TE21 Serbian Moments

M. Caterina Mortillaro

Virtual Truth

SCENE FOUR – INT. – NIGHT There’s an ancient feel to the music wafting caressingly from the next room. Jack, all cleaned up in an elegant, old-fashioned suit, focuses on the wooden floor and his creaking two-tone patent leather shoes. He sees a mirror in a gilt frame and allows himself a long look at his reflection. Tall, blond, dark circles around green eyes, a pale face. He seems to have shaven. Good. A stubble makes him look like shit. He straightens his bow tie. The penguin outfit suits him. He feels for his gun, reassuring under his jacket and small enough not to spoil the line of it. Jack appreciates such details. Enough of this bullshit. Hewalks into the ballroom. It’s full of people dancing. He can’t dance to save his life and isn’t interested in learning. He scans the crowd. It’s impossible to spot the men he’s supposed to meet. His eyes rest on the white grand piano. A man is accompanying a fair- haired woman’s sweet voice as she sings:

Here, four gallows’ birds eye him briefly, then lose interest. They’ve probably heard about him. Jack finally reaches a rusty iron door. Voice print. The door opens. He enters. Stairs ill-lit, as usual. A neon light flickers, ghostly. He finds Yuri sitting at the end there, at a table cluttered with hardware and memory banks. Beside him is his mug with its usual cocktail of caffeine, uppers and whatever. Jack tells himself not to look into Yuri’s cyber eye, but – as usual – he can’t resist. The eye swirls like a spinning top among the myriad tattoos covering his gaunt face. “You’re late again!” croaks Yuri. “You’re always late. Knowwhat? You’ve busted my balls. All you’re getting is 10 lakhs.”

“But that’s not enough.”

“I don’t give a shit.”

“I want them anyway. I only have…” He glances at his watch. Fuck! Three days late!

For nobody else gave me a thrill With all your faults, I love you still It had to be you, wonderful you …

“You’ll blow your brain!” says Yuri.

Jack doesn’t know the singer, but he’d bet she’s a star. The glossy piano reflects the warm light of chandeliers and the bright colors of women’s gowns spinning like fragments in a kaleidoscope. Jack loses himself inareverie. Toswimweightless in a kaleidoscope: he must do that again. Soon. As soon as this business is over.

Jack doesn’t care. He hands over the agreed amount, takeswhat he needs. Transaction over.

* 218


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