This is the 13th in a series of posts previewing the new issue of Absinthe, our 17th, focused on Bulgaria. In this post we present an excerpt from a novel by Vladimir Zarev.
from Worlds, translated by Zlatko Anguelov and Elizabeth Frank
Diana entered the hotel lobby at three minutes to nine exactly. She wore her long fur coat and usual tailored suit; always elegance itself and so obsessively different from his wife, she nevertheless once again reminded him of Doris. With her head proudly erect, she advanced toward him, and Samuel suddenly realized that he could no longer regard her simply as an interesting and gorgeous woman. He’d had the misfortune of reading her manuscript, which had not only had a depressing effect on him but had in all likelihood alienated him from her. But now Diana seemed to be a different person. More remote. Elusive. Beyond his yearning for them to be together.
“I didn’t bring your folder, Ms. Popova, because I don’t know where we’re going.”
“It doesn’t matter,” she said with a smile.
“But I think I understood why you needed the books by Jung.”
“Please, let’s not talk about it,” she said, cutting him off tactfully. “Outside the sun is shining. It’s a wonderful day.”
“We’re not going to talk about it … and the day with you is going to be really wonderful.”
Two husky guys with buzz cuts burst into the lobby in black outfits, with black T-shirts beneath their jackets, black sunglasses, gold chains flowing down their chests. They were noisy and as if faceless, brazen no doubt like their master — for it seemed unlikely that behind such an unabashed display of freedom there stood no master; handguns swung under their jackets. The men showed Diana and Samuel to a new Mercedes, also black, and polished like a cavalryman’s boot. On the seat next to the driver a Kalashnikov had been propped up; its cartridge clip shone with grease. They drove out of town, took off on a deserted highway, then began moving uphill.
“Where are we going?” asked Samuel.
“Top secret,” answered the shorter of the men, stroking his bristling head, and shifting the automatic rifle to his other side.
“Is smoking allowed?”
“Everything is allowed,” he replied, grinning mischievously. His teeth were horse-like — yellow and big.
READ MORE by ordering Absinthe 17.