Photo by Karl Groendal on Unsplash





Eduardas Pečiulis

As a radiant speck of immaculate white descended the underlit street, people rose from their beddings and watched. A luxurious mobile vehicle from the newest class drove slowly, as if it was a prowling lion, the prime hunter, patrolling his own territory. It stopped in the middle of dusty, circular gravel road. Xenon arc lamps turned off with a high-frequency sound, but the car continued to work, it’s hybrid engine purring quietly. As though the beast closed his eyes for a moment, but still remained watchful and none the less deadly. Men dressed in absolute black jumped out of it. Quickly and confidently they had prepared the table, filling it with items of diverse origin. A bundle of freshly baked long loaves, a lofty bottle of white wine. A woolen bag of rusty copper coins, a few involute rolls of yesterday printed paper money. A pillow full of buckwheat, a straight razor with a plastic handle. The list continued. The table was almost six meters long and without a space to put one’s hand in. A chair made out of aspen was placed beside it, shadowed by a tall display filled with letters in wide font. When men were done, they returned to the car. A few moments later, a woman, dressed in simple, undyed cotton clothing stepped out of it. She was lean and pretty, her blond hair, shortened till her shoulders, glittered as she sat in the chair. Even if she looked young, her eyes betrayed the older age – it was a gateway to her curiosity and wisdom. She slowly observed the area around her. Short buildings, boarded with old, mold-covered planks, stood bravely against forming dust clouds. All of the windows were covered with colored curtains, which gave each of the building a distinct character, even personified them. For a person who grew up in a community littered with neatly stacked apartment buildings and skyscrapers, which were monotonous in their grand design, it was simply fascinating. She surveyed the table and items placed upon it, took a deep breath, and focused on a single spot of smudge, located on an edge of a tablecloth. Muscles surrounding her eyes slowly loosened and all interest and awareness in her eyes faded out. Her body sagged and became limp. The only trace of liveness in her was an occasional, vegetative move of an eyelid. The vehicle made a full circle around the table and drove with the same grace into further districts, it’s alien sound followed the source unhurried.

The new day began and locals soon started to appear on the street. At first, the people were too superstitious about the oddity, which greeted them this morning and minded to their own daily tasks, barely even looking at it. The passing kids poked while being dragged by their mothers and young people allowed themselves to steal a few hawkish glances at it. Eventually, an invisible wall started to dissolve. A few beggars and cripples took some of the food from the table and murmured in gratitude. A motorcyclist with a battered, rusty Vespa scooter, which muffler babbled loudly in protest with every move, had stopped to take a roll of cash and quickly drove away. Some of the passing people asked the price of their desired item. Others had inquired the woman if she was feeling all right. With no answers given, they glanced at the display, but not many of them could read it. However, all of them understood one thing. It was marked with a government’s logo, which in these parts meant distrust. Anything marked with that was treated with caution or mockery. Gradually, moving passengers became still. A crowd began to form, with every person shortening distance between themselves and the table. Locals’ courage grew in numbers and in an hour the table was nearly completely surrounded. People ate, discussed, threw money into the air and cheered. An old, grizzly man with an oil-smeared beret brought a guitar, which had a weird mix of nylon and steel strings. A genuine mood of happiness was established, but a slim line of threat remained. The woman and the stand were mostly ignored by the locals, but as the goods dwindled it was getting difficult to refrain. A band of teenagers laughed at her. One boy with peach fuzz on his upper lip and scarred bald head placed two coins on his eyes and mockingly talked with the sitting woman. A young man from a working-class, hurrying to work with a yellow helmet, flexed his muscles before her and asked if she needs any fixes. Progressively, just like animals comforting something new, the people closed in.

Contact the Author @ gardunytis@gmail.com or https://www.fiverr.com/pugnatabula

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