Status the Twelfth

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Though I do accept presents, they don’t oblige me.

– What do you think about the idea of giving a laptop as a present to that model I’m in love with? – #Mac asked his close friends with whom he was sharing the table at the Life Caffe in Sabac, thus interrupting a discussion on completely different subject.

– Give it to me as a present – joked Tosin, an owner of the cafe, a long-term friend of @RoughMac, his client and a reliable chap, a sheer joker and a passionate young businessman.

Pepa, a former buddy of Tosin in managing iconic cafe Prostor, and the actual owner of the Art Caffe, awesome man with an extraordinary and cheeky, often harsh sense of humor, but fairly loyal, and therefore a serious friend and client, addressed them in a totally different voice:

– He really wants to do it, Tosa.

– Only if he was a complete fool.

– Of course that I’m a fool – #Mac responded without hesitation.

– It would be better if you gave her money – Tosin “suggested”.

– I don’t want to pay her; I want to give her a present. She’s not Sugar Baby.

– How do you know that?

Convinced he was right, #Mac gave no answer.

–I really mean it, why would you give her expensive presents just after you recently got to know her?

– And a laptop, in your opinion, is an expensive present?

– Five to six hundred tiny Euros, for that amount of money I would have given it to you.

– And where did you find the rule that I have to receive something in return? At this moment I just want to show my affection and support for her. I also enjoyed in those presents on my own, especially for the reason that I don’t feel being under any obligation to someone who gives me presents, realizing that in some way, I certainly have deserved to get them. Without slightest annoyance, I firmly stand by my school-days jest:”Though I do accept presents, they don’t oblige me”.

– Don’t fuck with him, Tosa – Pepa tried to put the conversation back onto serious course. – Don’t you see he brought decision? But, Marshall honestly, I think you’re making a mistake.

– Of course he’s making a mistake. What will be next he’ll buy her if he already started this like?

– I’ll give her a present in the middle of the fashion-show– @RoughMac recklessly continued.

– Well, that’s really a complete nonsense, Marshall– Pepa chipped in again. – What all other models might think of her? That she is of so small value?

– Oh fuck, it didn’t cross my mind.

– She won’t accept it, and you’ll be disgraced in front of everyone.

– Though, that pretty resembles my character.

– Don’t buy her a laptop – Pepa and Tosin jointly suggested, suspecting that irascible #Mac could do it out of sheer prank, so that he could afterwards feel pride for being considered by everyone else as the craziest within the extraordinarily strong competition.

– OK, I won’t do it.

Later that evening Tosin made him a phone-call while saying that he got two tickets for the long-awaited Belgrade concert of Depeche Mode (which, as we now know, was cancelled due to the singer’s Dave Gahan illness, and was consequently held four years later):

– It would be the best for you two to attend the concert together. But, if it doesn’t work out, don’t be upset – give the tickets to her, and she might take there whoever she wants.

Though he was deeply touched by care and generosity of his friends, the hero of our book was adamant to continue his attempts to figure out the certain way of conveying the present, destined to be given to the beloved girl. On the next evening, while sitting with Muraro in another one of his favorite cafes, and that’s Havana in Bogatic, whose owner Bata Kubanac, you may guess, was his friend and client, he stated once again what his intentions were.

– C’mon leave Pepa and Tosin – Muraro said – According at least to your description of hers, it is quite a decent present for her. Especially that small, nice gadget.

He thought about, back in those days very popular, but too quickly outdated netbook.

– I’m not willing to give her a toy as a present, but a real machine – #Mac said, feeling pleasure for the opportunity that a beer spilled over #Bianca’s computer won’t make any problem in the future.

– As you wish Mica, but I’m telling you that she’ll like that small gadget much more.

– Maybe you’re right – @RoughMac seemingly began to have second thoughts about it, while undoubtedly remaining by his original choice. – But, if I sneaked around during #Bianca’s fashion sets, any possible surprise would stay behind. For that reason, my present should be delivered by some courier, but I don’t know if there is any proper agency which could be consigned to carry out that task.

– I see I must be prepared to travel to Belgrade with you – said Muraro roguishly.

