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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
ec chair poetick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
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working class sweat
the corpse reads classics letters the book of revelations and epiphanies
the making and unmaking of person
Translation and Her Retinue

Three Stories
by Stoyan Valev

The Youngest Sister
Translated from the Bulgarian by: Mariana Zagorska
He has been watching his new colleague Yoana for three days already and although they have exchanged only few words on business matters he thought he knew everything about her. Bobby was thinking that no woman suspected that her face expresses her desires.
      "Woman at thirty-five is on a crossroad and not on a cross", Bobby was thinking hectically. "Her children have already grown up, her husband has become as repulsive as her old bag, and the old age was flying like a bat against her. Behind the woman nothing and in front of her are only the dreams that never came true. And the slightest hopes that something could change her life were also vanishing. And she is ready to fall in the arms of the one, who offers her to do so. And the more different he is from her husband more enthusiastically she would fall. The big question in such situations is what kind of a man is her husband? There is no doubt that he is a crock, which is an obligatory condition, but what kind of a crock? Well, we'll find out, because every real man is a natural detective, although only few of them realize it like me" Bobby thought complacent and started wondering how to find some information about Yoana's husband.
      in the same afternoon he managed to find out everything he wanted to know when he met occasionally the accountant from the near office in the caf;. She quipped:
      'Bobby, I heard you've got a new colleague! I also dream for the kind of boss you have he permanently provides you with fresh female flesh! And the new one is really good, isn't she?
      'No doubt!' Bobby exclaimed with enthusiasm.
      'Don't try to have her off!' The accountant shook threatening her finger at Bobby.
      'Do you know her?" Booby winked and led her towards one of the tables and she quickly agreed to have a small cognac with him.
      'I and her husband used to be fellow-students' she said confidentially. And she told Bobby that Yoana's husband was a chief accountant in a ministry a short man with babylike flagging rosy cheeks, bald as a coot, and had a devoting passion cooking and what's more eating, so in a word: 'He's fatty!' She giggled. "Like this!' and the accountant outlined a huge circle. 'But Yoana', she bowed her head forward in confidence, 'is not recreant! This woman has been abandoned by her destiny!' The accountant sadly shook her head.
      While listening Bobby rubbed his hands under the table with content. He understood that Yoana's two kids have already grown up and with such a husband it was absolutely sure that she was craving for at least one affair. And he was deeply convinced that he could give it to her because he had made so many women happy by now.
      Yoana turned out to be such an easy prey that together with his joy of the conquest, Bobby felt a slight disappointment. Having a woman off was like hunting you feel excited by the poetry of game hunting and the more efforts you put, the taster the meat is.
      Only a week later they were spending every lunch break in the apartment building near-by in a studio, which he has been using secretly from his wife for ten years already.
      In sex Yoana was somehow curious, amazingly insolent and natural, sometimes vigorous like a girl. He had the feeling that she had dreamed about this for years and now she finally had a possibility to realize all her dreams with him. Her ideas were appearing one after another as if she was picking them up from a catalogue, which she had made by herself, learned it by heart and now was trying to prove herself an excellent student. They weren't wasting time for boring conversations but were falling immediately into each other's arms. Bobby loved this businesslike getting to the point, which in this case was the sex. For the first time in his life a woman always managed to surprise him. She was voracious, inexhaustible willing to try everything without accepting the idea that she can't get everything now. There were moments when Bobby was loosing his wind, which had never happened before.
      He was wonder-struck of her indefatigable passion. Yes, the sex was like sport for her and she never got tired of finishing.
      When the accountant from the next office said that Yoana has been abandoned, she was absolutely right. Yes, Yoana was trying to retrieve all nights, spent by her snoring glutted husband. Probably this is when she made that catalogue of hers, having enough time to play everything in her dreams...
      One day Bobby hardly survived her new virtuous idea, which almost sprained his ankle. Although he was feeling exhausted and trying to hide his panting he lit a cigarette and while lying down conformable and smiling complacent he suggested:
      'Do you want me to tell you something about your husband?'
      'About my husband?' Yoana asked in surprise and smiled nervously. 'Do you know him, Bobby?'
