A room in the flat where Mr. Kostic lives. At the moment he is watching a match between Serbia and Denmark at the World Handball Championships in Croatia. In one corner of the television screen it can be seen that the result is a draw and there are only fifteen seconds left until the end. Mr. Kostic, who, at the beginning of the match had probably been sitting on the sofa facing the television, is now standing a mere metre from the screen, nervously tugging at his two-month old beard. From the appearance of the beard, it can be clearly seen that he has been doing this for quite some time.
It is now ten seconds to the end and the Danish players have the ball.
COMMENTATOR’S VOICE (following what is happening on the screen): Now it’s a matter of just defending, just going for a few quick fouls, not letting the Danes shoot, which they are doing at this very moment, no, no… And the Danes score, three seconds before the end, and win. The time is up. After letting a convincing lead slip through our fingers, we’ve now lost a point…
The face of one of the Danish handball players can now be seen on the screen, celebrating victory by screaming with his mouth wide open. Mr. Kostic waves his fist at him, but then realizes that he can do nothing to him other than switch off the television. He does this, and then tosses the remote control on the sofa. The remote control bounces off the arm of the sofa and lands on the floor next to him.
MR. KOSTIC (kicking the remote control): You mother fucker, fuck all Danes!
Mr. K. comes in. On his head he is wearing a colourful woollen cap with a tassel, and large dark glasses, so that we can see only the lower half of his smoothly shaven face.
MR. K.: Why are you swearing at a whole nation?
MR. KOSTIC: What nation?
MR. K.: The Danish nation.
MR. KOSTIC: That’s a nation? What sort of a nation is it? Tell me, please, what sort of a nation is it? How long did it take Hitler to conquer it? Ten seconds, that’s how long it took! Oh, sorry if I’ve got it wrong – perhaps they lasted a full fifteen seconds. And they’re still making documentary films – I saw one the other day – about their resistance movement. They fired a couple of shots when it was clear to everyone that the Krauts were losing. And they boast that they fought by working more slowly in the German factories. Working more slowly? While here we were falling like rabbits, while millions of Russians were dying, they were making ham more slowly for the Germans?! O fuck them all, fuck every one of them! How many fewer of us would have died if they’d started firing on time? How many fewer Jews would have suffered? But no, they can’t lower themselves to the level of the wild Slavs. No, they do it in a civilized way. They make ham more slowly. I shit on their civilization! They built it on eating live fish. They stuff themselves with fish, put horns on their heads and slaughter everything that appears before them. And then they get rich by making ham and butter. Slaughtering pigs and milking cows. Fuck a nation like that!
MR. K.: I haven’t heard anything quite so despicable for a long time. Nor anything so stupid. You criticize the Danes because they didn’t put up more serious resistance to Hitler, and your words remind me exactly of him.
MR. KOSTIC: I don’t care a damn what they remind you of. (Looks carefully at Mr. K.) Who are you, exactly? And what’s that silly cap doing on your head?
MR. K.: Who I am isn’t important at the moment. It’s far more important that the two of us should sort a few things out.
MR. KOSTIC: Stop waffling! Tell me who you are and how you got through a locked door.
MR. K.: I’ll tell you when you’ve answered a few questions.
MR. KOSTIC: What sort of questions?
MR. K.: I’ve already asked you the first one. It interests me why you are swearing at an entire nation.
MR. KOSTIC: Why? Because they deserve it! Did you watch the match?
MR. K.: No, I didn’t.
MR. KOSTIC: Of course you didn’t. If you had done you’d know why.
MR. K.: Because they won?
MR. KOSTIC: No, not because they won. Because of the way they won! They ruined the entire match! You should have seen how it began! We had completely disappeared from the handball scene, and then we returned like this! A young team, without experience of important matches, and on the other side the reigning European champions. They didn’t know what had hit them! We made mincemeat of them as if they were the women’s team. It reminded me of the time when we were a handball force to be reckoned with! And then they started. They simulated, hit out with no reason, put pressure on the referees – there was nothing that they didn’t do.
MR. K.: All right. If it really was like that, I admit that they didn’t behave in a very sportsmanlike way. But to a point it’s normal for the team that is losing to stop at nothing in a desperate attempt to get back into the game. I just want to say that there’s nothing unusual in this. Other teams do it as well.
MR. KOSTIC: Yes they do. But not like this. I’m telling you, this was plain dirty. They wouldn’t have played like that if they’d been playing against Germany, for example. There was something, something that quite clearly awoke in them, something that represented their whole attitude towards our team. And not just towards our team – towards our entire nation. Players and referees from the west behave with obvious contempt towards opponents from other parts of the world. They watch films in which everyone except citizens of “old Europe” are involved in human trading, they listen to news bulletins in which everyone except westerners oppress and kill other peoples, and then they don’t hide their contempt when the play against us, but if by any chance we refuse to lie down and let these higher beings beat us, then they decide to bring us to our knees in unsportsmanlike ways. I’ve watched such matches many times. Manchester against Zenit, for example. Every time they jumped for the ball, they elbowed Pogrebnyak in the head, simply because they saw they were going to lose. And the Russians didn’t return to the same extent, even though in their films they eat small children for breakfast.
MR. K.: That’s strange. The English are well-known for their fair-play.
MR. KOSTIC: That’s just a fairytale that they spread themselves. What form does their fair-play take? The English Under-21 team scored a goal against our team while our player was lying in the penalty area. They didn’t think of stopping their attack. And why should they? Why should they show consideration towards the Serbs when they’d heard hundreds of times on the BBC about Serbian – and only Serbian – crimes in the former Yugoslavia? As if nobody in those wars had any weapons except the Serbs. There was that video in which the Serbs from a paramilitary unit killed Muslim prisoners of war who had their hands tied. And there’s a very similar video in which Serbs from the Yugoslav National Army are killed – eighteen-year-old youths with their hands raised. Did anyone in England or Denmark see that video? Of course they didn’t, because Slovenia is a member of the European Union and NATO. But every Englishman and Dane saw the other one. And that’s why it’s quite normal for the English to score a goal against us when one of our players lies injured. That’s why it’s normal for the Danes to stop at nothing when they are losing to the Serbs. Fuck them, fuck them all!
MR. K.: Who?
MR. KOSTIC.: Both the English and the Danes! The western motherfuckers!
MR. K.: But why the entire nations? You’ve been continually pointing out that the behaviour of their sportsmen is the result of negative propaganda from their media. This means you should be swearing at the editors of the various media or at the politicians who put pressure on these editors, and not on the handball players who are influenced by the information served up to them by the media.
