The Village of Straka,
and School Outing
by Patrik Linhart
People think that the weather is such a chance thing, probably caused by the kind of clouds that are in the sky or something. But what they don't know is that there are green cars travelling all up and down our roads and highways and that, in each village, town, and city, young men jump out of these cars wearing orange clothing that has the weather printed on it. Not only is there a map of the cloud patterns on their t-shirts but also, for the stupidest among us, there is a number printed, and this number is what determines the temperature. In the town of Rumberk a man is wearing a t-shirt with "-15" printed on it and, sure enough, it is minus fifteen degrees centigrade there. Which means that this is something that is easily verified. I just happened on this bit of knowledge because I never sleep.
The Village of Straka
At an intersection in S. somebody built the house of the journalist Bejbina and her husband. One day the husband woke up and looked out the window—and learned that he lived at an intersection in S. He quickly woke Bejbina up. And now comes the most interesting part: Bejbina didn't recognize her husband and told the police, when they'd arrived, that he was their man. Who he really was they never managed to find out. Nor did they ever learn who built the house at the intersection.
The cabinet swayed dangerously—one supposes because the train came to a stop—and one of its doors popped open. It was our school mountaineer. I'd nearly forgotten: this was going to be the first time he would climb the school in place of Mr. Foukal. "Is it going well?" I asked. "Yes," he answered. And in spite of this I somehow wasn't dreaming. What kind of mountaineer was this? Such a geezer. Complete with an overgrown beard. "And you have potato soup?" I asked. Nodding, he tapped on his rucksack. "In the tin can with the two rubber bands?" The mountaineer pulled the tin can wrapped in the two rubber bands out of the rucksack and said: "Foukal taught me to do this." The train started to move and I said, abruptly, "From that cabinet you're not going to be able to climb very far."
(translated by G.S. Evans)
Patrik Linhart is a poet, journalist, and writer of fiction who was born in 1973 in Duchov, a town in the northern part of The Czech Republic. His published books include Čítanka český jazyk (1998) and Měsíční povídky/Opárno (2003). The selections translated here appeared in Antologie nové české literatury 1995-2004 (An Anthology of New Czech Literature 1995-2004, Prague, 2004).
G.S. Evans is a writer and translator, as well as the coeditor of The Cafe Irreal. His fiction has appeared (in translation) in Czech literary journals such as Labyrint and Host, and his translations of the work of the Czech writer Arnošt Lustig have been published in The Kenyon Review and New Orleans Review.
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story copyright by author 2006 all rights reserved
translation copyright 2006 by Greg Evans all rights reserved