There were four of them: X, Y, Z and 0. X was an interesting young man obsessed with the idea of time hunting, an obviously insane type, without any moral values and with a great amount of imaginary complexes. Y resembled images of medieval Madonnas; being tender, shy, easily annoyed, everywhere she saw nothing but herself and her rose wreath that spiked blood out of her white forehead. Boring Z had a wrong reputation of a complete loser and constantly complained about his fate; that, however, didn't prevent him from having a successful career, a successful marriage and a successful divorce; besides that, he got a reputation of being a decent but unlucky fellow who needs high doses of sympathy in. 0 is a particular talk. She was a center, a focus of life for this company of friends, a magnetizing emptiness, a razor that didn't spare anybody. Zero - 0, absolute null. You could describe her in any way, any beautiful label matched her like her own name.
So imagine a cube. Four points and their projections. All of the points join each other. But one of them suddenly declares a war to the rest, pulls a straight line, devours space in a hope to get closer to another point. The cube is being deformed, the facets are being broken, crunch of bones, SOS-shouts. The universe has just collapsed.
Not knowing what he wants is his problem. He despises himself but is also quite confident that others are no better. X is lonely but his loneliness is like the anguish of a wolf burying his muzzle into the night sky. It is neither a vacuum, nor hopelessness because there is a moon hanging above.
He never stands for long in one place, fond as he is of looking into strangers' eyes. He beats beggars with his crane, after gives them money and waits for reaction. Everybody thinks that X should soon become an actor or an artist but nobody knows what he will be for sure, he doesn't expose his life, he blinds with diamond dust. Actually X is an eternal student of some miserable technical college with an obscene name-abbreviation. There is a black velvet beret of ancient times on his head, he has curls of raven's wing colour, fussy brows, and his bulging hazel eyes exhibit his Semitic origin. X is an opaque bottle of dark glass that is ceaselessly shaken. This character can possess any mortal woman if he wants, but X attacks all of the sudden and fails. Most of all he resembles Svengali from Du Maurier's novel, a demonic personality, invented affairs and one unfulfilled love till the end of life...
They are drawn to each other by unknown powers that bring them to the threshold of 0's home. "Who invited you?" - 0 laughs as she expels guests with the sweep of a broom. Sprays are falling down on a clean, glossy floor. Y sits down on the carpet, crosses her legs in a Turkish manner, being stifled as always, takes a guitar in her hands and slowly fingers the strings, oh poor bundle of nerves. X tries to catch her fingers bending over her from behind. Z caresses 0's neck, but she can't tear her eyes from her own reflection in the mirror that shines with magnetism. Wagner's music serves as a background, and Z, a "dear ignoramus", tortures 0, not caring about what Tannhäuser is. X leaves Y and tries discreetly to steal 0's stocking which hangs on the chair. Y instantly flies into utter rage, her eyes mysterious forest lakes shimmering with red pain, as if the only daughter of the lake king just died. At this moment she is not feeling herself simply uncomfortable, she hates 0 for her strength. It seems to her that the fortresses are ready to fall under the enemy's attack, and all her efforts will turn into ashes; a thin skin of the soul is torn away, the bed is unmade, humiliation and dishonour will reach you in spite of all previous suffering stock. Colour-deficient Z feels angry as he should, but keeps silent and this is also logical. Only 0 is calm, but taking darts from the table. The wooden red and black shield hangs on the door. 0 swings back her arm, continuing to kid her guests; everything is so natural, still chatting covers all the absurdity of the situation, the darts recoil, again and again - arrows flying in different directions. 0 is becoming bitchy, she searches on and under the table, and Z is handing her the darts like a faithful page.
