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Said to say...

Jindrich Sidlo

Columnist

Zeman has power and knows how to use it: offer some of it to his allies and kick his enemies to the ground. He knows nothing else.

Turning Japanese

Simona slams the neon colored drink on the bench and frowns.

notes from prague six"This tastes like chemicals, Mishi. You finish it."

She's been calling me Mishi since I declared myself Japanese an hour ago.

"Your whole body is made of chemicals." Which is true. She flicks a cup onto the floor and folds her arms high on her flat chest. "Gonna be thirsty on the bus. Plus this has Vitamin C."

I take a swig from the triangular puncture on the can, making a sucking sound. "It is so f*ck-eeng hot today." And she removes her t-shirt, showing two large moles and two little prison tattoos. They are dark blue and without definition, as if a tiny truck was dripping oil across her belly.

"People will see."

"I don't care. It's hot." She fans herself with our oversized Greyhound bus tickets.

"The earth is warming so fast now, milacku. This is nothing. In a couple of years the average night temperature in Dallas will hit 110."

"In centigrade, Captain America."

"I told you, I'm Japanese now. It's over 40 degrees, around 43."

She makes a whistling sound through those thick lips, the greatest lips in history, ever, and grabs the radioactive looking juice.

"So we won't go to Dallas. Or Phoenix."

"We might. They'll be air-conditioning galore, king's-quality klimatizace, and swimming pools. State-funded emerald swimming pools for everyone. The future is grand."

She spits a wad of tight green saliva hard onto the floor. The manners on this one. "That's not considered polite here slecno, this ain't Ostrava."

"I wish it were. I'm bored of this country. Let's just go back."

"No. I heard the latest on the floods, they'll be rationing tomatoes by October."

Simona is always upset by the floods. Her mother and sisters have been trapped in the country since the Brussels Council closed the roads and activated the gate, something they call Operation Invisible Hands.

"The floods keep getting worse. Everything is so f*cked up," she says, throwing her head back, which pushes her nipples out slightly. An old black man across the room stares.

"Do you want a candy bar? The machine has everything. Mentos, gummy worms."

"I would vomit."

"Yeah. Me too." I take a warm drink from the can and open the backpack for our cheese sandwiches. They have melted together, are dripping. It smells awful. I throw the bag into the trashcan next to us but the smell stays. An ambiguous steaming organic soggy rot.

"Not with a bang or a whimper, neither fire nor ice. But with a sog."

"What?"

"Poems. Dipsh*ts guessing how the world will end. They were all wrong." I think back to stepping in mud puddles on the way to school. That squishy itch lasted all day. Water vapor collecting daily in the atmosphere. The endless Amazonian rains. The Unbearable Sogginess of Being. Maybe it will save us from the bombs, the way firecrackers don't work when dropped in wet moss.

"Why did you throw away the sandwiches?"

"They were gross."

"You're still so American sometimes. Sorry - Japanese."

I lean over and kiss that lovely mouth. Her bad breath and devil tongue making me hard before her hands can reach my belt.

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