prose

Marko Gregur: Booze Mirinda

Marko Gregur (1982) hails from Koprivnica. He has authored a book of poetry, Lirska grafomanija (2011), two collections of short stories Peglica u prosincu (2012), and Divan dan za Drinkopoly (2014) (A Fine Day for Drinkopoloy) and a novel, Kak je zgorel presvetli Trombetassicz (2017). His short stories and poetry have appeared in many Croatian and international literary magazines as well as the anthology of prose by young Croatian writers, Bez vrata, bez kucanja (2012) (No Doors, No Knocking). Gregur has received multiple awards for his writing, including the Ulaznica award as well as the Prozak award for the best prose by anyone in Croatia under the age of 35.



 

 

 

BOOZE MIRINDA, BY MARKO GREGUR

 

 

 

Mirinda went to the bathroom and like every morning tried to make himself throw up. This time it wasn’t going well, and that spoilt his mood a little. He walked out of the bathroom, went over to the fridge, and looking in at its empty interior made him feel even worse.

‘It seems you’ve done your share of throwing up’, he said  to himself, and slammed the door closed. He got dressed, and set off for Frankopanska street. His cevabdzinica[1] was there waiting for him.

‘Hi babe!’, he greeted the waitress.

‘Hi, Booze Mirinda. Shall I bring you something?’

‘Of course. Today I am arriving on an empty stomach.’

‘That’s good. What will you have then?’ asked the waitress.

‘The usual’, Mirinda replied.

As soon as she brought him the loza and a large beer, Mirinda instantly downed the loza[2], and half the bottle of beer.

That’s better’, said Booze Mirinda, who earned his nickname precisely because he had booze even for breakfast.

He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and yelled over to Sonja who was washing glasses.

‘Babe, have I ever told you the story of how Ayerton Senna died in my arms? ‘

‘Yes, you have, Booze Mirinda, probably a thousand times already’, said the waitress, who felt she couldn’t handle one of his stories this early in the morning.

Mirinda started talking anyway.

‘I was at the race track when my best friend Senna hit the fence. I had a bad feeling that day. The night before he was kind of tense. I told him. Come on, Senna, let’s drink this one up and then move on, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He said he was tired and that he was going to sleep.

At the moment of the crash, when he went off the track, I knew that he was badly injured. I ran down through the stands and over to his car. I was running so hard that the guys from the athletic federation said  I was a new a world champion in the hundred meters, but I didn’t care about that and I refused to accept the medal. When I came to his car, I took his head in my arms and asked him, ‘Senna, are you okay?’

‘I’m not, Mirinda’, he said.

I realised we had to work quickly. I went over to the track, and stopped a car that was passing at that moment, I think it was Coulthard. He was out of his mind, but he recognised me straight away so gave me the car. I then drove back and said, ‘Senna, now I’m driving you to the hospital!’

He looked at me, his eyes weary, and said, and I’ll never forget this, ‘Mirinda, anyone but you!’ He said that, and lost his consciousness. Those were his last words. The guys came, the medics, and put him in a van. I drove behind them to the hospital in a racing car. Do you want to know how they were driving? It was so slow, I thought they wanted him to die. Not to mention that the slow driving got my tyres cold, and I almost skidded off the road. Oh, It would all have been different, if Senna had not been scared of me driving too fast!

You know babe, that was one of the saddest days of my life and I still feel terrible when I remember it, even though it’s been five years now’, finished Mirinda, leaving out that he still owed Coulthard a hundred deutch marks for the gas and the tyres.

The waitress put the glass away and looked at him. She knew the story was over.

‘Finished?’

‘Yes’, said Mirinda, finishing his beer and then ordering another.

He then opened the briefcase he was always carrying around, and took out a pen and a piece of paper.

‘Let’s do some work now’, he said.

‘I’ve already told you to do your business elsewhere. This is not your office’.

‘Will you calm down? I’m just going to write something. Is that illegal?’

He scribbled for some fifteen minutes before he asked Sonja the waitress if she knew the address of the Official Gazette where the ads are sent. She told him the address, she knew it by heart because Mirinda would ask her for it every so often, then she repeated would he please do his work elsewhere.

‘I mean it’, she said.

‘Why are you so nervous? As if three billion trillion million wasps were biting you’, said Booze Mirinda and then he left for the post office.

*

Vjeko hadn’t been sleeping for nights. It became clear to him he’d got a bit too carried away, that he had skipped at least two leagues, that these were the big boys and that there was no fooling around with them. He knew they were serious. He believed them when they said the other day that the river would swallow him if he couldn’t raise the money in ten days. Of course he didn’t trust them, that’s why he hadn’t been leaving the flat, and that was precisely the reason why he kept looking out the window. Sure, there was no chance for him to come up with that kind of money. Even if he did lift a few wallets, that wouldn’t get him far. All those idiots with credit cards that were all sold out, he was sick of them. If there was even the slightest chance of getting some money, Vjeko would have left the flat, but instead he was just sitting and waiting, ready to face the worst.

All the prozac was making him lethargic. A rush of fear and then a rush of lethargy. Fear, booze, panic, prozac, booze, prozac, some more prozac, excitement, lethargy. In that order, more or less. Lethe, the river of oblivion. Still, with every new day it would take him more effort to swim down Lethe, he was evermore cowered in fear. ‘You wanted to play mobsters, you idiot, and only yesterday you were an altar boy. Why, you still go for lunch at your mum’s every Sunday’, he was telling himself while helplessness was coming over his body and his mind. He decided to split from Osijek.

Mirinda was sitting at his table, drinking loza and taking his papers out of the briefcase.

‘You are waiting on your customer?’ Sonja asked, because she was feeling bored and Mirinda was her only guest.

‘Maybe.’

‘Who gets you these papers, anyway?’

‘What do you mean? English queen gave them to me’, he said and Sonja laughed.

‘What are you laughing about? Elisabeth II gave them to me. Her signature is here, look’, he pushed the paper towards her, but she decided to stay in the monotony of the empty bar.

‘Sure. You met her at the farmer’s market?’

‘Oh, all right, feel free to take the piss out of me. But Mirinda knows what he is doing. Old Betty and me, we’re old pals. Once, I even grabbed hold of her a bit, the fire was about to break out, but then this carriage came to pick her up and she said she had to go.’

 

Read the rest of the story here

 

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