romanian literary monthly

~Elena Baciu Calugaru: „The incest of the chamois“

‘How do you like Mr. Ionescu`s course?’ ‘Ah! He`s colleague. I didn`t see him in the tram stop.’ I had come to the course three weeks later than he had. By it I had found the refuge. After the misfortune, I had to busy my time. On Tuesday, at the course, I sat on the first desk as usual. The man of the tram-stop was behind me. At the end of the class he says to me:
‘I am with my car.’ When I got on I felt protected. I was looking at the man who put the windscreen wipers and I didn`t explain myself the peace what embraced me. I was trying to engage a conversation, of course, about Ion. His death did me to feel as drawn under the wheel. I was telling to him about my travels with Ion. About him, about Eddy I haven`t known anything. One evening:
‘In March I wouldn`t come more. I leave for abroad.’
This absence has made me to feel him more closely. Before to leave I gave him an orchid of a fantastic green. It was for Ion. When we were going to the mountains, Ion was knitting a pillow of flowers
on that we protected our love. One day we were together in the park. We poke about under our eaves.
‘You know, the flower, which you gave me took roots.’
‘It was only a symbol I said to him.’
His hand was strong, warm. I had forgotten since we have known.
‘Hello, Ella, I bought tickets. Tomorrow morning we are meeting at the railway station.’
He hadn`t found his shoe lace and he had tied his boots with red wire.
We are going to the snow path.
‘I don`t know to ski.’
‘You, Ella, come down slowly and I`ll pass around you and I pay court to you.’
This man was creating a protective coat. I felt he was the master of my air. At the arrival in the North Station:
‘I shouldn`t want to rush at you. Maybe you want to rest, to see
your sisters.’ It was the end of the week. If I had known that this lapse of the week was what he could offer me our time would have stopped. And still, look at his eyes, Ella, they didn`t flame more. After our returning
from the mountain he whispered: “: Since I have kept my eyes closed”. Another time: ‘You see, Ella, a man and a woman meet to make love, too.’ Our beginning was a failure. My body didn`t answer to him, though he attracted me totally. I had an impression that Ion was looking at us. Has he loved me? And though Saturdays and Sundays had slipped between us. When I was at him firstly, I had a dream. His house detached with me, flying above great water. But he was waiting for me on the border
quietly. Further, the two days of week remained only of his. Yesterday I said to him: “Shall we see now how it will be in the Delta”.
‘I don`t go with you. You are an oppressor.’
‘Well, but…’
‘You behave like a teenager. You must understand that I love my job and my bride is the Danube.’
‘Ella, I have come to paint, I cannot lose the time. I cannot wait till Eddy comes to go with him, tomorrow, by his ship.’
‘Tomorrow or after tomorrow, I murmur hardly heard.’
‘Ella, what are you thinking about? The cartons are waiting me.’
‘Come, please, let me with my thoughts. Take your cartons and keep silent what are you ever doing with ugly money? I change you two hundred lei. Good night, Ira.’ My lady friend woke early in the morning and it seems that from an agitation difficulty to imagine she binds and unbinds cartons all the time. She togs herself out in the mirror. She fidgets about the room. I simulate to sleep. She is looking at her watch. I so alone to have my breakfast. At my returning Ira falls upon me with streak lips. Deafening me.
‘Ella it`s nine o`clock, Eddy doesn`t come more. I lose the morning sun, the Danube, the Sea with its charming waves struggling all the time and I feel that a happening will produce me something on the way. I give to the happening the greatest price. Otherwise I shouldn`t have created the painting ” The Incest Of The Chamois”.’

‘What do you say?’
‘I was climbing with a hunter on the Iezer mountains. Behind a fir tree I beheld two coffee-coloured heads. I make a sign to the hunter.’
‘Ah, yes, it`s the chamois. Only the two of all remained. The wolves ravaged the wood.’ We stopped. The chamois touches her cub with the muzzle. He was without initiative. The animals have been coupled. And all was getting on surprisingly sudden. It was incest.
‘Or, maybe a beginning, Ira?!’ I had an idea to go to the Danube. At the water pump in the street, a
woman was washing big pieces of carp.

