IT NOT A JOKE FROM HELL?...
Herman van Veenen found quite a good apartment for Tadek
Vangard,one overlooking the Wellington harbour and in the neighborhood of Mount
-“You’re safe here,Tadek.No one knows about you staying here,except of
Helene.”- He said when he was leaving.
During the next days Tadek Vangard tried to adjust himself to the new
conditions.There was a Chinese takeways nearby so the problems with food were
solved.At first he enjoyed staying in the apartment but after two days had it
enough.He rented a car,second hand Ford Capri,and began voyaging all over the
town and the capital’s neighborhoods.He looked also inside some governmental
departments in which he applied for the New Zealand citizenship.He learnt he had
to wait yet half a year longer till the proceedings were going to be
completed.So he enjoyed himself,visited some of his Kiwi and Polish friends
quite often,went to cafes,pubs and restaurants as well as cinemas and
theatres.And the time went by surprisingly fast.Despite that he had some
girlfriends he made sure not to get trapped into a lovemaking.He knew that as
soon as he will get New Zealand passport he will leave the country.So he did not
want to leave a broken heart behind himself.Besides,the painful memory of his
relationship with Raquel in which he was betrayed by her,was still not gone away
from his mind.
He met quite often with Herman and his family.He liked them and they liked
him.They often discussed the world affairs.
The real situation in the world,the one apart from the story,was complicated but
generally quite good.People were optimistic and expected the twenty first
century will be much better.Everything indicated towards that.The cold war was
over.The comunism gone.Modernity and technological development at its
best.Worldwide web triumphant.There were already over three hundred million web
sites in Internet circulation.World leaders were less blood thirsty than ever
before.Of course,there were some problems but not of such horrendal natures as
in the first half of the twentieth century which was marred in two world
wars.Boris Jeltsin,the Russian president,had some problems with the communists
at the Duma parliamentary legislature who even staged a revolt against him.The
Russian president crushed them,in a spectacular way,as was his habit and usurped
even more presidential powers than there was the case earlier.
President Clinton was as popular in the United States and abroad as always.He
was a perfect president,one who knew how to deal with the world leaders and
international conflicts.He was nearly always successful.He had ability to bring
much needed relaxation and calming down to any situation which threatened with
exploding.And he had a charisma,a presidential charisma,despite some blunders
who only added to his advantages.
Tadek Vangard was worried when he learnt the postcomunist bloc,SLD,won
parliamentary elections in his native country.But,just within a week he could
relax.The new government announced continuation of the Polish doctrine of
uniting with the West,originated with their predecessors from the Solidarity
movement who ran the government till they lost because of too tight
reforms,which were too much for ordinary citizen,as well as because of many
mistakes.The world learnt fast that the people who formed the new Polish
government could no longer be considered as postcomunists but as the ones who
joined the ranks of the European socialdemocracy.
Tadek Vangard learnt also from Herman van Veenen not everything within his
family was on a very smooth way.His sister,Alice Thompson,was separated from her
husband and met openly with her Polish friend,Antek.
Johan,the son of Sonia Dandermond,who was found murdered one morning-was a heavy
The voice of Herman van Veenen went definitely low,full of sadness and
anxiety,when he announnced the most terrible news to his friend.
-“Do you remember Jack Waugh,the Sonia’s boyfriend? He always denied
categorically he murdered her.He was saying he loved her.One day he was found
dead in his cell.He hanged himself.He left only a note in which he scrambled he
didn’t kill her.”
-“Oh,how terrible!”- Tadek Vangard was shocked.
-“I’ve always had mixed feelings about the murder.”- He added.
-“What do you mean?”- His friend asked and looked at him strangely.
Tadek Vangard did not answer at first.He observed the harbour’s sea-waves.He
felt,naturally,uncomfortable in that moment,despite that the day was
fantastic,full of sunshine and they sat on a nice bench.There were many
passerbyes around,many of whom with their children.
