The Funeral Cake Baker's Lover

excerpts "What's your name?" asked Bajnorica."Atena," the answer sounded clear and neat, casting the light of the trustful, caring and obedient friend over the young girl. Bajnorica looked at her face closely, assessing her age around her early or even late twenties, why not? His mind was wandering among the thick number of tiny women he had been dating in time, many seemed to be in their twenties even when they had turned thirty. When he was about 16 or 17, a woman kind of adopted him and she had sons older than him. She was a juicy old lady, around 35, her skin was soft and smooth, and she was about Atena's size. A giant like Mite could have easily grabbed her under his arm and run away with her."How old ar' ya?""Who? Me?" she said faking hesitation and Bajnorica felt this was a bad omen. "Don't lie to me, girl," he warned her.She suddenly got interested in the man in front of her:"Why not?""Me and my friend here… we never lie to anyone, we don't like to be told lies, 'cause lying is a bad thing to do…"She felt her interest for this boy with a fringe like hers was cooking big. His nose was as delicate as hers, as if she looked in a mirror; yet he was rather blond and his brownish shirt was ragged, like his friend's, the big one, who simply waved to her over the terrace's wall, calling her to him right in the street and why shouldn't she say yes when she had nothing better to do. She accepted his invitation because she was curious, 'cause they didn't pick her up out of the blue. And he seemed he had something interesting or important to tell her: he was inviting her, and while they were consuming this invitation she was to find out all the important stuff he had to offer. She later found out that he was not alone, but his friend Giulio or Giani or Giuliano was with him, he might be some sort of Italian. The things they can do to us, these pimps, that give us to strangers, she said to herself. And now she was with this specimen who asks her about her age, or even about her kids and their fathers, God knows, or about her abortions, but he was really fun to be with.Mite showed up. He didn't manage to get a chair."Too much chaos for me inside. Let's go somewhere else," he said wrapping his arm around Bajnorica. He pushed his glass to the girl, refilled Bajnorica's and drank the rest of the booze left in the bottle. "Your friend wants to know how old I am," she said."Who?" he asked, puzzled, restless, standing in front of the two who seemed in no hurry. "A, Atena… Atena' s 17. Me and my friend, we are 20."Atena was so delighted by this new hierarchy that she took Mite on her chair, she wasn't that fat, she said. "I'll tell you how fat you are," grabbing her and lifting her to the level of his sight, asking her to give away a short laughter. He laid her in his lap as if she were a child."She's the size of a cloth bale," Bajnorica decided. "Yeah, a cloth bale," he emphasized."Where are you staying, guys?" she asked.A confused change of looks took place between the two young men. Bajnorica reacts nervously. How the hell can he know what this intimate, bird-brained friend of his told the girl before he had brought her to their table? And now the man was stammering like crazy."Us, dear? I told you where, but it slipped your mind, I'm sure. Me and my pal here are staying at the Medusa.""I stay at The Sea Star," Atena replied. This surely sounded like an open invitation and the men caught it in the air, as a hunk of meat that some dirty greedy man had thrown to the poor hungry, enjoying the show of their emotions. "When I arrived two days ago, there weren't any vacant rooms left."They again changed dumb looks. No vacant rooms left, she said. Ha! The hotels were full. Of course they wouldn't know that since they practically lived in the cloth bale trucks day and night. "They would rent me the room only for a week, but I plan to stay longer anyway and I'll try to keep the room, too. It has a view to the sea and the disco is near by. And on top of everything, it's a killer to find a single room these days."Bajnorica's eyes betrayed his impatience, as if he almost pushed Mite aside. Let me talk for both of us. Or maybe you want to start a fire without a match and then the wind blows it out?"Medusa rules!" he said. "We booked our rooms in advance, in Bucharest, by a travel agency. The food is ok, they gave us a room with a phone and TV…""Do you have a color TV?""No, we arrived too late for that. They told us at the agency that the Europa was fully booked. We stayed there last week. They have color TV, VCR, swimming pool, but hey, there's no big deal, trust me. What do you come to the seaside for? Sun, water, fresh air, relaxation. You don't need no color TV or VCR… All you need is a bed and a shower.""Do you shower?""Sure, dear. Don't you?" Bajnorica gave away a smile."Me? Never? Let's drop this anyway… "The warm confession of the flushed blonde in front of her, his thick lips, dipped in sweet sensuality, seemed honest and coming from his heart. She felt the giant holding her so close to her skin, touching every string in her body, his cheek stuck to hers and covering her back with his wide and warm chest, kneading her breasts with his hands. His hardened virility pierced her right buttock and thigh. He smelt like leaven sweat, like stable and cheap tobacco, all combined in a manly stench that seduced and repulsed her at the same time."If you have a TV, I'm going to pay you a visit to watch a show tonight." This was a sure blow, and she was delighted watching their reactions. The blonde guy fell silent and the giant that held her startled, his manliness growing soft in a second."You? Watch TV in our room?