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WARNING! Contains strong language, strong violence, mild racism, political nature and rape. Recommended for a mature audience and not for those who are ignorant of the Bosnian war, neo-cons and the politically "correct".

This story is dedicated to a country that unfortunately doesn't exist anymore...

Prologue

The rockets fired every so often briefly lighting up the sky. We were running through a town trying to take cover. I was a Poručnik in the VRS can’t say I was proud to fight under Mladić nor can I say I was proud to have fought in the war. I was called up about a year and a half ago and they gave me the choice to prove myself in an officer school. I graduated after six months. A lifelong friend of mine, Boris Kovač was under my command, the kids back home had nicknamed him Mišo because his mother is a Croat but the joke wasn’t well thought of since she’s from Istria not Dalmatia. A number of my men were students including our engineer Zupan and our medic Bobienski. We were all conscripted except for a farmer named Vuk Stojanović who volunteered for the sake of killing Muslims and Croats to suit his Chetnik lifestyle and sadly for him I haven’t committed such crimes and don’t plan either. In the distance we then seen a church and graveyard were we would take cover from the artillery.


Chapter 1

We began to rest as we were out of aim of the artillery. “That’s our own damn artillery bombing us” shouted McCourt as he lay down to take a drink of water. “What are you reading Jackie?” Babić asked Zhang who before answering glanced then said “It’s a World War 2 memorial”. Stojanović then turned to Zhang and said “Hej Valter what is wrong with your eyes?” then Zhang answered “Nothing why?” and Radić said to Stojanović “Chinese naturally have eyes like that” then Babić continued “Yeah Draza unlike your family the Chinese don’t get their eyes through incest like how your cousin got his”. We all laughed but Vuk got up and was about to hit Babić but I threatened him by telling him he “would be shot if he didn’t calm himself”. Boris then went over to me and asked “Hej Milan do you remember that summer when we went to the Montenegrin coast?” and I replied “Summer of 87 how could either of us forget”


I remembered one particular day as it was yesterday. Me and Boris were walking down a beach trying to pick up girls like any single man would do. We walked into a bar and asked for two cokes despite Boris’ best efforts to try and prove/lie we were eighteen. A pretty girl was sitting beside us. “Hej Milan” said Boris pointing his head towards her and I turned around “Zdrava” I said to her and she turned around greeted me. She smiled at me and we started talking a bit. She eventually asked me my name and I told her “Milan Nikolić” and I told her I was from Bosnia and where about. She never knew as it was only a small town of 4,257 people but she was from a similar sized town in Montenegro. She also told me her name “Marija Vidić” and asked me if we could meet later. I did and I went back the next year to find her after a whole six months of slagging from Boris between then. It would later turn out me and Marija would marry after convincing her to move to Bosnia and have two children together, Zlatan and Milena. Now however I wish I had stayed with her in Montenegro.


The artillery stopped and we decided to move on towards our objective which was very unclear at this point.


Chapter 2

I remember first meeting my squad after leaving officer school. Valter met me as soon as I got out of the jeep. "Everyone out of the truck" he shouted. I remember the truck then driving off as the squad assembled and McCourt shouting after leaving his hash on the truck. I gave a sigh of relief when I seen Boris knowing I'd be with him for the war.


Fast forward three months and we're all on the back of a UAZ pickup driven by McCourt with Zupan, our mechanic up beside him. Draza and Simo Radić, a school teacher from Sarajevo who strongly embraces Titoism hence his nickname were arguing as usual but Tito was always the winner. McCourt pulled over and got into the back, “Zhang it’s your turn to drive” he said climbing in. As Zhang got out McCourt started rolling a joint. He wore a Keffiyeh around his neck and owned a Palestinian flag which he fixed onto the UAZ, it made us look more of soldiers of Yasser Arafat than of Ratko Mladić , he also wore his tank top as a bandana and wore an Irish Brigade flag armband. “Hej Chetnik do you want some?” he asked Draza who replied “No I don’t want to die commie” and McCourt responded “You don’t want to smoke weed because you’re afraid to die? What’s with the bottles of Rakia and all the camel cigarettes?” Draza then asked McCourt “Hej Vladan how’s your brother, blown up many Brits?” and Boris added “Yeah Paddy how is he?” McCourt’s brother was a member of the PIRA. I remember him telling me that his grandfather was one of the Irish Asylum Seekers during the 60’s who moved to the continent to escape the conservative Catholic laws that were in place and the stoner in front of me was sure a chip off the old block.


