All original work © 2009 - 2017 Alexey Provolotsky

19 July 2011


Let’s go out. This was Rachel – but of course it was Rachel. Let’s get the hell out of here.

Come on, Rachel. I said, without so much as a single twitch in my body. You know I’m being homesick.

Bullshit, she said.

And besides, I continued as if not hearing her, it’s so hot outside. Rain's been pouring for, like, hours. Snakes.

Yeah, she said, her languid figure dangling anxiously near the front door. Always one of those.

I was stretched on the couch, I was smoking. Though smoking might be overstating it: dragged by my middle-of-the-night, slow-motion movements, I could only manage two or three inhalings. That's the quicksilver pace of the southern time. The nicotine was hot, fierce. Like a pack of lean and hungry wolves it was feeding on my heart, my lungs, my stomach. This was good. This set my mind reeling in step with a Serge Gainbourg record playing in the background, on Rachel’s computer. Rachel: that was one sexy name…

But it’s long past two. That was me. Besides, it’s dangerous, you should know it by now.

Huh. Just tell me, darling (‘darling’ was of course a figure of speech – she couldn’t possibly mean it at the moment), what was the point of coming here in the first place?

That was a good question. Streams of hot hot air at three in the morning, snakes growing out of grass blades, language as unknown as it was ridiculous, and of course that boundless sky – sick, grey, always ready to start hemorrhaging with rain. What was the point? I knew I wanted to go home, I knew we shouldn’t have come here. Day by day I was growing lazy, powerless, homesick; it now looked like we were stranded in the middle of a Graham Greene novel. Too bad there were no plot developments to hang on to.

Let’s go and walk in the rain, said Rachel and smiled at me cheekily - as if this was a swell idea, and the boy would agree. But then, noticing my silence: Let’s fucking do something.

Rachel. Yeah, of all female names this was by far the most salacious, voluptuous. It had an erotic twang to it. It had lust, but it had subtlety. Writers knew it: The Rachel Papers, My Cousin Rachel

Rachel, I called.

She recognized my tone, and her body language said no. I hated Rachel’s body language – it always said no.

There are no snakes now, she said. Snakes are all fast asleep. If not, rain must’ve frightened them off.

Rachel, could you bring me some water? And do play that record again.

The water was warm – but it worked. Water always worked. Only this time, I felt, its power was not so straightforward. Rachel must have put some poison in it before bringing me the cup.

Rachel, is this true? I asked.

What? she said.

Poison. This water is poisoned.

You must be out of your mind, she said.

Then she ran out of the house, right into the pouring rain. At first I could hear her shoes splashing in the pools of swampy, muddy water. But then she got drowned by the lusty, exquisite sounds of the Gainsbourg record.

I looked at my watch. She would return in an hour, like she always did. While I was burning inside: with poison, with nicotine, with some unquenchable desire spreading noiselessly all over my bones. 

I think she loved me - no, really, it couldn't have been poison.

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