Glass Curtain by Thaddeus Hutyra

chapter 70

 

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DESPAIR...

Author:Thaddeus Hutyra

 

Robert Vangard felt himself more and more excited.The days were passing by and the Christmas and New Year were nearer and nearer.It meant to him he would soon go back to his beloved wife,Barbara,and his two children,Szymon and Tomek.
The days were passing fast thanks to a tremendous amount of work he had in many households in and outside Antwerp.People were coming with their cars to pick him up and brought him as far away as to Braaschaat,Kalmthout,s’Gravenwezel,Schilde and many other towns and villages within fifty kilometers around the largest town in the Flemish spoken region as Antwerp was.They brought him then back to his apartment.
He was desired by them because he was exceptionally a talented house painter who turned their houses into palaces.He had so much work to do he did not even had time for his delicious drink,the so-called Tripel Trapist,a sort of beer and strong rather.He convinced himself he could do it without faulting himself to being addicted to alcohol.
His trapist was certainly not a vodka!
Everybody loved him for his stuborness to fight his addiction and he loved them too.
They,the Belgian people from the villas,often told him he was so much Belgian! Tall rather,a blondman,bright,friendly and maybe a bit too talkative when he was drunken but that last thing,the real drunkenness no longer happened, fortunately.So there was a chance!
The day before his departure to Poland he was invited by his best Belgian friend,Guido,to a café.They chose to go to “Pigeonier”,a café which was situated in Lozanastraat,half a way between the City and Berchem parts of Antwerp.There have not been too many guests in the café and there were candles on every table.There was also a band in the corner who played and sang some romantic songs,the ones created by Flemish artists and also the ones which originated from worldwide superstars such as Bruce Springsteen,Bob Dylan or Garfunkel.
The moment they entered the café it was a song from the repertoire of Vaya Con Dios,a Belgian female artist,which was performed by the band.So they felt there quite good.
They ordered two glasses of Danish Tuborg and then asked for the Trapist.
-“Trapist is heavens better than the Tuborg! The Danish beer tasted as if they pissed to it!”- Robert Vangard announced.
-“Absolutely!”- Guido agreed with him.They both bursted with laugh.
The two glasses of beer had some influence on Robert Vangard's mind because he became more talkative.
-“If not the two world wars,Guido,the twentieth century would be the best ever!”- He said and continued.-“The development of planes and rockets,radios and TVs,and now finally the computers and web conection worldwide,the liberal order in the West which seems to be marching fast to the rest of the world,the unprecedented modernity of human lives around the world,the riches of many people and their educational and real life improvements which empower them to live the way as only the monarchs and privileged people could live in the past…And all these thanks to …America,the country which turned the world three hundred sixty degrees I would say…”
-“No,Robert,I don’t agree with you.”- Guido interrupted him.-“Look,the Americans become more and more arrogant.I mean the political establishment in that country.I suspect their leaders represent now not the people of America as a whole but only the interests of narrow lobbies,such as oil,tobacco and many other gigantic corporations.They see only money.Nothing but money.They do wars for money,they disregard any solutions concerning the global warming and degradation of the environment,they oppose multilateral solutions and go unilateral way.They are not concerned at all what other people around the world think about them.You’ll see,Robert,we'll have chaos and things turned upside down before long!
