excerpts The house of Maria Dragases is a small palace rising next to the western wall of the city, and from its orange-tree garden one can see the sea. The sun is now above the garden, its light has the color of a lime, and so is the light reflected by the fruit in the garden; the wind brings the smell of the sea and the sound of the waves to the shore. The shutters of the windows are closed, inside the house the people sleep or twist under the sheets in the dim light; her legs wide open, Maria Dragases is waiting for the afternoon, she already feels its cooler taste coming from the sea, the woman's fingers are touching her child-bearing, hairy sex as it opens up between its red, wrinkled lips, quivering like moss. The sticky air gets into her brain through warm, humid conduits, it curls up there, she yawns and fastens her legs, turns her ass on us. Her bottom is like a water flask that you squeeze thirstily, she is holding a hand between her thighs, her nails are sticking into the flesh that's too white, she's moaning and you can see her teeth amidst her heavy breath, she is fondling her tits with her cupped left hand; the world itself looks like her sleepy tits, children are playing near the latter and their plump fingers are reaching towards the nipples, the nipples are stretching several inches long, they seem to be sniffing at the world out there, at the sheets under them; they are conduits through which the world is pouring outside, it becomes what it is: a garden and a house, and at the foot of it all a dead boy who feels all that and the voice of that Orjen girl: "Maria Dragases!" Maria Dragases starts, she is naked and naked as she is she turns towards us, her eyes are closed and she dreams of the world in her womb: a mad thirst for life and a mad disgust with it: the world is fading out, it shrinks, she curls up, then stretches out, she sighs, she wakes up: the saliva in her mouth is cold and sour, her hair has a smell of iron and brimstone: she smiles! Maria Dragases woke up at six that Sunday afternoon. She had slept for half an hour and she was sweaty and still a little dizzy as she rang the bell. An old servant arrives, 'yes ma'am, the children are still asleep, the younger one, Constantin, drank milk and fell asleep, his swollen tummy up.' "I'd like some milk, too, Euphemia," Maria Dragases says, as she blinks towards the drawn curtains. Euphemia fetches her a mug of milk; propped up in her pillows, her legs a little parted, Maria sips from the mug, she sips the child-bringing milk, she feels it like that in her white, flat belly that resembles a pillow case. "You may go, now," she says, as she sips again and her upper lip gets tainted with the goat milk. On her way to Maria Dragases, Orjen stops over at Evemon Notarades' pub. The shutters are closed and the pub is empty at that time of the day. Her bare feet shuffle on the bare, freshly washed floor, she carries her shoes in her hand, a pair of silver, tightly laced boots, she sees the one-eyed Evemon who's staring at her: "I'm hungry," says Orjen, and a coin faintly glitters in her hand, she puts it on the table as Evemon sits his ass on a chair, looks at her and says: "My! I know you are rich, Orjen!" and he looks at the coin and her green hair that now is red, too. "What do you care?" says Orjen and she arranges her shoes on the table, then pushing them to the left with her elbow. Evemon Notarades brings her the food: goat cheese and onions and wine in a big, cold jug; beads are streaming down the jug, like dew. Orjen eats and then drinks slowly, sipping from the big-bellied jug, wipes her forehead with her cupped hand and falls asleep, dreams of Fric, of his face, his tongue all sticking out. Evemon Notarades fondles her red and green hair, looks at her, hiccups. The afternoon did they thus while away, and it fled to the chamber of Tron; the latter is writing his report, a quill does he use for the writing. He's naked, and covered by bruises is his body, the bites of the woman who's lying in silence under the green velvet and silk canopy of the bed, Marion de l'Orme is the woman's name. He stands up from his throne, scratches his ass with the quill, which he then dips in the ink and he writes while he's standing; his bum's full of pimples, a teenager's face one might think; he touches his pimples and muses on what he is writing. Marion is lazily rising, without a noise she's approaching, she kisses the man's salty backbone; he says: "I'm busy right now," and continues his writing, then suddenly turns to the woman. Her tits are turned back to the armpits, the skin of her shoulders is rough and chilling; the man straddles the woman after tipping her over, she opens her legs and blinks and moans feigning pleasure, while she's heaving her ass and pushing, propped up as she is between blankets. Orjen woke