Last night I saw Vinko go to the bathroom but didn't hear the toilet flushing. In the morning I went in and saw a puddle of urine in the toilet bowl. The colour was too yellow like that swamp in Dagobah. He should have drunk more water, or maybe he was taking vitamin C? That could be the cause, but that's not the point. Vinko deliberately didn't flush it to assert his dominance in the dynamics of our relationship. To prove to me that he was the alpha and that he was spraying to mark his territory. I didn’t fucking care about him being the alpha or beta, for all he knew I was a pure omega, omegalomaniac to be precise. But I didn’t want to take his insult lightly. So I confronted him about the piss, and when I did that, he said that he was just saving water and that I was going overboard with it. He didn't want to make a noise in the middle of the night knowing that I was a light sleeper. He said that all casually and that he didn’t give a shit about alpha-omega stuff. I said it was all bull. I knew what he wanted. He wanted me to smell his pee. Wanted me to see how deep yellow it was.
"If you have a problem with that, you can just flush it," he said. He was still in bed and I was standing with hands-on-hips.
"No, no. That way you’re gonna achieve your real goal,” I said with a mad head gesture.
“What’s my real goal?” he asked.
“To make me a subordinate who cleans your dirt,” I said coldly.
He let out a brief but vicious chuckle and buried himself back in the blanket.
I didn't go to school the day after I tore my knee. I couldn’t move my feet. Good that mum was not the type of a parent to force her child to do something. She kissed my head then said that’s okay if I didn't want to go to school, going to school wasn't the most important thing unless I thought so, but I shouldn't be roaming around outside the house. I asked her how could I run wild with this limp? She said she knew that I could. And then she left for work. She was right, though.
There came a knock on the door at midday. I found Vinko with my backpack in his hand. The bag that I had left in class yesterday. I snatched it and thanked him without smiling but he entered the house without permission then sat down on the couch and started watching television with me. He was such a bully.
After a while, he asked me if I wanted to play house again? I nodded. And since I couldn’t walk, I told him to be the mum and today it would be her job to cook. Just like yesterday. He didn't protest much and went into the kitchen right away. My real mum rarely cooked lunch, or breakfast. She gave me some money to eat out most of the time when she remembered. Mum didn’t really like to cook because she knew her cooking wasn’t very good. But she always shopped for the things she found in the supermarket or the travelling greengrocer with the idea that she would cook them someday. Within days vegetables usually wilted and rotted beyond help and mum would resignedly sigh and complain how fragile these vegetables were. Then she would end up buying some ready to eat food from the nearby stall.
Vinko cooked the spinach that my mum bought yesterday. I didn’t know how he did it. He was also busy frying some eggs, and not long after he called me to come. Lunch was ready. I didn't want to go to the kitchen because my leg hurt too much, so he brought it in front of the television. His cooking was never bad.
Vinko told me to wash the dishes when we were done eating. Wanting to do my share, even though my knee hurt, I went to the sink and started doing it. Sometime later while drying the cutlery, I dropped a plate. I couldn’t bend my knee, so Vinko cleaned it up. The rest of the day we spent watching television.
It was when I checked my bag to see if anything was missing that my mum came home. Her eyes widened with pleasure again when she found Vinko.
“Oh good, you came to see Theo?” asked mum.
Vinko shook his head.
"He just came to hand back my bag," I said.
“That's also very generous of you." Mum sat on the sofa with us and took off her shoes. "Vinko, you can come here every day.”
Vinko shook his head. What did mum think? Vinko has a gang member. He would rather spend his time with those gangsters than with me.
“You can teach Theo maths or help him with his homework for example. He's not as smart as you."
"Mum!" I yelled.
She threw that “What?-It’s-true”-look, at me.
“Think of it as private lessons. Would you like to help? Then I can pay you,” she added.
"Mum..." I groaned. I didn’t like studying.
Mum shushed me she wasn't done yet. "How about it?" she asked Vinko.
Vinko nodded. Odd. Maybe because he was going to be paid.
I got to know Vinko better after that. Even though he wasn't a stranger to me even before that day.
A few days later I could finally have gone back to school but those days were filled with Vinko’s presence. He learned what was taught in my class, then taught it back to me. I really didn't care about that. It was obvious he was smart, and it was annoying because he didn’t try to shove it down my throat. He was just silently clever without being a smartarse. But I didn’t really care about someone else’s braininess. I was not jealous of that kind of gift. It's just that he was bugging me now that I had to study. Studying makes me sick. Once, when I got really stressed, I chucked my notebook across the room. This was because Vinko was forcing me to solve a knotty math problem. The book flew over the TV and Vinko pinched my ear and it made me throw an even bigger tantrum.
"Your mother paid me, so you have to study, don't waste her money," he said flatly.
I didn’t want to look at him. I called him a vicious snake because he used my mum to whip me. In the end, I did as he said though. I mean, he was actually right, he was smart enough to know how to guilt trip me. He must have known I liked my mum.
