by Javier Gómez
Oh, belleza extranjera
Fuimos caminando a casa
— Aguas Tónicas, El expresso, 2005

Every Sunday night was a contained apocalypse. It was the contrast that killed everything, the unbridled freedom I sensed in those two hours in the radio booth versus the stone slab crushing my chest when I knew, no, I felt it was the end of joy, and it was time for sleep and then the daily dose of death. It wasn’t the kind of death I liked, which came mostly from Scandinavia, galloping over thundering riffs and triumphant melodies. That’s what I played that night in the show, a neat retrospective of a band called Dark Tranquillity.

I walked home with the lyrics still in my head, “soon the battle is over, lost to apathy.” Córdoba Street was deserted and expectant, preparing for the throng of feet that would come the next day. A homeless man slept soundly on a bench in Pringles Square, his placid face a testament to the mercy of the night’s benevolent weather. I chuckled at the irony of it all, of how freedom eluded me and not that man, who nonetheless had to pay the price of having nothing. An eye for an eye, a life for a life. Not a good deal at all, but my father had warned me about it. Sometimes with words, sometimes with small and powerful actions.

I got to the apartment quicker than I wanted. The scenery was always the same, only the food changed. This time it was cold pizza, the remnants of the previous night’s ode to slacking. The TV was on, my roommate watching some reality show about blacksmiths and weird blades. Alex loved all things medieval; he even looked and behaved like a fantasy character most of the time. A six-foot tall guy with a bushy beard, long hair, and bellowing laughter who listened to the cheesiest power metal bands. A mutual friend had said he was a dwarf trapped in a human’s body. He was upbeat by nature and had his own business, so Monday wasn’t his sworn enemy. Alex didn’t have to deal with shaving every day and building a passable smile to seem friendly to unbearable strangers.

“Hey. Beer?”

Alex raised a bottle of stout in a conquering, He-Man pose.

“Sure. Did you catch the show?”

“Yeah, I expected some Dream Evil instead of Hammerfall, but other than that it was okay.”

“Just okay?”

“You know my take on growls. You could record a dog barking and it’d be the same.”

“Sure, a dog could lay down the vocals on ‘Blackwater Park’.”

“That’s different. That guy sings too. He’s no Kiske, but he can sing.”

“Fuck off, you only like high pitched, whiny vocals.”

“And you like a thousand abominations!”

“Hell yeah. Cheers to that!”


Alex proceeded to down the content of the glass in what he thought was the way warriors did it in ancient times. He got up and opened another stout.

“Round 2?”

“I shouldn’t, but bring it on.”

“Too much work tomorrow?”

“Same old crap, same shopaholic zombies.”

That’s what was doing my head in, people. I had been thinking of quitting almost every day for a month now, daydreaming about a powerful resignation speech that would open my coworkers’ eyes to the absurdity of it all: the brand, the ridiculous colors of the polo shirts, the excessive politeness, even the unnecessary and always suffocating heating. The shop was already too warm; the non-environmentally friendly halogens took care of that. And it would be the same tomorrow, but not forever. I went to bed earlier than usual, weighing the possibility of being unemployed for a while.

7.30 AM. Beep, beeeeeep. Fuckin’ hell. Even Phil Anselmo on the wall seemed pissed off by the alarm. But he always looks pissed off. I poured coffee in the last clean mug, making a colossal effort to avoid looking at the kitchenware leviathan rising from the depths of the stainless steel sink. The monster had been fed by us three official tenants of the flat with Martín’s brother occasionally collaborating when he turned the sofa into an unofficial fourth bedroom most weekends. But there was no one there now, only the crumpled blankets and a full ashtray struggling to be Mount Ash.

I sat down in the middle of the wreckage, coffee cup in hand and slightly burnt toast on a plate. Turned the TV on by force of habit, trying to reach the music channels before the news anchor even had a chance to utter a sound. The average chord progression of a post-grunge band filled the room, and I turned it down a bit even though no one in the house would mind. They slept like mummies. Mediocre music had an unpleasant ability to drown out my thoughts, and I needed them on a Monday morning. Breakfast was always quick, as I had noticed that leaving earlier and getting to the shop half an hour before it opened cushioned the blow of eight hours facing the tedium. I got up and left the house, mug and dish added to the heap of chaos.

To be continued…

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asyran

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Javier Gómez

The Canyon Inside Us – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Uncharted Bliss – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

The Way of No Way – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Emblems and stories on Argentina

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Armenia and other countries


Cover photo: In the Dark (Argentina) by Elsematter (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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