Second Teaser

V

The speaker announced our flight to Milan and we hurried towards our gate. The uneventful journey took a little less than two hours. Malpensa airport was swarming with vacationers dressed in bermudas and colourful t-shirts. Luckily we soon found a taxi to take us to the main train station where we should take a train northwards to Nova Luka. The passage was supposed to continue four and a half hours.

Nova Luka was one of the cities in Europe which stood closer to the sky than most others – it was situated at almost 2500 m above sea level. It was a magic place with a strong fortress erected in the XIV-th century, which had never been seized during the numerous conflicts natural for this part of the continent. The legend told that a proud and independent tribe whose origins were unclear for historians and linguists founded the town. They were intelligent, industrious and free-spirited. Their hard life, dominated by the everyday struggle with the savage mountain made them strong, resistant and multi-skilled. They accepted war and injustice fugitives from all parts of Europe but their harsh moral code was uncompromising towards criminals and swindlers. The greatest teacher and judge – nature, subjected all the others to the cruelest tests. Thus only a few managed to dwell permanently there. During the ages many rulers wanted to punish the town for its status of a symbol of freedom and independence but soon the cunning and courageous highlanders and their natural allies vanquished their hordes.  So people from all neighbouring countries have been settling themselves there – Austrians, Italians, Slovenians, Croatians; among them were impoverished knights, rebellious monks, progressive scholars, widows, orphans. It had different names throughout the ages: Castellalto, Ziegespitze, Tvrdina. But the name that remained was Nova Luka[1]. It has always been a safe haven for the free souls, а shelter for the insulted and the wronged. Now the town was a major touristic attraction of the region – its inhabitants earned their living from the swarm of tourists and pilgrims who visited it and the remote ruins of medieval fortresses, temples and chapels scattered in the rocky outskirts of the town.

I have always dreamed about visiting this town ever since I read the fairy tales of Nicolo Popovič, the most famous son of these mountains who was almost awarded a Noble prize for literature at the dawn of XX-th century. I was only ten when I read them but I felt eternally attracted towards his magically eccentric world of evil magicians and their fire-spitting dragons, brave heroes who fought against them together with the talking bears living in deep caves and flew on top of enormous proud eagles. In my student years I read more extensively about the region and its history; the dialect his population used was very interesting from linguistic point of view: it had preserved many almost unchanged forms from Vulgar Latin interlaced with Old German and Slavic agricultural terms. Now, at the threshold of fulfilling my childhood dream, I was almost trembling with excitement.

We had to change trains at one of the stations. We mounted the four railway carriages of the narrow gauge line. Its 30 kilometers’ length with vertical displacement of almost 1000 meters above sea level had been built with immense efforts and great delays for 20 years. The technical specifications of the narrow gauge railway required that the train should not exceed a certain weight. That is why all passengers and their luggage had to be weighted up to the last gram before departure. Once departed, Mina could hardly restrain her laughter when the train reached its terminal velocity of 35 km/h. Only a minute later she has already clutched my hand and stopped laughing. We have reached the point where the broad patch of land ended and the old locomotive started its gradual ascent along the tiny narrow ledge chipped off the cliffs.

The view from the train window was magnificent yet quite scary. Down below, one could hardly distinguish the cars and trucks on the old road linking the Adriatic Sea with the interior parts of the continent. We could hear the growl from the insidious and shiny quick streams of the river Lymm which dissected the mountain thus shaping one of the most spectacular valleys I have ever seen. The slopes around us were covered mostly by a thick shield of oak and maple trees which solemnly led us to the reign of coniferous plants that awaited us ahead, in the vicinity of Nova Luka. The occasional openings which gave us more opportunities to see the entire panorama below helped me calculate roughly the distance to the river bed at somewhere between 100 and 125 m of rocky, steep slope. And the distance to the edge being solely 2-3 meters at some spots!!!  No wonder each kilogram weight on the train mattered so much!!! One could only imagine the difficulties which the builders encountered during the boring of the rocks and the laying of the rails.

Mina continued to hang on my arm and sat without uttering a word for several long minutes. She was simply soaking the grand view spread before us with silent admiration. It was not likely for her to lose her charming self-confidence that easily so I kind of enjoyed this moment. And I didn’t object to her warm body glued to mine. Seven months and I could still not get enough of her. I loved every single accidental touch of her hands, I enjoyed even the half-serious taps she jovially administered to my behind at home. I never deprived myself from the old-fashioned walking hand-in-hand in public, from the pretentious and chivalrous stretching out my hand to help her get out of a bus or a car…It was not purely sexual appetite which I had for her, there was more to that craving for physical contact…she somehow changed entirely when she held me, she lost much of that external armour which was considered the best fit for the purpose to manage, to lead, to compete in her highly complicated professional life. She turned into a scared defenseless kitten, entirely left to my mercy, this is, my caresses…

‘How much is left until the terminal station?’, she asked innocently.

(end of the excerpt)


[1] New haven (Croatian)

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Teaser from the book “Sealed with a Kiss”

(story so far: Boris and Mina are heading towards the airport to begin their summer vacation. They have met only 7 months ago and still are not clear about their future as a couple. )

♣      ♣      ♣

The taxi was zigzagging adroitly across the steep, narrow cobblestone streets of the grim medieval city. The early weekend hour allowed the driver to practice his rarely used rally skills.

