01. 20. 2009. 10:33

Boredom (two short stories)

Frigyes Karinthy

"In the beginning, there was Boredom. And thus sayeth the Lord: Let there be Amusement, for I’m beginning to doze off. And He came up with the idea of a bunch of little globes; He knocked them together for a while, back and forth. He entertained Himself that way for six days. On the sixth day He gave a great big yawn, and almost fell asleep again. And then, quickly, He came up with the idea of the human being."

Boredom
 
We meet on a Sunday afternoon.
 
Perhaps the poison was mixed into my coffee, or rolled into my cigarette. I light one up and charge out into the street. And then I can feel it clamoring in my brain. Who among you knows it?
 
It all began with a great feeling of wonder. I recall that in the morning I sang very loudly; then, I was moved by strong passions – I cried over a letter, I thought of my beloved, I yearned to shoot myself with a huge furious pistol, but such that the gun would explode, lightning would crack, and the very heavens would come thundering down. Nirvana, the murmuring of black wings, silent burials, moonlight, revenge, death. A black angel on a cross. Mysterium. Ding an Sich. Resurrection. Eternity.
 
So what happened that morning? I myself don’t understand a word of it. And surely not one word out of the entire thing is even true. So many people, they come and go, come and go. On Sunday afternoons they slink out of their holes – the ill-scented grubs and slugs of labor, as if they actually deserve to be alive, as if only they deserved it. They go to the City Park to swing on the swings. They speak so loudly: here we are, they say, we’re the only ones here! I don’t understand it, don’t, don’t, don’t understand it at all. I don’t understand what they are doing.
 
I would like to ask someone: what exactly is the point of this throng? This man coming into view – why doesn’t he go in the opposite direction, if it’s all one and the same? For to me it is all one and the same. And why do the horses stand next to each other with such self-importance; and why are the trams so pompous, clanging their bells so loudly? Everyone hurries along with such self-assurance, they come, they go – as if they were preparing for something big. But, I ask you, for what? I know perfectly well it is for nothing – I have seen these goings-on for years and nothing has ever come of them. What is so important about it all?
 
Hands, legs, and arms are important for the human animal. And it is true – already in elementary school I learned that one has a hand, for one to work with, an eye, for one to see with, and a mouth, for one to eat with. For each part of the body, therefore, there is a function. But what then is the function of the entire human being? There is none. But of course, you say, the person exists for the sake of society. And what is the good of society? Ha! – that’s how it is.
Still, it is curious: this morning, I still understood these things. Yes, yes, I still remember. In the morning I said: Infinity. The Void. I know, I know, it’s very far – even farther than far. Good – I believe, and I understand, but does it mean anything? In the morning it still meant something, because it interested and excited me. If it didn’t interest me, I would have fallen asleep. They would fall asleep too, if they realized there is hardly any point to all of this bustle and hurry. We’re not sleepy, though – this is what they would say – because we’re going to the Park, to have a good time, swing on the swings, shoot into the targets, we won’t be bored!
 
Hmm. And so what do I do, when I’m not bored? I can remember only dimly, as it were across a fog. Yes, yes, of course – books, ideas, tears, laughter, transports of emotion, I think of my beloved, I want to die, by plunging through thunderous clouds into the depths – and I say: Infinity. Yes, of course. That is how I amused myself, that’s why I wasn’t bored before now.
 
For me, it’s exactly the same as the swing or the shooting target to them. But is that all there is to the world? Let’s see.
 
In the beginning, there was Boredom. And thus sayeth the Lord: Let there be Amusement, for I’m beginning to doze off. And He came up with the idea of a bunch of little globes; He knocked them together for a while, back and forth. He entertained Himself that way for six days. On the sixth day He gave a great big yawn, and almost fell asleep again. And then, quickly, He came up with the idea of the human being.
 
The human being gave a great big yawn, and almost fell asleep. He came up with the idea of a God: he swung on this God and shot into the target in the City Park with Him for six thousand years. And I too was amongst them, and I was bored. I came up with the idea of Truth, Life, Death, just to stay awake. I came up with the thought of a lover, tears and wrenching torment, just to stay awake. Don’t you remember? In the morning I wept, and I beat my head against the floor.
 
But surely, all this was merely a game: it could not have been serious, for it has passed. The only absolute and true state would then be that of Boredom. Horror.
 
