The Polyglot

finn

N and I step out of the bar, a bar called Bukowski. It is somebody’s birthday and that means whisky–free whisky. And free whisky means a crowd and every crowd, at every bar, on every birthday involving free whisky has, like all creatures, an asshole.

“You speak Spanish?” The man asks.

N says ‘hello’ in Spanish to the man. The man looks at a bit of wall, all of him sways; his eyes to the tune of passing cars, his body to the lilt of the wind.

“You ain’t know shit,” he says. “You know nothing, you fucker.”

He rolls around himself, sweating. “Fucker,” he says again, tasting the word. “You are a fucker.”

N laughs, the crowd laughs. The man starts speaking Russian, something involving ‘from’ and ‘where.’

“Moscow,” N tells him.

“So, you ain’t from anywhere! You know nothing.” He takes a deep breath of spit, coughs, and adds ‘fucker.”

“He’s from Finland,” a voice informs us, from the crowd.

“I’ve been living here for years, five years in Moscow! You know nothing,” he says, in Russian. Someone starts translating to English, for me.

“I know,” I tell them, I understood.

“I know, I know,” the man mocks me, doing the drunk man’s two step, almost falling into me. I dodge, smiling.

“I know,” the man whines again. He continues in Russian. I don’t understand, nobody translates.

The cigarettes are snuffed out, people start heading back into the bar. The Finnish man tries to catch one eye with the other. He almost falls.

On the way back in, someone is shaking their head, smirking.

“That’s what this country will do to you,” they say, to no one in particular, in English.

 

A Writer and an artist living in Russia

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