The youngest member of our squad was a Kosovo boy named Antonije Dragić but we all called him Tony he was only seventeen during the war. His ambition was to become a runner in the Olympics and I must say he was a very fast runner. His home town was destroyed seven years ago by Albanian Islamists. He had only found out his pregnant sister and her boyfriend were killed by a suicide bombing in Banja Luka.


We were driven into Boris and I’s home town for a scouting mission and we disembarked the UAZ.


Chapter 3

We patrolled the empty the town after hearing about Islamist movement nearby. Our home town was called Vodopadi Crkvi, it had been historically a Serb town with a large Croat minority and the first Muslims never came until after the Second World War. The town had two churches, one Serb and one Catholic and a mosque all three of them were beautiful however that didn’t stop them being burned out of bigotry. Vodopadi Crkvi was an idol town for Brotherhood and Unity were Serbs, Croats and Muslims lived together, went to the same school and interethnic marriage was also quite common. I walked into the school, it was damaged but no looted like so much more of the town, the large portrait of Tito hung slanted in the entrance corridor next to the resource room.


I noticed some of the annual photos were lying on the ground I picked one up, it was from the 1981-82 school year and we had just won the Republic School Cup. I remember standing next to Gospodin Muhammadić the fifth grade teacher with his son Ahmed as he took the photo of the team holding the trophy. I was in sixth grade at the time, just months away from starting gymnasium. Boris was the school’s captain and the top scorer that semester.


I went back out onto the streets and met Boris and showed him the picture “They sure were happier times” he said to me. I then walked into my own house. It wasn’t as looted as some other homes however there was graffiti in our sitting room that read “Srbe na Vrbe” with an Ustasha U and crucifix above it. I found a note in a drawer in me and Marija’s bedroom. It told me what had happened before she and the kids fled to Greece it read “Dear Milan, As you know me and the kids are hopefully in Greece. What happened has been happing here has been terrible, Vladimir Vučković was beheaded by Arkan’s Tigers, the Islamists killed the Đukićs across the road and Ustashas beat Dr. Izetbegović to a pulp.”


I went back outside and showed Boris what was happing. McCourt then asked me “You’ve got kids?” and I answered him “Yes two, Zlatan and Milena”. Boris then asked McCourt how many he had and Valter answered it for him “He has five don’t you Paddy? One with an army nurse, one with an Argentinean peacekeeper, one with an Italian, one with an Irish and one with a Brazilin” and McCourt then replied “You forgot about my daughter which I had with my ex back in Bijeljina, she must be nearly six now”. I then asked Valter how many he had and he answered “Three, two twin daughters with my ex-wife and a son with my girlfriend”. Draza walked past and Vladan asked him “Hej Chetnik how many do you have? Fifteen all of them legally your nephews or nieces as well as your cousins” Draza replied “Shut up stoner, how many bastard kids you have with nurses and female peacekeepers?” After laughing at McCourt and Draza we heard a noise. It was only us ten in Vodopadi Crkvi and we were all together. I seen someone run across the street and I ran over to the damaged Opel sedan to take cover. The figure was a Bosniak rebel and he aimed his rifle but I fired be he could shoot. I then went over to the body and found out the rebel was Ahmed Muhammadić.


Chapter 4

It was early in the morning just a night after we were in Vodopadi Crkvi we approached a hamlet. Three of our soldiers were about to rape a Bosniak woman but McCourt fired at them wounding them, the woman got up and ran and McCourt went over to one of the soldiers and started pissing on him. I started talking to my squad “Okay I’m going as in ditching the army and heading to my family in Greece” and Bobienski responded “So you’re deserting” and I nodded to confirm this. I then continued “Is anyone in with me? Boris?” who nodded and said “I suppose so” at the same time McCourt shouted “Refreshing isn’t it?” and came back over to the squad and asked “What’s going on?” and I told him about my plans for desertion and he responded with “Hell yeah man, fucking hell yeah”. Tito said “Milan no one knows what this war is about, I think we’re all in it” and Babić added “If I would have known I was going to be drafted I’d have headed to Cuba”. “I know many of you have families and I’m not forcing this on any man…” then Valter interrupted and jokingly said “Milan shut up…” and he continued in a more serious tone “…let those two child fuckers fight their own pointless fight with the Muslims”. Boris got up on the UAZ and shouted “Hellas here we come! Paddy get the back on the wheel”. We all mounted the jeep and McCourt started playing War by Edwin Star.


