In the previous article, called “Svejk Goes To A Fortune-Teller”, we left our hero, awaiting an audition with that mysterious figure, known as Madame Gabrielle, a famous fortune-teller, respected and even afraid by many, because of her alleged ability to predict the future. The Military decided to use this unique opportunity, by sending Mr. Josef Svejk, under code name “Operative F82”, to investigate and to persuade Madame G. to serve for the higher state interests.
But this “Operation Trial of Faith” is much more complicated, than it seems, and there are also many crucial actors outside the building, where the session takes place. So, before we let hungry Svejk to find his long awaited destiny, let´s have a look outside, where another importants events are just happening…
Note: all depicted persons, subjects, organizations, events and military operations are fictional. This article is loosely connected with my book “Svejk 2: The Army Elite”.
The pedestrians of Prague-Karlin city quarter passed the inconspicuously looking vans, parked on the street, without any knowledge, what is happening inside. And they would be much surprised, if they could see through the darkly tinted windows!
A captain of the Military Police and several of his subordinates, dressed still in civilian clothes, were studying the plans of the Madame´s house, discussing an optimal approach, if their commando will be called into the action today.
“We have four teams on the ground, and one element will be inserted from the air, through the attic. Green team, main entrance, here. Blue team, side entrance, here. Red team, through the courtyard. Gold team will provide cover, and they will detain all suspects. We don´t expect any resistance from the inhabitants inside, but stay vigilant, people. I want a quick and effective action. Understood?”
“Yes sir,” the men replied simultaneously.
“OK, get dressed and get ready. Let´s check the radio. My callsign: Romeo One.”
Somebody knocked the door. “Some civilian is outside,” one of the SPECOPS reported.
“That´s allright, let him in,” the Captain replied and he hid some classified documents from the table.
“First Lieutenant, I am glad that you are joining us,” the Captain welcomed their new guest. “I am the commander of the Military Police Rapid Intervention Team, and I would like to ask you for an unofficial consultancy in this operation.”
“I will be glad to help, Captain,” the First Lieutenant replied.
“So, I heard that your asset is inside the building, that Mr. Josef Svejk. Let me ask you one basic question – is he really so dumb, as all that rumors in the Military say?”
“This is the hardest question on the world that you are asking, Captain. Although I worked with Svejk for almost a year, I am not sure what to reply. I would say, that his direct, straight and uncomplicated thinking, combined with his hunger for recognition, had some effectivity in our mutual cooperation. But whether he is playing it, or he is genuinely dumb… I think that the world can´t know for sure, ever.
However, he is aiming high, and I wouldn´t underestimate him. He likes to put himself in that advantageous position, when people laugh at him, and they lose vigilance, so he is able to achieve some goals covertly, even to manipulate his vicinity successfully, without being recognized, who is pulling the levers actually.”
“Good to know. I appreciate your honesty. You know, this whole affair begins to be really nasty. Things are happening, as we speak… you could really help me to decide the right way, but I would have to share some classified details with you. So, can I ask you, as an officer, to promise me, that you won´t intervene into our operation, and you will try to provide us the widest INTEL possible?”
“I promise on my military honor, that I won´t intervene, and I will keep all classified stuff to myself. I know the rules. Moreover, as you probably know, our Unit conducted many classified operations lately.”
“Yeah, and you got some attention from the highest places, so they authorized you with this operation, and they sent Svejk as their ace. And that´s why we all gathered today, but you should know, that this game is getting really big, and many heads could fall after today.
The latest and very disturbing development is, that somebody informed all important journalists about our small operation here. They will arrive here very soon, including TV staffs with cameras, maybe they will even start a live broadcast! You can imagine, what kind of serious problems this audience will bring for us! And my superiors are watching closely… so my first question is natural, could Svejk stand behind this unpleasant show? Be honest, friend! I just want to know, who he is, and what we can expect from him.”
“That´s another complicated question, Captain. A part of me wants to reply, no, it was definitely not him, that is not his style, it could be anybody, including Madame, or her family, or somebody from the high military command, to play another round of their everlasting games for internal power and influence. Even my person could be the culprit, I knew about all this in advance, don´t forget that!