      'Yes', he said and Yoana's eyes opened widely in astonishment, but he didn 't notice her reaction and added: 'I know him although I have never met him. '
      'And how is that?' She smiled ironically and drawn a sigh of relief, then relaxed in the big and comfortable for experiments bed.
      Bobby blew away a perfect circle of smoke to the ceiling, watched it until it broke up and fondled her naked shoulder condescendingly. He did it somehow caring, like a father, as if Yoana was a stupid and slowing in its development child and said bumptious:
      'When you make sex with a woman you learn everything about her husband!' He lifted his finger and explained as Yoana's face showed bewilderment. 'If she's married and if she is not then you find out about her boyfriend.'
      'Really? I didn't know that!' She exclaimed and laughed clearly. She was kidding him.
      And he decided to crush her in a glorious and merciless way. He took her head in his hands and told her all what he had heard from the accountant about her husband; he even hinted about his cooking hobby. He emphasized on his weight, mentioned somehow among other things her husband's baldness and smoothed his own blushy hair.
      'Well?' He finished in triumph.
      'You're absolutely right. Your skills amazed me!' Yoana chattered and kissed him with such passion that he felt vain as a peacock
      'And no one has told you anything of this, hasn't he, ah?' She asked with a sly voice.
      'No! I learned everything about your miserable husband while being here with you!' And he pointed the bed with his finger.
      'You have asked about him, admit it!' Yoana jumped over him and pressed his shoulders with her hands.
      'No!' Bobby denied and managed only to say: 'I knew it in the very first time!' And he indulged in her skillful, merciless and hungry for sex hands.
      They were about to float on new unbeaten paths to heaves, but unfortunately, they had to go. Tonight the company's staff was going to have a party and he was responsible for the organization of the event.
      While they were getting dressed, Yoana hinted suspiciously:
      'I can't believe you don't know him!' You know everything about him!'
      'Some people, like me for example, have a talent for that, and other, like you, don't!' He smiled and buttoned his shirt, carefully smoothened his necktie and looked at the mirror.
      'I just can't believe it!' She said lost in admiration and fondled his cheek.
      'Well, believe it!' He sticked out his chest in front of the mirror.
      Bobby went straight to the restaurant to see how the preparation was going on.
      People there knew what has to be done, everything was perfect and he just hung around the restaurant. Then he sat at a table to smoke a cigarette and have a small cognac. He imagined his boss's gratitude, so he expected a small rise in his salary in cash, as always. It would be another donation for 'My Wonderful Personal Life' Fund. He hardly helped giggling when he remembered how amazed was Yoana of his skill to find out everything about her husband only through the sex.
      'Hi' Bobby heard quite familiar female voice. He looked up and saw Yoana. But she wasn't alone.
      'Let me introduce you', she addressed her husband: 'This is Bobby, my colleague and this is my husband.'
      He felt that somehow he managed to hide his astonishment in front of him he saw a tall, elegant, slender and athletic man. Probably he might become bald some day but for the moment there was no danger about it.
      He invited them to take a sit at his table.
      Bobby felt the irony gushed out in Yoana's eyes and he didn't dare to look at her. She and her husband were talking something but he didn't pay them any attention, as if he was wrapped in some bills. Suddenly, he heard Yoana' s husband saying:
      'I saw them at the stadium, in Belgium...'
      'Where?!' Bobby raised his head and stared at the man in surprise.
      'In Belgium', answered the smiling man. 'Why?'
      Yoana immediately broke into the conversation and kindly explained: 'He's a coach of the national basketball team and travels round the world.'
      'A-ha' Bobby nodded.
      Later, when the celebration was at its height, Bobby stood behind the chair of the accountant who was never missing such events, and asked gloomy:
      'Why did you make mock of me? You said Yoana's husband was fat and bald...'
      'Come on, man! The show must go on! And don't sulk at me!' She snapped and confessed: 'Yoana asked me. She told me: "Let's help Bobby, he seems very shy to me, and my husband will be abroad for a month anyway."
      'You have agreed with Yoana?' His face of fine connoisseur of women's souls showed tremendous shock.
      'Of course' the accountant nodded bumptious and burst into laughter: 'She' s my sister, Bobby. My youngest sister and I have an older one. Do you want me to introduce you? Her husband is a singing master, twenty years older than she is hunchbacked, and she is like a fire! And an abandoned woman!'
