Kineski zid

Restoran nije velik, ova jedna prostorija tu otraga i uski prolaz uz šank kod ulaza. Augustin i ja sjedimo za stolom uza zid, ispod ogromne, začudno bistre slike Kineskog zida, pijemo rakiju od ruže. Ima malo ljudi, gostiju, još za dva stola. Lampioni: neizbježni, crveni; glazba: tiha, nježna, narodna. »Dobro je ovdje« , kaže Augustin, oči mu se cakle, zadovoljan je. »Dobro je, dobro...« , govorim, vadim štapiće iz crvenog omota; gore lijepo na engleskom   jeziku piše kako ih koristiti, popraćeno crtežima šake koja drži štapiće, tri crteža, sve je to vrlo nejasno. Augustin vrti štapiće u ruci, pokušava ih smjestiti među prste, ne gleda upute. Ni ja ne gledam upute. »Čudni štapići« , kaže ozbiljno, gleda mene. »Jest ćemo sa štapićima.... naravno« , dodaje ništa manje ozbiljno, »poslužit će i ovakvi.« »Naravno« , kažem, »a s čim drugim, s rukama? U Šangaju?« Smješka se. »Štapićima, da«. Kimam glavom: »Jedino štapićima.« U dnu prostorije iza drvenog paravana proviruju Kinezi, prvo jedan pa drugi, nema trećeg, tamo iza je kuhinja. Kineskinja, jedna jedina u restoranu, hoda među stolovima, popravlja stolnjake, ode do drugih gostiju, do nas još nije bila. »Rakija od ruže« , kažem, »sviđa mi se, sigurno je bolja od one japanske.« »Sake!« , kaže Augustin. »Nisam pio.«  »Ni ja. Ali ne možeš u Kini samo tako naručiti japansko piće, ne bi bilo pametno, mogli bi se uvrijediti, naljutiti, prebiti nas?« Smijem se u sebi, gledam u cjenik pića, lijepo je naveden i sake. »Jebeš sake« , kaže Augustin, »ova rakija je skroz dobra, rakija k'o rakija.« »Bila bi još mnogo bolja da nam ju je, umjesto Marka našeg dragog, donijela malička Xiao. To me može ujebati: dođem u kineski restoran, a poslužuje me Marko. Jebo to! otkud Marko usred mog Šangaja, ne valja. Nek' bude samo tamo naprijed, za šankom, iza zida.« Pratim pogledom Kineskinju, prolazi blizu nas, ne vidim Marka. »Xiao«¬ , kaže Augustin, promatra me malo sumnjičavo, »tako se zove...« »Da, to je Xiao, tako se zove, sigurno je njezini nisu nazvali Đurđica ili Ana.« Sve je shvatio, kaže: »Xiao, lijepo ime. Mlada je, dosta mlada, ozbiljno se drži, preozbiljno, čini se malo mrzovoljnom.« »Xiao je uvijek ozbiljna, skoro uvijek dok radi, sve Kineskinje su takve na poslu, nije to mrzovolja.« Gledam je, stoji kod paravana. »I onda se iznenada nasmiju, malo pretjerano.« Dolazi Xiao, prolazi pored nas. Augustin si dotoči rakije iz veće posude, dotoči i meni. Pijemo iz malih posudica, porculan, debeli rubovi. »Fino je odjevena« , kaže mi, »možda je kakva šefica ovdje, iako, mlada je... Ne znam, kćer od vlasnika, vlasnice? Hoda tako... ponosno, gotovo arogantno.« »Istina«, kažem,»možda je kćer od vlasnice, malo tu pomaže, prefino je obučena za konobaricu, nema ni onu kinesku haljinu, nosi taj zapadnjački kostimić, čizme... Ni Šangaj nije što je nekad bio.« Istina, kima on glavom, govori kroz smijeh: »Mogli bi, kad popijemo rakiju, prijeći na kinesko pivo, da i to probamo.« Gledam koji su specijaliteti kuće, dvojim između piletine Gombao i Osam blaga s tri vrste mesa i povrćem, obja jela ljuta, sve fino piše na hrvatskom. »Šta ćeš ti«, pitam ga. Kaže: » Osam blaga Tie Pan. Ljuto.« »Dobro si to izgovorio«, kažem, »to, Taj-pan. Ja ću piletinu Gombao. Ljuuu-to!« Gledam, tražim pogledom Xiao, nema je, čuje se ženski glas tamo odnaprijed, odnekud, zvuči kineski. Dolazi Marko u svojoj bijeloj košuljici na kojoj, vidim to sada, piše: Singapore is a great city. Augustin se prigušeno smije. »Evo našeg Marka«, kaže tiho.»Koji  Singapur, jebo ga«, kažem više za sebe, točim nam rakiju.