Chapter 5

I was riding up front with McCourt a few hours later. We were listing to the radio. We had just heard a speech by Radovan Karadžić and another speech by Slobodan Milošević had just started. I shouted “Fucking turn it off” and Paddy did it. He then asked me “Any requests?” and I said “Play the IRA song” “Which one? Go on Home British soldiers or an actual Irish one?” and I told him to play the first one. He put his tape his and he turned the radio up full blast. We started shouting “P I, P I, PIRA” before the main part of the song started. The squad in the back heard the song and they started singing as well and we heard Boris say “Hej now we’re the Provos, FUCK THE QUEEN” McCourt shouted “Fuck Maggie Thatcher” and I added “I hope not literality now Vladan” which he replied to “Fuck no, you wouldn’t know where to fuck her since she is a cunt”.


Just as the song ended the UAZ ran out of gas. After McCourt had noticed this he sent Tony and Zupan to get some petrol. “Paddy the nearest gas station is eight kilometres away” Babić said and McCourt replied “Want some?” handing him a bag of hash and Tito said “Play us some music Paddy” and McCourt played his Bob Marley tape. We sat relaxing as Three Little Birds started playing. McCourt lit a joint and Bobienski asked him “How many of them do you smoke a day?” and McCourt answered “I smoke weed two or three times every day”. “Hej commie that fucks your brain” Draza said and McCourt retaliated “Just for that Chetnik I’m going to play a song on my custom tape just for you”. He got into the cabin and put in a tape, he started skipping a few songs until he found the Internationale and then started singing “Arise all victims of oppression, the fascist fears our might…” and Draza simply got annoyed and asked him if he had any “good” (Chetnik) songs. After the Internationale had stopped playing Predaj se srce by Indexi started playing. Boris said with a tear in his eye “I used to love that song” and Valter replied “It’s my number one forever” Draza added “All though I hate Croats that is a good song” and I said “A classic of good old Titoslavia indeed”. Zupan and Tony returned with two full jerry cans of petrol and I helped McCourt fill the tank then we drove off listing to Burning Bridges.


Chapter 6

I remember being in Bijeljina back in 1989 with my wife and Zlatan, this was a year before Milena was born. This was the city were McCourt was from however this was before I even met him. Zlatan was about a year old and I was carrying him on my shoulders as we seen the sites. I remember pointing to a statue of Tito and telling Zlatan how he liberated us from the Nazis in the 40’s, but I doubt a one year old would have understood a word of that. Flash forward six years and the town is in flames I remember sitting at the same statue I pointed at back in 89. I was taking cover from Bosniak artillery fire while being separated from my squad. I remember two members of Arkan’s Tigers come up to me and asked me if I needed a lift. The car stopped and we got out. One of the men gave me a pistol and told me to execute a pregnant woman who had a potato sack over her head. I then shot the two mobsters and helped the woman. Why they wanted me to do it I’ll never know however I was out of outside of the artillery fire.


I heard Draza shout from a window of an apartment block and I went up. I found the entire squad around that area. Outside the building I heard McCourt singing “Everyone’s gone cleansing, cleansing Bosnia” and writing graffiti saying “Tiocfaidh ár lá” and “From Makedonia to the world”. Draza was looting and burning with a bunch of soldiers outside our squad. After rounding them all up (most of them were in the lobby) we headed towards our objective, which was an airlift out of town. When we left the building we were attacked by Islamists and we returned fire. After we defeated them McCourt said “Hej I’ve got the munchies anyone fancy something, there’s an Indian down the road”. Me, Boris, Babić and Bobienski decided to eat anyway. “Come on Jackie, it’s like the stuff your grandparents make, fine it’s spicy is that enough?” and Zhang jumped on the band wagon also.


