Friday, November 13, 2009


Taking a right off a crowded street, you suddenly find yourself alone on a narrow cobblestone road. In the stillness, you walk past a chalkboard sign advertising hot wine and beer in two colours, an open window where the smell of tobacco wafts out, a pigeon. Then there is a loud, grating noise in the distance, getting closer. You turn a corner and find several laborers digging up part of your path, and several others sanding it down. You move past them quickly, searching for the tranquility you had moments before, when you stumble upon a man blowing his nose. He looks at you and tells you that God is dead. Rather, God can be heard through a symphony, if you would like. If you would like, he can show you where you can refresh your cock and get six Pilsners for three hundred crowns.
You keep walking because you don’t trust someone who looks you in the eye and smiles so willingly. You take the escalator down to the metro. It is crowded, but quiet, except for some tourists, drunk on alcohol, or travel, or both. A young couple is leaned against the wall making out. The girl is wearing a pair of sparkling Nike hightops, the boy has his hair cut close, minus a patch in the back and a line down the middle of his head. There is a woman – wearing several layers of worn clothing and carrying a cane – with a dog that looks old and tired of slowly following her around all day. A metal muzzle surrounds his mouth, and you wonder if he would like to eat you with a side of fava beans.
You get off the metro and buy a hot chocolate from the Nescafe machines that line the wall, winking at Reese Witherspoon’s perfume ad as you take a sip. You go to the grocery store to buy dinner. The store smells like a heavily disinfected bakery, and Michael Jackson plays from the speakers in the ceiling. The lines are long, but they move quickly. Your groceries total 195 crowns. The woman behind the counter coughs and asks you if you have 95 crowns when you hand her a 200.
The cars threaten to run you over every time you step onto the crosswalk, but always stop in time, and you don’t take it personally, because it doesn’t seem like anybody else does. You open your three dollar pint of vodka and take a sip. It tastes pretty good, for three dollars at least. Later, when you put it in the freezer, it freezes.
The bar you are led to by someone who knows someone who knows of a place is tiny. But then there is a staircase, and a basement, and then a room off the basement, and then another staircase, and another room, and another staircase, and soon you can’t remember how to leave, but you don’t want to anyways. A vent would be nice, but by now you’re mostly used to the plumes of spliffs and cigarettes. You don’t want to get lost in the tram system again, and you don’t want to get ripped off by a cab driver, so you stay out until past five when the metro starts running.
To save time, you slide down the middle of the escalator when you arrive at the station, and a grumpy worker awakens from his brooding slumber in his booth to come out and yell at you in Czech. When the train arrives, it is mostly empty. You take a seat across from a woman and her young daughter. The girl is enthralled in some sort of handheld video game, and wearing a pair of knee high black boots, laced tightly. The mother is one of about five dressed for work, though they are in the minority to those that are sleeping, and soon you join the latter.
The next day, you curse the man who decided to make it legal to sell absinth, but not ibuprofen. Luckily, there are six Asian food restaurants within walking distance. Even though you feel a little guilty for interrupting the owner – in the midst of ironing when you enter – a hot, greasy pile of noodles is just what you need. Or, at least, you thought you did. You only finish half, and get the rest to go. The owner asks if everything was okay, and you assure her it was, and that’s why you want to save it for later, but this doesn’t seem to work, because you notice that she screams at the cook before giving you your check. You try and make amends by leaving a nice tip.

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