up and found herself naked in the bed of Evemon Notarades, the Captain of Corinth; she saw him as he was watching her sleeping, she saw him blinking his only good eye and saying: "I could marry you now, Orjen, you're grown up, a regular woman, your pubis is covered by hair." "This may well be," Orjen retorts as she's yawning, she fastens her legs and turns her ass on the captain. "You're ripe and one day you will see that a Captain of Corinth is a match well worthy of you, dear lady." Orjen gets up and looks for her clothes and finds they are crumpled, lying under the captain's fat, indolent ass; she pricks him in the chest with a finger; her small tits then bounce as she does that; she said: "It's late and I'm busy, for me Maria Dragases is waiting, if you will not give me my clothes I will burn your beard, the silly goat beard you've got," and she turned over and seized the candle that in a cup was burning, shedding light in the room with closed shutters; her hair then glittered, was red and was greenish, her tits thrust the air, a pair of small goat's horns they resembled; the candle she brought to the Captain of Corinth's grey beard, he smilingly looked at the flame that was burning, its flicker was white and chilling; he stretched his black paws, reaching for Orjen, he bent over and kissed her on the crown of her head; she wriggled as fish do, dropped down the candle; it landed on Notarades's head and out it went with a sizzle, then slipped onto the floor. And Sunday thus slips away under their feet, a Sunday of hours and lust interwoven. That afternoon at four, Giacomo Minotto, the foreseer of the city of Modon, is drinking the sixth bottle of wine of that day, picking his nose and heavily sweating. He's fat and his cheek bones are pockmarked, he's bored and would like to pass a decree to make the world progress, a decree on the bare-bummed hens that lay three eggs a day, how they should be bred, the manner and tactics, these Gallic hens provide an enjoyable pastime, all Greeks must then breed such bare-bummed hens as of this summer and thus the hard times of war and of famine will be conveniently met: a cup he has poured and is drinking. He rings the bell then and orders another, the seventh of the day, which Apostolo Zeno instantly fetches; the latter's a lad with a big, hanging nose like a sausage. The nose hangs down to the mouth and Apostolo sucks in his snot as he silently puts the bottle on the table. "Sit down," says Minotto, "and write!" He dictates his decree that forces all Greeks, on pain of death, to breed bare-bummed hens that are good layers, which people call Gallic. Zeno hastily writes and bites his nose with his yellow teeth that jut out. He's drooling and his spit is dripping down on the paper, mingling with the ink. He finishes and asks: "Do you still need me?" "I want to see your bum," comes the order, as Minotto lies down on one side. Obediently, Zeno drops his pants to his knees and turns his ass on the man who is looking, his buttocks are lean and grey and turn yellowish near the loins; a one-foot long tuft of hair sticks out of his asshole: "I see it hasn't grown longer," says Minotto, as he seizes the tuft and pulls at it; a green, stinking fart comes out of Zeno. "You've eaten cabbage and goat-meat salami," is Minotto's conclusion. "That's true," Zeno nods in agreement. An order is given to him to pull up his pants and open the shutters. "Adjust my telescope so I can see the windows of Maria Dragases," orders Minotto. The shutters are opened and the telescope sticks out to her who is lying asleep in her bed, she's taking her siesta. "Is she there?" Minotto asks Zeno, the latter shakes off his loins and watches, forgetting his master, he lowers the lenses down to her thighs, stretches his hand and his fingers dance in the air, then they scratch the wall, the plaster sticks under the nails. "She's there, all right," comes the answer, and he touches his nose with his tongue, he scratches his head, then his asshole. Maria Dragases's not sleeping, she's lying in bed, naked and white, and is looking, through the telescope that is pointed at her, she is looking back at those who are looking at her, I mean she is looking at us; she scratches between her two tits, turns her bum on us, then she orders: "Bring me some fruit, Euphemia, and prepare my bath!" Silent and black like a locust, the servant comes in with a tray full of grapes, where figs are, too, present; Maria sits up, places the tray between her legs and bites at a juicy fig; the juice trickles down her chin, drips onto her tits. "She's eating right now!" says Apostolo Zeno. "Eating what?" asks the man who is listening. "Ah, eating that!" he says and starts drinking the seventh bottle of wine. "And she is naked and the juice is streaming from her chin down to the belly." Minotto the