… no, no…" Bajnorica stammered, "you say you never shower… we do it every day and… ""Whatever. If you don't welcome a filthy person like me in your room, there's no need for me to insist," she went on with perverse whispering, and the magic was gone.Bajnorica needed to use his brains since this goofy giant friend of his who pretended to live in Bucharest and looked disgusted at the thought of bricks and cloth bales was about to ruin everything. "Atena, my dear… you are our intimate sister now, you're a smart girl, no doubt about that…" and Bajnorica paused for a long time, looking for the satisfaction on her face. "Only 17 and as smart as a… as a teacher or as an accountant, something like that. What do you do for a living, dear? Let me think, let me think, you're a student, right?" he said hastily. "And since you are so smart, so obviously smart, you figured it out for yourself: if we took you to our room to watch TV you might think we intend to take advantage of you, God forbid. Even so, if we mean no harm with such a doll like you, who knows, God forbid, one of us or maybe both of us might slip on the wrong side. You know only too well why. You're not only very clever, but also veeery pretty and a man can easily be lured by your charms. We'd gladly take you to our room… we took you to our table, didn't we?" Bajnorica's voice was running dry by all that intricate talking. Atena and Mite were exhausted listening to him. She was fed up with this absurd chitchat. She knew from the beginning they were burnt, and now it became a certainty: they have no room or TV or shower. So what? They're young and nicely built, a little scared by life, but easily tamed and ready for compromise, she needs them to be this way. She decided to cut a long conversation short."Look, Giani, right? And you, Mite? If you promise me you'll not try to take advantage of me, we can go to my room. Do you promise?"They promised both in one voice, like a schoolboy choir.She told them she stayed at The Sea Star, room 1313, floor 13. She was not the superstitious kind and neither were they. Why believe in this triple bad omen? Half way to the sea wall, she told them to stay behind; she would go ahead to wait for them at the hotel entrance. She would hunt a moment when the doorman dozed away and then they could come in, 'cause she didn't want anybody to see them joining her. She told them the floor and the room number so many times they were sure she couldn't possibly mock at them in this bizarre way. They had nothing better to do anyway and not much to share with this Atena. Who was she and what did she want? She was some sort of Bica the Crippled that needed to sleep with many men to feel the pleasure, only more perverse. Bica was doing it as an act of charity, inflamed by an exuberating consciousness of sacrifice. Bajnorica knew where The Sea Star was. They will turn left to the street that parallels the sea wall and they'll go as far as the 16-floor building at the end of the street. But as soon as they turned left, they could see a group of people in the dim light of the street, spread from one side to another. They were chatting and waiting for something to happen. Bajnorica made Mite wait in the distance and went to see what it was all about. I had a hunch, all right. The police were checking out the hotel. It was census time, my brother! They turned to the sea wall, but with no success. Damn these cops, now they hunt people down with their census! If we go that way, they might see us from the sea wall, if we try to avoid them and they figure it out, we're burnt. By the time we tell the story of our papers left with Major Zlate, the girl is gone. They made their way by dark alleys and streets, turning three times in circles to avoid the cops. Atena was still waiting for them in the parking line, hysterically annoyed, and Mite started to pour down on her the whole story 'cause another police team might have been waiting in the hotel lobby and they could not avoid that one without her help.She told them she saw no sign of police at the hotel, but they must hurry up if they still wanted to get upstairs. There was not even a dim chance to make the doorman leave his cage, so they needed to deal with him personally, but never tell him where they want to go, not even under torture. If he asks for their papers, too, she could not help them. Why don't you come with us? You tell him we are your brothers… Atena threw them a definite "no" and they agreed to meet upstairs, so the girl went ahead. They walked slowly behind her, making plans and cursing the cops, the doorman and everyone at watch, as if they wanted to steal the sea and the cars and maybe the 16-floor building from them, who knows. We go in naturally and that's that. Still, three steps away from the door, she met them. Ok, I'll go with you.The doorman was young and athletic, dressed as a fashion dummy, training shoes, blue jeans and printed t-shirt, a thick golden necklace hanging around his neck, over the t-shirt. He couldn't possibly have remembered the thousands of faces swarming daily in and out of the hotel. Still Mite and Bajnorica were quite some characters, too different from all the characters coming and leaving this place, too aware of themselves, as if their lack of fame was their fame itself, staying away from all kinds of humility. Mite and Bajnorica are Mite and Bajnorica. They