This is the first of six parts of "Mr. & Mrs. Hide", a novel we just finished. It is to be published by who-knows-who, who-knows-when or sooner. In the meantime, it's moving around, finding it's way who-knows-where, and we're sort of waking up from it, starting to do who-knows-what and other things.
If at any time your eyes start hurting from staring at the screen, follow the link below and it'll take you to a short (some 8 odd minutes) film we made based on our novel.
& Mrs. Hide
Natalija Grgorinic & Ognjen Raden
(winows media player reccomended)
You have to choose sides.
is difficult, intolerant,
autocratic, easy to lose temper,
constantly counting, adding, subtracting: footsteps, breaths, bathroom tiles;
innumerable mechanical motions needed to wash hands,
touching things, chairs, walls, doorknobs, in particular sequences, particular number of times, one for her mother, one for the father, one for the sister,
for him, if sheís in the mood, for world peace, for all the people she knows, for all those she doesnít;
lately thinking of having children,
sensitive to dry skin, dry hands, the feel of dry feet on a carpet,
allergic to dust, allergic to wool,
argues with shop-attendants,
distrustful towards strangers,
when talking gesticulates wildly, like a scarecrow in the wind,
gets annoyed easily,
especially by him,
fears sickness, fears death of people who are close to her, fears natural disasters,
insists on living a healthy life,
scratches uncontrollably when nervous,
hates washing hair,
is insanely jealous and stubborn.
is shy, possessive, sex-obsessed,
hates to exercise, eats too many sweets,
enjoys being lazy,
talks too much,
likes to fool himself people are essentially good;
rude to fellow drivers, doesnít say hello to neighbors,
is insanely jealous and stubborn.
A cartoon of a postal van pulls up in front of the red brick, two-story apartment building at 636 North Plymouth Boulevard, just south of Melrose and the main entrance to Paramount Studiosí movie town. A fat, black postman works up a light sweat climbing some half-a-dozen stairs. This was easier only the day before when he was a 103 lb. Malaysian woman with a tropical hat. The door is locked but he lets himself in by reaching the inside doorknob through the tall, narrow window on his left. Quickly he releases the mailbox panel and starts feeding the boxes with letters, bills, offers one cannot afford to pass on. The hall is dark and musty, like a bottom of a neglected swimming pool. The draft from the back exit pulls in the smell of an overfilled garbage container stuck in the corner of the small parking lot. The postmanís face is stone-like and serious, his hand is just and sure. Heíll stick a white envelope in every gaping hole except the one marked ď103Ē. But before he locks the panel back, in an act of purely professional pity, into that one heíll throw a leaflet with a missing child on one side and a discount dry-cleaning deal announcement on the other. The US Postal Service never lets anyone down.
Days as clear as this one are rare. Days washed clean, when the world seems to be starting anew. Days when you can see the hills.
ďLook, the Hollywood sign!Ē She points like a child, they see the Paramount water tower, white letters to the right of it spelling the word, a stamp struck on mortgaged realities and tired dreams, a cry for help that has never been answered. The parking lot behind their building is the place from where every single Hollywood postcard was shot.
Nasia and Oren are not allowed to park here. One needs to come up with fifty bucks for the space or alternatively charm the manager. They are incapable of either so they park out in the street and the only chance for them to see the sign is when they come back here to throw out the trash. They do that together. Dispose of the waste. They do everything together. A family of rats feasts on a heap of rust-red hygienic pads in the corner. They dump a bag of orange peels, eggshells and bean cans in the container (he pushes the lid open, she throws in the bag).
ďLook, the sign,Ē she murmurs, ďthe sign.Ē Itís a chant, a ritual worship of the word arrogantly nesting in the hills, to show the Fame they are ready to be hit, a jab in the face, an uppercut straight to their twinned hearts. Then they go back in to check the mail (he unlocks the mailbox, she sticks her hand in), but thereís nothing there, except for a lost kid; lots of them lately, lots of children lost in the city of Los Angeles.
She crumples the flyer, lets it drop into the waste bin.
The building is moving like a ship going down. Why come to Hollywood?
ďCheap seats get you the best view of a disaster.Ē She starts back for their place.
He doesnít listen, reaches for the missing child, stuffs it in his pocket.
She chops carrots in the kitchen. No one forced her, she volunteered. He reads out loud about a gunfight three blocks away. Five months away. The papers are yellow, make decent curtains, but a bit unreliable when it comes to keeping one informed. He moves away from the windows.
she presses on the knife, her behind shifts rhythmically. Hard and
determined like coiled asps. He comes to breathe in her ear. She chooses
to ignore him. Waits for his palm to slide between her thighs. He takes
her hand, replaces a carrot with his penis. She puts the knife down next
Heíd like to get her a ring, at least a cheep one, the very idea makes him groan with delight: then it would be like fucking someone elseís wife. He pulls down her pants, frees one of her legs enough to press tighter against her. Maybe this time sheíll let him. A ring is a mark of submission. He wouldnít mind wearing a ring, if sheíd occasionally let him be in charge. But she doesnít want one. The lady at the public notaryís office took it personally when they showed up without wedding bands. Apparently they had spoiled it for her, she got dressed up and all. Golden midget Jesus around old ladyís goitered neck stared mercifully (Jesus is always merciful) at their torn jeans and matching yellow rubber boots. People had sheep on the island, ragged, rain soaked, marked with red, green and yellow paint. The two of them considered staying a bit longer. Till the death do them part. They got married in the wintertime, windstorms kept ferries in harbors. They lost their nerve, took the first ship off as soon as the storm died down.