One of the reasons why Vinko allowed me to stay in his room was - apart from the past that I have told you a bit about and will tell you more later - his interest in my personality. Or so I thought. I knew he was impressed with me. This sounds over-confident, but it seems to be true. I mean, like, right? this is me we are talking about. I have Dorus as a nickname and that’s unusual. Vinko must thought I was a freak and a gonzo. For sure he wanted to know me, right? Maybe he had his reasons. Though I honestly wasn’t really interested to entertain his desire. I mean, I wanted to just keep him curious and let him find out about me piecemeal, over time. I wanted to get to know this new him as well, but not get too close. It was best to get not too close, because we didn’t know when we would be apart from each other again.
"Vinko, I'm hungry," I said.
For a while he didn’t say anything. I had accused him of marking his territory with his urine in the morning, and now he just stared at his computer screens. One screen showed moving candle-like graphs, other was lines. So many lines, and ever-changing numbers, and in neon colours. On his tablet were several group chats, at which he typed furiously now and then. We hadn't talked about each other's work yet. I couldn’t pretend that I was interested in knowing what he was doing because I thought it was quite complicated, analytical and looked boring. But as for me, if you want to know, I started off being an online motorcycle taxi driver right after I graduated from high school. I used the motorbike mum bought me for school. I did it for a while, the job I mean, maybe a year. It was the trend back then. Easy job, everyone was doing it, and the pay was good. Only I wasn’t comfortable with the people I was transporting and finally I switched to choosing to be a food courier for the same company. It was easier to take orders and deliver food than picking up and delivering humans. Humans were heavy. I spent three years grilling the back of my neck, waiting in line at restaurants during lunch and dinner hours, sometimes in the rain when orders came in and before the thunderstorm hit. But what sucked was that sometimes impatient customers gave me bad ratings. These people didn’t understand that some parts of the city were always clogged. I worked in that field until my mum got sick and I had to sell my motorbike.
“Vinko, you ever had a really deep sleep, it’s good that you thought you’d slept for hours and when you looked at your cheap wristwatch it was only fifteen minutes since last you looked at it. And then you would take a melatonin gummy and a caffeinated paracetamol and wash it down with a shot of vodka, and instead of sleeping you got angry, and you weren’t sure if that was your true self or something else that was going round in your mind as you thought about certain times, and how boring it all was so you wanted to make other people’s lives more interesting, so you said, "Open your mouth for a surprise and I will give you a taste that you've never known before,” but there was no one else there so perhaps you thought about ending it all or was the whole thing just imagination? So, it's two a.m. and you take your motorbike and drive round the neighbourhood in silence, hoping someone would mug you so at least it would get your heart going, but the city is asleep. You say woo-wee-woo-wee while listening to Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now through your earphones. She's wrong, because there are many sides to everything, not only two. And it’s started to rain so hard you swear your motorbike took off and you took shelter under a tree, thinking that you're not really a bad person though not a very good one either, but at least you're always honest. But the rain stops suddenly and took the melancholy with it, so you continue motorbiking but now you're crying, thinking about something that's very wrong about you, and you’ve got no a clue but you just know it’s true. And the sky gets light and finally you're back at your room and you say to the mirror, “You're fluorescent but very ugly.”
“What? What did you just say?” Vinko looked up from his screens.
“What? Nothing.” I said.
I checked the cabinets in the kitchenette but found nothing. I was still hungry.
"I have no money," I said miserably. I waited for him to pick up the wallet, but he was still watching his goddamn screen as if he didn’t want to miss a beat. I waited patiently. Sure enough, after five minutes had passed, he clicked and clicked and he looked a bit relieved. “Needed to take some profit first,” he said. He got up from his seat and led me out of the room.
“Are we eating now?” I asked.
“Whatever you want.”
"Let's go to the American embassy," I said.
Then I explained that many people in Germany called McDonald's the ‘American embassy’. To make fun of the Americans who flew all the way from their home to Germany just to eat at that fast food restaurant instead trying the local cuisine. What was actually funny was the fact that McDonald's in Austria does work with the American embassy, and people can actually go to the restaurant to contact the embassy.
"Nonsense," said Vincent.
"Why don’t you believe me?" I asked back. I am not a liar.
"You've never been to Germany," he said.
"And now you're skinny," I said.
"I've never been fat," he said.
“That's what you think.”
“You just want to piss me off.”
“That's because I'm hungry.”
There was a Mc Donald’s outlet nearby, and Vinko let me order anything I wanted. I gobbled down three large french fries because that’s the best part of a Mc Donald’s. I mean, you go to a McD, all you need is to get its french fries and some chicken nuggets, some tomato ketchup, and forget about everything else. It was the best. Your life’s complete. Perhaps Vinko could tell that I’d never had that much food before and he just watched me and offered me his own food.
NOTE: This is an excerpt from novel Fellow Freaks (unpublished)
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