Child in the night … just like you and me;
Stranger passing by … just like you and me;
Flowers on the frontier are sinking into sleep.

Woman in my bed … just like you and me;
Touch of lips … bodies sweating;
So far from love … just like you and me.

Day is dawning by the sea … just like you and me;
Vacant boats … drifting leftwards;
Dissolving derelicts … just like you and me.

J.B. Štulić

Unlit and unventilated venue drenched in heat and darkness reeks of beer and cigarette smoke. Sweet smell of synthetic residue of working man’s champagne should remind everybody that they are in fact drinking something much akin to semi-organic piss, but nobody is ever bothered. The haze is so comforting – that light stupor the cheap drink provides – it would be shame to spoil it. There are possibilities in the haze and darkness drenched in just a tad filthy odor, making you just a tad removed from sharp edged presence of your existence – of your real face, your real life’s history – your real intentions even. For our intentions are givens in a way, we don’t chose them on a whim. And they are ruthless towards our whims, especially towards love.

Fatalist let the thought sink in and dissolve with the last zip from beer bottle. He put it on the wooden floorboards of makeshift club he was burning the midnight oil in. As he straightened up, he threw his right arm over his whimsical companion’s waist. Mockingbird pulled herself tighter to his side and poured double shot of whiskey down her throat as if it were a glass of water. She ran the empty glass across his torso and looked him straight in the eye. Fatalist could see that she was drunk enough to start the game of inflicting pain on both of them, right to the bone.

‘You know … what…’, the Mockingbird said.
‘I don’t want to know what.’
She chuckled in her deprived, shaky way and pinched his stomach,
‘The hell you don’t.’
‘Then tell me.’

She threw her arms around his neck and gave him a long, wet, strangling kiss. She paused, her cheek against his, and half moaned, half whispered in his ear,

‘I hate how you people here talk … you begin everything with, like, “in principle”, “essentially”, “accordingly” …’
‘Essentially, that’s in principle fairly in accordance with who we are.’
‘Fuckin’ Latins … Westerners … you know what …’, she moved away from him still caressing his neck and looked him in the eye with the crooked smile, ‘I’m going to kiss that kid over there’, she flashed her eyes towards frightened looking young man standing in the corner, trying in vain to make himself invisible, ‘and then you and I will go to your place and screw each other like there’s no tomorrow. What’d you say?’
‘I say it’s essentially unprincipled. Leave the kid alone, he’s a good guy, fairly better than you and me.’
‘Just give me a minute.’
‘Don’t do it.’

She pushed him away and walked towards the kid who was making uncertain gestures of rejection. She pushed him in the corner and started kissing him. The poor guy was throwing quick glances at Fatalist half accepting, half rejecting her onslaught. Obviously he thought older guy will just walk over and smash his face. In fact Fatalist was considering walking over and apologizing to him.

He gave it a second thought, turned around, walked to the bar and ordered a drink. He grabbed the beer bottle in a crushing grip and pressed it’s bottom against the bar, almost to the point of breaking it. But he wasn’t mad, not even angry. He was just intensely, wildly, worried. The relationship with woman who with no second thought grabs the next guy just to make some kind of strange point is indeed deeply worrisome. Still more worrisome was that this was the least thing bothering him. He knew it’s just a play for her and in fact he was ashamed because of the innocent kid who got caught in the middle of their suicidal relationship. The main thing to pluck his nerves was, why he doesn’t just walk away. He knew things will get worse and he’ll eventually have to do it anyway, and do it ugly. But as much as horrible as she was she did love him, he knew that. There were not many words between them when they met, just irresistible desire to squeeze each other to the point of melding, intermingling, merging. When they finished that drunken night of prowling her dark and wild big city – the city that chews you up and swallows you eventually, as she described it – squeezing and sucking the life out of each other in those long, bone crunching caresses and strangling kisses, he knew it won’t end well. Well, the relationships regularly didn’t end well for him, anyhow, but he knew this will be an epitome of bad ending. And, as always when it comes to bad things, he was right.

Fatalist felt Mockingbird’s hands on his waist as she laid her head on his back, pressing him against the bar.