Finally,he decided to say what was hidden deep in his mind.
-“Herman,I’m saying this only to you.You see,I have never believed Jack
Waugh murdered her.The evening before it happened I discovered Raquel was
betraying me with Johan.I saw them together,in lovers alike postures,at a
student café at Victoria University.The next day in the morning she came home
awfully mismanaged in her behaviour and terribly out of touch with anything.She
locked herself in her bathroom.It was then when our relationship ended.I packed
up and went away.Ever since then also Johan has been strange.He was never a
drunkard before.The most strange to me was the fact they ended their affair with
themselves at that time.This suggest something horrible happened.They might have
been the ones who…,oh,no,Herman,I can’t finish it.”
His friend looked pained on his face.He was unable to say a word for a moment.So
he said nothing.They sat long time on the bench,without one word further to
say.Finally Herman van Veenen put his hand on Tadek Vangard’s arm.
-“We’ll never know the truth,Tadek.Poor Jack if he really was innocent.”-
He just said.
Tadek Vangard learnt from his friend yet another important news ,when they met
for a dinner in his house.
-“Tadek,Andreyev Golubin is in trouble!”- He announced.
-“In trouble? What’s that?”- Tadek Vangard turned himself only to
-“You see,Tadek,the matter is connected to the discoveries made by your
friend,Steven Mac Dantosch at the Harry Gullivers’ estate.There was found
evidence Andreyev Golubin was part of a strategy,the so-called strategy
Capital,together with Harry Gullivers and Carlos…
-“Are there not too many of those strategies?…”- Tadek Vangard
-“Unfortunately,never too many for fanatics,terrorists and maniacs! The
Americans demanded to remove Andreyev Golubin from any posts.
-“Do you believe,Herman,Russians will do it?”- Tadek Vangard was sceptical.
-“This time it’ll be the case,Tadek. We-I mean our government,the American
one-we got assurances from Russians.”
-“O.K.Let’s hope so.The guy is a beast! The earlier he is out the better.”
– Tadek Vangard replied but felt far from optimism in that regard.Russians
simply could not be trusted.He lost his humour and noticed his friend was also
-“My dear men,let’s stop talking politics!”- Helene van Veenen took the
charge into her hands and she did it with such an enthusiastic voice they really
forgot their problems on the spot.
-“This evening I want you to laugh with me.I want lots of laugh here.”- She
announced and said it with such an angelic face they had nothing else on their
faces as just pure smiles.
Tadek Vangard was always astonished with her talents.She had absolutely
everything in herself,she was a devine beauty and had astonishingly smart wit.A
total perfection.An angel!
A few days before his March birthday of 1994,Tadek Vangard got finally his New
Zealand passport.Some days earlier he had to participate in a public
confirmation of his allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II,the head not only of the
United Kingdom but also of the Commonwealth New Zealand was part of which.He had
a free way to go in any direction of the world.To the four points of the world!
It indeed felt great.
Just a few days before his scheduled diparture for London he visited Angela
Butterby at her hospital bed.It was very painful for him to look at
her,parylized in half and traumetized.Nevertheless she managed to extend one
hand,the good one,to him,with a smile on her face.
-“Tadek,come here.May I kiss you.”- She said. He did so.She kissed him but
he kissed her,too.
-“Oh,my dear Mrs.Butterby,if not me,you wouldn’t be parylized.I feel so
guilty!”- He whispered with tears in his eyes.
-“No,Tadek,it did not happen because of you.It was a fate! I think I have
already told you that.A fate,Tadek.Besides,I want to thank you for saving the
lives of my son’s children.If not you,Dick would kill both kids.God,both his
She was suffering even more at that moment.Tadek Vangard did not know how to
-“Oh,I’m so sorry,so sorry…”- He repeated one and the same.
-“No,don’t be sorry,you saved them!”