MR. KOSTIC: But they’re not children! Why don’t any of them think for themselves? It’s easy to see that something isn’t quite right. Their politicians have fallen over themselves talking about the territorial integrity of Georgia ever since Russia accepted the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but when it’s a matter of Kosovo, nobody mentions the territorial integrity of Serbia. The Albanians in Kosovo have the right to secede, but the Serbs in Republika Srpska haven’t. When the Croats expel hundreds of thousands of Serbs so as to regain control over what they consider to be their territory, it’s a legal military operation, and the west even offer them military assistance. When the Serbs do the same in Kosovo, it’s ethnic cleansing and the west bombs Serbia. Can’t any of them realize that something isn’t quite right?
MR. K.: Of course they can. Both Harold Pinter and Doris Lessing, probably two of the best known British authors of the time, condemned the bombing.
MR. KOSTIC: Yes, but they are two exceptional people, they’re not average English citizens. Why don’t any of the western sportsmen think about all this? Why didn’t any of them protest when in the 1990s our sportsmen were banned from competing? Even if they believed that only we were responsible for the wars in Bosnia and Croatia, why didn’t they realize that it had nothing to do with sport? Did they really not realize that our sportsmen had certainly not killed anyone? No, they couldn’t wait to take advantage of the situation when we weren’t around in basketball, water polo, handball… And in football, it was Denmark who went in place of us to the European Championships, even though we beat them in the qualification group. Admittedly, as SFRY, but SRY succeeded that state. Why didn’t the Danes refuse to play instead of us? Why didn’t any of them realize that it wasn’t fair?
MR. K.: But they did. Their best player, at that.
MR. KOSTIC: You mean Laudrup?
MR. K.: Yes, Mihail Laudrup. He refused to play.
MR. KOSTIC: Did he refuse to play to offer support to us?
MR. K.: I don’t know whether he actually wanted to offer us support, but he didn’t want to go to the European Championships in such a way. In a way that had nothing to do with football.
MR. KOSTIC: Are you sure about that?
MR. K.: Yes, I’m quite sure.
MR. KOSTIC: What a great chap! I didn’t know that. Good for him! A real man.
MR. K.: As far as I know, he was a Dane, a member of the nation who just slaughters pigs.
MR. KOSTIC: You know I wasn’t thinking of him.
MR. K.: Yes you were. I gave you two opportunities to distance yourself from him, but you insisted on swearing at all Danes.
MR. KOSTIC: O.K. you’re right – I made a mistake. I went too far. I said all sorts of things against Danes. And I had no right to accuse them of anything. It’s not their fault we’re a fucked-up nation that’s unable to stick up for its own interests. We’re just cattle – all we do is shit and blame everyone else for everything. We’re no better than anyone else. I attack the English because of an unsportsmanlike goal, and two years earlier our under-21 team beat Belarus in precisely the same way. Mind you, it was all the referee’s fault, who was, of course, from the west. We were then a new young democracy, while Belarus represented a backward dictatorial regime, which in translation means that they didn’t act against the interests of a neighbouring kindred nation and that they didn’t let western firms buy up everything in their country. In any case, western referees usually go against us, but then it was more important for them to cause trouble for the Belarusians. We then had a good young team, but the Belarusians were better. That was the first time I saw Hleb; he did whatever he put his mind to with the ball. Even so, the referee decided that we deserved to win more than them. While ours, who had grown up watching the same thing being done to us, didn’t even dream of demonstrating solidarity with the objectively better Belarusians. They celebrated without an ounce of dignity, took advantage of the referee’s inclination towards rougher play, and won. And I attack the English. Why should they care a damn about us, when we were totally incapable of building a serious state? While they had built theirs ages ago and were still continually consolidating it. OK, so they slaughtered with horns on their heads but…
MR. K.: The English? It looks as though you’ve returned to the Danes.
MR. KOSTIC: No I haven’t. Who are the English but descendants of the Danes and other Scandinavians, who overran Britain and conquered it? Admittedly they did a bit of slaughtering as they went, but, fuck it, that was the sort of time it was. Even today, it’s only fools who think that violence isn’t the best way of solving problems. Forget the 21st century and the United Nations – if you haven’t got a few nuclear warheads you’re completely fucked up. No, they conquered Britain, and then, as the English, half the world as well. And why not – why should they leave someone else to do it? They introduced a parliamentary monarchy a hundred years before the French Revolution and avoided a similar load of shit. Then they turned over half the country to grazing land, covered it with sheep, sheared them and developed a textile industry. But the industry wouldn’t have developed if they hadn’t created a web of railway lines. While here, they spent years in parliament discussing whether or not a railway was good for Serbia or not. We were behind in the building of a railway network in relation to the majority of our Balkan neighbours. The English, on the other hand, spread theirs out, like the feelers of an octopus, throughout the world and used them for bringing into England everything they wanted. First of all they gave their workers an eight-hour working day and to pacify them even further, manufactured the best beer in the world. You work like a dog for five days, and then you satisfy your thirst with first-class beer, go to a football match and feel like an emperor. The football match is a story in itself. Many people go on about the rough play and lack of imagination in English football, about how real football takes place in midfield, as in Spain and Italy, but this is all bullshit when you compare it with English supporters. They turn the most unimaginative football match into the height of excitement, they take part in every move, follow it, support it or criticize it, reward it or make fun of it. It must be a real pleasure to play in such a match. If the whole stadium rewards you with applause because you’ve intercepted a not particularly impressive pass in midfield, then you are quite obviously going to chase the ball like mad. This way, their supporters really do become what we continually call the twelfth player, because they help their team and hinder the opposing side. Not only does this raise the quality of football in their country, but it also provides them with a first-class performance and first-class excitement, regardless of the quality of play and final result. Football supporters are a nation in miniature. If they succeed, all together, organized and yet spontaneously, to help both their team and themselves, if they succeed through wins and losses to remain consistent and faithful, then it is clear that a nation, whose population they belong to, will be successful. And look at the support they give when the national team is playing! Because one’s attitude to one’s national team is one’s attitude to the state. When the Danes played against England, even though it was a friendly match, they filled the stadium and cheered their team on as if it had been the final of the World Cup. And of course this had an effect: they won four-nil, and Gravesen played the match of his life. In this country, nobody comes to the stadium if we’d lost the previous match. And if they do turn up, they don’t react until the first chance of a goal. And if our team don’t score a goal in the first fifteen minutes, they begin to whistle. And if they happen to let in more than one goal, the spectators start throwing stones