The first stories I wrote. The main chunk of work happened during the first COVID-19 lockdown in spring 2020. I would get bored rather quickly with a story, so the idea was to keep them short.

February 4, 2020—June 14, 2020

John’s beautiful car

John had a beautiful car. The car was indeed very well made for a toy. It was red, with shiny bumpers and wheel disks. It had doors you could open. Just like in a real car! Even though John had many more toys, for him they were only nice-to-have additions. The beautiful red car was the center of his collection, and, in a way, the center of his universe.

Martin was John’s best friend. Naturally, Martin also wanted to play with the beautiful red car, but it was impossible for John to share it. The car was too precious to him. “After all, Martin is not as careful with his toys as I am,” thought John, “he might break or scratch it, and what would I do then? The car just won’t be as good!”

Time passed and John got a present—a tank. It was also very well made and had many moving parts. Needless to say, a tank is better than a car, because it can do more damage in a battle. The tank became John’s new favorite. Even so, the red car was still too good to share. John now had the pride of a collector: he enjoyed not so much playing with the toys as the fact that he had such beautiful items in his possession. Giving them to someone else? They cannot be endangered like that. It is not like John was a particularly greedy little boy; he simply had a system of values.

School started and there was a change. At first, John did not know what it was, but his confidence and pride started to wane. He soon discovered that the reason for that was his classmate—Kate. Kate was a girl with a loud, low, yet kind voice. She had black hair and was bold in everything she did. She even pestered boys in the class. Her lower lip protruded just a little bit more than her upper lip. It often happens with people that their appearance matches their character.

Now the center of John’s universe was Kate. What a change! For the first time, it was not a result of human work, but a person. Life presented a bitter realization: Kate was precious and important, but not at all in his collection. Oh, he would like that a lot. With her, he would share all his toys and more, only to lure her closer and put her next to the car and the tank.

The new center of the universe was a tricky one. Unlike with toys, John had no say in what Kate did and she never asked his opinion. In fact, she did not care much about him at all. To rectify the situation John decided to bring his best toys to the class and share them with Kate. This would surely win her over. The plan was implemented, but Kate did not spend more than five minutes with either the car or tank; she was a girl with her own system of values.

The world will never look the same. What was reliable, secure, and under control, now is uncertain. Where is the center of the universe? What good are the red car and the tank, when Kate doesn’t care about them?

For the first time in his life, John let everyone play with his best toys.

The cat speaks up

Kris has not been feeling well for a week now. Usually curious and playful, these days the cat just lies on the chair in the corner of the living room all day and sleeps. Of course, he was taken to the clinic immediately when this started (and again more recently) but the veterinarians could not find anything.

His human, Rosa, is very concerned. For one, it is the first time this has happens to Kris, and he is not old yet. Another reason is that Rosa is very attached to Kris, as he is literally the only soul she shares her life with. She cared about this cat since he was just a little kitty and did everything to make him happy.

No improvement today. As usual, Rosa checks on Kris only to find him in the same pitiful state. It is late evening and she is tired, having worked all day. She lies on her bed and quickly falls asleep.

Rosa has seen Kris in her dreams before; this time, however, is different, because Kris can speak. Quite a development, although it does not surprise Rosa in her sleep.

“You know Rosa, I’m dying,” says Kris in a jaded voice.

“But why? You have everything: the best food, toys, all my love!” replies Rosa, scared of the fact that things are indeed so bad for Kris, and at the same time happy to be able to learn what is wrong with her cat from the cat himself.

“I know, Rosa, and yet, I’m dying.”

“Do you know why?”

“I feel like I’m not living my life to the fullest,” answers Kris, and lights a cigarette.

“Huh, what is missing in your life?”

“Well, first of all, I’m always in this very limited space and I would like to see a bigger world. I would like to catch mice. And I would like to have sex.”

“But how? Kris, you know you have been sterilized!”

“That’s the tragedy of my life. I did not want that, yet you did this to me. You claim to love me, Rosa, yet you did this violence without ever asking me. And now the more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that you do not love me.”

“What are you talking about, I love you more than anyone else on the earth!”

Rosa is about to start crying.

“Well, maybe you just want to be loved?” The cat’s brows go up in a fake amusement. “Unconditionally and sincerely, every evening when you return from work. Loved by someone totally dependent on you, by someone who will be infinitely thankful just because you give him food every day? What other choice do I have, after all? I’m a prisoner. There is no one else to love in the flat.”