He frees himself from her hold. Looks her straight in the face. Her eyes are closed.
Right now, sheís fucking a big fat nanny in the park. She makes her take off her uniform, spread it on the grass, lie on her back. The pale flesh spills over. At the touch of hand her breasts and belly wobble like jelly, her small triangular cap bobs up and down on blond silky hair, like a paper plane lost in a rosebush.
He picks her up performing a fancy balancing act with her left nipple between his teeth, but as heís about to insert himself, she presses the icy blade of the knife against his stomach.
ďJesus Christ!Ē Oren jumps as if bitten.
Nasia pulls up her pants.
ďKeep it out, I told you!Ē
They donít fuck. Thatís the rule. Not each other or anyone else. Not since they came here. She goes down on him, he sticks his tongue in her, sometimes a finger, but thatís it. No risky business till they make some money. Sheís allergic to pills. Heís allergic to her being allergic. Sheís lying, but he lets her. Because of what happened. Thatís why he agrees. To be her lesbian friend.
Afterwards, Nasia and Oren walk over to Kinkoís on Vine. She humors him by guessing along the way which of the people have just had some kind of sex. But itís just the two of them and the mulatto transvestite prostitute. In oil-stained green stilettos the mulatto balances on the curb waiting for his next ride. Stretches his leopard-patterned skirt over the angular hips. Anxiously licks a freshly split lip. A waft of warm wind picks up a plastic bag, Nasia and Oren follow it intently as the distressed polyethylene pirouettes through the air. At Kinkoís they copy their stories. It makes them feel like writers.
Car pulls up, girl gets in. The car is a beat-up 1978 Buick Electra with many-colored layers of hand-applied paint flaking off in scabs. The girl is a kind of a girl who gets into any car that pulls up in front of her. But before she starts to recite the pricelist the driver says, Tyrone, momís in the hospital. The girl adjusts her skirt, the driver is her brother. Is it bad, she asks. Bad enough for you to go and see her. Okay, Iíll go see her, she says. Yes, you are, Iím taking you right now. No, youíre not, she says, I canít go like this. Thereís some clothes of mine at the back seat. I canít change in here. Well Iím not stopping. Fuck you, says the girl and peels her top off. Her breasts are oversized mounds of chocolate pudding. Her brother looks at them out of the corner of his eye. Remembers how they used to shoot hoops when they were kids. Your tits are the size of basketballs, he says. Your brain is the size of a pea, she says. She gets into a plaid shirt and a pair of oil-stained coveralls. The clothes smell of sweat and beer and Old Spice. Here we are, the driver says pulling up in front of the hospital. Itís room 301. Youíre not coming? Iíll wait here, good luck. In room 301 an old woman sits alone in her bed next to the window. Two other beds are empty, waiting. The woman looks out; all she sees is a square of blue sky. When the girl in coveralls comes in, the woman moans, my baby, you came! Sheís acting both feeble and strong, stricken and serene. How you doing, momma, the girl asks. She stops at the old womanís feet. Oh, Iím old, thatís all, just old and tired. But come here, she makes room on the bed, sit next to me. The girl comes near. The old woman hugs her. Hard. Oh, my baby! The girl piles up on top of her. Iím here, momma. Baby? Iím here, momma. Whatís this, baby? The old woman grabs girlís breasts. What did you do to yourself, Tyrone? Momma, stop it! Tyrone? When the girl manages to break loose her shirt is wide open. Oh, my baby, what did you do? Itís okay, momma, now donít get upset. The old woman is terribly pale. Her eyes bulge and nostrils widen. Momma? Oh, my God, Iím think Iím gonna die. You cut it off, didnít you? No, I didnít, says the girl. Yes, you did. No, I didnít. Yes, you did. No, I didnít, look. The girl unzips her coveralls and takes out her penis. The woman stares at it mesmerized. Come closer, she says. She reaches for it. Her dry, wrinkled hand encloses girlís shriveled scrotum. Praise the Lord, says the woman, praise the Lord! Her eyes swell up with tears. The window fills up with bright light as if an angel chose it for a resting place.
Their desk is a foldable square table with black imitation leather top they had bought along with four foldable Euro chairs at the K-Mart on 3rd Street. It still isnít very clear what makes the chairs European, but the whole set had been only $ 39.99, and it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the hasty, camping-trip style in which their apartment is predominantly decorated.
The work area is situated where the TV would be, beneath windows adorned with curtains fashioned from pages of the first issue of LA Times they bought upon arrival. The table itself is far from reliable. Only one book is allowed on it, the one with their names on the cover squeezed in between a too long title and nine bare behinds. Nothing sells a book like a naked ass, at least thatís what they thought. So for their first and thus far only book they had to have nine, but it proved to be a flawed sort of mathematics.
Heavy dictionaries end up on the floor, but even then, the table is cluttered with computers (two black Think Pads, keyboards with five extra keys for characters no one uses this side of Atlantic), phone, lamp (small and quite useless), dozens of cables slithering off towards power-cord extensions, pencils and pens, and scraps of paper with thoughts that couldnít wait for Windows to load, all of it covered with a fine lace of dust as if announcing: Serious writers at work!