Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Semmant by Vadim Babenko

Chapter 2

I am Bogdan Bogdanov, a genius in cybernetics, an expert in everything expressed in digits. Almost nobody knows my name, but those who do look back on that fact gladly – or, at least, so they pretend. I also remember all of them; that’s just the way my memory works. Though I admit that it – my memory – is rather sparsely populated.

My childhood was checkered with events, but they left no visible traces, and even the earliest of them got seriously messed up. I was born in a small village in the Balkans, but my family soon started moving around a lot with a depressing urgency to get away from police and creditors. As a result, another place was listed in my documents: some nondescript city with an unpronounceable name – I never did learn how to spell it. My aura of Indigo was identified by an ugly old woman from Ziar when I turned twelve. She stank horribly, but I’m grateful to her: after her discovery, a lot fell into place.

My life as an adult was quite eventful as well. I went from job to job as I traversed all of Europe. I was poor, then earned a decent living; got filthy rich, then ended up with nothing. I’ve been living in Madrid for three years now – through circumstances beyond my control. This city is alien to me; I don’t like it at all. It tolerates me though; or at least it did, until it started to take revenge. I had a penthouse in its best barrio, drank sidra with its taxi drivers, breathed its foul air, and even made friends with a real countess. And now – now I’m in the nut house.

Of course, they call it something else. A hospital for VIPs, that’s its official title. But you can’t argue with the rumors, as everybody knows: the VIPs who land here are pretty far gone, most of them irreversibly so. That is not so unusual and, frankly, doesn’t even imply anything bad.

To tell the truth, my perceived importance wouldn’t allow me to belong there. Had it not been for Countess Anna Pilar María Cortez de Vega, I should have ended up in a dirty clinic for poor psychos instead of in this domain of comfort. Thanks to her, I’m now in the company of aristocrats. Señores and señoras – all from distinguished families, as a rule – languishing in adjoining chambers. Some cracked up over money, others over broken hearts. Then there are a few who went mad over love and money at the same time. But that’s just what I imagine when I’m alone with my thoughts. Most likely their problems are born of degenerate minds that are the product of hereditary decline. The gene pool has become too small; the ocean of diversity has shriveled to the size of a puddle. This is the fate of the noble elite, unwilling to compromise.

As for my gene spectrum, everything is just fine. Degeneracy poses no threat to my offspring – if I ever have any. And, as far as my mind is concerned, I live by a different set of rules – and I do not accept compromises either. I act as if they don’t exist. This has absolutely nothing to do with nobility.

My father came from a line of cobblers and had reeked of goat glue since he was a child, while my mother, quite the opposite, grew up all prissy in a banker’s family that lost everything when the pound sterling crashed. My parents got along well, despite their different backgrounds, united by a contempt for their hapless ancestors who gave them no chance at all. At least my mother never blamed her husband for the countless adversities we met – the troubles that befell us with the persistence of capricious fate. And as far as I could tell, he was gentler with her than was the custom in the places we lived. He probably regarded her more highly than was the norm. Which, to be fair, is really to his credit.

Still, my father’s way of thinking was always quite straightforward. I would even say it was predictably crude, albeit quite sly and shrewd. He never mastered his profession, but then, it didn’t interest him in the least. He was a vagabond by nature and, on top of that, locked horns with the authorities all the time. So we wandered from village to village for many years; we had no permanent home and didn’t stay anywhere for very long. The neighbors never liked us, and the local police instantly sensed the opportunity for easy pickings, but that was just an illusion – my father always managed to leave them empty-handed. We traveled all over the Balkan Mountains, through the Rhodopes, the Pindus, the Dolomites, then reached the Danube and went all the way to Budapest. That was where we settled down for a while. My father started to sell pottery, and my mother ran into a long-lost cousin who taught her how to read tarot cards. Our life took on some semblance of stability, and I got twin brothers and a sister who were one year apart.

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – NC17

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