Kris finishes the sentence and blows a big cloud of smoke in Rosa’s face.

“I can’t believe you’re saying these things, Kris! I cared for you since you were just a little kitty!” cries Rosa and shows with her hands the approximate size of Kris when he was a kitty.

“Look, Rosa. Do you really love me for what I’m? And what am I? I’m a dying sterilized cat now, and I’m not even old.”

Rosa wakes up and realizes that this was just a ridiculous nightmare. A particularly ridiculous nightmare. She quickly checks on Kris and, of course, he is sleeping on the chair as usual—no cigarette, no ambitions.

The next day Rosa goes to look for a new cat.

The photographer

Photography is Frank’s passion. He shoots film, and not the usual thirty-five millimeter film, but medium format film—square frames six by six centimeters. He does this with a camera from another time: a fully mechanical machine, once famous for its technical qualities, but now mostly forgotten except among enthusiasts.

Shooting with this camera truly takes skill. There are no electronics to hold your hand. One needs to use an external light meter and set the aperture and exposure accordingly. When the shutter release button is pressed the camera produces a gorgeous snap. The film is then advanced by rotating a winding crank. Even now, when the camera is not produced anymore, it costs more than most professional digital cameras. Back in the day, it cost a fortune.

Once the pictures are taken, the film needs to be developed. Frank does it at home and has a little lab for that purpose. Even though development takes time, he likes the process. “It’s a nice analog kinda thing to do,” he says.

Frank is into street photography. He enjoys capturing elusive moments of everyday life. Today is no exception. After spending three hours hunting, he finally frames the perfect shot, presses the button… but nothing happens. Frank’s camera has some problems recently. Sometimes the shutter doesn’t work. Many times he considered switching to a modern camera, perhaps even a digital one, but it is not the same thing. Any fool can use a modern camera. With his old camera, there is a mystery in the process. There is craft. The results have a unique look, too. Normal people wouldn’t know the difference, but to the geeks it is there.

Frustrated about the missed shot, Frank returns home.

He is welcomed by his wife Tonia. Tonia is an Arab woman with big eyes full of oriental magic. This is perhaps the only thing that makes her attractive though, she is not particularly beautiful.

“Oh, you’re messing with your camera again, what a waste of time!” she complains. “Hold on, I wanna ask you something,” continues Tonia heading to the balcony to smoke a cigarette. A minute later she is back.

As she sits before Frank, she involuntarily performs one of those tasteless gestures he normally cannot stand. If it were done by someone else, he would probably roll his eyes, but Tonia has a sanction to make this sort of a gesture. When she does it, it is charming.

“Will we go out tonight?” she asks.

Frank is tired, he would rather stay home. But he looks at Tonia and sees a sparkle of life itself. He cannot be boring tonight, she deserves better. He reaches Tonia’s foot and kisses it. “We’ll go anywhere you want,” is his reply.

The medallion

Rebecca had a medallion. She got it from her mother, and her mother, in turn, got it from the grandma. Rebecca liked the medallion and sometimes wore it.

One day she attracted the attention of a very handsome man. It was clear that the man was interested in her, for he approached her and said, “What a beautiful medallion you’ve got here!” Rebecca told the man how she got the medallion from her mother and how her mother, in turn, got it from the grandma. The man became interested in the age of the medallion and its value. Rebecca did not know these details, but she promised to find out. And so, they arranged a date.

When Rebecca and the man met again, she explained that the grandma got the medallion as a gift which makes it at least sixty years old. The man asked if he could take a closer look at the medallion. This was a little bit too forward, but Rebecca agreed. To her surprise, it turned out that the man came with a magnifying glass. He began to study the medallion very carefully as if he was hungry for it. To redirect his attention, Rebecca tried to start a conversation several times, but the man, it seemed, was interested only in the medallion and nothing else. Finally, frustrated, Rebecca said, “I thought you were interested in me, but it’s all about my medallion!” Without waiting for his reply, she took the medallion from his hands and left.

That night Rebecca stood in front of a mirror completely naked and contemplated her medallion in the moon-light. She was young and the medallion was flawless. She understood the interest of the man. Perhaps she wanted too much from him from the start?