Pojeli smo, trebalo nam je, štapići su zajebana stvar, umjetnost je jesti sa štapićima. Popili smo rakiju, sada na stolu stoje dvije debele bočice, zelene, kinesko pivo. Xiao još nije došla do nas, sve je donosio i odnosio Marko. Sada već ima više gostiju, kasnije je, sada će morati i Xiao više raditi, samo njih dvoje poslužuju goste, Marko i Xiao, konobari. »Kineska... ne znam... Bavaria«, kaže Augustin i ispije pivo do kraja ravno iz boce. »Evo mi je«, kažem. Xiao energično korača drugim dijelom prostorije, priča s gostima. Marko uzima dvije prazne, zelene, debele boce s našeg stola, stavlja druge, pune. Odlazi, ozbiljan. »Vidi...«, govorim Augustinu, crvenookom, mutnookom, toj ćelavoj, znojnoj glavi, »ima tu kosu, u rep zavezanu, čvrsta kosa, i taj sivi kostimić, mala Xiao, sigurno ne nosi ispod tange. Hvala Isusu i Budi... I Mao je zaslužan za to, i on. Ima i crne čarape, vidiš, hladno joj je za nogice... jake su to noge, čvrste... nosi obične bijele gaće ispod tog kapitalističkog kostimića, skriva ih, mora... Ali znaš ono: na površini jedno, ispod ono pravo, izvorno, to se čuva. Xiao.. mijau.«
Augustinu je jedno oko zatvorenije od drugog, izgleda mi opasno, nestabilno, no još uvijek je u romantičnoj fazi, depresija će doći nešto kasnije, nakon još kojeg pića, tako to ide kod njega. Pogled mu je pun ljubavi, osjećaja, govori: »Xiao je dobra djevojka, ženica, lijepa je i mlada, da. Napisat ću pjesmu o njoj, i o Kini, zidu, kotaču...drvenom...došla je iz predgrađa, bijede, znaš, k'o i ja, mi znamo kako je to, ti znaš o čemu govorim...« »Kako ne, kako ne.« »Dobro se snašla«, nastavlja on, »radi, restoran i to, znaš...« Zastaje, naglo zašuti, ne govori više ništa. Počinje pjesma, drugačija, glasnija. »Evo ga«, kažem, »to je to. Počinje! Znaš ovu pjesmu, Šangaj tridesetih, opijum, trijada, kupke, klanja... Kineski pop! Šansona... Ipak pop. Sada će i Xiao, gore na pozornicu. Bijou, mala Bijou, to joj je umjetničko ime. Gledaj tamo prema pozornici...«, primam ga za rame, okrećem. Dio prostorije je malo povišen, gore su dva stola, nitko ne sjedi za tim stolovima. Augustin gleda, smješka se opijeno, puši cigaretu. »A gdje su one plesačice...znaš, one, sve u bijelim suknjicama, pahuljice majušne.« Još ga drži romantična faza, dobro je. »Svjetlo se prigušuje, majke mi«, govorim mu, dobro se osjećam, nešto mi fali, još nešto, zato se dobro osjećam, uzbuđeno, razdragano.»Evo ih, prvo plesačice, ali sada će iza njih izroniti Xiao, Bijou malena i zapjevati nam svojim glasićem pjesmicu, razigranu, podlu, zavodljivu. I orkestar tu negdje svira, ne ide bez jednog malog orkestra. Iskušenja, jebote... Razmiču se, vidi, otvaraju joj put... i presvukla se za nastup, ali i dalje je to moderna haljinica, u duhu vremena, kako i treba biti, crna, svjetlucava, kičasta, bez rukava, tanke rukice, tanki vratić, boemsko- opijumska rapsodija... Plješći, Augustine! Ne, bolje nemoj, samo gledaj, slušaj! Pjeva nam, na kineskom, ali znam te riječi, pročitao sam negdje prijevod, na televiziji, u onom filmu, sjećaš se... Jebiga, sigurno pjeva: Pretvaraš se, pretvaraš, ne trudi se pretvarati. Gledaj! Jedva čekaš da me pogledaš. Ne budi sramežljiv, dobro pogledaj, ne budi tako ozbiljan, ne budi tako odsutan. Ozbiljan, sramežljiv, sve je to samo gluma, svojim si me očima ti već pojeo, od glave do pete pojeo si me, neugodno ti je, neugodno, zašto ti je neugodno? Na svojem tijelu tvoje oči osjećam, lutaju gore, lutaju dolje, na svojem tijelu tvoje oči osjećam. Orkestar!