It is on Sundays that I have a chance to lunch with George. If I don’t count the random visits from my agent, then for the rest of the week I am all alone. Only on this day, George is completely free and truly willing to dedicate his time to me. If on this day, afternoon, you happen to be walking past the Varkert Bazar, stop for a moment to take a look up – at the unwashed windows of the adjacent grey old building. There on the 4th floor, behind the windows, you will notice a half-naked guy sitting with a typewriter on his lap and an old man gazing from the window at something far and nothing near. After lunch, we dive into work.
If I believe what he says, he is a tall slim American ex-pat working in Budapest. I have curly hair he says and takes my hand to explore his hair with instructions, here I have a small scar. As soon as he arrives, he describes everything around us in detail, I don’t have to ask for it anymore and then he portrays himself, I wear ripped jeans today…
He is wandering in my library. I hear him flipping pages ceaselessly. You remind me of Borges, he says, blind in this huge library. Describe everything to me, I beg him, literally everything, even the details that may have no importance for you. You can imagine what a pain in the ass I am, blind and detail-obsessed. Sometimes we sit in silence for a while. Clouds are dark, George says. It will probably rain soon. I am sitting next to your stained window. I don’t have a shirt on. I am holding a cigarette pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I just flicked off the ash.
As I dictate he types. If the smoke bothers me, he asks. I know I smoke too much. They say blind people don’t enjoy cigarettes because they don’t see the smoke, is it true? Describe it to me, I demand. It is thick and turbulent, he goes on, it’s swirling around you.
Since the day I lost my eyesight totally, my other senses started growing sharper. Now I live it to the fullest in the realm of intermittent frequencies and diffusing particles. I hear and smell better than you, I tell George jokingly. This made me smile, he says as he proceeds with typing. I love the sound of the typewriter, I exclaim. Click-clack. If I can tell how loud is it in decibels, he asks mockingly. I like him because he doesn’t feel pity for me. I feel bad when people feel bad for me. Let me tell you, I reply to him, it is around 70 decibels, the sound of the typewriter. How much is it? Average factory noise, a heavy truck, busy traffic, garbage disposal, a noisy restaurant, a vacuum cleaner, TV. If I will write another book after completing this memoir, he wonders. I am not sure. Do you smell a burning toast, I ask him.
The words sketch vague patterns in the air as I enunciate them slowly, and he immediately registers them right before they are swallowed by time forever. We re-live my life together on Sundays, on the pages this time. If I have the starting sentence in mind for the next chapter, he asks. It is on Sundays that I have a chance to lunch with George, I narrate.
Ali Zarbali is a Budapest-based writer. His stories have been published in Taedium Vitae, Terror House Magazine, Friday Flash Fiction, and elsewhere.