For quite some time now I have been working on a new novel, entitled “Courier for Edessa.” For the past three weeks I have been trying to move on to chapter two and haven’t managed to lure my muse in any way. I tried to be nice, but she is well hidden and does not want to come out of her boudoir. Gloomy, I told myself to go out, maybe somehow she’ll long for me. You know what it’s like: the muse, like any muse, has her whims. When you’re happy, she’s sad. When you want to stay inside and get down to writing, she wants to go outside and frolic. So I’ll go for a walk through the town park, to recharge myself with the beauty and scents of nature, in the hope of being able to come back to writing. Still, I have a lump in my throat.
On the sidewalk, a rather poorly dressed old woman catches my eye. She carries a bulky bag and asks for my help with tears in her eyes. I accept immediately, bending down to lift her burden. That’s not the way she wants it ‒ we should carry it together: she’ll hold on to one handle, I to the other. Okay, I say, but why can’t I carry it alone. So that you don’t run away with it, the matron explains to me, sending a heavy stench of cheap alcohol in my direction. I keep my mouth shut. Just my luck, I now have a tipsy grandma on my hands. Whatever.
Two gendarmes emerge from the opposite direction, lazily swinging their pistols and the “marshal’s batons,” which hang from belts secured over respectable bellies. The lyrics of an older folk song come to my mind: “On the road from Pietrari / Come a girl and a gendarme. / The gendarme was coming on horseback, / The girl behind him.”
I’m still with the hag, who sends again her strong alcohol odor my way: if you don’t give me ten lei now, I’ll shout to these two gendarmes that you stole my money.
I quickly reach into my pockets and find a five lei banknote. That’s all I have. Next time take the right money along, the hag snaps at me, grinning crookedly from her toothless mouth while stuffing my five lei paper in her bosom.
I return home vexed, sit down at my desk, and start the second chapter of “Courier for Edessa” in a whirlwind. About two hours later, I stop exhausted but happy. The image of the poorly dressed old woman, with her voluminous bag and the cheap alcohol stench comes to my mind. Amused, I ask my muse. Is the hag coming back tomorrow as well?