It seemed like a stupid idea as it would have been likely that there would have been no service but we were lucky. We were greeted by the restaurant’s owner at the door, he was a short man and looked like an Indian Tom Bosely and from what McCourt said to him at the door he was nicknamed because of that. “How many today Paddy?” the owner said and McCourt replied “Five Howard” and the owner showed us to our seats. “Hej Milan you never told us what team you support” I replied to him “I support FK Sarajevo” and the squad laughed “Really you support them?” Bobienski asked then I told them I support Radnički Niš. “Radnički? Who are their Greek friends?” Babić asked which I told him “I don’t follow football that much but I did play it a lot when I was younger”. The owner’s daughter who served as a waitress came out and asked us what we wanted. McCourt only had eyes for her and I can say I couldn’t blame him. “I’ll have the usual” McCourt said and the waitress turned to him and said “Paddy, Ivan said you were killed” and McCourt replied “Ivan’s a stupid cunt and you know extremely well Kanta”. McCourt got up and they hugged each other.


After we ate Kanta came over and sat on Paddy’s lap. “How much will this be?” Valter asked her and Kanta answered “Usually around ninety Marks or Dinar but since Paddy is here and it is war my father said you’re free of charge”. Babić then said coughing “Thank god, I didn’t want to pay for that Lav” which Valter asked “Why Vlado?” and Babić answered “Because it burned me you Chinese bastard” “You deserved it then” Valter said back. We heard a noise coming from our radio, it was Major Novak “Poručnik Nikolić, Poručnik Nikolić, do you copy Milan” I thought Zupan had the hand radio but I answered “Da, kopirate”. The Major was asking where we were and that we should hurry up towards the LZ. I told the boys that we should go. Before we left Paddy gave his helmet to Kanta and told her to take care. We then headed towards landing zone.


I then woke up and this being all a flashback. I heard Novak’s voice and German being spoken.


Chapter 7

“Kommandant Petridis, come in Petridis” Novak said into his hand radio and Petridis responded to him “Da major” and Novak told him we needed a sitrep east of our current location and Petridis tried to tell him it was behind enemy lines. Paddy was responsible for the German being spoken. There were three German peacekeepers with a jeep near the gostionica we had stopped. “Wo seid ihr alle aus?” Paddy asked and two soldiers replied with different answers “Ich komme aus Köln” said a short blonde headed man and a man of West African appearance said “München, Johannes ist auch hier von einer Bayerischer Alpenst”, Johannes was the taller brown haired man. “Hey Jean-Luc gehst du mit ihm über die Kneipe zu fragen? " asked the shorter soldier and the Black soldier asked Paddy “Haben du etwas dagegen, wenn wir gehen in die Kneipe?” who’s reply was “Wir waren nur einen Zwischenstopp hier”. “Jean-Luc, wo ist deine Familie aus?” Paddy asked and the soldier answered “Die Elfenbeinküste, Côte d'Ivoire” which Paddy replied “Ah Côte d'Ivoire, beste Mannschaft in Afrika. Können du sprechen Französisch?” Jean-Luc kept simply agreeing with Paddy until that last question which he replied with “Oui et vous?” and Paddy answered him “Oui”.


I stepped outside and remembered the events in Bijeljina a couple of months ago. I then remembered opening a video shop with a friend, Vladimir Vučković who was supposedly killed a few months ago. It was 1988 I remember standing outside our newly opened shop, and Dance Hall Days was playing on the radio. Boris was taking our photo. “Hej Mišo bring us back that photo okay” Vladimir said as Boris walked away to get the photo developed. My father who was present said “How are you going to get business here, pirate?” and I told him “You must be forgetting how big this AREA is”.


I was awoken from my flashback by Novak who asked me if we were heading out towards Greece.


Chapter 8

I had told Novak about our plan to go AWOL and he agreed saying how pointless this war was.


McCourt, the major and Tito were going to scout ahead on the road while the rest of us were going to scout about the fields. During this wandering we had noticed we had walked onto a minefield after one of stepped on a mine. “Xìngjiāo de duìxiàng” shouted Valter and Boris replied “There’s no need for fucking profanity Valter, who bought it?” Tony turned his head back and shouted “Bobienski”. I then said to the squad “You’ve all seen Kelly’s Heroes, you know the one which Paddy seemingly walked out of? Well do what they done when the GIs walked into the minefield”. Babić added after my command “Milan what about Draza he doesn’t know what a TV is” which everyone except Draza laughed at.