just made their triumphal entrance, three steps behind Atena, to the world of union members, secret police members and tycoons. The doorman hurried his steps to stop them getting into the elevator. Where do you, gentlemen, go? Mite made a sudden move, barely avoiding hitting the doorman. You want my autograph, sonny? Pinching the doorman's t-shirt out of his trousers. The doorman was about to say something when Atena said they were her guests while the doorman gave her a large and meaningful smile and wished them a good time. Atena's face was growing dark with fury, but she withheld herself."Why don't you hang yourself by the golden chain of yours, you damn dog?" Bajnorica let himself go once inside the elevator. He concentrated the entire affliction he could get from the stables, brick factories and bushes in his words. Atena's face grew darker.She barely could let it go when they entered the room with a small bed, as if made especially for her size. Their hungry eyes stopped on the bottle on the coffee table, in front of the bed. It was scotch, Bacchus. When they saw the three glasses they knew for sure she had prepared herself for this moment and to what finality. Bajnorica took the bottle and read the label, it wasn't much, but for him it was something."I don't have a TV. No music, either. I have a problem with noises," she said, pointing to her temple, but the guys didn't get too much of this. Then looking at the bottle, she added: "This is how I kill my time. If you don't like it, I have something else." And reaching for the upper doors of the wardrobe, she pulls out a Martini bottle, 1500 ml. "I have food, too. Cheese and canned food, this is better than Rapsodia, we can chat and I don't close the place down at 11. It's already past 11… sit down, boy, make yourself comfortable…" There's been a while since they sat down, Mite on the bed and Bajnorica on the only chair in the room, filling glasses. She imagined them standing and waiting. But now she was a bit disappointed at the sight, maybe because they fell silent, stiff with awkwardness, yet venerating the situation, as they probably did under such circumstances. They knew only too well this suited them all right. Let's pay endless devotion to the hand that takes us out of our misery and feeds us and gives us all. They toasted."To our meeting!" Bajnorica exclaimed, and let out whatever crossed his mind at that time, his voice trembling with solemnity."Never to lose each other again," Mite added.Atena's face shrank with disgust:"Give it a rest, buddy. That'd be too much.""Never means until this winter," Mite humored her. "Until…" Her face never changed that expression of disgust. "Until this summer, then. Let us stay together. We're no dogs, to play together today and no wagging tomorrow.""All right then," she exclaimed. "Drink some Martini if you like it. Me, I drink only Martini."They poured Martini over the scotch in their glasses, drank the booze and then went for a straight Martini, followed by straight scotch. When it suddenly struck them:"If you don't drink no scotch, we'll give it a rest too. The bottle is almost empty.""Don't worry, boys, there's plenty of it where this came from," she said opening the wardrobe again and displaying a fresh bottle of scotch. "Don't mind me. You can shower if you want, you said you do it daily, so…"They took a shower and came back with the washed shirts, only with their trousers on. She showed them where to hang the clothes, on the very small balcony, as long as two of her steps. "Hang them over the railing and put the stones over them. I brought the stones especially for this. This way, the wind won't take them away."They were really up in the sky. They guessed the presence of the sea in the darkness, feeling its mourning presence in their faces, brought by the strong wind.They hesitated washing their trousers, too, when Atena launched the suggestion. They already had the vision of themselves wearing only the filthy knickers which would have surely spoiled Atena's mood for the night, making her throw up all the scotch back in the glasses."You can wear your trunks," she suggested, bored, but anxious at the same time."You'd like a little strip-tease number?" Bajnorica joked."Why not? Still… it's better if you keep your underwear on…" "What happens if you we don't?" and there was nothing suspicious in Mite's question. "You'll get upset if we take off our trunks?" He had no intention to upset her, but wanted to spare her the dreary sight of their filthy underwear."No, I won't, since you promised nothing bad would happen. That's why I took you to my room." They pondered for a moment, almost paralyzed. All their hopes for tonight hanged onto this moment. Behind her, Mite bashfully took off his trousers and his underwear and threw them in Bajnorica's arms."Go ahead! Wash these for me, please," he said in a soft voice that contrasted the rudeness of his gesture. Leaning relaxed in his chair, Bajnorica said in offended tones:"See, Atena how he treats me? Is that nice?""Never mind. You're buddies. You could do the same, you know. You're, you seem to be through a lot together… "She could bet her life on their asking her opinion on the longevity of their friendship. "No need for you, guys, to fight over a girl like me…""Don't worry, honey. It never crossed our minds to do such a thing," he assured her. He wanted to humor her at any cost. He thought that leaving her with his best friend would make her happy. "Off I go. I hear the sound of washing calling me."He lingered in the bathroom