Your Son

(After Twenty Years)
"Last summer by pure coincidence I ran into Martina and we went for a coffee together and when we'd drunk two litres of wine she suddenly started crying: 'There's something I have to tell you, the boy I had, he's yours, I kept it from you because I didn't want to cause you, and especially myself, any trouble. I knew that with your personality you'd have to do a lot to deal with it and even then it wouldn't work out...' 'Okay,' I said, 'but now you've told me, I'd like to see him, at least once.' 'Well, okay, but there's two problems, for one I don't live in Prague and for another I don't want you to introduce yourself as his father, although he knows the guy who lives with us isn't his father. I don't want things more complicated for him than they need to be...'"

"I can certainly see what she was getting at," Father noted.

"So I went to Porícany where they live. Thing is, every Friday she goes to a café on the square and every time her son drops by to borrow a couple hundred crowns on his way from his rehearsal because he wants to be able to make an impression on the girls. So we made a plan for me to be sitting there as though we'd run into each other by accident."

"Oh ... What rehearsal?"

"He plays in some band. So I went there and we were sitting in the café, talking. At half past eight in the evening Martina says: 'Hey, don't get upset, but he's probably not going to turn up, it hasn't happened in a long time that he hasn't shown, I guess it's just bad luck on your part.' 'Never mind,' I said, 'at least we had a chance to chat and I guess I'll be on my way.' And the moment I finished the sentence, the doors opened and there stood this unpleasant-looking, obviously hypersensitive, scrawny guy, five earrings in each ear and sporting a goatee, and he made his way over to our table. The blood froze in my veins and my heart started pumping like it was trying to jump out of my body because the person I saw in front of me was me twenty years ago, a confused, essentially negative, hypersensitive shit who views the world as an incomprehensible maze of emotions. In short, I saw an exact copy of the mess I had been at his age..."

"Oh well," Father said, "oh well..."

"And then he stumbled over to the table, took the money from his mum, looked me over indifferently and was about to take off. 'Sit down with us for a bit,' Martina said to him. 'And what would I talk to you about?' he said, and he was right. I was clutching my mug of coffee, incapable of getting a single word out, and maybe for the first time in my life I felt like I was going to faint big time. And as the boy was closing the door behind him, I noticed he had Killing Joke written on the back of his jacket."

"And this is all true, is it?" Father asked distrustfully.

It was. I'd only changed the name of the woman in question and the name of the place, because on several occasions in the past giving precise geographical details hadn't paid off.

"That was the last time you saw him?"

"We agreed that she wouldn't tell him anything unless he asked himself. He stayed on my mind, it'd be a lie for me to say he didn't, but what was I supposed to do after twenty years ... About half a year later, in other words not long ago, I was at home walking around in my T-shirt listening to some music when the doorbell suddenly rang and there he was in the doorway, chewing gum and saying: 'Hey ... I was talking to my mother and she told me, you know ... hey, it's no big deal, I'll be on my way again, no problem, no hassles, it's just that I happened to be walking by and, you know, tried ringing the doorbell, you know...' 'Come in,' I said, feeling like fainting again because it was daylight and on top of that there was his voice. I felt like I was in some kind of time warp and the person I was talking to in the hallway was myself. We sat down and talked, mostly about some girl who was giving him trouble, how she wants him and then she doesn't. And between sentences he asked me if I had anything to eat, that he hadn't eaten all day, so I showed him the fridge and said he could just take whatever he wanted ..."

"Okay, I get it," mewled Father.


"He wanted money, didn't he?"

"Not at all! The reason I'm saying this is because as he was rummaging through the fridge, I was putting some water on for coffee and even though I'd never brought up any kid in my life I suddenly heard myself --- to my great surprise --- saying very loudly: 'Don't eat that sausage cold, you know what kind of shit they make them out of? There's a sauce pan over there, heat it up! For God's sake, put it on a plate at least!'"

"Alright, so what are you going to do next?"

"We've gone out for a beer together a couple times so far and it looks like we'll go on doing that."

"And Hanka knows about it?!"

"Of course, it's no big deal. He's an adult lout and so am I."

"And what's his name?" Father asked.


"Aha ... Well, it's your life in the end, but a man should look after his kids, you know that much I guess."

"And how was I supposed to do that when I've known for less than a year?!"

--- From Of Kids & Parents
Emil Hakl
© 2008 Twisted Spoon Press
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