You’d expect Calm Chamomile or Tension Tamer to be the most depleted teaboxes in my therapists’s waiting room, but no, it’s Lemon Zinger.

Quality of Life

This is to inform you that the man who stepped on your heel four years ago and the woman who overcharged you yesterday are having a baby.

Doris Lessing

There's a voice in my head that tells me Doris Lessing is not guilty. I say who's Doris Lessing? Guilty of what? Not guilty, the voice replies.

Peter Gabriel

In her old age mother would often confuse me with her departed lovers, and then she'd grow morose at her own lack of sexual discernment. Of all the men this planet had to offer, she'd say, I chose to bed five fellas who could as well be twins. Quintuplets, I'd correct, and it's just me, your loving daughter, five days a week, and on the weekends Eunice, who looks nothing like me. She'd stare off in the distance, then ask for tea or reading glasses, addressing me with a male name: Sam, Peter, Gabriel, Maurice, or Alexander.

Anton Chekhov Story

On the table, Anton Chekhov placed a gun and an ashtray—one of these, he said, will go off within the hour. We waited in silence, smoking cigarette after cigarette and using the ashtray for its intended purpose. When the clock struck eight, Chekhov shoved the gun and the ashtray, along with all the butts into the pockets of his pants, and exited the room with the air of someone who had just proven a point.

First Love

I got my first venereal disease from my first girlfriend. She got it from her third boyfriend, whom she was dating concurrently with her second boyfriend (me). Later she confessed that she’d been dating him before she started dating me, which chronologically downgraded me to her third boyfriend—the one that gave her the venereal disease, which she in turn gave to her second boyfriend—a smallish man, whose modest height allowed him to punch me in my crotch without the inconvenience of crouching or digging a ditch.


Just as I found her clitoris, she called out from the other room. Then my troubles began.


On her eleventh birthday Beatrice climbed into the orchard and spent the rest of the year concealed in various shrubs, perfecting a lice remedy, the recipe for which she never shared, although we soon deduced from studying the harvest figures, that mulberries were heavily involved.


We're in this room together, but otherwise I'm on my own.

Father Excused

Between the first and second movements, her father asked to be excused. He exited, took a few steps, then ran down through the hall, laughing. He entered the bathroom, and, locking the door behind him, defecated in the sink. He wiped himself with a hand towel and threw it on the floor, then urinated on the flowers. With his loose excrement, he traced his likeness onto the surface of the mirror. He draped loose strands of toilet paper over the stalls and broke off all the hooks and handles. He turned the faucets on and threw a bar of soap directly at the chandelier, shattering it completely and sinking the room in darkness. As soon as the concert ended, the child burst into tears, calling for her father. A search party was sent to scour the estate, and, at dusk, the cellist came across a bloated head stuck in the bathroom window. Weeping softly, the man explained that he would prefer to spend the rest of his days this way, rather than allow anyone to witness what he had done in a spell of brief confusion. Father and daughter embraced as best they could under the circumstances (the third bassoonist brought a stool), and promised to each other to keep things as they are, and find peace in the details. You are free now, he said, to live your life as you see fit, just visit me some time, and tell me of your triumphs and your studies, and I will tell you of the birds that perch on the surrounding trees, their songs and shades of plumage, and how a winter morning, on certain sunny days, feels like an autumn afternoon, and, sometimes—rarely—an early summer evening.


From Angoulême I took a train into Bordeaux, where I took a bus to Bordeaux airport, where I took a plane to Paris Orly, where I took a bus to Paris Charles De Gaulle, where I took a plane to Munich, where I stayed for two days, and visited four and a half museums, and took a train to Kassel via Hersfeld Bad, where the train broke down a station later, and a replacement train took me to a place that sounded a bit like "fuller," where another replacement train took me someplace else, where I took a train that took me to Kassel, where I stayed for two and a half days and visited a number of museums and a number of places that temporarily functioned as museums, and, reasoning that a train to Munich would be too close to the departure time, I took a bus to Padborn, where I took a train to Duisburg, where I took a train to Utrecht Centraal, where I took a train to Schiphol Airport (the Airport of Amsterdam), where I wasn't allowed to take a plane into Bordeaux because I hadn't taken a return plane from Munich, and, having spent five hours in Schiphol Airport (the Airport of Amsterdam), where I had couscous and a cup of tea, I took a plane into Bordeaux, where I took a bus to the Bordeaux train station, and spend the night at Dominique and Sally’s, and took a train to Angoulême, and walked up to my lodgings, which, unlike my lodgings in Munich, Kassel and Bordeaux, were only shared between me and Loïc Guyon, for the duration of the summer.

The Tenants

On the front door a note—a plea to all the tenants: please do not throw your garbage bags out of the windows of your kitchens onto the sidewalk where they lay for days on end split open by the impact.

You won't find common ground with certain types of tenants—they will go on exactly as before, and worse—they will fill up their bags with razor blades and excrement, and they will throw them out an hour after collection time to maximize the rot and putrefaction. They will form dark clandestine unions and sit in filth, discussing further ways to drive each others' lives into an even greater squalor. They will call up their friends from all over the town, and ask them to come by and bring their trash, and they will drag the bags up flights of stairs only to throw them out immediately.

Soon, the building will become a mere appendage to the mounting piles of garbage that no collection agency will touch—and then the tenants will move out, and find another place—and there they will behave as model citizens, taking excessive care of their new homes—and sometimes they will reminisce about the garbage-throwing days as if it was a dark forgotten age from obscure ancient mythology.

©2024 Roman Muradov