serozh woke up from an urgent need to shit. he was exhausted. he touched his face – dry as hell. as he rubbed his cheek, crumbs of dried blood fell on his tshirt. what the fuck happened last night? he could remember running, but couldn’t remember why. he remembered … no, actually, he couldn’t remember, but they’d probably all jumped on him, and he’d gotten banged up pretty bad. now if he could only strain his memory a little more, something would definitely come back to him. he lifted himself off the couch. what the hell! his pillow was soaked in blood. it’s over now. there really is no point. time to take a shit. just this one thing, too, and that’s it. the sun made its way into the room, making it hot and impossible to breathe. it was much cooler in the bathroom. serozh sat down and pushed. one of the pushes produced a very-very long and fat shit. let’s have a look. serozh got up. what a beauty! the shit sprawled from one side of the toilet to the other. Man, these toilets are so good, they don’t splash, and whatever you shit out is right there in front of you. why on earth did they ever stop making those? serozh sat down again and gave it another push. nothing else, this was it. just one, but what a shit–long, thick, firm and beautiful! not bad for one’s last deed in life. not like i’ve ever produced anything better. hang on, maybe you remember what happened yesterday? you were there with me, weren’t you? you were there, too. serozh pulled up his pants and walked back to the room. i wonder if i’ve got any smokes. i’ll just have one puff and that’s it. he just wanted to take the last drag in this shitty world, and nothing else mattered. no cigs anywhere, not in the nightstand drawers, not on the couch, not in the kitchen cupboards, not in the fridge. what a cunt this world is, robbing serozh of his last smoke. ok, lemme just look under the bathtub—nope, no cigs, just the rope. at least that’s still in its place. he didn’t need the rope until later, but you can’t run from your fate; it just jumps at you like that. fate is a funny bitch–it tells you to light up, so you start looking for a cigarette. you look and you look, only to end up with the rope in your hands and no excuse for putting things off anymore. serozh pulled out the rope and gave it a tug. yep, still sturdy, no two ways about that. he looked at the shit floating in the toilet. hey, you were there with me yesterday, what the fuck happened? are you not telling me because you don’t wanna hurt my feelings? you’re the only friend i’ve got left in this world, i ain’t got nobody else. and only you can understand me now, bro. my brother of all brothers. the shit glistened a little in the lamplight. it was smiling. of course you’ll be smiling, i’m all you got in this world, too. and serozh reached back and scratched—one of his ass cheeks was itchy. and suddenly, it came to him. the street, the restaurant, all in front of him. the honey in a red skirt—the glitter of her earrings caught his eye, and he went for her ass with his hand, and those fucking fags, hitting him blow after blow. why are you cussing my mother, the mother that pushed me out into this world. so to seattle, find her, find my father, my aunt, her daughter, her son. my computer geek brother has moved all of them there, provided well for them. here you can only beat the crap out of me. besides, they have nothing to do with my grabbing that ass. besides, i don’t even regret doing it; it was the last time i could get something out of this world, that piece of that ass in my hand. the whole country has become private property, and i’m not even allowed to touch a piece of ass? it wasn’t that he didn’t remember the faces of those fuckers hitting him; he just never caught a glance of them, he only noticed that they were all wearing fancy suits. and how did i get ever away from them, how the hell did i get away? holy shit! serozh collapsed on the toilet, and a cold shiver ran through his body. shit, i stuck a knife into that fat belly. Fuck me, i stabbed and ran! serozh slumped down on the toilet; i don’t regret it, fuck those motherfuckers, if he’s dead, even better, i’ll take him with me. he got on his feet. of course! there you go, brother shit, my great brother shit. the brother in america counts for nothing, i don’t consider him a brother. you’re all i’ve got. it’s slowly coming back to me. so the only thing i wanted to do yesterday was to go, for the first time, to that joint, riviera. i wanted to see my leaders, ministers and fat-assed business-dealers, their wives and whores; i wanted to see all the things i missed out on in life. i know i could never get any of it back, but i still wanted to see what it was. by the door, right in front of me, the sax was going tututu, with the piano humming along. “yo, what’s your business?” i hadn’t even heard two notes of the music and already yo, what’s your business, that bouncer of whatever the fuck he was grabbed me by the sleeve and shoved me. if he hadn’t