BY Adler S Walt
‘S T R A S T’
“The Passion of Daria Maccluskey”
‘We were scattered, atrocities were happening all over the country, all over the world. We didn’t know who was alive, who was dead, who was in the camps! All we knew those of us that were left was that we had to stay alive, keep moving keep organizing and take the message back to the people. Keep the motivation strong enough for the partisans to keep up the fight.’
In Newyorkgrad it gets so evil hot in the late of August. The citadel of billionaires and unwashed foreign masses longing to wear designer sneakers becomes a swelter box. Most people of any means flee to their dachas in Strong Island to avoid it. Dawn is now rising on a roof garden. Five friends up and out all night sit atop a seventeen story print house converted to a housing cooperative, one of lowest lying structures left in the Financial District. Sebastian Adonaev, over a bottle of Basque wine, tells old danger tales to those who will and can still listen. It is the second to last weekend of August and soon summer will end. Bottle uncorked the debacle of his oratory unfolds. A fake gold watch dangles off his left wrist as he enunciates his wild tale with his hands. Covering his dark brown hair cut short for summer is a brown beret newsy cap, called a skally cap.
On the roof garden of the old converted print house on 140 Nassau Street, slim and enthusiastic Europeans Amelia Monteleone and Victoria Christiana Lynch Contreras snap off photos and clink glasses bantering on intoxicated. Raphael Rafael Contreras Contreras, a Peruvian, is baby faced with flowing black hair. A couple salt and pepper streaks show hes aging poorly thanks to alcoholism. He is, at least on green card the husband of Victoria. Raphael sits with his dear friend Sebastian and a beautiful Russian dvotchka named Daria. He attempts a boozy mediation. Sebastian and Daria evil eye each other viciously across a low wooden table. She has big blue crazy person eyes with sleep deprivation progressing. She has an unnerving look, a cross between a size up and seductive stare, a dismissive dart of her eyes to cut men down.
An affectionate rendering in Russian of Daria is ‘Dasha’, and this is what Sebastian has been calling her all night. They had been introduced several months before, but both had been way too drunk to remember. They both are regulars at the ‘Mehanata Social Club’, but he more on Thursdays and she more on Saturdays. They had rarely crossed paths before. Sebastian is telling a dangerously insensitive story. Daria is beyond appalled. Sebastian removes his skally cap and says, “The job, and operation; call it as you want, involves calling on high end prostitutes whose numbers one acquires in the association of banker men and or your those of Post or former Soviet back ground, mostly at the Banya. Focusing, but not generalizing on the Albanians.”
Banya is Russian for bathhouse. Sebastian loves the way everything sounds in Russian. Fucking, fighting, or songs. Though he knows under three dozen phrases and cannot even read Cyrillic, he’s an enthusiast of wanting things he cannot possibly have.
“So shortly after the girls arrive and give you some fictitious cover. You take a coat and as they walk in and settle on a price that will involve no bit of touching at all. Then, you tell them that they’re being filmed and recorded, but that you’re not a cop. Not some rich pervert or a Mossadnik. Or who-ever else weird and dangerous. You’re not there to entrap them for absolutely anything. You can tell them you’re an abolitionist, or keep it real apolitical.”
Puff, puff passes along this ill-conceived venture.
“You tell them to call down to the driver and say your John is layered out like that actor Charlie Sheen.”
“Tiger-blooded!” notes Raphael.
“Then, you fucking make tea. You tell them a dark, sad love story. A personal tale about why you are not a true dog or a filthy pig. How you came to hate this line of world’s supposedly oldest work. It was really farming, not sex work I’ll have the saying know! Because maybe you had loved someone forced into it. You must convince them to take and perhaps disseminate to other enslaved persons a number to arrest traffickers and pimps. Also, how to get such trafficked and victimized people the resources they need to escape such work. Toward emancipation and human dignity. They get the job cash for nothing. We’re in an era of creating digital money and printing convincing hundos. What’s money? A number and a way out. They get a number on a card. You ask them to put it in their phone. Eventually, the poor unfortunate soul either will pass the number along or report it directly to the pimps. But, inevitably you force a violent hand and spread the knowledge that there is in fact a networked way to escape such slavery, were they so inclined. It’s cheaper and more effective than lobbying or useless political routes. All the cops are on the take anyway. We must go directly to the slaves and assure them there is safe way out. The next stage then is to get our various operatives into brothels to feign cardiac arrest and call ambulances and firemen in as reinforcements. Then burn them down. Hang the pimps from the gas lights.”
Her jaw drops.
“They would kill you just for that nonsense,” she spits out.
“For such bullshit man! For a lot less than bull shit. A number! I spit on your Amerikansky number. For insulting low grade bullshit that changes nothing. You would die. They would kill those dear to you too. Nothing at all will be fixed about anything, not one woman will walk free. It is bourgeois liberal thinking,” retorts Daria.