Later, Rebecca met the same man in a street. This time he was with a girl. They looked at each other lovingly and made a beautiful couple. Rebecca felt jealous and betrayed. She approached the couple and said sardonically, “Is her medallion any better than mine?” The man looked surprised. “What we have is not about medallions. I love this woman, her smile, I love what sort of a person she is.”

Rebecca went home. In that minute she hated the medallion, for it had attracted the wrong man. Nevertheless, Rebecca decided to wear the medallion every day, because now she knew what sort of an appreciation certain collectors might have for it.


Neil was a housekeeper with the Smith family. Indeed, he had virtually become part of the family due to the length of his employment and the quality of his service. There were three important things in Neil’s life: the housekeeping, the garden, and his son Jimmy. Industrious and immaculate, Neil excelled at everything he cared about. And yet there seemed to be a sharp demarcation line between the things that interested Neil and everything else. If someone tried to talk with him about news, politics, or art, he would just wave his hand and say, “It’s none of my business, I have things to manage.”

Jimmy was a quiet kid about twelve years old. These days Neil would often try to occupy him with something practical. In his youth, Neil used to carve figures from wood and got pretty good at it. Now he taught his son the same craft. Jimmy was not particularly enthusiastic about this idea, but he tried to play along because it seemed so important to his father. Usually, Jimmy would start a piece, often much larger than he could actually manage, and try to get some details right while leaving large parts of the wood mostly untouched.

One day Jessica—the Smiths’ daughter in her early twenties—had something to discuss with Mrs Smith.

“The garden looks a little empty, don’t you think, mom?” said Jessica.

“I don’t know, it looks fine to me,” replied Mrs Smith.

“It would be much better if we added some figures to it,” continued Jessica. At that moment Neil approached and it became apparent that he was interested in the conversation.

“Hi, Neil! How are you? Tell us your opinion: should we add some figures to the garden to make it a bit livelier?” asked Jessica.

Neil liked when people asked his opinion regarding the things he cared about. He nodded slightly and squinted like a cat. “I must say that I agree with you, Miss Jessica. It needs some figures to be truly pleasing to the eye.”

“You see mom? Neil supports my idea!” said Jessica. She wanted to continue, but Neil wasn’t done with his reply.

“After so many years as a gardener, I have an eye for things like this. The figures should be made of wood. Carved from wood. You probably don’t know it, Miss Jessica, but I carve figures myself in the evenings and many people say that they are very high-quality work.”

“What a wonderful idea, Neil! Do bring your figures and install them in the garden as you see fit,” exclaimed Mrs Smith feeling that she might get something for cheap or even for free whereas the idea of her daughter would probably cost a fortune.

Jessica did not know what to say. Things did not turn out how she wanted, but who knows, maybe Neil could make some decent figures after all?

Soon more and more figures started to appear in the garden. If Jessica had not known that they were supposed to be the figures for decoration, she would probably have asked Neil what these pieces of wood in the garden were. Even Mrs Smith had to admit that the figures did not look very good.

“Mom, look what Neil did to our garden!” complained Jessica.

“He brought us his figures,” answered Mrs Smith, who tried to play a fool.

“They give the word ‘ugly’ a new definition, don’t you see, mom?”

“Don’t be so picky. Neil has worked for us for so long. He did such a wonderful job with this garden. I’m not telling him that his figures aren’t nice. You know how sensitive he is, that would break his heart. Let’s just keep them.”

Soon Mrs Smith thanked Neil for the figures and told him that they are indeed very high-quality work. He squinted and slowly nodded a few times. One second more and perhaps he would actually start purring.

Soon after the installation of the figures Mark, a friend of the family, came to visit the Smiths. When he saw the figures he said, “Those are hideous figures, where did you get them?” At that moment Neil approached and it became apparent that he was interested in the conversation.

“These are made by Neil, our gardener and housekeeper. He is just behind you, Mark,” said Mrs Smith.

Mark turned around. Neil looked at him as if Mark wasn’t really a person but rather an inanimate object which, for some reason, Neil was forced to give explanations to. “As someone who invested some effort in this, I still feel the effort was well placed, but more than that, I reserve the right to make things that are ‘hideous.’ If nothing you ever do seems a waste of time to others, you aren’t pushing the envelope far enough.”

Everyone was a little surprised by this answer. Mark did not want to get into an argument over some silly figures, so he said “I didn’t really mean it. Upon closer inspection, they look like very high-quality work.”