But the undeniable fact is, that Svejk served in our Special Unit C102: PSYOPS, and we accomplished very delicate Psychological Operations, where we used the necessary journalistic cover on daily basis. For example, our famous alleged discovery of so called “Stechovice Treasure”, it was a pure Information Operation. So Svejk knows very well, how the things work, he has the knowledge, he has the contacts, and most importantly, he knows, how to serve these matters to the press, so the desirable attention of journalists is raised.
However, I still don´t believe, that he was the person who manufactured this mess. I spoke with him in the morning, and I remember our conversation well. He seemed determined, but his interest was directed at the meeting with Madame, and his own destiny. The basic question is, what use would this press cover have for him? He needs this audition, and some intervention from the outside could foil that. No, it is not in his personal interest. He believed, that Madame can provide some crucial answers to him. Nothing more. He is not so clever to play more parts at once.”
“You said not to underestimate him. So let´s ask – is there a possible advantage for him in all this?”
“No, I don´t see any connection. I consider Madame or somebody from the military command as much more probable source. Madame could gain the attention, even the nationwide fame, so she could acquire many new VIP clients. And as you said, if we are pawns here, and somebody from above plays this big game… then they can use journalists very well, because an affair will arise, and it always means, that some highly placed heads will fall… there could be even a conspiracy planned inside the Military.
And at least ten other officers knew about this. By the way, usually, they didn´t give me the detailed documents of our operations into my hands, but this time, and that is really suspicious, they delivered me a complete overview of this operation into my office. I am telling you, Captain – this whole affair stinks.”
“I agree. And I am the basic part of it, because I am afraid, my friend, that eventually, they will issue the order to storm the building with a full parade, it means to use breaching charges, flashbangs and tear gas… in front of the cameras and in live TV broadcast! So my head will fall first, you know the rules. Just imagine the news articles with shocking headlines like “The Military was so afraid of an old woman with tarot cards, so they sent fully equipped anti-terrorist commando with assault rifles to detain her.”
“I would advise you to speak to the journalists, so you can get some protection. You should explain them, that you are just a soldier, and you are obliged to follow the orders. Or you can make up a story, like, that you were informed about an armed suspect inside the building.”
“Nice idea, but it has one critical flaw – the journalists will find out, that Svejk wasincidentally inside the building at the moment of this infamous armed intervention, and they will start asking very precise questions. Believe me, friend, that tomorrow, your classified Unit is in the newspapers too, with full cover story. Your famousStechovice operation will be revealed as a deception and swindle… and your head wil go down too, like many others.”
“Well, Captain… it was Svejk who fabricated that Stechovice charade. Who else? It was foolish from the beginning, but a miracle happened, and the Military agreed to execute this silly INFOOP. Sometimes I think that Svejk and high command understand and help each other too well. Or is it just a coincidence?”
“The most funny fact is, that Svejk is the central figure here again, regardless if he knows that or not. He is too often in the glare of stage lights! I am telling you, that this can´t be just a coincidence! And this time, he became a real ace is the hands of somebody. They use him very cleverly. Or does he just use this favorable circumstances, to rise in the ranks? After all, what will they do with him after this? He can´t be removed from the scene too easily, so the Military will have only a single suitable choice – to push him higher in the ranks. Will you still defend him, First Lieutenant? That miserable, hungry fool will get us all into trouble!”
“Sorry, Captain, but that is completely absurd theory! Do you listen to yourself? You suspect that dumb Svejk of a big conspiracy, and that is a complete nonsense! There are many more figures here, who had direct access and deep interests in this affair! You look at the scene too narrowly! You miss the hidden relationships, because you allowed your mind to be ruled by the most obvious possibility. What if somebody exactly wanted you to think like this? To direct all guilt at that poor loser Svejk, and to miss the right answers?”
A distorted voice from the transmitter interrupted their conversation. “Romeo One, this is Echo Five Zero. Come in. Over.”
“Echo Five Zero, this is Romeo One. Tell me, that you have some good news for me, please. Over.”
