Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak, over and over, this squeak, squeak, squeak………………

you’ve probably figured out that it’s the sound of someone’s steps, but then one can’t just write a squeak for every step, copy-pasting would make it easier, of course, but the dots at the end help resolve the unresolvable, a dot for every squeak, a dot instead of i, a dot instead of gyumri,[1] a dot instead of that city of arts and trades, a dot instead of the minibus carrying him there, a dot instead of the driver of the minibus and his music, a dot instead of the hard-core aram asatryan,[2] a dot instead of the tasteless aficionados of rabiz,[3] a dot for the refined tastes that detest the rabiz, a dot instead of the hotel, a dot instead of the two-story wooden structure, a dot instead of the temporary housing donated by the norwegians,[4] which they’ve converted into a hotel instead of a dot, a dot instead of the Norwegian hotel, a dot instead of the receptionist’s smile. do you have any free rooms? yes we do. squeaaaaaaaaaaaak.

the dot’s a narrow room, one bed, two feet of space and one table, the bathroom in the hallway—how’s that for a dot? don’t you have any rooms with a bathroom? a norwegian hotel instead of an armenian one. the receptionist’s nice boobs instead of a dot.

gyumri instead of a dot, and the reporter in the hotel room, instead of someone just filling in the dots. kirakosyan, representing the 7dots periodical in Yerevan. vache kirakosyan, the star reporter, a penname instead of the original. you should have been penning dots instead of looking for trouble in gyumri, just get fucking paid and be content. in the evening, when you get back to your room, should you get a hooker? a lennakan[5] hooker? do you have girls here? we sure do, our waitress will come up to your room in the evening and dot the pleasures of life for you. she’ll blow you with her toothless mouth, leaving scratches with her hardened gums on this reporter’s dick.

the topic.

the topic should be how you’ve come all the way here in the sweltering heat, covered in sweat, instead of just dotting it. a phone call—vache, man, have i got a story for you, it’s the bomb, what story, vache? vach (both of them are called vache instead of a dot), a guy caught his wife in bed with the father, so he stabbed her to death. hang on, whose father? the husband’s, of course, why would a man fuck his own daughter? you’re wrong, it happens once in a while. anyway, it was the husband’s father. so the husband butchered his wife, stabbed her to death and buried her in his backyard for sleeping with his father. he didn’t kill the father, i guess they’ve stopped teaching samvel[6] the way they used to in high schools, i swear. the wife’ death instead of the father’s murder, and the idolization of the husband. whose fault was it, the father’s or the wife’s? if hamlet saw eye to eye with this guy, he would’ve hung his mother instead of killing his uncle. the topic’s fascinating. hang on…. the dots won’t suffice here, we’re lacking the wife’s motives for sleeping with her father-in-law, something tear-jerking for the reader, the dots don’t reveal the social aspects of the crime, this is a crappy story. if it weren’t…. how about this spin? the husband’s an alcoholic, the wife’s struggling to feed the children, the husband doesn’t bring a single penny home, so the husband’s father approaches the wife once and says come to my bed while my son’s away, i’ll sell all the gold my father had bequeathed me so that you can buy the kids something to eat. the father-in-law is from van[7], his own father had managed to salvage the family gold during the genocide, so, when they resettled, he buried it in the front yard, and then told his only son about it before he died. and now that gold had become the price for fucking the daughter-in-law. and maybe it wasn’t just that one time, maybe he dragged her to bed every chance he got, when the son was away. and not just at night, every afternoon, when the son was at work and the kids at the kindergarten. you can’t find out the real truth, no way, this is how the wife’s neighbor tells it, so the point of view is subjective. we don’t even know if the wife turned her father-in-law on.

so you’re telling me you could get me a woman for tonight. yes, absolutely. what about you? the receptionist pulls off her wig and lets her bald head glisten for a moment. would you enjoy fucking a bald woman? not bad, not bad, hair grosses him out, the less of it, the more complete the erection, the less hair, the more sanitary the whole business. not bad, not bad at all. yes, honey, you come see me tonight. you’re spending the night with me. i won’t spend the whole night, it’ll cost you too much, but i’ll come up to your room, if you want me to. i have your interests at heart, deary, we have some hot girls here, with beautiful, curly hair, we bring them here from yerevan and keep them around for important customers like you. no, the women from yerevan are snobs, tonight i want some clean, shaven, hairless gyumri pussy. you’ve got it, baby. how much for a quicky or a blowjob? i usually charge fifteen, but for the honor of sucking a royal dick like yours, i’ll be happy with ten.