at them. And what can you expect of a country that is made up of such supporters? Of course, Serbia is falling apart and getting smaller and smaller. The English, closely attached to America, make a good job of assisting them in this, but why not? Following American interests they continue to supply their citizens with good football and excellent beer, clothes and plenty of food. Closely attached to America, they enable their citizens to live better than the Americans. American politicians and the owners of large companies may well rule the world, but in America you can die like a stray dog if you haven’t got any money for medical treatment, while in England they even pay your traveling costs if the hospital is a long way away. It’s a country that takes care of its citizens, and they are a people that take care of their country, not like us. We can’t agree about anything – absolutely anything – and unite in our desire to achieve that goal. We can’t even force our politicians to do it instead of us. No, they just waffle on and steal, destroying the country and getting rich, and what do we do? Nothing. No one takes any responsibility for stealing, nobody takes any responsibility for breaking up the country, or for anything else for that matter. I might attack the Danes, but things are very different with them. There it’s enough to avoid paying your taxes and you end up in prison, even if you happen to be the minister of police. And their taxation isn’t like ours. No, there they let you get rich, but then take back a good bit of that wealth to leave something for the others. Whereas we’re like a former socialist state, with just a few people owning half the country. A former socialist country, and soon you won’t be able to get hold of cough syrup if you’re not rich, and won’t be able to get a pension if you don’t put aside half your income. And just look at Danish pensions, just look at the Danish health service. Look at Danish education and then take a look at ours. Here, half the primary school principals get rich from school finances. I attack the Danes, but I don’t have the right to open my mouth. What if they do just slaughter pigs and milk cows? They are hard-working people, concentrated on what they have and what they know, which is what we should be doing. Instead of milking cows, instead of exporting raspberries and plums, we want to make robots like the Japanese. The whole world is frightened that soon there will be no food and clean water, but we, who have more of both than most, sell milk- and water-producing plants to foreigners. And we grumble because they have bought them cheaply. And why shouldn’t they buy them cheaply, when we morons sell them cheaply in the first place. No, I have no right to criticize the Danes about anything. So what if they do beat us – they had every right to beat us. So what if they played a bit roughly – so what if they simulated a bit? We should congratulate them for putting up a fight regardless of the fact that we were well in the lead, for keeping going to the very end. If we’d been losing by seven goals after five minutes, we’d have begun to start shooting at our own goal. Or – and this is a slightly better alternative – we’d have started fighting among ourselves. I spit at the Danes, but they aren’t guilty of anything at all. If you have such an advantage in the fortieth minute, then you hold on to it until the end. If you play slowly, with full concentration and sensibly, you can beat anyone. But we continued to shoot at the goal from ten metres, like at the beginning. As if no one had ever heard of wings. We didn’t deserve to win when we’re just cattle. The Danes quite deservedly ran off with victory… Quite deservedly.
MR. K.: I don’t believe you really think like that.
MR. KOSTIC: I couldn’t care less what you believe. You come in through a locked door and then start making a fool of me. I’m telling you they deserved their win and that’s an end to it.
MR. K.: But a couple of minutes ago you were saying the opposite.
MR. KOSTIC: That doesn’t matter. I take back everything I said and insist that we deservedly lost.
MR. K.: I don’t agree with you.
MR. KOSTIC: That’s your problem. And now fuck off back to wherever you came from. There’s no need for me to see you out. After all, you come in and go out whenever you please. And now it’s better for you that you want to leave. And take off that silly cap. You look like a moron.
MR. K.: I’m not going anywhere and neither am I going to take off my cap until we sort this out. You said that the Danes played roughly and in an unsportsmanlike way. If that’s the case, then they didn’t deserve to win.
MR. KOSTIC: That’s how it seemed to me. You know how it is when you support one side when watching a match. You often see things that don’t exist. How many times have I seen on the video replay that there was no contact at all, while when watching it live I saw an obvious foul? That’s how it seemed to me that the Danes played roughly.
MR. K.: While in fact they didn’t play roughly.
MR. KOSTIC: No they didn’t. But even if they did, what does it matter? Handball is a masculine sport. One has to give them credit for behaving like that and not like our women’s team.
MR. K.: That’s not right at all. Ours put up a fight as well.
MR. KOSTIC: How do you know when you didn’t watch the match?
MR. K.: Well, actually I did watch. In a way.
MR. KOSTIC: In what sort of way? Did you watch or didn’t you?
MR. K.: Well, I did and I didn’t. It’s complicated. I didn’t watch, but I did watch, thanks to the fact that you watched. I’ll explain later. For the moment you can take it that I watched. And I can confirm that they put up a fight. Look me in the eye and tell me that they didn’t.
MR. KOSTIC: All right, they did. And ours put up a fight as well. But they didn’t deserve to win. They let slip a huge advantage. The fact that the Danes played a little more roughly is no justification at all.
MR. K.: But you didn’t just say that they’d played roughly. You said that they’d simulated as well.
MR. KOSTIC: And ours simulated too. The key moment was when our player, at the moment when we already had one player less, was sent off for simulation. Thanks to that, the Danes finally managed to catch us up.
MR. K.: You mean to say that until then, our lot actually managed to withstand the opponents’ pressure and to maintain the advantage?
MR. KOSTIC: Yes. Whatever they did, they couldn’t get anywhere near us until they had two players more than us. And then we didn’t have any chance against such a well-trained team. They went ahead with ease and bombarded our goalkeeper.
MR. K: Which means that ours did manage to maintain an advantage, but you insisted the opposite.
MR. KOSTIC: O.K. you’re right, once again – I was exaggerating a bit. As long as there were at least six of them on the court, they didn’t allow the Danes to get anywhere near them. Even after the scores were equal, they managed to avoid going under. Look, when you’re leading easily and then they catch you up just before the end of the match, there’s nothing strange about the team experiencing a psychological decline. But they still managed to keep the result uncertain to the end. Right to the very end. The Danes won in the last few seconds. It’s true that after the first time the scores were equal our players didn’t play as well as before. They put all their effort into trying to shoot from a distance, they didn’t build up an attack and they didn’t make good use of their wings. But it was their first World Championship – their first ever big match. It’s not surprising that they crumbled a bit before the end. And as far as the wings are concerned, one of them was injured right at the start of the match, and so his place had to be taken by a back.
MR. K.: If that’s the case, then they didn’t actually deserve to lose?
MR. KOSTIC: No, they didn’t. I’ve already admitted that I was going too far. But they did lose. The Danes were more decisive, fresher, more concentrated and deserved to win.
MR. K.: But they wouldn’t have won if at one moment two of our players hadn’t been sent off?
