The Velvet Underground – The Gift

Waldo Jeffers had reached his limit.
It was now mid-August which meant that
he had been separated from Marsha for more than two months.
Two months, and all he had to show were three dog-eared letters
and two very expensive long-distance phone calls.
True, when school had ended and she’d returned to Wisconsin
and he to Locust, Pennsylvania she had sworn to maintain a certain fidelity.
She would date occasionally, but merely as amusement.
She would remain faithful. But lately Waldo had begun to worry.
He had trouble sleeping at night and when he did, he had horrible dreams.
He lay awake at night, tossing and turning underneath his
printed quilt protector, tears welling in his eyes,
As he pictured Marsha, her sworn vows overcome by liquor
and the smooth soothings of some Neanderthal,
Finally submitting to the final caresses of sexual oblivion.
It was more than the human mind could bear.

Visions of Marsha’s faithlessness haunted him.
Daytime fantasies of sexual abandon permeated his thoughts.
And the thing was, they wouldn’t understand who she really was.
He, Waldo, alone, understood this.
He had intuitively grasped every nook and cranny of her psyche.
He had made her smile, and she needed him, and he wasn’t there. (Awww.)
The idea came to him on the Thursday before the Mummers Parade was scheduled to appear.
He had just finished mowing and edging the Edelsons lawn for a dollar-fifty
And had checked the mailbox to see if there was at least a word from Marsha.
There was nothing more than a circular form the Amalgamated Aluminum Company of America inquiring into his awning needs.
At least they cared enough to write.

It was a New York company. You could go anywhere in
the mails. Then it struck him: he didn’t have enough
money to go to Wisconsin in the accepted fashion,
true, but why not mail himself? It was absurdly
simple. He would ship himself parcel post special
delivery. The next day Waldo went to the supermarket
to purchase the necessary equipment. He bought
masking tape, a staple gun and a medium sized
cardboard box, just right for a person of his build.
He judged that with a minimum of jostling he could
ride quite comfortably. A few airholes, some water, a
selection of midnight snacks, and it would probably be
as good as going tourist.

By Friday afternoon, Waldo was set. He was thoroughly
packed and the post office had agreed to pick him up
at three o’clock. He’d marked the package “FRAGILE”
and as he sat curled up inside, resting in the foam
rubber cushioning he’d thoughtfully included, he tried
to picture the look of awe and happiness on Marsha’s
face as she opened the door, saw the package, tipped
the deliverer, and then opened it to see her Waldo
finally there in person. She would kiss him, and then
maybe they could see a movie. If he’d only thought of
this before. Suddenly rough hands gripped his package
and he felt himself borne up. He landed with a thud
in a truck and then he was off.

Marsha Bronson had just finished setting her hair. It
had been a very rough weekend. She had to remember
not to drink like that. Bill had been nice about it
though. After it was over he’d said that he still
respected her and, after all, it was certainly the way
of nature and even though no, he didn’t love her, he
did feel an affection for her. And after all, they
were grown adults. Oh, what Bill could teach Waldo —
but that seemed many years ago. Sheila Klein, her
very, very best friend walked in through the porch
screen door into the kitchen. “Oh God, it’s
absolutely maudlin outside.”
“Ugh, I know what you mean, I feel all icky.” Marsha
tightened the belt on her cotton robe with the silk
outer edge. Sheila ran her finger over some salt
grains on the kitchen table, licked her finger and made a face.
“I’m supposed to be taking these salt pills, but,” she
wrinkled her nose, “they make me feel like throwing up.”
Marsha started to pat herself under the chin, an
exercise she’d seen on television. “God, don’t even
talk about that.” She got up from the table and went
to the sink where she picked up a bottle of pink and
blue vitamins. “Want one? Supposed to be better than
steak.” And attempted to touch her knees. “I don’t
think I’ll ever touch a daiquiri again.” She gave up
and sat down, this time nearer the small table that
supported the telephone. “Maybe Bill’ll call,” she
said to Sheila’s glance.
Sheila nibbled on a cuticle. “After last night, I
thought maybe you’d be through with him.”
“I know what you mean. My God, he was like an
octopus. Hands all over the place.” She gestured,
raising her arms upward in defense. “The thing is
after a while, you get tired of fighting with him, you
know, and after all he didn’t really do anything
Friday and Saturday so I kind of owed it to him, you
know what I mean.” She started to scratch. Sheila
was giggling with her hand over her mouth. “I’ll tell
you, I felt the same way, and even after a while,” she
bent forward in a whisper, “I wanted to,” and now she
was laughing very loudly.

