The Romanian [Secure eReader]
Click on image to enlarge.
eBook by Bruce Benderson
eBook Category: People/Family/Relationships
eBook Description: History follows a trail of sputtering desire, often calling upon the delusions of lovers to generate the sparks. If it weren't for us, the world would suffer from a dismal lack of stories. In this brutally candid memoir, writer, translator and journalist Bruce Benderson recounts his unrequited love for an impoverished Romanian whom he meets while on a journalism assignment in Eastern Europe. Rather than retreat, Benderson absorbs everything he can about Romania, its culture and its history and discovers a mirror in it for his own turmoil: the wild affairs of its last king, Carol II. Free of bitterness, nastiness, or any desire to protect himself, he is sustained throughout by little white codeine pills, a poetic self-awareness, a sense of humor, and an unwavering belief in the perfect romance, even as wild dogs chase him down Romanian streets.
eBook Publisher: Snowbooks/Snowbooks
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2007
The stranger?s hands are cracked and callused, coated with something vaguely sticky. From the puffed-out shape of his pants at the knees and the worn fading around his lean buttocks, I guess he?s been sleeping in a lot of different places lately. Over a wide black-wool turtleneck collar, his sharp features and high forehead offset a haughty, blasť bearing. Quickly I jerk my hand away from his.This is my first night in Budapest. Five hours ago, when I set out from my hotel across the Szabadsg Bridge, hardly anybody had braved the cold. The few introverted faces I passed seemed disembodied against the tar-colored sky. I'd come here to do a story about brothels for an online magazine. Something personal and literary, the editor had chuckled in his impishly paternal way. Planning to grope my way through the job by sheer instinct and horniness, with little knowledge of the city?s history or present, I left the hotel without even checking a map. My rationale was that my own libido was enough to carry me into the unconscious of the place.I zigzagged recklessly?playing with the dizziness of my jet lag?using the river as an obvious thread of orientation. Deep into the night, around two a.m., I ended up on the Pest waterfront, where chilly gusts sharded the light on inky water. That?s where I saw him, through wind-teared eyes, in front of the Inter-Continental Hotel: a black form cut from darkness, topped by a fluorescently pale face; a nose like an enormous shield, over a pouty underlip; and eyes hollowed by hunger and fatigue. I broke the frozen silence by making up something?a club I pretended to be looking for?and he pretentiously claimed to know them all.We crept along the streetcar tracks, enveloped by the echo of lapping waves and cars humming on the bridge above, leaving our wet, black footprints in the asphalt. That?s when he grazed my hand with those rough, coated fingers of his and I jerked it away, afraid of the feel of dry cartilage on his knuckles.But I?ve stayed here anyway at the foot of the bridge, as a match flares in his face, bringing out small, distrustful black eyes and their stagy melancholy. His eyes aren't searching mine for pity. They look dead.He is, it turns out, a Romanian, one of the dozens who prowl this Danube promenade, called the Corso. Struggling to get by† without papers, he?s been surviving day to day through an underground network of other Romanians, on petty heists, hustling and borrowing from friends.In a macho gesture, he hands me a cigarette and lights it in a cupped palm. Beneath his plucky gestures is a cynicism so unbending that it sends a shudder down my spine. His name is ancient: Romulus. No people, he explains, including the Italians, feel closer to the Romans, who once occupied the land now called Romania. In fact, the Romanian language is largely pure vulgar Latin and its closest modern equivalent.With one laconic hand, he sketches a flamboyant biography meant to entice me. It?s a smug story about disappointment borne with masculine fatality. This last year, he explains, was the worst punishment of all for being born in a country where the average monthly salary is the equivalent of about
The Romanian eighty dollars. ?Not my fault,? he mumbles, ?that I was born there,? like a confession an inmate unwisely whispers into an ear, his snake eyes glinting behind curls of smoke....