MR. KOSTIC: Probably not. But that’s handball for you. Ours shouldn’t have allowed a player to be sent off when they already had one fewer player. The player simulated, was sent off, and that was it.
MR. K.: But the Danish player, who simulated in precisely the same way, wasn’t sent off. At about the same time – a minute earlier or later.
MR. KOSTIC: You really did watch the match. You’re right, he wasn’t. And the situation was exactly the same.
MR. K.: Which means that the Danes unfairly reached the situation of having two players more, thus enabling them to annul our advantage and finally to win?
MR. KOSTIC: Yes, but through no fault of their own. They simply made use of the situation offered to them. I know that I blamed our under-21 footballers for making use of advantage offered them by the referee against Belarus, but the situation is different actually on the pitch. There you probably don’t notice when the referee makes a mistake in your favour. Probably the Danes didn’t notice either and simply played the best they could.
MR. K.: Yes, but the referees shouldn’t have been allowed to have such different criteria. They determined the result of the match.
MR. KOSTIC: Probably.
MR. K.: But I didn’t hear you swearing at the referees. And certainly not at their entire race.
MR. KOSTIC: All right, they probably didn’t do it on purpose.
MR. K.: Perhaps they did.
MR. KOSTIC: They didn’t. I’m sure of it.
MR. K.: Where were the referees from?
MR. Kostic mumbles something unintelligible.
MR. K.: From where?
MR. KOSTIC (more clearly): From Belarus.
MR. K.: Ah, so that’s it. That’s why I didn’t hear any swearing at their expense. That’s why there was no swearing at the entire race. Because this time it wasn’t a matter of a western, Germanic nation. No, now it’s a matter of a brotherly, Slav nation, a nation who also gave their lives opposing Hitler, a nation who also has a socialist past, a nation that is also denigrated in the western media. That’s why there was no swearing at their expense. They can do something to harm us, but you’ll forgive them for political reasons, which is just what you are saying against western sportsmen and referees. You get all worked up about their attitude towards sportsmen who come from countries that their politicians consider hostile and then you do precisely the same. Your attitude towards sportsmen and referees also depends on whether or not you consider the country they come from to be hostile.
MR. KOSTIC: You’re wrong there. The reason I didn’t swear at the Belarusians comes from the fact that such a decision by their referees was the exception and not the rule. I’m absolutely certain that they didn’t do anything against us deliberately. And even if they did, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that they’d watched the match I was telling you about, when our under-21 team undeservedly beat theirs, and couldn’t resist the temptation to get their revenge. In fact, what is most likely is that they belonged to a pro-western Belarusian minority and this is where the reason for their decision to harm us came from. This explains the reason for their appearing as referees at an important match in the first place. Because sporting organizations are nothing other than political bodies, run by westerners. The president of the World Football Organization is a Swiss and, although they do make excellent cheese, you can’t say that the Swiss represent a force in world football. They’re going to pick referees who suit them, referees who aren’t going to let an Iranian, Russian or Chinese team beat a team from the west. Because sport is a means of spreading political propaganda – the success of a sportsman can sometimes mean more than a battle won in a real war. That’s why you won’t find our referees anywhere, and it’s impossible to believe that they are any worse than all the others. You won’t find them, because our people aren’t in those organizations. There are none of our people in the water polo organization, and where water polo is concerned, we are in the same position that, if not the Brazilians, then at least the Italians, are in football. That’s why I’m absolutely certain that these Belarusian referees are representatives of Lukashenko’s small opposition, who want NATO to install rockets in Belarus instead of in Poland. This is certainly the case, because otherwise they wouldn’t get anywhere near the World Cup. This is why there’s no need to swear at the entire nation, because they don’t represent the Belarusian people. They are just two individuals who represent themselves and nobody else.
MR. K.: Bravo. I quite agree. Individuals who just represent themselves and who are the only people responsible for their actions. But the same rule should apply to referees from western countries.
MR. KOSTIC: No, the same rule can’t apply to them. Because as well as representing themselves, they also represent their country. With them there are no exceptions – they all behave in the same way and make decisions to the advantage of sportsmen who come from countries that belong to NATO.
MR. K.: But what about Merk? He’s a German, but no only did he not make decisions against us when we were playing Portugal, he took personal care that we would not be negatively affected. He blew the whistle for the end of the match a minute earlier than he need have, because the Portuguese didn’t return the ball to us after we’d kicked it out of play because of an injury. He didn’t want them to perhaps score a goal and win after such an unsportsmanlike act. In fact, on that occasion he harmed the Portuguese by accepting Ivanovic’s goal after an obvious offside. And as far as I know, Portugal is a member of NATO. It’s impossible that you didn’t watch that match.
MR. KOSTIC: Of course I watched it. But that was just the exception that proves the rule. Does it mean that because of one German who isn’t hostilely disposed towards us, I have to love all Germans?
MR. K.: Of course not. But do you have to hate all Germans because one of them happens to be hostilely disposed towards us?
MR. KOSTIC: No. But it’s not a matter of just one German. The majority of Germans are hostilely disposed towards us.
MR. K.: All right, even if that’s true, do you have to hate Marcus Merk because of the majority of Germans? Do you have to hate Laudrup because of the majority of Danes, even it is a question of all Danes except Laudrup?
MR. KOSTIC: No, but I have already distanced myself from swearing at the expense of all Danes.
MR. K.: Yes, but you immediately went to the other extreme and disparaged all Serbs, and then once again attacked a whole race – or at least the majority of one – the Germans. You’re continually going too far, going from one extreme to the next, spitting first at your own and then at another nation, but one nation, it doesn’t matter which, is never responsible for the actions of its individual members. One can talk about the guilt of the political leadership, but even that is the guilt of individuals, who, as you said yourself, represent just themselves and nobody else. Do you agree with me?
MR. KOSTIC: No, because those politicians were elected by their citizens, who quite obviously agree with what they do. If they didn’t agree, they would change them.
MR. K.: Are you saying that it is they who are responsible for their actions?
MR. KOSTIC.: Precisely that.
MR. K.: In that case then Serbs are responsible for the actions of their politicians during war situations. Some of them are now being tried for war crimes.
MR. KOSTIC: Yes, but the court in The Hague is no measure whatsoever. It’s a political body, just like FIFA, which is run by politicians from the west. There are more Serbs there than members of other nations from the former Yugoslavia. And Serbs get far longer sentences than the rest. War criminals from other nations are even set free. Which means that if someone there is found guilty, it doesn’t mean that he is really responsible.
