they’ve been sitting here for hours. it was still light out when they got there, but it’s dark by this point, and the streetlights are reflecting off the surface of the lake. the raindrops keep piercing the mirror of the lake, and there’s iren. the rain, the water, the lights in the lake’s looking-glass, the vodka, the jazz—a backdrop to iren’s outlines. have i got a pussy for you, you’ll die when you see her! who? remember, the one you were drooling over during my talk, iren, well she digs you, too, she keeps saying that friend of yours is cool. this is what his friend told him over the phone yesterday. way to go, buddy! all you’ve gotta do is show up, we’ll hang out, listen to some jazz. she was well worth it. under the table, he’s already pawing iren’s palm. iren’s a very sexy name. iren smiles at him, and her smile’s telling him, i’m hot, look at me, take me somewhere, i’ve got some secrets i want you to uncover, pull my hair, toss me on the bed, have your way with me. he knows a thing or two about reading shades of smiles, and iren’s the kind that makes a man lose his mind. they’re on the third and then forth bottles of vodka. first it was just the four of them, but now there’s gotta be at least ten people around the table, all drunk. his friend’s laying it on thick with the other honey. she’s not bad either, but iren’s different, with green eyes and dark hair falling over them, brown, walnut-colored, and she keeps pushing the hair out of the way, inviting him, look into my eyes, see how deep i am. you’ll have to dive deep and there’s no coming back back out.

they bob their heads to the music and keep tossing back their vodkas, chasing the shots with olives. he drinks, too, and he can’t stop thinking about iren. they move their heads to the rhythm of the jazz and keep downing the vodka, chasing it with olives. he’s drinking, and all he can think of is iren. nobody’s noticed that she’s already his, and that the only thing standing between their bodies now is time. a whole night with iren: iren naked, iren in bed, iren with her legs spread open, iren under him, iren’s pussy, entering iren, iren on top, iren riding him, iren’s boobs in the palms of his hands, iren from behind, he behind iren grabbing her ass, iren’s back, iren’s spine, iren’s sharp shoulder-blades, iren moaning, iren breathless in ecstasy. they’ll hang out a little longer and then head out. why rush? she’s his already, she’s got no place to run. so he squeezes iren’s delicate fingers and the hardness of her rings to the tune of the saxophone music. iren, do you like this theme? which theme, this coletrain part, this one right now, the improv, the guys are having some fun with it. iren bobs her head up and down, looking away at the water, her legs crossed, and the fabric of her jeans stretched tight over her thighs, with a cigarette so close to the tip of her thin fingers that it almost look like she’s holding it between her fingernails, and she rhythmically blows out the smoke with her o-shaped red lips; here’s one picture of her here, then there’ll be another, when her lips will be omitting moans, her red nails will be scratching his sides, her jeans tossed on the floor, his palms gliding over the round nakedness of her thighs, her eyeballs rolled back with pleasure.

hey would you like to meet the sax player? he’s a good friend. iren turns to look, iren smiles, iren pushes her hair out of her eyes with her hand. sure. i’ll ask him to come by as soon as they’re done. how do you know him? i know everyone, and gives her fingers another squeeze. iren shakes her head admonishingly. you’re something else. and she presses his hand with her thin fingers. the music stops. he waives in the direction of the stage, to the sax player. one sec. the sax player balances his instrument against the stage and approaches them. come over here, they shake hands, hello, and he pulls up a chair from another chair, have a seat. the sax player sits down. how are you? fine, i guess, here i am. iren, i’d like you to meet…. iren extends her hand. pleased to meet you, iren. pleased to meet you, too, they shake hands. lemme tell you something, iren, i’ve traveled the entire globe, america, france, holland, never seen a saxist like this one, did you hear the way he went at it?  thanks, man. really, i enjoyed listening to your music, have you been playing for a while? since i was five. can i offer you a drink, saksunts? you’ve got nice friends. saksunts is a talented guy indeed. why’s he called that, is it because he plays the sax? no, it’s just a coincidence, he’s from goris.[1] i don’t believe in coincidence, there’s gotta be come connection here, some karmic law. iren, that’s really deep. you’re probably right. and it’s not an accident that we ran into each other like this, is it? iren’s answer is in her smile, caressing and maddening. you’re so attractive, you make me crazy. such words!