Americans deserted from their roots,unfortunately.They’re no longer the ones they’ve used to be! Their politics are shortsighted.Look at what happens in the Middle East.By failing to press decisively both the Israelis and the Palestinians they aggravate a hatred among both peoples and a broader hatred in the Arab world.If they were honest they would say Palestinians have right to their statehood and they would participate in bringing this option to reality.Furthermore,they would assist in connecting the Palestinians and other Arab states to Israel and the broader world,they would assist them to getting closer and closer in all ways of life and cooperation.Arabs,of course,would have to accept Israel’s right to exist peacefully alongside them…”
-“But,Guido…the Americans do it! The problem is there is already so much enmity among the Arabs and Israelis that it is really very difficult to do anything about it.The faults probably are rather not on the side of the United States but on the sides of Israel and the Arabs.Israelis are proud to have a democratic country and personal freedoms,much as it is a case in the West but they have also some miscrepancies in the structure of their state of which the worst is to letting their religion to rule the state.This is a total mistake on their side because their fanatics,the ortodox Jews have most to say and have a diabolical influence on keeping the Jewish communities closed to the outsiders,especially those who are not Jews.The Arabs on the other hand have awful political systems,much based on dictatorship and persecution of those citizen among them who do not obey their restrictive systems.That’s wrong.The Arabs should become more open to liberal ideas and create just systems within their states.So,as you see,not everything is in the hands of the Americans.Others also have to do their portions of their homeworks.”
-“I’m afraid there is too large clash of the civilizations,Robert.”-Guido turned disapprovingly with his head.-“Sooner or later it will get over a red line.We’re heading towards war,perhaps even towards third world war.”
-“No,Guido,don’t say it!”- Robert Vanguard protested.-“I believe the wars are no longer an option.People are so much educated they stage evolutionary changes in every region of the world.We’ll have a much better world!”
-“You’re an idealist,Robert.”- Guido remarked.
Despite that the differences in their lives were large and Guido was twice older than Robert they enjoyed their companionship.They had definitely different opinions which concerned the world but they certainly had one voice when it came to talking about women.
They desired women,cherished them,fantasized about them,dreamt of them and had their heads full of them.There was no life for them without a woman.Guido got married to his wife out of a Romeo and Juliet alike affair and they got three sons and a daughter.Robert Vangard’s affair with his wife,Barbara,was similar.He loved her so much! A bit over one day more and he was going to see her! He shivered from the anticipation!
They stayed in the café till late at night and talked no longer politics.Their minds were filled with women and they talked about women.
It was past three a’clock at night when Guido brought Robert Vangard home and the next morning reappeared before the house belonging to Robert Vangard's brothers.They packed the luggage to Guido’s car,a Citroen AX,and went to the bus stop,situated outside “Holiday Inn”,the stop from which departed coaches belonging to Sabena Airlines which brought passengers to Zaventen Airport,just outside Brussels,but also some international coaches,including “Karolina”,a bus belonging to a joint,Polish-German venture.
-“Merry Christmas,Robert and a Happy New Year!”- Guido wished his Polish friend when they embraced themselves to say goodbye.
-“Bye,Guido.Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year also to you and your family!”- Robert Vangard answered.
The bus was already moving,so Robert Vangard jumped inside it.
-“See you in the New Year,Guuuidooo!”- He called to his best friend.
The door got closed and soon the vision of the coach was gone from Guido’s eyes.
The nearer his homeland Robert Vangard was he felt himself as if eagle’s wings were growing at the sides of his arms.They passed Frankfurt on de Oder,the German border town and surprasingly,did not have to wait long at the border’s customs,perhaps,because they were arriving in the last day before Christmas Day while most travelers did it at least a week earlier.An hour later they were again on the move.Most of the passengers were Polish people who returned home after being absent for months or even years.
There was in their country a shock therapy of Polish Minister of Finance,Leszek Balcerowicz,who was more concerned with his liberal ideas and promoting Poland to Western corporations than with the economic problems of ordinary Poles.
But it was typical in all the other Western countries in which the economic order and regulations honoured large corporations and people with small incomes had practically no chance to start a business,because of governmental regulations,high tax payments and large numbers of obstacles.
The travellers in the coach did not bother this time with any problems,joked with each other,made friends,sang and expressed their enthusiasms of being back in their own country.Despite that Germany and all the other countries west from Germany were richer than Poland they would never want to live permanently outside of Poland.Their country was simpy the best,very romantic,friendly,not so much “imprisoned” in a terribly large number of regulations which governed the western life,not really so free as the slogans had it.Many Poles used to say that once the communism was gone Poland was more free than the western counterpartners,because the soul of the nation was very much individualistic.Somehow it was true but to a degree.
