The T.S.C. Chronicles – Part 12 (The Serbian)

The Serbian01-Restaurant

By: Eric Amber

On a warm evening in August of 2001, I was out drinking. I had discovered a seedy run down Greek restaurant bar on Parc avenue called Skala. It was a fake wood panelled joint 02-plantwith dusty fake plants, oil paintings of ships at sea, low stained ceilings and 25 cent table juke boxes that had a habit of stealing your money.

It was operated by two brothers named George and Christos who were in their 70’s. I remember thinking I didn’t want to be working at their age.

Skala was a special place. Not only could you buy a cheese burger for two bucks and a tall boy (750ml beers) for three but you could buy any drug you wanted from one of the many dealers who used the place as their office.

I remember one fellow named Eddie. He was a 50 something Jamaican with short corn rolls, buggy, yellow, crack addict eyes and always wore a suit. He sat there all day long selling ten dollar grams of weed wrapped in newspaper.04-food

Going to Skala was like going to the zoo. It was a secret oasis of insanity. A place to go, sit, drink, smoke and watch the inmates fight and fall down. George and Christos didn’t seem to mind that their customers were smoking grass on the premises, so long as they kept ordering food and drink.

That night in August I recall meeting a man with an accent. He was a big man. Maybe six and a half foot tall and 280 pounds but all muscle. His ancestors had been Vikings, I’m 05-musclessure of it. He was in his forties, had short greying hair and giant meat cleaver hands that made his tall boy look like a thimble in his paws.

I don’t remember his name but he was friendly, laughed a great big laugh and smiled after every deep pull of his beer. I asked him where he was from but instead of telling me, he just repeated the question back to me.

“Where am I from?” He said in his thick undistinguishable eastern European accent.

“Yeah” I replied “Where are you from?”06-beer

He paused, took a drink of beer, then said “You guess, where I from.”

“I don’t know, mister, that’s why I asked.” I replied.

“Go on, guess.” He said again.

“I don’t know… Russia?” I said, guessing.

The man screwed up his face and spat his beer on the floor.

‘I’m not fucking Russian!” He said frowning.07-russia

“Oh, sorry. Well, where are you from then?” I asked again.

“Guess. You guess where I from.” He said again, laughing.

That’s when I made my error.  I’m not sure why I said it. It was a case of saying something before you think it. It just sort of came out of my mouth.

“Are you Serbian?” I heard myself say.

08-serbiaThe mans eyes suddenly went dark and his jovial demeanour left the room. He lowered his beer slowly to his side and leaned towards me.

“You think I’m fucking SERBIAN?” He said, looking down at me like a maggot.

He raised his hand up slowly and tapped himself on the chest with one of his giant sausage fingers.

09-croatia“I’m Croatian” He said.

I said nothing. I stood there blankly, suddenly feeling very warm as the realization of what I had suggested settled in.

“I was in army.” He continued, in a low growl.

Then, turning his giant sausage finger towards me, he tapped me on the chest.

“Don’t you fight for NO ONE.” He said.

I wanted to say something to diffuse the tension I had created but before I could speak, he proceeded to tell me something I will never forget.

“Canada, is best country in world.” He began.

10-canada“America is OK, but if you get sick, you have to sell house.”

“In Canada, if you get sick, they make you better.”

“If you have no money, they GIVE you money!”

“Best country in world.”

“Don’t you fight for NO ONE!”

He paused briefly to have another drink from his beer.

11-artillery“I was in Artillery,” he continued.

“When you look at map, what do you see? You see park, you see road.”

“When I look at map, I see Hospital. I see bridge. I see train station.”

“When Captain said charge, everybody charged!”

“Me. I tied shoe.”

“You know what happened?

I shook my head. Saying nothing. I was transfixed and slightly terrified.

“Every body died!” He said, almost yelling.12-dead

“Me, I got medals.” He illustrated with a wave of his arm across his chest.

“Don’t you fight for NO ONE!”

13-stupidThen he finished his beer in one gulp and left me there, feeling stupid.

I never saw that guy again but I have often thought of him. He had lived through a bloody civil war. The break up of the former Yugoslavia. A war of ethnic division, language conflict and ultra nationalism. He had seen first hand the ugly dark truth of cultural hatred and wanted no part of it. His words still echo in my mind.

“Don’t you fight for NO ONE!”

14-oui-nonWhen I think about what this man experienced, I am baffled by the cultural conflict that
continues in Quebec. The French separatist fervour that spews from the mouths of the so-called intellectual elite and lefty douche bag student groups makes me angry.

They’ve never had to fight for their lives. They’ve seen any kind of true hardship. In fact, quite the opposite. Montreal is one of the safest, wealthiest, happiest places on earth and its cultural diversity is in fact it’s greatest gift. A gift we should all celebrate.

15-no-gunsNationalism, on the other hand is a disease. It’s a poison. A tyranny in disguise. An evil spectre of hatred. Don’t be seduced by its lies. Don’t be fooled by its false promises and remember what the man said:

“Don’t you fight for NO ONE!”

~ Read more of Eric’s Work ~

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