Tudor Crețu

 

 

(Romania)

 

 

 

seconds

 

 

The minister of culture was sexy. He had ripped the old tan jeans, torn them off above the knees. They were like shorts now.

They were going through the long, honey-coloured grass: he and some of his mates from Peltova. It was at least ten years since they had seen each other, since they had been together, as it were. The river had got narrower too. The trees were lower. They stopped every now and then and wondered:

“Shit, it’s been a while, hasn’t it…”

The waterholes were spying on them too. Dark, greenish. The men were going to go down to the river, to simply slide, as soon as they came across a softer incline, a friendlier opening. Only one had taken his child along, so that somebody could lug the bottles, the whiskey and the beer tins, in a scruffy, rough raffia bag, just like in the old times. The minister himself had insisted, in Darius’ courtyard:

“That!” (And he pointed his finger at the bag. It was hanging from a nail in the door). “So – since I’m not on TV, I can begin with so…

“You can do whatever you damn please,” his host chimed in.

“So, I think Ceaușescu himself queued for food with this bag. Look at it” – he stood on tiptoes and grabbed it – “rougher even than sandpaper, honest.”

And he threw it to the kid.

“Go to your mother,” Darius instructed his son, “and take what she’ll give you. She’ll know what.”

And he pointed his finger too: at the kitchen door.

The clouds were lower and lower. The men had broken into a sweat. At some point they gave up wiping it. An opening appeared near a poplar. A steep path still, barren.

“Pop it open, come on, now, pop it open!”

The kid made to open the bottle, but his dad grabbed it from his hand.

“Here!”

The minister downed a big gulp and passed the bottle of Jack Daniels. Marcu chimed in shiveringly:

“The water will wake us up” (they had drunk the night before as well), “it will get some sense back into us.”

They started their way down, one by one. The earth was yellowish and crumbly.

“I think I’ll just go down,” the minister mumbled and then jumped.

The water was surprisingly warm.

“Right you are!”

And Marcu jumped too. The child passed the bag on to his dad and cursed in his head. He was not allowed to jump.

“You, minister, you take the povârșog[1]. Just like in the old times” – and a smile softened the look on his face. “You stick it right here, under the willow.”

Darius had already stuck his arms in the slimy mud of the bank and winked wickedly. The minister did as he was told.

“You,” he turned towards the child, “go to the left and don’t let anything get past you. And, you know, stamp your feet and shake your legs.”

“Spook ‘em,” the kid said.

The others had encircled a little island, and put their arms all the way to their shoulders underneath it.

“It’s a hole, a barbell’s hole I think”.

Adiță swallowed some water and spat it out frowning.

“Here goes!”

And he pulled out a chub about as big as his palm. The nail of his finger was full of blood. The kid took a picture.

“Here! Take it!”

And he threw the fish in the bag, among the beer tins.

“You flattened it out,” Marcu told him off smilingly, “you smashed it. Watch out, I’m sending one your way. I grabbed it only by the tail.”

“Oh-ugh…”

The second chub was way bigger. Adiță grabbed it from underneath. He poked his nails straight into its gills. The fish had got caught in a tangle of roots.

“Got it… Let it go now, leave it!”

“Are you sure it’s pretty, mate?”

“What do you think?”

Marcu lay back in the murky water and stretched out his arms. Adiță was trying to squash the head of the fish. He wasn’t pressing anymore but downright slamming it against the rotting wood. He was the thickest chainsaw worker in the village. His nails were square. Finally he managed to almost close the fist. His fingers almost touched inside the fish.

“Fuck you!”

And he pulled as hard as he could. The chub surfaced. Its head was bobbing. Its belly was all white. The child grabbed it shivering and tossed it on top of the tins. The minister lifted the povârșog slowly. It’s true that he had felt some faint movement at his feet. A murky sensation. The fish seemed liquid too. He wasn’t expecting to find anything in the fat net. The slow, agonising movement prolonged the suspense. However, a purple barbell was thrashing in the charcoal net.

“Would you believe it?” he said nodding as if in a cabinet meeting.

Darius: “A barbell?”

Adiță: “A beauty, and that’s the truth! I’ll trade you two chubs for it at the end.”

The belly of barbells was even whiter. He’d been obsessed with this species ever since he was a little boy. Their neighbour on the right, the one beyond the stone wall, always caught them like crazy. He would prepare his bait the night before – worms, and he would rake through the manure. He never kept them – and the minister learned that too – in match boxes or cartons, but in little jars of various kinds which, like in a hostel room, he would line up on a window sill. He would always put some soil though, at least a little, at the bottom.

They were going upstream, through rapids. The banks bellied out.

“Here,” Marcu frowned and dashed towards the dry bush growing on the bend. “Here is where I caught one that weighed a kilo. I don’t even know when. A year ago perhaps. Come on, Darius, hold my feet because I need to go under the bank all the way to my knees. You pull me out when I hit, when I flap my left foot three times, ok?!”

A remote cousin of his had died a wee bit farther down the river. The first Saturday of his holiday. Perpelea, his mate, took him out of the hollow like a stick. He’d felt the guy’s ankles getting thinner. As old hags would say, his heart had burst in him; went pop, like a plastic bag. He was thirty-six. Perpelea had put him on his back and then dumped him on a wet strip of sand. He’d been leery to “kiss” him even there, in the wilderness, to do what he’d seen in Baywatch, mouth to mouth. They both had moustaches and ponytails. He had pounded him as hard as he could in the heart area, trying, as he’d later state to the head of the police station, to “resuscitate” him. The skin of the corpse had started to dry.