clean, clean, cleaned….

a khash bone, not a single hair on it. honey, you shouldn’t wear a wig, your baldness makes you beautiful. she grins at him. i’ve desired you since i was a little child, bare like mount ararat, erotic in its nakedness.

should i wait until the morning? no, do it now, go interview some people, visit the murderous husband in his isolation cell at the prison, talk to the husband’s father and dot the whole thing with a panoramic perspective. get back to the hotel in the evening, bring the hairless pussy up to the room, undress her, lay her on the bed and dot her. in the morning, get to the office with the dots.

hey, bookkeeper, i’m heading to gyumri, i need money for transportation and the hotel. bang, the drawer flies open, bang, the stack of cash comes out, bang, dots instead of the fifty allotted bucks. a minibus in place of one dollar, the hotel in place of thirty, food in place of another ten, the bold receptionist in place of ten buck. the office does not cover sex expenses, they come out of your own pocket.

the story’s ready.

“the five-year-old arthur couldn’t understand why his mother was lying on the dining table or why his father wasn’t home. will he ever find answers to these questions when he becomes an adult? ono had left for vanadzor[8] where there was some work for him to do. he was supposed to be carrying bricks for building some rich guy’s house. but his car broke down on his way there, so he was forced to turn back home in the middle of the night. he made his way into the house quietly, trying not to wake anyone up. he didn’t know the whole story. if he did, he’d kill his father, that lusty old scumbag, instead of killing his wife, the guiltless creature that she was. when little arthur found his mother’s severed head in the backyard, he assumed that it was another one of those tricks and games his mom made up to get him to eat something.  he went running to the next house, where his mother’s sister lived. auntie, auntie, come see what mom’s up to, she’s pulled her head off her body. aunt manik didn’t pay attention to the kid’s words. ‘how could i’ve thought the kid wasn’t just dreaming this up, how could i have thought that my poor sister’… dots instead of tears. two days later, when they realized that sonia was missing, aunt manik remembered little arthur’s story and asked him if he’d seen his mother. no, he said, but her head had separated from her body and was rolling around the backyard. and then next thing he knew, his mother was lying asleep on the table, and everybody was crying, his sister, his auntie, his granny, their neighbor marusia. how come nobody cried like that when he fell asleep? why couldn’t he, too, pull his own head off his body? perhaps he’ll find answers to his questions when he grows up.”

if only the wife had kept a diary instead of dots, i wouldn’t have to be here dotting the hairless woman. “july 15. the children keep tugging on my skirt, begging me for more food, poor little arthur is only three, he’s all skin and bones, he doesn’t get any vitamins, anushik is seven and she doesn’t even have shoes to go to school, ono’s drunk again, sleeping it off. my stomach still hurts from how he hit me yesterday. the neighbor refuses to pay me for the sewing i did for her, at least that money would’ve bought some extra bread for the kids. what am i to do? i say arthur, sweetie, be patient, we’ll have some money by the evening. suddenly, my father-in-law approaches me. sonia, dear, why do you let your children go hungry? he says that to me! what should i do, tear myself into small pieces? your son brings no money home, and even if he manages to make a few pennies, he spends it all on drink, he’s brought these kids into this world, but who’s going to worry about feeding them? the father-in-law said he had a way to feed them. so, on july 15, while ono was away, i took the kids over to my mother’s house, and when i got back to the house, my father-in-law called out to me from his bedroom, sonia come here. i’ve been copulating with him for a year, but at least my kids no longer have to starve.” the third july 15th proved to be a fateful one for sonia, dots instead of finishing her fate. where’s the diary instead of the dots?