shoved me, i would have never grabbed that honey’s ass, no motherfucking way, i wouldn’t have grabbed her, i wouldn’t have knifed nobody either. i would have just listened to my share of jazz and would have been on my way—by now, i’d be happily hanging off the ceiling. but the ass, my god what an ass—it pushed my plans back. my brother, if it wasn’t for that ass, you would have never been born into this world. what was so special about her you ask? let me explain: she was tall, her hair all pulled back tightly in a ponytail hanging down her back, sparkling this light brown color, her bare neck under the hair, pretty and thin; you should have seen her from behind, her bright-red dress wrapped tightly around her body and her ass, with its protruding round cheeks swinging back and forth as she walked. and the sparkle of her earring played peek-a-boo with me, kept calling me, calling me and saying–come touch it, it doesn’t mind, i answer for it. and when you know you’ll be hanging from the ceiling soon, you immediately figure out that death has given you your last chance to touch julia roberts; so without hesitation i put my hand on her ass and gripped it tight. it all lasted only a few seconds, but an entire life’s worth of bliss. oh, she screamed and turned – julia roberts’s spitting image standing in front of me. or did i dream that part? who cares, brother shit, if my brother, suppose, had taken me with him, and say i’d gotten to america, ain’t no way i would get to see julia roberts. at least here, in this country, i got to grab her once. this country has both its own julia roberts and its own pacific ocean, with this riviera joint, where dreams come true, on the shore. serozh climbed onto the bathtub, and, balancing himself against the wall, stretched and tied one end of the rope to the sewage pipe on the ceiling. And when i stuck that knife in, it totally slipped my mind that this was to be my last night, so i came home and fell asleep with you inside me. and that’s how you were born, otherwise you’d be swinging with me, without getting a touch and taste of this world. see, you should be grateful to me. serozh got down on his knees and lowered his head to the toilet: i too am grateful to you, because i know that i am leaving somebody behind on my way out of this world. the noose was ready to be pulled around his neck. if the pipe breaks, it means i’ve got to live, but how, brother shit, how can i live, how, fuck their mothers, how can i live if. when i go into the street, every passerby spits in my face, you shit-faced serozh, or turns the other way, thinking he’ll ask me for money, a hundred drums to get home, or grabs me by my shirt and shakes me, yo, where’s my money. And i—valod, my brother, i’ll pay you back as soon as my family sends me some cash, and he—yo, do you hear me, i’ll spill your guts, your brother will never send you money, i don’t care where you get it, but pay it back. i’ve had it up to here with the pacific ocean. bro, what if they catch me and take me to one of their lockups? no, the rope just can’t break. brother shit, if i can’t tell you all this, who can i tell? i’m my brother’s reject. i never had much going on upstairs: my brother was well-read, he became a computer nerd living it up in America, and me—i got fucked over. my teacher used to say, serozh you’re my curse, you won’t even make a good thief, you can’t do basic math, you’ll never know what to steal. so they gave me the boot after the eighth grade. and i carried buckets of tar at a construction site, my brother read his books, i got stoned, my brother studied, i got piss-drunk every day until my boss told me to get the fuck out because he didn’t need an alcoholic worker. no, my brother was a different type, he was gifted. now why couldn’t i be more like him, too? why the hell did my mother make us so different? and instead of teaching me the something, he’d tell me–kant says that up above are the stars in the skies, and down below are your moral standards. and now he’s in america, and he looks up and sees the same stars, and down below are you and me, me and you. before the cops come, i wanna make my last confession to you, since i don’t even have a priest, only you. i never learned any other sentence from my brother; i mean my father liked to lecture us, but i only learned one thing that was hammered into my head since high school–a rope hangs from the stars. no, brother, i’ll be straight with you, i’m not lost, i’m saved. if i didn’t know that sentence, i wouldn’t have found the way to the noose. somebody knocked on the door. must be the cops. serozh climbed on the side of the bathtub and leaned forward. the knocking got louder. looking for a murderer, motherfuckers? won’t find him! he pulled the noose over his head. they started breaking down the door. serozh looked up and then down one last time—above his head was the sewage pipe with the rope tied to it, and below him was the shit sprawled in the toilet—and took his legs off the tub.