there’s no point in staying longer, it’s the right time to invite her, iren why don’t we go back to my place. I’ve got good whiskey and an awesome collection of jazz cds, crazy stuff. do you have a shower at your place, iren asks with a coy smile and brushes her hair back with her fingers. yes, i do, and running hot and cold water around the clock. iren smiles again, that maddening smile. what about the whiskey? it’s blue label. no kidding, iren twists her lips in a sign of approval. you’re something else, you know that? shall we? fine, if you insist, then let us, iren says languidly and gets up. we’re off, it’s getting late. nobody took notice, they couldn’t hear him over the loud solo of the jazz drummer. turning privately to his friend, i’m off, pat on the shoulder, eye contact. you’re leaving? go for it, god bless your heart, with a wink, have a pleasant evening. and then he turns back to his honey. they walk off together, iren’s fingers in his hand. the parking lot’s right behind the café. the attendant approached, with a thousand-dram[2] bill in his hand (it’s been a good day. thank you, said the attendant happily. it is a good day, isn’t it, a thousand here, five thousand from over there, one honey hotter than the previous one, here a brand-new niva[3], there a beemer, this lot’s better than the other one, tons of foreign cars, and he makes three times what the guy at the other lot does, he gets rained on but at least he knows his kid’ll never have to go hungry, and what’s more, he can afford the kid’s karate lessons. and the boss has promised to pay to have that blood clot removed. or has he changed his mind on that?)

he opened the passenger door first, let iren in, and then got behind the wheel. he pressed on the accelerator and touched iren’s jeans while looking her in the eyes. iren smiled. iren doesn’t mind. iren wants it, iren is telling him to put his hand anywhere he wants. just a few more minutes, and then iren’s hair tossed back, iren closing her eyes in ecstasy, iren under him, iren moaning with her legs wrapped around his waste, louder now, almost screaming. he inside iren, iren’s wet pussy, and he sliding in and out, in and out, hey-ho, hey-ho. are we far? no, we’re almost there, he turned onto moskovskii avenue and stopped at a red light. my company’s made this billboard. his finger’s pointing at a wall on the other side of the road; on it, arexim bank, a cheerful employee, mount ararat, the sea lapping around it, with a bottle floating in the water, the bottle’s label has lermontov’s portrait and an inscription silver purity. the bank’s ad. that’s very pretty, good for you. what’s the bottle doing there? two in one, it also doubles as a vodka ad, isn’t that something? yup. what’s lermontov’s portrait doing on the bottle, does he have anything to do with the vodka? that wasn’t our decision, that’s what the vodka’s actual label looks like, his way above the sinful earth, the melancholy demon winged[4]…. you know the whole thing by heart? instead of responding, he goes on, and memories of happier days about his exiled spirit thronged. that’s beautiful, why didn’t you put those lines on the billboard? i didn’t think of it, and he looks into iren’s eyes. would you like to come work for me? iren shrugs indifferently. it does go nicely together, the bank, lermontov, ararat, and the sea. this is nothing, we have a billboard in moscow, now that would blow your mind. the light went from red to yellow, and he took off. i’ve been thinking of buying a different car, a pontiac maybe, what do you say? sure, but i only know bmws. what’s that? bmw. you don’t know any other cars? iren laughs, i do, but those are the only ones i like. you’ll learn to like pontiacs too, honey. he passed the intersection of moskovskii avenue with baghramyan street, drove in through the archway, and stopped.

he bolted from the car, here we are. rushed into the entryway, iren’s fingers in his hand, squeezing. third floor. he shoved the key into the whole, almost there, he’s got a hard-on, he can’t hold it anymore. he opened the heavy door, felt for the light-switch, flipped the lights on. he pulled iren in by her hand, bang, slammed the door, iren, laughing, calm down, you nut. iren’s voice reverberates in his ear, you nut, swims into his brain and glides down, makes his heart pound, blossoms into goose bumps all over his body, trickles further down, making his dick bigger, you nut. he headed for the bedroom. what happened to drinking whiskey, iren asks with a languid smirk. we’ll have some later, and puts his lips over hers to stop her from talking. their tongues intertwine and he lays one hand on iren’s back, feeling the curve of her waste under his palm, an with the other, he pulls her shirt up and reaches for her tit. they fall on the bed. hold your horses, slow down, you’re going to rip my shirt. i can’t hold it anymore, and he undresses her, you’re gonna tear it, don’t worry. he’s having trouble with the bra, let me take it off, and iren slides her arms through the straps, slides the back part with the hooks forward, undoes them, hands him the bra. her boobs burst out, round, firm, fitting perfectly inside his palms, and as he squeezes them, they burst forth through his fingers, the nipples erect, just the way he likes’em, and he buries his face in her tits.

he uses his other hand to unzip his jeans and pull them off. while iren was still pulling one leg out of her pants, he was already completely naked, his dick firm, hard like a rock, perked up at the sight of iren’s boobs. iren’s perfume in his hose, what’s that you have one? deep? what? d-e-e-p, you like it? it’s nice, sweet, drives me wild. iren discreetly pulls of her panties, tosses them on the floor and he’s already on top of her, iren’s legs spread, so he shoves it between her legs and presses.