– You want to say… I didn’t remember at all… It would be terrific; nobody would accomplish that better than you. But, have I right to ask you to do it? I mean you’ve got your own businesses, it’s stressful and also pretty childish…

– Mica, stop shitting around.

The next day #Mac found himself browsing through the notebooks, in the shop owned by his friend (and his client, of course) named Pele, the man by whom he used to buy all kind of electronic equipment, while at the same time he’s been privileged to getting complete technical support, advices, explanations and lots of interesting details, and all that without any charge. The newest and the best models seemed pretty awkward, without charm and sex appeal. Netbooks, as opposed to, looked like dolls, so Pele has been recommending them for that purpose. Of course, he’s also had lots to say, even if it was opposite to his own interest:

– Of course my interest is to sell, but if I were in your place, I wouldn’t buy it. She’ll give it back to you, so that you will feel quite badly. Moreover, it is even worse if she keeps it, because a proper girl is not used to receive presents from people she’s hardly acquainted with.

– We perfectly know each other – #Mac uttered seemingly with self-confidence, but truly he was afraid, because that sort of outcome, a humiliating possibility of getting the present back, he didn’t even take into consideration up until that moment.

To #Mac very important aesthetics has prevailed and he decided to accept Muraro’s proposal – so after all, he bought a netbook. It should have only been nicely wrapped, and who would have done it better than his ex-wife and personal secretary Branka? So it wasn’t without a reason that precisely Tosin was the one, who’s been talking that #Mac’s eccentric, almost unimaginable so called family would have been “motherfucking” in every single reality-show.

Before wrapping, our hero inserted his visit-card between a keyboard and a netbook screen, and then he shut it. On the upper side of the computer he sticked a message that read: ”I hope you’re not going to spill a beer over it. A friend who will never let you down.”

There is no need to doubt that Branka impeccably managed to wrap the present-box in a nice and quaint paper. Though he was pretty pleased, #Mac expressed an additional request and asked her to go to the shop and to buy, as he put it back then, ”some psychedelic paper-bag”.

– You know what? Go fuck yourself! – Branka was so pissed off – Even if I knew what that “psychedelic” paper-bag was, how could I find it in this shitty Bogatic?

Therefore, he rushed to the supermarket by himself, and being lucky as usual, he promptly found what he wanted.

Soon after, Muraro and he embark on their highway-ride straight to Belgrade. That evening was finale of the Belgrade Fashion Week, highlighted by shows at the Supermarket Concept Store and subsequent event at the club Magacin. This events were exclusive, but #Mac as usual didn’t bother to figure out how to get into that building situated at the corner of the Visnjiceva and Strahinjica Bana streets. He was accustomed to escape any trouble so that he could be present anywhere he wanted, he was simply talented for that sort of things. It wasn’t his problem at all to pop out uninvited among the guests of the fashion show, especially if you take into account his presence at the Zoran Djindjic’s funeral, when his wish to watch everything as closely as possible sent him among the members of the security, having even created an impression that he was the one whom command over those highly-trained professionals was assigned. Coming out of the graveyard, world and domestic high officials passing  him by, have been taking their places at the limousines, which slowly took them off from the spot. Members of the Karadjordjevic Royal Family, Giorgos Papandreu, various diplomats… would have been standing close to him, about a half meter at the most, and only after that they would disappear in the distance. His behavior had no any traits of morbidity or extravagancy – he simply wanted to experience everything by witnessing every single detail. It was in vain that Ceda and Tadic used to dub late premier as “Zoran”, because at that eerie moment as they walked slowly passing him by, with their faces showing any expression, they looked like two peacocks strutting around. On the other hand, seeing Zivkovic in tears, while he looked like totally shaken and distraught by the terrible loss, with his back next to his chest, he was showing a complete readiness to forgive him for his lack of literacy and education. And there is something what was only used as an example that suddenly provoked furious feelings in the writer of these lines. Was it necessary to emphasize that Kostunica, Mihajlov and Sami looked like as if they had just farted, if in everyday life as well, they look like exactly as such?… What? Not to spread around? OK, OK….

Although he didn’t put into question #Mac’s expedience, Muraro was of the opinion that everything must be secured. That’s why he asked:

– Why don’t you dial Vlada Zec, maybe he knows someone who might help me to get in?