“They do!” Neil concurred. He looked at Mark in a friendly way and started nodding in approval. “But truth to be told, they are the works of my son, Jimmy. He is just eight, but he learned how to carve wood on his own and made all of them.”

“We are looking forward to getting more!” said Jessica.

The good times are over

Jane just finished her masters in cultural science. Free as a bird, she does this and that to pay the bills and keep her boredom in check. In her free time, Jane investigates art and fashion. She reads about it online, visits exhibitions and museums. She admires Bach, music on vinyl, good films, and nature. She takes photos of almost every flower she can find.

Jane hangs out with her friends: Rachel, Nancy, and Kate. Today is no exception. At the end of the eventful day, an exciting idea invades their imagination. There is a low bridge that goes over a street. The bridge has a billboard attached to it, so if one stands behind the billboard, it is possible to be invisible to the people below while remaining directly above them. The friends decide to use this fortunate configuration to play a game. The game is about spitting on the people below. The best shot is when the victim doesn’t notice the spittle and it lands preferably on their head or shoulders. The worst case is when the friends are spotted or when they miss.

Jane enjoys the game—it is good fun. Deep inside, Jane is even proud to participate—it proves the flexibility of her character. There is freedom and a healthy dose of mischief here. Nothing serious, and nothing is lost. She feels way ahead of the people below.

When the friends are tired of the game, they say goodbye. In some thirty minutes Jane is home. Inside, she takes off her jacket. As she looks at the jacket though, she cannot believe her eyes—there are five good spits on it. Impossible! The bemusement turns into rage. “It is them! Who else could have done this? Why did they do this? Did they do this together or was it someone in particular? What am I going to do about it?” Jane starts to walk in the room. “I’m gonna kill the bitch who did this!” she says aloud. Her hands clench. Amid all thoughts and words that pop up in her mind, one word stands out and re-emerges again and again. The word is “disrespect.”

Jane tries to remember if there was a moment when some of the girls stood behind her and had a chance to do a thing like this, but no such moment comes to mind. It seems that everyone was fully consumed by the game and all the girls were in Jane’s field of view all the time. As if still not believing it, she looks at her jacket again—the spits are there. It must be the girls.

Jane decides to phone and question each girl individually. Unless they are together against her, this strategy may help to uncover the truth.

She phones Rachel—who Jane considers her best friend—first.

“Hi, do you know why I’m calling you?” asks Jane drily.

“Hi, no, I don’t. Something happened?” answers Rachel. She sounds perfectly normal. Jane listens carefully—she is ready to notice any suspicious detail of Rachel’s intonation hoping to guess whether or not she is being honest with her.

“Well, imagine what’s just happened. I came home and discovered that someone spat all over my jacket,” continues Jane.

“Wow! For real?” Rachel appears to be genuinely surprised.

“Yes. Do you know anything about this?”

“No, nothing! This is really strange. And ironic too…”

“Ironic? I’m not joking here. Someone fucking spat on me!”

“Calm down. This is not me; do you believe me?” asks Rachel.

“Yeah, I believe you,” says Jane, and she does. Rachel is Jane’s best friend, after all. They have always had good fun together and there is no reason to suspect Rachel now. “Maybe you have an idea who might have done it?” asks Jane after a pause.

“No, I did not see anything. Do you think it was Nancy or Kate? It’s impossible, I would have noticed…”

“Okay,” says Jane. “Do you remember if I had any spits on my jacket when I left?”

“I can’t really tell. I did not look.”

“Okay, bye.”

It must be either Nancy or Kate then. Jane phones them right away. They both are surprised just like Rachel and do not seem to remember anything. Nancy even claims that there were no spits on Jane’s jacket when she left.

For a minute Jane is confused, she does not know what to think. There are only two possibilities: either someone else spat on her while she was returning home (which seems very improbable), or the three girls are conspiring against Jane and they have lied. The conviction that Rachel told her truth grows weaker and gives place to a new wave of suspicion.

Only now, some thirty minutes later, Jane remembers to clean her jacket. Disrespect. How did she deserve this? Jane tries to remember if she ever had a serious enough conflict with any of the girls, a conflict that could cause this sort of reaction. She thinks about the things she did last week, last month, last year. Nothing even remotely serious enough, or so it seems. And even if there were a tension at some point, why wait for so long and pretend to be friends only to find this occasion to play a stupid joke like this?

