Marko Vidojković

Marko Vidojković, born 1975 in Belgrade, is a Serbian writer. He studied law at the University of Belgrade. He has published several novels as well as two collections of short stories. His stories have appeared in many newspapers and the following collections, Projekat Bukvoski, Podgoričke priče, Pričaj mi o ocu, Priče o Kosovu and Orlovi ponovo lete. His works have been translated into German, English, Bulgarian, Slovene, Macedonian, Hungarian, and Czech.The novel Sve crvenkape su iste (All Little Red Riding Hoods Are the Same) received the Vitalova Award for best book published in 2016, while the novel Kandže (Claws) received the Kočićevo Pero Award and Zlatni Bestseler Prize. Both novels sold over 20 000 copies. His novel E baš vam hvala (2017) was translated into Slovene, Croatian and Macedonian and was shortlisted for Biljana Jovanović Award bestowed by the Serbian Literary Society. It was also short listed for Fric! Award and has sold 23 000 copies since its publication.






He reached the building. Straightaway he glanced up at the windows of her apartment on the first floor. The light in the living room was switched off, but the bathroom light was on. He looked up at the window to the left of the bathroom, the kitchen window, but there was no light there either. It was a Saturday in November, about nine in the evening. He rang the intercom. He rang it again. He waited a couple of seconds, spat on the house number and then rang a third time. 
“Who is it?” asked a woman’s metallic voice.
“It’s me. Open up.”
There was a buzzing sound and Toma pushed the door, but at that exact moment the buzzing stopped and the door remained locked. He rang again.
“Oh come on!” the woman’s voice was intractable.
“Press the button for a bit longer” said Toma.
The buzzing started again. He pushed the door and finally was inside the building. He climbed the stairs to the first floor
The door to the apartment was ajar. He went in, closed the door behind him and locked and bolted it. The bathroom door was open and the light was on in there. Now, the light in the living room was also on. Anita was sitting on the sofa. Two books lay open on the table in front of her. Judging by their weightiness and the amount of underlining in them, they were university textbooks. Anita was wearing tracksuit bottoms and a vest-top. She wasn’t wearing a bra. Her nipples were clearly visible, and Toma looked away, feeling himself get hard in an instant. He went up to her, his head cocked, and gently kissed her on the mouth.
“It’s November, Anita, aren’t you cold?”
 “No, the heating’s really good”.
He took off his cap and placed it on the table. He slid off his belt and put it on the sofa. The weight of the baton, pistol and handcuffs made the sofa sag an inch. 
“How come you’re here?”, she asked him.
“It’s Saturday evening, they’ve sent us all out onto the streets. I was with Ljuba, so we agreed that he would go round to his girlfriend and I would come to see you. We’ll meet up at ten at the petrol station and then go to shake the kids down a bit”. 
“Be careful they don’t find you out. You haven’t done this before”, said Anita, just to say something. 
“Even if they do find us out, I can’t cope with these Saturday evenings. Everyone goes out; the fuckers run wild, racing around in cars, boozing it up. The whole time I’m wandering around, and right in front of me they’re breaking into kiosks, fighting, stabbing each other and nicking each other’s shoes”.
“They do what with the shoes?”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter. I hate this day and everyone who’s enjoying it”. 
“I hate it too, that’s why I’m happily sitting at home”, said Anita in agreement.
She put her hands behind her head and leant back against the wall. Her nipples were no longer visible under the vest. 
“I can leave, if I’ve interrupted…”
“Oh shut the fuck up, Toma, please. If you weren’t working tonight, we’d definitely have seen each other, so sit down and enjoy”.
“What about the books? You’re studying?”
“Well, sort of. My exam isn’t until January, so this evening was the official opening”.
Toma was sitting half a metre from her. He looked straight ahead. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her staring at the ceiling.
“How come the light in the living room was off a minute ago?” he asked suddenly.
“The living room light was off. Only the bathroom light was on.”
“Oh, that… I went for a shit. I’d just finished when you rang.”
“But why did you turn off the light in the living room when you went to the loo?”
“Toma, are you conducting an investigation?”
“Well, no… erm, no. I just found it strange”.
“I was getting changed and I didn’t want the people opposite watching me. You wouldn’t want them watching me, right?”
“No, I wouldn’t”.
They sat in silence again. Anita flicked on the television. There was football on one of the channels.
“Do you want me to leave this on?”, she asked him.
“No, I haven’t come to watch football. I’ve come to see you.”
“OK”, said Anita, turning off the TV. “Do you want some tea or coffee? Or maybe some of grandpa’s plum brandy?”
“Coffee would be nice”.
Anita went off to the kitchen. Now there was a light on there too. Three of the five lights were switched on. Only the light in the hallway and the one on the balcony were not on. Toma got up from the sofa and went to the window. There wasn’t a single light switched on opposite. Who could have been watching Anita getting changed from those darkened windows? Perhaps there had been someone in those apartments but in the meantime they had turned off the lights and gone off to have fun? Or maybe they were watching her in the dark? Toma went back to the sofa. Anita returned from the kitchen.
“What’s up with you? Why did you get up?”
“No reason, I don’t know. I’m kind of on edge.”
“Saturday evening.”
“Yeah, it must be that.”
Anita sat down next to him, putting her right arm around him.
“Anita, about the day before yesterday…”
“Oh, don’t be silly, Toma, I’ve already forgotten about it.”
“But I really went too far. I’m sorry.”