but then all of this could also be untrue. the father-in-law is out in the garden, crouching over the money-hole. the hole where the gold was buried or where his daughter-in-law lay, money instead of the daughter-in-law or the gold. hello, i’m a reporter. dots instead of bullshit. you really think that if my grandchildren went hungry and i had gold stashed away, i’d hide it or do something as low as trading it for sex? yes, i can’t deny it, what happened, happened, and he walked in on us, saw the whole thing, it was a shitty thing of me to do, but then how can you reason with that cur? he’s an alkie, comes home drunk every evening, beats his wife and passes out. she’s a woman, she wants a screwing once in a while…. dots instead of editing those dots that we put in instead of sonia’s diary.

should i ask who the real father of the children is? probably not. and the kids, what about the kids, we’ll take care of them, after all, they’re my grandchildren, now they’ll be like my kids, and whose they are isn’t…. dots instead of completing denials.

dots instead of the road leading to the isolation cell. ono, why did you kill your wife? brother, put yourself in my place, you come home and find your wife screwing your father, what would you have done? i’d kill my father. now don’t say that, i’ve worshipped him since i was a little kid, my father, since my childhood, i have loved thee, i have clung to thy manly breast, thou as a father, thou as an armenian, and ono starts weeping instead of dots. do you regret what you’ve done? no, the only thing i regret is that i couldn’t kill my father, my brother, and my wife’s sister, my sister-in-law, to boot. why her? because, brother, she stuck her nose into our lives all the time, turning my wife against me, against my father. ono, did you bring money home, because your neighbors say that your kids starved while you spent all your earnings on alcohol. brother, those no-good neighbors were the undoing of our family, i’m ill, i slave away all day, carrying bags of cement on my shoulders, who do you think i do it for, for my kids, for my family. now maybe recently i’ve been earning less than before, is that a reason for my wife to lay with my father behind my back? and as far as drinking, brother, i slave away all day, swallowing dust, don’t i have a right to at least unwind over a shot of vodka?

“five years ago, ono sustained a heavy injury, as a result of which he lost a kidney, and yet he continued to work, straining himself to sustain his family. and that day, when he discovered his wife’s betrayal, and with his own father, of all people….” dots instead of describing ono’s broken heart. “tears flowed out of ono’s eyes, and he couldn’t get himself to finish his words, stuttering, he kept saying ai-ai-ai-ai k-k-k-killed my be-be-be-beloved wife, m-m-m-my sonulik, i have no right to live. he hanged himself in the isolation cell the day after being interviewed by the correspondent from 7dots.”

squeak, squeak, squeak, some people are getting turned on, while others picture a reporter walking down the hallway of the norwegian hotel. he approaches the bald receptionist, takes her by the hand, and squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak. “vahan, i got a hard-on reading ‘iren,’ but then it shrunk back down in the end, because it turned out she didn’t even have a pussy, and your story made no sense to me,” says vahan ishkhanyan’s childhood friend, who emigrated to the usa in ’87 and had read ishkhanyan’s short story entitled ‘iren’ about a pussy-less woman online. “you’re right, man, but in this story, things are different,” responds ishkhanyan, “the bald woman has a pussy, but she’s missing her front teeth and scratched the dick while giving blowjobs. and her clients don’t enjoy themselves. you lucked out brother, you moved to la and didn’t have to live through the transitional depression.” a dot instead of a dot.

Black Hair

psssss, the piss, streaming down the sides of the toilet bowl faces him the way a speaker addresses a crowd. ouf, the yellow liquid flows on effortlessly, painlessly—clearly, he’s got no prostate problems. a veritable festival of painlessness. yellow bliss spreading over the toilet bowl. the office is empty, everyone’s gone home, and he’s got the icq going full blast. how much longer can he stay? it’s time to get going. he can’t go home now. why go home, so that they can blame him for everything they lose, like he’s left the kid on the stove? perhaps he should go to the maf-club or some café-schmafe? no, fuck that. he’s going to call a cab. she kept talking about how she wanted him to pull her hair, toss her on the bed, have his way with her. it will take me three weeks to just coax her out of the house, whereas the old-and-kindhearted one, her hair loose, is waiting for me to go over there to pull and toss, climb on top of her and fuck her, no wait, throw her down, whip her, and then fuck her, c’mon. hello, taxi service, hello, I’d like a car, some pussy, and miami beach, with pussies all around, floating in the sky reflected in the water. eternal life. doesn’t have to be miami. kobuleti[9] will do just fine, in kobuleti, the houses are cheap, the georgians let bunks for one lari[10], two laris, five laris, ten laris, twenty laris, ten bucks. you just don’t get it, buddy, just log back in to icq and chat. i don’t get it. fucking a, i don’t get it. what’s there not to get, the honeys in kobuleti are armenian, brainless and pussyless. i don’t get this life, one minute your piss turns to face you in the toilet, the other—it’s a theater, with your father’s mind for a stage and your ass for the audience. this is how i learn what life is, and wisdom sinks in very-very slowly.

