Glass Curtain by Thaddeus Hutyra

chapter 39

 

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CHRISTMAS PARTY...

Author:Thaddeus Hutyra

 

To Tadek Vangard’s surprise they have not gone inside any of the villas in the estate.Instead,Helene and Herman van Veenen directed him towards the courtyard of the marble house,a noble one as Tadek Vangard concluded.He was sure Angela Butterby,the head of the family,lived in this house.There were already some family members around a long table covered with some fine,silvery table cloth.Everything what was on the table was either pure white or silver.Even some flowers Tadek Vangard never saw so far were deliciously white.They blossomed above the table like some mysterious dancing princesses.The first people they encountered happened to be Charles van Veenen,a brother of Herman van Veenen and his wife,Marillion.Neither the brothers nor their wives looked similar to themselves.While Herman was dark haired his brother had light hair which in his youthful years was certainly blond.Marillion was shorter than Helene but seemed to be a sharp personality and an unpredictable young woman.
-“Hello,it’s nice to meet you.”- It was Marilion van Veenen who as first one reacted to Tadek Vangard instantly after he was introduced to them by Helene van Veenen.
-“Hello from me too.Call me just Charles.”- Her husband also sounded as friendly.
-“Hello.Thanks a lot for a nice treatment.I hope I won’t be someone who might spoil this family event.” Both,Charles and Marillion van Veenen reacted with a loud laugh.
-“Absolutely not! We love here strangers,especially if brought by one of us.You see,New Zealand is a little country if to take into the account how many people live in this country.Only three and half million! In a land roughly as large as your country! No,we really love you to be here among us!”-Strangely,it was the brother of Herman who expressed his opinion passionately.
-“Thanks a lot.”- Tadek Vangard thanked again.
-“Feel yourself here at home.You are one of us.At least tonight.”-Marillion van Veenen said.Tadek Vangard noticed she said it with an air of politeness and he knew instantly this woman was a walking logics human being rather than a human being of feelings.Something more characteristic for men rather than for women.He did not mind.The world was fast progressing and the differences among men and women were dissipating as fast in all areas of social,proffessional or whatever else life.Women liked more and more to dress themselves the way the men did.The phenomenon of jeans was one of the factors of the womens absolute emancipation.Tadek Vangard was sure any woman who was going to participate this Christmas party had a vivid collection of jeans for every day use.He himself also thought,although it was his secret,there were not really too big differences fundamentally between men and women,except for the sex organs.He based his believes on the presumption the brain either in a man or a woman was the same.Only the social development and culture,the religious believes and some other factors created a man or a woman since childhood to the adolescent life.It was just a matter of system.Helene van Veenen caught the hand of Tadek Vangard.
-“Listen,I propose I introduce him to everyone else,O.K?”-She said impatiently to Charles and Marillion van Heenen.
-“Great.Do it,Helene.”- Charles van Veenen said while laughing.
-“Herman,keep eye on our daughter.And you,Angie,don’t go away from papa,O.K?”
-“Yes,mom.”-Helene van Veenen pulled Tadek Vangard’s sleeve and they moved towards other members of her family.Chain reaction of the introducing followed,in the chaotic way.First he was introduced to Herbert Krauz,a half-brother of Helene who shared their mother,a Dutch woman who lived in the Netherlands but had different fathers:her father was a Dutchman and his father was a German.He was at the party with his German girlfriend,Stefanie Ludgard from Heildelberg in Germany,a lovely town close to Mannheim and one of the major university centres in Germany.Both had eyeglasses on their eyes,looked average but were absolutely friendly.Then they approached half-brothers of Herman and Charles van Veenen: Marcel and Peter van Veenen and their wives,Fabienne and Lorraine.
-“We have…we had… common father but different mothers.”- Marcel van Veenen first corrected himself.
-“Common father and different mothers?…”-Tadek Vangard repeated after him,feeling incredulously.
-“Yes.Our father was Ghandy van Veenen,a husband to Angela Butterby for some time who is the mother to Herman and Charles.Our mother was actrice,Amalie Holtman,who died together with our father in a car accident in Monte Carlo.”- Peter van Veenen explained.
-“Oh,I am so sorry!”- Tadek Vangard expressed his sympathy.
