Part 1 submitted by
, Part 2
As I walked through the IKEA showroom I felt distressed. I wanted to sit down, I needed to sit down, but all of the couches around me looked like they would cause me severe back pain. They were lit up with fancy lights and smelled faintly of disinfectant, the whole showroom felt like the world’s fanciest hospital. I desperately searched among the rows for something that would make me comfortable, but my search seemed hopeless. I walked around aimlessly, until, as if by divine intervention, I noticed a maintenance room in the corner of the showroom.
As I opened the door a cloud of smoke escaped the abyss that hid beyond. The darkness before me beckoned, ‘Come here Tiger,’
it whispered. I walked into the hallway. The door behind me closed.
As I journeyed through the corridor the smoke grew more intense, but so did my certainty that I would find what I was looking for. At first it was only my footsteps that echoed through the darkness, but as I walked on I could hear a far off radio playing. A familiar song by the Stones grew louder as I approached a room at the end of the hall. Yet the music was soon joined by sobs. Someone was crying.
A fluorescent light bulb crackled in and out of life, yet it was strong enough to illuminate the small room. A dark haired man in a worker’s uniform sat by the edge of a familiar couch as he finished off stitching the last bits of its flowery upholstery. He wept as he pulled out the thread and needle. His face was caked in grime, but the tears created two clear lines down his cheeks. When he saw me he wiped away his tears and got up. The man composed himself, lit a cigarette and walked over to me. He gave the couch one last look, but it wasn’t a look of sorrow, it was a look of pride. The man looked back at the couch as if he had just walked his daughter down the isle. Then he motioned towards it. ‘Come here Tiger, I’ve been waiting for you,’
the couch growled with sex in its tone.
I stepped towards the couch. The electricity in the air was back and stronger than before. ‘I can make your wildest dreams come true Tiger. I can make you believe in a heaven. All you have to do is fuck me.’
I reached out for the couch, all of my nerve endings tingled with anticipation. I was millimeters away from nirvana. The universe had its gaze set on me and was about to reveal all of its secrets but then-
My hand started to shake. It was gentle at first but soon the convulsions spread through my arm. Within moments I was down on the floor, my body throwing itself from side to side uncontrollably. The light bulb grew bright with a deafening scream. The world was crumbling at its axis. POP!
The room was plunged into darkness.
“James? James, wake up,” Karl’s shadow stood above me. It was early morning; the room was still dim with dawn. Karl held two cigarettes in his hands, “We should go have a cigarette, friend.”
I was horribly dazed; his words didn’t make a lick of sense. The only thing that seemed understandable was the voice in the back of my head, ‘Don’t listen to him Tiger, he wants to take me away from you. Don’t let him get between our love.’
I stirred on the couch. My fingers were deep in the upholstery. “I don’t feel like smoking right now Karl.”
Karl didn’t move. “James, we have to take the couch outside. It doesn’t belong in this house anymore. You and me should also have a cigarette, we need to talk.” ‘He wants to hurt me Tiger, don’t let him hurt me, do something. He has to be stopped.’
I yawned and tried to look as sleepy as possible but Karl’s eyes stayed on me. “Mind if I nap for like fifteen more minutes?” I asked.
“James,” he started. His voice was cold, “We need to take the couch outside. We need to talk.”
I waited for the voice in my head to tell me what to do but it fell quiet. I was abandoned. “Okay, fine, no better way to start a morning than a bit of furniture moving and a smoke.” I lumbered off of the couch, put on my pants and reached for one end of the couch.
“What’s wrong with your hand?” Karl asked. I looked down. My fingers were covered in a thick layer of red, as if I had spent the whole night eating Cheetos. They were also bloated; my nails looked comically small nestled in between thick puffs of red flesh.
I waited for the couch to tell me what to do, but it still kept quiet. “I dunno, spent a good amount of time outside without gloves,” I finally said. Karl looked over at my other hand, my perfectly normal hand that didn’t spend the night inside of the couch, but he didn’t say anything. We carried the couch outside in silence.
It was oddly warm outside. There were still small piles of snow spread through the yard but the neighborhood looked more like a muddy war zone rather than a winter wonderland. The couch remained silent until we dropped it off in the middle of the backyard. ‘There’s a knife in the kitchen, Tiger,’
Karl lit up his cigarette and offered me the lighter. “I forgot my coat, give me a sec,” I said. I walked back into the apartment to fetch it. I went past the kitchen.
When I walked out of the apartment Karl was standing far off from the couch. He didn’t register me walking out; his attention was purely focused on the mysterious furniture. Something was going on behind those small eyes of his. My bloated hand was shoved deep into the coat of my pocket. ‘You know what to do Tiger,’
the voice whispered, ‘He wants to take me away from you, but you can stop him. Be my hero Tiger, be my hero and I will bring you incomprehensible pleasure
.’ I walked towards Karl. I was shaking. “Want to sit?” I finally asked, dragging his attention away from the couch.