Horror. Which allows me to feel nothing. All of this is very true, very illustrious: for my entire life, I have done battle against boredom. Fine, fine, very nice. But am I to explain this to them? I would have to write a philosophical treatise, or describe it in verse. I turn back to the Boulevard, and a verse comes to mind, one written by a friend, in which he calls himself a trumpet.
 
But surely that is not true: a man cannot be a trumpet. And do I like the verse? Well, of course it amused me: a man is a trumpet.
 
No, no, this is unbearable. Everyone talking so loudly. I cross to the other side. I’m not interested, not interested. What to do? They are all donkeys, it’s obvious, brain matter with nothing inscribed on it. So why is that man looking at me? Just look, here he comes – an acquaintance.
 
Wants to know how I am doing. Well, thank you. Lost everything yesterday. Thank you, very well. Well, well, well. Ding-dong-dell. Want me to say that a few more times? I can, you know. I seem a little odd? But of course I am. You asked me how I am, clearly the matter is of interest to you. Please, look at that building over there. You see, there on the first floor, a passionate man is biting into my lover’s left ear in a blind amorous transport? Thank you, I am well, I think my leg is becoming gangrenous, there is a large tumor growing on it. Excuse me, but you asked how I was. Listen to the end, if you are interested. You see, it’s not interesting to me, but it does seem to be important to you. And you should know my gut really hurts – I just noticed it. Would you like to learn more, or have you found some other amusement? I am of course, your humble servant.
 
Unbearable. Why is he smiling? It is clear now – there really is no point to that face.
 
My beloved wrote a letter. I ask you to contemplate that fact. Why should I? I would do so very gladly, though, if you wanted me to. What am I to do?
That person, that person, what does he want? Walking towards me and smiling. Of course I know him. I cross over; it’s horrible, he’s going to talk to me.
 
All in vain – the person approaches. With the walk of someone who has an important affair to settle. He looks at me, greets me, turns, smiles, stops. And I stop. We look at each other.
 
What do you want? What am I doing? Is that what you stopped me for? Could you please tell me what you want? You stopped me here, so could you please tell me – do you have anything to say? What are you looking at? You stopped me, so tell me – why did you stop me?
 
I scream at the top of my lungs:
– What do you want? Why did you stop me?
 
He looks at me and smirks. Just like that, he says. For no reason in particular? Just like that! You just stopped me, and you don’t even know why?
 
I box him on the ears so hard that he falls down. I trample and tread upon his insides, I stamp him into the sidewalk so that, like a rotten apricot, only a smudge remains.
 
I go on.
 
And now what? Can anything interesting ever come back? Yes, I remember. I used to say: Death – and feel gripped by shudders of curiosity. Infinity, I would say. But it isn’t true, and Death isn’t true. I just invented it as a defense against Boredom: a clattering plaything, festooned with all sorts of ribbons, bearing the words Annihilation, Peace, Infinity, Eternal Life. Only these words I never used: Nothingness and Boredom. What particular meaning do the words Hungarian Discount and Exchange Bank have? They mean exactly the same thing as Infinity.
 
A morgue-cart draws up alongside me, a black-lacquered, unwieldy vessel. Hey driver – stop, I’m tired, my set of toys – Ideas – has fallen out of my hands. I open the back door; a draught of chill air strikes my face. I climb into the upper compartment. I push aside two corpses, make some room for myself, give a good long yawn, close my eyes, and stretch out until I hear the rattling of my bones. You may go now.
 

It’s Snowing

I woke up at about seven in the morning, and went down into the street. A breeze was blowing in from the river. It was starting to snow, in tiny stinging flakes – I held my arm out stiffly, and haphazardly they came crashing down into my palm, freezing over into a thin knotty layer. A fine white film clouded over the bones of my wrists. I shook it off and headed toward the alley.
 
-- The first snowfall – a short man standing next to me addressed a companion. He was flaccid, light-haired; his lower lip jutted out aggressively, and he spoke with an air of self-importance: explaining a question or a thought, insisting on the significance of what he was trying to explain. As he walked in front of me, my shadow covered his entire body: when it touched his face, his skull – with its hollow eye-sockets, crushed-in nose, and musty stitches below – flared up in a flash of yellow and grinning illumination.
 