for a long, long time, scrubbing the clothes industriously with an egg shaped soap that drove him crazy with its smell, like a million flowers in a bouquet, stirring the urge in him to eat it. He could hardly remember the sensation of warm water and its vapors on his body, making him dizzy with pleasure. He must have stayed there for more than half an hour and he kept wondering about what the two were doing. Had they finished yet? He really felt awkward to barge in there, naked, although he was sure she wanted exactly that.In his hesitation and shower of questions, he finally came across a pink towel that he wrapped around his waist. He found the two exactly as he had left them, as if only a minute had passed. Mite was still naked and Atena had all her clothes on, Mite trying shyly and with nervous tenderness to undress her, Atena strongly fighting against his gentle touches. Bajnorica hung the clothes next to the shirts. Atena must want him and not Mite, he thought. Still, seeing a naked man struggling in bed by the side of a woman was quite a show that one mustn't miss. So he drew near the window to feast on the sight when Mite stood up and came to him."I think it's you she wants," he said.Funny thing, Bajnorica gave up sooner than Mite. When Mite came back into the room, he found his friend in his chair, surrounded by glasses and booze, still wrapped in the pink towel. "Lose the towel," she said with hot sensuality, as if dreaming, as she lay on her bed, her arms crossed under her head, glancing at the young men. She was wearing a yellow t-shirt and a blue jeans skirt that revealed her doll thighs up to her knickers to their hungry eyes. "Strip, both of you," she said in a faded voice, as if dying, while they saw her as a dying girl, and they seemed willing to fulfill her wishes. "What's your desire, sweet Atena?" Bajnorica asked as if he needed information about the medicine that would have saved her life, a life so dear to him. "What do you wish, my beautiful and smart girl, who's only 17?… "She closed her eyes as if dreaming of something fantastic. Then she went on glancing at them, holding her body still. Bajnorica was in his chair, legs crossed, leaning forward, embarrassed by his naked body and Mite crouched at the bed's legs, hugging his knees reaching his chin with giant arms."Eat, drink, feel yourselves at home. Don't mind me…"Mite sat by her head, since there was no other chair in the room. She saw they were eager to fulfill her wishes and when Mite touched her temple with his back, she withdrew by the wall. He caressed her over his shoulder, on her forehead and on her cheeks, as innocently as he could, but she firmly took his hand and placed it on his knee, where it belonged. She did that as if she had removed the paw of some doggy that overwhelmed her with its affectionate gestures."No hands. You promised."Bajnorica looked very relaxed. He smoked her Marlboro cigarettes and sipped some scotch while scanning the room. Then he stood up, as if to stretch himself a bit, but searching the room carefully, taking a sudden interest in opening the balcony door and arranging the folds of the curtains blown by the wind. He was at peace with himself, even determined to keep the promise he had made to this woman, strange enough to make him feel good in her company. Yet, Mite hadn't figured it out what was cooking in his friend's mind. He was sure Bajnorica was scanning the room for anything they could steal on their way out, since they were never to see her again. But no hurry, he said to himself, boiling with curiosity about the present. He was dying to sleep with her, even deprive himself of any pleasure and force her. Then, he would surrender to her pleasure and desire, so perverse that he thought those sensations were unfolding at thousands of kilometers away from that room. This might be the new it, which they might have missed in spite of their wide experience in this dark and mysterious world, but here they were living it and tasting it that very moment, having time on their side. She was still there, on the bed, her arm under her head, her thighs crossed, draining the life out of them with her greedy eyes.At that moment the struggle between her and Mite started, pointed by panting and soft screams, no, no, please, you're hurting me, just this once, please, it won't hurt you a bit, let me take your knickers off, open your legs, it won't hurt you, just let me in a bit. This was the time for Bajnorica to inspect the room thoroughly. He opened the wardrobe and saw a purple leather jacket and a pair of blue jeans on a coat hanger, a few pairs of trousers and, on the top shelf, by the towels, many colored T-shirts. They needed those later, for the stables and sugar beet wagons, or when Atena went crazy for them. He kept searching the pockets and between the t-shirts and towels for money or some piece of jewelry, but he didn't find zilch. He moved to the purple travel bag, in its empty lateral pockets and he found some cheese and a loaf of bread, peaches and canned food and two bottles of Bacchus and a few packs of Marlboro. He opened a bottle with his teeth and drank. He split the bread and the cheese and wolfed down without chewing, standing, his head buried inside the wardrobe, in continuous flaring. The two on the bed were as busy as Bajnorica. Mite failed in taking off her underwear; instead he turned them inside out over her thighs. All he needed to do was force the underwear to tear, and he did that, in many pieces, round her ankles, leaving a reddish mark