Own Goal With Actor And Accountant

It was common knowledge that Iacint Manoil was a lady-killer. He was so ugly that they were impressed. And so direct in his stupidity that he came over as honest. Like a millstone. He was an actor. Only those very beautiful or as ugly as sin can make a career in this profession. Iacint had potential. Which he didn't fulfil much. He couldn't be bothered. A shade of common sense left unswept at the bottom of his chromosome bowl prevented him from expressing himself. Besides, he was lazy. He did go in for women though. Not necessarily out of vanity but just like that, out of habit, like shaving or brushing your teeth. They didn't say no. He had been married three times. Not for longer than two or three years with each of his wives. Actresses, ballet dancers, something like that. Now he had calmed down, he was happy with whatever he could get and was succumbing to laziness. He had recently understood that the woman-artist was not what he needed. He didn't have anything creative in his little brains. He was that wretched and spread type of man that cannot plant anything, not even a cactus in between two rocks and cannot build anything, not even a piss house. At one point, he had even taken, in his manner, i.e. without thinking, a dog. Then he left for the seaside, simply forgetting all about it. When he remembered he didn't return and the poor animal died of thirst, locked indoors. There was nothing he could do anymore. He bought a beer to a dustman to throw the corpse to his bin and got melancholically drunk saying that life was bullshit. What lucidity he had left made him set up house with an energetic, orderly, stew and cake cooking stupid woman. She did multiplication and division at Rolcarton. She had a neat, pupil-like handwriting. Was she a chief-accountant? Indeed she was. She was also an illustration of the paradox of mathematics: those who are good at differential calculus live from hand to mouth. Whereas those who know only the arithmetic of the four basic operations feather their nest. At Rolcarton life was a dream, death an awakening. But why die? The plant was at the end of the world, near the village Căţelu. The industrial rails got out by two huge and rusty gates, took the back of some suburban lanes, and headed far, towards the ring road. If one looked at it one spring morning, one might almost think that it met the main rail, than other rails, and that one was in direct communication with far away stations one has never heard of or just seen in films, with Italian small stations smelling of freshly ground coffee in the dawn mist, with large stations smelling of detergent, and with imposing stations were toilets have seats and toilet paper. But who would think of all these at Rolcarton? Dandelions appeared on the embankment every spring but nobody saw them. People worked, people died. Next door was a printing house and the doorkeepers would bring them newspapers. The bosses had their own newspaper, along with the welcoming coffee. The employees read in groups, after lunch. The newspaper was good because its font size was large. A passion crime here, a grandmother raped there, and time went by quickly. A young man had entered a disco mounted on a horse. And a bit lower, in small caps: the horse was white. What else could you possibly need to know? Rolcarton had a football team too, in a mid-alphabet division. It preserved its old name, 'The Will – Rolcarton' and its players did indeed possess a will of damp pasteboard. They played on the commune field, a sort of grazing ground for geese. Only the outfit was beautiful, taken from a ready-made clothes factory on account of the friendship between the managers. The players however threw the ball terribly half-assed. The coach, uncle Mişu, who had once in his youth played on the "23", the most important stadium in the country, with the junior B national team, still kept hidden in his heart a grain of vanity. He pictured himself one day carried by his players on their arms together with the cup. Which cup though? At the end of every match lost in front of the more than 28 fans in the stands, uncle Mişu would pour onto them a bereaved speech. After some minutes, Ţucu, the captain of the team, a defender who had made quite a lot of his opponents need orthopedic treatment, would interrupt him half full of pity, half sick of it all:'Give us a break, uncle Mişu, you have flooded our asses with tears.' He was not very tall, this captain. He was however stout enough to be, in the field, as unmoving as a salt cellar. He had just arrived at the 'headquarters,' Rolcarton that is, to beg the manager for some more money. It was getting down to their stomachs, which could not possibly feed on passes and shoots that always missed their target anyway. Mrs. Manoil, the accountant, had also attended the leg-breaker's plea, as she was part of the management too. Ţucu had a very personal style of negotiating. He possessed a familiarity which debased the others as well as himself. He