-“Don’t bother.It was already some time ago,long enough for us to get used to what happened.” Their wives were upper class beauties,the sort of women one did not know for sure what facial characteristics were their natural ones and what ones were the ones created in the beauty saloons.Whatever to say,they looked just great,thin and tall,enjoying themselves and their husbands,and knowing they had very long life of happiness and enjoyment before them.Both were blondies.Fabienne van Veenen was a Belgian woman by origine and Lorraine van Veenen was of Dutch origine.Tadek Vangard noticed there were quite a lot of Dutch people in this family.He still did not determine,however,whether there were more Dutch ones or English ones in this family.It was still a far cry from knowing it taking into the account he was introduced just to few of the family members so far.The next person Tadek Vangard was introduced to was Sonia Dandermond,a sister of Angela Butterby’s second husband,John Butterby.Next to her stood her brother,Joseph Butterby,looking more than fifty years old,not very nice judging from his mimics.Too serious and too still.His sister,Sonia Dandermond,must have been ten years younger,was short rather but exceptionally friendly,always smiling and good humoured.She looked both average and extraordinary,and also brilliant.The key probably was in her mind,more modern than in the minds of other women her age.Whether it was true,time would show.Tadek Vangard encountered a shock when he was introduced to a young beautiful woman,standing next to Joseph Butterby and was said she was his wife.God,he thought,she is about twenty five years younger than he is!
-“My name is Emilie Butterby.”- She said sadly somehow and Tadek Vangard had impression his heart was being cut.It was enough for him to look at her angelic face,almost as beautiful as the one of Helene van Veenen,to know she was not happy.
-“Why she got married to him?”- He thought and had to reject this thought just in order to be able to converse with the new family members he was introduced to.The next ones arrived from Auckland,the largest town in New Zealand .Tadek Vangard realised Bryan Butterby was a brother of Joseph Butterby,the deaseased Angela Butterby’s husband while his wife,Debbie Butterby,was of Scotisch origine.They were present here with their two adult sons,David and Andrew,and their wives,Ursule and Jenny.Bryan Butterby made much more better impression on Tadek Vangard than Joseph Butterby.There was nothing else but friendliness in his eyes.Tadek Vangard liked him perhaps also because his wife was of his age and they understood each other perfectly.The next person was a woman who must have been over fifty years old and,thus,over ten years older from her brothers,Herman and Charles.But,when they spoke to each other,Tadek Vangard realised the woman was a dynamite!
-“Helene,why you and Herman don’t visit us at all? I’ll be very angry if you don’t show up in our place soon.Promise it to me!”-She said with a demanding voice.
-“Alice,be sure we’ll come.”- Helene van Veenen answered defensively. Alice Thompson beagan to laugh.
-“Promises and lies!…Ha,ha,ha…”- She had humour and was not afraid to say just anything.She looked very ordinary,like most women in the street of her age.But probably thought the world belonged to her,something unusual if to take into the account her age of over fifty.She also seemed to Tadek Vangard to be some sort of personality.Next to her was standing her husband,Walter,very quiet and peaceful. Tadek Vangard was astonished he was still not introduced to the most important person in this family,Angela Butterby.
-“Helene,where is the Herman’s mother?”-He asked.Helene van Veenen grinned to him with an innocent smile,so promising,however,he got some nice sensation on his skin.A bit more of this and he would make himself a fool before her eyes.
-“Oh,Tadek,sorry I haven’t said it to you yet.My sister,Raquel and the son of Sonia Dandermond,Johan,went inside this house before us and they’ll come back together with her within minutes.”
-“Will she accept me here?”-Tadek Vangard sounded undecided.
-Naturally so.She already knows about you.We always supply her ahead with whatever information because this is what she expects from us.”
-“Then I’m happy.”-Tadek Vangard joked.Suddenly there was silence all over around.Tadek Vangard knew subconsciously what happened.He looked in the direction of the main door to the house.An old woman of seventy plus walked slowly towards them,flanked on both sides by two beautiful people.On one her side was a young and tall blond woman with startlingly similar looks to that of Helene van Veenen.Raquel was as beautiful as Helene.Tadek Vangard felt his heart was pumping a double amount of blood.He was not told so far whether the Helene’s sister was married or not but somehow he felt she was a free bird.This was something he liked and shamed himself with realisation of a thought of winning the woman to himself.The man on the other side of the old woman was Johan,the son of Sonia Dandermont,darked haired and sunburnt perfectly,looking a south American man despite that he was just a New Zealander,offspring of his English mother and a Kiwi father.New Zealanders liked to call themselves Kiwis.
-“Mom,do you feel good?”- It was Herman van Veenen who as the first one spoke to her,when she found herself among them.
-“Yes,my dear son.I am happy I can have the Christmas dinner with you and all of you my dear children and family members.”-She said happily.
-“And where is that our friend from Poland?”-She asked suddenly.Tadek Vangard had no other choice as to make a few steps forward and also introduce himself to her.