-“Yes,because Carlos appeared there and fought with Dick! Paradoxically,he is
-“No,Tadek,you did it! If you haven’t appeared in Dick’s house then,Carlos
also wouldn’t appear there.A chain reaction,Tadek.With you as the crucial one!
If not you,Dick would shoot them with his gun.God,he was mad! And,when they
fought,you took my grandchildren away from them.You ran away together with both
kids! You saved thir lives!”
Tadek Vangard smiled to her gently.
-“It was a fate,dear Angela Butterby.”- He said,repeating her own words said
by her a moment earlier. -“It was more than that,Tadek!”
He bod farewell to her and yet the same day to all of her other family members.
Only Helene,Herman and Angie went with him all the way to the airport the next
day in the morning.They asked him to keep in touch and wished him the best of
luck in Europe.
-“Don’t forget about us,Tadek!”- Helene van Veenen shouted when he was
already walking towards the entry to the plane.
-“Sure!”- He called back.
When he found himself inside the plane he was satisfied he chose British
Airwaves to fly to London.There was comfort at every corner,the stewardesses
were friendly and the passangers did their best.The flying was long,with
stopovers in Melbourne,Sydney,Bombay,Dubai and Damascus amongst others.Over
twenty hours of non stop seating,numerous serving of drinks and food by the
stewardesses,watching movies on the screen,reading books and newspapers.The
worst was lack of movement.Tadek Vangard sat at the window side and next to him
sat an old lady,terribly fat,who in fact took half of his seat away from him!
Nothing strange that when the flying took already ten to twelve hours the
remaining hours were already a pure nightmare to him.He was relieved when the
plane landed at Heathrow airport in London.
His joy of having a New Zealand passport died out the moment when he had to deal
with the customs.While the other passangers were let go easily because most of
them were either British citizen or Australians and New Zealanders naturalized
also in Britain he was stoped.The custom officer looked at his passport long
time,turned the pages despite that they were empty,went to another office and
did not appear back at least for half an hour.
Tadek Vangard knew what was the reason.Yes,the passport was a New Zealand one but
the problem was his birthplace was mentioned in the passport."Born in
Poland" indicated he was a Pole and,therefore,was considered as such one in
the eyes of the British customs.Not even ten New Zealand passports would help
him in this regard.He was proud he was born in Poland but he has already
heard the British customs officers had psychomaniacal attitudes to Polish
travellers by not letting most of them to enter the country.
Surprisingly,they did it against their fellow Europeans! Against the
people of the nation who fought on their behalf during the second world war as
not any other nation.It was typical to the British who engaged in sleazy
The first such a betrayal was when Adolf Hitler invaded Poland.They did nothing
despite that both countries had a pact of helping each other in case of invasion
by Nazi Germany.They participated
in selling Poland to Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union after the war.And they have
even “baptized” it as the so-called:”Iron Curtain”,the term used by
Winston Churchill for the first time.And when Poland finally threw the communism
away and regained freedom they have once again been showing their psychotic
nature to Poles.
After half an hour of waiting Tadek Vangard finally saw the custom officer
coming back who smiled to him and gave him the passport.Tadek Vangard never
before saw such a false smile.
He went away from the custom officer,without a word.
He followed the signs to the London Underground Network and got inside a train
which was bringing him to the City of London.Surprisingly to him,not even
fifteen minutes passed and he found himself at the Piccadily Circus and as all
the signs pointed this was probably one of the main parts of London,the City.He
was indeed bewildered by all the impressions of a world class town,the numerous
and colourful signs and advertisements,sometimes as large as entire blocks of
monumental houses.The most frequent were the images of all sorts of
cigarettes,aggressively advertised by world tobacco corporations.But why there
was not even a single advertisement on behalf of saving the world from
environmental disasters? Unfortunately,there was not even a single corporation
existing which would make profits by saving the world from continuous
degradation of the environment as well as the global warming.Tadek Vangard
decided to stay a week in London and then planned to go to Paris,for a month or
so.Nothing strange he had a very tough schedule.He wanted to see as much as
possible and enjoy as much as possible,too.He looked to every tourist spot
during that week,saw the musical:”Phantom of the Opera”,dined in top
restaurants and looked,naturally,to every floor of worldwide famous Harrods.He
was delighted with the spectacular look of Westminster and Buckingham
Palace,amongst others.By the time he was departing in a coach for Paris he
thought he realized his schedule in a decent way and smiled to himself by the
realization he was a real tourist.The French customs behaved more fiendly to
him.They just had a quick look at his passport and gave it back to him.
