I spent the evening at home, smoking a little marijuana in my bedroom and drinking Tyskie beer. For some reason I can never bring myself to bin the little Tyskie bottle caps which feature the gold and red crowns, and hundreds are accordingly arranged in little piles on my desk and bookshelves, like a treasure trove of pirate coinage. I tried to write an essay for the website but I could not shepherd my thoughts into any sort of sense, and after midnight I gave up and watched some pornographic films. I use the MovieMonster website, although I rather disapprove of the animated yellow, frog-like creature which shoots around the title page. My libido is not a zany overexcited frog but a sad thick pig.
At about one in the morning I awoke to find that I was watching a very curious film. I could immediately tell that the participants were Polish. There was a tall, thin boy with very milky skin and a brunette about half his size. They were kissing and the boy was caressing the girl’s breasts and then I was incredibly alert, the words of the black dog swirling in my mind, for the boy and girl were making love in the snow. The lovers were lying back within a sheet of snow, their bodies exposed to the winter air.
And then I noticed a second youth who was lying on the other side of the girl, looking somewhat excluded and struggling vainly to capture the girl’s attention.
The girl briefly remembered Marcin and turned her face so that he could kiss it. Her fingers outstretched playfully and she suddenly and viciously flicked his balls. The other boy laughed.
I sat mortified. I vaguely wanted to burst into action, but my mind was like a handful of dust which has been thrown into the wind. I was confounded.
The other boy reached out, turned the girl’s face back towards his, and kissed it. He was now sitting upright, disrupting the composition of the scene.
When was this filmed? Before I had met Marcin or after he had left the city? I studied his body, searching for anything new in his appearance – a tattoo or a scar.
The other boy climbed on and into the girl, who appeared unconcerned by his entry. There were crumbs of snow across his buttocks. Marcin was kneeling dutifully before the girl, and although her hands were not free she took his penis in her mouth, like a seal takes an offered fish.
Where was this filmed? It looked like farmland, and somehow I could tell that the setting was Poland – there was a dated and dowdy quality to everything on the screen. Even the very air looked old.
The three were making love, arranged in an awkward tableau. Incredibly, fresh snowflakes were now tumbling over their bodies.
Marcin was the first to come. I imagined that he was concentrating furiously on repressing a hideous anguished expression.
I stopped the film, returned to the beginning, and watched some introductory footage of snow falling around a Polish farmhouse. There were hills, rooftops, but nothing which could identify the place for certain.
I exited the film and returned to the MovieMonster website. The film was called “Tongue in Cheek.” Marcin appeared under a pseudonym – Darl De Foot – and it was this which offered an opportunity…
I immediately phoned the company which made the film. “I’d like to speak with Marcin Podkowinski,” I ordered briskly. “Is he around?”
“Marcin Podkowinski. He features in some of your films…”
The man in Poland suddenly sounded attentive and slightly aggressive. “Hey man… We don’t give out information about our actors…”
“Marcin is his real name, not his stage name…”
There was a pause. “Even so man, we have to protect these people…”
“His mother has died,” I said flatly. “I need to contact him immediately…”
“Yeah,” the man said. The line went dead.
It took me three weeks. I calculated the size of all the hills shown in the first thirty seconds of the film, I determined the positions of the hills in relation to one another, and I finally produced a detailed drawing of the terrain featured in the film: a valley surrounded by several small and partially wooded hills. And then, mile by mile, I poured over Poland on GoogleEarth, searching for the spot. There were many false leads, but I eventually identified the setting of “Tongue in Cheek”: South of Lublin and west of the Wieprz.
I caught the next flight to Warsaw, hired a car, and drove to Lublin. The roads seemed far more congested than when I was last in Poland. The company which made the film was based in Warsaw, but I knew that they would be hard to find and that I would need to bribe them a fortune if they were to be helpful. I have a couple of friends in Lublin – both of whom I had studied with in Katowice – but they could not give me any information about Marcin. I doubted whether he had recently lived in either Warsaw or Lublin. I finally drove down to the hills where, on a winter evening, Marcin and two other actors had undressed and sunk their naked bodies into the snow.
Why had he done it? He knew that I would have given him money if he had wanted it. I am familiar with Marcin’s tastes and I am certain that he would not have been excited by the character of the film, or by his fellow participants. Perhaps he was a friend of the director, or maybe the general oddity of the shoot had appealed to him. The love-making had been filmed in a meadow which belonged to a large arable farm. The fields were bare at this time of year and the sky was low.
I traipsed around the meadow, looking up at the hills. The wind was suddenly cold and it blasted my body, pitching my overcoat into disarray. My hat was tipped off my head and it rolled neatly away along the ground. I turned my back to the wind. I followed my hat and retrieved it. Part of me wanted to be back in Edinburgh, in a pub, drinking with friends, enjoying a careless empty life. But another part of me wanted to take a stick to this meadow and these hills and the wind which ruled them, and beat a clear answer out of them. I absent-mindedly put my hat back on my head, the wind knocked it off again, and it rolled merrily away.