Boki – age: 36, occupation: alcoholic, disposition: often quiet, used to be a legend of the neighbourhood, stands up when music touches his heart
Antonio – age: 22, occupation: waiter/mechanic, disposition: talkative, womanizer, probably a little gay
Pako – age: 20, occupation: something serious, disposition: kind-hearted machoman
Mate – age: 30, occupation: night-shifts, disposition: broken (no parents, evil sisters)
Ischo – age: 49, occupation: something with insurance, disposition: still a legend of the neighbourhood
Godfather – age: 39, occupation: construction-worker, disposition: strong-hearted man
Natascha – age: 21, occupation: punk waitress
The Manager – age: 20, occupation: (ex) drug dealer
Juki – age: 24, occupation: (ex) DJ
The Cousin – age: unknown, occupation: resident of lunatic asylum
Old Men at the table – age: 65-75, occupation: card games
Again, we sit in that pub or “kafana”. The clock says 16:23 and a few losing souls are gathered for their daily feast. It is a scene that many societies know: a few scattered tables, music from ancient loudspeakers, a bar, a waitress and a bunch of drunken bastards. We’re sitting in front of the pub, our eyes resting on a badly managed construction scene, our naked feet stretched out on white dust, some of us careful about the nails scattered underneath.
The soul named “Boki” picks up his beer and telephone and yells into them:
“Alo! When the time arrives! That time! When I marry of course! Soon! Are you gonna be my best man?”
Seconds pass while he listens to the person on the other line. A few gulps and a sudden answer:
“Yes, yes, I’ve delivered the iron to the man and taken the money, but which day is it tomorrow? Saturday, right? No, today is Saturday. Alright, tomorrow I’m coming to your paradise, but be sure to have some beer, since you might be my best man, you understand? Alo?”
A few scattered tables away I take my dusty seat and put it next to my companions. One of whom, the soul named Antonio, is telling the story of how he was betrayed just hours earlier:
“So I had my eyes on this truck right? 2011 built, just a few things to repair and way under the price I could have sold it for. Before I decide to buy I go to an older man, a friend of my fathers, to ask him for advice since I’m not an expert in this type of truck. He tells me not to buy it since the truck is in need of too much investment, he says. I tell him that I´ll do it anyway because I could afford the risk right now. So later that day, I call the owner of the truck to close the deal and you know what he tells me? That some COLLEAGUE of mine had already been there with MY money, which I had SUPPOSEDLY given him, to buy the truck IN MY NAME. So I realize that the old guy I asked for advice had told the owner of the truck he’d been sent BY ME to fucking take the deal under my nose! I just couldn’t believe it! Only for three weeks I’m back in this god forsaken town and already bullshit like this! It’s hopeless! I’m going back to Switzerland! I’m leaving! I’m telling you guys: I’m leaving!”
Antonio already informed me about this mess, so I know what´s going on. The only new discovery is that he decided to drink away the pain of betrayal in the afternoon sun. The other souls at the table are Mate and Pako. Poor Mate I have known for a while now: back always bent, eyes observing his surroundings like a deer in the wild and when he talks it’s always something useless or copied. Total opposite of proud Pako here: shoulders back, chin up and interestingly enough: kind, shining eyes. Apparently, I´m supposed to know this Pako from our younger days. I have no memory except for a faint glimmer, the smell of sea water and jazz cabbage. Antonio is telling me how Pako is one of the few from our neighbouring village who made it out alive and still remained a decent guy. I ask them about the soul named Juki. “He’s in prison”, says Antonio. I ask about “the manager”. “He was locked up in an asylum and now lives in Norway.” From the other table we can hear Boki yelling into his phone and beer: “Alo? Have I reached the police? Crime department? Mafia Organisation? State Embassy? Hajducija, mi smo revolucija.”
Meanwhile on a table further back the Legend, Iso, is telling his story: “[…], no you guys don’t understand: because he was shitfaced drunk, I didn’t give him the motorcycle, not because I don’t respect the guy. Anyway, afterwards I find out that this asshole just stole the bike, while I was grabbing a drink and then he drove off with some girl to dance around on a boat, but listen!”, he says with his crooked teeth hanging in front of his face, “When I noticed my bike was gone and figured out it was him, I took my car, drove off, crashed it into his neighbours’ fence, got out of the car, stumbled on the loan and screamed: “Where is my bike, you son of a bitch?”
The stories go on rambling through the afternoon, but at some point we decide for the only reasonable thing left to do in such circumstances: play darts. Oh yes, darts. What a bliss to keep that one eye on the centre goal, leading the hand to throw the piece exactly where it’s supposed to go. Again and again, you throw in the same manner, yell out something (its crudity depending on the accuracy of the throw) and move away for the other player to try his luck. Meanwhile you sit down on the high ass bar stool, have a sip from your drink and after a few dirty remarks (concerning the foul playing of your opponent) it’s your turn again on that line of death to throw your life back into meaning.
Very quickly the liquid magic and the folk songs bring us into an ecstatic phase of growls and wild singing: the afternoon calm is broken by these howls of cheap freedom. We connect to each others suffering through cheerful and soulful cries, while the waitress smiles and proclaims Sodom and Gomorrah to have arrived. Suddenly Boki, who was still occupied with random calls, slams the door open, jumps on the bar, and proclaims the world to be his. We howl and growl as his willful companions, while at the same time old men are playing their card game with a glare of calm and critique in their eyes. One takes a sip from his white wine.
But for us there is no home, there is only on and on and on, endlessly spiralling in the ever same damn exciting horror. The sun goes down, rises up again, goes left, takes a turn, keeps spinning, stops for a sec, then starts on backwards, vibes, shakes my hand, does a backflip, and rises forward while it slowly falls into the night, slowly cooling down, slowly washing over our emotions and our minds.
And so the scene switches. Someone finds a remote control in between the cushions of a sofa and switches from one channel to another. At channel #1 Pako is elaborating on where he learnt to fight and why everyone from his generation is afraid to fight him. Meanwhile at channel #2 Antonio is talking to his godfather in a very particular expression of sentiment. And I’m surprised to see: tears are rolling down his face and screams of pain are coming out of his mouth. Then I realize: the topic is his cousin: the same cousin who ran over a friend of ours with his car last year. Now this cousin resides in an asylum, where he is treated for the uncontrollable emotions that haunt him like demons haunt Victorian dolls.
“I know, it´s ok.”
“I know him! He´s not like that!”
“I know my brother, I know.”
“If only I had done more! If only I had spent more time!”
“You couldn’t have. He didn’t let us.”
“I know, but I can’t let go, I can´t forget. What is wrong with us?”
“I´ll tell you this: We here, what’s left of us: we’re all shit. We’re all just brown substance slowly falling from gods` asshole onto the hard surface below. There is no respect anymore. There are no honest men anymore. We’re all damned.”
And the scene rambles on, while Yugoslavian rock blasts out of ancient loudspeakers and old men take sips of white wine.