“It’s all OK. I was really on edge too. It was just an ordinary fight. It happens.”
“Yeah, but we haven’t had a single fight in a year. I don’t know what was wrong with me, it was as if something took over.”
“You were just a bit jealous; you’re probably more paranoid because of your job”.
“I’ll get rid of the uniform, the baton, everything… People hate me as it is just because of this uniform.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Toma, you’ll get used to it. You’ve only been working for a month”.
Toma bit his lower lip. Anita’s light had three bulbs, only one of which was working. 
“What was that?”, he asked her.
“What was what?”
“I heard a noise.”
“There was no noise. What’s wrong with you, Tomislav?”
“I heard something. Something like a knock-knock.
“Yes. Knock-knock, tap-tap, something like that.”
“There’s a bit of a difference between a knock and a tap.”
Toma turned round, confused.
“There it is again.”
“Toma, what’s wrong with you? You’ve cracked.”
“Can’t you hear it? Knock-knock! It’s definitely a knock-knock. It’s coming from there, from under that cupboard!”
“Go and crawl under the cupboard to see what’s knocking. You’re too tense, Tomislav. I didn’t hear anything.”
Toma grabbed his baton and went over to the cupboard. He crouched down and swung his baton two or three times underneath it. The cupboard was old, standing on four feet. Even a mouse couldn’t have found room under it. Toma stood up, looked at his baton and noted that there wasn’t even a single speck of dust on it. Anita cleaned her apartment regularly, even under the cupboard where the strange sounds were coming from. 
“I’m going to put the coffee on”, she said, and went into the kitchen. 
He sat down on the sofa, but didn’t lean back. He sat with his hands resting on his knees, his baton swinging between them. One minute he was looking under the cupboard, the next out of the window at the neighbour’s switched-off lights. From where he was looking, he could see absolutely diddly squat: five centimetres of space under the cupboard and the upper left two centimetres of the neighbour’s window. He couldn’t even say for certain that the lights there were still switched off. Anita came back from the kitchen with the coffee. Toma observed that she hadn’t turned off the light in the kitchen. He put the cup to his lips. The coffee was steaming hot, and its mere proximity burned his lips.
“Anita, I really am sorry about the other day”.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, I thought we’d just dealt with that. You got a bit jealous, it wasn’t anything major. In fact, I should really be impressed by that. It shows that you like me.”
Toma’s hands were on his knees. The lanyard from which his baton hung was wrapped around his left index finger. The tip of the baton was touching the floor. In his right hand he held the coffee cup which was getting hotter and hotter and hotter. 
“I’m really on edge. I’ll end up killing someone tonight.”
“What are you saying? Chill out!”
“I can’t chill out.”
“Can I help in any way?”
“No, no one can help me.”
“Bollocks to that defeatist attitude, Toma. Just tell me how I can help you.”
“Oh, I don’t know, I can’t think…”
“Come on, tell your little Anita. Fancy a quick shag? Eh?”
“Erm… a shag?”
“Yeah”, said Anita softly as she started to wind herself around him. His knees started to tremble and the coffee cup shook in his hands. Anita leaned into him, letting him clearly see her tits under the vest. He could see almost everything.
“Oh, well not exactly a shag, but if you could…”
“What? Tell me.”
“If you could… well… one of those… you know…”
“One of what, Toma? Don’t be shy. We’ve been together for a year.”
“Yeah, but that fight; it’s like we’ve grown apart since then.”
“Don’t be silly. We’re closer than ever. What would you like me to do for you?”
“To give you a blow job?”
“Well… yes.”
Anita bowed her head and unzipped his police trousers (60% cotton, 40% polyester). She pulled out his already swollen dick through the slit of his white Y-fronts, the kind worn by children at primary school. Toma put the cup on the floor and grabbed Anita’s head with both hands, and just held her like that while she rocked back and forth in a sucking rhythm. After a couple of seconds, Toma starting to imagine Anita doing this to someone else. The next minute, it was all over. Anita tore a page out of her university books, spat the cum into it and wiped her lips.
“I guess I won’t need that page”, she giggled.
Toma did up his trousers and, looking at his watch, realised that he had ten minutes left to reach the corner where he was supposed to meet Ljuba and it was a brisk 15-minute walk to get there. He stood up and pulled on his belt. He kissed Anita; there was a strange smell on her breath. 
“Better now?”, she asked him.
“Oh, yes, much better!”, he said, his brow wrinkling as he glanced at the wall which was bereft of any pictures or posters. “I have to go.”
Anita walked him to the door. Toma took another look at the room. He saw his coffee cup. It was almost full. He kissed Anita again and left.
She closed the door, locked and bolted it. She went into the living room, picked up Toma’s coffee cup, took it into the kitchen and left it in the sink. She turned on the tap, which quickly made history of the coffee in the cup, then bent down, drank a little water straight from the tap, swilled it round in her mouth and spat it out. Going back into the living room, she opened the cupboard door. A stark naked man got out of it. 
“Fuck, I got so stiff inside”, he said. “Couldn’t he have left a bit sooner?”
“He left as soon as he could”, replied Anita as she started to undress.
“When he was sniffing around the cupboard I was so afraid I almost shat myself”.
“Hahaha, well, if you knock… Knock-knock, hahaha.”
“I got a dead leg from crouching and everything started cracking.”
Anita took off her vest, tracksuit bottoms and knickers. She was stark naked. The naked man switched off the light in the living room and they lay down on the sofa.




Translated by James Cook