Darius: “You won’t catch anything else here even if…

“Go ahead, minister,” Marcu barked, “stick the povârșog. Better still, give it to me.”

The minister threw it over with enviable precision. The net – it was finely meshed – swelled. Marcu grabbed the tool with one hand and jammed it in the mud, immediately behind the bush. He started to shake it hard, to stomp his feet.

“Ugh-ugh!”

He howled like Tarzan and, in about ten seconds, he pulled out the net. It was crawling with lăcișci. Small, bitter fish, which, as different from loach, couldn’t even be used as bait.

“Small change, so to speak!”

He threw the fishies up. As high as he could. Their fins were coloured. The child tried to catch a few of them in/ with his raffia bag. He liked them: they were wide and playful. Every now and then they would bite a worm or a maggot. However peaceful they may have seemed or been, they had to go hap every now and then, to open their little mouths and tear.

“There!” (And Marcu threw the povârșog back). “Come on, Darius, just great, we chased the big fish, we sent it deeper.”

He sat cross-legged in the water, and then disappeared. In less the two seconds, though, the soles of his feet surfaced. The heels were cracked, copper-coloured. Darius grabbed his ankles and pushed him in.

“He’ll be ok for half a minute, no worries.”

The child took the mobile out and started the timer. Marcu’ soles disappeared too.

Adiță: “He’s not afraid, this is what I like about him. God forgive me, but I think he wants to die underwater, like his cousin.”

Five feet in, maybe more, under the bank, Marcu opened his eyes for a split second. The fish slapped him straight in the forehead. He snatched it, caught it as if it were a fly. Instinctively somehow. And then he plunged his teeth into its back. The creature writhed and arched. The hollow curved. He tried to stick his claw out again, to the very end, but Darius decided to pull him out.

“Like a woman he spread his legs, he did …”

The child snapped pictures of the hands coming out of the water one by one.

“Fuck, he caught nothing!”

But Marcu turned suddenly, as if trying to frighten his mates. Something that looked like poop, but darker, was leaking out of the fish’s anus.

“Twenty seconds you were under,” the little boy burst out, “daddy, watch this.”

 

 

 

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[1]      An oval-shaped, net scoop for catching fish.

 

 

(A novel fragment translated by Dana Crăciun)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BIO

 

Tudor Crețu (b.1980), writer, manager of the „Sorin Titel” Timiș County Library. He writes prose, poetry, literary criticism. He organises cultural events: the International Festival LitVest (six editions so far), the Phototeque of the County Library, StudioText (video-criticism), etc. POETRY: Dantelăriile Adelei [Adela’s Lacery], Mirton, 2001; Obiectele oranj [The Orange Objects], Vinea, 2005.  Fragmente continue. Poeme live [Continuous Fragments. Live Poems], Printpress, 2014. The Poetry Book of the Year award of the Romanian Writers` Union, the Banat branch. studio live, an anthology, Printpress, 2015. FICTION: Omul negru [The Bogeyman], Cartea românească, 2008. Casete martor [Witness Tapes], Tracus Arte, 2013. The book earned the author a nomination as the Young Prose Writer of the Year, at the Romanian Young Authors` Gala and the Ioan Slavici Prize, awarded by the Romanian Writers` Union, the Banat branch. S…(Casete martor II) [S… Witness Tapes II], Tracus Arte, 2015. CRITICISM: Developări literare [Literary Developments], Editura Universității de Vest, 2010. DIARIES: Jurnal fantasmatic [Phantom Diary], Paralela 45, 2016.

 

 

 

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BIO Dana Crăciun

 

 

 

Dana Crăciun is a senior lecturer in the English Department of the Faculty of Letters, History, and Theology, at the West University Timișoara.

Translations from English into Romanian:

 

Rushdie, Salman. 2017. Casa Golden. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Jacobson, Howard. 2016. Shylock este numele meu. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. București: Humanitas.

Steinbeck, John. 2016. Poneiul roșu. Traducere de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Rushie, Salman. 2015. Doi ani, opt luni și douăzeci și opt de nopți. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Walter, Jess. 2014. Frumoasele ruine. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

McEwan, Ian. 2013. Visătorul. Traducere de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Steinbeck, John. 2013. Șoareci și oameni. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Rushdie, Salman. 2013. Surîsul jaguarului. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Rushdie, Salman. 2012. Joseph Anton: Memorii. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Sparks, Muriel. 2011. Serafimul şi Zambezi. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. București: Vellant.

Eugenides, Jeffrey. 2011. Intriga matrimonială. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Rushdie, Salman. 2010. Luka și Focul vieții. Traducere de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Rushdie, Salman. 2009. Seducătoarea din Florența. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Rushdie, Salman. 2007. Versetele satanice. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Carey, Peter. 2007. Furtul. O poveste de iubire. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. București: Humanitas.

Rushdie, Salman. 2006. Shalimar clovnul. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Rushdie, Salman. 2005. Orient, Occident. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Amis, Martin. 2005. Săgeata timpului. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Auster, Paul. 2004. Cartea iluziilor. Traducere și note de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Rushdie, Salman. 2003. Harun și Marea de Povești. Traducere de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

Rushdie, Salman. 2002. Ultimul suspin al Maurului. Traducere, note și postfață de Dana Crăciun. Iași: Polirom.

 

Translations from Romanian into English:

Excerpts from Mircea Eliade, Mihail Sebastian, Tudor Arghezi, Jean Bart, Panait Istrati, Emil Cioran, I.L. Caragiale.

 

 

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