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Friday, December 25, 2009

the last tin box

When I was ten I stuck a tin box in the ground under the shrubs outside Stacić’s in Zagreb. I planted it down deep in the roots. I put my valuables in this box. A box of matches, a wad of prints, a shake-me-snowglobe. And in this tin box was another box – another tin box – and inside that one, another one, and so on, you see, like a Russian doll. But with each box things grew more valuable. From book of matches, to compass, to amber stone. Extrapolate on and… catch my drift? Box upon box until the last tin box.

So I stuck it under the shrubs for none to find. But the problem is, the whole neighborhood was crawling with thieving little runts, looking out for anything they could get their filthy fingers on. So I stuck it in the ground, deep down in the shrub roots and I packed it hard with earth and gravel because there was something in that last box. That last box, you understand, was the point of all this. Without the last box none of this would’ve been necessary.

Well, what was in it?

I spilt blood for that fucking box. I dug my nails into those marauders. I pulled out hairs and kicked groins for that last tin box. As a ten year old, Mica, I went to war.

My God, Lui.

You see here, Meek, my chin, you see this scar?

Yes.

These pillaging runts, ten, eleven, twelve year old, they went around with spiked sticks, probing the ground, spiking the shrubbery for my tin box. Every day, a band of these rovers. So I went after them. I threw myself at them. I fought them tooth and nail until one day, one of their spiked sticks was planted in my chin. Right here, you see... I bled profusely, but this goes without saying.

Lui!

A Montenegrin, a ten year old named Mulović. A beady-eyed worm of a human being. I wanted nothing more than to roast him on the spit he used to probe the grounds around my shrubs. He was obsessed. I was obsessed. All I could think of was that last box. I didn’t care about the crap in all the other boxes. It was the last box, Mica, to preserve the last tin box.

Well, why didn’t you just move it inside, Lui.

I couldn’t. Someone would see me. They were all over the place. They were my neighbors and their neighbors and so on. A ratbag of runts. A hundred eyes and spiked sticks, Mica. There was nothing I could do. And the thing is, after a while, I forgot exactly where I buried it.

Damn it, Lui, what was in the box?

That’s the thing, I don’t know anymore. I don’t remember.

How can you not remember - you’re lying - how can you not remember the content of the last tin box!

Really, I don’t know.

WHAT WAS IN THE BOX LUI? TELL ME!!

Mica, calm down.

TELL ME!!

Ooouuww! Meek, jeeeeeeez. Let go of my arm. Your nails! What’s the matter with you? Why are you so angry?

Why did you bring this up then if you don't remember?

Because, with all these shiny boxes under the tree, Mica, I remembered something today. Not what was in it, but where I put it. I know where to find it now. I know where it is!