It was at this point that Mr. Jameson of the Clarence
Darrow Post Office rang the door bell of the large
stucco colored frame house. When Marsha Bronson
opened the door, he helped her carry the package in.
He had his yellow and his green slips of paper signed
and left with a fifteen-cent tip that Marsha had
gotten out of her mothers small beige pocket book in
the den. “What do you think it is?” Sheila asked.
Marsha stood with her arms folded behind her back.
She stared at the brown cardboard carton that sat in
the middle of the living room. “I don’t know.”

Inside the package Waldo quivered with excitement as
he listened to the muffled voices. Sheila ran her
fingernail over the masking tape that ran down the
center of the carton. “Why don’t you look at the
return address and see who it is from?” Waldo felt
his heart beating. He could feel the vibrating
footsteps. It would be soon.

Marsha walked around the carton and read the
ink-scratched label. “Ugh, God, it’s from Waldo!”
“That schmuck,” said Sheila. Waldo trembled with
expectation. “Well, you might as well open it,” said
Sheila. Both of them tried to lift the stapled flap.

“Ahh, shit,” said Marsha groaning. “He must have
nailed it shut.” They tugged at the flap again. “My
God, you need a power drill to get this thing opened.”
They pulled again. “You can’t get a grip!” They
both stood still, breathing heavily.
“Why don’t you get the scissors,” said Sheila. Marsha
ran into the kitchen, but all she could find was a
little sewing scissor. Then she remembered that her
father kept a collection of tools in the basement.
She ran downstairs and when she came back, she had a
large sheet-metal cutter in her hand.
“This is the best I could find.” She was very out of
breath. “Here, you do it. I’m gonna die.” She sank
into a large fluffy couch and exhaled noisily.
Sheila tried to make a slit between the masking tape
and the end of the cardboard, but the blade was too
big and there wasn’t enough room. “Godamn this
thing!” she said feeling very exasperated. Then,
smiling, “I got an idea.”
“What?” said Marsha.
“Just watch,” said Sheila touching her finger to her head.

Inside the package, Waldo was so transfixed with
excitement that he could barely breathe. His skin
felt prickly from the heat and he could feel his heart
beating in his throat. It would be soon. Sheila
stood quite upright and walked around to the other
side of the package. Then she sank down to her knees,
grasped the cutter by both handles, took a deep breath
and plunged the long blade through the middle of the
package, through the middle of the masking tape,
through the cardboard, through the cushioning and
(thud) right through the center of Waldo Jeffers head,
which split slightly and caused little rhythmic arcs
of red to pulsate gently in the morning sun.

Album_The Velvet Underground - White Light_White Heat

Prevod pesme


Valdo Džefers je bio na ivici.
Bila je sredina avgusta što je značilo
da se pre više od dva meseca rastao od Marše.
Dva meseca a sve čime je mogao da se pohvali bila su tri pisma sa magarećim ušima
i dva preskupa međugradska telefonska poziva.
Istina, kad se škola završila a ona se vratila Viskonsin
a on u Lokast, Pensilvanija, zaklela se na izvesnu vernost.
Povremeno će izlaziti s drugima, ali čisto iz zabave.
Ostaće verna. Ali, u poslednje vreme je Valdo počeo da brine.
Noću nije mogao da spava, a kad je spavao, imao je užasne snove.
Noću je ležao budan, vrteći se i prevrćući se ispod svog
šarenog jorgana, suze su mu tekle niz obraze,
Dok je zamišljao Maršu, njena obećanja nadvladana alkoholom
i umirivanjem nekog neandertalca,
kako se na kraju predaje krajnjim milovanjima seksualnog zaborava.
To je bilo više nego što ljudski mozak može da podnese.