« Nestaju i plesačice majušne, bijele i Bijou. Okrećemo se od pozornice, zadovoljni. Nismo preglasni, valjda nismo upadljivi, nitko se ne obazire na nas. I opet ona nježna glazba, narodna. »Ne znam otkud je ta pjesma uletjela«, kažem,»ali dobro je uletjela.« »Jebeno, jebena pjesma«, kaže Augustin. »I ta pjevačica, ta Xiao...« , malo pljuje sada dok govori, »...drolja! Misli da je kraljica pozornice. Da se ne jebe s gazdom sad bi bila na ulici, drolja. Zaigraju se, uvijek isto...« Prošla ga je romantična faza, sada je u agresivno- depresivno- patničkoj, suludoj, oči mu blješte krvavo. Nastavlja on, slušam ga s guštom: »Ali dobro je to, snašla se... Xiao. Ima lijep oblik lubanje, to visoko čelo, a i jake noge, u pravu si, zadavi te s njima.« Moram se uključiti, ne mogu odoljeti:»Sviđa ti se mala Xiao... I sad bi ti, pun ruža i kineske Bavarie, nju mazio i pazio, dragao i stiskao tim svojim ručerdama, po sitnoj, tvrdoj guzi, ti, veliki Balkanac, koljač.« »Liz'o bih joj žućkastu pipicu«, kaže Augustin, i to je od njega čudno čuti čak i kada je u ovakvom stanju, ipak je on sramežljiv čovjek većinu vremena. No, lijepo je vidjeti da se opustio. »I te male sisice, baš za tebe«, kažem. »Male, majušne«, on će , »jedva da ih ima.« Totalno se razglavnio. Mene, zanimljivo, obuzima neka melankolija – je li to romantika? – nostalgija za nečim što nikad nisam proživio. »Idemo skoro«, kažem, Augustin ne odgovara, depresija je prevladala. Xiao. To njezina ruka uzima pepeljaru sa stola, stavlja drugu, praznu i čistu. Dižem pogled. Nasmije se onako pretjerano. Brzo kažem, samo da nešto kažem, da čujem izbliza taj glas: »Može još jednu čašu vode.« »Vodje? Moše, vodje«, odgovara Xiao na tom mekanom, teturavom, kineskom hrvatskom. »Še- še«, kažem. »Tako se na kineskom kaže hvala«, pitam je. Kima glavom. »Še-še«, kaže. »Še-še«, kažem ja. Osmjehne se, široko, simpatično, domaće, ugledam jedan taman, pokvareni zub sa strane, sjetim se svog tamnog, pokvarenog, i onog koji su mi izvadili pa sad imam rupu. Taj njezin tamni zub, to je to, ta nesavršenost, utješno poznata, sada sam se već zaljubio, dolazi mi želja da prislonim svoj tamni zub na njezin.»Ne treba voda«, govorim, ustajem, Augustin ustaje, ide ona prema šanku, idemo za njom, tamo ćemo platiti. Stojimo ispred šanka, ona naplaćuje, tu je i Marko. Pitam ga kako se zove, jer momak je stvarno u redu, još nam je i rekao gdje da jeftinije nabavimo rakiju od ruže, da ne kupujemo tu u restoranu po deset puta većoj cijeni. Marko se zove Krešo. Brzo se okrećem prema šanku, koristim priliku, to mi je i bio plan, pitam Xiao kako se zove. Kaže: »Fan Fan.« »Fang...«, ponavljam nesretno. »Fan Fan«, kaže ona još jednom. Krešo kaže:»Fan Fan je iz Šangaja.« »Nemoj reći, Šangaj...« Ona kima glavom potvrdno. Čini mi se da ju Krešo baš ne voli previše. No, dosta smo saznali. Kažem: »Še- še, ljudi.« Fan Fan se smije, onako jako, široko. Boli. Izlazimo Augustin i ja, noć je vani. Zagreb je taman, prazan, podsjeća na Šangaj iz onog filma. Augustin šuti. Fan Fan. Iz Šangaja, vidiš to... Tako... tako bih prislonio ovaj svoj pokvareni zub na tvoj... mala Fan Fan, Xiao...