“Not completely, Romeo One. Be advised, that the weather is worsening, and asnow storm can soon occur in your operational area. Big snowflakes will fall, so be prepared for the worsened visibility. Estimated arrival in fifteen minutes. Over.”
“Copy that, Echo Five Zero. We will expect the snow. Thank you for the warning. Out.”
The Captain put down the transmitter with deep breath. At first, his face was full of worries, but a second later, he started laughing uncontrollably. “Dear First Lieutenant, let me announce festively, that the heavy cavalry is on the way! Minister of Defense and his whole suite are heading for our location! Not snow, but a very hot weather will occur in our operational area. Do you want to stay, or will you rather disappear silently?”
“I will stay,” the First Lieutenant decided. “And when the Operative F82 will exfiltrate from the building, I will personally slap his dumb face, in front of the cameras, regardless of consequences for my military career. I should do that long time ago!”
Fortunately for Svejk, he didn´t know anything about the events on the surface, and he was still sitting in the basement, expecting Madame G., when a palm touched this shoulder gently.
“You must be Josef Svejk, am I right?” Madame asked with soft voice, and she came to the table finally.
“That´s right, Madame. It´s me, personally.”
“I heard many interesting things about you recently, Josef, so forgive a curious old woman, that she asked you to meet her, to give her your precious time. You young people still think, that your time is unlimited, but believe me, that life runs too fast, right through your fingers.”
“My pleasure, Madame. I am happy to meet the legend. I heard about you through all my life. I am so proud, that you called exactly me. It´s a big honor!”
“Oh, come on! That gossips just exaggerate. People like to manufacture tales, but the truth is usually much more simple. But listen, before we will begin our small talk, let me be a good hostess – can I offer you a drink? A good home tea, coffee, maybe with some schnaps? To keep you warm. It´s cold here!”
“That would be lovely, Madame! A cup of coffee with schnaps would be pleasing. Maybe there could be more schnaps added… if you understand my meaning.”
Madame went to the small cupboard in the corner, that Svejk´s eyes missed in the dark, and started preparing the refreshment on an open fire. He was watching her. She was slim, and her face indicated, that she had to be really pretty many years ago. But still, her skin was almost without wrinkles.
“Do you know, how they call you here, in our city quarter, Mr. Svejk?” Madame kept the conversation alive, when she poured the coffee into two cups.
“I always get many different names, Madame. They are usually related to my level of Intelligence, which is allegedly lower than average.”
“They call you the King Of Losers. Quite interesting, what do you say? You may be a loser, but they still respect you as a king. And it is always good, to be a king. That´s what you always wanted, am I right?”
“I confess to my high ambitions, Madame. That is also the reason why I am here.”
“… with 5.000 USD of taxpayers money in your pocket,” Madame added with smile.
“I just utilized an unique opportunity. Everybody would do that. I am not so different from the others — not better, not worse. But anybody can judge me, I don´t care.”
“Well, you definitely came to the right place, where you can get your initiation. But believe me, not me will provide this blessing to you – they will, all that people outside, on the street, in the Surveillance vans, or sitting in their air-conditioned offices, dressed in expensive suits,” Madame served cups on the table, with sugar and a bottle of liquor.
“Oh, sorry, I forgot,” she released Svejk´s wrists. “I always tell my beloved sons, that I don´t need any useless precautions and protection. From whom? I am just an old woman, I am not important, but they insist, they don´t listen to me. But love means to let go, and to respect the natural order of things. Remember that, Josef!
By the way, do you know, that my mother met your famous Grandpa? Our families are connected in a very particular way. Quite a surprise, isn´t it? But I will tell you about this matter later. We need yet several magical items for our session.”
She returned to the small cupboard, and she brought two gas masks and ear protection gear. “There is a small probability, that this stuff could be handy today, so adjust the straps, and remember, to insert the ear plugs very deep. And don´t forget to close your eyes. Flashbangs are very dangerous toys, and I am afraid, that we could experience their effect personally, and soon. But I still hope, that our mutual friends outside will be reasonable. Nobody wants a show like this.”
