Extract from Michael Mitchell's translation

Helmut Krausser's The Great Bagarozy

‘The way of dying I've chosen is a lengthy one. Would you like to know which?’


‘I will become human and then I'll die in the way chance happens to have reserved for me. Isn't that what you want, Signora?’

‘How are you going to do it? “Become human”, is it that simple?’

‘On the contrary, it's extremely tedious. Probably. I've no idea, really. But I'm attracted by the idea of being an old man sitting with other old men and saying, “Lads, I used to be the devil himself!” And they'll all have a laugh or a grin and only I'll know what really was. That and a beautiful sunset. I'm sure that would make me happy… outrageously happy …’

‘That's what you see as your future? Just dying?’

‘Why ever not?’ Nagy's speech was interspersed with hiccoughs. ‘I'm completely fed up with everything. Why do I keep hanging on here? What for? Who for? Having to make do with a few kids who celebrate weird masses in my name? Eh? Should I play the call boy with the ice-cold jism’, his voice grew loud, ‘FOR A FEW FRIGID CATHOLIC CUNTS WHO GO SCREWY 'CAUSE THEY DON'T GET SCREWED?’

‘Shh! You're drunk.’

‘Yes. Oh dear. What's it like being human? Hmm? I'm a bit afraid of it. There are some dreadful examples that really put you off. Cora? May I call you Cora? Let's call each other Cora … I probably wouldn't be a very good person, would I?’

Nagy gave a crazy laugh, staggered. Cora grabbed his arm and supported him. She could smell the alcohol on his breath.

‘Don't touch!’

Cora let go. Nagy's fingertips touched the pavement. ‘You're ruining my patina. It's taken me centuries to get it right.’

‘Your self-pity is insufferable.’

‘Self-pity?’ Nagy pulled himself together, stamping on the pavement, as if to prove he could walk straight. Fast-moving clouds were swirling round the moon. ‘Self-pity, eh?’

‘I'm here to help you.’

‘Of course …’

He came up to her until he was only inches away, put his hands on the wall over Cora's head and whispered something that sent her wild. ‘Pull up your skirt.’

She did what he demanded without thinking. There were many things going on inside her head, but the desire to have Nagy grope her dominated everything.

He clicked his fingers.



‘Just interested. To see how far gone you were …’