Red

Gerald bent his head, and his face in dim lights of cafe looking crimson, breathing out streams of five big beers he had gulped one after the other.We were sitting in one of Graz oldest bars Barcelona during its -blue- evening, and in perspective I could observe three male couples flirting. Jerry was 52 years old teacher of English, who moved from UK to Austria many years ago and circulated in Tramino and other hot spots of Graz night life.

Gerry was the person easy to talk with, and even being deeply intoxicated he never criticized anybody. Trying to catch next thought, he was swinging from side to side and his long ash gray hair were waving like washed out ban of underground life and addiction.
-Look, Gali, I have not told you anything, but please, be careful with them.
He hiccupped and added: – By the way, do you know where Graz Aids help desk is?
Then Wolfgang appeared, and afterwards Herbert W.

Both of them were of dark-red political views. In spite of that Wolfgang always looked pale. Herbert looked reddish and jovial. Two-three times trying to maintain contacts or find help in Graz
I applied to Herbert’s office, and he was always affable. But never really helpful. All of us started to chat. I addressed Herbert and assumed that he understood feelings of women better than straight men, because he used to play in intimate relationships similar role. He affirmed and laughed, then got up to demonstrate us his figure and his ass covered by fit jeans. There was nothing particular about this ass except of buttocks being a little bit more curvy than usual. When talking to men like that you involuntary drop eyes to his ass as working instrument of his connections. Then Herbert came back to agenda of his communist career and told he started his one being babysitter in family of Communist party chef Ernest Kaltenegger. He took care of his young son. Pronouncing that phrase Herbert smiled sweetly, willing or not willing to give additional meaning to point.

Jazz played loud. Two young men in far corner tried to dance embracing each other, both looked unsteady, may be tipsy or on drugs.
I withdrew myself and flew faraway in space and time in eternal labyrinth of my memory. Young enthusiastic journalist I was walking again along dark streets of post-perestroika St.Petersburg, where were rats, homeless dogs and tribes of homeless children who spent nights in half-ruined buildings of old city.
Long lines of people were standing outside of bakeries and kiosks with vodka. When supply was out people waited one hour and two, beating themselves cross hand on hips and shoulders to make it warmer.
What does it mean to be communist or not to be one? What is the difference, and who cares about this difference at all?
I dare say I have seen REAL SOVIET COMMUNISTS. There was ignorance and narrow-mindedness. There was hatred for capitalism. There was ideological absurdity.
There was suppression of individuality and pursue of dissidence. But there was also almost never broken codec of honor. And one example of baby-sitting like that could ruin all crystal clean communist career. Once I talked to Elke Kahr, one of the prominent activists of communist movement in Graz, and she told:
-Do you know what western democracy is? Everybody can write and say what he thinks, and nobody really cares what.

Galina Toktalieva

Kyrgyzstan-born author residing in Graz, Austria

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