Paris impressed him as much as London earlier.Chateau de Versailles,Eiffel
Tower,Notre Dame,Bastille,Champs Elysees,Musee de Louvre,Sorbonne and thousands
upon thousands of cultural objects brought him to a state of absolute
astonishment.And there were so many cafes! So many tables under the open air!
Despite that it was just a spring! He thought he was dreaming.And it would
indeed be the case if not the fact the French either did not really speak
English or did not want to speak the language.Tadek Vangard was shocked how
difficult it was to get information by speaking English only.He thought before
coming to Paris that entire world spoke English.And it was not true.It was just
his illusion due to his long staying in English spoken New Zealand.The fact of
unability to communicate in English thrilled him so much he decided to go to
Amsterdam earlier than he thought but feared the same might happen also
there.How little he knew about the real life in Western Europe!
He travelled this time to Amsterdam by train,via Brussels.When the train was
passing Antwerp,the second largest town in Belgium,he smiled to himself.He had
his own house,shared with his older brother,in that town and in fact he should
have begun his European trips by coming first home.Nevertheless,he understood
himself.He was a sort of a free bird,one who wanted to exercise as much freedom
as possible and be away from any patterns of interdependence.He did not want one
even a person to know about his wherebouts.
Once he arrived in Amsterdam he nearly bursted from happiness.Everyone spoke
English! Absolutely everyone! It was a delight out from heavens! And when he saw
the city lights,the famous Amsterdam red lights districts,the numerous taverns
and cafes with rock bands,Luciano Pavarrotti’s image on a large screen above
Damrak square and many other wonders,he thought he lost his head.
He enjoyed then Amsterdam for seven days and seven nights.People were beautiful
there and so much friendly,the rock bands in cafes incredible.There was not one
even an evening he would not be present in one of those Amsterdam cafes or
tavernes,filled with all sort of music.But one night he felt it was
enough.Enough was enough! Not that he suddenly disliked it all.He was far from
that.The problem was he realized he should have come first to his house in
Antwerp.He did not even know how his own house,shared with his brother,looked?
He knew nothing about his own house.Was it not strange?
He found himself once again in a train and went this time to the Flemish city of
Antwerp,a town inhabited by people who spoke Dutch but were entirely a different
nation apart from the inhabitants of the Netherlands.Antwerp was the largest
town,plus minus seven hundred thousand people,in Flandria,one of the two main
provinces in Belgium.The other province was called Wallonia and the people who
lived there spoke French.
It was already late afternoon when he arrived in Antwerp.His first impression
was mixed when he got outside the station.There was a large space but people
could not walk there.Just flowers.He imagined it instantly as an original square
with a fountain of sculptured naked people holding an image of a monumental diamond.There
were two old houses next to the building in which there was situated Quick
restaurant.He saw in his imagination a modern shopping centre in place of one of
houses in which there was a cinema situated some time ago as the
sign:"Astrid" suggested.He named the new complex which he envisioned
in his mind as: "Astrid Shopping Centre".Next to it he imagined a
round,glass or mirror alike rather tower in place of the other house,the tower
of about forty floors up the sky in which there would be placed offices and
business centras for the top business people from the diamond world.He had a
name for the tower,too.He called it:"Diamond land".He already knew
Antwerp was a worldwide capital of diamonds.But he also knew nothing is
forever.If the facilities are bad the business people are fleeing and not coming
any more.He noticed yet another thing when he arrived in Antwerp.The city life
was there much quieter.There was something original in the air,something what
defined the town.What was it? It was too early to say.He got inside a taxi and
was brought to Berchem part of the town,just a ten minutes ride from the Central
He did not know what to think,what to say and how to feel when he found himself
outside his and his brother’s house,the one he saw for the first time in his
life.Yes,he was impressed.The house was not that small,three
floors,large,stylish windows,red bricks but above all it was definitely a house
of a cultural value.A sort of a cultural object.Real old.He knocked to the doors
of the neighbouring house as he was instructed by his brother.Plus minus fifty
years old lady opened the door.She looked average,a typical middle age woman.
