- Another Death:ellipsis
translation by Owen Good
It's there. It's gone. Both. Almost always.
I didn't go out for four days; I was inside the entire time. I stocked up on wine. At the time, I never considered that I shouldn't, that I should do something to combat this; I forget resolutions I'd previously made during or after similar occurrences. Or I don't forget anything, I just suddenly conclude that I'm back there again, I'm back in that same space I've been guarding myself against for as long as I can remember. I don't know if guarding is the right word, but this is the reason I started a lot of things. This is how the boulevard came about. The grocery shop. The Market Hall and the long circuits too. The Westend shopping mall and the underpasses; Margit Island Park and Moszkva Square; the Danube bank, the tram stops, the daily Hajós Street-Nádor Street route and plenty of others. Not the corner shop thieves; I only go there to buy things or sometimes to return bottles. That's where I first met the bowing man, whom I didn't know at the time; I only realized it was an act later. I was queueing at the till and he was standing two behind me; he was rocking his torso back and forth, holding his hands out and shouting, "I'm hungry, I'm hungry!" I can't handle these situations. When I got to the front, I paid and hurried out the door. I didn't go home.
I live in the Breitner building, which isn't the Breitner building anymore but I'll explain that later. To the right of us is the Budapest Talmud Torah Society synagogue with the Yeshiva, to the left are the corner shop thieves whose owner has been trying to sell the shop for a while now. He still employs at least eight staff in two shifts; it's not hard to guess what sort of movement of cash is going on there. I moved into [End Page 35] the kitchenette years ago, into one of the building's old servants' quarters, which the old lady first told me about. Not the first time we met; the first time we met unexpectedly, this person was just standing in the doorway: "Excuse me, are you the new tenant? I'm Mrs. Végh, you can call me Heddi." I seem to remember a few months later, quite out of the blue, the old lady told me what had happened in my flat once. "And I'll tell you something now, dear, she wasn't some harlot or the like, she was a seamstress, an honest and respectable seamstress. God forbid, I best not say anymore." She told me all of this on the open second floor corridor overlooking the courtyard, and it seemed like the artist was downstairs standing in front of her door.
The man with the matted hair, who hadn't always looked so worse for wear, had come up with something new: he came after me, following me past Oktogon, the Opera House, Nagymező Street corner; I often waited quietly in front of the artist's door to listen in case the man was coming up the stairs after me, in case he could have come in after me. I could never be sure he wasn't waiting in that niche in the wall. He hissed in my face like last time; I didn't want to punch him, I just made an involuntary movement which upset him. He shrugged his shoulders and I was forced to run—our bodies almost met; I couldn't tell what he would do, what he might be prepared to do. Once, he leaned into me; his mouth stank, and I clutched the longest key in my pocket between my fingers, ready for anything, but I didn't have to use it.
There are situations where we're quick to believe certain eventualities couldn't occur to us even conceptually. That's how it was with me. I listened...