-“I feel honoured to be able to speak to the grandmother of this great family.”-He said.-“My name is Tadek Vangard and I have arrived from Poland despite that in fact my departure from Poland took place already over ten years ago.”
-“Where have you been then in the period in between?”- Angela Butterby asked with some sort of curiosity.
-“It’s a long story.In Asia.”
-“You’ll have to narrate it to me one day.I'm so interested.”
-"With pleasure.” Only then did Angela Butterby gave him sign she wants to touch his hand.He came nearer to her and they touched their hands.Tadek Vangard looked into her eyes and was astonished she had the ones of his grandmother,also with wall-eyed squint.God,how much she resembled his grandmother! And how different lives both women had!
-“I’ll tell you a secret.”- She said.-“A grandmother of my second husband,John Butterby,was from Poland!”
-“Really?…”Tadek Vangard could not believe what he heard.
-“Yes,I loved her.She was so much unpretentious,loving,friendly,caring…Like if she were Madonna,the mother of Jesus Christ.”
-“Oh,I feel astonished then.”
-“You’ll have to come over to my house soon.Do you promise?”
-“Yes,I do.”-Only then did Angela Butterby turned to the other members of her family. Tadek Vangard spoke a moment to Jonathan,the son of Sonia Dandermont but the image of Raquel did not leave him at all and he watched her all the time with a corner of his eye.She spoke now to Helene and Herman van Veenen,and also Angie asked her something with a child’s curiosity sculptured on her face.She was dressed lightly,in silky trousers which reached only to her knies and a blouse of the same colour as her trousers,light orange.She was indeed a living orange.Was there a man who would not like such an orange? To add fire to her looks,she had shoes with fifty centimeters high heels in golden colour.There was time to sit down to the table. Angela Butterby looked at everyone before she decided to sit down in her place.Everybody had an impression she was seeking someone.
-“Where is Dick?”- She asked.They heard a noise of an arriving car before anybody managed to answer her.Silver Jaguar came into the courtyard with an impressive speed and stoped just twenty meters from them.The door of the car got open and a tall,blond man went out of it.He could not be more than forty five years old and was dressed untypically and in an extravargant way.He had black,leather trousers and dark red,silk shirt on him.He looked quite sporty.He seemed to have forgotten it was a Christmas party or just chosed his style deliberately.He came stright to Angela Butterby and kissed her on her cheek.
-“Hello,son.”-She said.-“You’re late as always.”Tadek Vangard instantly knew this had to be yet another son,the one whose name,as he already heard it from Herman,was Dick Butterby.He was the only son of Angela Butterby from her second husband,John Butterby.
-“Oh,my dear mom,the traffic jams!! If not them,I would be here much earlier!”-He answered.
-“You’re a liar! The roads are empty at this hours! You forgot this is not America!”-Everybody heard Herman van Veenen’s angry words. Both men looked at themselves.Only then did Tadek Vangard realised how much they had to hate each other.There was nothing but hatred in their eyes.It seemed they might jump to each other and fight.
-“Let’s sit down to the table!”-Angela Butterby announced authoritatively.Even in this age,over seventy years old,she had some majesty in herself.Her dress was threaded with real golden threads and shone in the mild light of the candles.Luckily there was not much wind or at least not too strong to blow the candles’light away.Tadek Vangard felt himself strangely excited when he was seatted next to Raquel Hendricks,the sister of Helene van Veenen.Thanks to it he had a lot of opportunity to deal with the woman who secretely excited him as much as it was the case when he saw Helene van Veenen for the first time,crowned with the rays of the morning sun when she stood in the French window.Raquel Hendriks was also a goddess in her own way.She seemed to be a modern and emancipated woman.Perhaps a feminist.Suprisingly,it was she who began the conversation.
-“You’re from Poland,aren’t you? How do you like it here in New Zealand?”-She asked strightfarwardly.
-“It’s difficult to say right now.I am here,in New Zealand,just a bit over one week.Whatever to say,the view from here is simply spectacular:the Oriental Bay and the never ending,almighty ocean,the curious architecture of Wellington and some of its scydrapers,and then the mountains on the opposite side of the city…It’s really breathtaking.”
-“But you?…How do you feel?…” Tadek Vangard looked at her somehow with a far reaching look.
-“Me?…Sorry,I can’t answer this question.It’s a long story.”
-“Well,I accept this.”- She began to laugh.Her voice was warm.
-“In fact I have emigrated from Poland to…the States.And then I realised how difficult it was for someone as me:a man from the opposite side of the Iron Curtain.”