on her clenched thighs. He thought he was lucky she didn't scream, but she seemed very taut and determined not to open her legs and fought him like hell. He could hold her still only with one hand, but was unable to slip the other between her clenched thighs. He hit her shortly in her stomach, as if touching some button that opened a machine. He pushed the wrong button, though, as the grip of her thighs became stronger, and she fell stiff, rolled her eyes, as he probably hit her pretty hard. "You killed her, son of a bitch," Bajnorica whispered. He started to heap up everything he found in the wardrobe, zipping the red travel bag and placing it in front of the wardrobe doors. He stood still with intense and feral concentration, showing his back to those in bed, leaning his chin in his fist, almost touching the doors with his forehead. He went to the balcony, hitting the door against the wall. He guessed the time by the sky; it was 3 in the morning. They can't leave the hotel right now. It's too dangerous. He felt the clothes, they were wet, even worse then before 'cause the sea breeze was damp. He could squeeze the water out of them again. He realized he was naked and turned to the room. He threw the bag in the wardrobe, closed the doors and opened them again, striving to find the best thing to do under the circumstances. He addressed Mite without looking at him:"You killed her, huh? Check her breath… give it to her in her nose, she might wake up then. you're more fucked up than I thought. They outta make a law against you fucking women! You're screwed, man!"Mite took out his dick and began to press it against the girl's closed eyes, against her sealed lips and over her tits uncovered by the t-shirt. Her thighs were still clenched, sweaty and shivering, and large drops of sweat grew in her dark pubic hair. He touched her with his penis from head to toes, a route too short, he thought, for his horny mood. He stopped at her knees when he felt he was about to come, a moment voided of pleasure, his hand stuck to his hips, his arms arched as if he were a runner waiting for the signal, and then he saw her opening her eyes rimmed by dark rings, her wrinkled forehead, her delicate cheek deformed by pain. It was too late. He felt it as a revenge that brought no one joy, his abundant sperm wetting her on her thighs, belly, face, on her messed fringe, showing her forehead. He then felt the girl's thighs loosen a bit from all that tension, she was groaning as burnt with hot fire, yet her voice had no echo.Bajnorica rearranged the clothes on the shelves, trying hard to remember their order. He stuck the cork inside the scotch bottle he had opened before and placed it by the travel bag. It might spill inside the bag, where he had found it. He took a Marlboro pack, pulled out a cigarette and lit it, while Mite was relaxing over the girl's body under him, cutting her bit loose, thinking she was not to produce louder noises than that groan of hers, which he could not read as a sign of pleasure. She looked in pain, unable even to hate someone. She jerked quickly and released herself from under him, jumping beside the bed, with a very precise movement. The next moment, she grabbed a towel and began to clean her face and body from the sweat and disgusting sperm of that jerk. She's wearing only the blue jeans skirt and she lifts it a bit to wipe herself between the legs, in firm and repeated gestures that showed she was defiled in that place, too. Suddenly, she raised her arm and pointed to the door and in a loud voice that could wake the neighbors, she ordered the two men:"Get out! Get out right now! Take your clothes and get out!"They didn't even realize they had nothing to put on. Mite's determination to leave was growing stronger. Let him abandon them there; let them deal with this disgusting and oppressive situation! Nothing stopped him from leaving the hotel naked and find the way to the station, and get on a train that could take him away from there. And yet, he found himself weak again, just as he was in the stables then, when he hit Bajnorica who promised him a peach crop, he found himself helpless when trying to think of a place to be right there, right then. There was no such place. Bajnorica fell down at her feet, crossing his hands, his voice weak with tears, praying before that eternally adored icon. "Sweet Atena, forgive us, we won't do this to you again, ever, please forgive us. We'll do whatever you ask us to, I swear. Forgive this fucking asshole, he won't do it as long as he lives, I bet my life on it…""Get out now!" she repeated very firmly. Where the hell will they go? Fuck, this is your buddy and you're stuck with him for life, kill him or he'll kill you. Mite looked away from his fellow's ardent prayers before this woman. She was a woman, that was her flaw; she was a woman without, actually, fully being one, such a dim flaw besides the incomparable cruelty of many other men and women. And you, damn fool, you fell right for it, as if making a one-armed person row a boat.Bajnorica was not begging her, he was praying to her, with his heart wide open, he was praying to the doll-icon at whose feet he fell. And his buddy thought then he must do the same, since he was the sinner, the mad and foolish sinner. Frowning, Atena stepped through the two large dogs yelping at her feet and went to the coffee table with glasses and booze. She poured the last drops of scotch in her glass from the second bottle they drank that night, when she made an almost unperceivable gesture to