Vizije Maršinog neverstva progonile su ga.
Vizije seksualne napuštenosti prožimale su njegove misli.
A stvar je bila u tome što oni ne bi razumeli kakva je ona u stvari.
On, Valdo, i niko drugi, razumeo je to.
On je intuitivno pojmio svaki kutak i pukotinu njene psihe.
On ju je nasmejavao i bio joj je potreban, a nije bio uz nju.
To mu je sinulo u četvrtak, pre nego što je zakazana parada pantomimičara.
Tek što je završio košenje i orezivanje travnjaka kod Edelsona, za dolar i po
I proverio sanduče da vidi da li je stiglo bar nešto od Marše.
U njemu nije bilo ničega sem cirkularnog pisma u kojem se Američka fabrika
aluminijuma raspitivala da li mu treba nadstrešnica.
Bar je njima bilo dovoljno stalo da pošalju pismo.

To je bila njujorška kompanija. Poštom možeš
svuda. A onda mu je sinulo: nije imao dovoljno
novca da ode do Viskonsina na prihvatljivi način,
istina, ali, zašto ne bi sebe poslao poštom? To je bilo apsurdno
jednostavno. Otpremio bi sebe kao paket, brzom
poštom. Narednog dana Valdo je otišao u supermarket
da kupi neophodnu opremu. Kupio je samolepljivu
traku, heftalicu, i jednu kartonsku kutiju
srednje veličine, taman dovoljno veliku za nekoga njegove građe.
Procenio je da uz minimalno tumbanje može
da putuje dosta udobno. Nekoliko rupa za vazduh, nešto vode
Odabrane večernje grickalice, i verovatno će biti
jednako dobro kao da putuje turistički.

Do petka popodne, Valdo je bio spreman. Bio je kompletno
spakovan i pošta se složila da ga pokupi
u tri sata. Označio je paket sa “LOMLJIVO”
i dok je u njemu sedeo sklupčan, oslonjen na
oblogu od penaste gume koju je mudro postavio, pokušao
je da zamisli odraz strahopoštovanja i sreće na Maršinom
licu kad otvori vrata, vidi paket, da bakšiš
raznosaču, i onda ga otvori videvši da je njen Valdo
napokon lično tu. Poljubila bi ga, a onda
bi možda mogli pogledati neki film. Da se samo toga
ranije setio. Iznenada, neke grube ruke zgrabiše njegov paket
i osetio je kako ga nose naviše. Uz tup udarac, spustiše
ga na kamion i onda je krenuo.

Marša Bronson je taman završila nameštanje kose. Bio
je to veoma naporan vikend. Trebalo bi da vodi računa
da ne pije toliko. Mada, Bil je bio fin
u vezi toga. Kad je sve prošlo, rekao je da je i dalje
poštuje i da je, nakon svega, sve to sasvim
normalno i da mu je draga, iako je ne voli. I u svakom slučaju,
oboje su odrasli. Oh, šta bi sve Bil mogao da nauči Valda —
ali činilo se kao da je to bilo pre mnogo godina. Šila Klajn, njena
naj najbolja drugarica ušla je kroz letnja
vrata u kuhinju. “O Bože, vreme je
živi smor.”
“Uh, razumem te, ja sam sva nikakva.” Marša
je zategla kaiš na svom pamučnom bademantilu sa
svilenim rubom. Šila je prešla prstom preko zrna
soli na kuhinjskom stolu, polizala prst i složila facu.
“Treba da pijem neke tablete soli, ali,” naborala
je nos, “od njih mi se povraća.”
Marša je počela da se lupka po bradi, to je neka
vežba koju je videla na televiziji. “Bože, ne
spominji mi to.” Ustala je od stola i otišla
do sudopere gde je uzela bočicu sa pink i
plavim vitaminima. “Hoćeš jednu? Kažu da su bolji od
bifteka.” i pokušala da dodirne kolena. “Sumnjam
da ću ikad više pipnuti daiquiri.” Odustala je
i sela dole, ovog puta bliže stoliću sa
telefonom. “Možda će Bil zvati,” rekla je
kad ju je Šila pogledala.
Šila je grickala zanokticu. “Nakon sinoćnih dešavanja,
mislila sam da ćeš možda raskinuti s njim.”
“Znam na šta misliš. O moj bože, bio je kao
oktopod. Ruke na sve strane.” Gestikulirala je
podižući ruke prema gore u odbrani. “Stvar je u tome
što se nakon nekog vremena umoriš od svađanja sa njim,
znaš, a na kraju krajeva, u petak i subotu nije
ništa radio, pa sam mu to nekako dugovala, znaš
na šta mislim.” Počela je da se češka. Šila
se kikotala sa rukom preko usta. “Da ti kažem
nešto, i ja sam isto mislila, i nakon nekog vremena,”
nagnula se napred šapućući, “sam poželela,” i tad se
već glasno smejala.