MR. K.: All right, but some of them must really be guilty of war crimes. War crimes did take place, that’s a fact. Do you agree that such people should be responsible for their actions?
MR. KOSTIC: Yes, I agree, but not in that way. We should do it ourselves. For example, the Muslims should make a list of twenty people they consider most guilty of crimes committed against them, while we make a list of twenty Muslims who we consider committed crimes against Serbs. We exchange them and beat the shit out of them. This probably wouldn’t be popular with either them or us, but it would certainly lead eventually to some sort of reconciliation. As things are it makes any sort of real rapprochement totally impossible. They purposely keep us alienated and as such weaker, because we’ve shown that only when we are together are we strong, that only together can we create a state that can at least partly stand up to the influence of the big powers.
MR. K.: There’s some sense in what you’re saying, but let’s get back to where we left off. Do you agree that there are Serbian politicians who are responsible for war crimes?
MR. KOSTIC: Yes, I do. But there are also Croatian, Albanian and Muslim ones.
MR. K.: All right. Generally, are there Serbian ones as well?
MR. KOSTIC: Yes, there are.
MR. K.: If that’s the case, and if the citizens of western countries are responsible because they’ve voted for and supported politicians who, for example, bombed Belgrade, then the Serbs who voted for and did not remove the politicians responsible for the bombing of Sarajevo, are responsible too.
MR. KOSTIC: It’s not the same.
MR. K.: How isn’t it the same? You said yourself…
MR. KOSTIC: Hey, you’ve begun to wear me out with all this bullshit.
MR. K.: What do you mean, bullshit?
MR. KOSTIC: All this bullshit in the style of Plato’s dialogues. You want me to answer as those dullards answered Socrates: “You’re speaking the truth, Socrates,” or “You’re right, Socrates”. Well, it won’t wash. Fuck all those ancient Greeks. Whichever way you turn, everyone pushes them under your nose, and no one has the faintest idea who Lao Tzu is. But Lao Tzu was a primitive mongoloid, and they were the founders of western civilization. It’s not surprising that the west is so fucked up, when people like that founded it. People wrapped in tablecloths who drank watered down wine and just waffled. Awful.
Pause. For the first time Mr. K. looks angry. Without saying a word he stares at Mr. Kostic until he turns away.
MR. KOSTIC: All right, you’re right… (Mockingly, but not too much so.) Socrates.
MR. K.: Call me what you like, but don’t insult me anymore just because you don’t want to accept that I’m right. For your information, I know very well who Lao Tzu is, much better than you, it would seem. Because Lao Tzu would never have spoken some of the words you’ve uttered today.
MR. KOSTIC: All right, all right. I’m sorry, I went too far. But to accept that you are right would mean that we are all guilty, that we are all responsible for the evil that politicians do. Even we who have never voted, because we might have thus enabled a particular politician to just get in. And that’s a terrible thought, isn’t it? That we might all have blood on our hands?
MR. K.: Yes it really is a terrible thought. And it’s true, though not entirely so. We really are all guilty. But only because we allow politicians to use us to get into power and do what they do. You swear at the ancient Greeks, but they were the first to see that one of the weaknesses of democracy was the possibility of seducing the masses. Politicians win over the support of the people and use it to get into power and then achieve their personal goals. Of course, there are different kinds of politicians, but however honest they are, however sincerely they want to work in the interest of all their citizens and however successful they might be in this, there will always be those among them who will work exclusively in their own, personal interest. There will always be people swarming at the top and looking for an opportunity to get rich, or people who are already rich and who want to hold onto their wealth. Because, as well as being ruled by politicians, in fact perhaps even more so, states are also ruled by people who have vast sums of money. The first have political power, or rather might, while the others have economic power, or money. Among themselves they exchange these two powers and together rule other people. The first sell us their story and the others their goods, and we are taken in by the colourful wrapping and buy both of them. Believing the politicians’ promises, we give them political power which they use directly against us and, by buying unnecessary things we make the rich even richer and even more powerful. In our name they spread hate and start wars, through which they strengthen their power even more and increase their wealth. This is why ordinary voting is not only collaborating in the crimes of politicians and wealthy people, but also plain stupidity, because we are thus helping others to take advantage of us, if we’re not already taking advantage of others. This is why we should turn our head and close our ears as soon as we see a politician.
MR. KOSTIC: But not all politicians are like that. There are those who have succeeded in both resisting the money of the rich, and stopping them from becoming rich at other people’s expense.
MR. K: Yes, but if they haven’t themselves become rich at other people’s expense, they could only have resisted the rich by using what the others don’t have: power, of which they have the monopoly. And a good drubbing, however noble the intentions of the drubber, is still a good thrashing. It’s possible that some drubbers really do protect the majority of the population from the greedy minority, but regardless of how small and how really dangerous this minority is for others, it will still end up with its legs broken. It’s possible that some drubbers think that what they do is quite justified and can sleep peacefully after breaking a few legs, but I certainly couldn’t and I’m convinced that you, who don’t eat meat so that animals don’t get killed because of you, couldn’t either. Because when you systematically break legs, even legs that have deserved it, you will always break a few innocent fingers on the way, meaning you will always have innocent blood on your hands. Not to mention that it goes without saying that rule through force also indicates the stupidity of the rest of us who support it. Because it means that we allow one man or a group of men to decide who is to be thrashed and how much, as well as to decide what is good for the rest of us and what isn’t.
MR. KOSTIC: But the majority of people haven’t got as far as thinking for themselves and deciding for themselves about their destiny. You said yourself that politicians generally take advantage of the majority of the population, even if they don’t break their legs. According to you, whatever the situation, we either take advantage of and hurt others, or are considered stupid.
MR. K.: Precisely so, stupid. Because simply believing in the state as a necessity, as a useful institution, is stupid. States with millions of citizens are irresponsible, unnatural human creations. Look at other groups of mammals; look at what we know about the ancient Indian or African tribes. Here there are already a hundred individuals too many. These numerous communities, like today’s states, are insect creations, but as opposed to anthills, where things develop precisely how they should develop, they don’t function as they should. On paper they should help us to survive more easily, to struggle together at things we can’t do on our own, with all of us contributing the same and all getting the same benefits. But it’s not like that. Such a state, as ideal as an anthill, has never existed and never will exist. In reality, human states are means by which a group of individuals takes advantage of the rest of the population.
MR. KOSTIC: All right, but states do exist which, if not ideal, have probably gone as far as they could in that direction. I mentioned Denmark. It’s certain that a huge majority of Danes benefit from their state.