I yawned, hugely, creakingly: this was not good. I liked the snow, beautiful clean white snow: I had an amusing little chat with the snow. I lit up a cigarette, and held the blue glowing embers up to the snow. Once again, I had no idea where I was going. I pressed my hands into the space between two of my ribs as I spoke to the breeze, because just then it came to me, crooning and whispering. Are you listening to me, breeze; where are you rushing off to? Let’s sit down for some clever talk, I’m bored. But the breeze didn’t answer: it brought me the perfume of the Actress, whispering it furiously into my ear, flicking it against my face, prancing. You’re an idiot, I said, what do you want from this mug of mine? So go already – nothing good will come of this. I don’t need that scent – you can take it away. I’m bored, I’d like a clever chat with someone: I’d like to explain to someone that you shouldn’t run like that – where the devil could you be off to – sit down, lie down, and I won’t hold it against you: be reasonable. Later on I too will curl up, I’ll lie down next to her, and we’ll smooth out everything. But now you’re so full of exuberance you’re boring me, you’re mean to me, scurrying back and forth – you’re bruising everything within me.
 
I turned up my collar, and as I slowly made my way across the square, shivering, in a terrible mood, I repeated again and again, as the snowflakes slammed into my eyesockets and whirled around in the emptiness of my head: I’m bored, I’m bored. At the edge of the pavement stood an old nag, with twisted frozen legs, hitched up to a fiacre. I was delighted to see this; I began to speak to the creature, and it looked at me with its green horse-eyes. You see, I explained to it, today I have spoken to a fly and a sparrow: these were clever, rational creatures – all things considered, the most intelligent – the sparrow immediately nodded with approval, turned away from the tree, and sweetly and obediently stretched out its legs – the fly didn’t even jump so much, he grinned and tumbled into my palm. Don’t you see that it’s snowing? It must be really disgusting when it starts to trickle down that thin chest of yours.
 
Get on there, said the driver, and the horse creaked against the harness. He broke into a trot, but I strengthened my resolve: I began to run alongside him, and kept on speaking to the horse. So, you can even run. You’re hauling some flowers, an enormous bouquet, to the Theatre: because tonight is the premiere, and the Actress will be performing. That’s how it is. Is it the thrashing that makes you run like that? – aren’t you ashamed of yourself? What are you harmonizing with those whistling lungs of yours? What notes are you quavering on those four thin hoofed sticks? So come now, come here and lie down nicely. Whoa, you, whoa.
 
The horse kept trotting on in his stiff petrified manner. Get along there, said the driver, flogging him, but the horse wanted to run alongside me. Whoa, I said, whoa, you doltish beast. I stepped in front of him, tripping him; he fell down onto his knees, and then, whinnying, stretched out on the ground. Everyone stood around watching: he would not quiet down, and kept on kicking his legs. I struggled with him, rolling with him on the ground, crying tears of rage that he wouldn’t stop. At last I pressed my fist into his throat, and he finally was silent.
I left the crowd and slowly, peacefully, made my way along the boulevard. A fog was rising, and the streetlights shone in the fog like lustrous spheres; inside, the same pale light shivered against the far wall of my skull. It was half-past six; I was bored, and I peeked in curiously at the gate. A yellow shuddering library-geek caught sight of me, looked into my face, and recognized me: he slunk after me for a while, muttering something about a bouquet of flowers, about an indentation, the theatre, but I didn’t turn around – he bored me. I turned into a side street and sat down in a pub. A fight broke out – drunkards thrust knives into each other’s bodies. I stepped in and calmed down the loudest one, placing my hand on his shoulder (although I rarely try to reason with human beings any more, for a long time now they haven’t understood a word I’ve said) and spoke decisively: Enough. I want silence, it’s snowing.
 
Light fell from the boulevard’s café-windows in cold icy drifts. I bent down and examined the snow in this light: it had risen to two centimeters. By now it was a beautiful, soft, undulating cover: the flakes were falling thickly, disappearing with even greater softness into this blanket. I nodded with satisfaction and stepped back: an old man had come into view; wheezing like a banker, puffing arrogantly with his protruding stomach. A finger-thick gold chain hung on his belly, and his eyes were small and jellied from old age. He was carrying jewels, and his thick lips kept gasping out the name of the Actress. I had to call out to him three times before he noticed. He stood still and looked at me with a blank idiotic stare.
 
-- What do you want? – he asked.
 
-- Nothing, I said, and knocked the snow off the edge of my cigarette. – It’s snowing. Go home and lie down.
 
-- What do you want? – he stammered, his face turning the colour of whey, his fingers splayed apart. I put my hand on his shoulder.
 
-- Nothing. Don’t you understand? It’s snowing. You have already eaten quite a lot, Mr. Director: that will be enough, Sir. You are not a lovely sight in this beautiful white snow. Go home and lie down. Understand?
 