@RoughMac’s client (and his friend, of course) Vlada Zec, once allegedly belonged to the notorious car-mafia from Sabac, and at times of these occurrences he was engaged in construction investments in Belgrade.

– How did he manage to cross your mind?

– You know what kind of person Vlada is: he’s capable of everything, he knows everyone…

– No. We’ll get in without problems.

– But what’s a big deal to make him a call?

– He’ll be wondering why I think that he’s got connections with the world of fashion. Besides, it’s an afternoon, maybe he’s sleeping… And he’ll be mocking me because of the female models.

– C’mon, call him though.

#Mac finally did it. As soon as he said what it was all about, his friend unexpectedly answered that he was very close with the manager of the building, which should be the destination of our two passengers.

– Here is the name of the man and his phone number – Zec dictated, while #Mac was loudly repeating and Muraro was typing both, using his mobile phone. – Just tell him that I have sent you.

– Vlada, I owe you at least a lunch for this.

– Leave it now, Mica. But I’m wondering what are you suddenly doing with the female models, who would expect something like that from you…

– I told you Muraro, that Vlada would be mocking me.

– Mica, I must admit that you did manage to arrange your life. I would rather swap my place with you. We are some kind of businessmen, while you simply enjoy yourself. You sleep by the noon, mistreat your clients, chase chicks… What will happen to your soul?

– It’s just a female friend, Vlada.

– That’s what I was thinking about, what else? But, remember me a little bit as well.

Having taken their seats in the Cafe-garden at the same corner where the Supermarket Concept Store is, but on opposite side of the Visnjiceva Street, they realized they had arrived too early. They have been watching the terrace of the building, where at the moment the fashion shows had been prepared, and consequently they should have been held in there. Various people have been hanging around that terrace, mostly extremely beautiful women. Muraro, impeccably spruced up in a noble, English style, impatient to accomplish his task as soon as possible, the moment he would have spotted a girl who at least judging by photos, bears a striking resemblance to #Bianca, shouted:

– There she is! Is that she? No, no, it’s not, I see it by myself.

A couple of beautiful escort girls, who have early entered the “Silicon Valley”, asked #Mac what time it was. Muraro, known as a seducer, muttered pretending jealousy:

– I’ve got a watch as well. Mica, you don’t react at all.

– To what? The girls just asking what time is it.

– But they ask only you.

– Well, they must ask someone.

– The one whose place is really meant to be here. Don’t you see that you look like Andrija Draskovic?

Let’s make it clear, @RoughMac wasn’t so popular among the women. Many of them found him unattractive, while the ones who were of the opposite opinion, were scared of him for the reasons he wasn’t aware of, but to a lot of other persons those reasons were more than obvious. This time though, it was completely irrelevant for the sheer reason that he, like a cheetah always eyeing the same antelope, only aimed at winning over the heart of #Bianca, and none else. Since he fell in love with her, people close to him couldn’t pick proper words to express their astonishment at the fact that he became totally indifferent in his relations to other women. Moreover, he showed lack of readiness to bring his friends into awkward situations, as he for example did once, at first ignoring the girl who was together with his female partner, taken to the disco-club by his friend Beli, trying to provoke interest for her, but at the next moment he calmly came up to two teenage-girls, embracing them around the waist, while asking:”What are you gonna drink at the expense of Uncle Maniac?”

While waiting, #Mac triumphantly realized one thing, which to anyone else would be clear by itself – presents are not being given by stopping models on stage, but instead it should be done at the backstage. Maybe during the show, a moment might have been grabbed and a bunch of flowers could be handed over, but certainly not a computer. That’s why he decided to start his action without any delay, what really delighted Muraro who’s been on the verge of exploding.

After his friend left to give the present, our hero continued to drink his espresso in a completely relaxed manner. A day at the end of April was pretty warm, while the twilight he especially liked was nearing, so that he let himself enjoying tranquility and bliss. But on his way back, Muraro forcibly interrupted that peace:

– Mica, you fucker!

#Mac would have thought that something had gone wrong, lest Muraro’s body language hadn’t proved quite opposite.