We managed to get through the minefield and get to the UAZ which was parked nearby. I asked McCourt if he spotted anything and told me of a Croatian army movement heading our way. “Petridis, are you there Petridis? Come on you crooked nosed mongrel answer do you copy? Petridis?” said Novak into his hand radio. “Halo Četnici” said a man on the radio “We killed your Greek fucker, we slit his neck as you called him. Now we’re going to do what we should have done back in ‘43” another man said and a group of men started singing “Puška puca a top rice, grmi kao grom, Sad Ustaša bojak bije za Hrvatski dom, sad Ust…” Novak had turned off the radio “Ustasha scum” he then said. “Are they the same guys behind us?” Boris asked and Novak said “You’re half-Croat do you think you’re all like that? The guys nearby are the Croatian army those knuckle draggers on the radio are just terrorists.


Chapter 9

“Jebi” shouted McCourt as the jeep stopped. It was out of fuel and we went out to scavenge. We found a house and knocked on the door. A young Croat woman answered and asked who we were. Boris pulled McCourt and Valter out of the way and said to her in an Istrian accent “We’re the Croatian army we would like to know if you have any diesel or know where the nearest petrol station is” the woman responded “Hold on we’ve got some, would you like to come in?” there was a storm cloud above us and we opened the door. “Would she be able to tell if we’re Chetniks and not Ustashas?” Babić wondered and Zupan responded “I don’t even know who we’re fighting half the time”. “Ah boys let me out of the way” said Draza as he approached the woman and pushed her down. “Draza you fucking incest bastard get off of her” shouted McCourt pointing his rifle at him. A young boy then walked into the kitchen and Tito shouted “Fucking hell Draza what’s wrong with you? Get off her”. Draza ripped off the woman’s shirt as the boy called for her “Fuck it” shouted McCourt as he drew his pistol and shot Draza twice “Sorry it had to come to this” said to him and then shot him in the face. Me, Boris and Valter ran over to girl, she was shaken but unhurt.


The woman’s name was Vera, she was an accretive woman with long brown hair and worked as a school teacher in a nearby village. She told us her husband was killed when his car was bombed by artillery. She got on well with Paddy, Tito and Novak since she shared their political views but it was Tito whom she got on well the most with due to them being both teachers. “Wouldn’t you get in trouble for having us here?” I asked her and she replied “Maybe but no one comes up here that often but I’m leaving in a few days with my brother and his family, you can have this house”. Novak then told her about Greece which she replied “Greece? How are you going to get there?” and she had a point, we were still in north-western Bosnia. I got up from the table to get a glass of Coke. I looked at where Vera was almost violated and I was amazed how we cleaned Draza’s blood up so well. After getting my drink I went outside were Boris, Valter, Tony and Vlado were playing football with Vera’s son. It had hit me more of what kind of war we were fighting, a Croat woman had let us, Serb soldiers to stay in her house and outside her son plays and talks about sports to four of them.


We were leaving after breakfast and Zupan decided to stay with Vera and Darijo. “Why do you want to stay?” Novak asked him and he told him “We’re a long way from Greece major and I don’t want to fight. I also want to make sure these two make it to Croatia alive” Novak acknowledged as we walked back to the jeep. We had driven a while longer until the engine blew.

Chapter 10

McCourt was looking at the engine. “I can fix it but our tools were with Zupan” he told me and Novak. It was too far to go back to him now anyway but to make matters worse a sniper started firing at us.


As we ran for cover Tony was hit in the foot so I went back to help him. I carried him to a rock where the rest of us were hiding from the sniper. He was had lost most of his left foot. Our medical equipment was still on Bobienski’s corpse but McCourt remembered the first aid kit in the jeep. “I’ll go” said Vlado getting up and Valter asked why to which he was replied “Jackie you know I always get through besides I lived a good life, Cuba doesn’t matter anymore”. We then heard machinegun fire and Vlado came quickly running up to us with the first aid kit and unscratched. “FUCKING RUN” he shouted and we went to find more cover. We eventually found some trenches that were dug in the beginning of the war.


