Istvan’s journey circumvent: A teen-age conscript for special labor in wartime Hungary. Conditions such that undigested fodder from the unit’s draft horses eaten. Mine clearance on the Eastern Front. “Your feet are all that is required,” the reserve officer commanding informed. A speck of imaginary dust flicked from an impeccable uniform. “The obstacle will be surmounted,” before returning to a well-protected bunker, “machine guns will ensure it.”
Forced labor men stampeded, detonated mines or were shot down. Assault troops followed, were repulsed. The young man from Abony made good an escape during the mayhem. Across Europe, determined, situationally aware, adaptable. An ear for languages; six-spoken, many fluently—a gift.
Franco’s Spain, ambivalent about Jews. A brief stay in another fascist state, Portugal. Haiti for quite some time. The well-heeled Hungarian, charming. Papa Doc’s Secret Police, sunglasses habitually worn even at night began making things uncomfortable. Cuba, the playground of gangsters, revolution necessitated movement – a Communist takeover.
Canada. Wonderful, springboard to the Prize.
Suburban America, changed name, charcoal broiled steaks and denim jeans. Years later, a European business trip. A 24-hour visa to Budapest. An old friend visited. Terminally ill, a last good-bye.
At the frontier calming an anxious wife, “no worries.” Handing American passports to a border guard. “Not Istvan Klein. It’s Steven Kerty.”
For too many years, James has worked the graveyard shift on a locked inpatient mental health unit. He run vignettes through his caffeine-addled mind in an attempt to stay awake.