– You created tension I never felt before – @RoughMac’s friend continued, known otherwise for his calm speech, light and feline movements. – But then it’s good, it couldn’t be even better…

– Wait, don’t talk in a hurry. I want to hear every detail.

– That’s what I’m planning to, I just need to relax a bit. Order another coffee for the both of us.

Shortly after, Muraro began to recount what happened:

– I didn’t manage to reach the lower end of the staircase, as I spotted a man standing on a terrace, who having probably seen that I had an intention to make a phone-call, promptly gave me a sign to wait. He asked if I was that one sent by Vlada Zec and after I confirmed it, he heartily shook his hands with me and told me to follow him. While we were climbing the stairs straight towards the terrace, everybody around us began to move aside. I felt as if I was your Mick Jagger. We entered the room brimming with half-nude female models, but I was not even watching them, I just trying to find my way passing by all of them. A manager asked them where #Bianca was, they answered: ”She is somewhere here” and then all of them began to call her name, their voices resembling birds twittering:” Bianca, Bianca…”. After we found out where she was, the manager consigned me to another man to take me to her. Mica, you won’t believe – all of the models were in chaos, half-clothed and with the make-up half-done, colliding with each other, and she was the only one taking the place, completely ready to show, talking to some female friend and patiently sipping a fruit-juice. I came up to her and said: ”Good afternoon. I am Dragoljub from the “Royal” Agency for the special deliveries. One of our clients gave me an order to give you the present”. ”The present? For me?”, she cried out as a child, in an exciting voice.

– She was astounded by the present given to her?

– She behaved as if something like that had never happened before, at least not in a similar manner. However, I was possessed by an intense feeling that she was aware of who was the one sending her the present.

– And how her voice sounds?

– Like a brooklet.

– I already told you, but your description is incomparably better. You began to melt under her charm.

– Well, how wouldn’t I? – Muraro went on. – I’m giving her the present while politely moving back and she started to play foolish games: ”Is this maybe a bomb-letter?” I quietly answered: ”For the sake of your safety, I’ll stay until you open it”. ”You’re pretty serious, you gentleman from the Agency for the special services”. I pretended that I was insulted: ”Agency for the special deliveries, not services”. ”Alright, alright”, she fucked me off and directed all her attention towards the box, looking so happily that I felt tears in my eyes.

– Hahaha, tears in your eyes?! What for?

– I can’t describe that kind of vibe. As she unwrapped and opened the box…

– Wait, wait… Has she done the unwrapping slowly, or has she simply torn the paper?

– She literally pulled it apart.

– Yes!

– So, as she tore the paper, she couldn’t believe her eyes:”Laptop? How? From whom?” and before she saw your message, she yelled:”I know who sent this to me. My Facebook friend”. It was clear she didn’t have a slightest notion what might be in the box, but at the same moment, absolutely nothing, not even something more expensive or luxurious, wouldn’t delight her more. The present was an absolute shot in the right place. I told her: ”Since you assured yourself that you were not exposed to any danger, I would ask for your permission to go away”, but she addressed me determinately, almost furiously: ”Yes, you can, but firstly give me my paper-bag”.

– That psychedelic one? – #Mac cheerfully asked.

– Yes, yes. And I’ve been, together with Branka, accusing you of pettiness. I pompously gave her the boxed present, but the paper-bag, totally unconsciously, I kept in my hands. No doubt she’s the proper girl for you; she’s not ready to give even the paper-bag.

– In that matter you’ve got right as well – our hero uttered laughingly. – But, please forgive me I caused you so much troubles.

– Don’t be silly, Mica. This was one of the most interesting days I’ve ever experienced in my life.

– Now you’re going too far.

– Not at all. Something like this is nowhere to be seen, not even in the movies.

– And now, choose where shall we go for a dinner.

– Do I really have to answer?

– To Kosava, for a saltimbocca?

– Of course. When you ask me so stupid question, I’m starting to wonder what she found in you.

– My dear Muraro, I wish she found something in me. She might love me as a person, but not as a man.

– Yeah, yeah.

– Can’t you see I haven’t any wrong opinions about her? Why don’t you believe as I say this?

– Let’s toss a coin.