Karl motioned towards the lawn chair, “You can sit if you want to.” He lit up my cigarette. ‘One clean cut Tiger, he won’t see it coming, one clean cut through his throat.’
I didn’t sit. Karl’s eyes drifted back towards the couch. “There is something wrong with that couch James,” he started.
“I was nervous yesterday. Maarja’s parents have always been very critical of me. They think I am strange. Whenever I meet them they talk to me like I have escaped from a mental asylum, like there is something wrong with me. But yesterday was different James. Yesterday they made an effort. Maarja’s mother complimented me on my tie and her father was willing to look in my eyes while we talked. During lunch he asked me about my financial plans. I told him about Bitcoin,” Karl smiled, “Maarja’s father became very excited. He heard about crypto-currency from his coworkers, but he did not understand it. I explained it to him. He was so impressed that he asked to see how everything works. He invited himself over to our apartment. Things were going well. I saw him smile. I thought things would continue going well.” Karl paused, his eyes drifted back to the couch. “Things did not go well.”
“When we arrived at the apartment Maarja and her mom stayed outside for a cigarette. I went inside with Maarja’s father to show him the computer rig. He has heard enough about crypto to know that it is going to lift off. I wanted him to see that in a couple of years I would be able to provide for a family. I wanted to ask him if he would… You know…” Karl’s voice dropped to a whisper, “Let me marry his daughter.” He took another puff and shook his head, “But we didn’t get past the living room.”
“As soon as he saw the couch he stopped. He stood there, frozen, looking at the furniture. I tried talking to him but it was as if he didn’t hear me. For almost a minute he stared at the couch and then he jumped on it and started…” Karl trailed off; he looked back at the couch. An expression of utter disbelief danced around his face but he struck it down. Karl looked square into my eyes, “Maarja’s father jumped on the couch and started to hump it.”
Even through the numbness of my fingers I could feel the pointed edge of the kitchen knife. ‘Do it Tiger, do it for me. Don’t let him tell you his lies. Kill the freak. One clean cut. The loud whore inside is still asleep; she’ll be easier to get rid of. Do it Tiger, do it so we can be together forever.’
I cleared my throat, “Humping?” I asked?
“Humping,” Karl replied, “He humped the couch with all his energy. I tried to get him to stop but he wouldn’t listen to a word I said. He just kept on pressing himself against the couch like it was some long lost lover. I left when he started to take off his pants.
“I went outside to get Maarja and her mom. I told them something was wrong with Maarja’s dad and that they needed to come inside right away. At first they didn’t understand, they kept on asking questions. Could they not finish their cigarettes? What was specifically wrong? Why was I so panicked? They were oblivious, but as soon as I mentioned the couch. James, as soon as I mentioned the couch something sparked in Maarja’s mom’s eyes. She ran inside of the apartment, cigarette still in her hand and dragged him out.
“Remember how angry she was when she caught you and Saale the night after the party? Remember how we would joke about how crazy she was about the couch? James, the anger I saw yesterday was nothing compared to that. Maarja’s mother was furious. She slapped and hit Maarja’s dad until he was out of the apartment. She threatened him with divorce. She kicked and punched the man and then locked the door on him so he couldn’t come back.
“She said that Maarja’s dad was obsessed with the couch when they started dating, that the scars on his face are from rubbing against the cushioning. The only way that Maarja’s mom and her grandma managed to get her dad back to normal was by hiding the couch while he went out to do his military service. After he came back he kept on searching for it, he kept on demanding that the couch be returned, but over the years he gave up. That’s why Maarja’s mom wanted us to burn the couch when she saw it. That’s why she demands we burn it now.
“There’s something wrong with that couch James. I sat on it last night while you and Maarja were talking outside. There is something horribly rotten about that couch. As I sat there I could feel it probing in my brain, trying to grab onto something, it was as if the couch was trying to find pain that it could use; pain that it could feed off of. We have to burn it.” ‘SLIT HIS THROAT!’
The voice boomed in my head, ‘SLIT HIS THROAT AND THEN SLIT HER THROAT AND THEN COME TO ME!’
I could feel my arm getting ready. I could already see the blood streaming through his beard. I kept on trying to remind myself that Karl is my friend, that I didn’t want to hurt him, but every fiber of my being was being dragged towards murder. I took a step back. “Can… Can we burn it after New Years?”
“Are you okay?” Karl’s face suddenly turned concerned, “You look pale James.” I took another step backward. ‘A SINGLE SLICE TIGER, HE WON’T SEE IT COMING.’