"You know, there is such a picture, "Stairs of cruelty", - Y. says appealing to nobody. - "You see a young woman and her worshipper on the stairs of some garden, also - a little girl and a dog... The woman has a terrible face of a reptile, tightly wrapped with yellowish skin, ugly little eyes shine with green, she has needlework in her hands. The young guy holds her hand and imitates bliss with his entire being but still it seems that this evil doll will get a needle from her sewing and thrust it into the fleshy palm of her beloved". Z asks what the little girl is doing at that moment. Y replies that she is beating the dog with a stick. 0 begins to produce angry moans, X hides the stocking in his pockets, and darts fly around the room threatening lives. Suddenly everybody is preparing to go, they part and leave. Finally, only Z lingers there and still tries to catch 0 with his red chubby lips while she crawls on the floor gathering her dead birds.
Y. has been loving X. for centuries hopelessly. In the morning she gets up overcoming pain. She draws the curtains to put off her clothes and goes to bed starring in her sequel of suffering. Y's dreams are vague and will please psychotherapists. When meeting strangers she becomes reserved and irritated, reduces in size as a nervous infusorium overtaken with the sadistic instrument of a biologist. Her plague is a morbid lack of confidence. She is tall, slim, nice big teeth, heavy wavy hair, dark blue eyes, almost black from the distance, long neck, flat chest, only brocade netting lacks to turn her into the medieval female ideal. She belongs to that kind of women that should be conquered. The very thought of this terrifies men. Y. is a crusaders' fragile dream. She provokes a desire to break and torture her, so unhappy she looks, "poor drown Ophelia". She is about 35, still single. If to deserve her trust the talk with her turns into a real pleasure. She casts out such a flow of witticism that you could be washed away with amazement. Y. is a well-known art critic and how X. could attract her only God knows.
Painful affection connects her with 0, irrational attraction, and though she can't understand anything of 0, 0 being an extraterrestrial in her mind, they spend hours discussing unimportant topics and daily news, meeting almost every day since they left school.
Women always considered me a complete idiot. After yesterday's gambling I lost a crucial sum of money, she witnessed and laughed and applauded and then went dancing. How awful she looked! Yes, now I am full of anger but if she asks I will kiss her feet. How many times I called for her... Descend from your heaven, dear, let's marry, make children, not exactly these words, but the sense was similar. But I am a complete mediocrity in her eyes... Still she is hateful licking her lips so shamelessly...
I can't stand it anymore! The evil doll put me out in the rain, and then threw the ring out of the window. Imagine me dirty with mud as some kind of hog, searching for it in wet bushes.
And no wonder she called me jelly-fish, play-dough that can be molded into anything, but "being created for kids' silly tricks, this damned play-dough", she said, "always looks ridiculous"...
Today I got a call from my wife complaining that our son is complaining, that he says I forgot about them. Shit! I was never able to speak fluently, without mistakes and she despises me. Sure, such an intellectual, such a psychologist. This is she who said that I should have started a diary for self-release. I reread some parts of it and my self repelled me as a distorted reflection in the mirror. If she looked through my lines, she could only get nausea.
But I am honest and don't show off like all of them do now. In general I am a good buddy, no? Unlike these decadent snobs I have some money. At least that.
And also she told me (long ago) that I looked like the hero of Fowles' "Collectioner". I rushed to read the book and hated this emasculated bastard, an impotent right from the first pages. I am surprised - how she can bear me. Old friendship? Can't give me up - like her stupid habit of biting the nails?
0 sits with a bulging notebook on her knees, head dropped. It seems that she is feverish. She constantly tries to stand up, but Z doesn't allow her, his giant strong arms are pressing her deeper and deeper into the soft upholstery of the arm-chair. 0 silently cries and trembles with tiny shakes. She makes no attempts to protest because she knows - it will be followed with harsher violence. "Read, read," - Z mutters through his teeth. It is dark in the room though the night-lamp under the red-shade pulsates weakly. 0 makes an effort to see the lines, they float in front of her. The clock is ticking floutingly and the rain rattles outside, and then 0 notices that the drops fall sheer, strictly at a right angle, and there is no glass in the window, and there couldn't be because there is a picture on the wall. And the door is also painted, it occurs to 0. Z's arms grew discreetly onto her shoulders and now they are inseparable. He whispers: "Read, read". 0 tries but she is not able, physically not able. And this continues a whole eternity because it's a dream, the only dream 0 has every night since she met Z and turned into his lover with no reason at all.