U tom trenutku, g. Džejmeson iz Klarens
Derov pošte zazvoni na vratima velike
namalterisane drvene kuće. Kad je Marša Bronson
otvorila vrata, pomogao joj je da unese paket.
Dobio je potpise na svojim žutim i zelenim papirićima
i otišao sa bakšišom od petnaest centi koje je Marša
uzela iz male bež džepne knjižice svoje majke u
ćumezu. “Šta misliš šta je to?” pitala je Šila.
Marša je stojala sa rukama iza leđa.
Zurila je u smeđu kartonsku kutiju koja je stajala nasred
dnevne sobe. “Ne znam.”

Unutar paketa, Valdo je treperio od uzbuđenja dok
je slušao prigušene glasove. Šila je povukla
noktom po selotepu zalepljenim po
sredini kutije. “Što ne pogledaš
adresu pošiljaoca da vidiš od koga je?” Valdo je osetio
kako mu srce lupa. Mogao je da oseti vibriranje
koraka. Još malo.

Marša je obišla karton i pročitala
nalepnicu ispisanu mastilom. “Uf, Bože, od Valda je!”
“Taj šmokljan,” reče Šila. Valdo je zatreptao od
iščekivanja. “Pa, mogla bi i da ga otvoriš,” reče
Šila. Obe su pokušale da podignu zaheftani poklopac.

“Ahh, sranje,” reče Marša stenjući. “Mora da ga
je zakucao.” Ponovo su teglile poklopac. “Bože
moj, treba ti bušilica da ovo otvoriš.”
Ponovo su povukle. “Nemaš za šta da ga uhvatiš!” Obe
su stojale mirno, teško dišući.
“Što ne uzmeš makaze,” reče Šila. Marša
je otrčala u kuhinju ali sve što je uspela da nađe bile su jedne
male krojačke makazice. Onda se setila da njen otac
ima set alata u podrumu.
Otrčala je niz stepenice a vratila se sa
velikim sekačem za lim u rukama.
“Ovo je najbolje što sam našla.” Bila je poprilično
bez daha. “Evo, ti to uradi. Ja ću umreti.” Zavalila
se na veliki mekani kauč i glasno izdahnula.
Šila je pokušala da npravi prorez između selotep trake
i ivice kartona, ali oštrica je bila prevelika
i nije bilo dosta mesta. “Prokleta
stvar!” rekla je ogorčeno. A onda,
sa osmehom, “Imam ideju.”
“Kakvu?” reče Marša.
“Samo gledaj,” reče Šila dodirujući prstom glavu.

Unutar paketa, Valdo je bio toliko paralisan
od uzbuđenja da je jedva disao. Koža ga
je peckala od vrućine i imao je osećaj kao
da mu srce kuca u grlu. Još malo. Šila
je stajala poprilično uspravno pa prešla na drugu
stranu paketa. Onda se spustila na kolena,
uhvatila sekač za obe ručke, duboko udahnula
i zarila dugu oštricu kroz sredinu
paketa, kroz sredinu selotepa,
kroz karton, kroz penastu gumu i
(tup) pravo kroz glavu Valda Džefersa,
koja se blago rasporila i mali ritmički lukovi
crvenila nežno zapulsiraše na jutarnjem suncu.

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