The lack of a good reason for what the girls did only makes Jane angrier. She imagines how she pulls their hair. She imagines all sorts of nasty things happening to Rachel, Nancy, and Kate. This gives her a bit of satisfaction. Finally, it is enough for today and Jane goes to bed. She falls asleep surprisingly quickly.

The next day Jane wakes up because of a phone call. It is Rachel.

“Hey Jane, we are planning to go to see that horror movie Nancy told you about yesterday. We’ll go to the park to have a picnic and then to the cinema in the evening, like the good old times! Are you in?”

Jane feels a lump in her throat. “They think that it’s gonna work with me like this. That I’m a fool. They probably laughed at me behind my back yesterday.” She knows that she will never get rid of these suspicions. Disrespect. Suddenly, Jane wants to show that she knows what is going on and that she is not someone they can easily trick. “The good times are over, you bitch!” screams Jane so loudly that it surprises even herself.

A deliberate mistake

Robert worked hard all his life. He was not the sort of person who gets lucky and makes a breakthrough in his career. Still, Robert had perseverance and it eventually paid off. In his mid-forties, he was in upper management of a middle-sized, yet very successful corporation. In fact, he had lunch with the CEO himself almost every day. Life was good.

Robert traveled during vacations and had hobbies. He had a beautiful wife and two children. He was very fond of his wife and cared a lot about her. He also loved his children and did his best to raise them to be happy, intelligent, and kind.

Once during a lunch with his boss (who we will call Rick), an interesting incident happened. A waitress was bringing a cup of coffee and almost fell. The hot coffee flew out of the cup in the face of a customer, who screamed in pain. Both Robert and Rick saw this and Rick remarked, “Hell, I don’t wanna even imagine that happening to me!”

“Yeah,” said Robert. For a moment he found it funny to imagine hot coffee flying right in Rick’s face. Truth to be told, he respected Rick a lot and they were almost friends, so there was not a hint of animosity on Robert’s part. Still, there are lots of things people imagine every day without knowing why.

“Bob, I wanna ask you to deliver the annual talk for the new employees. I usually do this myself, but this year there is something else I need to attend to. You know this sort of talk, try to tell them about the corporate values and encourage the newcomers to perform. You sure can use your own example, I think that will work great,” said Rick.

“You can count on me!” replied Robert. He liked that he was entrusted to give the talk that the CEO usually presented himself.

The rest of the day went as usual… until bedtime. As Robert was reflecting on things he had done today, he came across his thoughts about coffee again. “Heh, this is really stupid that I’m thinking about this!” Yet, just for fun he actually remembered that he had had coffee that day, and imagined that not only some abstract coffee flies right into Rick’s face but coffee from his very own cup. One of those strange fantasies that make you smile because of how illogical, unexpected, and overall ridiculous they are.

Hypothesizing, Robert started to think of what would happen if he really threw his coffee in the face of his boss like this. “That would be clear that it was on purpose, and it would be hard to explain why I did it, impossible. Rick is not someone to fool around with, surely that would be the end of my career.” Continuing like this, he suddenly found it paradoxical and amusing that more than twenty years of hard work could be canceled completely, in a most ridiculous and unthinkable way, in split second. Laughing about the very fact that he was thinking about such absurd things, he finally fell asleep.

On the next day, it so happened that Robert and Rick were having lunch together again. The thought about the coffee experiments came back almost immediately now. Not only came back but was ignited by the urge and curiosity that artists or perhaps physicists experience when they are about to explore uncharted territory. As if there were a unique possibility to learn what is behind the horizon of what was thought possible or imaginable. Without admitting it to himself, he actually wanted to throw that coffee. He wanted to see the expression on his boss’s face as it changes from normal to what he imagined would be the face of a man tortured by a medieval inquisitor. Confused and angry at himself, Robert spent a good part of the lunch unwillingly rehearsing what would happen if he attacked his boss like this.

