ARYAN KAGANOF

Blind Date

    Herschell ushers Judith into his attic apartment on the Singel,
Amsterdam’s most elegant inner-city canal. She’s approaching thirty,
neurotically; he picks this up in an instant.

    “I have a Jewish tendency, it usually kills the atmosphere.”
There is considerable nicotine staining on her teeth and he notices
that she is already digging in her handbag for a pack.

    “Don’t look at my furniture.”

    In fact most of the items are covered by white sheets as if he’s got
something to hide or can’t afford to buy better.

    Judith sits down at the cluttered writing table, lights up her
Gauloises immediately, looks around for an ashtray.

    “So you don’t smoke?”

    Herschell rummages through a cupboard and finds her an ashtray, places
it on the table in front of her, next to her bag.

    “I stopped on the 4th of June.”

    “Has it paid off?” she seems irritated by his move away from tobacco
and cancer.

    He shrugs, “I do tend to have an impact on people.”

    Then they are both silent for a while. He moves across to the CD
player, pops Verdi in. Although the volume is discrete, the charismatic
Italian singing fills up the uncomfortable space between them. She
smiles at him, showing again those ugly stained teeth.

    “Time for a vodka young man!”

    He’s at least ten years older than her and enjoys being called “young
man”; it hasn’t happened in a while. He pours them both shot glasses
full of Stolichnaya.

    “Salut.”

    They both down their drinks. Herschell pours out another round. He
appreciates how she drinks, it’s very masculine. After the third vodka
Judith starts singing. He’s amazed that she knows Verdi, delighted,
feels the first stirring of desire for this unattractive blind date. He
hands her a blank piece of paper.

    “Would you care to draw me?”

    She’s surprised by the gesture. “Draw you what?”

    The vodkas have unblocked his flirting potential; he feels carefree
and very bold. “Nude.”

    She lights another Gauloise, pants at it ravenously, blows smoke in
his face. “I don’t like sensitive men.”

    He moves his head into the smoke cloud around her face, kisses her.
It’s a mild kiss but it warms up when she responds with great vigour
and she doesn’t taste at all bad and she smells in fact very good.

    “You’re pleasant.”

    “You talk too much.”

    “That’s my Jewish tendency.”

    He draws her instead of her drawing him, the lines on paper
complimenting her features which are stubby and plain at best. He’s
sly, gives her a fuller mouth and more sensual lips than nature did.
She recognizes and appreciates the flattery.

    “Actually I can’t keep still.”

    Another Gauloises. The ashtray is full. He unbuttons her blouse. Draws
the breasts fuller than they are, doesn’t go as far as to unclip her
bra. She laughs at the serious expression on his face as he draws the
breasts. “Why were you never married?”

    “Because I’m an abstract phenomenologist.”

    “You’re probably frustrated with your life as a love gangster.”

    He laughs loudly at this, pours them more vodka, is feeling quite
tipsy suddenly.

    “I’m just tired of being used as an object.”

    He has a deep, hearty voice, a voice one would associate with a man a
lot less delicate than he in fact is.

    “I think marriage should be mainly practical.”

Judith does the buttons of her blouse up, shivers slightly.

    “I like the idea of having only one woman.”

    The music stops. Neither of them is ready for silence. Herschell
stands behind her, rubbing her shoulders, and then he returns to the CD
player.

    “Shall I put on some Shostakovich?”

    “It’s a delicious vodka, very soft.”

    He kisses her neck and nuzzles the lobe of an ear, whispering into it.
“Vodka is only delicious if you drink a whole bottle.”

    “What actually is a love gangster?”

    He kisses her again but she’s slightly resistant. “Don’t hold your
breath.”

    He returns to the blank white paper. Another portrait, this time of
the ashtray.

    “Some technique.”

She’s impressed.

    “That’s cross-hatch. My father taught me.”

    She stands up unexpectedly, throws her almost empty Gauloise pack into
her bag.

    “None of this makes any sense to me.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “You’re the most solo person I’ve ever known.”

    He pauses at this. She’s a perceptive woman, more clever than
beautiful, he’s been waiting for a decent conversation for what seems
like way too long, is scared of how he will feel when she leaves, knows
that she’s about to leave.

    “Yes. Yes I’m indeed very solo.”

    “I’m actually quite tired.”

She walks towards the front door.

    “You can stay if you like.”

    “No, I’ll go.”

    They kiss again at the door, it’s the best of the three kisses. She
ploughs her Gauloises tongue into his mouth, stands on tip toe and he
can feel her breasts nuzzling against his broad chest and he wants her
to stay so very badly and is almost willing to say it but his erection
says it for him and then she leaves anyway.

    The night tastes acrid now that he is on his own again. He places
Faure’s Requiem in the CD player, rolls himself a pencil-thin hash
joint. Sits at his window overlooking the Singel canal that is
reflecting an impatient moon back up at him. The moon seems lonely too.
He used to worship her back in the days when he still believed in
poetry. She misses his faith, his nightly attentions. The moon
remembers him and a myriad like him, who have all become cluttered by
the weight of their everyday lives, working in the real world. Middle
age is death. The real world is death.

    Herschell stands at the open window listening to the Offertory while
the moon begs him to come back to her. “O lord, deliver the souls of
the dead from the mouth of the lion, lest hell seize them and they fall
into darkness.”

    Then he jumps.


Aryan Kaganof drives Audi and shoots Glock. His favourite mode is
prosopopoeia. He lives in Johannesburg.







© 2006 Underground Voices