I left him. He was leaning up against the wall, and his head, collapsed onto his lapel, stared after me, fixed and petrified; his slackened mouth was still flapping open, as if he wanted to ask me something. After a minute, when I turned around, I saw two swindling cabmen helping him into a fiacre.
 
I went into the club and chatted with a couple of politicians. There was a big game going on in the back room: I played banker, and held all the stakes. There weren’t that many people there, because it was opening night at the Theatre – even here they were talking about it. At first we played for almost nothing; then, I hit nine for the thirteenth time and the stakes grew to twenty thousand. I threw the cards out with broad gestures: now, the pointeurs were winning. They took the bank thirteen times. I took the tiny shovel from the croupier’s hand and pulled everything towards me. A tall mass of yellow, blue, and red jetons all huddled into one pile, packed in with gold coins and dangling blue banknotes. A few pieces of scarlet meat quickly appeared in the middle of the steaming entangled pile, a couple of leaden balls rolled across the table. I pulled it all in. The heat was stifling; sweat glistened on the faces around me.
 
-- All bets accepted! I cried out. – I will also take years of your life as payment. Double or nothing. Is there no one else? Nine to the bank!
 
A few people turned away from the table. A gust of wind suddenly crashed into a mirrored window above; then it rushed across the table and extinguished the chandelier. White slips of paper churned up from the green felt, and drifted fluttering across the floor. I pulled everything towards me, stood up, and motioned for the valet to come over.
 
-- Is it still snowing?
 
-- Yes, milord.
 
Shivering, he moved back. In front of the gate, the snow now stood a quarter of a meter high.
 
-- Everything is in order. I turned up the collar of my fur coat, stepped over the gamblers strewn across the ground, and slowly made my way down the steps. I found the young politician at the bottom of the stairs, by the gate: he had no coat on, and with his hair completely disheveled, was scurrying back and forth madly, and calling for a carriage. The snow, falling in fist-sized flakes, made a hissing, whizzing music in the coal-black night.
 
-- Where are you headed? – I asked him.
 
-- I’ve got to get to the casino – he sputtered giddily. I’ve never seen a snowfall like this, not in my entire life. I can’t get a cab. I’ve lost everything.
 
-- Come on, I’ll take you in a sleigh.
 
A black, honking droshky-sleigh suddenly spun round and pulled up; we got in. In the dark yellow streetlights, it strained to move in the snow, its horn complaining and moaning. The heavy bone wheels scraped against each other. I was feeling just fine.
 
The young politician was jabbering on:
 
-- I don’t even know how much time I have left. I’ve lost everything. You know, it was double or nothing. First my twenty thousand went, then I racked up ten years – yes, that too. But it’s no problem, I can still do something. I’m going to the casino now, I can still scrape together ten thousand, with that I’ll hold the bank, I’ll win back everything. Just don’t think, though, that I’m in despair over this.
 
As he spoke, he kept thrashing about with his hands; his entire body shook with cold.
 
-- It’s laughable, of course I’ll can pull together such a tiny sum. The wretched thing is that I forgot my coat back there in the club. But it’s no problem, tonight the play opens, and tomorrow afternoon I’ll go over to the Actress’s place, to her salon draped in yellow silk, it’s lovely and warm there. I’ll kiss that little dimple on her mouth, the one that’s drawn upward when she smiles at me scornfully, curling her lips. Because it’s as good as done already. I just have to get that tiny bit of money. I’ll kiss the bend of her knee on the inside. It’s always so warm there when she slowly draws up her leg. But of course, yes, I have to get that money. I have to kiss her, only that remains, it’s ridiculous. What torturous ecstasy shall be mine tomorrow.
 
A palm-sized fist of snow crashed into me, whistling. I squeezed it between my hands, and then pressed it up against his hot trembling mouth.
 
-- Kiss this.
 
The droshky soundlessly weaved through the labyrinth of back alleyways. We raced into a tunnel, wavering from side to side. On the embankment of the opposite side of the river stood houses with fallen roofs; we rushed in through their empty gates, across their empty and roofless rooms, where the snow stood one meter high.
 
-- Kiss this -- I said to him. – Isn’t it whiter, isn’t it smoother than that skin?
 
And with the hoarse rattle of those empty resounding rooms, I spoke to him.
 
-- It is truly beautiful and white. Dear white snow, so supple and yielding. It is always growing higher and higher, it smoothes everything out. Isn’t it better than that oppressive mouth of yours? But how good it will be to forget, how good it will be for you to forget that knot in your heart, and the knot in the yellow room, how good that will be.
 
