Mechislav and Svetlana
“I... am the only one... with an elbow,” whispers Mechislav.
“What did you say,” snaps Svetlana, captivated by the slug she’s scooped up in her quest.
“My... elbow,” he is speaking glacially slow, “I am the only one -”
“Not true!” she zips back. “Look, I have two. Everybody has two. Everybody that isn’t a nub.”
It is a quiet night on the shared terrace of Svetlana and Mechislav. Svetlana poked her wet head through his window earlier in a too short robe, ready to salt slugs. An hour later, dirt-filth collected on their forearms they lean into potted plants on their shared balconies. This is usually how sex starts between them. They like to show up asking for sugar in no bottoms. Their signed (and in his case framed) agreement is that even if one of them isn’t up for a fuck than one must happen quickly. If they’re both in the mood they take the night off from other plans.
“What I mean is -”
“Meschly, How many have you found?”
“Just the one.”
“I’m talking slugs, you fool!”
“Have we ever been on this terrace?”
“This is your terr - you’ve already eaten it. Haven’t you.”
Mechislav chuckles, “Eaten what, Svetsy?”
“One of these smacking land oysters, you dullard. We were going to make the stew.”
“I... am not a stew.” Mechislav is a sloth now, a gentle grin across his sleepy-dreamy face, he’s moving slow though he is not aware of his movements at all.
Svetlana screams dramatically, rattles fists in the air. “You are always doing it by yourself, with the door closed. We were meant to do it together.”
“We can do it together.”
“Oh. Nope,” she rolls the little critter between her thumb and forefinger, “you’re having a sexless night, you selfish crab.”
“Just eat your slug,” says Mechislav. He pats his hand with his other hand, like it is his pet hand.
Svetlana salts her tongue, lays the slug atop it, and swallows while the thing inside-outs its skin, wiggling its way down her throat. The world becomes a green-wave haze. Motion is slowed. Svetlana opens her jaw like a long yawn. If she is speaking or emitting a sound she is not sure what it is. The slug in her stomach feels like a pulsating furnace. She is bobbing in place. She could be aboard an ocean vessel.
“What were we talking about,” says Svetlana relaxing into the ooze her body has become. “I’m fluid.”
“Is tomorrow tax day?”
“What is it?”
“I have to wear many clothes tonight.”
Tax day is when the kingdom collects a quarter of all possessions from the year. Knights enter each home, select a portion of underwear, dresses, pantsuits, socks, books, utensils. It is a quiet and non-violent pillage. In its wake villagers are often left with no matching clothing, which has become a standard style, polka dots and plaids, stripes and solids, reds and off-reds. No one in the village chooses what is kept or taken.
“Want to smash our bodies together for several hours?”
“No. Do me quick. My mind is elsewhere.”
“I… think,” he moves at a tortoise pace, “I can… only go… so quick.”
Svetlana impatiently unbuckles his trousers, fondles his testicles while rolling his penis against them back and forth, like spreading dough. He arouses quickly, the tingle more acute and also more numb under the psychedelic influence of the slug. She places his penis in her mouth, feels his body sink. He nearly falls. She catches him, slides a wet finger up his bum and extracts the semen in a quick minute, paralyzing her neighbor-lover. She leaves him sedate staring up at the night stars.
Svetlana looks at her watch. The numbers are shark teeth. “God dammit,” she says to no one. Words are illegitimate in her current state. When she stands her head woozes in two directions, she catches herself with a wall, heads inside to rummage through her closet.
Svetlana’s muddy arms rub against her clean clothes as they fly off their hangers and fling from their folded stacks. She cannot find what she is looking for. When the slug has been in her an hour the fever of arousal sets in. She wants to rub against everything.
She remembers Mechislav on the balcony, his pants still around his ankles, he’s probably sucking a thumb. After they’d agreed on their terms, at an oyster bar between a shared carafe of table vodka, they slipped into the bathroom and used hands only. Later that evening, after he collapsed atop her, Svetlana slipped out and wove their contract into the base of her mattress, between the factory label and the warning tag. Mattresses are rarely taken. The knights don’t like heavy lifting.
