Martin Vlado
An African Proverb

The writer was a slow and indecisive man and in Hartl's1 view, at the age of advanced adulthood. He lived in a town which had a population of two hundred thousand inhabitants on his own. He characterised himself in one interview as a solitary man with a sense for a female soul. What a bold statement! Anyone could be a solitary man but the writer has taken that sense for a female soul too far. How could have make such a statement when we know that women in his life have been as scarce as hen's teeth. Or the hitch was that every normal woman needs a real man and the writer was such a man? Perhaps he was, perhaps he was not. However, what we know for certain was that the writer was a weirdo. He was writing and had nothing of it. Not even joy. He was listed in a writer's dictionary though, but only in one. Not in the other one. The writer lived in a country, where everything was done twice, three times or even four times since time immemorial. In the past by means of a copier, today by different means. The two things did not have to comply. Despite everything, the writer tried hard to understand. One of his pub acquaintances about whom the writer knew only that he was teaching at a university called it plurality.

One hot Saturday afternoon the writer was sitting in an armchair on the balcony of his flat and he flipped through a newspaper. In the weekend attachment of a daily, which he has subscribed to for decades out of inertia, he came across an African proverb which was as follows:
"Those who are always in a hurry won't escape death. The ones who are slow won't escape life, either."
The writer started to like the proverb. He laid the newspaper on a bog wooden box which served him as a writing table in the summer days, and went into a study. He took a black leather briefcase and came back to the balcony. He fell down in the armchair, took out a brand pen from the briefcase and reached out for a diary. He wrote down the proverb on a clear margin, torn it off and threw it into the briefcase without which he was unable to move.

Summer passed quickly, days became shorter. The writer was overcome by a bout of depression. He used to be able to make a story out of being down-in-the-dumps, which was enough for one short story. But he even didn't give it a whirl this tome. He would sit behind his writing table playing with a revolver thinking deep for days on end.

By a little red train with a departure scheduled for 17:04 he arrived in a little town for less than forty minutes. At a quarter to six he left the little train station, walked a few yards and was right there. There was only one guest in the Café Black Rose. The chap was sitting at a miniature table for two and was gazing at himself in a still manner. The waitress at the bar was reading a book. The writer placed the briefcase next to the bar stool and climbed up there. The waitress lifted her head and fixed her eyes of a beast of prey in waiting on him. Her white skin was in sharp contrast to a black colour of her dress. The writer ordered a favourite bottle of red wine. A whole bottle. The waitress took the order and returned to a book. The writer drank the first glass and immersed himself on his thoughts. Then he poured himself another one. He had made up a name for her before he drank it up.
He jerked at a shrill crow.
Jazmínka placed her mobile straight to her ear. She was making a call and was smiling. She gave a nod from time to time. With her eyes squinting she was watching the writer at the same time. It looked as if she was smiling at him and was giving him a secret sign.
In the meantime, the chap disappeared from the Café.
The writer abandoned the Black Rose after the sunset, too. He was accommodated in the Grand boarding house, only a stone's throw from the Café.

He came closer to a window in the room on the first floor and opened it wide ajar. He pushed a chair to the window and put the briefcase against a chair leg. A crisp October air was flowing into the room. Despite this, the writer was sweating in a visible manner. He suddenly woke up from a still motionlessness, there was no point in dragging this on. He reached out for the briefcase, put it on his knees and was opening it slowly. He took out a revolver and put the briefcase back to its place. He weighted all his body into the arm of the chair and placed the weapon to his temple. He was hesitant. A drop of sweat gave him a ticklish moment on his nose. He wanted to wipe it out by means of a wet palm of his free hand, but there was no stamina in him left.
The shot was heard.

He woke up in the afternoon. He took a shower, got dressed and went downstairs for a reception.
"You?!" he screamed startled.
Jazmínka lifted up her head and stopped reading.
"Do you think you can make ends meet from one salary?"
"I don't know. What has happened?"
"You don't know? That chap... from the Café..." she said and sniffed in a paper tissue.
All of a sudden the writer remembered the African proverb.

He was sitting in a room on a chair against an open window and was waiting. He knew that she would come. Proverbs do not happen just because. Shortly after seven there was a knocking on the door. In a few seconds yet again. More powerful and urgent. The door opened. The writer catapulted from the chair and turned away very swiftly.
She was standing there. She fixed her eyes of a waiting beast of prey on him. She was biting her lower lip tenderly. She caressed her earring in the ear by means of a pad of her slender and long index finger. Little drops of sweat appeared on the writer's forehead. Hundreds of volts electrified his body. He had an erection.
They made love. The writer had a heartbeat. The blood pressure reached values when a strange thing starts to happen in one's brain. Jazmínka was smiling in a mysterious way and was watching the writer with her eyes half-closed. Now and then she gave a nod and sigh: Yes. The writer felt dryness in his mouth. He had his lips chapped. There was an unbearable heat spreading all over his body which devoured him. He needed to get up, wash his face and drink some water.
As soon as he touched the laminate flooring by his feet and made the first step, he fell down to the ground very quietly. In the twinkling of an eye, he turned into a desert completely.

1. Hartl, P.: Compendium of a pedagogic psychology for adults. Praha: Karolinum, 1999, p. 231