I told the officer that Jovanovic had been a union organizer before the war but nobody ever bothered him, not even once. Why’s that?
“Good question,” nodded the officer and jotted down something in his notebook.
“And what kind of a Social Democrat could live in the biggest house of the village under the Ustasha?” I asked. “Gimme a break! How was that possible with those reactionary fire eaters keeping a close watch on all of us. You know what I mean?”
“Rather strange, I agree,” he said, and wrote more in his notebook.
“Also, Jovanovic has never been conscripted during the three different political systems we’ve gone through in the last twelve years. Suspicious?”
“Yes, it is,” said the officer. “It sure seems quite suspicious.”
“I definitely think so, too. And, I don’t know if I mentioned before, Jovanovic and his foreign-born wife have only one kid, still they live in the biggest house of the village.”
As he was taking notes the officer kept shaking his head. Then we had a couple of jiggers of grappa.
“Sir, I would like to thank you for your patriotism,” he said. “I wish all citizens were as devoted to the greater good as you are.”
After he left I gathered my family in the living room. My eyes welled up looking at them; they’re all that matter to me in this life. Franka, my wife and also my best friend, my three beautiful children: Mihael seven years old, Dora five and Luka just a baby.
I was so overcome by emotions that I had the greatest difficulty opening my mouth. Finally, tears still rolling down my face, I announced, “Good things are on the horizon. We’re soon moving into a bigger house.”
JS O’Keefe is a scientist, trilingual translator and published short-story/prosimetrum writer.