When Robert Vanguard arrived to a local town Bielsko-Biala with the coach he already felt himself a bit tired after plus minus eighteen hours of travel.
He managed to get on a two floors train within half an hour and was arriving soon to Orlica, the village of his final destination,which bordered with another village,Rajcza,known in all of the country for its picturesque landscapes,the breathtaking mountains covered with all sort of trees,the fresh and crystal river,named Sola and many attractions organized by the inhabitants of the village.
His sons,Szymon and Tomek,ran outside the house and greeted him enthusiastically.
His wife waited for him on the first floor where they lived.The grand floor belonged to his father.He was impressed by the changed looks of his wife who had short,blond hair this time,even shorter at the back side of her head than at the front side.It was a sort of hair fashion of the moment and whether one lived in a town or a village it mattered no longer.She had light blue jeans on herself and a pinky blouse of some highly gentle sort of fabrics.She looked great and he shivered while looking at her.He approached her and kissed gently.
-“Barbara,I missed you so much!”- He whispered to her.
-“It’s good you’re back at home.”- She answered.
They kissed each other gently again but because their children were too noisy and demanding they moved to the largest room they had in the apartment and he got all the toys and other gifts he had out of his luggage.The children were so much euphoric with all the toys,the formula one cars which they could direct by the means of a remote control,the Nintendo games and many other presents that they forgot about their parents.
Robert and his wife could deal now with each other quietly,without interference from their children.They moved to the kitchen,he had a dinner which he consumed as much enthusiastically as his children played with their toys.The reason was simply that he was away for several months and had no opportunity to deal with the Polish style dishes he was accustomed to.And his wife’s dishes were even better.Then they had some drink and narrated their stories to each other while seeping orange juice. Soon it was already evening and because he was too tired after so long trip he went to sleep on a separate bed.
The next day Christmas began.He visited his friends in the village and together with his wife and children they came to see his wife’s parents as well as her sister and brother.
In the evening they celebrated a so called “vigilia”,the most holly part of the Christmas period,just before the anniversary of Jesus Christ to be born.It was a family event number one in every Polish household.
Robert’s father,Josef Vangard,was invited but because he had sclerosis in his veins all over his body he was unable to walk up the stairs on his own.Robert assisted him and it lasted over fisfteen minutes to get up from the grand floor to the first floor.As always for some time his father expressed his desire he would like to die because he suffered too much.Robert Vangard was terribly sad when he looked at his father.Just two years ago his father still was in a good health which afterwards deteriorated exceptionally fast.As the proverbs say:"One day you are healthy the other day you might be sick."
When they managed to get to the first floor finally,his father's face turned joyous for a moment.Also for him it was a great evening,and despite all his suffering he certainly desired to spend that important evening together with his son,wife of his son and their children.
They prayed to God together,gave traditional wishes to each other and then began enjoying the delicious menu on the table.They consumed together all the fantastic foodstuffs Barbara prepared and then sang Christmas songs and watched TV in which there were portrayals of what happened in many households across Poland in that very exceptional evening.Jesus Christ was born at the midnight hour and they watched the mass beamed to them from the TV.They had relatively long sleep,up from about 2 a’clock at night till abot 10a.m.
The following two days still were a family affair but this time in a broader sense.First they were visited by a number of family relatives and then they visited some of them.They arrived in late afternoon of the second day of the Christmas in Katowice,the Silesian capital,and met with Robert’s mother and his sister as well as the husbands of Robert’s mother and sister,Wolfgang Barton and Mirek Starcz.On the third day Robert Vangard went to a car market in Zywiec,a small town situated thirty kilometers away from Orlica.He bought there a Polish designed and produced car,the so-called Polonez.When he came home with the car his children again expressed their enthusiasm.Wanting or not he had to let his children inside the car and had a ride with them around his village and the neighbouring ones.They paid a visit once again to his mother and sister in Katowice and his children as well as his sister’s children were happy to meet themselves and share their happy expierences concerning the lot of toys they got as Christmas gifts.On the way back home they visited also his brother,Marek,and his wife,Maria,in Bielsko-Biala.