your cab’s downstairs, number 325, a green ’06[11]. i was kinda hoping it would be a ’31[12], so that i could get comfortable, have a smoke. i could’ve rolled a joint and said to the driver—take me to komitas. why didn’t they send a ’31? listen, brother, what do you care? same difference. the cab goes up vazgen sargsyan and turns into the main square. they’ve dug up the mosaic. hey, didn’t they make that mosaic only two years ago? how come they’ve taken it apart? they think someone’s buried a spell against the president under it. so, what’s going on in your life? so once, i get these five hookers in my car, they all light up at the same time, smoke up my car so bad i can’t see the windshield, going from one end of the city to the other, and then they get to where they’re going and say—sorry, we’ve got no money. what do you mean you’ve got no money? so they say—we’ll just pay you next time, ok, and i go, listen, girls, imagine if someone fucks you and then refuses to pay, how’d you like that? now this steering wheel is kind of like my pussy. the wheel becomes a body and tangos. then what? then i said who knows if i’ll ever run into the five of you again; i picked out the prettiest of the bunch, an italiano-looking one, and told her she had to suck me off. what? a suck costs thirty bucks, all we owe you is six. i don’t care, do it, or i’ll drive the car into a wall, and all of us will be equally fucked then. so she said fine. then what? then i tell her, and don’t you dare slack off or do anything crazy, like bite me, and she says no, honey, don’t worry, i do my job well, i’ll suck you off so good you’ll faint, so good you’ll look for me next time, fork over all your money, let your kids go hungry just to get me to do it again. and she did! the driver keeps jabbering on about these pathological, sexoworkological matters, and he doesn’t even understand that his passenger really doesn’t feel like climbing nine floors. would you mind carrying me up, just a little boost, if you carry me up to the elevator and get me up to the ninth floor, i’ll pay you fifteen bucks extra. those fucking diasporan armenians have bought out half of yerevan, forced the local population out to the slums and the suburbs, turning an entire nation that once survived the genocide into ass-bare beggars. yes, brother, there are many amazing things happening in this world. and the driver, or should we say the office cabbie, all proper, his meter at 30 cents a kilometer, a cigarette hanging off the corner of his lips, throws him over his shoulder—he refuses to carry him in his arms, insisting it’s too gay—and drags him up to the elevator, presses the button, you’re heavy, brother, gets into the elevator, presses the button “nine,” sweating like a pig. apparently, he’s not made for hard labor, a little more and he’ll be on the floor. it’s hard, isn’t it? it is, brother, but what choice have i got, when a man needs to feed his family, he’ll lift heavy stuff if he has to. have you ever been asked to do this by other passengers for a few extra bucks? there’s been a couple of times, but those guys were real heavy. how much did they pay you? fifteen bucks. well, since i don’t weigh so much, how about i only give you ten? come on man, we agreed on fifteen. the elevator doors opened, and he climbed off the driver. hey, how about i get you some free pussy instead of paying you fifteen bucks? man, i think your brain has melted on both sides, you asked me to get you up to the ninth floor and i did, what the fuck would i want free pussy for, how’s that going to feed my kids, one of them’s starting school this year, i gotta make money to buy him shoes and stuff. now give me my money so i can go, i’m tired, i’ve been on my feet since early morning. are you trying to tell me your kid wouldn’t have shoes if you didn’t carry me up here, moron? don’t you fucking ‘moron’ me, you think just ‘cause you’re a big boss i’m gonna let you get away with this? hang on, how do you know i’m a big boss? i can tell what my clients do before they even come out of their mothers’ wombs. if you’re so smart, how come you let the hooker pay you in kind? look, i’m not an economist like you, i don’t feel like dealing with your shit. that was just a random story about my dick and about my family, why the fuck do you care? here you go, he shoved the fifteen bucks into the driver’s hands, if you ever need help with anything, you just lemme know, i’m a big shot. like i give a fuck. what did you just say? you heard me! he whipped out his gun, bang, and the driver was dead on the stairs. this was back in the day when the entire country was entrenched in criminal warfare, during the second generation of progress. the blood flowed from the driver’s stomach towards the elevator, and his face was turned towards the criminal like a department head faces the mob. pathetic son of a bitch. did he think i was playing games with him? he made it to the door and started ringing, ring, ring, ring. who’s there? it’s me, honey, my pretty, my sweet. click. a terrified woman’s voice, who’s there? i dunno. who are you, i’m asking you. i hear that, keep asking, the more questions you ask the better. who’s there, the woman’s yelling by this point. oh, that’s just the cab driver, calm down, just come out here and help me carry him inside. are you out of your mind? i said come out here and help me, didn’t you say you loved me? even if i did, doesn’t mean i wanna go to jail for you. but you said you’d do anything for me. he grabbed the corpse by the arms, his aged sweetheart took the legs, and together they dragged the body inside. they carried him to the balcony and threw him on a stack of potatoes. the potatoes got drenched in blood, staring at the two of them the way a rebelling crowd faces an army. now come inside, and he forced her in by her arms. i wanna tell you, sweetheart…. what are you doing, are you crazy, do you have any human emotions, you just blew a hole through this man and now you’re pulling this ‘come hither’ crap on me? i thought you had a hankering for extreme sex, hair pulling and such. i went through all this trouble for you, my dear sweets, to turn you on with all this blood. you really are crazy. i’ll show you crazy, and he pulled her black hair. he pulled very hard, and, next thing he knew, he had all her hair in his hand. all of it, except for two, three, four, that is to say, very few, tiny strands around her forehead. oops, what did i do? oh my god, my hair, what did i get myself into? oh my god, give me back my hair, she broke down into sobs. the roots of the hairs were bleeding softly, and the blood washed away all the traces….