‘You done scaring children?’, he asked with half smile as she rubbed herself against him.
‘For now …’
‘Why don’t you go home with me …”, she whispered as she caressed him tightly from behind, “…there is no freedom here … for you and me.”
“Well, here we don’t take lightly on scaring children.’
She squeezed herself against him, goading him to turn around. She threw her arms around his neck and they sank themselves in a long kiss …
‘We are one soul …’ she whispered through heavy breathing ‘… you know that. Please let’s go away … we’ll live together.’
‘What about your kids?’
‘Kids are not a priority for me.’

The answer gave him light, creeping chill and just a shot of some strange, cold rush. She had two kids from one disastrous marriage … she told him how that came about. The guy simply walked over and asked her will she marry him and she just said yes and eventually gave birth to two children. The disturbing thing was, she really appeared to be a devoted young mother, stalked by violent ex, dividing her time between trying to cash in on painting the interiors of the churches and to belatedly graduate Theology. But he also knew, for all the love and responsibility she displayed towards her kids, she would dump them with no second thought if she decided it’s necessary to get what she wanted, even sell them if it were feasible. The chilling thing was, she really loved them nonetheless. Like she really loved him, too. The evil of her intent was scarcely submerged underneath the fragile, girlish appearance and it imbibed everything about her, so pure, so fertile that it gave birth even to her loves. She loved out of evil. They fell for each other unmistakably when they first met, so there was something deeply akin between them. Well, she had an agenda of working him up a bit, conceived by their mutual acquaintance in order to get him aboard of some shady, half crazy, plan they cooked up – he knew that. But she made it personal soon enough. And this fact, this strange, unspoken familiarity existing between two of them was defeating to him, utterly defeating. He knew, when that strange, cold rush wears off, he’ll have to pick himself up from the floor, bit by bit, and explain to himself what he got himself into. And why. That’s going to be tough. The “why” of it.

She ran her fingers through his hair, resting her head on his torso,

“Let’s go.”
“Ok, we go.”

They left the club followed by few curious stares. He hated drawing attention in anything he does, especially anything resembling intimacy, and there he was now in that dreaded spotlight of people who knew and respected him. But the deed must be seen to it’s end. He’ll have to endure, see what happens.

They walked slowly as Mockingbird dragged him about, teasing him across the face with little flower she picked on the way and constantly pausing or pulling him to her side. However, she didn’t stagger out of drunkenness. In fact she carried her intoxication remarkably well, almost with dignity, like accessory of a kind. She had that deceptive, girlish appearance which provokes unintentional protective gestures from unsuspecting men and covers everything going on inside her like a thin veil. But she was utterly damaged, irrevocably, irredeemably depraved, a hint of which was her shaky, unnerving, laughter. Fatalist knew she doesn’t have much time. Although in early thirties she looked younger and had that fatal flair of indomitable, yet girlish, woman, prone to act out any extremity of love and hate, without a word or a second thought. But that won’t last. Not long from now, a few more years, and she’ll be just a tramp at the mercy of anyone ready to spare a dime or a drink on her. There would be no flair, no nothing. Just a floor mat seeking the right boot. But at this moment she still had it in her, a living fire of ruthlessness and wild, hysteric freedom which fascinated him despite himself.

‘Look at my palm, Latin.’, she stretched her left hand for his inspection as they staggered down the street.
‘Great palm. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a palm so cool in my life. And you even got two of them.’
She squeezed his waist and made him pause.
‘Look at my life line.’

He realized she was talking about palm reading. He knew where the life line is. Although half skeptical, half amused, the sight startled him. He had never seen anything like it before. The so called life line on her palm was barely a centimeter long.

‘I won’t last long.’, she said with wild pain in her eyes. No sorrow. Only pain.

He didn’t say anything as he felt the stranglehold of sorrow, despair and love squeeze his insides. To hell with doubting Thomas, he knew she’s right. She was a pathological liar, but palm of her left hand wasn’t. Indeed, she won’t last long. And despite this, she would plan to spend the rest of her life with him, simultaneously planning to dump him when opportunity for better life and more expensive liquor occurs, better sooner than later. Everything at the same time. That was what she called freedom.

‘No freedom here…’, the Mockingbird whispered as they continued their walk.
‘You are horrible.’
‘We are one soul.’
‘Is that soul worth saving?’
‘Who cares …’
‘I do.’
‘Oh yes … you are a man of principle. You want to be saved …’

Fatalist noted how she bent the meaning to make him look craven. That’s how she displayed her love, with stings and bites. Maybe he attracted her because he wouldn’t falter under the torrents of her acid sarcasm.

