from steps, by jerzy kosinski: step number four

"The chosen girl now sat alone in the circle. I scrutinized the men’s faces; they seemed curious whether the girl would prove too frail and weak to survive her ordeal."



I got off the train at a small station. As it pulled out I was the only one eating in the station restaurant. I stopped the waiter and asked if there was anything of interest happening locally. He looked at me and said there was to be a private show that afternoon in a nearby village.

He intimated that the performance would be rather unusual and that if I were willing to pay the price, he could arrange for me to see it. I agreed, and we left the station. Half an hour later we reached a paddock with a large carriage house at one end. About fifty middle-aged peasants had gathered under the trees near the building, where they sauntered about, smoking and jesting.

A man dressed in city clothes came out of the carriage house and began collecting money from all of us. The price represented about two weeks of a peasant’s income, yet they all seemed willing to pay.

Then the organizer disappeared into the house, and we formed a circle screened by the trees. The peasants waited, whispering and laughing. A few minutes passed; the door of the carriage house opened and four women in colorful dresses walked into the circle. The organizer followed behind them leading a large animal. The peasants suddenly stopped talking. The women now stood next to each other, turning around so the men could see them, while the organizer paraded the animal.

The women seemed to represent particular types: one was very tall and powerfully built, another was a slender, fragile young girl whose appearance suggested she came from the city. All the women wore heavy makeup and tight short-skirted dresses. The peasants began discussing the women aloud, arguing excitedly. After a few minutes the organizer asked for quiet and explained that a vote would be taken to determine which woman would be chosen. As the women strolled around the arena, stretching, bending, and caressing their bodies, the crowd grew even more animated. The organizer called on them to vote for each woman in turn.

From the final count it became clear that the majority had elected the young girl. The three other women joined the audience, giggling and whispering with the men.

The chosen girl now sat alone in the circle. I scrutinized the men’s faces; they seemed curious whether the girl would prove too frail and weak to survive her ordeal.

The organizer led the animal into the center of the arena, prodding its slack parts with a stick. Two peasants ran up and grabbed at the animal to keep it still. The girl then stepped forward and began playing with the creature, embracing and hugging it, fondling its genitals. She slowly began to undress. The animal was now aroused and restless. It seemed inconceivable that the girl could accommodate it.

The men became frantic, urging her to undress completely and couple with the animal. The organizer tied several ribbons on the animal’s organ, each colored bow an inch apart. The girl approached the animal, rubbing oil into her thighs and abdomen and coaxing the animal to lick her body. Then, to shouts of encouragement, she lay down beneath the animal, clasping it with her legs. Raising up her belly and thrusting it forward, she forced an insertion up to the first bow. The organizer took control again, asking the audience to pay extra for each additional inch of the animal’s involvement. The price was raised for each consecutive bow removed. The peasants, still refusing to believe that the girl could survive her violation, eagerly paid again and again. Finally the girl began to scream. But I was not sure if she was actually suffering or was only playing up to the audience.


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