what the hell, he can’t put it in. he can’t force his dick in, she’s gotta be narrow there. here, why don’t you put it in, put what in, put me inside you, where else would you put it, how am I supposed to put it in? what do you mean how, the normal way. are you crazy, it’s not supposed to go there. what the hell are you talking about, and he moves his dick with his hand, feeling for her hand or her pussy. he can’t find it—where’s your pussy? what pussy, watch your language. what the… he climbed off her, got up, turned on the bedroom light. where’s your pussy? are you out of your mind, what pussy? he went back to bed, pulled iren’s legs further apart, instead of a pussy only smooth skin, white like marble, without any traces of hair, what kind of a mutant are you, where’s your pussy? there’s no pussy there, you’re the mutant, you psycho, expecting to find holes in my body. so you’ve got no pussy? do you know anyone who does? look here, you idiot, there’s supposed to be a pussy right here, and he punched the bare skin between iren’s legs. what kind of a sadist hits a woman like that? so pretty and no pussy. this is something. instead of a pussy, smooth skin that looks like well-cleaned khash[5] bones. every woman’s supposed to have a pussy, where’s yours? are you a punk, what pussy? you’re supposed to have a hole right here, he poked the skin with his finger. you’re out of your mind, i’m not supposed to have any holes here, this is the way it’s supposed to be, said iren and touched the skin between her legs with her bony fingers. her rings sparkled where her pussy was supposed to be. she’s wearing all those rings, and she hasn’t even got a pussy. what’s the point of wearing rings without one, he has no idea.  but what is it exactly that she’s missing? the whole pussy. what the hell am i supposed to do with her, what should i do, i’ll go insane if i don’t find a pussy somewhere on you. why did i have to go and pick up this psycho, what pussy, you watch all these movie-shmovies, and then come demanding stuff from us. wait, have you ever been with another man? i sure have, but this is the first time i’ve come upon a madman like you. iren stood up, shivering, i’m freezing, her legs straight, her back curved, her hair cascading down her shoulders, she looked like she was straight out of a billboard, perfect in every sense, and no pussy, she hasn’t got one, and she went to put on her panties. what the hell do you think you’re doing, you freak? you’re not getting dressed until i find a pussy on you, you hear? he forced her back onto the bed and ran to the kitchen. iren started crying, her face buried in the pillow, god help me, this sadist wants to kill me. i’m not gonna kill you, don’t worry, i just want to cut open the place where you’re supposed to have a pussy, that’s all. he’s yelling this from the kitchen. no, a knife won’t do. he rushed to the bathroom next, found a razor blade on the mirror, the razor’ll work much better than a knife. he made it back into the bedroom on time to see iren dressed and about to bolt. where the fuck are you going, you creep? he grabbed her by the hair and dragged her back to the bed from the bedroom door. he tore off her clothes. please don’t kill me, i’ll do whatever you want. i’m not gonna kill you, calm down, i just want to cut your pussy open, make sure you’ve got one, otherwise i’ll go mad. i’ll blow you, just please put away the razor. you cunt, you just don’t get it, who’d want to be sucked off by you if you haven’t even got a pussy, so he tried to pry her legs apart to expose the spot where the pussy was supposed to be. it’s no easy task; iren’s pressed her legs together, please don’t do it, there isn’t supposed to be anything there, you’re mistaken, and she keeps wailing. what do you mean mistaken, this freak thinks i’m a complete moron, so he struck her across the face, and iren started screaming bloody murder. he struck her again, pried her legs open, put his knee between them to hold them apart, and went in with the razor. iren screamed. he ran the razor lengthwise through the bald patch of skin between her legs and slit it open. his eyes froze for a second but he didn’t even have a chance to make out what was hiding inside. horror! was it staring at him? something grabbed his throat. a green eye? green fields, he on horseback, his father holding the horse’s reigns—a childhood memory, the institute of fine and performing arts, this is your city, here is your home, graphic design company, arexim bank, perfect in every sense, jazz. he didn’t have time to figure anything out. green jaws, the color of her eyes, flashed out of the cut and grabbed him by the throat. he didn’t even have time to scream, he just let out a raspy whizz, and his blood gushed out of his throat, splattering all over the walls. green jaws, white fangs—two on the top and two on the bottom, sunk into his throat. he fell on the floor, the blood still jetting out. the jaws unclenched, the fangs retracted, and they all disappeared under iren’s skin with the same lightning speed with which they’d sprung out. the skin closed up with a smack and resumed its former appearance, bald, white, as if it had never opened at all. only iren’s breasts and legs were covered in his blood. iren got up, crying, jumped over the blood-drenched body sprawled on the floor, with the eyeballs rolled back, went to the bathroom, washed the blood off in the shower, stepped over the body again, quickly threw on her tattered clothes, then stepped over it one more time, looked back at the lifeless body with a shredded throat, and ran away from the apartment, crying. she bolted down the stair, sobbing, why did my life have to turn out like this?

[1] A town in the western part of Armenia (here and forthwith, translator’s notes).

[2] Armenian currency, dram, worth approximately 0.03 dollars. A thousand drams are equivalent to a little over $3.

[3] Russian-made SUV.

[4] The opening lines of Mikhail Lermontov’s famous poem The Demon, here quoted in Charles H. Johnston’s English translation.

[5] A traditional Armenian soup made from clean-scrubbed hooves and lower shanks of a cow.

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