All the regality of being born all Slavic, but outside the great dividing highway that loops the Moscow capital separating the have everything’s from the have nothings or have only little somethings. Being born so radiantly beautiful and tough and Russian after the triumph of Capitalism has left her charming and capable of fighting. She is quite far from Russia with love, rootless and floating in glittery fairy tales that don’t expel the hardships of her new country.
“I am not afraid to die for a good, true thing. I believe in this sweetness. At the cost of all my Amerikansky privileges. They say anyway that I’m hard man to make disappear,” he flatly retorts.
“He has such dumb Amerikansky beliefs blat!” she mocks, “I guess you’ve never had to work for anything! Or work to keep something you fought hard for blat. So you would give away all to a stranger? Your life seems too easily offered. To take away. If you ask me blat,” she snaps at his bait.
“Hey, lady, you are insulting to my dear friend and our gracious host,” sternly interjects Raphael Rafael , “This man, you have no idea what he’s been through to back up these words. This man is a real hero!”
Daria could care less about the Peruvian definition of ‘heroism’. Bold wild statements don’t get first impression credential checking. She is appalled by Sebastian’s cynical little story about call girls. Passing itself off as incompetent activism. So she offers to kill him. He obliges her. Thinks she’s bluffing, but doesn’t care if she’s not not.
I’ll kill this over privileged Amerikansky hypocrite, she thinks. A civic duty to my new mother land and the old country too. This shit face knows not with whom he plays, she thinks. Mostly, she maintains a mighty level of the not giving of a shit. She’s an off day, she’s totally blacked out. She won’t remember anything. She only remembers every other night out when she drinks. The rest of them form an intractable blur. A black haze punctuated with irregular black and blue marks. “From falling down stairs.”
If she kills him, the tragedy, as far as a memory, will really belong to no one.
Rafael implores her to be more, “Suave, Suave!” To be more calm and “Tranquillo.” The infamous Peruvian revolutionist, now moonlighting as a Newyorkgrad low key digital disk jockey, and designer jeans mender cannot even barely modulate Sebastian’s posturing and Dasha’s swaggerous, murderous taunting. Now they’re waving invisible pistols at each others’ faces like wild Middle Easterners.
“You think like a nigger!” she yells at him.
The job of any and all men as far as she is concerned is please her by makings sure her drink is never empty and that life is a series of taken care of attractions, to make her life easier. He has failed at both in his utter self-serving arrogance.
“So you’re gonna kill me? Or just fucking threaten on about it?” says Sebastian in her face.
“Absofuckinglutely,” she replies, “your life is bullshit, thus your death is certain blat.”
Before Rafael can talk them down they’re going up a ladder. Up to the 18th level deck. It’s more of an easterly platform atop the roof garden with the massive blue glass Geary Building towering just an alley ways distance away. Thousands of expensive little cubicles for the lower upper class. Sports players, fancy pied a terres to stuff a mistress and city homes for the lower ranks of the financial class. But all the lights are out. A great setting for a hastily arranged assisted suicide.
Now, they’re fucking boxing. Daria is in a boxing school in Brighton. She strikes at him hard. But it isn’t is first rodeo.
“Die you shit! You fucking Amerikansky! You wasted one blat,” she spits at him.
Rafael is actually too drunk to get up the ladder to intervene. Amelia and Victoria have stopped their camera phone art making over white wine and look up with moderate concern, moderate care. Actually, only Rafael knows Daria and Sebastian intimately enough to really care. As he is in love with both of them. Rafael knows a lot about Sebastian’s other life as ‘Kawa Zivistan’, a wanted rebel and a partisan leader in the Amerikansky guerrilla. Not spooks nor the police forces had taken him so far, or gotten very close to making him die. A beautiful woman might now get close enough. They are boxing pretty close to the ledge. But to be honest, Amelia fucked him twice and it was mediocre. Viktoria only uses him for hints about Rafael’s infidelity. Rafael, has drank too much, his brain is just to wet to get him up that ladder.
“You don’t want to live here forever?” Daria taunts him.
Their boxing and taunting has them perilously near the edge of the roof. She is striking hits and he is just taking her hits and then, then it comes. Thwack. She cracks his jaw hard. He grins at her with a little blood on the lip.
“Hit me to kill me! Just knock me into that fucking pit! Make a good inglorious end to it. It’s all bullshit you know. I’ll just come back,” Sebastian declares.
The most beautiful woman he has ever seen is just a side story in his own mind. His own much larger tragedy propels him to make questionable life choices, such as this one. “Kill me blat!” he beckons. Then, she tries to really kill him. She’s moves so fucking fast, like she’s basically trained in the school of Alcoholism. Daria cocks back and doesn’t even blink. She hits him in the throat with the right and then with the left, crack. He topples backwards off the roof. As Sebastian plummets back, he grabs out. Yanks her with him. They tumble off the very ledge of the roof. They plummet to the alley way below. They die for nothing.