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Łukasz Orbitowski

Photo by Ha!art

Łukasz Orbitowski

Horror show

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Read by Marta Meissner, recorded by Radiofonia Association
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English translation: Michał Strojek
And here is the market in Balice. Let’s enter through the gate, after paying a couple zloties to the doorkeepers. We pass by a few boys who peer in every direction. Some of them also stand outside the entrance, scanning the street – watching out for a police raid. Then we see rows of market stands, with three paths between them. Garden umbrellas billow in the wind – they’re all grey, regardless of what color they might have once had. The snow is swirling. We’re surrounded by a whispering noise, flowing around us like cold air. Sounds from dozens of speakers, footsteps, voices talking. Let’s go on. Music for fifteen zlotys apiece. Fake brand clothes. Car radios, TV sets, stereo systems – some of them bigger than a port-a-potty – phones, cases, wallets, smokes, stereo parts, chains, a woman with a dog, and at the end the scary guy with his three cats in a basket.  
Let’s go further, into the hall. In front of the entrance there are wide tables with computer games. But once we take a closer look, it turns out there are no games here. Only sealed boxes and a wind-blown sheet of paper covered in marker doodles that announce the latest offers. It is only when we ask the boy who lurks near the table, he’ll look us up and down, disappear and deliver a CD into our hands. Neither of us will raise an arm. It’s a strictly pocket-to-pocket deal.
The roof of the hall looks like the hull of a dead spaceship. It looms over the real flea market itself. The sheer weight of the space crushes the people below. We wander around this human hive a while, check if the wallet is still in its place and turn around. The market is for the poor and the rich alike. The poor man will spend a twenty on some CD, and the rich one will leave with a phone he got at half price or a new radio, and if he knows where to look, he’ll grab a crate of vodka and a real biscuit with a full magazine.
English translation: Michał Strojek
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Łukasz Orbitowski

(b. 1977) – writer, born in Krakow, a graduate of philosophy at the Jagiellonian University, a local patriot of Podgórze and Kazimierz districts. He began his literary adventure in 1999 with fantasy Złe wybrzeża (Evil Shores), which has yielded to horror in his most recent novels Tracę ciepło (I am Losing my Warmth). Many call him the Polish Steven King. In 2013, Orbitowski was nominated for a “Passport” of Polityka national weekly for his latest novel Szczęśliwa ziemia (Land of Happiness). Krakow is the setting of many of his novels, notably Horror Show (2006), where Krakow bars are reminiscent of dog breeds, and the Balice exchange is the place where shady transactions are conducted “at pocket level”. (ms)

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