MR. K.: Even if they all benefit, it’s always at the expense of someone else. If the minority doesn’t take advantage of the majority, then the majority take advantage of the citizens of some other state. It’s the same with the ancient Greeks, you find objection to democratic Athens because of its undemocratic behaviour towards other poleis. You mentioned Denmark as a socially responsible state, but you also mentioned it in the context of political propaganda. In order to maintain that state, from which almost everyone benefits, its politicians have to play up to the politicians from the greatest world powers and to transmit on their television a film clip in which Serbs kill Muslim prisoners of war but not one in which Slovenians kill Serbian prisoners. They have to publish a caricature of the prophet Mohammed and thus arouse anger in the world of Islam. This is why Denmark is no better than any other state. Their politicians also spread hate, just as politicians of all nationalities in the former Yugoslavia, not to mention American politicians, spread it. This is why one should hate politicians from every country, and not be deceived by their little game and hate an entire nation or group of nations.
MR. KOSTIC: I quite agree. I know it and I’ve always known it. Even when I was saying those terrible things about the Danes, I knew it was stupidity.
MR. K.: Why did you say them then?
MR. KOSTIC: Because it seemed to me that it was even more stupid not to answer them in kind. How can an individual citizen accept the rule that it is individuals and not nations who are responsible for their actions, both good and bad; how can one accept this rule where western nations are concerned, when in the West they don’t accept it when the nation to which that individual citizen belongs is concerned? On the television news in the west, in western school text books, in films made in the west, Serbs are continually criminals – it is always the Serbs who are responsible for every conflict in former Yugoslavia. Anyone who has any brain at all knows that this is impossible. But even if they really think that this is the case, why don’t they emphasize that it’s a matter of individuals. No, they do precisely the opposite; they always talk about the entire people: “The Serbs have done this, the Serbs have done that…” It’s always the same: “Serbs, Serbs, Serbs!” How can anyone remain immune to all this and not start to say the same thing about westerners, even if he knows that it’s sheer stupidity?
MR. K.: You mean that you hold onto the principle of individual responsibility, when westerners are not involved?
MR. KOSTIC: Of course. I’ve never ever said anything bad about the North Korean, Libyan or Venezuelan peoples.
MR. K.: Yes, but you’ve never judged a single individual belonging to these nations. You didn’t criticize the Belarusian referees in the slightest because they made decisions against our team. The reason being that the western politicians and media behave towards them in a similar way as towards us. Just as you find fault with western nations as a whole because of the actions of individuals who belong to those nations, you also defend individuals from those nations that oppose the west. It’s absolutely the same thing.
MR. KOSTIC: Probably, but I was driven to both by dirty western propaganda.
MR. K.: In other words, your nationalism is a reaction to their nationalism?
MR. KOSTIC: Precisely. To their NATO-ism.
MR. K.: All right, so this means you’ve become a nationalist because you’ve met one NATO-ist?
MR. KOSTIC: Not one, but lots of them. I’ve become a nationalist because I keep on meeting them.
MR. K.: All right. (Takes a slim book from his pocket and flicks through it until he finds the page he is looking for. Then he hands the book to Mr. Kostic.) Read this.
MR. KOSTIC: I can’t read it now.
MR. K.: Please. Just half a page.
MR. KOSTIC: All right. Give it here. (He takes the book and reads for a short while. When he has read it, he closes the book and glances at the cover.)
MR. K.: Do you like it?
MR. KOSTIC (still looking at the book): Uhuh. It’s excellent… It’s a long time since I read anything so good… It’s years since I read anything at all. Except for the daily, weekly and monthly press. I soak that up. Once I used to go to the library every three days, but now I just run to the kiosk every morning.
MR. K.: You’ve changed.
MR. KOSTIC (looks up from the book): Yes, I really have changed. Apart from popping out to buy a newspaper, I hardly leave the house. And once I dashed non-stop all over the town – I knew every street in every area of the town. And then I shut myself up within these walls and avoided human contact. I hardly speak to anyone except my parents. I don’t speak with other people, I don’t write, I don’t read, I don’t listen to music – I just watch TV all day. I don’t do anything, I didn’t graduate from university and I haven’t found a job. I’m twenty-five years old, my parents keep me, feed me, clothe me… They even buy me cigarettes and beer. I’m round their feet all the time, as if I’m five years old and not twenty-five… Gosh, I really have fucked myself up.
MR. K.: But why?
MR. KOSTIC: I don’t know… I just don’t seem to manage to get going, to do something – anything at all. I no longer try, but earlier I frequently decided that on that very day – or the next – I’d go to the library or walk for a couple of hours, or write something. I would make a firm decision and then do absolutely nothing. I quite simply don’t have the strength – it’s as if I’m ill. As if I’ve got some poison in my blood, not enough to kill me, but enough to make me incapable.
MR. K.: You put that very well. You really do have poison flowing through your veins. Poison that you take in every day through newspapers and television. A poison called politics.
MR. KOSTIC: Do you think I should completely stop watching television? And reading newspapers?
MR. K.: You don’t have to stop completely. Poison in minimal quantities can be good for you, just as the virus in a vaccine strengthens the organism’s resistance. Instead of continuing all the time, through the news and newspapers, to come in contact with nationalists and thus becoming more and more like them, spread out your interaction with them. An intelligent man doesn’t need much to understand a great deal about what is going on around him. It’s quite sufficient to look at a five-minute news bulletin every day and once a week read one of the better newspapers or magazines. The best thing is to change the newspaper and television station you get your news from, so that you start looking at things from different angles.
MR. KOSTIC: But why shouldn’t I stop coming into contact with nationalists completely?
MR. K.: Because then you’d forget that they exist. This way, the occasional brief contact you have with them will remind you how stupid they are, but it won’t be strong enough to make you stupid as well, just as the virus in a vaccine isn’t powerful enough to overcome a strong organism. Of course, on condition that your organism gets over its current stupid state.
MR. KOSTIC: It’ll get over it. The process has already started. But I still think that in the interest of a total cure I should stop following political events completely.
MR. K.: I’ve already noticed your tendency to exaggerate. You never used to be like this. You don’t have to completely close your eyes to politics. You need basic information, meaning you ought to know what the politicians are doing, in order to avoid the sort of catastrophe that politics causes. Instead of allowing politicians to seduce and use you, observe them like a scientist, discover the laws behind their activities and learn to recognize their lies – learn how to avoid the consequences of their amassing of power and money.
MR. KOSTIC: What consequences?
MR. K.: War, for example. When you see that politicians, whether foreign or our own, are preparing to organize a convenient little war – it’s all the same whether it’s with another country or a civil war within the country – a little war that will provide them with even more money and even more power – when you witness the preparations, inform as many people as possible and run with your family to some safe place.
