It was the October 28th, the celebrating day of Czech independence. It was 96 years from the moment, when the sovereign country was established.
The Prague Castle was full of well dressed people, and the mood was festive, regardless of lost and futile war, maybe the shortest in history. It lasted just for eighteen hours.
Svejk and First Lieutenant Lukes survived, and they both attained the event. First Lieutenant received the highest military medal, “The Order Of The White Lion”, for his heroic action, when he, under the influence of that miserable fool Svejk, successfully negotiated the truce with the enemy, using stolen crown jewels, and finishing the bloodshed, saving thousands of lives.
Svejk received no medal, although it was originally his idea. No wonder! He had too much questionable reputation…
All defenders of Lhota village were buried with full military honors, excluding Denise – her body remains were never recovered.
“I think that she made it out, Herr Oberlieutenant, but she was just too tired of warfare, so she left. And now, she is enjoying a well deserved drink somewhere! Or maybe the Device was real, and she had to stay in the past, so the flow of history can be maintained! Who will ever know the truth?”
“You could be right, Svejk. But still, maybe we should visit the Chalice’s pub and wait for her, maybe she will arrive. It’s after the war. And in the meantime, we can have some drinks.”
“That’s the best decision of a right commander, Herr Oberlieutenant! Let’s leave this boring event. The pleasant pub awaits us… and she will be there, sooner or later, trust me! She never lets her team down. You know her! So let’s move there and secure some good places for the celebration of our reunion!”
So they headed for the famous Chalice’s pub, the heaven of all war veterans. When the first round of drinks came to their table, Svejk lifted his glass, to make the first toast.
“To the end of all wars! And let our dearest brothers and sisters find peace, wherever they are!”
Hours passed, they drank a lot of beers, but Denise still didn’t come. They remained alone in the pub, both drunk. The waiter approached their table.
“It’s over for today, gentlemen. We are closing. But we will gladly welcome you tomorrow, at 10AM!”
Both veterans looked at him with deepest understanding. Yes, he was right. It was over. It was time to go. Time to move forward. To continue on their life route. To honor all people they lost, just by happy and useful living.
“Your orders for tomorrow, Herr Oberlieutenant?” Svejk asked outside the pub, waiting for a cab.
“We will begin again, Svejk, under the new conditions. Our Unit was not disbanded. We are still in the game! We are still following our orders. Now, you have the opportunity to protect the highest state interests, as your famous Grandpa did!”
“I will gladly do that, without any hesitation,” Svejk confirmed. “Nothing is over! This is just the beginning. And one day, trust me, you will accompany me to the Prague Castle! One day it has to work, and I will receive a deserved medal too!”
“You are a moron, Svejk. You always were, and you will always be. I don’t understand, how can I serve with you in this Unit? I must be a very patient person, full of understanding! Honestly, I didn’t know, that I own this special personal qualities, making me a good manager and commander, perhaps!”
“You see, Herr Oberlieutenant, how greatly we influence each other? We are the great team! And she is still with us, I can feel it. Her ideas, her female approach will help us to win our cause. So, let’s go home! We have to be fresh tomorrow. A new day of military service is coming, many challenges are awaiting us…”
“Stop it, Svejk! Enough of talk for today. Your babbling makes me more headache, than all beers I drank today!”
“I report obediently, that I will be silent, as ordered, Herr Oberlieutenant! But there was this interesting case you should definitely hear! Just one last tale, I promise!”
“Do you promise? OK. One last tale. Only one! Begin!”
