Saturday, August 10, 2013

Guy Ogan's Excerpt from Immortal Relations


My name is Gary Logan. I was a human in my sixties when my adventure began, but even then, most people thought I was much younger, not having aged normally. It had been several years since my sweet mother passed away from Alzheimer’s, and a little of the pain had eased from seeing her slow decline while I cared for her. Yet something she had said kept popping into my consciousness at odd moments, mostly when I was alone and in need of sleep. Even when I was young, and she was the vibrant, creative lady she’d been, she would absent-mindedly mumble something like, “He’s over there with her,” or “He has a child in Czechoslovakia.” But if I asked her about it, she would say nothing further. Perhaps her misgivings were due to my father’s many trips to Europe, as part of his job, spending more than a little time there after World War Two. Even as I’d grown, I’d never considered that I might have a half-brother or half-sister somewhere overseas, but now, these memories made me wonder.
          One day, while looking through all the papers in Dad’s file cabinets an old folder caught my eye. In it, I found a black and white photo of my late father near an old building.  On the back in his bold script was “Prague, Czechoslovakia,” and below, in a very feminine hand, was “I’ll always be waiting here.” This gave me the idea that I might be able to find the building and see some of where my father had spent his time while in Europe, since he’d never discussed his work overseas. Even with the difficulties of travel in these days of terrorist threats, I thought it might be worth the hassle to see a part of Europe I’d never visited. I contacted a travel agency and asked about visiting Czechoslovakia. They said it was now “The Czech Republic” and they’d make my arrangements. After getting a passport and enduring all the red tape involved in international travel, I packed my bags and a friend took me to the airport. Once I’d removed my watch, change, and metal objects I went past the magnetic detector, removed my shoes, put up with the pat-down, and various sniffers and scanners, I then proceeded to the gate to wait for the flight to load. I’d flown many times in the military; flying didn’t hold too much excitement anymore, so I fell asleep shortly after we were airborne.
          I awoke when I felt the aircraft start its descent to land in England. Again there were the security checks, as I switched to another aircraft bound for Prague. I was glad when the aircraft took off, knowing it wouldn’t be long before I could start looking for where my father spent some of his working years. After landing, and my passport was checked; I gathered my small bags and went to the window to convert dollars for local currency. I then walked outside; it was still dark and it had just stopped raining, so the air smelled clean and sweet. Finding the cabstand I held up the picture of the building with my father in front of it, up to the first driver in the queue; he shrugged and shook his head. An older, silver-haired gentleman, who still looked very fit, piloted the next cab in line; he smiled when I showed him the picture and nodded, saying, “Old Town Hall - I take you.” Once we’d started off, I asked him if a hotel was near the old town hall and he said, “Very Close.”
          The sky was starting to clear and looked as if the day would be clear and bright. At that time of morning, since it was Sunday, there were very few vehicles on the road. My driver slowed to a stop and pointed out the Old Town Hall through his windshield. Then he said, “Hotel…very soon,” and, in seconds he had stopped his cab at the curb by the hotel’s front entrance. I got out with my bags and held out paper money and coins to pay for the trip, He took what he needed; I thanked him and waved as he drove off.
          At the front desk, I arranged for a room and took the stairs to the third floor. It was still very early, but I wanted to start looking around, so I just dropped my bags by the bed, went back to the first floor, and walked the short distance back to the old town hall. The sidewalks were deserted; the only traffic I saw, as I walked, was a cab and an almost empty bus. Getting out my picture, I looked everywhere for other pedestrians, but it seemed too early, and I saw no one else anywhere in the area. I held the picture up high, walking around, and closely compared both the architecture and the angle from which the photograph had been taken. As I looked at the windows, I noted one that gave me a reflected view of the other side of the road. There, on the opposite side which had been empty only seconds ago, someone was suddenly standing; but I was sure there hadn’t been anyone there a second before. Seeing her, dressed like a high fashion model, in a light blue, lacy, scalloped, and layered, yet shape-hugging, haut-couture, dress, I gasped; My God she was stunningly beautiful! I’d seen pictures of “Hollywood starlets” and "super models" and I knew the Czechs had several of these, such as the lovely Paulina Porizkova and Petra Nemcova, and I thought this had to be one of them. But just as suddenly as she appeared, she vanished! I thought she might have moved, and I’d missed it, so I turned to look and found myself starring into a pair of eyes with nearly black irises. Automatically, my head jerked back; the vision of loveliness I’d seen across the street was mere inches from me. She said, “Excuse me; I didn’t mean to startle you!” Then she smiled the most brilliant smile I’d ever seen, my knees felt like rubber as I started to fall back, but her hand shot out, grabbing my arm to keep me upright. The power in her arm surprised me, and my heart raced, but I couldn’t tell if it was from almost falling or the close proximity of such a beauty. After I felt like I could stand on my own, she introduced herself as Magdalena Dvora'k, saying she had seen me looking at a photograph and asked if I’d been to Prague before.
          When I told her the picture was taken of my father standing near this building many years before, she asked to see it and I handed it to her. Without skipping a beat, she said “Doug Logan.” If my legs had been rubber before, now they were Jelly! Dazed, I staggered back with her hand back on my arm, and I leaned against the wall of the building. Her gaze transfixed me as she looked deeply into my own brown eyes. It seemed as if she were God’s own angel assigned to test and weigh my soul, but for how long, I didn’t know.
          Once I’d regained some composure I said, “How…how could you know my father’s name?"
          She chuckled at my stammering and said he was the love of her late great aunt, who always talked about him and kept his picture next to her bed.

