Sunday, July 25, 2010


At the house in the countryside her brother tells me she is using me. How does he know? She uses everyone. He tries to keep away from her. He knows her, he says, she's his sister. She pretends to like you, gets what she wants, then forgets you. She's brilliant in her way. Some things she says. But it's not good enough. The rest is all show.

My friend the opera singer Orestes tells me the same about her sight unseen. How does he know? He looks at me. I'm Hungarian, he says finally.

Orestes is a lady's man. He is separated from his wife and new born baby. He can't keep himself away from other women.

I am staying with Orestes in his one room apartment behind the opera house. He sings in the Opera Chorus, rehearsals and performances almost every day. He is a very generous man, and invites me to come back stage at the opera any night I want.

I want to explain something. I had returned to Budapest from my future wife's house in the country when I ran into Orestes walking down the street. Suddenly, me - the man who was embattled in Cyprus with corrupt officials, who before that was embattled with his own family who set corrupt officials on him to investigate whether he is an violent enemy of the state and hired corrupt lawyers to divert all family money into their pockets, just in a moment this man is honored, has the privilege of watching an opera company perform every night from a box or the wings, he is a welcome guest.

- You're back in Budapest - for how long this time?
- I have been here for a few days.
- How long are you staying?
- No plans as usual.
- Where are you staying?
- An apartment for tourists near the synagogue.
- Come stay with me.

Orestes is tall, about 30 years old, with a large archaic face. His English is not too good, but we manage.

One evening at his place I receive a telephone message from my future wife."Return my f#c*g passport!" First I think it must be a mistake. I write back: "What?" Another message comes immediately: "No games. Give me back my bag and passport." I show the messages to Orestes. What should I do? What is his advice? Give it back to her, he says.

(From the novel Beatrix & Rex)