But he was choking, wildly struggling, blowing out the snow which I kept stuffing into his mouth. He cursed, and gasped out that he understood everything now: that I was in love with the Actress, that I wanted to go there tomorrow, and that was why I had lured him into the droshky, to kill him. Then he quieted down, and completely forgot that ridiculous accusation – the corners of his mouth turned down, and he looked at me with a shame-faced smile – and I said to him pityingly --- “if it wouldn’t be better just to forget about all this?”
 
The snow had now risen another foot. I accompanied the ambulance all the way to the clinic: I walked through the corridors and stepped into the operating room. On one of the tables there lay the shivering library-geek I’d run into just half an hour before. The bullet had entered the roof of his mouth, and now they were holding it open with metal pins so that they could extract it – he was fully conscious, as in his weakened, malnourished state he could not have borne the chloroform. Two assistants held his head: the professor worked on the lacerated mouth in silence. I stepped over to the table. When his turned-up eyes caught sight of me, he suddenly stopped screaming, as if he’d been cut in two. A single convulsion jerked across his body.
 
-- Speak -- I said, and I took his heart into the palm of my hand. – I’m listening.
 
The heart wriggled convulsively in my hand; it jumped up twice, as if it wanted to fling itself against my fingers, then it fell silent.
 
-- Show me, just one more time – it throbbed defiantly.
 
-- What do you want?
 
– Her mouth, that moist panting indentation around her mouth, when she used to look at me sideways from the window of her carriage.
 
-- You will forget. It’s snowing. It will cover the hills.
 
-- No, that isn’t true. I’ll wriggle, I’ll bleed, underneath those hills. My pin-stretched mouth will clamp down on those splintery boards with a ferocious bite. A suffocating scream will rise from my throat. Show me her mouth. Let me bid farewell.
 
-- You will forget. So nicely shall you rest, your head bent to one side, the darkness and silence murmuring in your skull. Green algae will cling to its walls. It’s snowing.
 
-- Show me.
 
-- You will forget. It will be no more. The knot is coming undone. It never existed – it never even was.
 
The heart wheezed with a hollow sound.
 
-- Is there something else you wanted to say? – I asked, benevolently.
 
-- Yes – gasped the heart, as it began to sweat tears. – Show me the forest in the light of the setting sun, where I stood ten years ago, and I believed that she would be mine, and the tops of the pine trees were blazing red from the sunset – let me say farewell to that forest.
 
-- You will forget.
 
-- Show me, at the very least, that mirror, the mirror that I looked into and I saw that my mouth was trembling, and I was thinking about her mouth – let me say farewell to that mirror.
 
-- You will forget. You’re boring me.
 
-- Just show me that serpentine spot of light on the green water’s surface, where it writhed upon the water as the boat passed by, and I bent down to the water so I could kiss that spot – I want to bid farewell to that serpentine spot of light on the water.
 
-- You will forget. Idiot. This is enough.
 
A bone in the roof of his mouth cracked and split, his head snapped backwards, and a death-rattle broke out of his mouth. The boy jerked back his hand so violently that his bandages flew off. The professor suddenly took out the needle and poured black coffee into his mouth. Then he leaned over the heart.
 
-- Take out the pins, he said. He can’t stand it.
 
An assistant jerked out the steel pin. Brown liquid trickled down around his blue collapsing lips. His head toppled over, bumping into a bottle of carbolic acid, and the heavy-scented fluid splashed onto the floor. I looked at my watch: it was ten o’clock. I can get there well in time for the second act.
 
I walked through the rows of seats in the orchestra. In actuality, the end of the second act was approaching: the musicians were beginning softly and slyly to insinuate their way into the dialogue. I sat down, but I didn’t stay there long. I went to the end of the corridor and opened up the door to the first box by the proscenium, where the playwright sat alone. He was completely stiff from excitement; a red carnation blazed from his buttonhole. He took my hand absently, then, his mouth still open, turned back towards the stage. I sat down beside him and picked up his opera-glasses.
 
-- It’s snowing -- I said.
 
-- Yes – he whispered in a scalded and strangled voice, and laughed softly – the snow will settle onto her hair as we go home. You see now that movement as she turns to face the seducer. That woman. I wrote this play for her, and I thought I was giving it to her; and now look how she’s giving it back to me, a new and unknown gift: life, in place of the dead inert material that I gave her. That woman. My lover. You see that moist dazed indentation around her mouth. It looks that way because she will be mine tonight – she who plays tonight upon the stage.
 
