Pavel Kovac is going to America (part two)

Milan seemed not to know about the ‘code of kindness’ that shadowed Pavel. He measured Pavel’s small hands against his and joked about how small they were. One day he even dared Pavel to throw punches and tried to teach him how to fight at the far corner of the school field. It was such a funny spectacle that some other kids forgot about the ‘code’ too and cheered them on. Pavel laughed so much that his face hurt long afterwards.

On the way back home, Milan asked Pavel to come to his house. He wanted to show him something. Pavel knew that it was forbidden. But he really wanted to go. He decided to go and think of some excuse later.

Pavel had never seen a house like Milan’s. From the outside it looked old and almost abandoned. Inside, it was arranged as a cross between a workshop and sleeping quarters. There did not seem to be any toilet or running water. Milan’s grandfather was sitting on the small stool fixing an odd-looking apparatus. The room was full of them. Some looked like old radios. Grandfather did not seem to notice Pavel and Milan.

Milan carefully guided Pavel through the front room and into an adjoining space just big enough for two people to stand or kneel behind the closed door. He flipped the corner of the dusty floor rug and carefully separated the floor boards. Pavel held his breath. Milan slowly slipped his hands inside the opening and lifted a square shaped object covered with a thick woolen cloth. He winked at Pavel and threw the cloth away; ‘We are going to America’ he said. Pavel did not think so. All he could see was an old radio and some odd looking wires attached to it.

Milan was excited. He was clearly very familiar with the wires and knobs, turning them this way and that, searching for the signal, he explained. He then checked that the window was shut and the curtains pulled tightly. Pavel felt tiny drops of sweat forming on top of his upper lip; soon miniscule drops were filling his mouth. He watched Milan’s moving fingers. The way he was squatting left only his fingers and the top of his curly scalp exposed. A puppeteer fiddling with his offerings.

Hissing sounds started to escape from the peculiar-looking apparatus. Pavel leaned over Milan, peering into the radio’s mesh front. A clear female voice surged forward. Pavel jumped back, bumping against the door. As if by reflex, Milan steadied him, his firm hand on Pavel’s thigh. Dry, strong hand. He turned the volume down low with his other hand.

Milan pulled Pavel next to him. They were both now kneeling in front of the mesh. The young female voice was just audible. Pavel looked imploringly to Milan. He did not know what to do. The air felt warm and dusty, like the inside of his mother’s room at the end of summer. He wanted to ask what it all meant. Milan squeezed his shoulders. ‘It is OK’ he said. ‘I will teach you American.’

Pavel went to Milan’s house every time he could craft an excuse. At school it was easy; nobody would question him when he asked to go home early because he was feeling sick. And nobody would draw any conclusions from the fact that Milan would leave around the same time too. Milan’s absences were customary. As long as he keep quiet nobody was bothered.

Pavel’s mother left the front rooms of her house around the same time she left the rooms of her marriage. She migrated into the room she chose to call ‘studio’. Sometimes Pavel rushed by her in a hallway. Later he avoided the hallway as much as he could.

Occasionally Pavel had to explain his absences to his father. Eventually he came up with an idea. Milan thought of it first. Pavel joined the voluntary youth army class. They had real guns to practice on, learning how to defend the people’s country from imperial powers. From America and its imperial allies. The proletariat would be liberated and united. The organizer was an enthusiastic young teacher. He was very glad to have Pavel amongst his flock. Eventually the boy’s father would certainly visit. It would be a great opportunity. He was sure of it.

Pavel made sure to attend the beginning of each class. He displayed amazing talent and very quickly learned how to assemble and disassemble guns with great speed. Milan’s grandfather had made sure of it. He spent hours moulding his violin fingers around the old guns that he still kept hidden in that cave they call home. He also made sure that Pavel’s eyes do not moist with tears of despair every time he held a weapon with his bare hands. The old man’s eyes danced in the same way Milan’s did. Soon, the routine was established. After displaying his skills at the beginning of each meeting, Pavel would quietly slip out. The teacher did not question him. The teacher waited for the suitable moment to invite his father for a visit.

Pavel would join Milan at the street corner where a newspaper kiosk stood, and they would walk to Milan’s house. Sometimes Milan would arrive on his grandfather’s motorbike. ‘That way we save time’, he would explain. Milan liked that motorbike. It was a German model left from the war. The first time, Pavel was scared to sit behind Milan. He smiled at Milan’s open face and hand, which motioned him to jump on. But he did not. Until Milan dismounted and took him by the hand. ‘You will be OK, just hold on to me firmly’. The machine started with a roar that jolted Pavel. He held onto Milan with all his might and pushed his face deeply into the creases of Milan’s woollen jacket. It smelt of sweat and tobacco.

The room with the radio held them for hours. Pavel soon learnt that the program was called ‘Voice of America’, broadcasted directly from the USA. This was the reason why it had to be listened in secret. It was not allowed.

To be continued …


Author: Daniela

Reader, Writer, Mother, Freethinker, Habitual Day Dreamer, Blogger - Sharing Ideas, Poetry, Prose, and Conversations on the Lantern Post!

11 thoughts on “Pavel Kovac is going to America (part two)”

    1. Orebic? I know that place! I am very glad you can relate to the story. I was raised by my grandparents so in a way I lived it through their experiences. Best Regards, Daniela



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