‘The sacrifice … man … the sacrifice is everything … you don’t understand … we are victims … sa-cri-fice it’s a gas, gas, gas …”, she whispered. Fatalist yawned. She was going into religious mode, that deprived cesspit of ancient world’s residue her people took for the basis of their nationhood and named it ‘Christianity’ without even bothering to use ‘orthodox’ prefix in everyday life. They are forever misunderstood, their mystery is unfathomable. ‘We didn’t really want to eradicate you, take you land and take a crap on it … you misunderstood us … we offered sacrifice … we are victims.’ He heard this all before, the mutterings from the darkness of histories dead end, masquerading as bastion of pride and independence. A whole people forever caught in the stranglehold of proud, envious depravity. Oh, the wisdom of Balkans, how futile art thou … incommunicable and useless, tainted … tainting … always coming too late. What’s the use of knowing what should not have been known?

But he still loved her.

‘Kiss me.’, whispered the Mockingbird and the Fatalist obliged. They stopped by the portico of an old vacant house and slid into shadows. He gently pressed her against the wall, while she started taking off his shirt. He held her hands, and whispered,
‘Take it easy, we’re almost home.’
‘No, no home here … I hate this place … we must go … East … no …’
‘… South-East …la, la, la … by southbound train … you and I … my love’, she started singing an old, heart-wrenching song, while he kissed her neck, melting in sorrow and sweet, desperate longing for something … what something? … he couldn’t tell. She wrestled off his shirt and started kissing his torso, digging her fingernails in him almost to the point of shedding blood. Barely audible she echoed in whispers …
‘… my love … my love …’


Dark haze of summer night engulfed the street as the streetlight blinked for a moment and then went out. Mockingbird walked out from shadows, a little, dark shape in the darkness, and leaned against the extinguished streetlight, buttoning her blouse.

‘… by southbound train … you and I …’
‘…my love.’, the Fatalist joined her silent chant as he walked over to her and gently caressed her face. She closed her eyes letting him stroke her cheeks and hair, as she threw her arms back over her head. She looked exhausted and Fatalist prayed she really was so. That way, maybe, they could talk some sense. But he knew it was tough luck.
‘One soul … one soul, you know that.’
‘I know.’
‘They pulled the carpet from under our feet when we were kids. The motor was running on empty, while we waited for a starting gun. And it never went off.’
‘Maybe it did, but with all that other shooting, we missed it.’
She caressed him gently and they started walking down the street.
‘What will become of us … now when our race is run without us?’
‘Whatever … doesn’t matter. We are not that important.’
‘You are stupid. They took us our future … broke everything down … motherfuckers.’
‘You really think we are any better?’
‘The world could have been at our feet … world at our feet … we could have been …
… heroes, just for a day …’, she started singing.
‘I would be king and you would be queen?’
‘You know what I mean. You damn well know what I mean.’
‘Yes I do.’
‘And now I’m just a little, hurt creature.’, she said with sardonic smile and some strange ring of honesty in her tone. He kissed her, and she laid her head on him as they walked on.
‘I’m the bronze statue trying to shake a tear for years.’, Fatalist said, after short silence.
‘I did notice you’re a tad uptight. Makes you mellow at all the wrong times and in all the wrong places.’

They continued walking in silence. Fatalist sank in thoughts and haven’t at first noticed somebody coming in their direction. Unfortunately, the Mockingbird did.

‘It’s that lunatic’, she said with a chilling giggle, ‘I’m going to tell him what he is. Watch, it’s gonna be fun.’
‘No!’, said the Fatalist, as she wrestled from his arms and rushed towards startled young man walking towards them. Fatalist knew the guy. He was a latent psychotic all right, but he had no idea how Mockingbird figured that out by seeing him barely twice. Now she was out for blood. For no reason at all.
‘Leave him alone.’, he said, while she was feverishly narrating something into her petrified victims ear. Even in the dark he could see how young man’s face sunk and expression changed from bewilderment to terror and, finally, to desperation.
‘I won’t repeat, Mockingbird.’
This time, there was ice in his voice and she picked it up. She pushed the young man away with contempt and just told him,
‘… and then you’ll die.’
‘Apologize to him.’