MR. KOSTIC: But if I’ve already learned to recognize the signs pointing to preparations for war, if I’m in a position to understand how and why politicians cause wars, wouldn’t it be better, instead of running away, to try to prevent it? Of course, with a group of like-minded people.
MR. K.: How?
MR. KOSTIC: By trying to get into power and then preventing war. Why shouldn’t we do that if we have the chance, why should we leave power in the hands of those who want war?
MR. K.: Now we’re returning to the story about people who come to power with good intentions. You will become involved with the international mafia, with a network of powerful and wealthy men, politicians and criminals who start wars all over the world, who associate and come into conflict with each other, all because of their own personal interests and because of power and money. How can your group of like-minded people resist them? If they want war, they’ll have it. They’ll bribe you, kill you, or a few years later start an even more horrific war. In fact, even if you succeed in avoiding all that, how do you know that their fury won’t pour down on some similar country where they want to make up for betrayed expectations in your country? How do you know that you yourself won’t start another war, because you’ll have no other way of overcoming those who want war except by using force? Because you are able to observe political events from the outside and learn to foresee them from previous experience. But from the outside one can’t see what’s behind politics, what it is you meet when you enter politics. It’s a network of dark and murky relationships, which, if you’re not a dark and murky type yourself, you won’t be able to control. Who can know what the results of a particular political move will be? Take the example of Gandhi, for instance. I agree that it is a matter of a great man, one of those rare statesmen in history who deserves respect. He brought independence to his country, without violence but with dignity, but in a way he also brought a civil war, a break-up of the country in question and long-term hostilities and instability.
MR. KOSTIC: Gandhi wasn’t responsible for that. They were the deeds of his opponents.
MR. K.: True. But they were deeds which he instigated by his own deeds. He stood on the pet corns of the colonial masters, he stood on the pet corns of local politicians who wanted power and control, he stood on the pet corns of religious leaders who didn’t want different religions to live in harmony because that would mean their losing their influence. It’s a terrible thing to say, but perhaps fewer Indians and Pakistanis would have lost their lives if Gandhi had not come along. Regardless of his undoubted greatness, regardless of his undoubtedly noble intentions, who can know what’s going to happen when you stand at the head of millions of people and try to lead them somewhere? When dealing with such masses of people, every move causes totally unforeseeable consequences. And who’s in a position to decide in the name of so many people? Personally, I can very rarely get my own life in any kind of order, and I’m sure this is the case with most people. And every other man would like to be president of his country. Sheer stupidity. So stupid that when they suggested to Lao Tzu’s follower Master Hu that he should become the ruler of China, he washed his ears and escaped up into the mountains.
MR. KOSTIC: So that means that running away is the only thing left to us – there’s no way we can prevent war?
MR. K.: There is a way. In the long term, war, like nationalism, can only be avoided if we totally uproot stupidity. Our stupidity, thanks to which we allow political and religious leaders to drag us into wars, and the stupidity of our leaders, who either think they have the right to decide the fates of millions of people or simply want power and wealth. Because, when we realize that we are all the same, regardless of language, faith or the colour of our skin, we won’t allow politicians to alienate us from each other. When we realize that no one has the right to decide in the name of other people, when we realize that we’re all wonderful and powerful people even when we don’t have an army or a bank at our disposal, then we won’t want to become politicians. When we realize that states are stupid, unnecessary and non-functional organizations, when we realize that material things and modern life are the source of stupidity and suffering, we will spontaneously start to form small village communities. Gandhi tried this, to demonstrate, through his personal example, the ideal of living a simple village life. This is what Mr. K. is talking about when he says that it’s all the same which country he lives in, because “it’s possible to starve anywhere”. Of course, no one has actually to starve, but likewise no one should over-eat. There is still enough food on the planet for us all to remain alive. The important thing is to be satisfied with our basic needs, to protect ourselves from hunger, cold and illness and to use the rest of our energy to protect ourselves from stupidity. The average Dane has far more money, far more food and a far bigger flat than the average Serb, but are a greater percentage of Danes happier and more serene than the same percentage in Serbia? I very much doubt it. I’m pretty certain that the percentages are similar, because the percentage of stupidity is very similar. And so, as well as its being necessary to uproot hunger, homelessness and illness, it is also essential to uproot stupidity. Do you agree with me?
MR. KOSTIC: Yes, I do. But what precisely can I do about it?
MR. K.: Start by uprooting your own stupidity. Instead of buying all the newspapers at the kiosk, go to the library. Read Lao Tzu, but also read Plato’s Dialogues. You don’t have to like them, but read them. Read and educate yourself while you have the chance, since you are already a member of the privileged section of the world population, the section that can read and that has the time to read. Uproot your stupidity, and at the same time spread Mr. K.’s message. Get out of your house and talk with other people, give them Brecht’s story to read, or write something similar yourself.
MR. KOSTIC: I’ll do that. It’s a long time since I wrote anything. I’ll write a dialogue based on our conversation. That way I‘ll spread the thoughts of Mr. K. and I‘ll provide a concrete example. What do you think of that?
MR. K.: I think that’s an excellent idea. To start with you can quote the most important sentences from Brecht’s story. That way you’ll awaken other people’s interest in reading the whole story, and at the same time you’ll describe your own acquaintance with stupidity, how you personally became stupid and then freed yourself from stupidity.
MR. KOSTIC: Exactly. I’ll quite simply repeat our conversation on paper. You know what, your words could represent Mr. K. himself. From the very beginning you were expressing his opinions. Yes, that would be perfect: Mr. Kostic and Mr. K. Of course, as long as you agree that your name gets left out. Wait a minute… Actually, you haven’t told me exactly who you are. And how you got in.
Mr. K. takes off his cap and sunglasses and Mr. Kostic realizes he is looking at himself, but without a beard. Pause.
MR. KOSTIC: Hey, man, I’m talking to myself. Of course. That’s why a locked door proved not to be a problem for you. You were inside all the time – to be precise (points to his own head), here. And I, in the style of a true madman, allowed you to get out… Gosh, I’m completely mad!
MR. K.: No you’re not, don’t worry. I’m still here. (Points to Mr. Kostic’s head.) You know, I’m that Mr. Kostic of a few years ago, the one who read, listened to music, wandered through the town and had nothing to do with politics. When you arrived, I quite simply continued to live as I had earlier. While you were watching the news and spending more time reading newspapers, I was still going to the library and writing. Understand?
