he persuasive folly of night steps pervading the whole of my mind... I was being followed! I really can’t remember when I first realized that this was the case.
He is always following behind me – this Eternal Pursuer. And that’s exactly what he is: it was only after he’d been following me for some number of years that I realized that he didn’t ever intend to catch up with me. His sole, single mission was to follow me, and keep following me.
I also noticed – or rather sensed – that he always kept a distance of exactly ten steps behind me. Every time I moved he would move too such that he always maintained that distance.
He was almost dwarfish in appearance, with a rough, lined but inexpressive face. At least this is what I can recall from that brief instance when, in an unguarded moment, I caught a glimpse of him in the reflection of a shopping window.
And at this time I also realized that maybe, having glimpsed my pursuer for a fraction of a second, I might be able to get rid of him forever. But success depended on the ability to make a thought into something material. And success for me – which really meant my getting away from my pursuer – meant making him into something material.
My steps – and therefore also his – headed in the direction of a nearby railroad embankment. I made my way across the steel tracks and wooden ties and then walked a distance of ten steps into the soft, spring grass growing next to the tracks and sat down. My pursuer also sat himself down, according to my reckoning exactly in the middle of one of the tracks.
Now nothing remained but to wait. To wait on the arrival of the train of my hopes...
Wailing brakes – wheezy exhaling of steam... “Hey you, have you gone mad!?” An excited voice cried out from the darkness: “Sitting there in the middle of the track...”
But I remained sitting and didn’t move an inch. For I had, after all, gone mad.
The train of hope -- a phrase so often used,
that I use it too,
in spite of the fact that I don’t put much hope in its ‘envoy.’
(translated by G.S. Evans)
Filip Prihoda (1974) is a writer and poet who lives in Prague. "Persecution"
(Perzekuce) first appeared in the Czech literary bi-weekly Tvar (2000, #15).
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story copyright by author 2002 all rights reserved
translation copyright 2002 by Greg Evans