-“I see.From what you’re saying you probably went out of your country some quite good years ago…”
-“That’s right.I emigrated on the 5th of December 1981,on the board of the Polish Airlines ‘Lot’,to Bangkok in Thailand.It was there where crazy things began and I had to,together with my friends,escape from a number of evils,threading our way through many countries in south-east Asia,India and finally China before coming here,to New Zealand….”
-“I can imagine how disappointed you are.You wanted to get to the States…I can’t understand it why you couldn’t get there…”
-“No one in the West,among the ordinary people of course,can ever understand it.That’s the fact,I repeat,for people like me who came from the other side of the Iron Curtain.”
-“God,for me it’s so easy! I can just go to the airport,buy a ticket and fly there to the States.I have done it already a thousand times.”
-“And how do you like America?”- Tadek Vangard expressed a deep curiosity.
-“To me the country is just …normal.Some pluses,some minuses,good things and bad things,all sort of crazy things and puritan religious life.In one word…everything.I am not too crazy about that country.Sometimes I prefer it here in New Zealand.It’s a small country belonging to the first world,but much more peacefull thanks to the small number of population here.If you don’t want to see anyone for weeks you can realise it here and nowhere else.It’s an original country and above all green and green.Nature everywhere…”
-“You must love this country,don’t you?”
-“Naturally.I was born here despite that my and Helene’s mother is from the Netherlands.Yes,I love this country…”- She gave such a piercing look at Tadek Vangard that probably his face betrayed his feelings to her.He indeed felt a fascination to her.Some deep one.Was it possible that he might be falling in love in a woman he just met for the first time in his life? And if so,would she be interested in him? A man from a country which just not so long ago managed to enter the democratic world? She belonged to a rich family.He had to make yet a fortune.
-“I still don’t understand one thing:why you aren’t able to travel to the States while your country is already a free one and an ally as far as I know it?”-He heard her saying.
-“You see,some changes are fast and some slow.There is still some surrealism concerning my country.Still what was created in Jalta,the division of Europe,is not thrown entirely to a rubbish bin.It will take some time before my country will really be treated on an equall footage the way as Belgium or the Netherlands for example are treated.I am sure it will eventually happen.”
-“I wish you that.When I was at school I had a passion towards history and I read also a lot about your country.There was time Poland was one of the most powerful countries in Europe and even at some point the most powerful and the richest one,with a land from the Baltic sea to the Black sea.It was during the rule of the last Jagiellonians in the sixteenth century.I don’t understand why the country ceased to exist two centuries later…”
-“Oh,this is a tremendously complex matter.Primarily I fault not only the militaristic countries around Poland,that is Russia,Prussia and Austria but also the Polish nobilities who got to power de facto in the seventeen and eighteen centuries.Their rule or rather misrule brought the country to its knee.The worst was the so-called liberum veto,a veto everybody in the Polish parlament could exercise in order not to let any law passed.The foreign powers used it and bought many of the nobilities who acted in the parliament in accordance with the wishes of the foreign rulers.In this light,there had to be a spectacular fall of the country which once was the most powerful and the richest on the continent….”
-“Oh,it’s pitiful.”
-“Yes,it’s terrible.”
-“Perhaps,there is a chance this time.Your country has a free elected president,the enigmatic Lech Walesa…”
-“I hope so.”
-“In some way your country is very similar to…England.Both have a soul of…Hamlet.”
-“Do you really think so?”
-“Yes,I do.If you played ‘Hamlet’in any of the Polish theatres the play would easily be understood by the Polish public,just as is the case in the United Kingdom.At least I think so.” Tadek Vangard bursted with laugh.
-“That’s right.”-He said.-“Even under the communists ‘Hamlet’ was played regularly in the Polish theatres.I myself even participated the event being played on the monumental courtyard of the Wawel Castle,the castle of the Polish kings.Under the open air! Can you imagine?! A famous Polish actor,Daniel Olbrychski,played the role of Hamlet then.His performance was absolutely breathtaking and I think,I will never forget the play,in that magnificient castle of the Polish kings.”
-“Raquel,Tadek…Why don’t you eat anything and drink nothing?…-They heard Herman van Veenen who sat on the opposite side of the table.
-“We just do it.Cheers to you!”-Raquel Hendricks reached for her glass of wine.Tadek Vangard did the same.Their glasses touched and Tadek Vangard felt some sensation in his body as if not the glasses but their bodies touched each other.
-“All the best to you.”- He whispered
-“And to you.”- She said and gave him an angelic smile…To be continued….Author: Thaddeus Hutyra,e-mail address: tadekhutyra@hotmail.com  or: clubbers@funworld.be
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