Bulgarian poet and writer Kristin Dimitrova was born in 1963 in Sofia. She graduated in English and American Studies from Sofia University, and now works as an assistant professor at the Department of Foreign Languages. In the period 2004–2006 she was an editor of Art Trud, the weekly supplement for arts and culture of the Trud daily. Between September 2007 and January 2008 she was a columnist for the Klasa daily.
The following is an excerpt from Sabazius, winner of the national contest of Ink (Imprint of Locus Publishing Ltd.) for the Bulgarian participation in the Myths series, launched by Canongate.
...and then ORPHEUS descended into hell...
Our Friday gig went totally lame. The plum of our show was my black eye. Bellerophon was once again slapping the bass and blowing kisses to the audience, I was taking my revenge on it, and Pegasus was trying to mediate between all sides. When this is done by drums, the result defies description. People evacuated themselves with headaches. Bellerophon bid us goodbye at the earliest possible moment and left us "to square our accounts." Pegasus and I decided to drink a shot of vodka. We both knew we would never come back here again. We collected our payments. Pegasus's tongue swelled up from the vodka immediately. He started lisping about the Chinese Zodiac and I had to make sure he found the way to his place.
A third surprise for the week was waiting for me at home. Eurydice was gone. She had left me during the three hours I tortured the crowd at the Vinyl Club. I found a note saying: "Don't look for me." The flat was empty, clean and meaningless, as if it hadn't been used for a long time. Even her clothes were hanging in the wardrobe. Didn't she want to take at least one dress? I went around the rooms several times. I switched on all the lamps. Eurydice's flowers stirred contentedly like babies well fed. ᴀey had enjoyed her full attention. I crushed them one after the other and threw them out of the window. Down on the ground, in front of the entrance door, somebody had written HELL with a red spray. The flower parts fell over the letters.
In the distance the cars kept on roaring in opposite directions and I couldn't ἀgure out where all those people came from to keep this permanent show running.
It was my turn to drink myself to complete unity with the cosmos and I still cannot remember whether this happened before or after I threw the flowers away. The last sensible thought in my head was about the awful coincidences which suddenly beset me. As if fate, which had long ago lost my attention, had made a point to tell me something.
I also knew who had the inborn instinct to hide behind the mask of fate.
When I called him he said he would send a car for me. He was spending his weekends with his family, so this was a good chance for us to drink a glass of absinthe. And I'd better take my swimming trunks.
"You have a family?"
"Of course I do," Sabazius said. "Just like you."
I wasn't so sure about myself.
Half an hour later the bodyguard with the tight suit was waiting for me downstairs. The sun was shining timidly but I hoped it would manage to make him feel hot and itchy under the jacket. He didn't look too tortured, though. He had parked the car by the dusty playground, between the wheelless Ladas, mounted on logs, and the rusty road veterans, imported in more recent times. It wasn't diffcult for me to spot him. Dodge Viper, orange satin coat. Or, like the ad says, grab life by the horns. Sabazius showed no deep contradictions of taste. On leaving the parking lot the car went down a curb and bumped its belly.
"Fucking roads!" my chauffeur said in way of an extramural insurance against the boss.
The home of Sabazius appeared to be outside the city, at the southern foot of the mountain. The area was secured with concrete fencing, like a military base. Surveillance cameras were pointed at cross directions. The wdouble wrought iron door presented a tangle of grape clusters and vine leaves. The purpose of the intertwined vegetation was to divert attention from the fact that nothing could be seen behind it. Not even an inch of emptiness gave visual access to whatever lay behind. The bodyguard pressed the remote and the double wings of the door moved aside like the curtains of a dramatic theatre. A drive of tiny cobbles led us through a tunnel of trees and garden lanterns with bowed heads. I thought I was hearing children's voices. In the distant house a veranda door was left open, an inner draft swelling its tulle curtain.
My escort silently left me by the entrance. I looked around. Some of the bushes were in bloom and their yellow branches waved in the breeze. A stone path meandered between them to a rockery with fresh ferns. Water welled from its top down to an irregularly shaped pond in whose edge a toy sail ship had landed. A magnolia was shedding its white blossoms like handkerchiefs on the grass. Spring had come long ago here. Or maybe it never left.
I got on the veranda, but just before entering the house I heard the children's voices again. They were coming from the inner part of the garden so I went round the house. A two-level pool was spreading far and wide behind the corner. Several boys between four and twelve were scuffling in it, while woman in sunglasses and bathing suit was throwing their ball back to the water. On seeing me they all went silent, but after a moment they went on with what they were doing, having learned to ignore people who didn't come for them. Leaning on elbow on a low wicker table, Sabazius was sitting behind my back.
He was in a bathrobe and rubber slippers. The wind was ruffling the pages of his newspaper. Wicker chairs, forsaken in different positions, formed a rough circle around him. His feet, reddened by the early sun, were supported on a tricycle. Two odd protuberances above his forehead bulged under his baseball cap. Maybe what they said about the horns was true. He left the newspaper aside and smiled at me. I sat at the other side of the table.
"Did you put any ice on it?"
"On your eye."
"That's OK. It will heal just as well."
"Sabazius, I left Hebros TV."
"I know, I know. So they said."
We both ἀxed our eyes on the swimming pool, which was bubbling with six boys and a mother.
"You could have told me that you owned Hebros TV.
"I didn't want to put pressure on you."
"But your friend the director did put pressure on me."
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers