he apartment had two small bedrooms. The balcony overlooked the street where cars and motorbikes never stopped passing by. The tent had been lowered and was now touching the railings. The sun was ablaze, even though the twilight was approaching. The balcony door stood open. Due to the July heat the tenants in the balconies across the street were enjoying the cool, sitting on their white plastic chairs. The men were drinking coffee and beer. Others were talking about football or playing backgammon. They were wearing shorts and singlets and were wiping the sweat off their foreheads with handkerchiefs. They were also sighing from time to time, while some others were cursing at the heat. The women, who were constantly carrying glasses and bottles filled with refreshments were also sweaty.
«Are you going out tonight?» the man asked.
The girl looked at him.
«And where will I go?»
«You’re asking me? Go find your friends, just like everybody else.»
«I’m in no mood.»
«There is no special reason. I just don’t feel like going out.»
The man was holding a black sock in his hands and was looking for a needle in the bedside table drawer. The girl gave him a dismissive look.
«Let me mend it.»
«There’s no need,» he told her, «I learnt to do all kinds of things in prison.»
«Yes, but we women are better at some things.»
Her expression was so determined that he let her take the torn sock off his hand. She was mending it and he started emptying his suitcase and putting all his personal belongings in the commode where they kept the drinks and the glasses. When he finished he lay down on the couch, which would be his bed for the night, he placed a pillow under his head and closed his eyes. He was in need of some tranquility; he had to find out what he would do next. Several minutes passed and then he opened his eyes. The girl was leaning on the commode, watching him very inquisitively. She was barefoot and was wearing only a white bra and white underpants.
«What on earth are you doing there?» he asked.
«I am looking at you.»
«I mean why you are wearing those things.»
«What should I be wearing then?»
«Go get dressed,» he curtly ordered her.
«Why? This is my place.»
«I told you to get dressed.»
«I don’t want to get dressed. It’s hot.»
«Go get dressed, I said.»
«Leave me alone.»
«Don’t make me get up.»
«What are you going to do to me?» said the girl curtly, almost provocatively, and walked toward the balcony door.
«I will beat you bad.»
The man closed his eyes again and settled his feet on the couch. The calm was creating a suffocating atmosphere inside the room, which had no air conditioning. His trousers were too tight and his navy T-shirt was damp with sweat. When he opened his eyes again, the girl was standing near the balcony door with her gaze focused somewhere outside. She seemed distracted. She was tanned all down her back and thighs. She had a lovely, well-proportioned figure, her white underwear emphasising her shapely body. After a while, she turned and looked at him:
«We’re fine here,» said the girl.
«It’s very boring,» said he.
He was looking meditatively at her, and his gaze run along her whole body again.
«Didn’t I tell you to get dressed?» he asked softly, after a while.
«I’m hot,» she replied coyly.
«How long are you going to stay like that?»
«All night. Until this heat subsides.»
They were staring at each other’s eyes, weighing each other up in silence. It was the girl who first moved toward him. He was waiting, almost indifferent. Then he raised his head, stretched his body and touched the floor with his bare feet. When he stood up, she had already come too close. The moment she reached and hesitantly touched his chest, he jerked his hand and slapped her right on the right cheek and then on the left. Then he started slapping her more and more and more. He was hitting her with rage, vehemence, anguish, one would say. During this slapping they did not exchange a single word. When he stopped, she stumbled and fell on the floor. A few drops of blood rolled from her nose down to her half open mouth.
The man went to the bathroom and returned with a wet towel. He wiped the girl’s face from all the blood and then folded it and placed it on her forehead.
«Do you feel better now?» he asked.
«I told you I would beat you up,» he told her.
A few silent seconds passed. Their breathing was heavy and audible.
«Mother will come in about an hour,» she told him.
«Where is she?»
«At aunt’s. She will call, before she leaves.»