Mockingbird tried to throw her arms around Fatalist’s neck, while her shaky laughter reached insane, high pitch. As they wrestled, he was surprised by her hysterical strength. It seemed as if her laughter drained all of his strength. Her eyes, a moment ago so softly brown, with just a shade of sadness he recognized so well, were now filled with sickening fire. The harpy, he thought as he fought to subdue her. Finally she gave in, turned her back to him and relaxed in his tight embrace. She closed her eyes and sank her head on his chest.

‘What’s he to you? He’s a misfire. Are you not, psycho?’
‘Don’t listen to her, she wants you to despair. I’ll handle her.’
‘Don’t worry about it.’, said the young man with uncertain smile. Yet again, the Fatalist was surprised. The guy was known to be prone to violence, so he thought the fight will ensue. He felt the torrent of shame washing away last vestiges of intoxication. Alcoholic, but not yet emotional.
‘I will worry about it. My responsibility.’
Young man smiled and continued up the street. Mockingbird grinned while rubbing gently against Fatalist, still clutched tightly in his arms,
‘Will you beat me up, my love?’
‘You’re no fun … all this effort for nothing. You know, I think we misunderstood each other …’
‘What do you mean?’
‘You want something I can’t give. You mistook me for someone else.’

‘I don’t think I want anything from you.’, said the Fatalist while leaning against the wall, Mockingbird still in his grip.
‘Hmmm…’, she moaned as she threw her arms back overhead and around his neck, ‘… yesss … you … dooo … Latin …’ He loosened his grip as he started running his hands all over her.

Utterly absurd …
… utterly defeating … utterly depraved … got to end this …
… now … now …

‘You are little mockingbird, are you not, Mockingbird?’
‘Yesss … yesssss … I am … a mockingbird …’ she whispered as she pressed and teased against him ‘… there was no other man … I … mocked so fine … like … you …’
‘But you turn into harpy, every now and then.’
She giggled crazily.
‘Yessss … I ssssearch … and I destroy …’, she hissed. Fatalist felt cold chill rushing down his spine. He was glad he couldn’t see a look in her eyes. Her transformations were quick and horrible and he had enough of them. He knew it must end now. She was too far gone, there was nothing he can do to help her because she willed it all. Yet, he asked,
‘Because it’s such … funnn …’
‘But you suffer.’
‘It’s a sacrifice … a fun sacrifice … a sacrifice for fun … ohhhh … we are screwed up generation, you and I … so alone … with all the world going the other way … it doesn’t want us because we should have sunk long time ago … we should have gone down with the ship … when old world fell … we shouldn’t be here … that’s what history willed for us … and we spite the bitch nevertheless … we’ll pay for it … my love …’
‘We are paying already.’
‘Yesss we do … touching from the distance … it’s not really touching, don’t you think? No way you can reach me … my love … no way I can reach you …’
‘Don’t say that.’, he was surprised at his own utterance, because moments earlier he was prepared to put an end to everything. Something in him just wouldn’t let go. Something else was preparing to part ways. The anguish of emotional struggle was almost physical. He closed his eyes as if to keep his departing sanity inside.
‘No bridge … anymore.’, he muttered.
‘No freedom … no freedom here … i gotta go home … you people will never change … you hate me … you all hate me.’
‘I don’t hate you.’
‘Dead fuck … of course you do … don’t say that … you do hate me … after all I’ve done for you … what I done for no other man …’, Mockingbird hissed.
‘For what you’ve done, maybe I should hate you. But I don’t. You left me no options. Either to hate or not to hate. I chose later. Irrevocably. And I’m pretty sure, that applies to others too. Nobody here hates you.’
‘Lieeeer …’, she whispered tenderly and then he realized as in a flash, an epiphany …
‘So this is love?’, he asked, already knowing what the answer will be.
‘Yessssss … you show promise … possibilities … but you don’t actualize … build on it … I must describe you the obvious … I’ve done everything for you … so you can hat … lov … e … e … meeee … I sacrificed for you … ‘
Fatalist finally resolved.
‘Let’s go.’
‘Our separate ways.’

The change in her voice was complete. Now she was almost business like. She turned to him with serious and concentrated look in her eyes.