“I came alone, Madame. I will fulfill my tasks, and then I will leave. In peace.”
“Yes, they sent you to break me, to persuade me to join your side. They chose theirbest operative, even as dumb as you, and they trust you, that you will serve them well. I will give you, what you came for, Josef!
But you should know, that an initiation means to accept the consequences of a very special kind of information, that will shock you, and in that moment, you will realize, how silly you were, to try to enter this realm of power. You should rather stay in a pub, drinking beer, living your calm, peaceful life! You entered a game, where you have no control of things. You were, you are, and you will be just a pawn, always. But if you want it, you will get it. So, are you ready?”
Svejk hesitated in that moment. Something inside him told him to leave, and immediately, when there was still some time, some open window. But he came too far on his journey. Now, there was only one option: to go forward, to the end.
“I am prepared, Madame. Anything happens, I believe that I will survive. Let´s do it!”
“You fool… but why should I deny your dreams from being fulfilled? We all are responsible for our fates, including you. You are changing your fate today, not me. But there is really something I should hand over to you. And believe me, you won´t be pleased. So, I am asking you again – do you want this questionable gift, that will bring you to the edge? Do you want to know the most disturbing truth?”
“Yes, Madame. I am listening.”
She sighed. “You people will never change, still and again doing the same mistakes. Hunters becoming hunted, eagles becoming prey… that´s life. We all learn from our mistakes. And now, it´s time for you to learn too, Josef!
For example, do you know, why is the military file of your Grandpa still classified to this day?”
“They don´t want to connect our infamous Svejk family with the highest matters of state, I think. If they would recognize publicly, what merits my Grandpa had in establishing our sovereign state in 1918, they think that the public would laugh at them. That is how they explained their reasons to me.”
“And what if I told you, that there was another, and much serious reason, than this cheap cover story? And that this reason is closely connected with my family?”
Svejk couldn´t resist to wonder. “Well, that would be very surprising, Madame! Please, tell me more!”
“Maybe I should tell you about my mother firstly, Josef. She was a real personality, you know. And from my childhood, she prepared me for this life journey, to be useful, to bring something good to the people. She always told me – be useful, give something back to the society, if you have the blessings and gifts. So I listened to her, and I try to please people, who come to me, asking for an advice.
Have a look at her picture. She was really charming, don´t you think?” the Madame put an old, grainy photograph in front of Svejk.
He examined it, and he saw a person there, who seemed familar. But the picture quality was not good, so he couldn´t be sure immediately.
“Here is another photo, better quality, just have a look,” the Madame said with some really dark tone in her voice. That should warn Svejk! But he was too busy thinking, trying to remember, to put all ends together. And then, suddenly… he knew!
“What…” he sighed in shock, when he finally realized, who the person was. “What are playing at me, woman? Are you joking? They told me, that you are a con artist, and you really are! I know that person, and you know that! Do you want to persuade me, that this is your mother? This is the most absurd theory I have ever heard!”
But Madame didn´t let his objections to interrupt her lecture. He promised himself to reach the end, whatever will wait there for him – and she just guided him to that breaking point.
“When my mother met your Grandpa, he stole something from her. But later, he returned this stolen item back to her, and I kept it to this day, although my father always told my mother, how unsafe it is, to keep this dangerous memorabilia. But she insisted… to have some memory from her past, a reminder of the world she originated from.
In one moment many decades ago, your Grandpa held this particular rifle cartridge in his own hands. But it brought serious consequences for him – he became a person of interest, and his personal file was made strictly classified. Now, you take it,” she handed over an old rifle cartridge with signs of rust to Svejk.
“Stop this comedy, woman! How could I believe you? Do you think, that I am a fool? This is a modern 5.56mm NATO ammunition, and my Grandpa passed away in 1958! How could he hold this cartridge in his hands, if our Army used Russian 7.62mm ammunition in that time?”
“He did, believe it or not. And if something will persuade you, as nothing else, have a look at this item,” she served him another object. It was a small uniform patch, old, almost falling apart, but with a familiar name written on it, and still readable:“Dvorakova”. The name of the person Svejk knew, and he also knew this woman personally. He met her just today, at the morning, several hours ago, when he was leaving the Unit´s offices, saying goodbye to Denisa.
