vrijdag 25 oktober 2013

Like a Balloon

As I was asked to translate part of my novel Als een Ballon into English, I tried some autotranslation on the following passage. Hope you'll enjoy it:

The girl follows me into my apartment. Yves and Michael have gone to Harlem and Niels doesn't live here anymore anyway. I don't know where all the others have gone. The only thing I know is that Allen was going to show Mark and Marie a couple of things, and in all likeliness Laura is already asleep in the room next door. She didn't join them drinking. In any case the evening would have turned out completely different. I stagger up the stairs, stumble and fall every few seconds. The stairs are dancing before my eyes and a thick yellow fog spreads over the hallway. Two minutes later I manage to penetrate the keyhole. I search for the switch. Lights on. Blinding. My hands shield my eyes. The girl still hasn't spoken a single word when she throws herself on the sofa. The room is a cloth that is softly caressed by the wind. God, she's pretty. There seems to be no end to her suntanned legs, although I really plan to discover that end before I pass out on the floor.

In an attempt to approach her, I trip over the small table, still crammed with Michael's stuff. With a grimace of pain I try to get up. Not a big success. In an angry fit I beat the ashes off my clothes. Why doesn't Michael ever clean out his ashtray? Honey, you're too fucking drunk. She's got a point there. She giggles, although she also appears to be slightly worried. As if that bitch isn't completely pissed herself. C'mere. I like this sofa. I'm starvin'. But first things first. Do you like butterflies? And not only pissed, I have the impression. I grab the edge of the sofa, try to pull myself up, then fall back on the floor. A height of maybe ten centimeters, but to me it seems like meters and meters and meters. I scream. Retch. And yes. As I'm lying on my back, I throw up all over my chest. More laughs from the girl, who now takes off her blouse, and despite the fog and the dancing furniture and anything else that threatens to ruin the evening, I behold the two most perfect breasts you can ever imagine. Slowly she moves her left hand to her skirt and gradually lifts up the lower part of the already tiny skirt.

The world is spinning. The walls are singing. The room is buzzing. My knees hurt. My beard is smeared with the former contents of my stomach and the mere taste makes me want to vomit again. Still I don't avert my eyes and keep focussed. Fascinated. And happy. So very happy. My moronic smile causes another morsel to crumble from my lower lip. My smile turns into a grin. As if I don't realise why she's doing this. Once the veil is taken off, I finally behold the sublime truth. After all these trials Isis is finally showing her true face. And it is perfect. Absolutely exquisite. This is happiness. This is truly being happy. Why on earth had I been waiting so long for Laura? I should have done this much earlier. What more does Laura have to offer me than this?

Nothing, I'd say. This is it. This is happiness. Only this. Because this is where it ends. There won't be anything more than this second of happiness. Not because I'm shy, or lazy, but because I'm smeared with the remnants of my noodles 'n' beer. The puke paralyses me. I can only stare, behold, venerate, with my mouth wide open, completely in trance. And the entire show doesn't last minutes, but hours, days, weeks, years. An eternity of lying on my back, praying before all that splendour. When she also takes off her bra and her full breasts dawn in the eye blinding gloom, as two perfect water lilies in a pond full of life, with newts, beetles, ducks, a heron, some carps, and some of those water striders - was it only beer and whisky tonight? - when her breasts get rid of their two lids and I try to untangle from a psychedelic web of absurd metaphors, I suddenly feel like the chosen one. I am the one who gets to see this! Me! I'm getting so absorbed in my ecstatic experience that I nearly succumb out of sheer felicity. It is her voice that abruptly stops all of this. You're so pathetic. You silly drunk. See what you're missing. You're gonna be sorry forever, man. You'll never touch another glass because you'll be afraid you'll miss such an opportunity again. She's not angry. She just starts laughing out loud. Then she gets dressed and a minute later she's gone. That hurts. When her bra covered up her breasts again and the skirt fell down again, the magic was gone. Now I'm not the chosen one anymore but just a dead drunk pillock in a puddle of puke. Now it feels like she has put a spell on me.

[...]

I keep lying on the floor for another ten minutes, buried alive under a pile of Chinese food that looks nearly as tasty as when it hadn't commuted up and down my esophagus yet. Then I gather all my courage and drag myself to the bathroom, where I plan to take a shower. Oh, the agony before I'm finally clean again! First I turn on the cold water tap. Too cold! Way too cold!!!!!!! I scream, falter and get hold of the hot tap when all of a sudden gravity betrays me. Boiling water now tortures my filthy body. The burning water scares me to death while I cry my guts out, let go of the tap, realise just in time that I don't have anything to hold on to anymore, reach out to the showerhead above me with both hands, manage to grasp it just in time and plunge into the abyss taking with me showerhead, shower holder, pieces of tile and what more. I keep lying there. Besotted. But not for long, as the boiling water is shaking all over the place, attacking me at my most vulnerable body parts. Luckily I manage to pull myself up on the curtain, but when that yields as well, I end up on the bathroom floor with a loud bang, safe from the evil heat ray, which is still raving like a madman.

Eventually I manage to dry myself and reach my bedroom, and just when I want to go to sleep, I see Laura standing in the doorway of her bedroom. The primal screams coming from the bathroom must have woken her up. We both sit down on the sofa and talk for a while. One of those conversations you never ever forget. Broaching the most divergent subjects. About Niels and how he has cheated on her and about where he and Kathy would be now and whether he'd also cheat on her and so on. But we also talk about each other. And then it happens. Without any apparent reason. All of a sudden. That one spark.

And it was incredible. Indescribable.

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