We applied bandages to Tony’s foot. “Now you’re going to have to lose that foot son” Novak said to him and he replied “It doesn’t matter, if I don’t I die and that’s what’s going to happen isn’t it?” Boris then comforted him “There’s a Paralympics you do know that right kid?” and Tony nodded in acknowledgement. We sat back dazed. Valter then said to Boris “The kid does have a point, if he doesn’t lose that leg he’s on the mantel piece or a meter underground. We don’t have any medical equipment and even if we did we still wouldn’t have anything to sterilise them with. I closed my eyes and drifted off.


Chapter 11

“Vladimir it’s just a helicopter even Mišo will say it’s just one” I said to Vladimir as we walked to Boris’ house. It was a warm summer’s day back in 1981. We knocked on the door and Dana, Boris’ mother answered it. “Zdravo boys Bor… it’s Mišo you call him right? Anyway he’s just in the sitting room watching TV. “Boris Milan and Vladimir are here!” she shouted down the hall. She was a very pretty woman and worked in our school. Vladimir couldn’t help staring at her every time she bent over, he always did this when we were at the Kovač’s and I couldn’t blame him. “Boris did you hear me?” she shouted again and then Boris came up. “Go on get some fresh air Boris. Zdravo, lunch will be ready at half” she said as we left the house. “Hej Mišo we want to show you something” Vladimir said as we walked back to the helicopter. “Do you not think this is a spaceship him?” Vladimir asked him and Boris replied “No it’s a helicopter, been here since the 60’s Mr Ivović said”.


A few months ago I remember standing next to a similar helicopter but this one wasn’t covered in moss and mildew but with fire and hadn’t crashed about fifteen years ago but fifteen minutes ago. Boris pushed me as a shell landed near us. We then ran into a trench. “Mati, mati, mati” a young soldier said to himself clutching his helmet. Tito was firing the machinegun at the Bosniak soldiers and Draza with his shotgun. “Kapetan Jovanović this is Redov Jakob Dravić of the fifth army, under the request Zastavnik Zhang reinforcements to be sent to…Poručnik Nikolić, Milan I think…nor sir he’s not…” but before Dravić could finish his sentence his head was blown off by a sniper and our radio was busted.


Back in 81 we went back to Boris’ house after laughing at him for thinking the helicopter was a spaceship. We sat down at the table as Dana gave us our lunch. Nikola came in and Dana asked him why he was early and he told his wife “I don’t think it’s good Danica”. Dana then asked him why and he told her “I got a message from the hospital, its cancer, cancer of the lung”. Dana started crying and ran into her bedroom.


Chapter 12

“So when is Boris going to be back?” I asked Dana and she told me “Tomorrow afternoon”. It was five years and a week after we argued about helicopter and I was lonely but I wasn’t enough to be marrying my right hand, Dana had invited me in because she knew Vladimir was away to family in Vukovar and Boris gave me the wrong date of his arrival back from Fire Island, no shit he went to that Greek island full of gay British people. Dana asked me a question about music “Do you like Tears to Fears?” and I said to her “It’s Tears for Fears Dana and yeah they’re alright but I prefer our own stuff like Indexi, Elektricni Orgazam you get it don’t you?” and she smiled and nodded in acknowledgement “Anyway as long as you like them take this cassette” I thanked her and she put on Proplakat će Zora. She then sad town and… right before this turns into some erotic literature story I got a shag so I can proudly say I fucked my best friend’s mother. The irony is I never once insulted Boris by saying I shagged Dana.


I woke up hearing a woman scream. McCourt was trying to calm her down. I looked at her, it was that Danish/Greek journalist we met a while earlier.


