to begin we must have

    ― To begin we must have a cock, ― Burov announced in a pointedly spirited voice, ― a big fat cock. Any objections?
    Burov glanced sidelong at the woman quietly lying in bed.
    ― But perhaps we need a big fat, ― he paused comically for a beat, ― ducky?
    The woman didn’t smile.
    ― Yes, oh yes, a ducky, ― Burov insisted in mock earnest, ― or after all, a cock?
    The woman was silent.
    ― Or perhaps a bunny? Do make up your mind, Elena Pavlovna: a cock, a ducky, or a bunny?
    Burov paused momentarily for her reply and continued:
    ― Very well, I’ll try to guess: the first, the second, or the third.
    He pondered.
    ― I think we need… A bunny! No? Then we need… A ducky! No? ― Burov evinced utter bewilderment. ― Wrong again! There remains a cock. So we need a big fat cock! Right?
    His tirade went unappreciated.
    ― Very well then, a cock! Who would’ve thought! Not a bunny, not a chick. Or perhaps a lion or tiger cub? ― Burov asked hopefully. ― Take your time, Elena Pavlovna, we’re in no hurry.
    No answer was forthcoming.
    ― Your eyes tell me it’s a cock after all, ― Burov stated somewhat testily.
    ― At any rate, suit yourself ― if you want a cock, so be it. One last detail: a big fat one? Or perhaps a small skinny one, what?
    The woman appeared asleep.
    ― Get up, Elena Pavlovna! ― Burov shouted right in her ear. ― As you requested ― a big fat cock. Help yourself.
    Burov stood next to the woman with his pants dropped. His masculine endowment was undistinguished in length and girth.
    ― Well, why aren’t you happy, Elena Pavlovna? ― Burov inquired sarcastically.
    ― Each time you choose in haste, only to be disappointed afterwards. So you disapprove? ― Burov scrutinized the rejected goods. ― And yet I say it’s a spitting image of a ducky, ― Burov mused. He twirled his member around. ― And from the side, how like a bunny. There’s no pleasing you, Elena Pavlovna.
    Frontally and sideways, Burov’s member resembled a bloated earthworm.
    ― So be it, ― Burov relented, ― take your time thinking it over, Elena Pavlovna, while I have a chat with the young man.
    Burov approached the naked man lying on the floor.
    ― I have a special conversation for you, dear boy, ― Burov pronounced amicably.
    ― Would you mind my calling you Ducky or Bunny?
    The man held his tongue.
    ― Much obliged, ― said Burov, ― but you aren’t put off by my appearance, are you? ― He smiled and squatted nearby. ― Confess in all honesty, which is better: a big fat cock or a ducky? You say nothing? You don’t know? And so you’ll never know, my friend.
    Burov reared up nervously and started pacing around the prostrate man.
    ― That’s right, dear boy, our betters tried to answer this question only to run their heads against a brick wall, ― Burov declared as he strolled. –Yet at first blush, what’s the problem? A cock or a ducky, a cock or a bunny.
    ― The answer seems so obvious. But in our case, the predicament is extremely complicated. We must determine, what is better ― a cock, or a ducky together with a bunny, and a cock not as big and fat as might be wished for, ― Burov admitted with unexpected self-disparagement. ― I ask you only because, ― Burov developed his thought, ― all others are of no account whatsoever. Take for example my Elena Pavlovna ― a woman of such intelligence, so well educated, ― he glanced back at the bed, ― and even she finds herself perplexed. Thus I beg your indulgence, since you are our one and only outright Bunny and Ducky, you must rid us of our doubts. So answer me, for God’s sake! ― Burov shouted petulantly. ― Or am I mistaken ― would you rather assume in this conversation the position of a big fat cock? I’ll grant you the possibility, but it must be verified. No objections, Elena Pavlovna?
    Burov turned over the man to face upwards and assessed his genitals.
    ― Quite an ordinary cock, ― Burov confirmed finally, ― nothing special, ― and swiftly returned the man to his original position. ― And stop playing dumb, ― Burov pronounced in a stentorian tone. ― Here I talk myself hoarse, and you give me the silent treatment. What am I, a grub out of turn? You cunt!
    Burov picked up a hammer from the floor.
    ― Fuck, all that bullshit, and here I hurt my leg! Now, Elena Pavlovna, stop dragging your feet, time’s up, spill your guts, whore, what were you missing?! Not a word?! Maybe I’m in the way, maybe I should just leave the two of you in here alone?!
    Burov dragged the man’s body by the feet beside the bed and with a double heave tossed it in. On the floor a thick crimson blot spread out where the man’s head had lain.
    ― Take your ducky, your bunny, kiss him, fuck him till you split!
    Burov seized Elena Pavlovna and planted her on top of the man. Jagged edges of skull bone peeked from under his wife’s luxurious hair.
    Limping slightly, Burov went to the hall and returned with a suitcase that he carried back that morning from a business trip. Unpacking his clothes and placing them on the shelves, Burov occasionally glanced at the couple in bed. But for the blood spots on the pillows, the scene still resembled the bedroom interlude that Burov unexpectedly confronted.
    Burov sobbed, then bawled. Muttering “ducky” and “bunny” ― for those were the very terms of endearment that Elena Pavlovna bestowed upon the strange man, ― he stepped out on the balcony. There he stepped over the banister. The neighbors were crowded around the porch, a yellow paddy wagon pulled up. Then Burov drew in all the air he could and with a hysterical shriek:
    ― I have a big fat cock! ― jumped down from the balcony.

    ― Mikhail Elizarov, translated by Michael Zeleny on the 25th of August, 2001

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