Translated by Uroš Tomić
Only from this distance am I able to see that Pavle was truly dedicated, in a very consistent manner, to a clearly defied effort of rendering other lives – the lives of others in toto – utterly pointless. It was as if he would always, in committing this act, experience a kind of a mythic charge which occasionally took on shapes that (even then) led me to call it all – to myself – his winking at the devil. Because I have no idea what else (but the sense that he was in this way winking at the devil) could have made him suggest to Valerija such an unusual type of friendly aid, and when I found out about it – rather late, I’m afraid – it all flab-ber-gast-ed me. The story begins with the fact that Valerija had, after a while, expressed the desire for me to meet Pavle. Until that moment I had simply known there was A Friend Pavle, who had been there for her when the times were tough, but even at frist meeting him there was much I didn’t like. Above all it was his conceited readiness to always behave in ways aimed to shock others. He possessed a strange need to make people feel conscious of their limitations, and that existing inside those limitations – which said people, of course, couldn’t overcome, or at least not without his help – made them become something less valuable. One didn’t need to spend much time at his side to recognize this trait of his. Also, one didn’t need to be in possession of a finely tuned psychological sense to recognize that Pavle’s enjoyment in shocking others consisted of shocking by the very range of his irrationality – a colossal irrationality – peerless – a monstrous irrationality. As if the only principle was to be irrational and at precisely those points within which anybody else, even the most irrational person, if they wished themselves at least a modicum of good (and that is all the point) – would behave in a certain, established way. Exactly then: to distort the situation, to do the opposite of the most extreme thing imaginable.
It is true that Valerija had been deeply depressed before she met Pavle, I always knew that, she was on the verge of committing suicide. I also knew about the dead rabbit and about the other things, although the way Pavle brought every one of those things into a causal connection with Valerija’s problem created rare examples of a filigree perversion. But the worst was yet for me to find out. I did, incidentally, participate in some events that Pavle and his girlfriend used to organize at their apartment with their friends, close friends and acquaintances, of whom I was now considered a member, but there were things in which I refused to participate, and that, beyond doubt, enraged Pavle, used as he was to the hypnotic obedience of his congregation. However, it is interesting to note that the very synchronicity which during that period used to give me hope that anything in my life made any sense was the same synchronicity that led me to one of the greatest notional errors of my life: in a word, the duck-rabbit synchronicity.
Beginning of December, five years ago, Valerija invited me to her apartment for the first time. The day, I remember, having grown very cold around noon, made passers-by walk faster with their necks nestled in the collars of their jackets and coats and their hands burrowed deep in their pockets. The windshields of cars had already acquired their glaze which several hours later glistened in the twilight under the glare of streetlights displaying quickly changing colors of the rainbow as one would pass them by. I had met her two weeks before at some workshop. I was sitting at my desk, and never even noticed how and when she inched her way into my awareness. The way she listed things, different ways she moved through space. She repeated something several times, she stood apart from others. That rhythm of hers, obsessively voided. I never noticed when I had reached the decision, nor did I feel it clearly enough that it was something I had to do – yet I stood up calmly and went to the pitcher with water. The rest happened on its own. The first spoken word after the second look slipped into a solution I did not reject.