the two men that followed her in repentance. Bajnorica caught the gesture in the air and jumped over the bed to the wardrobe, taking the bottle of scotch he had opened earlier and the Marlboro pack, and returning to the table in one jump, like a circus dog, to refill her glass and light her a cigarette. After a few smokes and a couple of thoughts, completely ignoring them, she grabbed a towel from the wardrobe, placed it over the shoulder and went to take a shower, without letting go of the glass or of the cigarette. When she returned, the room was dark. She turned on the light and saw them crouched on the floor. They had fallen asleep. Wiping herself dry, she poured another glass of scotch and went to bed with it. She was cold, so she closed the balcony door. She pulled the blanket up to her chin, leaned the pillow against the wall and snuggled her head on the pillow so that she could see the two men on the floor, thinking how lucky they were they couldn't feel the coolness of the night, sleeping naked on the floor. She thought they usually slept this way, like animals under the open sky, used to the cold air. She heard one of them waking up or maybe talking in his sleep, almost impossible to grasp the meaning of Bajnorica's tired babbling. "Turn the damn light off. It hurts my brain…""It's still night," she said. "The light stays on until sunrise."Atena was a circus artist, an acrobat. Ever since she was only a teenager, she discovered gay urges that she repressed by an immense sense of guilt that traveled with her all along the 28 years of her life, in spite of the extreme profligacy her working environment displayed. Atena had arrived at the seaside directly from a tour with her circus in Italy. Hers was a forced return, caused by a sprain in her ankle that made it impossible for her to feature in any show and that gave no sign of healing too soon. She could barely hope to feel some improvement while resting at the seaside, yet she felt no pain since the first day of her vacation. She could bet her life on her healing and she could return to her troupe in Trieste. But since she was already there, why not indulge in the relaxation of those days, alone at the seaside, as she did every year, in spite of her being married and mother of two. A seaside vacation meant for her a few hours of sun and swimming every day, to help her shake the daily ratio of 800 ml of scotch and to meet perfect strangers that she was never to see again, touching and watching and smelling the men, and watching the women by their side and making friends with them for a while. She had carefully grown this perverse platonic conduct over the years, meant to annihilate her own demons by indulging herself in images, smells and vague touches, weaving a net of illusions around her; strong enough to help her get through her family life, perfecting her acrobatic senses that helped her orientate herself inside this passing and unfounded reality. She was not afraid of height nor of somersaults, she never feared animals or humans. "Fear" was nothing more than a word for her, which almost never took any shape, a gap she needed to fill with alcohol spiced with the images of her vice. Physical courage is usually a gift for many, and this 1.52 m woman was breathing with this virtue. As a child, she boasted about her ability to climb in places inaccessible to other kids, in the tallest trees or on eaves and making instant friends with the big, bad dogs in the neighborhood, always chained to a pole. In time, her courage fused with her ability and her joy of displaying her accomplishments dimmed. She found herself incapable of being afraid or scared, especially when meeting strangers, a thing that made it impossible for her to hate someone. People could not harm her because she knew they were weaker than her, and no sooner had her behavior changed into convincing guilt, melting into sheer curiosity devoid of desire, that men and women around her turned into animals worth seeing in all their nakedness, that is when despair and fear seizes them, when they bite, run and mate. This was why she took those two boys with her that night, because they looked like bums running away from the world. Although she never witnessed those kind of reactions, she was able to anticipate every one of them, due to her infallible instincts. The same instincts told her they had gay feelings, too, which could be turned on under certain circumstances. Otherwise, she let them express themselves freely, hiding her money, though, since she would not risk her vacation. She knew that if they had found any amount of money, they'd have vanished in an instant. She wouldn't let them go so soon, though, and she allowed them to rummage through her stuff for them to see what clothes she wore, what booze she drank and cigarettes she smoke because she knew they smelt some money on her. For the same reason she didn't allow the giant to hit her too hard, he was twice her size. Sleep with him, offering a discount? She would have defeated her boundless loathing of this compromise and he wouldn't have stopped fucking her. She was sure now, sure of their behavior, trying to humor her all the time, without her being explicit about it. On the other hand, she knew her desires echoed naturally in their souls. The three of them had lunch the next day at the hotel restaurant, The Sea Star. Atena bought lunch tickets for Mite and Bajnorica for a whole week, which she had purchased overpriced from the manager of the restaurant. They didn't include the room cost, so