from that night on, a man could be seen roaming the streets of the city with a strand of black hair in his hands, and the legend had it that if he put a black hair on a door, something terrible would happen to the people living behind it.

Translated, from the Armenian, by Margarit Tadevosyan-Ordukhanyan

[1] Gyumri is the second-largest city in Armenia and one of its oldest cultural and industrial centers located in the country’s Shirak region. It was renamed Leninakan in 1922, when Armenia became part of the Soviet Union, and was renamed following Armenia’s declaration of independence in 1991 (here and forthwith, translator’s notes).

[2] An Armenian pop-singer intimately associated with the genre of rabiz music (see below).

[3] A distorted form of Russian rabis (abbreviation of rabocheie iskusstvo, proletarian art), rabiz denotes a peculiar genre of music that combines flashy elements of folk and pop music, traditionally considered low-brow.

[4] In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Armenia in 1988, which took the heaviest toll in Gyumri, international relief organizations had donated various forms of temporary housing to the survivors. Many of these were later converted to the first burgeoning enterprises of the recovering city.

[5] A colloquial abbreviation of Gyumri’s soviet-time name Leninakan.

[6] The historical novel Samvel (1886), written by a prominent Armenian novelist Raffi (born Hakob Melik-Hakopyan, 1835-1888) an loosely based on true events, represents perhaps the most celebrated case of patricide in Armenian literature. A fixture of the high-school curriculum, the novel tells the story of a brooding Armenian prince, Samvel, who murders his parents in order to save his homeland from integrating into the Persian empire in the early 5th century. The character of Samvel symbolizes Armenian patriotism and the nation’s struggle for survival amid hostile neighbors following its conversion to Christianity.

[7] Van, a province of Western Armenia, currently on the territory of Turkey.

[8] The third largest city in Armenia.

[9] A resort on the Black Sea in southwestern Georgia (here and forthwith, translator’s notes).

[10] Lari is the currency of Georgia, equivalent to about $0.7.

[11] An old model of the Soviet-made Zhiguli, small sedan

[12] Volga’s largest and most updated sedan produced in the Soviet Union, used as the luxury car for government officials before the influx of foreign-made automobiles into Armenia.

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