The wife and family took off for a beach wherever. Finally.
He was determined to do it today when they vacationed away. The complete cleaning of his home, which accumulated leftovers from four generations. Iztok itched to finish the task.
“It’s time”, he thought, “to get rid of the superstitions too”. The garbage collection will be tomorrow, and Iztok has been stacking old men’s and women’s clothes, suitcases, broken watches, torn toys, and what they had left over in this stuffy and big house. The heaps in front of the home multiplied.
Iztok opened a tin metal box that belonged to his grandmother Sava. Rosary beads, scapulars, small pilgrimage booklets, and mementos of pilgrimages: Brezje, Holy Mountain at Gorica and Ptujska Gora, Holy Višarje, Kurešček, to Holy Mother at Zaplaz and in Crngrob. And souvenirs from the places of St. Mary, Mother of Jesus apparitions: Lourdes, Medjugorje, Fatima. A veritable display of superstitions. Iztok wanted to get rid of it all
What is there? Iztok looked closer to see if he had found a silver coin, but he wasn’t so lucky. It was only his blessed medal of St. Benedict. Granny Sava gave it to him as an especially personal present.
The entire neighborhood was a little afraid of Baka Sava. A seer, a prophetess, and a spell caster, too. How it went together with her piety? He did not understand, but it worked for her.
“This consecrated medal will protect you from deathly dangers and evil”, she said to him as she hung the holy medal around his neck. He, as the entire house, obeyed the seeress. It was less risky than not to. They rumored that the people who opposed her, have ended badly. Bad rumours, always there...
How faithfully he wore it, all his youth, to ward off evils! Now he was ashamed of that. His childhood passed as clockwork, with no major injuries or significant problems, but not because of that consecrated medal, a remnant of medieval ghosts.
After Baka Sava’s death, the medal of St. Benedict was thrown at once into this box, until today. Iztok never wanted to see this holy junk again, thank you veeery much. He swept this spiritual trash back into the box and, with a bit of hesitation, included the medal of St. Benedict, too.
Iztok got up, soaked; it was close to forty degrees Celsius on the outside; he was in his bathing suit, a short swimwear trousers. Another enormous pile has now grown before Iztok’s house, to be taken away. Only Mitar’s shelter was not yet investigated. It must be empty now.
Grandfather Mitar, otherwise an amiable man, was “atomically” crazy—an unshaken believer, convinced of the inevitable third world war, accompanied by all the atomic paranoias. So, Mitar secretly built an amateur shelter under his garage; but being a farmer, not a constructor, Mitar effed it all up.
The shelter had no ventilation; the electricity was terrible, the space too limited, and on and on. It was a total mess. And Mitar even added wall material that muffled all and any sound on top of that.
After his grandfather’s death, Mitar’s shelter had been looted, first of the canned food and then of all of it; it was free to be plundered by anyone from the family and friends and Iztok encouraged it. Except for collecting dust, Mitar’s bunker served no purpose now.
Iztok raised the entrance. It clicked on its own. Mitar put a handle on it. Iztok placed two heavy cement bricks on its edges, to prevent the entrance from closing, and climbed the dangerous steps down. Well, at least it was cold here. He was using his phone light for guidance.
As he expected, the bunker was ransacked spotless, even the crates all taken away. And it was swept and washed, possibly by the grandmother Sava; not a speck was left. After Mitar’s death, Baka had to work all the time, to forget her sorrow. Well, if there is nothing there, then it’s nothing there.
At that moment, Iztok heard a car above him. Not his wife? She was supposed to come after a week? The car slammed on the cement bricks which thundered into the bunker - the entrance crashed down, shut, and locked automatically. In the darkness, he could barely see his tiny phone light.
Iztok searched his memory. The electric opener does not work, he knew that. Mitar had also an emergency, a physical one. A cylinder with a vertical crake was near the entrance. If you turn it around, the vault will unlock and rise up a bit.
With a trembling hand, he shone the phone light until he saw the narrow horizontal hollow beside the opening. What should he put in to turn it? It looked bottomless, and he hadn’t a coin on him to use for that. And there was a sliver usable for such a purpose here.
Iztok shouted, jumped, beat the opening, tried to press his nails and fingers in the hole; and bashed at it, till he had to stop, out of strength. Nothing on him to help. It was so cold. Soon he will use all oxygen here. And he was hungry. He could solve nothing, not a not a thumbnail of it!
Iztok inspected the small hole. Only a single big coin, or small thin sheet same as that, and it would do; a gadget nearly five centimeters in width, would work—to insert deep it in the hole, twist, and the top will open, sufficient to scream for help.
A single, large coin. One coin. But what was there on the wall?
Above the emergency lock was a tinted sign, an information.
Picture of the medal of St. Benedict.