foreseer continues to drink from his bottle, then wants to know what is happening down there beyond the telescope lenses: "She ate another fig!" "And?" "Now she is licking her lips and her legs are wide open, she's holding the tray in between." "Now is the time when Likinie, the doctor is due to arrive and examine her." Apostolo Zeno straightens his back, looks at his master, then at the hands of the clock that encompass five hours, the time in the book. "What are you staring at?" yells Minotto, his belly digesting the world. "Well, I guess that's indeed the time," says Apostolo Zeno. "I'm going to check!" He bends over the telescope and silently resumes his watch, swinging his bum in the meantime: Likinie, a doctor and healer alike, is shaven everywhere, that is on the head and the face and his finger is knocking at the door of Maria Dragases, his voice is that of a bass. "Come in, doctor," says Maria, "I was eating." Looking askew and sniffing, Likinie spots her and sits down on the edge of the bed. He picks a grape from a bunch and crushes it between his fingers, watching the juice that trickles down his fingers, drips on the sheet. "That's what I really hate," he says and falls silent. "How about now?" asks the foreseer Minotto, sips at the wine, hiccups and shuts up. "He's astride her now, his pants down to his knees." "And the grapes?" asks Minotto. "They are under her fanny, I see the juice streaming from the press." "Well then," says Minotto, starting to think of the eighth bottle of wine, of the ninth… And Sunday thus slips away under their feet, a Sunday of hours and lust interwoven. Maria Dragases is waiting for the afternoon lying on her belly, in the calm coolness. Her kids are asleep and she longs for the fruit, for the figs and the grapes, but the fruit are hanging above in another season, grinning at her from up there. Her thoughts wander, she thinks of the autumn, of the war that is going to start. She smiled to herself, then she burst into tears, her face buried in the pillow, her buttocks shaking, she thought of the war and the famine to come: I will murder the children and eat them as a goddess of yore. I'll appease thus my hunger and my zest for life will be gone, too; I won't give a monkey's about the war, I will laugh in his face and he will laugh at me, at us all. She turned her face up, her tears streaming down her cheeks by the ears, tickling her nape. She smiled at the void and wiped her cheeks with her fists. The one-eyed captain of Corinth, Evemon Notarades, is waiting for guests tonight. He lights a candle and calls his mother, she is short and hardly rises to his waist and just like him she has a moustache and the goatee of a musketeer. Holding the candle, the captain pushes the shutters, the light streams in, making the flame of the candle flicker. The little woman, Calliope that is, came out from under the table: "You need me now and you yell for me," she pants as she sticks her teeth into the calf of his leg, hanging there, her teeth holding tight.Feigning not to care, as befits any loving son, he fondles with his rough hand the rare flocks of hair on her head that she never washes: "We are throwing a party with whores and wine for the lieutenants that are only too eager." "Will the Jew come too, who says he's a doctor?" she asks letting go of his calf. "He will, as he, too, likes the white, filthy women who reek of bitches down between their legs." Marion props herself up on her heels, pushing against what is riding her, is pushing inside her, she wriggles her arched loins while her sweat trickles down them, she moans and her tongue sticks out completely, flickering in the air, her legs are up, the heels are touching the ceiling, the sheets are drinking her sweat. Tron's panting and leaning against her tits, there is a small pool between her tits, water is dripping down there off his nose. Her twat is sticky, it splashes as mud does while one trudges through it, she is yelling and biting the air. Tron suddenly says: "Now!" and she freezes, her petrified body awaits his great triumph. The gluey semen of Tron is oozing inside her, the woman is lazily moving, thus squeezing short hoarse groans out of him that come with the last squirts of his spunk. In Fric (Polirom, 2003) by Ştefan Agopian (b. 1947), "something unprecedented in Romanian literature appears: the impregnation of the universe with Eros. Both the terrestrial Eros and the celestial one (according to the distinction in Plato's Symposium). A similar thing occurs in Elytis's poetry, the resemblance being facilitated by the Greek background of the book – a kind of Greek world… Through the field glass mentioned in the novel, there is more than flesh devoured by lust to be seen: fallen angels mating with mortal women, then, now, and forever." (Petru Creţia)

by Ştefan Agopian (b. 1947)