“Strange…”, Mina thought. She was still amazed by the primitive, excruciating calmness reigning over the small city on weekends, otherwise a significant financial world center during the week. It was nothing like Hong Kong, Macao or London where her beloved job required her presence more than occasionally. The weekends were different there. Unlike the perpetual flock of tourists on the streets she also had to work during weekends preparing for the usual meeting of high-profile investors who flew in from all parts of the world with their Gulfstreams and Learjets. They usually had time only for quick presentations accompanied by Krug champagne and seafood canapés so afterwards she could retire to the company apartment and sleep off the weekend. Occasionally they wanted to continue the financial consulting at some posh bar downtown so she had to fight away the fatigue and their sexual aspirations by sipping several Irish coffees. Some day she could make a fortune by writing an inspirational book, entitled for example “How to scorn the indecent advances of elderly millionaires by not ruining your career as their investment consultant”. The sheer thought made her smile.

She quickly turned towards Boris hoping that he hadn’t seen her smile. It could lead to questions, explanations…and hence – probably to another philosophical sermon with Antiquity references. It was not likely for her to keep secrets from him. It was not as she disliked his historical parallels. But the thing that she liked most in their relationship was the liberty to dive into one’s own thoughts without the obligation to explain everything and thus to form a kind of guilt. Not that she didn’t like most things in that relationship. Or “loved” most of them.

Love! “Is it love that I’m feeling” sang one of her father’s favourite vocals, Coverdale. She had listened to this tune so many times during her childhood that she managed to surprise Boris when they heard it once on the radio and she sang along…Was it love when you start measuring all your actions throughout a single day and pondering about their probable effect on the person you live with? Was it love when you adored even his unostentatious presence in the other room and his incessant crooning under the shower? Was the routine, the habit, the trust, the lightness of cohabitation, the silent understanding, the pillow talk “love”? The “love”, “l’amour”, “die Liebe” every girl dreamed about, the handsome prince on white horse did not exist, she knew that from her early childhood spent under the stern and pragmatic governance of her Austrian Oma. “The hunt is like a dance for men, for women the dance is the hunt.”, she used to say. “So you must learn to dance, Mein Liebchen, no matter if you like to dance or not. And you must be the best!!!”

And Mina has learnt to behave like a prey without being caught. Not for a single moment she had assumed that her looks could provide her with a free pass towards success and professional achievements. She had to be prepared “to dance with the hunters”, not for the hunters; to become one of them and not to behave like a precious conquest. The period of her studies in London’s School of Economics looked monotonous and dull, to great surprise of her Viennese girlfriends who had a quite different idea about life in London. They envied her for the possibilities to go out every night to a different club and “dance the night away”, to flirt with attractive men…Mina however had different dances in mind, she followed closely her Oma’s advice to prepare for the big hunting party. Like a real dance queen mastering all kinds of dances – rock’n'roll, twist, tango, salsa, reggae, hip-hop – she accumulated skills and specialties in her favourite domains of finances, futures and investments. Even the biggest dorks among her colleagues found her ambitious approach too unattractive. The most industrious womanizers among them had achieved the point of absolute despair after numerous attempts to engage her in any activities other than seminars, colloquia or sharing of information essential for their exams. Her student nickname – as she was able to find out recently during one hasty lunch with a former colleague, now an investment banker on Wall Street – has been “the Iron skirt”, most probably coined by some embittered macho. She became aware of this entire attitude on the night following their graduation when all her intentions for uncontrolled drinking followed by frivolous sex with a colleague collapsed. It turned out that there would be a house party where she hadn’t been invited and where people were already designated as sex couples. So this long-expected graduation night turned into a mild and gentle inebriation at a bar called “Desperado” where the barman was so well cultivated to listen patiently to her life story and to call her a taxi after the closing hour. The next day she woke up with the nagging feeling that solitude would become her companion throughout her professional life and barmen will turn out to be gallant confidants about her sentimental life. Old movies stocked on her laptop brought distraction and exhilaration during the extensive traveling she had to make in the years of her career as a market researcher for the multinational investment company whose recruiters had spotted her during the job fairs.

And the occasional sex…She knew from the very beginning that she couldn’t afford to date someone from her circles: neither from the affiliated companies nor from the competition…. The information she had in her head had such a high stake that she couldn’t stand even the idea for growing a suspicion towards a partner let alone to lead a love life based on lies and justified only by lust. That is why she tried to restrict herself only to occasional one-night stands with younger men whom she met in the five-star hotels where she was obliged to stay by her job description and whose appearance didn’t suggest any connection whatsoever with the slick men in expensive suits she met on an everyday basis. She always did her best to conceal her real identity in such cases. Now she tossed her head as if trying to chase away the recurrent memory from one late night in Madrid where she went to bed with a Latino stud she had met in a Cuban bar earlier the same night. His lovemaking had taken her places she had never been before and she had managed to learn a few wonderful things about herself and her body. But…he had asked for money later, all these skills turning out to be his main occupation…of course she could pay the money he demanded…but the mixed feelings of guilt, bitterness and loneliness had inhabited her for a long, long time afterwards…

 

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Wellington

Said Wellington: “What’s the location
of this battle I’ve won for the nation?”
They replied: “Waterloo.”
He said: “That’ll do.
What a glorious name for a station.”
Frank Richards

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Genesis of limericks

The limerick’s birth is unclear;

Its Genesis owed much to Lear.

It started as clean,

But soon went obscene,

And this split haunts its later career.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Lear)

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A Young Man of Bulgaria

There was a young man of Bulgaria

Who went for a piss in an area;

Said Mary to cook:

“Oh, do come and look,

Did you ever see anything hairier?”

 

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This is a site devoted to limericks: origins, composition, brightest examples and contemporary attempts. It reflects only the views of its moderator/creator.

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