      The accountant turned back looking for his approval and noticed that he was gone.


You Were Great, Darling!
Translated from the Bulgarian by: Mariana Zagorska
'The world does not go round the money or the politics, but one and for all Her Majesty the Woman', said Assen. He knew how to flatter the beauties not only because he was a diplomat.
      The response was shining necklace of women's smiles. Assen glanced at Emily she also smiled, but somehow the irony prevailed.
      'The original Bible started like this: 'And God created the Woman. And she created the rest of the world in her own shape and likeness"
      Women loved him because he had learned to perfection the art of flattering. He was always staking on the winning card that every woman had a high opinion of herself.
      Mariana smiled her husband was always flirting overtly and before her. 'If a man doesn't enact his desires he gets ill, darling', he used to tell her insolently. 'He either gets crazy or dies.' She was nodding with a motherly understanding. And then Assen was saying his favorite aphorism: 'Every real man needs more than one woman'.
      For her, Assen would be enough 'cause he was an amazingly skillful lover.
      But if Mariana had been faithful to him, she would have looked like an absolute fool in the others' eyes. So, their marriage turned into a permanent competition, where she was always the leader, although he thought otherwise.
      'Every woman needs more than one man!', liked to confess before her lovers Mariana.
      The cocktail party was at its height when Emily came closer to the diplomat and smiled unexpectedly heartily.
      'Emily! Would you like to go outside to have some fresh air?', asked Assen. He has been proposing this for months at every cocktail party, every exhibition, concert, premiere at the theater, wherever he had seen her.
      'Why not?' She chirped readily for the first time.
      'When is my good friend and your beloved husband coming back?', asked he while taking her by the hand. Many eyes, most of them mocking and other with jealousy, followed them.
      'Next week', answered Emily and vaguely sighed. It was not clear whether she was suffering because she missed or because he was coming back.
      Leaving the hall like this has always meant only one thing and it was as a public secret a short sexual date. Assen used to call this through laughter 'an appetizer', which will continue on the following day in a more quiet way.
      Emily has been like a prickle in his ass for a long time she has laughed superciliously to all of his proposals. She was slipping away like a snake and he was quite puzzled it was the first time in his life when a woman had firmly refused him. And now she has finally succumbed, she couldn't withstand his charm and now she was going to fall humiliated in his hands. 'It couldn't have happened some day', Assen was exulted while he was walking next to his new prey, which this time was Emily.
      They went down the white marble stairs and walked on the alley. The sand was unmercifully crisping beneath their feet. The darkness was getting thicker or melting away when illuminated by the colorful spotlights installed among the trees. When they reached the terrace, Emily turned back and kissed him rapaciously, boldly and provoking. Assen has always liked exactly this kind of women he hated the overtures, although he would never admit it. He ran his fingers impatiently along the slender and firm body of the woman, who was shuddering with passion.
      'Ah!', suddenly murmured Emily. 'Hold on a second!', she slipped off his arms and disappeared in the darkness.
      He was ready to wait even an hour. He understood what was bothering her only when the spotlight's rays drew away from the place they were staying. She had drawn it away.
      In a minute the woman appeared from the darkness and eagerly pressed close against him. She was so much in a rush that he had to act as in case of fire.
      He went back to the hall filled with displeasure because of appetite was just inflamed but not satisfied. He smoothed the jacket and fixed his tie while walking.
      He walked in the illuminated hall after her and a choir of women's laughter received him. Several ladies were standing opposite the door and staring at him.
      And Emily was also among them!
      He turned his look to the woman beside him in astonishment and tingled it was his wife, Mariana.
      So, in the last minute Emily has changed her place with Mariana and he hadn't noticed! He bent ashamed his head down and hurried to the bar.
      He swallowed fiercely the first gulp and heard his wife's voice behind his back:
      'You were great, darling!'
      'So were you!'Admitted he between his teeth.
      He looked up and saw Emily.
      Another mistake he was talking to Emily instead of his wife. She turned to Mariana and shouted perkily:
      'He said you were great!'
      Another women's laughter has followed. Some of them even applauded playfully.
      Half an hour later, surrounded as usual by women, he said:
      'The original Bible started like this: 'and God created the Woman. And she created her husband in her own shape and likeness!'
