Issue #72

Fall 2019

Three Stories

by Nikolaj Volgushev


When I come home from work, I find my apartment door ajar, the lock broken, my possessions rifled through. The burglars have searched the apartment thoroughly, uncovering things I had forgotten I owned. They've taken everything with a blade, my kitchen knives, scissors, even my electric shaver, are all gone. I call my landlord and tell her about the break-in, and that I need a new lock. She assures me that steps will be taken. Later that day, she and a locksmith are already here, busy fortifying the door. The whole frame is adorned with various locks, chains, and bolts. As if that weren't enough, my landlord hires a guard. He lingers in the hallway by the door, casting about dark, mistrustful glances, and harasses anyone who tries to pass.


The fruit salesman

A fat, unpleasant man forces his way past me as soon as I open the door. He is carrying several bulging satchels and boxes, so many in fact that it's causing him to sway precariously from side to side. The fat man heads straight for my kitchen, shoves aside the things on the table, and sets down his heavy load with a grunt. His face is red with effort, his eyes contemptuous, as though he were blaming me for something. He tells me that he is the fruit salesman and begins unpacking his wares, despite my protests that I'm not looking to buy fruit. He produces apples, plums, mangoes, peaches, bunches of grapes and berries, several enormous watermelons, even fruit I have never seen before, pale, translucent, and fist-sized. As he unpacks, he barks out prices, concessions he is willing to make. There is a special deal on the peaches. Before long, my neighbors start trickling into my apartment. Some give me apologetic sideways glances as they enter, but soon enough my presence is all but forgotten, and the haggling begins. Reluctantly, I leave the kitchen and go looking for my wallet, or at least some loose change with which to pay the merchant.



All morning, I am plagued by mosquitoes. This is strange because Copenhagen does not have the climate for it. In my three years here, I have only had a few mosquito bites, until today. Now, my arms and legs are covered in red, itchy marks. I think it's the apartment at first, some sort of infestation, so I decide to go to a cafe. Even as I walk down the wind-swept, bright street however the hum near my ear continues. I swat at my neck, my arm, my ankle, but I don't manage to kill a single one of my pesky pursuers. At the cafe, I settle down at a table in the back and try to enjoy my coffee. A man across from me slaps himself on the knee, inspects his palm in bewilderment. Soon, several other patrons are waving at the air around them. I gulp down my coffee and sneak out, praying that the mysterious insects will be too distracted with their new prey to notice my hurried departure.

Author Bio


Nikolaj Volgushev's fiction has appeared in journals such as Hoot, Cleaver Magazine, and Cease, Cows. He currently lives in Denmark where he writes, programs, and does other things along those lines. His story, "Pete and the Elephant," appeared in Issue #55 of The Cafe Irreal.