The last Muraro’s sentence referred to his long-time ongoing ritual. Whenever #Mac was hesitant about something important, Muraro used to toss a coin letting destiny to bring decision on its own. Among other things, @RoughMac bought two cars in that way, because the coin had always been hitting the side chosen by him. The final result meant that the cars were impeccable, defying probability, which wasn’t fifty/fifty, but considerably against #Mac, because he was never doubtful which side to choose, moreover he would always be saying:”Head”. So was the case this time as well.

– That means, if the coin drops of your choice, she loves you – Muraro tried to determine propositions in a childish manner.

– Who’s even talking about love? The question is whether she even thinks that I’m a nice guy.

Without addressing @RoughMac’s comments, Muraro has already tossed a coin along the pavement. When they slowly came up to it, “head” was on again.

– So, don’t talk anymore – Muraro was “defying”.

– What is it that should make me silent? A coincidence?

– I would say that you’re prepared to run away again.

They have enjoyed in dinner and pleasant walk afterwards. #Mac has been incessantly asking new questions, and Muraro was willing to answer. Although, like anyone reasonable, @RoughMac expected that @BiancaMistake would send a message of gratitude via Facebook, maybe even by phone, it didn’t happen. In a cheerful mood he checked his inbox the next day and found himself really astonished that, not even until the afternoon, she found any reason to address him. So he angrily wrote a message to her:

– It seems that you really can’t stand me.

– you’re kidding – #Bianca promptly gave an answer. – i just wanted to thank you for the last night. i was so much happy.

– But I’m not. It would be decent you did it a lot earlier.

– why are you angry?

– I’m not angry, but disappointed – #Mac began to acting, though at that particular moment, he would be able to “eat his guts up”.

– i like your present very much, but it doesn’t give you right to be rude to me. if you want, i can bring it back.

– If I had wanted that, I wouldn’t have sent it to you in the first place.

– as you wish, but you should know i’ve just sat by my computer.

Though he was astounded by her impudence, aware of the fact that she actually wanted nothing from him, #Mac suddenly changed the tone of the conversation. Otherwise, a couple of words could have ruined all of his effort, although it was obvious that there had been nothing what might have been ruined.

– Forget it. Did you have a good time last night at the Magacin?

– i didn’t even go there.

– Why’s that?

– i almost spent the whole night in the park, sitting on the bench with my friends. we were talking about your present, you know?

Naturally, #Mac never believed it.

The whole day and evening, our desperate cavalier has been fighting with his demons. He hasn’t, like Don Quixote, imagined that sheep were dragons, but yesterday he was the dragon on his own, and already today he became the sheep. After the midnight, he addressed once again his unfortunate valentine:

– I don’t want to be your FB friend anymore, but I have no strength to erase you from my list of friends. So, you should erase me.

– i don’t want to erase you.

– I’m persistently trying to approach you, but everytime you’re bitterly reminding me that it’s not going to happen. For that reason, it is much better to break off any contact between us.

– i don’t think so, but if you do, you erase me.

Just before the dawn, @RoughMac decided to do it. As he finally pressed the mark Unfriend on her account (I think back then, it was titled Remove from a friends, Remove from a friends list or something like that) a small window popped out with a question if he was sure of his wish to do so. Within a second he closed that small window. While his palms were sweating, and his heart throbbing, he was repeating that action many times. He’s been feeling as if he should have launched a nuclear rocket.

But all come to its end and he, not even believing it himself, erased the woman he loved so much from the list of his Facebook friends.

It passed about a half of a month. Having started his usual Facebook seance, the hero of this novel found himself being surprised that a famous female model, of which he wouldn’t expect to know anything about him, sent him a friend request. Having accepted it, #Mac browsed her account and noticed that the posts were sent among the shows at the Sarajevo Fashion Week. In almost every post, she’s been mentioning a friend with whom she was sharing a hotel-room during the Sarajevo Fashion Week, and whom she was obviously very close with. The room-mate has been gladly taking part in all that, and their comments, protected by easily disclosed passwords conceived on their own, helped him to realize that he was an important subject in all of them. In other words, the comments were extremely commendable and written with unhidden sympathies.

It would have been pretty weird if the room-mate of his new friend hadn’t been @BiancaMistake.

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