something very fast, it would be my turn next. Clearly, I was out of options. I decided that, regardless of whatever happened to me, I would keep my wits about me, try to escape and call for help. I was sure that I was capable of that.
The incident could have really dragged out if those five guys hadn’t shown up, the five who I would think of as my best friends for a long time afterwards. Attus quickly brought things to an end by slamming the fat dude to the ground. The other motherfucker, who had just been gawking until then, pulled out a gun. I heard a shot, freed myself from the chokehold, and finally took a breath. Zsolt picked Veroni up from the back seat and shouted at me to get a move on. I had neither the time nor the wits to think about where and why, I just did as I was told. After a short drive, we parked in front of a house on the boulevard. The boys took us up to a fourth floor apartment, and one of them laid Veroni down on a bed – she was dazed and still in shock. Zsolt tried to bring her back to her senses. He gave her a slap, a shot of brandy, some nice words, cold water, but nothing worked. Veroni just stared ahead blankly. The situation seemed hopeless, and so Ariel took her to the hospital. Her documents were on her, so they notified her parents. Later, I found out that for years afterwards she couldn’t process what had happened that night. She didn’t dare go outside, withdrew into herself and was treated with antidepressants. I saw her a few times, but she didn’t want to speak to me. I reminded her of the night she desperately wanted to forget. Ten years later, I saw her one more time. She had become a smack addict and didn’t recognize me. That night, those guys had ruined a young girl’s life. Two of them got away with it – they’d fled and escaped being held accountable. Their consciences most likely didn’t keep them up at night, and I don’t suppose that anyone capable of doing such a thing can weigh the consequences of their actions. I detest them.
I soon came to my senses. I was in one piece and I knew that my friend was safe in the hospital. I drank some of the brandy too, which calmed me down. Optimism had almost gotten the better of me, but then I saw what the guys were doing. They were rushing about gathering bandages and antiseptic. I asked what was happening, but nobody answered me. After a couple of minutes, Attus emerged from the bathroom and asked me with a grin if I really wanted to know. A faltering “yes” was my answer.
“The clown shot me through my palm.” He announced this as matter-of-factly as if it had happened to him every day. He raised his hand and you could see straight through it: the bullet had hit between the thumb and the forefinger.
“That’s really something,” I said, startled. I couldn’t understand how it could bother me more than it did him, when in any normal situation it would have been reversed.
“I’m not planning to be a pianist. It’ll get better. I might show it to a doctor tomorrow.” With astonishing skill, Attus bandaged up the wound in an instant.
“I want to thank you,” I began.
“Hey, I help out where I can,” he replied coolly. “Should we take you home now, or just get wasted, and leave it until the morning?”
“The morning, or rather never, if at all possible. Won’t this cause any trouble? The shooting, I mean.”
“Sure. The dude will be beaten up in the slammer tonight. I hope the other two will turn up as well.”
“I mean, reporting it to the police, and your hand’s in pieces too.”
“You worry too much. Have a drink instead!”
That was an order and not the kind of suggestion a guy usually makes when inviting another for a drink. Then I saw something that I had never seen before. The guy rolled up a joint so quickly with just one hand that it would have been impressive even with two. He smoothed it out a bit on his thigh to make it perfect, sat back in his chair, and lit it.
I didn’t have time to contemplate the details – it all happened so quickly. I watched him as he smoked the spliff. He was wearing black cargo pants with lots of pockets, a polo shirt, and steel-lined boots. Military clothing was not in fashion back then – with that gear, he looked out of place in 1995. He wasn’t unusually tall, perhaps around six feet, but his toughness conveyed the impression of a bigger guy. With his crew cut and defiant, steely glance, he had the appearance of someone to be reckoned with.
He told me that they were members of the neighborhood watch. They had called the cops, who took in the perpetrator. They would press charges against the fat dude, and I would have to give evidence against him. The attackers were dealers, who had caused trouble in the neighborhood several times prior to this incident. This almost made sense, except for the small details of why a neighborhood watch group might live together in an apartment, why there would be a case of ammo in the hallway, and how they could afford to cruise around in the latest Mercedes? I took a beer from the fridge, and walked around the apartment to see if I could shed light on the mystery without making further inquiries. Attus came after me – he didn’t want me to poke around on my own. Two adjacent apartments had been combined into one, and one of the entrance doors wasn’t in use. Two wide hallways led from the doors. One to the living room, the other to the kitchen. They had taken out the wall between the living room and the kitchen to open up the two apartments. One of the hallways led to the guys’ bedrooms and the bathroom, the other to Frank’s room, behind which was yet another room. Attus showed me everything, apart from two rooms. He didn’t let me into Frank’s room and neither did he open the door to the room behind it. He said that they stored all sorts of stuff there and that it wouldn’t be interesting. The apartment must have been over 1,500 square feet, with ceilings over twelve feet high. Despite the furniture being all modern, without a single antique piece, it suited the old, authentic bourgeois atmosphere that radiated from the walls. In the living room there was a huge TV and all the hi-fi gear that could be bought at the time, and opposite it was a leather sofa and a coffee table. Even at night, in artificial light, there was a good vibe in the apartment, perhaps because of how everything fit together. The common areas were roomy, but everyone also had their own private area where they could close themselves off. When I felt that I had seen everything, I stretched out on the sofa. I gazed out of the window. The view onto the boulevard was good. Frank’s room and the junk room also overlooked the street. The boys’ rooms must have been part of the other apartment, as they faced toward the inner courtyard. Zoli sat down next to me and turned on the TV, while Attus and Zsolt wanted to play rummy, and tried to persuade Krisztián and Ariel to join in. Ariel was keen, but Krisztián was tired, so I joined in as the fourth player. We played cards until dawn. We laughed a lot – they made an amazing team. They teased each other and told jokes nonstop.