Andrej gazed at the walls of old Dubrovnik while Josip threw the nets.
‘God’s blessing,’ Josip muttered. Andrej crossed himself quickly and drove the boat on.
A sudden boom made them look toward the city. Clouds of yellowish dust rose from the walls.
‘Starting early,’ Josip murmured.
‘Vuković’s ‘modernisation’ won’t wait.’
‘Walls that stood against all comers, brought down by one of our own.’
‘One of our own? No Croatian would do this.’ Andrej’s pulse raced.
‘But he has the Crown Prince’s command.’
‘Forged. Forced, maybe.’ Andrej spat.
‘You opposed the Cathedral’s razing,’ said Josip. ‘Didn’t you?’
‘As did every loyal Croatian,’ Andrej replied, too quickly. He turned to meet Josip’s calm gaze, and knew.
Josip’s hand rested lightly on his gun.
‘But – you prayed. You spoke the old faith!’
‘Just words, comrade.’
The hammer landed with an empty click.
Andrej smiled. ‘If you’re going to play the game,’ he whispered, drawing his knife, ‘make sure you know the rules.’
I agonised over this week’s Flash Friday contest (which explains the late posting of my blog, for which I apologise!) We were given the prompt of the two fishermen in their boat, and we were told they had been photographed off the coast of Dubrovnik. We had to include a politician. And this story, about a corrupt government official and his crony – who got his comeuppance in the end – is what my brain came up with.
Anyone who has ever played Scrabble with me will tell you one thing I’m not good at is tactics and machination. I would most decidedly not be a good politician – the to-ing and fro-ing of power structures leaves me cold and confused, usually. I wish there was no such thing as corruption and favouritism and power games and political manoeuvrings. Also, because I have been to Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro at various times in my life (including a wonderful holiday in the utterly beautiful Dubrovnik several years back), I know two things: its city walls are breathtaking, and the history of this region is painfully, terribly complicated. Dubrovnik, as it was when I visited, was my idea of heaven – but not even its ancient beauty was spared from the bullets and bombs during the former Yugoslavia’s long struggle toward peace. I make no pretence at understanding the nuances of the war, or the reasons behind it, and this story is born from my fragmented ideas about the religious, cultural and political differences that have caused so much strife in this beautiful part of the world.
But I agonised over writing it, because the last thing I wanted to do was cause any offence. So, if I did, I apologise.
If you haven’t been to Dubrovnik, go. See the walls, wander the ancient streets, visit the Elaphite Islands, explore the sun-drenched countryside, get to know the people. The countries of the former Yugoslavia are among the most beautiful in the world, and if I’m ever in a position to go back, I’ll be on the first plane out.
Have great weekends, everyone. See you all back here tomorrow for another book review – until then, dovidenja!