Harry walked in to the bar in and asked for a drink. The day was hot and he was glad to be in here rather than out there. It was a small, empty town on the border of the Czech republic that Harry had found himself in. God knows how he had ended up there or what he was going to do. He had been trying to cross the border in to Poland the next day but the bus he had been travelling had broken down.
Well, so what if I don’tr make it? he thought. He had been travelling on strict deadlines for the last two weeks – keeping track of train and bus times to various towns in Eastern Europe. He wanted to see the real life out here, not the cities of Prague or Kracow, although he had enjoyed those very much.
There was tall young woman working on the bar and Harry recognised her dark features as Slavic immediately.
Vot would you like?
Harry looked around the bar. There were various beers of Eastern European origin that Harry had never heard of, with hard to pronounce names such as Okocim and Zubr.
‘One of these please,’ asked Harry, pointing at a gleaming beer tap. The woman took a glass off the shelf and fixed her eyes on the pump, tilting her head so that the beer poured right up to the brim.
Harry took the glass up to his lips and took a big sip.
he smiled at her but she was too shy to return it.
Er, twenty-five crowns.
Here, said Harry, pulling out a note which was in one of several currencies he carried with him.
She put the note into an old register and took out some gleaming coins which she emptied into his palm.
Harry decided she probably wouldn’t have much to talk about so he went and sat down in the corner. He took out a pack of cigarettes that he’d bought in Prague and lit one with his metal lighter. He was thirsty and he’d almost drunk his beer. He put his cigarette out in a long wooden ashtray, crushing the cigarette and laying it down like a body in a coffin.
Harry thought about all the places he’d visited on his travels. He had shot machine guns in an army field in Slovakia, drunk vintage wines on the hills of Buda in Hungary and kayaked outside Prague.
All the time he’d had people around him. Harry met other travelers and they’d share their stories and experiences. He enjoyed listening to them talk even if he didn’t find what they had to say particularly interesting.
The woman came out from the counter and picked up his empty glass.
She pointed to it and Harry nodded. Another one, why not? Harry was finally completely alone.