• Marina

Warsaw

Пост обновлен 10 мая 2018 г.


I walked along the edge of an empty swimming pool filled with thick darkness. The air was damp and cool around me, I looked down to the bottom, seeing reddish mud that, for a second, I thought was blood.


“We have a fight club here on weekends”, his voice woke me up from a long contemplation. The figure of my new host appeared very close to me: I could see he was very tall and fit, but his hair was completely white, making me wonder how old he was. His teenage son, meanwhile, was crawling naked on a floor, making strange noises. “He doesn’t talk yet”, he said.


I was on the ground floor of a three storey house in suburban Warsaw. I had seen such places only in movies before - huge windows, spacious rooms, but it was also neglected, looking almost abandoned. The floorboards creaked and the doors did not close completely because of the damp.


It was 2011, my first trip to Europe, going to Poland to see Zdzisław Beksiński paintings. As I didn’t have money for a hotel, I found a host on the internet and as in English I could say only “hi”, I was looking for Russian speaker only. This guy did so and he described himself as a vegan, yoga practitioner  and karate master. Back then, such a description seemed a guarantee of safety.


He continued his tour and took me to the first floor, there was a kitchen and a huge sitting room that had been turned into a training hall. On the walls were shelves filled with combat equipment, from the ceiling hanged punching bags. Martial arts paraphernalia was also laying on a floor alongside children's toys and cat shit. Upstairs, there was his room, the door always closed, and his son’s room, full of destroyed playthings. It looked like they robbed a huge toy store and spread the loot all around the house.


At one end of the training hall there was a couch for guests that stunk of cat piss and it was here I would sleep. It was getting late, he gave me a wet sleeping bag and wished good night. If I held my breath and paid no attention to the cold, it was even nice here - the windows were from floor to ceiling and I could see a dark forest behind the glass. It was beautiful.


I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. The cold, smells, mosquitoes and strange sounds kept me awake. His son moved quietly around the room, hiding behind one and then another punching bag. Every time he moved, the chains holding them up began to creak. He was looking at me from behind them, when our eyes met, he smiled weirdly and hid. There were also about ten cats around the house, some of them were sitting on the back of the couch and watching me too. I thought these must be the type of feline who would definitely eat you after you die.


Suddenly, the kid rushed to a table in the middle of the room. He stood up on it and then jumped off with a horrible scream, landing right on his knees. He repeated the trick, laughing diabolically after each jump. Then he screamed and hid behind one of the bags, again making the chain creak, a long creepy sound. He showed his face, wearing a wide weird smile.


I turned my head to the other side, the black forest didn’t look very romantic anymore. A sudden wind moved brunches in black heavy waves - a still from a horror movie. I looked up and many pairs of wild cats eyes examined  me with evil curiosity. I opened my phone and called my boyfriend.

“I love you” - my voice hung in silence between the countries.


After that my sim turned off, the credit for my international calls was out. The house suddenly became very quiet - the child and cats had disappeared. Only mosquitoes circled above me. I covered my face with the wet sleeping bag, a raw smell hitting my nostrils. I had to choose between the smell and mosquitoes bites. Confused and tired, I somehow fell asleep.


Next morning, I woke early to have breakfast and finally see Warsaw. But before going, I went in the garden: it was lovely on one of the last days of summer. Though neglected, it looked peaceful. Birds were singing, squirrels were busy picking nuts from the trees. I was watching them, when all of a sudden his son jumped on me from the bushes and bit me right on a shoulder! I mechanically threw him away from me. He fell to the ground and squealed like a wounded animal. In terror, I went back to the house, took my backpack and went on the bus station.


On the bus, I could not stop thinking about this incident. Is it okay to hit a child as a defence? Why the hell did he bite me?  What is sanity? Where does the human consciousness live and what determines it? How we define human? The questions attacked me.


I went to the railway station to buy the nearest ticket to Moscow. Then I went to the mall. I always hated them, but suddenly I really wanted to go inside this adorable monster. For me, it was a symbol of normality - entertainment for the middle class. And I really wanted to get involved in this: I bought ice cream, cake and coffee, despite I almost never eat this kind of food. This time I ate them in one go, put three spoons of sugar.  I sat down in the middle of the temple of consumerism and took communion. I wanted to be part of Normal.


I had to stay in this house of horror for another three days, because situation with the tickets. Somehow, I got used to the oddities of this place. My host was surprised by the biting story, his theory was that his son haven't seen any women in this house and didn’t know how to behave.  He never bit me again, but I could hardly sleep at nights, listening to the chains creaking and seeing so many animal eyes watching me through the darkness.

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