“I…” my legs turned to jelly, I leaned up against the wall. I wanted to take my hand off the knife, I desperately wanted to be as far away from a weapon as I could be, but my hands refused. Murder jumbled my mind, images of death and pleasure and the couch filled my vision. “I don’t think I’m okay.”
Karl took a step forward. He planted his hand on my shoulder. ‘JUST DO IT YOU COWARD, JUST DO IT! DON’T LET HIM GET IN THE WAY OF OUR LOVE!’
He sighed, “Is this about Saale?”
“Yes,” I found myself saying, “The couch smells like her. I… I’m such a mess Karl. I don’t know how to get over this. I just want to be back. I want to be in high-school again and I want the four of us to be together again and I want to drink every night and…” I realized I was crying again. ‘Coward,’
the voice whispered.
Karl looked at me, visibly feeling awkward. His brow furrowed as he tried to figure out what to say. “We can still drink every night,” he finally said, offering up a weak smile. I couldn’t even manage a smile back. He frowned and thought for a bit more before he spoke again. “James, life is sometimes bad and sometimes it is good. Things will not change, Saale will not come back, but if you wait long enough things will get better. You will forget, you will feel better. I am not good with words, but I am good with waiting. Me and Maarja will wait with you until you are better.”
My hand slipped out of my pocket. It was empty. “Thank you Karl,” I said. ‘You’re a coward,’
the voice reminded me. The pieces started to fall together. The voice, the rat, the dreams, Maarja’s dad; there was something wrong with that couch. It needed to go. Yet there was still a part of me that couldn’t handle seeing it burn. I needed time to prepare. “You’re right about the couch. There’s something off about it but… Could we wait until after midnight to burn it?”
Karl studied me. “Why?”
“It’s silly, I know, but I think getting rid of the place where me and Saale had our first night would be a good start to the New Year, like a way to let things go
.” Karl considered this idea for a bit and then nodded. It felt like a burden was lifted.
Maarja joined us outside after a couple of minutes with coffee. The warmth of the cup felt soothing on my irritated skin. Being with the two of them felt soothing to my irritated soul. Suddenly things started to brighten. Saale and me would never be back together, hell, maybe I would never see her again, and that thought stung but while I was in the company of Karl and Maarja it felt manageable. We set up plans for the rest of the day; by the looks of it our last day of 2012 would be filled with walks through old places, kebabs and booze. We sat down in the kitchen for some pre-drinking.
I put the knife where it belonged when no one was looking. The time that it had spent in my pocket felt like a fever dream. Anything related to the couch felt like a distant memory. The whole morning the voice had been silent, as if it had just satiated itself with calling me a coward and decided to abandon me. I returned the favor; even though it was right outside of the window I didn’t look at the couch a single time the entire morning. It was dead to me. In fact, I started to doubt whether it was ever alive to begin with.
Yet as we headed out to town I couldn’t help myself. I looked back at the couch. It stood defiantly in the middle of the backyard, snow and mud all around it. This was not the same dusty couch Karl and me had dragged out of the garage. It was comfy looking, clean, even sleek. As Karl and Maarja walked on I could see the upholstery rumple into a wink. ‘We’re not done Tiger,’
the voice faintly whispered in my mind, ‘Not by a long shot.’
I ignored it and went out with my friends.
We traced through our high-school drinking holes. Tallinn’s nightlife was always shifting around. Waiters and bartenders from Australia would sit at home, save up their money and run into the Baltics to buy a bar. The bar would be a financial trash fire and in under a year they would go broke. Yet the money that the expats blew on their dreams burnt bright, the names and owners of the bars might have changed but the memories that we made within those walls stayed. We went through the shisha bar where I would always celebrate my birthdays, the Karaoke place where Karl blew all of our minds, the hole-in-the-wall where our band had its first gig. We hoped from memory to memory until we ended up in the grand melting pot: Hellhunt park.
By day Hellhunt was a pub with a park terrace. By night Hellhunt was a pub with an adjoining noise complaint. As soon as the terrace closed down teens from every corner of the city would crowd the benches of the park and drink. Even though most of our drinking began at Maarja’s place we would often stumble through here. Hellhunt was the place where our social circle would stretch.
“They will be closing it down soon,” Karl said, looking at the mingling crowd of underage drunks. “Neighbors are complaining about the noise.”
“Screw the neighbors!” Maarja drunkenly yelled at the windows. She was outpacing both of us, it wasn’t even ten o’clock and she was already drunk enough to forget the whole night. “If you don’t like the noise just come outside! Come drink with us!” Maarja yelled her offer to the windows. No one paid attention to her. Yelling was a regular occurrence in Hellhunt.
Maarja stumbled her way over to the bench where Karl and me were sitting and collapsed between us. “You guys hear about Tinder?” That night was the drunkest I had ever seen her.
