Hermes Kitap
"A good person, with his absence, shows more usefulness than many other people's apparent goodness" Khalil Cibran

[Story]"Lunch Break, Death and Shakespeare" | Fatih Kaynak

Lunch Break, Death and Shakespeare


Thereabouts, I worked as a salesperson at a luxirous shopping mall in the mornings, and at nights I drank like crazy to forget ugly things that I witnessed in the daylight.

People were usual. Usual, as usual, no blow up, no exitement, no risk, no anxiety, just as it should be. Usual and mortal lives. Faces like leftover nights' oil stains that are reflected on days. A HUNDRED PERCENT DEATH, A HUNDRED PERCENT GUARANTEE.

The rush and the following… While giving life breaks, don't question yourself about why you cannot be like them. Because you are alive. Even if you sink up to the chin.

The fool is the luckiest in the world.

There was a man named Vahdet. He had a child and he came to work everyday with his worn-out scooter. In addition, he was an asshole and his face was always as pink as a bedcover.

He had ground to a halt next to me the day I started working.

"Welcome among us. I wish you lots of luck."
"Thanks, bro."
"Have you ever worked as a bookstore?"
"What were you previously busy with?"
"I worked as a postman, waiter, dishwasher… I did anything except secretarial."
"Very diverse works… Do you believe you can succeed?"
"I came here to be retired, buddy."
"Heh heh heh. You seem like a fun person. Well, how is your relationship with books?"
"I used to hang in the library sometime when I was unemployed, and then there was a fire. I cannot find a break to read till then."
"What did you read the last?"
"I was most probably reading Proust before the day of the fire."
"Proust? I've never heard of him."
"Never mind, he was a faggot after all."
"Don't say so. Shakespeare was gay, but…"
"Do you like Shakespeare?"
"Definitely. I think noone has ever reached his genius for centuries. If you haven't read him, I strongly recommend you to do so. Our Shakir Bookstore has a bunch of Shakespeare's twenty books with a fifty person sale for employees. If you have money, buy it immidiately."
"Gaga, I didn't like you."

Shakespeare's face grew pale.

"Why not, buddy?"
"It was a joke. It is my first thing to do to read Shakespeare after I finish Proust."
"Heh heh heh. You're really a funny man. Let's eat lunch with you at the lunch break. By the way, what's your name, buddy?
"I'm Vahdet, nice to meet you."

Then he began to describe details of the work.

"First of all, you should begin with what is where. Let's show around the store."
I said "Okay" and followed about him. When we came to the entrance of the store, he began to spin a yarn again.
"The antrance is the apple of the store's eye. Here are located shelves of newly-released and best-selling books. This is the first place where the customer looks around first. That's why these shelves should be arranged extremely neatly and in a way to catch the customer's eye. You understand, do you?"
"The order of this shelf is due to best selling forty books are located changes every week, according to reports that come from home office. And we rearrange books according to it."

Then pointing to the table where the first forty are, he went on talking.

"With best selling books on that table, whether sold or not, we slip Shakir Bookstore's publications in. We especially introduce non-sold books as if they were being sold. Never forget that a salesperson's duty is to sell what isn't sold."
"I see."

Later, we passed to the back of the store.

"Here is the section, where classics and books of philosophy and history are located. You won't have any hardship in this part, because the customer who stops by this part is the one who knows what to buy. I guess I don't need to tell you that books are arranged alphabetically according to writers' names."

Our tour in the store was going on and for the son of a bitch was telling everything in a loud voice, all customers were staring at us. I was in shame because of the customers' looks that were pointed towards me. When we caught each other's eyes sometime, I thought about saying "Put yourself together Vahdet" and about butting him.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I meet such kind of guys is that they always have beautiful wives. All of them have wives as beautiful as Rita Hayworth.

I imagined those women as unhappy. Fragile and as unrepaired as me. And I fantasized about them. Knowing I am so unprotected that I cannot make a good woman feel protected.

