came the reply, ‘I don’t give a... ’ from one of the death row inmates working that day.
The uniformed guy with a moustache, who had taken my petrol money, seemed to have hated himself that morning, but graduated to hating the whole world in the afternoon. His spontaneous reaction to my question about Brčko, a town which history had consigned to his outrage because it had not ended up in Croatian hands at the war’s end, did provoke something in the same phylum as a smile. This was probably just to give me the false sense that he was joking, rather than intending to terrorize all passengers en route to the Serbian Entity. Twenty minutes later, I was sipping undrinkable coffee at the restaurant next door, wondering why this unspoken, projected accusation could still make me feel like shit. I put on the boil my hate for moustache guy, and it bubbled into an imaginary biography, in which he was a smuggler of stoves and washing machines stolen from Serbian houses. I could picture Mr. Moustache carrying Gorenje appliances up and down the village, after his shift at the petrol station ended, offering them to neighbours, claiming that they all came from his nice Swedish son-in-law, who had just bought brand new Electrolux appliances for his holiday home and didn’t need them anymore. But when Mr. Moustache vanished I was fed up, and I had only just started.