“So, a man was living in Liben, just two streets from my flat, you know, just across the square, then to the left, and this guy, we called him Pisinger, because he really liked one kind of biscuits, he worked as a bricklayer. One day, he decided to remain silent for one full week, maybe he wanted to test his abilities or he was tired of babbling, as you are, so one day, he came to the ‘Three Sisters’ pub, and everybody wondered, what happened to him? But he just sat there, drinking beer without any word or beer tale, so his buddies decided to make him joyful again, but they used really bad way of achieving this, they sent a woman to awaken his from his sorrow. But this woman, known as ‘Mary The Fallen Angel’, you know Liben, she had this lighter ethics, to define it modestly, she took the money in advance, as they always do, and she sat on his lap, touching him everywhere, you know, she was very experienced and her time was expensive, so she started her performance immediately, but he didn’t react, so she tried to steal his wallet, by the way, be careful if you will visit Liben, the girls are sometimes very unpolite there. Anyway, he didn’t react again, so she drank his beer, and still nothing, so she called her friend, and believe me, Herr Oberlieutenant, this Zora would awake the sap in anybody, so there were two of them, and they launched total offensive against still silent Pisinger, they stripped him of all clothes, they wrote some indecent lines on his face, they took scissors from Dana, a hair stylist, who arrived to help as a back-up, they shaved his head… and still nothing! So they called for a meeting of high military command, how to change their combat tactics, the whole pub was bursting in laugh, but the women were completely serious, as a squad of generals, planning their next strategic moves. And you know, what happened? When they took a fire extinguisher from the wall, Pisinger stood up, and he said just: ‘I am going home.’ Yeah, it could be over in that moment, but there was this friend of him, Bohous, and he wanted to save the situation, so he enetered the scene with the most serious consequences, because he started a quarrel with Mary, that she spoiled Pisinger’s spiritual growth, but the woman doesn’t like to have her lifestyle criticized, and she is very sharp, so she fought back, saying, that Bohous can’t fulfill his male task anyway, and it was an insult for Bohous, slaps started flying, and the Police had to calm the local unrest, even in the newspaper they wrote about it, but they forgot to add, that it all began with one small moment of silence. So, Herr Oberlieutenant, even if I always respect and obey your holy orders, as an obedient servant of the state, maybe you should reconsider your decision, or we will end like another friend of mine, some Carl Zeydlik, they expelled him even from the easiest school in Prague by the way, because he had some real behavior problems, anyway, he was also quite a silent person, but one day, he started to work as a salesman, you know, selling overpriced stuff on the streets, and as his speech muscles were not developed, he came back home with his jaw derailed and his promising corporate career was over, and you know why? Just because of his silence! Or another related example. One old Grandma was so tired of endless speaking with her quarrelsome colleagues, so she bought that protective earphones for the loud manufacturing plants, you know, with foam padding, but one day, she forget to take the blessed gear off, when she went shopping, just for some milk, and a car driver was just talking to his mistress, to persuade her to follow him to his mansion that evening, so he completely missed our dear Grandma on the street, and she missed him, and a small collision happened. The court, which was investigating this traffic accident thoroughfully, they weren’t able to say, whose fault it was, so in the end, the judge split the guilt fairly between both of them, but Grandma disagreed, she appealed to the court, that she has a right to live in silence, from the Constitution, and the world has to respect that… so the case continued, and as far as I know, it runs to this day, unresolved. So many lost time and bureaucracy, just because of one Grandma with deep sense of human rights! It reminds me one distant relative of mine, Loyza Pirko, who was in the bank to pay the bills, but he was there exactly in that sad moment, when some moron decided to make a fortune by robbing it, so he stormed the office and he shouted: “Everybody down!”, but Lojza got so frightened, that he became completely silent and not able to move, as a statue. The robber comes to him, he is the only one still standing, and he says angrily to Loyza: “Are you deaf, you fool? This is a robbery!”, but Loyza still stands, as a stone. Some middle-aged woman entered the discussion boldly, she said, hey, what have you done, that standing man will have to stay in the bank until he defrosts again, and the robber was so distracted, that when the police arrested him, he was unable to understand what happened! By the way, he received eight years, quite a sentence, what do you say? For a few bad words, eight years? The courts are inhumanly strict today, let me tell you that! And sometimes an innocent person falls into the pit also, like my neighbor, Lukíno, he works as a bus driver, so he came home from a shift, which ended prematurely because of a traffic accident, where his vehicle was slightly damaged, and he finds his wife with her lover, lying in their sacred marital bed, and the guy has socks on his feet, and that was so strong insult for the husband, so he took the nearest object in his reach, a big TV screen, and he threw it against this indecent visitor, but he missed, the TV flew successfully through the window, it fell from the second floor down, to the street, where a peaceful