‘What’s done is done. We misunderstood each other.’
‘Clearly, we had.’, said the Fatalist feeling the sores from scratches she carved all over him. It was as if something sharp was poking at him from all sides …

… hello existence … long time, no see … did you bring your friend Real Intention with you?
… of course you did …

‘But you must respect me after all this.’
‘Few years from now and you’ll be next thing to nothing. Can’t respect nothing, sorry.’
Mockingbird’s eyes flashed with rage.
‘See what chicken you are? You can’t take the truth.’
‘I’ve just been overtaken by truth.’, replied the Fatalist aching all over. The streetlight blinked and turned on. They were standing in a pool of light. He noticed that Mockingbird’s features resembled a dog baring it’s teeth, preparing to jump him. He never saw such fierceness in woman, something far removed from typical mood swings of psychotic or depressive. She wasn’t sick or mentally disturbed. She was simply evil and unapologetic, something as rare as simple, unapologetic good. That’s why he never saw it coming, despite all outward symptoms. He thought she could be brought to her senses, if for nothing else, then out of responsibility he felt for entering relationship in the first place. But she was completely sensible. Well, Fatalist you wanted to see if He really exists, pull his tail maybe to spite him some? Here you are then, according to your merit. In the next months, perhaps a year, you’ll have time enough to count your losses and pick yourself up from the floor, pay the dues for the risk you took. You could have fared much, much worse, anyhow.
‘Anyways, see you around Mockingbird. And remember: when you live for years like a ghost among men who don’t believe in ghosts, you’ll embrace first of your kind you stumble upon. Even if it’s an evil spirit. That’s what happened.’
‘We are of old kind … we are others to them. You know that. They know that. You’ll be alone, Fatalist.’
‘But that doesn’t make us better. And as for alone thing, that’s all bearable.’
‘Don’t count on it.’
‘I’m not, but here we are. See you around Mockingbird, although I would prefer not to.’
‘Will you remain my friend?’
‘I’m not your friend. Go with God, although I suspect you’ll take an opposite route.’

Fatalist turned around and started down the street. He didn’t look back and Mockingbird said nothing. He just heard her footsteps going in the other direction and silent singing … ‘… southbound train my love … by southbound train …’

She’ll pick up some unfortunate kid for sure and make his life miserable in fifteen minutes. But that wasn’t his problem anymore. Serves them right when they don’t believe in existence of spectral beings nowadays called spirits or souls, in previous times being called men and women. The world without spirit and human beings without human good and evil deserve everything they get, only he will not be the one inflicting it on them. Some things you love you can grab only with clean hands. Best keep that in mind.


The rosy haze of summer dawning has been gently driving out the scenery into existence, in that still moment before it’s unrelenting eye finally opens, making all men and women busy and burdened. The sea was restful, resembling some vast dark green mirror while the hills were slowly getting their colors of blues and greens, submerged in some soft shade of purple. One fishing boat ripped it’s way across still waters, disturbing them just enough to make it’s passage, only adding to the quietness of the moment – the crickets and silent rippling of great water. The boatman waved to a solitary figure sitting on the rock and drenching it’s feet in the sea.

The Fatalist waved back, silently wishing that the spoils of the night will prove abundant to this fisherman. His sure were. If only he could just throw them back into the sea. He flicked the cigarette away and laid his chin between the palms of his hands. His eyes followed the boat slowly submerging in the haze as it continued on it’s way.

How much time he’s got? How many more misadventures of the kind no one recognizes even as misadventures? Not much more, he suspected. It’s a tough thing, this matter of soul and solitude. No one sees it but you and few others, a precious few years and miles apart. You don’t see it yourself most of the time. Got to write it down somehow, but then again, few people read anyway. It’s a sore choice made by true intent, so jealous and so strict, with direction unknown, with your path dissolving as you traverse it and your loves serving only as reminders of what is not given to you. Oh, brothers and sisters where are you now? It all felt so natural way back, before things changed and one world was lost overnight. There was no doubt then, only challenge. And now the very axis of your existence is something considered to be a stuff of fairy tales. We wanted to walk on water and now we are crawling on our bellies, seeking desperately to be touched, to be proven as existent.

The sea felt so good. He started to strip. When you got wounds, you apply salt, that’s fairly simple. He climbed on the top of the rock and straightened up for a jump. Well, the salted up scratches are a real bitch, especially when they are bitch inflicted, but it’s all win some lose some …

… nothing beats the hangover like a good morning swim.

A splash of water disturbed the quiet atmosphere and sound of swimmer making quick and powerful strokes was soon submerged in the growing rattle of car and boat engines. The world was finally waking up. The existence gave it’s eye one final, lazy rub.

And then suddenly it opened wide.

What a beautiful and burdensome day laid ahead …

Branko Malić

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