Unable to walk a straight line, Svetlana crawls on all fours to the balcony, she stuffs a sugar cane stick in her mouth to clench her jaw against. She sees Mechislav’s body laid out on the terrace floor. He is asleep. His torso rises up and down. She is seasick thinking about the voyage. When she reaches him she is almost ready to vomit, but she keeps the slug down. Mechislav is limp, a little white ooze glistens on his dick tip. The appendage will be of no use to her. She positions herself over his fingers, ties two together with a string and sets them under her, guiding them inside her, rubbing herself until she comes. Daylight breaks over the rooftops of the kingdom. Bells, chickens, markets all cluck to life.
“God dammit,” yelps Svetlana, sweaty hair clinging to forehead. The trip is only half way over, the knights could arrive anytime. She must collect what she was looking for. The blouse is in a pillowcase, she suddenly remembers. She crawls back inside the house. Mechislav stirs, spies her swaying ass as she slips into the kitchen, springs to life after her.
When he reaches the bedroom Svetlana is on her knees, bare ass over ankle socks. She is teary-eyed.
“The blouse is too big for me to eat,” she says looking up. They can take any item she is wearing. They can take any item in the house. There is no guarantee that she can keep anything.
“It is a blouse,” he says, crawling towards her.
“They’ll be here soon,” she says.
“Help me hide it.”
“We cannot hide things.”
“I want to keep this.”
“It is a blouse.”
“Not just a blouse,” she says. He looks at the plain white blouse in her hand, the silk unwrinkled and smooth in its folds. He does not understand the significance.
A knock at the door. Fear in her eyes. Mechislav surveys the two things with sudden clarity.
“I will eat it.”
“I can do anything, I just need to make it small. ” Svetlana watches her lover fold the blouse with great tenderness, though she wishes he would go faster. “Where are your sausage casings?”
She strips herself of her top. “I keep them there, in the pantry,” she points to a row of tin cans on a shelf near the oven, her breasts sway, distracting him. “Go!” She opens her door. The knights look past the naked woman to the pantless man behind her, his penis dangling below where his shirt ends, reaching high above him.
“What’s he doing there?” asks a knight.
“He is just waking up,” says Svetlana. Mechislav folds the blouse again, this time inching it inside a casing.
“That man slept here? Asks the other knight.
“No, he fell, I nursed him back to health. He is my -”
“Did you report the fall.”
“It only just happened. That man is my neighbor, he came over looking for sausage casings.”
“Where are his pants?” asks the second knight.
“They fell when he fell.”
“It is early in the day, it is a reasonable time to be making sausage,” says the first knight.
“Do you both have elbows? asks the strange man rolling the sausage in the kitchen.
“What did he ask?” asks the second knight.
“Asked about elbows.”
“‘Course we have elbows. Toss this place.” Svetlana steps back from the door to allow them access to the flat. Mechislav ties off the end of the casing, slips the sausage linked top down his throat. He removes his shirt and now naked, makes his way to Svetlana’s side. The guards begin the removal. “Why did I just eat your shirt?”
Mechislav seemed not to look at her at all those first months after they were placed here. One day she fell out of her blouse while leaning far over to pick up some spilled cream. They were seated on opposite sides of their shared terrace. He imagined her lapping up the cream from the tiled floor like a kitten when her bosom slid out. He swiftly rushed to her then, surprising her as much as he surprised himself. He lifted her back into her bra cups. It was as if his only duty was to free her from any embarrassment. She snatched his wrist. First kiss.
“The blouse,” she whispers, “is what I was wearing when first you kissed me.”
“We were neighbors.”
“We were lovers.”
“We were not yet in contract.”
“Mechislav, I am in love with you.”
“Svet, that’s not a part of the contract.”
“I am in love with you, as well.”
“I know. Thank you.”
“For loving you?”
“For swallowing the blouse. All of the buttons are dissolvable LSD.”
“I want you.”
“I’ll clear my schedule.”