Monday, June 27, 2011

Kurva Merchant

Adrift in a world of his own making he wanders the nighttime streets taking out his impatience on whomever gets in his way. Gauntly they hunker, corpselike, wasted flesh giving way to bone. He takes what he wants, leaving the rest to rot in the mouldering August heat like poor-quality hogs left to putrefy, eyes bloated, the meat defiled and maggoty. Under one of the hogs a herd of cowflies lay an army of larva in a pocket of fat; the writhing of the wormy guts making the belly seem alive, squirming and expanding with violent self-possession. This was not an uncommon sight; disgruntled with the low price of pork, some offered a pittance of what they paid out in feed and livery costs, swineherders left their herds to perish at the hands of Nature, the market-route littered with rotting, poor-quality hogs. Leopold Holofernes swept through the city riding on the back of a braying mule. Holding his aching head between his hands, the mule rearing and kicking, the harness attached to its ringed nose reining in the untamed brute from meandering off course, Leopold Holofernes made his way down the cobbled streets, the tarmacadam crumbling under hoof and wheel, the tooth he had been favouring since the night before ripping into his jaw like a sawyer’s axe.

Poldy watched from his perch above the barricades, his eyes straining to make out the person sitting on the buckboard next to the muleteer. It was Rudolf Szombathely; a cloth merchant from Virág. The last time he saw the cloth merchant from Virág he had an aching tooth; the pain and tenderness keeping him up all night and well into the morning. This time he could well make out the man sitting next to the muleteer, his portly face, flecked with pimples and sores, a reminder of a crashing rag market that left many a haberdasher reeling in debt and drowning in bolts of moth-eaten cloth. That day Leopold Holofernes, kesztyu aficionada and kurva merchant, was to meet with Rudolf Szombathely to finalize the purchase of a cartload of red calfskin, Rudolf Szombathely willing to include a bolt of silk if he, Leopold Holofernes, could meet under him, Rudolf Szombathely, under the Waymart clocktower no later than half passed seven. ‘Merchant of Venice!’ he exclaimed, the braying mule kicking wildly. ‘The man has no class. Anyone worth his salt knows that deals are better made in hiding, not out in the open where scroungers and thieves have full reign over who gets scrounged and who gets robbed. I will not. I dare say I won’t. Not today or any other day. Never!’.

Bareheaded, the hat he normally wore at home with his collection of cobs and aromatic tobaccos, each brand and cut, some whole leaf, others shredded and steep-dried in Cognac or Sherry, hermetically sealed in its own pouch, he reached across the braying asses’ back and pulled hard on the reins, the mule coming to a sudden braking stop. ‘Damn ass!’ he bellowed. ‘...I’d be better off with a glue horse... least they know enough to stop when ye yank on the bit’. He yanked on the reins a second time, the mule foaming at the bit, its hind flanks red with flea bites and bee stings. ‘That’ll show it’ he said bumptiously, his nose disappearing into folds of lardy fat, the mule snorting and whinnying. As there was no time to waste he kicked the mule in the tenderloins, the mule responding with a loud hissing fart, a woman walking her poodle pinching the dog’s snout with her thumb and forefinger. ‘the nerve of some people’ she said haughtily, the poodle sniffing the air like a bloodhound, mount and kurva merchant clopping up the tarmacadam proudly.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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