“Tinder?” I asked.
“It is an application for your phone where you choose strangers to have sex with,” Karl said.
Maarja scoffed so hard she fell on my shoulder. “It’s a love app! It’s where strangers, strangers like James here, find love! What an exciting time to be single, you’re just given a list of people and you go ‘Beep! Boop!’ Next thing you know you’re married!” Maarja lifted her head. She looked in my eyes as an air of utter seriousness and rum drifted off her, “But I swear to god James, if you get married before me I’ll slit your throat.” She burst out into a stream of giggles, managing to spill her drink in the process. “Whoops! Looks like momma needs more jet-fuel.” Maarja staggered up to her feet and started falling down in the direction of the pub.
Karl got up and managed to catch her before she fell over, “I will come with you. James? You want anything?” I still had half a plastic cup of vodka sprite. The two lovebirds went into the pub and left me alone with the crowd.
I started to think about that Tinder thing that Maarja was talking about. Maybe she was right, maybe it was a good time to be single. I was in the country with the highest models per capita, I was a foreigner, I haven’t been in a serious relationship for six months. There was something about having two breakdowns in the past two days that flooded the obsession out of me. I started searching the crowd for someone I would have swiped right on. That’s when I saw her.
She was standing at the edge of a circle of people. Some dude with dreadlocks was telling some story and she was listening. Her hazel eyes drifted around. They caught mine. For a split second we held each other’s gaze. Then Saale broke into a sprint. I ran after her.
The Old Town of Tallinn is a lot less beautiful when you sprint through it. You can’t appreciate the medieval buildings when you’re in a mad dash, the cobbled streets definitely don’t help either. I ran after Saale as the city turned into a blur around me. My head spun as I ran past the buildings; old school field trips, karaoke, drunken trips to McDonalds, all those thoughts rumbled about. Yet above all of them there was one solitary thought that reigned supreme; I had to catch Saale.
She ran with comical intensity, bumping into drunken crowds as she tried to get away from. It was as if an animal was chasing her. Seeing that panic in her face whenever she looked behind to see if I was gaining on her started to crack something in me. We ran out from the old town towards the two big malls. Crossing the road Saale nearly got hit by a tram. Something in me broke. I stopped.
The absurdity of it all hit me at once. I was literally chasing her. She didn’t want to talk to me. She wouldn’t talk to me. For a couple minutes I stood still, letting the celebrating crowds walk past me like I was a lamppost. I was wavering between rage and despair. I chose the latter and trudged my way back to Hellhunt.
Karl and Maarja were still sitting on the same bench. He was nursing another beer whilst Maarja was chugging on water insisting that she is just getting hydrated to do more drinking later on. It wasn’t rare to lose your friends at Hellhunt for thirty minutes; they didn’t ask where I disappeared to. They could tell something was off though. I tried to act cool, pretend that everything was fine but it wasn’t. I couldn’t stay there. I needed to go back to Maarja’s and just be alone.
“What? You can’t leaveeee! It’s New Years eveee!” Maarja groaned, she kept on touching my face as if that would put me in a more festive mood.
“Do you want us to come home too? I am sure we can see the fireworks from the back yard,” Karl finally said, “I think Maarja might benefit from lying down.” Maarja protested. She was basically sober after all.
“No I think I need to be alone
Karl studied me for a bit but finally nodded. “We will be back after the fireworks. There are some games on my computer if you get bored.” I appreciated the sentiment but I wasn’t in a mood for videogames.
Karl gave me the keys and I made my way back to Maarja’s place. I moved past the crowds heading towards the center. I prayed I wouldn’t bump into Saale again.
I rushed past the couch sitting in the backyard. I know couches don’t have eyes but I knew it was watching me. It was silently waiting for me to slip.
There was a half drank bottle of moonshine on the living room floor from our pre-drinking. Just like any nineteen-year-old European boy the prospect of booze to dull my sadness leaped out at me. I tried to wash out the sting of rejection with the alcohol and for a while it helped, it dulled the pain, but the drunker I got the more my eyes started to slide towards the window. The couch just sat out there in the backyard, mud all around it, awaiting execution. ‘I told you we weren’t done’
it whispered, ‘Come outside Tiger.’
I took another pull of moonshine. I realized I needed a cigarette
This video is unavailable. Watch Queue Queue. Watch Queue Queue HEY THIS IS A PARODY I ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND! AND ITS SUPER WELL DONE! AND MADE WITH LOTS OF LOVE AND CARE! Too bad it still is about bitcoins... so are bitcoi... Hans and Meyer introduce Flinn to the not at all obtuse and extremely profitable world of bitcoin through the bitcoin simulator "beep boop bitcoin". They ask eventually abandon him to play ... This video is unavailable. Watch Queue Queue. Watch Queue Queue