Szczepan Twardoch

Photo by Magda & Michał Kryjak

Szczepan Twardoch

Eternal Grunwald

Read by Piotr Czarnota, recorded by Radiofonia Association.
English translation: Anna Chociej
The Eternal Grunwald in Cracow was where the greatest hearts of Mother Poland beat, and where the hearts of the greatest aanthropes and ancient Poles were, all busy pumping that blood of Hers, pumping together with the other hearts, all joined in one bloodstream. There was the heart of aanthropic Słowacki, pumping Blood, and the heart of aanthropic Mickiewicz, and general Anders’ aanthropic heart pumped too, and so did the hearts of Norwid, and Piłsudski, and Dmowski, and Witos, and Julian Tuwim, and even though the last heart was somewhat Jewish, nobody cared, so it too pumped Blood, pumped next to Szymanowski’s heart, and Miłosz’s heart, and the heart of Our Own Holy Father from Poland, though they were not exactly there, as those were all aanthropic analogues, but they pumped Blood with thousands of other hearts in the National Pantheon Vault, with the Vistula running right through, with the vaults of Wawel, Skałka and Tyniec all fitting in neatly, with the Castle spread above, all in grey blocks of sandstone, a Castle with warm walls.
Then I drove, from the airport to Wawel, then I came in, I remember, to Frank’s quarters, and then I extended my hand in Deutscher Gruß, so Frank nodded his wrinkled, vulture-like head, and I reached to my pocket and took out the Glock, and I started to shoot at Frank, emptying the clip, so the ruler of the Polish march deflated inertly in his wheelchair, and the saline solution leaked from the hole-ridden IV. I replaced the clip and shot the secretary so she would stop screaming – she screamed in Polish – but then I saw the adjutant who burst in to the chamber because he had heard the noise made by the chair I knocked over, so I shot him too. Then, remembering the old tradition, I said out loud:
“In the name of the Republic,” but then I dropped the gun and the gun fell on the floor, and I walked away, and no one tried to stop me, and I walked by the place where in two thousand and twelve we woke up the Wawel Zmey.
The Zmey who happended to be a Black God and slept, balled-up and copper-scaled, under the Wawel rock, and that was two thousand and twelve. We unearthed him by accident while digging under our gym, the one opposite the Wawel hill, we were redecorating and Skinny heard a loud noise coming from underneath the floor, so we smashed the floor, expecting to find buried Nazi treasure, we somehow figured that, as a rule, if it’s a treasure and it’s buried, then it’s a Nazi treasure, and then we climbed inside a hole, a hole that was just a tiny nook under the floor, but there we saw some old brickwork and we felt like we needed to dig some more.

So Skinny bitch slapped me on the neck and told me to start digging, so I did. I was a simple hooligan and I had one purpose in life: to be one of them, to be a true Cracovia firm man, to get the T-shirt and be just like them. And they knew it, they felt how determined I was and they could tell that I was actually too determined, plus they knew what I didn’t: that I cared too much, that I was too humble, that I would always be welcome to hang out with them, but I would never become a part of the team (…).

So I dug and dug, and they dug with me, and finally we dug up this giant copper mass, just to start screaming in terror like kids watching a horror movie, so the Zmey spoke:

“Stranno rieszczeta. Nie imam nynie ischoda ot togo mesta. Wiedita mene bole otrokowic a  sotworu wy niepoborima. Idita.”

At first, of course, we couldn’t understand him, but finally we did, so we started bringing him offerings of virgins, and he ate those, but we only fed him filthy Gypsies because he didn’t care and we felt wrong giving him our home girls; either way, he devoured them and made us invincible.

So, no longer afraid of the Wisła bastards or coppers, we killed all Wisła fans, and they featured us in every single news programme, so the military police started patrolling the streets, so we killed all the coppers and all the MPs, so CNN , NBC and BBC all covered us, and we offered the wives and daughters of the coppers and the MPs to Zmey, and then we had a great war, and I still was not one of the top dogs, so I killed my brothers because Zmey told me so, and then when the world was all in flames I went to the Wawel vault and I opened the grave of my father, king Kazimir, and I took his crown, put it on my head, spat on his carcass, and then Zmey ate me too (…).
English translation: Anna Chociej

Szczepan Twardoch

(born in 1979) writer, columnist, laureate of the Polityka’s Passport.

He studied philosophy and sociology at the Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in Humanities at the University of Silesia. He started writing literary fiction, because – as he maintains – his knowledge about the French Revolution was broader than the frames of a master thesis. He has received many awards for his short stories and novels including Obłęd rotmistrza von Egern or Rondo. The novel Przemienienie (Transformation) was translated into French in 2010.

His biggest literary success has by now been Morfina (Morphine), published in 2012. He won the Polityka’s Passport for it. The novel tells the lot of a morphine-addict who, in September 1939, has to solve a puzzle of his Polish-Silesian-German identity.

Szczepan Twardoch considers himself a Silesian. He lives in Pilchowice in the Gliwice district. He maintains that he likes inventing stories but hates writing them. He is the co-author of a handbook Sztuka życia dla mężczyzn (A Savoir-Vivre for Men), in which he advises e.g. how to match socks with shoes. (mj)

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