         To say I was speechless and still weak in the knees was an understatement, so she helped me to a bench where we sat for awhile, I trying to recover, while she looked bemused, as she read the puzzlement and confusion in my face, now drained of all its normal color.
          I was weighing the odds of meeting someone whose great aunt had known my father, and it seemed an unbelievable coincidence! “Do you feel all right?” she asked.
          “Not really,” I said adding, “I can’t get over our meeting, but even more improbably that your great aunt knew my father!
          “Oh, not just my great aunt,” she said “My whole family knew him; he was very helpful to them in recovering their lives after the war.”
          Magdalena said her great aunt spoke English, could read and write it, as well, because her father had been a Czech diplomat in England before the war, and her great aunt had gone to school there. Her father had been recalled when he voiced alarm over the pacifist actions of England’s Prime Minister at the time, who thought he could make deals with Adolph Hitler. “Of course,” Magdalena continued, “history proved Hitler lied on paper about ‘peace in our times’ and then, when the Nazi’s rolled into Czechoslovakia, my great aunt’s father was arrested and shot. His wife escaped to her parent’s farm with my great aunt, who was just in her teens. Then, Winston Churchill became England’s Prime Minister and when America came into the war, the Nazis were defeated! Later, my great aunt went to work for the new Czech government as an interpreter, working with some Americans who came to help. Your father was one, and it wasn’t long before he captured her heart and she his!
          “Unfortunately for my great aunt, her lover was married and, as much as he cared for her he was too committed to his wife and young son, as well as to his agency.”
          I noticed her voice broke toward the end of her comment, so I knew she deeply felt the heartbreak of that lost love. She went on to say, “When the new communist government expelled the Americans, my great aunt wrote her promise to always be waiting on the back of this picture of your father.”
          As color returned to my face I said I knew my father was always committed to us; but it was too bad he couldn’t have had both loves. I guess that was an impossible situation, especially back in those days.
          She looked confused. “Don’t you feel angry that he cheated on your mother?
          I told her I felt love was such a beautiful thing and such a blessing to those who suffered during the horrors of war that I wouldn’t deny my father or her great aunt that solace. While that terrible war, that claimed the lives of millions was over, with all the death and destruction, I felt the whole human race had suffered from a form of post traumatic stress disorder, and if their love helped them overcome that, how could it have been wrong?
          “I know my great aunt would appreciate what you’ve said, and I thank you,” she said. She then asked how long it had been since I’d had anything to eat or drink. I told her that I’d had something light, a few hours ago on the plane. She thought it best that we visit a nearby café for something to eat and a little coffee. We talked as we walked slowly, now among the few others who had come out to face the day, as a bright sun rose in a cloudless blue sky.
          We sat outside the café at a small table. She ordered a coffee and a pastry for me, saying she’d had something just before we met. We talked while I ate and I mentioned I’d read of the eighty thousand Prague Jews murdered by the Nazis in World War II. I told her I felt the West had failed to act, until it was almost too late. As we sat discussing history and politics I marveled at both her knowledge and her beauty. She must have been close to my own height of six feet, but she had long jet black hair, pale, almost translucent skin, and her eyes, while dark, seemed a mile deep. What an odd couple we must have seemed, a super-model in a beautiful dress, and me in faded jeans, a T-shirt, and old running shoes. 


Retired Air Force Major and Retired Psychologist (worked for the State of Texas Prison System). In my youth I was a long distance runner and submitted articles which various sports magazines published. After I retired, I submitted pictures and articles published by Crusin' Style Magazines about Car Shows (one of my interests is in classic, custom and muscle cars). My wife of 45 years and I have four Pomeranians which are a joy and keep us young at heart.

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