MR. KOSTIC: Well, sort of. You mean to say that as soon as my interest in politics appeared, my personality split in two and the two of us started to live in, well, in separate, parallel realities?
MR. K.: What do you mean, parallel realities? It’s clear that you watch too much television. I was living in your head the whole time – it’s just that you pushed me into the background. I am just one of the past variations of your personality. Everyone is continually changing, some more and some less, some are aware of it and some aren’t. With large, sudden changes, like the one that happened to you a few years ago, when someone suddenly becomes a completely different man, his former personality continues to live within him, not giving him any peace until he accepts its right to exist, until he makes peace with it, thus creating a new, compromise personality. I think that’s precisely what we’ve just done.
MR. KOSTIC: But if that’s true, if you really only exist in my head, how did you manage to get out of it and go to the library? You said yourself that you still visit the library. Look, this book has the library’s stamp on it.
MR. K.: Yes, but I don’t have to leave your head to visit the library. I quite simply plucked out of your memory your onetime visits to the library and once again experienced the book you had already read. You had already read the story about nationalism as well, it’s just that you’d forgotten it. Such forgetfulness often goes with sudden changes in the personalities I’ve been talking about. That’s quite simply why I reminded you.
MR. KOSTIC.: Impossible. I’d remember if I’d had this book in my hands. I’m certain that I never borrowed it from the library.
MR. K.: You didn’t borrow it from the library and neither have you read it all. You’ve only read a few pages. Don’t you remember?
MR. KOSTIC: No.
MR. K.: How is it that you don’t remember? You were in the library and you were waiting for the books you’d ordered to come up from the basement. While you were waiting, you looked to see what there was on the shelves and then you came across Brecht’s Stories of Mr. Keuner. You opened it, read a few stories, among them the one about nationalism. You liked it, but as you’d already ordered three books, you decided to take it out next time. Do you remember now?
MR. KOSTIC: I remember. That was probably my last visit to the library. I don’t remember whether I ever went again. I probably just went back to return the three books.
MR. K: Precisely. You didn’t even read those three. Over the previous six months you’d been reading less and less and then you finally stopped altogether and turned to newspapers. While I continued to read and write.
MR. KOSTIC: In my head?
MR. K: Precisely.
MR. KOSTIC: But if you really only exist in my head, then the whole of this conversation has been taking place there, hasn’t it? What I mean is, I’m just imagining that we are talking together?
MR. K: Exactly. You are talking to yourself, but inside yourself, and that’s allowed – it’s called reflecting. So you don’t have to worry that you’ve gone mad.
MR. KOSTIC: I’m not worried anymore. It’s just spoilt the idea I had of putting in Mr. K. when I write about this. Because in fact this is a conversation between two Mr. Kostices, one older and the other younger.
MR. K.: But Mr. K. is the short form of both Mr. Keuner and Mr. Kostic. Freely put Mr. K. instead of my name when you start writing. You didn’t recognize me with the cap and sun-glasses and in the meantime you have grown a beard. I’ve disguised myself so as to be able to approach you more easily, so that I wouldn’t have to explain that I’m only in your head until we’ve sorted out some important things, but we can now use it to pull the wool over the eyes of our reader. After the quotation he will think that I am in fact Brecht’s Mr. K.
MR. KOSTIC: Yes, then he’ll realize that I’m talking to myself, in my head. Excellent. That’s better than my having to adopt someone else’s character. Apart from anything else, Brecht’s Mr. K. wouldn’t have waffled on like this.
MR. K.: You’re right. He would have managed it elegantly, in just a few sentences.
MR. KOSTIC: Yes, just like that. Excellent. I’m going off to write it down at once.
MR. K.: Wait a moment. First we must finish the work I came about.
MR. KOSTIC: What work?
MR. K.: We must once again join up into a single personality. This rough separation, even inside one head, is not exactly ideal.
MR. KOSTIC: Wait a moment. Does that mean I’m going to completely disappear? That you’re coming back to manage Mr. Kostic again, as if the last few years didn’t exist?
MR. K.: No, I’ve already explained to you. We are going to manage, as you put it in your political language, Mr. Kostic together, or rather together we’re going to produce a new manager, who will return to reading and writing. That’s going to be my responsibility, and you will use the knowledge you’ve picked up to keep an eye open for the signs that tell us that the politicians are preparing some – once again I use your word – bullshit. And you will use your experience to ensure that the new Mr. Kostic isn’t allowed to become stupid again. You’ll be the guarantee that he won’t make the same mistakes again. You see, we’re going to share out our duties fairly. All right?
MR. KOSTIC: All right. So, you’re going to write this conversation?
MR. K.: The new Mr. Kostic is going to write it. But let’s say that I’m going to be responsible for it.
MR. KOSTIC: Don’t change a thing, improving yourself and making a mess of me.
MR. K.: We’ll write together, so you can keep an eye on it. Mind you, your reading the newspapers is going to spoil the style.
MR. KOSTIC: All right. Let’s shake on it.
MR. K. (holds out his hand, but immediately withdraws it): First I’ve got something to admit to you. You know I said that Laudrup refused to play because of us.
MR. KOSTIC: Yes.
MR. K.: You asked me if I was certain and I said that I was. The truth is that I’m not certain whether it was exactly like that. There are two completely different interpretations of Laudrup’s absence from the championship. According to one of them, he really did refuse to play because Yugoslavia was thrown out because of the sanctions. Apparently he said that it wasn’t fair as we far more deserved to play. The second version is quite simply that even before that he had quarreled with the coach and refused to apologize and for that reason didn’t appear at the championships. I have to admit that I really don’t know which version is nearer the truth.
MR. KOSTIC: It doesn’t matter. Even if he’d simply quarreled with the trainer, there must have been another Dane who in the same situation would have refused to play because of us. As there was also someone in every other country.
MR. K.: All right. I see that the time has come. (Holds out his hand.) Here’s my hand.
They shake hands. At that moment everything turns dark. After a few seconds the light shines on one person. It is the new Mr. Kostic, whose face, apart from a moustache, is clean shaven. He sits typing on a typewriter, which stands on the table where up to now the television has been standing. As soon as the light falls on him, he stops typing, removes the paper from the machine and puts it down with other sheets that are lying by the machine. Then he puts in another sheet of paper, types as much as is necessary for one paragraph, and then pulls out this sheet of paper and puts it with the others. He picks up the sheets of paper and leaves.
Originally published in BCS (Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian) in Par grama drama (A Few Grams of Drama) in 2010. Translated by Timothy John Byford. Translation copyright by Kosta Tadic.