Going back to when we first met Ms. Irena Anderson last month we were walking with Jovanović. “This is Milan’s squad the most mentally challenged, moronic cock suckers in the whole VRS. After General Mladić of course” Jovanović said laughing as he walked away. “Sorry you speak Danish?” Irena asked me and I said to her “You don’t look Danish Frøken Anderson” then she told me “My mother is from Greece, Crete Herr Løjtnant” I responded to her “Ah Irena as in Irena Papas right” and she smiled, nodded her head and said to me “Så taler du Dansk?” and I shook my head “I only know very little Greek” and she then asked me if I knew German or English “No English I’m quite good at German but”. “Ich bin Poručnik, dass Løjtnant Milan Nikolić der VRS ist. Ich komme aus einer Stadt im Nordwesten Bosnien, die Heimat von allen drei großen ethnischen Gruppen vor dem Krieg war” she then asked to interview another soldier and I called Paddy. “Paddy this is Irena she’s a Danish journalist” I told him and he said “I don’t speak Danish” I replied “You speak English but, just tell her about yourself”. Paddy started speaking to her in English “Hilsner my name is Vladen McCourt better known as Paddy by everyone who isn’t a McCourt. If you’re wondering about my weird surname it’s because my grandfather moved here in the 1950’s to escape the evil papist rule of Eamon De Valera and his master the pope. I am a stoner from Bijeljina where I worked as a tow-truck operator. My father worked for the Ministry of the Interior, figures he’s Irish and my mother works for a pharmacy. I grew up Serbian Orthodox but I currently practise Buddhism, Rastafarianism, Mormonism and Celtic and Slavic folk religion yes you’re aware it’s all bullshit” Irena laughed and McCourt continued “My heroes are of course James Connolly and Michael Collins who wanted a free Ireland which De Valera ruined anyway by sucking off the Church of Rome but my other heroes are Bobby Sands aka Jesus, the Dutch guy who legalised weed, Bob Marley, Sergeant Oddball, Bata Živojinović, Arafat and the Fonz but my number one real hero is Nelson Mandela. You know he stood up to the fascist oppression against Black people in South Africa, his people the real people of South Africa were oppressed by Dutch colonists who make up about a 10% of the country and last week he became president of South Africa. One day I’ll become president and reunite Yugoslavia just like Comrade Mandela helped the real South Africans gain equality and like how they are bringing down the fascist apartheid regime we will bring down the fascist genocidal regimes of our countries. When I get power capitalists like that old bitch Maggie, fascists like Slobo, Chetniks, conservatives, those pro-incest bead rattlers who cry over abortion and Polish Jew Nazis like the ones who rule Israel will be crushed. You better have this down all down Miss Anderson” Irena said to him “Sure do, how do you know I’m called Anderson?” and he told her “You’re Danish”


“You’re Danish” quoted Irena as she lay next do Paddy. “What brings you back?” asked Vlado “I found my way” she told him. “Your Serbian is getting better” I said to her before Novak asked her “Did you see anything where we could take cover?” and she told him “Yes there’s a cave up on there. We then ran up there and as soon as we did the Croatians started firing on us. Valter was wounded but we managed to get him there.


Chapter 13

When we got to the cave we sat down. Irena took out a video camera. “What are you doing?” Novak asked politely but he was willing to take the camera off her and McCourt said to her “La majoro ŝatus scii kion vi faras?” “Du sprichst Esperanto?” she responded and Paddy replied “Ja, ja und falls man nicht tun will er das Ziel, Sie nehmen Ihre Kamera kennen”. Irena then told Novak “Alles, was ich tun möchte, ist filmt Ihr Männer und fragen sie über ihre Vergangenheit. Es gibt nicht viel über die Armee.” Novak then turned to McCourt and asked him “Please translate” which McCourt did “She says she only wants to film us and ask us about our lives, she doesn’t want to get involved with military matters” Novak then smiled and said “Film weg war ich nicht, Sie zu stoppen”. As the major walked away I asked him why he didn’t speak German and he responded “I used to, forty years in the service you tend to forget things”. Paddy then asked Irena about her camera which she responded with in broken Serbian “I get camera because you made speak speech back on frontline, do not worry I got it all down but and it was… made into Danish” Vlado then added “What was made into a Danish?” and Paddy quickly replied “Éist do bhéal”. “Can I interview you Narednik?” Irena asked and Vlado nodded with a grin.


Paddy came over to me and asked me a question “Hej remember Pól?” and I answered “The Irish peacekeeper sure I remember him” Paddy continued “Well the stash is on the other side of this cave”. I waited a few seconds before opening my mouth “There’s another side to this cave?” I had asked and Paddy replied “Yeah but keep it quiet let us rest a while”.


Pól was an Irish peacekeeper and Paddy’s counterpart. He was married to a Serbian woman from Belgrade and that’s how I presume he knew our language. He and Paddy were talking about weed and they thought I wouldn’t find out by calling it “fiaile” whether that’s the Irish for what drives English housewives mad or the thing their sons go to Holland for I don’t know but at the end of their conversation I asked McCourt was he talking about cannabis and he replied with “How did you know?”

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