“A Kapitany”, Chapter 32, and a Haiku each day….

This is Natiional Haiku Month I am told: Write a haiku a day.

I will not shed tears
Let the tall murasaki
wet my silken sleeves.

Outside the window
there is a world of chaos
Inside, warm fire.

A swirl of blossoms
Caught in the water’s current
Begins the season.

The north wind blows hard
Chills both man and animal
Life is not certain.

Haiku (classical form) is done as 5-7-5. There are many who creatively write ‘outside the box’. I still count on my fingers, and squeeze the ‘haiku’ into the box.

-
Lady Nyo


A Kapitany, Chapter 32

Vadas knew where Zoltan lived, though he hadn’t been there in a long time. He passed through a small village behind Noszvaj, where the road cut through a dense forest. Zoltan had a small cottage, down from the village, off the road. Vadas could see smoke from a small chimney.

All of this region was poor, and had been since it was settled. The war didn’t help and they survived much as they had after the war, scratching out an existence from the earth. Many of the people hunted in the forest for deer and boar to feed their families. They planted cabbage and millet, the poorest of grains. There was the forest for fuel, the way people heated their houses. This region of the northeast Hungary was poorly served by natural gas and electricity. Unemployment was high.

Vadas stopped his Jeep in front of the small path that led to the cottage. A dog came off the porch, barking wildly. A woman, not young, came from inside and yelled at the dog. It went behind the house where it quieted down. She smiled at Vadas, showing missing teeth. She must be a relative of Zoltan’s, thought Vadas.

The woman stood aside and held the door for him. He entered a room where he saw Zoltan sitting, his feet propped on the woodstove. Zoltan was smoking. Vadas embraced him, kissing him on both cheeks.

“You look good, Zoltan. How do you feel?”

“Like I dodged a bullet”, said Zoltan with a wide smile, his eyes twinkling.

Vadas laughed. “Well, you didn’t dodge the bullet, but you live another day.”

Zoltan offered him a cigarette from his pack. Vadas hesitated. He had cut down smoking, and mostly didn’t when Elizabeth was around. Elizabeth wasn’t around.

Lighting up, he drew in the smoke. Ah, he missed this. It was good to be around others who did.

They sat in silence. The woman, a cousin of Zoltan’s, brought in a tray of glasses, wine and sausage. She poured a glass for each of them then went back into the kitchen.

“How is your woman?”

“She is recovering, Zoltan. She’s is a bit cracked in the head right now.”

Vadas twirled his fingers near his temple, like Soffia had that morning.

Zoltan looked at the woodstove and grunted. “To be expected. She went through hell with Miklos.”

Vadas took a long drag on his cigarette. He looked at the glowing end. It was good to smoke again.

“I still don’t know where that bastard is. He hasn’t surfaced. I got all sorts of men looking and nothing. It’s driving me crazy. It’s also driving the woman crazy. She’s jumpy and cries a lot. This morning she tried to beat me up. I’m sore now, and tomorrow? I’ll be bruised like a kicked dog.”

They both laughed, Zoltan staring at Vadas. “You got one bold woman, there, Vadas. Either she’s bold or you’re getting soft.”

“I’m getting soft in the head. Ah God. And I am marrying her. Yes, soft in the head. She’s softening me up for the kill.”

“You know she tried to save me, Vadas? She told me to stay where I was. She started to leap out of the back door. She was going to deal with them. Her dress and heels slowed her down.” Zoltan shook his head and laughed softly.

Vadas drew on his cigarette. “I didn’t know that. I’m not surprised. She’s smarter than she looks.”

“Well, women, Vadas, you know?” Zoltan shrugged his shoulders and picked up his wine.

“To life and death, Vadas. To the death of Miklos. In time.”

Vadas tipped his glass to Zoltan. He could drink to that.

“How are the grapes?” Zoltan had his own vines. Vadas could see them stretching down the hill behind Zoltan’s cottage.

“Good. We need more rain. Always more rain.”

“How’s your cabbage?”

“Small, Vadas, but the woman spread manure, and they are growing, but slow.”

Vadas finished his glass and put it on the tray.

“Look, Zullie. I came to talk to you about something important. Something I just found out.”

“I’m all ears. Look me in the eye and speak, Vadas.”

Vadas sighed and shook his head.

“When I was visiting the old aunties yesterday, they told me something. Seems my mother was yours. We are brothers, Zullie.”

Zoltan shifted his weight and smiled. “I knew, Vadas. I knew years ago. Not officially. I heard the whispering when I was a boy.”

Vadas leaned forward and snubbed out his cigarette on the tray. His voice was cracked with emotion.

