THE STATE OF NORMALITY
By DOINA HORODNICEANU
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
Click here for Author's web site
Click here for Author's Bio
© 2002 Doina Horodniceanu
It’s Monday morning and it’s worse than any other Monday morning. The air is fresh and the sun is shining. Unfortunately Tudor doesn't look the same. He has a terrible headache, his stomach reminds him of its existence and to make it short he doesn't feel like jumping around. Anna is not around and that's good. He doesn't know the score of yesterday's ball game. He came in late last night. All he wanted to do was to go to bed. He fell asleep completely dressed, on the couch. He drinks his breakfast - strong coffee with vodka. The mirror returns his look: his eyes are red, of fresh fish. He is unshaven and his clothes are wrinkled as if he slept in a night train. He turns the radio on. Every ten minutes there's an announcement saying that all the schools are canceled for today and the next two days. Everybody is advised to stay indoors. All the shows have been canceled, and all the public buildings are closed.
Tudor grabs the camera and runs out. Cars, buses, vans turned up side down. A parade of trucks filled with dusty, tired, drunken men. Miners that break into stores, hijack private cars, beat people around. They broke into the opposition party building; opened the safe, stole the money and set it on fire. Those rude miners with their crazy laugh assault pedestrians without any reason. The street incidents get more and more complicated every step of the way. A chaotic and inutile massacre.
Tudor doesn't have a chance to get too far. Over on the corner he meets a group of miners with clubs in their hands. They notice his camera. Suddenly and without introducing themselves they hit him on the head with heavy sticks and knock him down. Behind the silent walls and nervous curtains the neighbors hear the impact of the sticks on his flesh, the boots on his bones, on his mouth, on his teeth and stomach. They are not the army, or the police, they are the miner’s army. They do not arrest people, they spread fear. There is nothing accidental about what's happening today. It's History. They grab the camera and smash it. This is a day impressing itself in the memory of those who live it. It is Humanity's desire to destroy everything they can neither understand nor deify. They don't tear out his hair and they don't rape him the way they did in classrooms. They don’t cut out his tongue, don’t break his arms, and don’t pull out his eyes. They are efficient and not rebellious. They are here to empower order and not hysteria. If there are more injured and dead people it is because they have no instruments to control how much pain people can take. They had no ability to measure how much damage they produce.
This incredible early summer, warm and clear makes the whole procedure possible.
They step away from him. Their work lays folded in the middle of the sidewalk. Tudor crawls back to his room and locks the door. The door that was never locked before. Later on he hears Anna trying to open it, knocking on it, urging him to open up. The room is dark. He is semi-conscious, but he doesn't move. He doesn't want to. He hears funny noises of furniture being moved in the hallway. When he wakes up it's the same morning sun. His whole body is in terrible pain. He admires himself in the mirror: the nose is smashed, his skull is fractured, the upper lip is split open and he has three broken teeth. He cleans himself. He is dizzy, and cries with pain. His ribs hurt when he moves. He grabs a different camera and decides to go to the Security Headquarters to see Petre.
In front of the imposing building the strong lights of the reflectors hurt his eyes. You would think that Hollywood had moved there. Crowds of people stare at the ambulance parked in front of the entrance. Men and women in their pajamas, with slippers, or fully dressed. It's such chaos like during Ceausescu's government when a store manager would announce that the food was gone. Lines of police, some people want to get in, others want to get out, hundreds of curious men and women. The first aid crew brings out the stretcher. Tudor sets up the camera and zooms closer. Dead on the cart is Petre. A horrified cry comes out of his painful mouth. People turn to look at him with curiosity. He climbs the steps of his house steps. Anna's door is open a little bit. He is reeling. Maybe it's a nightmare.
He opens the door wider and pinches himself.
From the height of her triple chins that push her head up an old woman looks at him, enchanted:
"You must be Tudor. You look like Hell!"
He stares at her and laughs stupidly. She is classic. You might think she is a travesty.
"This is a nightmare!"
All the walls are covered with mirrors, all the wood is painted golden, everywhere dolls, silk and satin pillows, hundreds of photographs. The mirrors return the multiplied image of the old woman with red tired curls of hair around her ears, smoking at the table with tarot cards in her hand. Her nails are bloody red... Even the dog is classic: a pechinez with ribbons in his hair recently arranged by a hairdresser.
"I moved in yesterday..."
Tudor loses his consciousness....
Nine years later the miner's leader was condemned to eighteen years in prison. Meanwhile the miners knew they could do whatever they wanted without risking their heads.
Rate this story below... Refresh the page to see your comment.