Another Day, Another Innocence

A basic human feeling, the killer instinct
is intensely working in me today.

At five in the morning my alarm clock unleashes. I am leaving for a chess tournament in Craig, Colorado. A dark silence is resting on the neighborhood when I crawl into my car. I have to be there by nine and a trip of hundred fifty miles is waiting for me. I am already on the highway, my eyes are open, my foot is pressed against the gas pedal, but my stomach and my head are still sleeping. After drinking a quart of coffee, I start to feel awake. I need it. My thoughts are my only traveling companions. I turn on the radio. We are enduring the ‘trial of the decade’. O. J. Simpson is coming from everywhere, even from the faucet.

“What is right and what is wrong? Written by Mayakovski.” I presented the poem with enthusiasm on the celebration of Rákosi, the Hungarian Stalin, when I was five. I thought then that right and wrong were distinct, well-defined entities. Later on my father disappeared. My relatives secretly let me know that he was in jail. “He did not commit any crime. It was a preconceived trial of fabricated accusations,” they told me.

The darkness is shredding. The radio is talking about the peace efforts in Bosnia. One can listen to the champions of justice. People kept killing each other under the leadership of these ‘brave’ men during the last years. The arguments of both sides are the same. Here we are, devoted defenders of the homeland, freedom fighters as opposed to them, the conquerors, snipers, genocidal gangsters, terrorists. Aren’t there universal norms, regardless of birthplace, skin color, religion, state of wealth? Do not all Bibles, Torahs, Korans, Constitutions say: don’t kill?

“Simulant pretender, have him transfer back to his Division!” the Army Surgeon General declared in the Military Hospital of the Hungarian People’s Republic. He had been a knowledgeable doctor and loyal to the system. I had been good at pretense and a faithful antimilitarist. Both of us believed in something. Thirty years ago I was convinced that the world needs flowers instead of weapons and love instead of war. Following my conscience, I proudly lied and cheated. Since then I have not been any kind of -ist, -ate, -ican or -ian. Not even a nihilist. “You are a deserting traitor!” a comrade soldier shouted at me when he discovered how I imitated hemophilia. “The enemy’s defection is heroism, mine is a shame, isn’t it,” I replied.

I am exiting from the highway. At the roadside a rapid river is running against me. In the Rocky Mountains snow is common in September. As I am traveling over 6000 feet, the canyon opens up and the white spots integrate into a wide virgin snowfield. Aspens surround the road.

I lost my virginity under aspen trees. I was fourteen and we boys sneaked to the fence of a lake side camp of the Communist Youth’s League to gaze at the girls dancing. “Do you like me?” one called me excitingly. “Y-y-y-yes, I do,” I muttered. She looked at my tightening pants. “So I like you.” In the forest we dropped our under-waist clothes in a hurry and united in a teeth-into-necks, nails-into-buns hug. I could not withhold my juvenile rush and I finished in seconds. “That’s all?” I thought. “That’s all?” she asked.

As the road climbs north bound, the rising sun illuminates the peaks on the left. Nature awards me with a similar gift almost every day in the Grand Valley, where I live, but watching it is never enough. While driving to work I stare at the rocks of the National Monument and the show begins. First the edge becomes red, then the middle of the wall turns to yellow like a traffic light. In the end the brightness emerges in the green of the foothill. It is free to go. I am free today as well.

“This is Paradise!” I thought four years ago when I moved here. After so many struggles I found my peace of mind. At that time criminal reports of the city covered mostly traffic violations. I did not lock my house and in the heat of the summer I left the car windows rolled down as many other residents did. Then the outside world discovered us. The clean air of high altitudes, the inexpensive homes, the ski resorts, the cheap marijuana grown secretly in the vicinity attracted many people, including criminals. Not too long ago somebody stole the stereo from my car parking in the garage. I checked around and realized that some money, my tennis racket and computer parts were also missing. The intruder must be from the neighborhood and must have known my habits, my anti-gun feelings. He probably saw me on the street while I was installing new CD equipment in my car. It was not the first time the guy visited my garage. “Next time I am going to kill him!” With my first anger I wanted to buy a revolver. This is the Wild West. Men without weapons like me represent a minority. By the Colorado “Make my day” laws, killing a thief on your property is legally excusable. If the warning shot hits the forehead, misfortune happened. The owner testifies that he was aware that the burglar also had a weapon and the case is dismissed. I gave up to possess a gun, though. I would not draw it anyway. Since then I lock my home and my car. I no longer can have an honest and sincere conversation with my neighbors. Everybody is a suspect. “How much do you think your loss amounts to?” the deputy sheriff asked me. “Less than a thousand dollars, but this is not the issue. The intruder stole my innocence!”

I am arriving ten minutes before nine. The first round of the chess tournament begins. The board on the wall shows my present position: wins zero, losses zero, draws zero. That’s about my gunfights. As so often in my life, I am looking in the eyes of my opponent with innocence while shaking hands. However, the coming games are going to be different. My thoughts on the road psyched me up. A basic human feeling, the killer instinct is intensely working in me today.

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