kraj

Great Wall of China

The restaurant is not big, this one room here at the back and a narrow passage along the bar by the entrance. Augustin and I are sitting at a table beside the wall, beneath a huge, strangely clear photo of the Chinese wall, drinking rose brandy. There are a few people, guests, at two other tables. Lanterns: inevitable, red; music: low, soft, traditional. “It’s good here,” says Augustin, his eyes sparkling, he’s content. “It’s good, good…” I say taking the chopsticks out of the red wrapper; at the top, it neatly says in English how to use them, accompanied by the drawings of a hand holding chopsticks, three drawings, it’s all very vague. Augustin’s twisting his chopsticks in his hand, trying to place them between his fingers, he doesn’t follow instructions. I don’t follow instructions either. “Weird chopsticks,” he says gravely, looking at me.  “We’ll eat with chopsticks...of course,” he adds as gravely as before, “even these will do.” “Of course,” I say, “and how else, with our hands? In Shanghai?” He’s smiling. “With chopsticks, yes.” I nod: “Only with chopsticks.” At the back of the room the Chinese are peering from behind the wooden screen, first one, then another, there’s no third, the kitchen is behind it. A Chinese girl, the only one in the restaurant, is walking around the tables, adjusting table cloths, going over to other guests; she doesn’t come to us. “Rose brandy,” I say, “I like it, it must be better than the Japanese one.” “Sake!” says Augustin. “Never had it.” “Me neither. But you can’t order a Japanese drink in China just like that, it wouldn’t be smart, they could get offended, angry, kick our butts!” I chuckle, looking at the drink prices, sake is neatly listed. “Fuck sake,” says Augustin, “this brandy is real good, brandy like any other.” “It’d be much better if it’d been brought by Xiao instead of our good old buddy Marko.That can really fuck me up: I come to a Chinese restaurant, and I’m waited by a Marko. Fuck that! What’s Marko doing in the middle of my Shanghai, not good. He should be down there at the bar behind the wall.” I fix my eyes on the Chinese girl; she’s passing by us. I don’t see Marko. “Xiao,” says Augustin, looking at me with distrust, “that’s her name...” “Yes, that’s Xiao, that’s her name, her folks didn’t name her Đurđica or Ana, for sure.” Going along with it, he says: “Xiao, nice name. She’s young, pretty young, she’s very serious, too serious, seems a bit grumpy.” Xiao is always serious, almost always when she’s working, all Chinese girls are like this at work, it’s not grumpiness.” I’m looking at her, she is standing beside the wooden screen. “And then they laugh out unexpectedly, a bit excessively.” Xiao comes near, passing by us. Augustin pours himself some brandy from the bigger bowl, he pours me some. We’re drinking from small bowls, porcelain, thick rim. “She’s neatly dressed,” he tells me, “maybe she’s some kind of a boss around here, she’s young though…I don’t know, the owner’s daughter? She walks so…proudly, almost arrogantly.” “True,” I say, “maybe she’s the owner’s daughter, she doesn’t do much around here, she’s pretty well-dressed for a waitress, she doesn’t even have that Chinese dress on, she’s dressed as a westerner, boots…even Shanghai is not as it used to be.” True, he nods, and says, laughing: “When we finish this brandy, we could switch to Chinese beer, just to have a taste of it.” I’m checking out the house specialties, unable to make up my mind between Chicken “Gombao style”, and “Eight treasure style” With three sorts of meat and vegetables, both hot, it says neatly in Croatian. “What’ll you have?” I ask. He says: “Tie Pan ‘eight treasures’. Hot.” “You pronounced it well”, I say, “the Tai-pan. I’ll have the chicken ‘Gombao style.’ Hooo-ot!” I’m watching, looking for Xiao, she’s not here, a woman’s voice is heard from up front,  from somewhere, sounds Chinese. Marko’s coming in his small shirt which says, I see it now: “Singapore is a great city”. Augustin chuckles. “Here comes our Marko”, he says quietly. “Singapore my ass, fuck that,” I say mostly to myself, pouring our brandy.