-“Tadek?”- She asked straightforwardly,without even waiting for him to say
-“Yes,my name is Tadek.Tadek Vangard.How do you know?”
It was then when the lady began to laugh.
-“Oh,my,you look so similar to your brother! Your eyes,your nose…”
Tadek Vangard also began to laugh.It was not exactly the truth because he was
not really so much similar to his brother as the lady suggested,despite that
there was indeed some similarity,but he knew she must have seen photos with his
images,shown to her by his brother. She invited him inside her house and after a
quarter an hour they were so good friends as if they knew each other for
months.It was already an evening when she gave him the key and let him go to his
house.Everything was there in place,made or prepared earlier by both of his
brothers.He felt sad one of his brothers,the younger one,was already gone
He sat down in a leather armchair.
-“I think it is enough for today.No,I must make yet a telephone call.I must
call to Melissa.I must learn from her what is happening with Steven.”- He
As he thought so he decided.
He reached for a telephone handle and dialled the numbers to Melissa
-“Hallo?”- He heard a female voice.
-“Melissa?”- He asked and heard his heart pumping wildly in his body.Nothing
strange taking into the account he did not speak to her for years.
-“No,Melissa’s mother.Who is speaking?”- He heard the answer.
-“Good evening.My name is Tadek.Tadek Vangard.We met at the American Embassy
before Melissa returned home with you.”- Tadek Vangard introduced himself.
-“Oh,Tadek! Hello! How are you doing?”
-“Fine.Is everything good with you? Melissa?”
It was then when he heard a cry and a deep worry penetrated his mind.
-“Is something wrong? “- He asked and waited for answer.
-“Melissa,Melissa…disseappered! It’s already well over one year she is
-“God,it can’t be!”- Tadek Vangard panicked.
-“But this is what happened!”
-“And your husband? Can’t he find her?”
-“He’s dead! He shot himself.It was too much for him.Oh,I can’t!!…”-
There was a cry of a woman in despair.
-“And Steven? Does he know it?”-The answers were more important for Tadek
Vangard than the women cry at that moment.
-“Steven’s here.Here,in Belgium.He’s seeking her.”
-“May I have his telephone number?”
-“I don’t have one.He has also disseapeared.I haven’t heard from him for
months.Oh,I’m dying from despair!”
Tadek Vangard felt numbminded.Not even in his worst nightmares did he foresee
what he just learnt from Melissa’s mother.
-“Please be patient,everything will be good.Steven will come back to you one
day together with your daughter.I’m sure!”- He tried to inject some hope in
that woman,the one who must have swallowed tons of tears.
-“Yes,I hope,I hope,I hope…”- Melissa’s mother did not stop crying.
Tadek Vangard gave her his telephone number and asked to call him back as soon
as she knows anything about Melissa’s or Steven’s wherebouts.
Then he just stayed in his armchair till the late night hours,unable to move at
all as if he still dealt with the aftershocks of a knockout on a boxing ring.
It indeed was a knockout.He expected everything but not this.Melissa Charleroi
disappeared.Steven Mac Dantosch disseapeared.Melissa’s father shot himself
dead. Her mother a living dead…
Was it not a joke from hell?…
To be continued…Author: Thaddeus Hutyra,e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
All Rights Reserved