And finally they were back at home in the evening hours.Children went to bed and both,Robert and Barbara could now share time together to the best of their wishes and desires.
Robert Vangard approached her,took her into his arms and kissed her.She turned away from him.
-“Let me in peace.Don’t you see that I’m pregnant? We’ll have a baby soon.A daughter…”- She explained her reaction.
Robert Vangard was stunned.Since he arrived home from Belgium they had not have sex,not even once.He,naturally would treat her in most a gentle way.She was so strange.Why she did not want to share intimacy with him ? What happened with her?
-“I don’t understand your behaviour,Barbara.”- He said what he thought.
-“Have you heard there are some strangers in the village? They are Russians!”- His wife abruptly changed the theme.
-“Russians?”- He felt stunned again.-“What are they seeking in our village?”
-“I don’t know.They’re very strange.They arrived with skis but have not gone to the mountains to do skiing,not even once.Most of the time they stay in the restaurant.”
-“In Parkova restaurant?”
-“Yes,exactly! They’re not friendly at all,are noisy and mistreat the waitresses in the restaurant.Our people stay away from them.”
-“Typical of Russians! They have to learn some civilized norms as yet!”- Robert Vangard repeated a stereotype of the nation east of Poland as percepted generally by the Polish people who rather despised their enormous neighbour.
-“They’re already for six days in our village and it looks they seek someone or something.Our villagers suspect they are part of some Russian mafia.
-“Shit! I don’t understand those people.The world has nothing but problems with them!- Robert Vangard expressed his anger.Barbara Vangard looked at him carefully.
-“You’re too much agitated.What’s wrong?”- She asked.
-“What’s wrong? And you dare to ask me this?”- He bursted out.-“Look,we havn’t seen ourselves for months and you behave so strange…You don’t want love making.No any intimacy.Nothing.Is this normal?”
-“Well,we have enough time for each other.I don’t have to satisfy your wilder needs and urges at any time you want?”- Barbara Vangard riposted.
-“Shit,you’re now cruel to me with your words! Don’t you see that I love you?”
-“You forgot that perhaps I do not share this feeling with you right now!”
-“Well,isn’t it strange?”
-“Strange or not strange,I don’t bother about it!”- She ended their angry exchange of words and went to her room,locking the door behind herself.
Robert Vangard felt himself broken at his heart,a deep sadness overcame him and he went to “his” bed,the one which always was "their" bed.
He had nightmares at night and got asleep in fact in the morning hours.
Nothing strange that he woke up about ten a.m.,much latar than he planned and instantly noticed neither his wife nor his children were present in the house.He rushed down to his father’s apartment and learnt from him Barbara must have gone to her parents.
He telephoned there.His wife’s father answered him.
-“Is Barbara there with you?”- He asked.
-“Yes,she’s here!”
-“Please give her the handle.I want to speak to her.”
-“She doesn’t wish to speak to you now.”
Robert Vanguard could not believe what he heard.He was perhaps never so much stunned as right at that moment.
-“What have you said? She is not wishing to speak to me? Are you crazy? Give me her to the phone!”- He demanded.
-“No”
-“God,she’s my wife! Why not?”- He thought he was getting sick from a terrible feeling something was awfully wrong.He knew her parents gave her advises against him but to do what they just did,not even let him to speak to her by phone,has never crossed his mind.
-“Beacause you mistreat her.”
-“Beacause I mistreat her? How’s that possible when I love her?”- Robert Vangard asked.
There was no answer and the line simply got disconnected.
He sat down on a chair,feeling overwhelmed by a despair...
To be continued…Author: Thaddeus Hutyra,e-mail: tadekhutyra@hotmail.com  or: clubbers@funworld.be
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