We ate up, it took us a while, chopsticks are a screwed up thing, it’s an art to eat with chopsticks. We finished our brandy, two thick bottles are on the table now, green; Chinese beer. Xiao still hasn’t come over; Marko brings and takes away all of it. There’re more guests now, it’s pretty late, Xiao’ll have to work more now, only those two are in charge of the guests, Marko and Xiao, the waiters. “Chinese...I don’t know...Bavaria,” says Augustin and drinks up the beer straight from the bottle. “There’s my girl,” I say. Xiao’s energetically marching on the other side of the room, chatting with guests. Marko picks up our two empty, green, thick bottles from the table, places new ones, full. He leaves, serious. ”Look,” I say to Augustin, the red-eyed, the bleary-eyed, that bald, sweaty head. “She has that hair, tied up in a pony tail, firm, and that grey suit, little Xiao, I bet she’s not wearing thongs underneath. Thank Jesus and Buddha...Mao also takes some credit for that, even him. She’s also wearing black panty hose, see, her legs are cold, and strong legs are those, firm...she’s wearing simple white panties underneath that little capitalist suit, she hides them, she has to...But you know the one: on the surface one thing, underneath the real thing, authentic, that’s what matters.
“Xiao...meow.” One of Augustin’s eyes is more closed than the other, he seems dangerous, unstable, but he’s still in his romantic phase, he’ll become depressed a bit later, after a few more drinks, that’s how it goes with him.  His gaze is full of love, feelings, he says: “Xiao is a good girl, little woman, beautiful and young, yes. I’m gonna write a poem about her, and about China, the Great Wall, the wheel...wooden...she came from the slums, misery, you know, like me, we know how it is, you know what I’m talking about...” “Sure, sure.” “She found her way,” he went on, “she works, the restaurant and all, you know...” He pauses, suddenly stops speaking, he doesn’t say a word. We hear a song start, different, louder. “Here it comes,” I say, “that’s it. It’s starting! You know this song, Shanghai 30s, opium, triad, baths, slaughters...Chinese pop! Ballad…still pop. Now Xiao, gets up on the stage. Bijou, little Bijou, that’s her artistic name. Look at the stage...!” I grab his shoulders, turn him around. Part of the floor is slightly raised, two tables are up there, no one’s sitting at those tables. Augustin’s watching, smiling besotted, smoking a cigarette. “And where are the dancers...you know, those, all of them in white little dresses, tiny snowflakes.” He’s still in his romantic phase, it’s good. “The light dims, I swear,” I’m telling him, I feel good, I miss something, something else, that’s why I feel good, excited, overjoyed. “Here they come, first the dancers, but now, Xiao will emerge from behind, little Bijou, and sing a little tune for us with her little voice; playful, mean, seductive. The orchestra’s playing somewhere; it won’t do without an orchestra. Temptations, holy shit...They’re moving apart, look, opening her way...she got changed for her performance, but it’s still a modern little dress, in spirit of the times, as it should be, black, glittering, kitschy, sleeveless, thin little arms, thin little neck, bohemian-opium rhapsody…Clap, Augustin! No, better not, just look, listen! She’s singing to us, in Chinese, but I know the lyrics, I read a translation somewhere, on TV, in that movie, remember…Shit, she must be singing: You’re pretending, pretending, don’t bother pretending. Look! You can’t wait to look at me. Don’t be shy, take a good look, don’t be so serious, don’t be so distant.. Serious, shy, it’s all just an act, you’ve already devoured me with your eyes, from top to bottom you’ve devoured me, you’re embarrassed, embarrassed, why are you embarrassed? On my body I feel your eyes, they wander up, they wander down, on my body I feel your eyes. Orchestra!” The tiny white dancers disappear, and so does Bijou. We turn away from the stage, content. We’re not too loud, I guess we’re not conspicuous; no one pays any attention to us. Once again the soft music, traditional.  “I’ve no idea where that song came from,” I say, “suits the situation.” “Fucking good song!” says Augustin, “And the singer, little Xiao…” he spits a bit when he speaks, “…slut! She thinks she’s the queen of the stage. If she wasn’t fucking her boss, she would be on the streets now, slut. They get carried away, always the same…” He’s over his romantic phase, now he is in his aggressive-depressed-suffering, half-crazy, his bloodshot eyes are glowing. He goes on, and I’m listening, loving it: “But it’s good, she found her way ‘round…Xiao. Nice skull shape, that high forehead, those firm legs, you’re right, she strangles you with them.” I’ve gotta become a part of it, I can’t resist: “You like little Xiao…Full of roses and Chinese Bavaria, now you would like to cuddle and fondle her, caress her, and squeeze her tiny, firm ass with your coarse hands, you, the big Balkan guy, the Ripper.” “I would lick her yellowish pussy,” says Augustin, and it’s really funny to hear this from him even when he’s like this, after all, he’s a pretty shy guy most of the time. But, it’s nice to see him relaxed. “And those little titties, only for you,” I say. “Little, tiny…” he goes, “she barely has them.” He’s come completely unhinged. Me, I’m taken over by some melancholy – is it romance? – nostalgia for something I’ve never experienced. “We’re leaving soon”, I say, Augustin doesn’t respond; misery prevailed. Xiao. It’s her hand taking the ashtray off the table, replaces it with another one, empty and clean. I look up. She’s laughing in that exaggerated manner. I say quickly, just to say something, just to hear her voice up close: “One more glass of water, please.”  “Wat-her? Siure, wat-her,” Xiao responds with that soft, reeling, Chinese Croatian. “Shei, shei,” she says. ”Shei, shei,” I say. “It’s “thanks” in Chinese?” I ask her. She smiles broadly, engagingly, domestically, I spot a hollow, broken tooth on the side, I recall my hollow, broken one, and the one I got pulled out so I have a hole now. The hollow tooth of hers, that’s it, the imperfection, comfortingly familiar; I feel like leaning my hollow tooth against hers.” “We don’t need water,” I say, standing up. Augustin’s standing up, she goes towards the bar, we follow her, we’ll pay there. We stand in front of the bar, she charges us, Marko’s here as well. I ask his name ‘cause the guy is really ok, he even told us where to get the rose brandy cheaper so we don’t have to buy it here in the restaurant where the price is ten times higher. Marko’s name is Krešo. I turn around to the bar quickly, taking my chance, it had been my plan to ask Xiao her name. She says: “Fan Fan.” “Fang,” I repeat clumsily. “Fan Fan,” she says once again. Krešo says: “Fan Fan is from Shanghai.” “Don’t say, Shanghai...” She nods. Krešo doesn’t seem to like her too much. But, we found out enough. I say: “Shae-shae, guys.” Fan Fan is laughing, excessively, widely. It hurts. We go out, Augustin and me, it’s night outside. Zagreb is dark, empty, reminds me of Shanghai from that movie. Augustin is quiet. Fan Fan. From Shanghai, you see...So much....I would like so much to lean my tooth against yours...little Fan Fan, Xiao...
The End.