pedestrian just had a walk for good health, and as the TV crashed in front of him, he dropped his luxurious cell phone, and naturally, later he demanded a compensation, but the court said, and listen to this well, Herr Oberlieutenant, that Lukíno is innocent in the case of damaged phone, but he commmited a crime from jealousy, although the lover was not hit by the TV set! And the sentence was really strict, so the whole Liben city quarter protested, and the local police had to call for reinforecements from the countryside, from Chrudim or from where. And that is the biggest insult for our Liben people, to be arrested by the foreign officers! So a small riot started, shops lost some merchandise, our local thieves really misused the situation, believe me, they are like vultures, you leave your wallet just for a second unguarded, and I promise you, it will be gone, you will see just a shadow, moving away quickly, so we locals use very ingenious precautions, you will like it, because it has something to do with military strategy. So, firstly, the basic rule is, carry only coins, because they are heavy, and our thieves hate them, because it rips their pockets apart, so they always leave them in place, but there were also one infamous case, when a thieve in deep need took everything, and the poor citizen had to go home on foot, he hadn’t even a coin for a tram ticket, and when this sad tale surfaced in the public, Thieves Guild said, that they won’t tolerate such manners in their midst, so they started their thorough internal investigation to catch the culprit, and it was really absurd, you know, thieves try to catch a thieve, but you know, in Liben, there is the world upside down, it always was, it always will be, so if you are born there, you can’t leave this paradise, because outside Liben, everything is upside down again, so it’s more convenient to live in Liben forever, so you don’t have to make some paradigm shifts and similar necessary steps to survive out there! It’s just about gravity, about feeling a firm ground under your feet, it’s like to be home, and home is important for anybody, you know, that feeling, that everything is at the right place, including the world. But for the tourists, this speciality brings many problems. For example, one day, a bus full of Italian tourists from Sicily lost the direction and they took a really wrong turn, and guess where? Yes, into the heart of our infamous city qaurter! So you can imagine, what happened, when a foreign bus stopped on Elsnitz Square and the driver, expensively dressed in black Italian leather, asked the nearest local with questionable reputation and even criminal past, how to get to the Old Town? We can agree, that it was a big mistake, because in the matter of minutes, all Italians were without their wallets, but they had very hot blood, as the clever books say about Sicilians, so they started hunting for the culprits, and some Luigi from Napoli was so tired from the fruitless hunt, that he made the second biggest mistake, he visited a local pub, with very dark reputation. Well, to make this short, we don’t like knives in Liben anymore, and all Italians have entry strictly forbidden, we even turned all the traffic signs, to be completely sure, so there is no way to Liben anymore, there are only ways out of Liben, and it’s a very good advice to visitors, to turn back, or things will be really stirred, like that drink in James Bond movies. I tried it once, when I had my pay day, so I could spend a little, to play the nobility, you know, but I must say, that my favorite rum is still much better, preferably from Jamaica. Aren’t you tired, Herr Oberlieutenant? But I was finishing anyway, I just wanted to tell you about a very bad date I had recently, it was a complete disaster! The girl had this surname ‘Beer’, no, really, and it should warn me in the first place, so I decided to stop drinking, I mean, from tomorrow, because this event taught me something about love! It all began quite well, I bought a nice bouquet of flowers, I dressed up, you know the rules, but then I made this mistake, I had a drink or two to have courage, and it was the big mistake, maybe even spoiling a big love of my life, because I came there, let’s say, too joyful, and she didn’t appreciate my humor, so maybe she wasn’t a suitable partner for me, who knows, maybe there is the truth in drinks after all! Anyway, we went for a romantic walk, I tried to entertain her, and it went quite well, even with my little knotted tongue, until that fateful moment, when we accidentally met an old friend of mine, I told you about him already, that Tonda, who made his local fame by spending three full days and nights in a non-stop pub, forcing the owner to replenish his supplies again, and believe me, it was a good result even for our local high general level of drinking performance, because in Liben, we always have reasons to celebrate… so, I told to the girl, only one drink, to refresh ourselves, OK, so we went inside, all guests greeted me, as an old friend, and the girl was curious, hey, how is it possible that everybody knows you here, in this pub for recently released criminals, if you told me, that you almost don’t drink, and you spend evenings in library? Well, what could I say, in this breaking moment? The truth must be told, and no wonder, that she now rejects all my calls, so I guess, it’s time to move forward again, something is over, but something great is awaiting me, I can feel it. Like the last time, do you remember, just before this war, when I had such prediction too, and it really happened! So I am full of joyful expectations, and no refusal of a girl can change that, because life is a miracle, let’s enjoy every day, every minute, here and now, because it will never come back, and one day, we will judge ourselves just by how well we used this ultimate gift…”