they had to be more expensive. That was no restaurant to eat in without renting a room, just as in some pubs they didn't serve any booze without ordering food, so stale that no one bought it anyway.They had food for a week. There was no need for her to tell them they could stay at the hotel as long as she was there. She showed them where to ask for the key and introduced them to the receptionist that had changed shift with that bastard they had confronted the night before. Needless to say they could use the room anytime for anything, regardless of her presence there, a thing she imposed, however, the night before.It was 2 o'clock in the afternoon when they separated in front of the general store downtown. She bought them trunks, light colored shorts, t-shirts and beach slippers, things they chose, a little scared by the prices since they were aware of her expenses. They saw themselves in the new clothes and she noticed a change in them. She told them they might meet at dinner or maybe tonight in the room and gave them 100 lei each. This was more than enough for their new looks, she knew they wouldn't embarrass her any longer as the resort was packed at that time, on the beach, in mid-August. Atena went to the nudists' beach she had been attending for the past three days. She met there a girl she made friends with right from the beginning, a young and rather unattractive nurse from Brashov. She guessed immediately that the girl was short of cash, but lacking any prejudice regarding sexual identity. In her turn, Tamara suspected Atena to be a lesbian, and now that the woman invited her to her room, saying that she was alone, her hunch turned to certitude. Although she wasn't really a fan of such sexual experiences, she indulged several times. Men were her cup of tea, though, but she was unable to keep the ones she liked for as long as she liked, and they couldn't, or wouldn't, offer her the material support she longed for. So, she turned to the men she could find there, betting everything on one card, her young age, 10-15 years younger than theirs. These men made her feel rather safe and even if they weren't well off, they were still willing to make some sacrifices.She too had arrived there a couple of days before. She was kind of irritated by the prices in the resort, which pressed too hard on her wallet. But until juicier events sprang in her holiday, she accepted Atena's invitation. Tamara came straight forward on the beach with her sexual behavior, caressing the short woman's breasts in public and promising her a good time in her room, with no need for men. She misinterpreted Atena's silence for caution, adding that there was no need for them to fake it, she played for real, and it was clear for her that Atena was a lesbian, too, and she was cool with that so there was no need for caution and so on. After they beat the resort eating pizza and cakes and drinking Pepsi on Atena's treat, she came forward and confessed to Tamara she was not a lesbian, and in spite of the natural tone she used, Tamara's face darkened. Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not a lesbian either, but I feel lonely in spite of this entire crowd here. We can still go to your room, we can chat over a cigarette and a glass of booze, 'cause evenings and nights feel lonelier than the days on the beach when time flies in a wink. Night was falling when they headed for the hotel, along the sea wall, when Atena hit Tamara with the news of the presence of men in her room who were very likely to bring other women with them. She was sure Mite and Bajnorica would no longer count on her as a fucking buddy, the moment she told them they could have the room for themselves and she would not risk another night like the previous one, especially when all the sexual games failed pathetically. Tamara was quite ok with Atena's confession, adding that she didn't look that crazy to give her to some sadists to cut her into many pieces, and transport her out of the huge hotel in travel bags… Atena couldn't resist the temptation to try her own resistance to fear on Tamara and pushed her by replying naturally "one can never know… " Tamara might escape this pathetic life she was leading, well, they were all living by a glorious death, a sentence that made Tamara shake with laughter, a thing that the acrobat saw coming. After a while, Tamara stopped laughing and spat in the hotel lobby and in front of the reception, a reaction that Atena never thought of. She saw it as a good sign.The key was at the reception, so when they took the elevator, Tamara pointed out they were alone in the room. She giggled in a hoarse voice; all the men and women you talk about are in the magazines you are going to show me while you cut my throat open and then stick your finger in my ass, hahaha… Well done, my intelligent friend, your intelligence is as large as your body, Atena humored her. Tamara was no tiny woman so the joke was a success. While the acrobat was filling their glasses with scotch and Martini and plugged the coffee pot in, she mentioned that he others were to show up any minute and she would leave the door ajar, 'cause she always slept that way… Mite and Bajnorica showed up pretty late, in the company of two waitresses from Reshitza, who worked at Dupont Bar in Eforie Sud for the summer. Tamara was drunk all right, trying to keep up with Atena's glasses and they had just started a quarrel because of the open door and of the bed, who will sleep in bed? Who on the floor? I'm your guest, but I never thought I stayed