Milosk Blondynki cared for his sheep in the hills above the town of Stari Vlah. He was a good shepherd and liked to sit with his flock and chew long grass in the sun. Sometimes he would see a muzzle flash and hear the report issuing from the bushes near the edge of his pasture, but Milosk knew better than to bother in matters that didn’t concern him, so he merely calmed his sheep with a long soft coo and went on chewing his grass. When the muzzles turned to men, storming up to Milosk during his respite, disturbing the sheep and demanding of Milosk fresh milk and cheese, Milosk only nodded and called to his wife to fetch the men their provisions. Milosk had lived in the hills above Stari Vlah a long time, and while he did not care much for political matters, he knew the men were heroes of the state and deserved what Milosk could provide for them, living, as he did, a life away from the conflicts that shattered the outside world. When the men, after taking what they could carry from Milosk’s larder, badgered his wife and daughter with all manner of crude words and gestures, he too acquiesced, for while this matter concerned him more directly than the reports and flashes and cheese, he still felt there was not much to do about their behavior, and if being a shepherd had taught Milosk anything it was the dual virtues of patience and humility. When Milosk’s son was conscripted by the men to kill his cousins who lived in the village not but ten kilometers west of Milosk’s pasture, Milosk also demurred, but this time because he did not think it wise to interfere in the young man’s affairs and should allow the young man any profession he may choose, knowing that shepherding was a profession for a man of a very specific temperament, much the temperament Milosk possessed. When his son returned from the front wearing a garland of men’s ears and testicles, Milosk winced at the smell, but did not comment. The young boy had seen twice the world as Milosk in half as many years and Milosk had no business to comment on his son’s attire. It was only after one afternoon, some few days his son had been home from the front, much of the time spent badgering his mother and sister, that Milosk thought to comment. That afternoon, Milosk noticed a young lamb had strayed from the flock and, alarmed by the lamb’s disappearance, began to search the nearby fields. Milosk caught sight of the lamb just as it approached a tree near the river where his son was taking a swim. Still a distance away, Milosk watched as the young lamb stood on its unsteady hind legs and began to eat the young man’s garland of men’s ears and testicles that Milosk’s son had hung on a branch for safekeeping during his recreation. When Milosk saw his enraged son climb naked from the water, he called out, but his voice was soft and did not carry far, especially over the young man’s angry screams. When Milosk came closer and saw his only son gouge out the sheep’s brown eyes and thrust his penis into the coughing lamb’s eye sockets, alternating at his whim, Milosk was dismayed. He called out for his son to stop, but his son did not stop for he was not yet finished. Milosk complained to his son that while he had heard of such things happening on the farm, it was such a new lamb and would be too young for a proper meal for the family so quickly slaughtered. At this, Milosk’s son laughed and said he would do the same to his mother, sister, and the rest of the blighted sheep if he so pleased, which he then did, spreading his seed about the pasture and cottage with the ruthless precision of the great green tilling machines Milosk had seen in well-worn foreign catalogs upon his rare visits to the city.
Afterword (The March 11 Overture):
Slobodan is dead! Did you see the pictures? Those Serbs are thick-necked bastards, that’s for certain. Slobodan is dead! There is dancing and drinking in the streets of Tusla (this is nothing new); in Mostar, a bridge is destroyed and rebuilt yet again; icy bricks possessed by demon Ottomans throw themselves up and out of the churning Neretva. Raise the cows, throttle them awake; shoot what’s left of the paint off the walls, tiny pulverized dots chip out like dust from a crater. Slobodan is dead! The bastard is gone! Face down on a steel cot in The Hague he is sleeping. Mouth open, hair mussed, put a mirror in front of his face; check his breath. What can you see? Can you hear his kidneys rustle? Srebrenica, my darling, there is nothing. Slobodan is dead.
Erik Wennermark is a writer living in Chicago. Milosk Blondynki is part of his collection-in-progress entitled Evil Men. Please visit erikwennermark.com for more information.