-- The snow will cover that indentation.
 
-- You see. She is rapture, glory. Even this crowd of idiots is gaping at her speechless, their eyes wide with bliss. Don’t you see it: she is life, she is triumph itself. And I am her lover. I’ve been planning this for thirty years now, relentlessly scheming in a feverish grind. I’ve been planning for this moment – the burning velvets, the clinging silks, the white fire of the electric lamps and the ticklish rhythms of the orchestra all coming violently together. From these silks, from these velvets, from swooning music, from torrid perfumes I’ve built this swelling stage for thirty years, to reach at last her naked skin, to kiss it. I’ve been planning this for thirty years – this has been a beautiful work.
 
I nodded.
 
-- It has been a beautiful work, truly it has – I said to him. – But now it is snowing. And now you must do as we all do, after finishing a beautiful and honorable task: you must stretch out those two knotty arms of yours, take a nice deep yawn, stretch out and relax your entire body – close your eyes silently now, and be happy that you can forget this work. Because I shall be going to that place where people groan and whimper and die from love – and I’ll tell you now that indeed you should be pressing my hand in gratitude that I shall take no further revenge – and that you have never seen the things that I’m about to see.
I walked across the railing of the stage-box, across the extinguished chandelier; just then thunderous applause broke out, and for a brief moment I floated on the current of air that it whipped up. I stretched myself across the stage, lay down on a matt silk screen, and waited. A dark-faced man in a starched shirt-front stood between the wings; he was tall and dark, just a few steps away from me. It was the conclusion of a scene: and suddenly, in her perfumed lace, the Actress came gliding between the wings. There was a soft, whispering movement: she turned around, drew back, and saw the dark-faced man, who stood with arms crossed even as she made her exit. She stepped back, stamped her foot on the ground, touched him lightly, motioned to him. Their eyes met for a second: the man suddenly jumped back.
 
-- No! – he gasped.
 
-- Yes -- came the whispered reply, almost in the very same second. Her lips spasmed.
 
The woman raised her head; from below you could see the pursed, cold mouth. Yet one more convulsion – then the man fell with his entire body before her, burying his face between her knees – a whirling, panting cloud of lace covered all – the woman suddenly jumped up, flinging her upper body backwards. The lace began to undulate: her face lengthened, her eyes clouded over, and her mouth was distorted in a cold, frozen smile. I looked into her face: we looked at each other, I emptily and expectantly – she, in the conjoined frenzy of glory, love and murder that blazed around her like a maelstrom, looked at me with distorted horrifying savagery. We two, we two looked at each other above the body of the man.
 
-- Enough -- I muttered, turning red with confusion. -- Even this is false.
 
-- Enough -- I said again. -- That will be enough. It’s snowing.
 
-- Enough – I said, with dark hatred – that will be enough. Leave it now. My hated enemy, untruth, leave it. Leave it, sickness. Leave off your thrilling, repugnant pulsations, that burning swelling on the cold body of the earth, which tingling, shrinking in repulsion, the earth touches time and time again: cold, cold body, covered with snow. When will you be healed?
 
-- Enough – I screamed into her face, roaring: I could no longer bear the heat: dark clouds stormed into my face, my mouth was burning up – I smashed the roof open with my fist and propelled myself upward through the sky. The snow was whirling around in little patches up there, as I swept past the streets; the wind threw me up against a house, and from there flung me onto the chimney of the one next door. Hey ho, hi ho! The snow in my brain became crumpled and creased: I whirled around and around, whistling through cloud-cupolas, above the fields, where in the night and in the snow wolves howled after me. My shadow covered the entire span of the long mountainous peninsula, across the peaks hanging suspended in the ocean, like cold goosebumps shivering on that thin layer of ice. I pushed off: farther away, in a pale and trembling light, the slender contour of Africa was dimly visible – and when for the last time I looked back from the vast emptiness of the Heavens, the Earth already seemed to be so far below me, floating askew in the endless darkness. And on each side, in the corners, were two white spots. Two white spots, flowing into the grey and yellow masses, smoothly they slip and spin, imperceptibly they round out and grow larger, imperceptibly they grow closer to one another; two circles ever larger and larger, until at last, in the middle, they meet.
 
Translated by Ottilie Mulzet
 
Previously on HLO
 
Gulliver in Hungary: a portrait of Frigyes Karinthy
Karinthy: Psychiatry (two sketches)
 

Tags: Frigyes Karinthy