…The Danube warms its waves at the sun. An easy wind was blowing. I put my feet into water; I rubbed them of a rock. A Turkish ship was passing. I am saluting it. I`m returning to the camping house where I
had left Ira. The door was locked. I`m going to the restaurant. ‘The lady painter left and she took some cartons, too, said our table companion, Mr.Florin.’
‘It`s true. Till evening she could work something. I imagine her climbed on the cabin of a ship keeping herself in eyes the water spaces.’
‘With whom she left for, do you know?’
‘No she was in a hurry, she was saying that a motorboat or a boat was waiting for her.’ A fever was shivering my shoulders. Her desire to paint is often in seeking of extraordinary. Yesterday a hard drinker was proposing to her to take her in an apocalypse world still virgin. Fortunately I heard him when he was saying to her: I should like terribly to make ball under me. I hardly stopped her. I`m running again to the Danube. A lot of fishermen pass from a direction to the other. A tug carrying on a barge is returning full with fish. The sun is losing from its intensity. I`m coming back in the room. All kind of thoughts is pouncing on my mind. I hope that Ira hadn’t been left with anyone. I didn’t noticed when the evening sat in. The
footsteps are getting near to the camping house:
‘Eddy? That’s fine you have come!’
‘Are you ready for leaving? Where Ira is?’
‘She went away with her oil colours.’
‘How? I’ve wanted to reach the Mitts lake this evening. I’m during my service. We must take samples.’
‘Its up to you.’
‘Well let a billet to Ira and tomorrow we present her the Danube from the height of mast.’
‘Ella, do you like the boys? Charm them!’ He is the chief of the expedition. I feel a little embarrassed. The
Danube captives me. We are passing from ,,The Great EM and from ,,Lebăda Hotel”. The permanent movement of the Delta surprises me. We are approaching the ,,Mila 23″, a village spread on the edge of the
road stuck in the mire by the crow silk. A cow is swimming. Yellow water lilies and white water lilies. It seems that they protect themselves against the waves. Eddy`s colleagues are getting into a boat, they take samples for tests. I`m asking Eddy something what I haven`t want and though:
‘Your Sunday lover has ever been brought by you here?’
‘Whom? Ah, my lady collaborator? No. Although we have known for twenty years. I have something vile into myself.’
‘You have.’
‘Would you like a cigarette, Ella?’
‘Yes, though I`m a beginner at every cigarette.’ My question spoiled the harmony. It has fallen the lull as night, too. Though, our eyes were looking for.
We are arriving at the camping. The billet left was untouched. Ira nowhere. It is late. The restaurant had closed.
‘Maybe she will have left in the village at the house of the fisherman who took her in a boat, reassures me Eddy.’ We go to bed. It was the night of the caress of the nipples. The morning promises us a fine day.
Mr. Florin was already at the table.

‘Ira didn`t come yesterday night. Did she stay in the village the night?’
‘I saw the lady, yesterday morning, speaking to a young man. She said to me: The boy came back from the exam. He passed the ,,baccalaureate”. Something else I don`t know.’
‘Eddy, we must look for her.’
‘Mr. Florin, do you join us, too? Maybe you remember something more.’ We are embarking and setting out again on the artificial Sulina arm, built by Englishmen in the last century. We are taking to the Bogdaproste lake and entering on the right branch of the ,,Great EM”.
‘Don`t move off, Eddy says.’ The ship splits water. We ask the fisherman stopped to fish to and fro. Nobody saw Ira.
‘Ella, shall we buy fish?’
‘Of course, I want that sheat fish with big barbles.’
‘Greedy woman! Shouldn`t you want the three golden pikes, too.’
‘I want those saucy carps, too.’
The bargain was made. The captain himself cooks the borsch and garlic sauce. Eddy goes up the cabin. With his binocular he stirs up the water, the reed, the willows. The time lapses. I am panic-stricken. Marian, the sailor lays the table. The smell of lovage invites me. Eddy orders again to the captain.
The sun heats the brilliance of the water. Far from, a group of pelicans make their way towards us, but they don`t approach because of noise of engines.
‘You know, Eddy Ira wanted to paint a colony of pelicans. I think that here we can find her.’ Eddy keeps me closely him. I see a spit of land at the end of a backwater.
‘A floating islet. Maybe there is between water and land a vow for living together in the Delta and the strategist is even the floating reed islet, I say to him.’
‘Ella, you poeticise! A left boat. Captain, on the right!’ When the ship is stopping we get off. The boat was bound at a willow and it had a hole in its bottom. It was further a torn oar, an oil colour box, a raincoat, and a blanket. I`m turning on the toes and I am ready to climb on the willow as a ladder. But it was wrapped up in gray web. The spiders worked hard. I make further some paces. Somebody is heard crooning. A sad song.
‘It is Ira`s voice! There near the easel. Ira!’ he doesn`t answer. She is moving her right hand, as though she drew some lines. We are approaching. She is indifferent. She sings further. We are even behind her. She doesn`t act. She is drawing on the carton with carbon, only eyes, big eyes, frightened ones. She doesn`t see, she doesn`t hear. I look at Eddy dreadfully. He catches her hand.
‘Captain, Marian, Dan, come here. I found the lady-painter!’ Mr. Florin is gathering the cartons round about. Ira doesn`t care. She goes like a sleepwalker. With her right hand she is outlining further only eyes, in crude. We are reaching the ship.
‘We must bring to her to the hospital. She is breathing with difficulty.’
I unbuttoned her blouse and I noticed, on her breast, traces of bites. But why she is alone here? Where is the man whom she came? We let Ira at the hospital. We came back to the camping house for gathering the things. Indeed whose those eyes were? Who frightened her? Tomorrow we announce police. Eddy was snoring. I should have wanted to rest, too. Ira`s hand in a perpetual moving, those eyes were drowned
into the darkness played me in front. In the morning a man was smoking at the restaurant. His hands were
shuddering. He is taking out a heap of money from his pocket. I stared him. I ask for the waiter to show me the hundred-banknote, which he received. On it, with green ink, it is written, Ella. I turn back to the man who had paid. He had taken his luggage, which incommoded him, a little.
‘Eddy, Eddy take the channel. Don`t lose him.’

