Cultural Institution Blesok • Established 1998
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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 05 | volume I | October-November, 1998



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 05October-November, 1998

The Tattoo

p. 1
Békés Tail

Old Mrs. Vadnai was dying. “She has two or three weeks to live,” said the doctor, “it's arteriosclerosis in its last phase.”
    The hunchbacked lawyer, who gads drawn up the support contract, entered the room. He wore a dark suit and carried a briefcase under his arm. He whispered something to the translator about administrative matters after death and asked for his fee.
    Old Mrs. Vadnai rarely spoke. When she did, it was generally incoherent. Dates were mixed up in her sclerotic mind. Wars, terrors and counter-terrors, detention and death camps all mingled in an unorganized fashion. One time, she told a relatively coherent story about a handsome young man, who had stood making a speech from the balcony of a building in the heart of the city. Many people had gathered to listen to him, a lot of soldiers, civilians and she, Mrs. Vadnai, and her best friend. What a pretty young miss she had been in those days. Then someone fired a gun, which gave Mrs. Vadnai and her friend a terrible fright: they run down Rákóczi Street, turned into a side street at Keleti Station, and stumbled over each over in Garay Street and – hop! – had suddenly come upon an umbrella. Then she rambled on about the umbrella. It had been as good as new, black, and very elegant.
    The translator listened attentively and concluded that the handsome man must have been Count Mihály Károlyi announcing the dethronement of the Habsburgs, proclaiming Hungary a republic from the balcony of Hotel Astoria.
    In her final week, the old woman couldn't be left alone. The translator, because of the support contract stipulating his care of the old woman in return of her apartment, moved in so that he could pander to the whims of her failing mind. He cursed himself for having given in to the old woman's aversion to hospitals and for having arranged to stay at her home. He had been unable to hire a nurse so he himself was obligated to undertake even the most odious tasks. He had to fight back an urge to throw-up every time he changed and washed the old woman's bedding. Feelings of pity and anger mingled within him at the sight of the helpless body.

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