When the words came out, they felt sticky, like molten asphalt against his hard palate. He had them, these words, wrapped around his ventricles, eager to come out. He doubted them, because they were not his, they were not in him when he was born. They were rather like mushrooms growing after too much rain. But they had to come out, and so he wrote them.
He felt like a thief. Turgenev said so: a writer who did not write in his native tongue was a thief and a pig. He wrote this, not in his native Russian, but in German. The pig!
And so he was, stealing away the same letters, reconstructing them, twisting them like pretzels or new DNA. He wasn’t a scientist, but that’s what he was, creating new life out of the detritus of another language. He was Frankenstein, linguistically speaking, of course.
When he finished, he saw the words and read them as if they were his own. He closed the covers of the book. He reached for the box of Gitanes, and lighted one with a match. The smoke filled his tendrils with ochre smoke. He aspirated some through his nose, and was about to let the smoke out of his lips, when he realized he couldn’t reopen his mouth. He pursed his lips, trying to create the requisite opening to blow out some air. His cheeks puffed out, turning crimson red, but he couldn’t pry his lips open. The smoke choked him, all that nicotine and tar pooled around his pharynx. His lungs convulsed, eager to help with diaphragmatic convolutions, trying to get the air out. But he couldn’t. His face paled, his lips turned blue, and with a sudden arching of his neck, he fell to the floor, dead.
The last words in his book were in Spanish. The inspector translated them “The end…due to a lack of words”. The inspector wondered about the words, translating them back and forth, trying to find the same meaning in both languages. A verbal impossibility, he thought, while he reached for the pack of Gitanes.
His last effort, while he choked on the smoke in his closed mouth, was to translate his name in all the languages he spoke. And then he died.