The sun, the moon and the sounds of sad evening music
X and Y are going to marry. "It should be so", concludes Z. He sits together with 0 on the roof, she dangles her legs, hanging over the edge, and Z holds her arms while mutely cursing the eccentric idea.
They are granted with a magnificent spring evening in which the sun still hasn't set but the moon begins to move the sky curtain, and its beautiful golden face appears through pale blue velvet as a white flash.
- And as a boring result of all life's adventures we'll finally return home to fornicate and multiply like animals...
- You are impossible.
- Let me fall.
- Not at any price.
- I haven't noticed any signs of joy on your face. They are happy and you seemingly hate when somebody from your circle is happy. If I understood right the sense of your life is to make everything so other people would wish to commit suicide after they met you, ‘cos you are so devastatingly charming, smart and successful.
- Enough. Lift me up.
0 hardly climbs back, shakes off her coat, spends a second thinking on some matter, then gives a slap to Z. Z is shocked and mad because of pain. She cuddles to him with immense strength, kisses him not in a feminine manner and suddenly bends over the hand-rail carrying him with her. Thus they hang in a ridiculous pose, on the level of 13th floor, scattering endless kisses over the face of each other, while people swarm, trains crash, houses explode below, and somebody's hand freezes on the switch: it is becoming dark, and one doesn't want to spend all the evening without light, tête-à-tête with his stealthy death.
0 returns home, sick and tired. She is feverish. She falls on the bed without putting off her clothes and her thoughts are unknown even to herself. 0 takes a hand-set, makes a deep sigh, waits for dials and utters six words, her own sentence: "Come, I am waiting for you".
Z pushed her under a train and forgot about this in two hours, being awaken in cold sweat by an early telephone call. In the ordinary subway turmoil nobody noticed his move - also because 0 was standing on the very edge. Still he is not able to explain this to himself; he felt neither hatred nor love, the cold-blooded indifference of a just judge-plus-executioner, possibly. But who imposed this role on him? Z clearly remembered that he could choose it himself under any circumstances. The wedding had been ruined but nobody cared about this anymore. Y didn't loose her mind and didn't jump from the window, in spite of everyone's expectations, but undertook some exotic form of psychotherapy and set off to the Mongol steppe with an ethnographic expedition. Z also didn't cease to exist, returned to his wife and drank café latté in the mornings. Not mentioning that every breath burnt his lungs, that waves of blood hit his brain as a tremendous hammer, not mentioning that he could only see her face deformed by passion, see her rolling in X's embraces in the front of everyone, of the whole world. He didn't bear any malice against her, but this face, those trembling, uncontrollable lips, the wild eyes without pupils - a true torchlight procession of the holy inquisition - wrinkled forehead, brows flying up... Several months had passed but still that face kept following him. 0 lost her interest to X very fast, when the intrigue disappeared but X left her behind (against his own will, hurrying up to pass his last exams), and speak frankly it would look a good-for-comedy love quadrangle if the feelings hadn't been dissolved in their blood as slow but effective poison.
So Z met 0 in the subway, by incidence, she was wearing a bright white extravagant coat and she was alone. This time she diddled for herself a grimace of an angel whose wings were torn or something similar in decadent manner. She constantly changed her forms, her appearance couldn't be described , she looked as everybody and no one, and it was incomprehensible how those three could become so affected to her.
0 was standing with her back turned, a slight push was enough though she was able to look at him and for the first time in his life he saw admiration in her eyes. His delight was so immense, so great that he forgot about the monster which gave birth to this miraculous rosy-cheeked and golden-curled baby, to the happiness of mutuality.
There was a knelling of glass being broken, geometry was crushed, there were only three of them now, but their life lines were never to cross again.