“What in hell made you silent? No family to speak of, just these two old biddies, and here under my nose I had a brother? What the fuck, Zoltan? Why didn’t you say?”

“There didn’t seem to be reason, Vadas. Life was fine without knowing. Would it really make any difference?”

Vadas stood up, ran his hand through his hair and sat down.

“Difference? Hell, yes, it would have made a difference. I could have done more, I could have done something. Look, Zullie, you are my flesh and blood. Do you know what that means? I’ve not had that. I’ve been thinking I was alone in this world. You could have been part, an important part of my life.”

Zoltan laughed softly. “What would have changed? I’ve been a part of your life. When we have need, we know where to find each other. Look, Vadas, I’m not like you. I’m a peasant. I’m a simple man. I have no education and I am comfortable. I don’t have your responsibilities. What do I need? I have this cottage, these vines. I got plenty of wood for the stove. I even got a cellphone.” Zoltan laughed, his heavy eyebrows going up and down.

“No, Zullie. It’s not that simple. You are my flesh, my blood. I have that house and the lodge and money in the bank. Sure, without Miklos’ business, and the need of the vineyard, the money won’t last. But fuck, Zullie. I have something more than that with you. I got family right under my nose and I didn’t know.”

Zoltan smiled. “Vadas, has anything changed between us with this news? No. We are the same as before. You need me, you find me. I need you, I find you.”

“Look, Zullie. I don’t care what you say. I have to make this right. It’s something I do. I want you to have the lodge. I am going to deed it over to you, understand? You get the lodge and the land around it, ok?”

“Vadas, are you cracked in the head like Elizabeth? What the fuck would I do with that place? It’s too big. Besides, my vines are here. My cousin takes good care of me. I am set in my ways. What else do I need?”

Vadas sighed and passed his hand through his hair. “You may not need much now, but I am still going to deed the lodge over. No argument from you, Zullie. Whether you live there or not, it’s your inheritance.”

“You live there, Vadas, you live there with Elizabeth. That house is going to eat you up. Too expensive to fix up and what would you do with all those rooms? No, you stay in the lodge, and whatever the future brings, well, the future will be here soon enough.”

Vadas was out of words and argument with him for now. He changed the subject.

“How’s your wound? Are you in pain?”

“Nah, I’m fine, plus I got these pills. They take the edge off life, Vadas. You might need them after marriage.”

Vadas laughed. “I might need them now. That woman runs circles around me. You wouldn’t believe how strong she is. I don’t want to be on the getting side of her bad moods. I’m going to be black and blue tomorrow.”

They smoked a while in silence, Vadas filling their glasses.

“That woodstove? Heats pretty good? Maybe I put one in the lodge. That place is cold. Elizabeth is going to freeze her nipples off this winter. She isn’t used to the winters up here.”

“She will adjust, Vadas, but I think you need to keep her warm. That will sour a woman fast, being cold. We can take it better. And the whining when they are cold! Jesus Christ, they can whine.”

Vadas laughed. “Yeah, Elizabeth is going to have to make a lot of adjustments. This first year will tell. I expect her to buy and hide a ticket back to the states. This winter will say a lot about her devotion to me.”

They drank their wine and Vadas filled their glasses again.

“You know she wants to raise sheep? Not for meat, but for wool. What the hell?”

Zoltan laughed. “Be thankful she is doing just that. She could be sitting around spending your money on crap. A few sheep? Not bad for a new wife. Sounds good to me. You can always kill a lamb and blame it on a dog.”

“We will see, Zullie, we will see. Right now I worry about Miklos, where he will pop up. Elizabeth is so spooked she doesn’t want a wedding. She wants to get married in a civil service.”

“Not a bad plan, Vadas. Think of the money you will save.”

“Oh! I want you to be witness. You and Soffia.”

Zoltan laughed. “As long as I don’t have to be near that hellcat long. Even standing next to her gives me the creeps.”

Vadas laughed. “Lesbians. I don’t understand it. What can they do without a man?”

“I’m sure plenty. Perhaps they paint each others toenails?”

Vadas laughed. “I don’t want to think. But I have to about Miklos. I have to figure out where the fuck that bastard is hiding. I thought by now I would have a clue. I don’t and I have a number of men on the payroll. Nothing yet.”

“Ah, Vadas, you know Miklos. He’s a tricky bastard. But he will surface for air. Just be patient.”

“Yeah, and quiet Elizabeth. She’s afraid Miklos will come through the window like a wolf.”

“He might. I wouldn’t leave her alone again.”

“I got men watching but Miklos has men, too. It will be interesting to see what happens.”

“Just a thought, Vadas. Miklos might try to strike before the wedding. Or at it. You find him first before he finds you.”

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2007-2013

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