Svejk just freezed. “No… this can´t be true… how could be such a thing possible?”
“They called it “Operation Naked Truth”, allegedly the biggest PSYOP in the human history, and the most secretive operation of our Military, with one simple goal: to become the important players of the world politics, to secure a sustainable future for our country. You know, what a PSYOP means, don´t you? And to be correct, I should say that they call it with this name at the present time, because this event will happen today, at the evening. And my mother – the person you know too – she was, she is, she will be in this operation. In fact, she is the main protagonist of it. And she will cross the borders, as you did today!
That is the reason why you are here exactly today, not sooner, not later, so you can´t interfere. It´s too late. She is too far from here, without a cellphone or any other possibility of contact. You can just sit and enjoy the show, if they will let you to watch TV at the evening, when you will be in custody, so you don´t foil their big, courageous plans, which will change the world forever.”
In that moment, a roar of a helicopter could be heard, followed by strong bangs from above, and loud commands followed. “Military Police! Get down! To the ground!”
“They are coming, Josef! Use the gear I gave you, and lie down on the floor, with your hands to be clearly seen. And pray! You are not going home today, I am afraid. But you got, what you wanted! And you got it free. Return the money to the taxpayers! As a proverb says, the best things in life are free, don´t you agree?”
Madame took both photographs, the cartridge, and also the patch, and she put it all into the open fire, where she boiled water for coffee. Then, she lied down too, slowly, in peace. There will be no evidence left. Just a talking of an old woman.
Svejk just stared, unable to believe all this. But he obeyed.
Just a second later, the door to the basement were breached by a small charge. And several small round objects were thrown down the stairs.
Svejk closed his eyes, as she instructed him. So he saw no flash, and he heard only a distant bang. And then, stamping of many military boots around. But he kept his eyes still closed, maybe in a foolish desire to awake from this bad dream, back to the world of common things you can understand, where you can meet a girl who will love you, where you can order a beer and drink it in peace, or buy something nice, or just walk in the calming nature.
He knew in that moment, that human history will be soon substantially changed, and he is condemned to know that in advance, unable to do something, regardless if he agrees with it or not. He will have to stay silent, even with the most attractive secrets on his lips. He won´t be a free man anymore. He will be a holder of a secret, initiated to the club, where you can get many perks and advantages, but the price you will have to pay is immense, and you can never estimate it before, in advance – onlyafter, when it´s too late to go home, back to your common life you despised so much, hungry to be “somebody”, to touch the stars, like that fool Svejk desired, without realizing, that the stars shine and they can burn the reckless ones, who are silly enough to try to get close to them, or even to touch them.
But as the Madame said – we people always get what we desire. So he successfully received this blessing, and he just met his destiny. The dark future awaited him, but he will have to go boldly to meet it, because there is no way back, there never was a way back for him, if he wanted to escape his irrevocable fate of being a life loser.
It was the time for Svejk to withdraw from the stage, not to shade that upcoming famous events with his infamous presence. Operation NAKED TRUTH was just beginning, fifty kilometers from Prague, in a deep wood…
If you want to read more, go to htttp://www.svejk2.cz/denisa/, where the story continues, and you can find out, what happened, and what went wrong eventually, with the most severe consequences for Denisa, an elite female operative of Military Counterintelligence.
(Author´s note: a similiar event, involving inappropriate use of Military Anti-Terrorism Unit, really happened. In that well-known case, a reporter of the Czech Television had an alleged secret Military document in his office, located inside the main Czech TV building, a very sensitive site. And the Military sent this commando, fully armed with M4 assault rifles in hands and masked with balaclavas, to retrieve this file by any means necessary. But this useless demonstration of power had serious consequences.
The command of this unit SOG (Special Operations Group) was recalled, and later, the whole unit was disbanded. This affair should be definitely solved by another means,)
Download as PDF: Svejk Finds His Destiny by Alan Svejk