Finally, the day came when Robert had to present the talk to the new employees. The big auditorium held a good deal of people. “There are two reasons why an employee does not perform. Either they can’t or they won’t. We know how to deal with both problems. If an employee cannot perform, they must be trained. For that, we provide courses and ensure that all conditions for professional growth are met. If an employee won’t perform, they simply lack motivation. There are many ways to motivate, but nothing works better than recognition of efforts and abilities. We take note of every your accomplishment and promote you promptly.” At this point, Robert changed the tone of his voice. It became more intimate as if he was speaking with close friends and was about to make a confession. “Look at me. Today I’m one of the key people at the company. Yet I started just ten years ago as an ordinary manager with a boring CV. Our CEO, Rick Fatbuck noticed my motivation early and promoted me many times. It is fair to say that he made my career. I’m thankful to mister Fatbuck, but let’s remember that appreciation of efforts is in our best interests. This is how we grow as professionals and as a company…” Robert talked in this manner for an hour and his talk had an effect.

The next week Robert had another lunch with Rick.

“I was told that your talk was excellent. Thanks, Bob, year after year you never let me down!” said Rick.

“I did my best. I had the impression that the young people in the audience left convinced that all they need to do is to perform well, and then, in some ten years, they will be here, eating with us,” answered Robert. He was looking at his hot coffee and the familiar thoughts revisited him, yet he forced himself to laugh.

“Yeah, ambition is the best way to motivate!” replied Rick. “By the way, I noticed that you are unusually strained lately, is everything OK? How is your wife, how are the kids?”

“They are fine, thank you! Everything is normal, but I appreciate you asking,” replied Robert. For him, the minutes dragged on like hours. It now felt a very real possibility that he was about to throw the coffee. The dark, primitive, animal nature of himself embraced the little isle of consciousness which tried its best to do the right and acceptable thing. The pleasure behind that single movement of irrational liberation was comparable with the strongest sexual desires. There was nothing better than that, nothing more important than that, nothing more exciting than that ever in his life. Throwing the coffee now seemed like an orgasmic point of cosmic scale. Robert was visibly trembling. He knew that just one second more and he would do it. “I need to go to the rest room,” he said looking absolutely sick. No one at the table could understand what was going on with him.

Over the next few days every time there was a chance to be sitting at the same table with Rick at lunch Robert would come up with an excuse to either skip the lunch or have it somewhere else. It continued like this for a couple of weeks.

Finally, one morning Rick invited Robert to his office. When Robert came, two cups of excellent strong coffee were on the table. “Listen, Bob, we both know that something is going on with you lately. You know I’ve been always good to you and I want to support you now. You can be frank with me, what is it?” Robert took the coffee and drank a little bit of it. It was so hot that he could not drink more than the smallest sip. At that point, there was no question anymore about what to do in the next second. It seemed that it was meant to be like this from his very birth. Perhaps it was the only reason he lived. He felt a weird strain in his chest and could hear the blood pumping in his ears. Everything around him seemed unreal as if he was lethally wounded or under some sort of a drug. His hand moved with surprising precision and dexterity.

In the mood for love

Sometimes you meet someone and it takes only a short time to understand that it is your perfect partner. You call it luck, destiny, or happy coincidence. It doesn’t matter. The only thing you know is that you’ve found a rare soulmate and now your days are incomparably happier than ever before.

Tonight is the first date for Boris and Dina. They hurry, almost instinctively, to the appointed meeting place in the depths of the never-sleeping city. Romanticized urban reality governs the evening. The stars are cold and impartial. The neon lights are inviting and half-drunk. The music is hiding behind each and every corner. The smell of piss is mixed with expensive perfume. It is a night of ardor, alcohol, and revelations. Like so many others.

Boris can almost smell Dina behind the corner. They sense each other from far away. He meets her and notices the desire in her eyes. Her scent is subtle but irresistible. They are in the mood for love. At the corner, there is a machine that sells contraceptives. The attraction is so strong that they decide to have sex right in the street. The bystanders are not surprised.

After the eventful evening, Boris runs back home. His tongue hangs out of his mouth in a happy way. He breaths heavily. He must be home in time, because he has promised his human a walk under the stars, too.

Derek’s problem

It was Derek’s lot to enjoy a certain incessant success with women and to feel acutely ashamed of it. Every time he’d go out women would promptly take notice of him and would act in the most direct manner imaginable, not far removed from an actual assault. They’d set their craving eyes on him and try to start a conversation. Derek, being a very shy and polite young man, could not refuse. Similarly, when they invited him to visit their apartments, he could never say “no.” Inside, he was well aware, after years and years of practice, what was expected of him. Sometimes he liked the girl, but that was rare. Nevertheless, he’d always deliver his best possible performance, if not out of passion, then out of compassion. It is in this exact manner Derek would inevitably have sexual intercourse with all sorts of women, most of which he did not even like.