      And dramatically bowed his head, he reached out his hands to Mariana. As he was bending forward, he pressed his lips first to her one and then to the other hand. Someone loudly laughed. Assen looked up and saw in astonishment that he has experienced another treachery he was holding one of his wife's hands and the other belonged to Emily.
      He sighed and hugged the two women.
      Then unexpectedly Emily whispered in his ear:
      'Tomorrow at ten, at my place!
      Assen stared at her surprised and she bent forward again to his ear and whispered:
      'Now be sure no one is going to believe that!', and drew Mariana aside, who said loudly:
      'Thank you, Emily, for helping me to cure my husband!'
      'I thank you too, Emily!', said the joyous Assen and trilled delighted when he imagined what will happen tomorrow at ten.
I'm Going to Pick Up Your Husband
Translated from the Bulgarian by: Nevena Pascaleva

Shrouded the clouds of stinging tobacco smoke the students on the tables resembled ghosts. Katya looked around in the desperate efforts to find her husband, the assistant-professor Krassi Nikolov.
      The sudden smoke attack made her eyes smart.
      Unexpectedly, she felt an unknown hand tenderly and persistently caress her ass.
      'Come!' a man's voice called, 'We're having a good time here!'
      She passed by, indignant.
      A few more steps someone suddenly thrust into her hands an ashtray laden with cigarette butts, and ordered in a shrill voice:
      'Dump it!'
      She stared, frightened.
      'And bring it back here!'
      She pressed on, this time carrying the ashtray in her hands because there was not an inch free area to leave it. At last she found Krassi. He was sitting on a table with several girls and only one boy. He was the first to notice her and he hiccoughed:
      'You? Here?' he sounded astonished. She nodded, a martyr's expression on her face. He asked sternly:
      'What is that ashtray you are dragging along?'
      Everyone on the table laughed. She put the ashtray on the table after they had squeezed together to make room for her and then sat down by her husband. She started to whisper in his ear the reason for her coming here: they needed to pay the loan installment today. As he had got his salary today . . . .
      The conversation immediately broke off. The assistant-professor introduced her and on the second started bustling about. They got up and made for the doorway.
      'You lead!' she asked and followed him closely like a blind man.
      Out of a sudden, she felt someone's hand on her shoulder. She turned around: it was the girl who on the table had been sitting across her husband.
      She pressed her face so close to Katya's that she almost touched it. She whispered hoarsely:
      'I'm Petya and I'm going to pick up your husband!'
      Her reaction was a mix of surprise, indignation and confusion:
      'Excuse-e me!?'
      'I'm telling you what I'm going to do! I thought you wonna know. Bye!'
      And the girl turn around, faded in the shadows.
      Krassi waited for her at the doorway:
      'Something happened?' he asked.
      'No!' she lied, smiling.
      On Thursday Krassi suddenly informed her that he had to leave for Varna for the weekend for the next scientific conference. She only nodded, up to her neck in work she was translating Sandra Brown's new novel.
      On the Sunday morning the doorbell rang. It was the postman. He handed her a telegram.
      The text said: 'I picked up your husband. I'm giving him back to you. Not worth. Petya.'
      When on the Sunday afternoon the assistant-professor Krassi Nikolov entered the living room of his own house, he sat down with a sigh and glanced, puzzled, at his wife's back. She was working on the computer. Usually she would meet him at the door and start questioning him about everything that had happened during the weekend, but now she kept a suspicious silence.
      'How was your time?' he asked then and, without waiting for an answer, moaned exhaustedly: 'I'm in pieces!'
      'I know' she answered without turning back.
      'What do you know?' he asked guiltily and fixed a scared gaze at her back.
      'I read the telegram' she answered, her fingers still playing quickly on the keyboard.
      'What telegram?!' he gave a start and started looking around in panic.
      'It's in front of you, on the table. . . . 'she answered in even and calm voice, still not turning.
      Krassi surveyed the table, saw at once the little piece of sheet placed on the ash-tray, reached out a hand, grasped the telegram and started reading fervently.
      'Hmm . . . the nasty little slut!' he swore and took a horrified look at his wife.
      His look met her laugh rich with the girl's bright carelessness, the mother's goodness and the father's whole-hearted forgiveness.




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