addressed the manager with 'boss,' 'hey,' 'uncle,' 'pappy,' and others like that. As for the manager, what could he say? He had a special deal with the salami factory. Thus he could give them some food. But money, where from? On top of everything, they played like hell, they were all attacking at the same time, like fools. They had no tactical plan, said the coach, as if that hadn't been his job. They were all dashing forward: 'Let's get them!' Only that they didn't have the energy to get back to defense and they found themselves helplessly looking at the goalkeeper rolling by himself in the square in front of the posts. The patched ball crawling into the net. The coach moaning, cigarette in mouth: 'Salami – salami… Sibiu – Sibiu… Coaching, no more… The manager had had enough of them. Now he had just sent Ţucu with Mrs. Manoil to get rid of his sticky presence. Let them draw some paper, squeeze some more money for the 'boys.' The pencil pusher looked like an old matron, although the ID gave her only 33 years of age. She seemed excessively (ful)filled, calculations and balance sheets being known to cause fat asses; her flesh though was as hard as an Adidas ball. And what should cross Ţucu's uselessly big head? To come on to her. With his kind of jokes and compliments, locker-room-of-inferior-division style, pointless stories of how they pissed under their showers and competed on who had the best aiming. Strangely enough, the bean counter found the bone fixer funny. He also happened to be younger, the stud. It could have been because Iacint, as an actor, looked down on her and satirized her, as if he knew aesthetics by heart… Or that the disgusting footballer had flashed around her glands his sweaty smell… Or God knows what, it was spring and that was it… Before long, as her skirt was too short anyway for the season and as the captain was in his tracking suit, they were cuddling. Life was a dream at Rolcarton. Long corridors, the floor made of rough concrete. People – taken up either with work or with the newspaper. Large offices, lots of them, with tall, factory-like windows. You could well have stayed stark naked in your office without anyone noticing it. Ţucu's individual technique was not good enough anyway to keep the bean counter busy for all that time they had. Theoretically. But bad luck gets to you when you least expect it. There had been 893 days since Iacint had last stopped by his wife's office. There was no reason to. Not to mention that the smell of varnished and glued plaster board made him sick. But now, as he did not have rehearsals in Călăraşi and didn't have anyone to have a beer with either, there he was. When he pushed the door – iron, of course – open, he couldn't really make out who the two midgets standing in one corner of the room were. Nor did he understand what they were doing. First, he was a bit against the light. Then, he didn't really have the imagination to associate accounting with numbers. For some fortunate possessor of an average IQ, the face of the situation could still have been saved. But in comes the confusion of the woman who had never sinned before! Plus the ferocious bad luck that had made of Ţucu top of the list of own goal authors from all possible divisions. He had sent the ball between his own posts from all possible positions: corner, action, head first and elbow. The same happened now. The adulteress uttered the only words that should have been left unuttered: 'My husband!' Should she have said 'The house is on fire,' 'God forbid' or a simple 'Hello,' nothing would have happened. Like this however the defender dashed like a spring, pulling up his trousers, attacked Iacint, who still hadn't understood but half of it, and asked him absurdly, in full accordance with his position in the classification: 'And what do you want?!' The histrion couldn't tell if he wanted anything. His answered would have been equally stupid, most likely he wouldn't even have answered. But it was Ţucu again, with his muddled mind, who resorted to action, showing, for the first time in his life, a remarkable hit with the head. His crown broke the – otherwise impeccable – teeth of the cuckolded. That was where everybody's misfortune began: police, forensics, dentists, the prosecutor's office, divorce, law courts, cancelled performances, inquiries, sanctions, denouncements, etc. As a reward for the one successful hit with the head in his entire life Ţucu was, paradoxically, banned from football forever and his team, which was not guilty at all, dissolved hastily. Iacint had his teeth put back quickly, but something wasn't quite fitting anymore. With all subsequent filings his diction remained marked by a permanent lisp, which saddened him forever. At Rolcarton people could, for the first time, read in the newspaper of a shattering event that destiny had thrown in their own, concrete paved, yard. For the first time they looked at the rusty rails wondering if by any chance they didn't after all lead to something.

by Horia Gârbea (b. 1962)