‘We are running to our ship.’
Eddy orders: Let`s follow that motorboat. Ella, why do you quiver?
‘Yesterday I changed to Ira, two rumpled hundred lei. With some new banknotes, received by me from a colleague whom I lent her. My colleague had written with green ink: Ella. I am sure: that man has
money from Ira.’
‘Engineer, Sir, the motor ship isn`t in our area.’
‘We get down the boats and some of us will go to look for her.’ We found the motorboat pushed in reed. We control it.
‘Nothing! I hear Eddy.’
We are coming out from that place. We are meeting another spit of land. Near a willow there are seen a hatchet and a thick torn branch. Somebody tried to make an oar. Certainly that with hole motorboat. We
arrive again in the willow wood invaded by the spiders.
‘Next to hatchet there are traces of Adidas-shoes, of shoes. I think it took place a fight, the sailor said.’
‘You are right! Here they are overlapped. Maybe there were two men. The traces are interfered, here, under the willows. It might someone have stumbled and fallen into water, added Eddy, too.’
‘Yes, he was pushed into water, Marian said, pulling a branch out.’ On it a piece of man shirt was hung. But the roots of the willow go much more down, winding, each over other. Marian`s crook sticks in the mud. The mechanic makes a key lever with Eddy`s crook. It was formed a kind of cross. They are pulling out a human body, all covered by mud. Marian, though, caught into water to his neck, raised him with his whole force and put him down. The shore. It was a corpse with white face and swollen belly.
‘It seems to be a young man.’
‘Let`s announce the police.’
‘We must, though, risk to let the corpse here and, further, to look for the man from the restaurant.’
…We are not afraid of the traps of the Danube… The wood interweaves with reed. The willows are throwing themselves about the poison net of the spiders. Suddenly, the sky howls deafeningly. “It is croaking of eagles” I hear the mechanic saying to us.
‘Eagles, here?’
‘Yes, Eddy informed me. They are Danube eagles.’
More and more. They pass above us. Why so many? They are solitary.
‘Let`s go to their direction. Ella, take care of swamp and snakes.’ Again a backwater. The eagles were circling round, rushing upon a willow. Their croaking became unbearable. Far from a distance an acute
groan penetrates. On the shore, on the other side, somebody has been in danger. Marian cuts several branches, he is tying each other and scraping up a raft.
‘Embark! the sailor says. It stinks. The eagles have been very low over a bag full of fish. They had taken their portion. Near the bag, a man with the muddy face fell into a trap with big teeth. The local hunters who strayed to here for hunting wild boars had put it. Marian and the mechanic succeed to pull up the wounded man, he fought with the young man. We go again through the wood of death to our boats. On the way to ship, nobody says anything. We arrive at the hospital. We ask about Ira. There isn`t any development. The state of the wounded man has been very serious, too. A leg was crushed and stings of spiders have swelled his face.

‘We must come back to have information what is known in the village.’
‘We have to rest, too, Ella. I hope I think about that young man who died! Was that who passed the baccalaureate?
‘How, Eddy do you think it would be possible that Ira had been fallen in love with him.’
‘Why not? It had been a weakness of hers, this boy?! I stick shivering to Eddy. I have heard her telling me: “the happening, you must catch it from any part.


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