Derek felt shameful and tried to conceal these episodes. At the same time, his friends constantly bragged about the modicum of lack that they had with the opposite sex. In awkward situations like these, when Derek was expected to say something on the subject, he’d always say that he was too occupied by his studies and had no time for such games. His friends would laugh at him, but what did they know? They had good careers and were well-developed individuals. It wasn’t shameful for them to seek out a bit of an adventure. On the other hand, Derek struggled with his life. He wasn’t doing great with his career or his growth as a person. All he did was the perpetual serving of women. He did not have any free time whatsoever for his personal life.

Sometimes Derek would stand completely naked in front of a mirror and say “I’m just a body attached to my dick, so that women can use it.” Then, not always, but quite often, tears would stream down his face and he would cry “I can’t take it anymore!”

Derek set a goal for himself to stop seeing women no matter what. That wasn’t easy. Quite a few times he had to say “no” very decisively with an expression of commitment on his face, and if that wouldn’t help Derek had to fight his way out from bars and clubs.

Finally, after three days of abstinence, Derek met Lola. She was a nice but sophisticated girl who read all sorts of books and knew so much about everything. Derek felt that he had finally found someone who saw the human side of him, someone special. Still, he was rather doubtful about this affair. “She is too good for me. I’ll probably do fine in bed, but how long will we be able to sustain this relationship? I do not know any of the books she reads, I’m completely illiterate. She has been building her inner world for so many years while all I ever did was fucking.”

Lola started to educate Derek about all sorts of things so that he wouldn’t feel so miserable. They’d also have fantastic sex. Still, Derek was positively uncertain about this affair. “She gives so much time to me and all I give in return is sex. But then, that’s what I have been giving to all the other women when they showed the slightest desire for it. It turns out that I don’t treat the girl I love any differently from everyone else. Even my love is completely mediocre.”

Derek decided to make something special for Lola and wrote a poem. In the poem, he compared Lola with a white horse galloping through dirt and a moon orbiting Jupiter, the biggest, yet dead and vicious planet. After the presentation of the poem they had sex, but Derek did not enjoy sex anymore. He was a clever guy even though he had never got a chance to put his brain to use. He understood that his poem was lacking in depth and subtlety. He felt that he was being exploited again like so many times before. So, he left Lola and decided to put his talents to good use by becoming a prostitute and thus, establishing a solid source of income which would allow him, in time, to put serious efforts into his personal development and break from this vicious circle.

By mistake

Joseph was a defective person. He stood alone in front of the mirror in his room dressed in his best garment and practiced vowels.

“Aaaaa, ooooo…”

The vowels would come out of his mouth strangled, hissing, unnatural, as if from a very long and narrow plastic tube.

“Now look at yourself Joseph,” he thought, “you were saving money for a year to buy this suit and you have been practicing the vowels for as long, and still they do not sound right.”

Joseph would cry a little, but after that he would always return to his exercises.

“Aaaaa, ooooo, eeeee…”

After a while Joseph’s face would turn red and he would start breathing heavily, like a dog, until finally he’d be forced to stop. The exercises continued for days and days.

Finally, the vowels started to sound more fully and clearly. Joseph then switched to tongue twisters and reading books aloud.

“Siks sisk hisk nick siks slisk brisk with pisks and stisks…”

After repeating a line several times Joseph would again get too excited, and so, he would have to take a few deep breaths. Nevertheless, he persevered.

Finally, words started to sound clear and loud. Joseph made sure that his suit was immaculate, his breath was fresh, and the color of his face was not too red. He then went out and joined a gathering of people who all spoke very beautifully and had very nice clothes on them. By mistake they talked to Joseph, by mistake they allowed him a glimpse into their lives. They did not know that Joseph was not a real person, but a defective one.

Suddenly, in the middle of the conversation, while Joseph was talking very actively and eloquently, there was a loud dull clap. Immediately, the blood gushed from Joseph’s throat and red stains covered everyone who gathered around him. Joseph started to collapse with a loud and hollow hissing sound much like a pierced air balloon. Gradually, virtually all blood from his body was sprayed on his interlocutors while his skin ended up laying on the floor mingled with his until-recently-wonderful suit.

The people around looked angry and disappointed. But what could they do to Joseph? Obviously, he was completely defective, but he was also thoroughly dead.