"Here is the kids section. This section is the part that gets messy the most in the day time and it is one of the first parts that our chief Mrs Remziye shows oversensitivity. I strongly recommend you to be careful with the kids section."
"Okay, Vahdet."
"Yes… That's all I'm generally going to tell you about the store. Come on now, begin to work."

He again grinned after his last sentence.
"Heh heh heh."

There is no relief that hoping than things will always go right. Everyone thinks he deserves a good life, success, understanding, a good woman; but some men don't deserve a porsion of a well-cooked steak. I am talking about our Vahdet.

He had a notebook and a green pen he carried at his back pocket. While I and others were working like dogs, he would make himself get lost and he spent most of his working hours, writing down names of the books one by one in this notebook. One day when I asked him why he did that, he answered that he was plannimg to open his own bookstore in the future and that he wanted exactly all those books to be also in his shop and followingly, as in the first day, he again offered me to eat lunch together. Although I refused his offer, he found me in my hole I hided myself in at the lunch time.

Every day after that day, he found me trying to eat my lunch like a grieving face that was pictured in the middle of a canvas in the corner of a dead faces demonstration that constitutes the hundred percent of the shopping mall and ninety-nine percent of the human race. He found me and he raped my forty-five minute lunch break that remained from the time that the greed of the bosses and that is the most sacred second of the day.

As he ingested his stuffed green peppers after putting his full lunch plate in my table, in his fucking pink face I saw the same happy expression, resulting from screwing his wife two times a day and from the bookstore dream he is growing inside him.

"You again found the most hidden place, Ferit?"
"The crowd distresses me."
"I think it is good being with the people. By this way, we can identify ourselves much better, buddy. People are our mirrors."
"Forget it."
"Can you be full up with just a hotdog? Why don't you bring food from home, too? I think we deserve good food in the lunch times."
"Ashtray, gaga. I'm not on good terms with food."
"You're smoking too much…"

To get rid of him, even though it was winter, I started to spend my lunch break in front of the outer door of the shopping mall. Despite the freezing cold, as I unbraced myself sitting in the corner of the big, concrete flowerpots that Vahdet ground to a halt next to me.

"Heh heh I caught you. So, there you are. I haven't been seeing you upstairs for a few days. Aren't you cold in here, buddy?"
"No" said I to him.

"No, I'm not cold, because there is a fire burning inside me since I was a child. I'm not hungry, because my head was always under the marsh and I have swallowed enough shit. And even some mornings, do you know what happens to me? I wake up from my dreams crying. Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I find myself having ejaculated in my underpants. As I in the mornings look at the mirror like everyone else and as I shave the face that some women could fall in love once upon a time, I sometimes feel like shaving my eyebrows beside my beard. There have been times that I forced the knife on my throat, but I've never been such brave to do that. Maybe if I didn't believe in Tolstoy, I could do that. I couldn't, but its reason wasn't Tolstoy, it was my father. I didn't like school, I didn't trust women, I have suspected knowledge; I didn't believe in God neither. I don't like wrestling, I don't watch television, I don't listen to folk songs, I hate writers, I don't go to movies, I don't go theatres; I don't like home cooked meals, joking with one another, shaking hands with one another. I feel like knives are stuck into my stomach when I see a man who whistles with his finger in his mouth and who insists on talking with the Blacksea accent. I don't even like children after they are five years old. I am a cursed asshole. Do you understand me Vahdet? That is why, stay away from me, forget about me. We cannot share a table or a dream with you. Dismiss the idea from your mind that we can spend blissful time in lunch breaks."

I seemed so like I was having an attack of hysteria that Vahdet had frozen while staring at me. As he stared at me for a short time, he went away without saying anything.

I think that we all behave Vahdet-like towards someone for some time. How else could we stand this world full of Vahdets?

» You can read the story in Turkish from

Translation published on 20/12/2008
Translated by
Tugce Aytes

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