so late waiting for men to appear and you don't give me your bed… Well, things took a turn when no one needed the bed anymore, except for Atena who lay down in her favorite position, her arms under her head and her thighs clenched together. The show the two men and three women offered her, inflamed with scotch and Martini was a crazy orgy, the kind she loved, superior in creativity and inventiveness to the porn movies she had seen on her many tours in the West. This orgy pleased her so much because she was so close to the action she felt only in the invisible twitch of her clenched thighs. Tamara became a regular guest of Atena's night shows. She would spend her nights in room 1313, on the 13th floor of The Sea Star Hotel, and her days on the beach, dozing away, aroused by the touch of August sun mixed with slices of dreams, images and sensations from the night before. Long before she felt any sign of annoyance, Mite and Bajnorica picked up two Czech women, replacing the waitresses, who seemed older than Atena and Tamara and who became wild only in the morning and almost by force. Not thanks to the difficult communication, or because they possessed an acute sense of morality as far as sex was concerned. It was obvious they felt the room too crowded and they wouldn't accept that the tiny woman on the bed stay impassive and watch them, so they picked on Atena, trying to lure her into their games. The night hosted a party of four, since Tamara, Bajnorica and Mite had become rather annoying for her. The next night, Tamara went to rest in her room, the room she rented for two weeks at the seaside, which drained the money out of her budget. Mite and Bajnorica welcomed two girls to Atena's room, one from Reshitza and the other from Bucharest. They said they were students, but who could check the information out? Atena could not care less, but once she saw them at work she loved them instantly. The girls met just a few hours before Mite and Bajnorica asked them if they liked to play with the dolphin, as the Dolphinarium held its last show that night, and they went on with these rusty pick-up lines that found an echo in the heart of the girl from Reshitza. They had been walking on the sea wall for about an hour when the girl from Bucharest remembered all about the invitation to see the dolphin, because she never had the chance to see it when she came to the seaside. Her innocence stopped at her opaque way of grasping this kind of kinky jokes. Tamara made her return that night and the five of them were very happy over the next days, barely tripping on Atena's presence, and almost unaware of the fact that she paid for everything.Next Monday, the receptionists' shift changed again, and that doorman son of a bitch with his golden chain wrapped around his neck made his presence felt when the two returned in the dead of the night. Mite told Bajnorica that the guy was going to be trouble. Bajnorica knew his close friend could easily get scared and that was none of his business. If that son of the bitch dared to attack me or swear at me I'll send him straight to hell. I've got a room here, asshole, I pay my taxes, I don't steal, I'm no burglar, I'm no pimp, I'm no rapist whatyagotta say, bro? Yet, the person that wanted and had the power to ruin their vacation made his presence felt a few days later. He looked like a gray-haired bulldog with a suntan, who seemed very good at mixing pleasure with business, and he identified himself as Major Velcescu. Bajnorica was sure that the Major was a friend of the doorman's, judging by the way he empowered himself to ask for their papers a week after the police had finished the raids. He was also sure that the son of a bitch paid the Major with a lot of booze. The two girls from Reshitza and Bucharest presented the major with their IDs and the student card. Mite and Bajnorica saw the girls had told them the truth and wondered about the stuff they learned at their schools if they were mad about what they taught them there. They were smart all right and they indulged in the orgies in room 1313 like crazy. The two young men kept their IDs upstairs, in the room. "You can come with us, sir, if you need to check them," Bajnorica tried to soften the major. The bulldog was tall and heavily built, no doubt he weighed over 100 kg. He was wearing a white pair of trousers and a blue shirt with a tall collar, curved in fashion, revealing a fine golden chain, very different from the one of the damned doorman, but tensioned under the heavy load: a cross, a medallion, an anchor and a clover. He said:"You think you're doing me a favor by taking me upstairs with you, huh? Do you take me for a fool? Do I look like one that joins those assholes who forget to take their papers with them?"Mite and Bajnorica saw the doorman behind the counter red in his face, simulating neutrality and a sort of passive curiosity and they knew then that the major's job was to cause them troubles regardless of the papers they might have shown him, IDs, work permits, authorizations released by the city hall that entitled them to stay at that hotel, in that resort. Bajnorica felt responsible for the ending of this story because he ignored any sign of trouble. He said:"I suggested you come upstairs and have a drink with us and the girls… ""Boy," Major Velcescu said, throwing a mean look and hitting the girls' IDs against the counter. "I haven't come here to have a drink with you." He opened one of the cards and rushed it into Bajnorica's nose. His fury grew stronger, and as he was pressing