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Tabula Rasa

What Rudy remembered of their last night in Moscow were the gladiators on tables swinging gold-tipped skirts. They had been on vodka and gentle lifts of ecstasy for two days after the boss went back to Milan early, which included the party finale last night. Now they were in the queue at the airport.

Rudy was summarising his thoughts. From the first day he’d felt that he had rejoined a collective of the belly, of the bowels. He’d read the Russians as a youth. You know the feeling when you land in a country and you see them as brethren?

His colleague Leo tapped his arm. “I wonder what happened to the guy we left at the party,” he said. “The guy from the hotel who came in the taxi.”

As he fished for his passport, Rudy’s mind staggered over the opulence of the party last night. There had been dancing girls entwined with the gladiators, lush girls with ponytails and erupting breasts and slashed gold togas. There had been bodies crammed on balconies embedded in the walls, bodies amassed on stages and crumpling in offshoot rooms. He had never seen anything like it. They had loaded up on vodka before the drugs kicked in. Rudy was good-looking but not a single person hit on him all night; there was only a black guy from Mali in the unisex toilets with whom he sat talking on the floor.

Rudy wondered if he would ever come back here with his job. They were always on the move with their product and usually achieved great success. But here in Moscow they sold nothing and people had no regard for them. Rudy knew he had flown into the eye of a civilisation where he neither existed or mattered.


Flash Fiction by Catherine McNamara

Published in Spring 2017