The Old Woman - II

I can see perfectly drawn squares close to my eyes. A pain in my shoulder and right hip forces me to change position. I lay face down, and now it takes a lot more effort to get back on my knees. All my members are numb and stiff. I look around and see myself in my room, standing on my knees in the center of the floor. Consciousness and memory are slowly coming back to me. I look around again and see that there is someone sitting in the armchair next to the window. There isn't much light in the room, since now it must be the middle of a white night. I am staring intensely. Good God! Is it possible that the old woman is still sitting in my armchair? I stretch my neck and look. Certainly, it's the old woman alright; her head down on her chest. She mustíve fallen asleep.

I get up and approach her, limping. The old woman's head lies on her chest; her hands hang down over the sides of the armchair. I have a strong desire to grab her and kick her out the door.

"Listen," I say. "You are in my room. I have to work. You'd better go."

The old woman doesn't move. I bend down and look at her face. Her mouth is half open and I see her dentures have fallen off, now sticking out of her mouth. I suddenly realize: the old woman is dead.

I am severely annoyed. Why did she have to die in my room? I hate dead people. And now, this nuisance: I have to deal with this cadaver, off to the super, the landlord, to explain why this dead old woman happens to be in my room. I look at her with hatred. But maybe she's not dead? I touch her forehead. It is cold. Her hand is cold too. What should I do?

I light up my pipe and sit down on the sofa. I feel a blinding rage growing inside of me.

"Bitch!" I say out loud.

The dead old woman sits in my armchair like an empty sack. Her dentures are sticking out her mouth. She reminds me of a dead horse.

"What a disgusting image," I say, but feel uncomfortable about covering her with a newspaper... who knows what might happen under there?

I hear movement on the other side of the wall: it must be my neighbor getting up, the steam-engine driver. That's great; what if he'll find out about the dead old woman in my room? I listen carefully to my neighbor's steps. Why is he so slow? It's half five already! He should've been gone long ago. My God, he is going to have tea? I can hear the noise coming from his stove. I wish this blasted engine driver would leave!

I drag my legs to the sofa and lie down. Eight minutes pass by, but the neighbor's tea isn't ready yet and his stove is still whistling. I close my eyes and doze off.

I dream that my neighbor and I leave together, and I slam the door behind me, and the French lock closes automatically. I don't have my key and I cannot get back in my room. I should ring the doorbell but it would wake up the others; this isn't good. I stand on the stairwell landing, thinking what to do. Suddenly I discover that I have no hands. I cock my head on one side and see that instead of a hand, I have a kitchen knife sticking out of my sleeve. On the other side, I see a fork.

"Look at that," I say to Sakerdon Michailovich, who is sitting on a folding chair. "Do you see?" I say, "What kind of hands do I have?"

But Sakerdon Michailovich seats silent, and I see that this Sakerdon Michailovich is not real, but he's made of clay.

At this, I wake up and realize that I am in my room, lying on the sofa, and I know that next to the window, there is a dead old woman sitting in my armchair.

I turn my head quickly in her direction. There is no old woman. I look at the empty armchair and am filled with joyful relief. This was a dream after all. But when did it begin? Has the old woman ever been in my room? Maybe that too was a dream? Yesterday, I came back home to shut off the electric stove. But maybe that was a dream too. Anyway, it's a great relief that I don't have a dead old woman in my room. This means that I don't have to go into the trouble of explaining everything to the super.

Nevertheless, how long was I asleep for? I looked at my watch: nine thirty, must be in the morning, of course.

Good God! The dreams one can have when asleep!

I put my feet down and was about to stand up, when I suddenly saw the dead old woman lying on the floor, behind the table, by the armchair. She was lying on her back - face up, and her dentures must have jumped out of her mouth and bit into one of her nostrils. Her arms were twisted under her body, therefore not visible; her skirt was lifted exposing her scrawny legs covered with dirty white woolly stockings.

"Bitch!" I screamed running to the old woman, and kicked her in the chin with my boot.

Her dentures flied off into a corner. I wanted to kick her one more time, but was afraid of leaving any marks - it will certainly put me under suspicion for killing her.

I walked away from the old woman, sat down on the sofa and lit up my pipe. I spent about twenty minutes this way. It was clear to me that the police would investigate this and those muddle-heads will surely accuse me of murder. The situation was pretty serious - on top of that, what did I do: I kicked her in the chin with my boot.

I approached the old woman again and bent down to study her face. There was a small dark spot on her chin. No, it's not enough of a mark. Who knows what has happened? Maybe she hit herself whilst still alive? I relax a little and start to walk back and forth around the room, smoking my pipe, thinking over my situation.

I walk around my room and begin feeling hungry. I start shaking from hunger. I go and search again in the drawer where I keep provisions, but find nothing but a piece of sugar.

I take out my wallet and count my money. Eleven rubles. Enough to buy myself some ham and bread, and I will even have some left for tobacco.

I fix my tie which has gone askew overnight, take my watch, put on my coat, go out into the corridor, carefully lock the door, put the key into my pocket, and walk out onto the street. First of all I should eat; my thoughts will clear, and then, I shall make my mind up about what to do with this carcass.

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