Old banknotes. Worthless securities. FNRY bonds…
Once Dad and I, along with carpenter Uncle Jan, went to get Uncle Loize. We didn’t have to persuade him long to come to the founding assembly of the mountaineering association which was held in the “Lovec” inn and after which, as stated in the invitation, followed: drinks, skewers and lottery. Uncle Jan, a Czech from the vicinity of Brno, to whom, often drunk, a circular saw had cut all his fingers, on both hands, in half, but he still remained a master above all the masters, known as silent and eternally smiling, in the house of Uncle Loize became even more silent and even more mysteriously smiling. He was spinning around, rolling his eyes even more than me when I first crossed Uncle Loize’s doorstep. He also forgot about the drink, which dad and Uncle Loize, constantly toasting, drank one after the other, so that the two of them got drunk before leaving.
Dad and Uncle Loize stumbled on every pebble on the way to “Lovec”, through the black darkness. They swayed and, embracing each other, didn’t sing, but howled. They slept through the assembly. And when they put the tables together and the huge quantities of drink and piles of meat arrived, although he drank quickly, Uncle Jan could not catch them up.
Dad and Uncle Loize, an old well synchronised couple, turned to the good-natured and naive Uncle Jan. They weren’t surprised by his astonishment and confusion at what he saw in Uncle Loize’s house. And a cruel game began. They asked him if he had seen this and if he had seen that. Both what was and what wasn’t in and around the house. And he just nodded his head in the affirmative and stretched his lips in an ever-widening smile, from which it seemed to me that his mouth, at the ends, would split and blood would gush from the cracks. And when they numbered all the unusual inventions of Uncle Loize that filled his house, and his even more unusual ideas and plans, which they spoke of as already realized, their unbridled imagination came to life. “Did you see, in the garden, under the window, a huge lettuce, each leaf larger than a sheet?” And Uncle Jan nodded. “It’s from the music. Classic. Every morning I open the window, put a record on the gramophone and play it loud,” explained Uncle Loize. “Did you feel anything unusual in the air while we were sitting in the kitchen?” And Uncle Jan nodded again, confirming. “I installed milk sprayers in the corners of the kitchen. You just breathe in my place and, at the same time, drink powdered milk,” Uncle Loize continued to give his expert answers. And he continued to invent and lie. To salt, and dad to add salt.
I helped them. I unscrewed the lid of the salt shaker and when Uncle Jan wanted to salt the sour broth, a specialty of, especially in the late hours of the night, the cook of the “Lovec” tavern, all the salt was poured into his plate. It was the same with pepper. From all the nodding at every question from Uncle Loize and Dad, accompanied by the questions from the rest of the merry company, Uncle Jan didn’t even notice. At one point, when it seemed as if his head, drenched from drinking, would fall into his hot smoking plate, he slammed his hand on the table and shouted, for the first time since people remembered: “Not even half of that is true!” He brought the spoonful of over-salted and over-peppered broth to his mouth, widened his watery blue eyes, blushed like a pepper, put his hand to his mouth, got up, pushed the chair and ran to the exit.
Halfway through, in the middle of the tavern, his entrails overturned. He threw up not only what he had eaten and drank that night, but also what he had eaten and drank a few days earlier.
Someone said, “No toilet is far away if you leave on time.” I don’t know who.
A strong sour stench began to spread through the tavern, from which the others began to vomit, not stopping to laugh. Those who couldn’t vomit put a finger in their mouth. To themselves or to the one next to them. Dad, who was laughing his heart out and Uncle Loize, still with a serious face, first patted each other hard on the shoulder, hugged and kissed, and then they started vomiting too. Mouth to mouth.
That night, often remembering it and repeating the words of Uncle Jan: “Not even half of it is true”, and not remembering if there was a lottery at all, and if there was, who won and what, many in Zavidovići, for years, called it the night of great vomiting.
Тranslated to English: Zorica Teofilova