Extract from The Edge – a story to be told

1938 Belgrade – someone knew the war was coming. The Edge is an untold story about relationships and friendships, betrayal and love at the onset of the Second World War in Europe.

The coffee pot was empty. The spirit had been drunk. Whilst Mirko was in the bathroom having a shave a note slipped thourgh his letterbox. Ready to go out in his shirt and trousers, he noticed the paper lying on the lino flooring. Finally he thought, the letter is here. He folded it neatly and put it in his shirt pocket, ready to head into town.

Belgrade was busy, always busy. It never stopped. It was going to be a hot summer’s day. Already at nine in the morning, the concrete roads were hot, never having cooled down from the previous day, or the day before that. It was going to be a long hot summer. Most people were out in their summer clothes, no jackets. Some ladies had a cardigan draped over their shoulders, but most were just in dresses, ocassionally slacks and a blouse. Everybody looked smart. No one would have guessed that times were difficult, but then no one was sure just how much more difficult they were going to be. Mirko decided to call in at the office to hear the latest news, he may go down to the palace later if he got the chance.

The newsroom was quite busy, a fan whirred lazily in the corner, waiting for the temperature to rise so that it could break down, as it did every hot day. Typewriters were tapping away and the ker-ching was a welcome sound to Mirko. He liked to be in the press office, even on his days off. He just couldn’t stay away.

“I have it here” he said to the editor. “It came this morning. I haven’t read it yet.” He was summonsed into Branko’s office -a large man with a cigar stuffed between his fat fingers. “ Sit” commanded Branko. “Read”

Mirko nervously opened the thin envelope from America. He wasn’t sure what it would reveal, he hoped it would give him the answers he was looking for. Branko folded his arms and leaned over his desk. “Let’s hear it” he said. For an editor, he was a man of few words, thought Mirko. It was in cyrillic, written by hand on airoplane paper in a light blue ink. He skimmed over it with is dark eyes. 

“It’s all lies says Nedjo. None of it is true. We aren’t going to get in to a war.” Mirko and Branko looked at each other, neither of them believed what Nedjo was saying. It was counter- everything else they were hearing and what the family was saying. Neither of them wanted war for sure and they wished Nedjo’s words were the truth.

“Do you think he is lying to us and misleading us” asked Branko.

Mirko shrugged his shoulders. “Why would he do that? Maybe he believes nothing will happen. He has nothing to gain from printing lies, none of us have. If there will be a war, there will be a war.”

“Well we can’t use his letter to print a story, it’s just rubbish”. Snorted Branko dismissively. “Do what you want with it. In fact call him if you like and listen to his voice and what he has to say on the telephone. I need more from him to make a good story here.”

Mirko nodded, He agreed it would be good to give Nedjo a call. He would do so later. “I’ll be back in tomorrow, I’m off to the palace to see what they make of it.”

Branko grinned. “You and the Queen Mirko, you are like this” he crossed his index and middle fingers.

“Don’t invent something that isn’t true Branko,”warned Mirko, feeling protective.” That’s the last thing we need.”

Branko smiled and nodded bidding Mirko good bye for the day.

There was a long route to the palace, that takes in the Kalamegdan Park and the River Sava, or the Danube. It takes around an hour and a half from the press office and there are a good few cafes on the way to choose from. Mirko had arranged to meet his old school friend, Mirjana whom he was very fond of and hoped he would get her to agree to marrying him one day. He chose a small cafe on the embankment and sat and waited, knowing that Mirjana would walk down from the north as she always did, looking out for him, wondering where he would choose to sit. She liked this little game of his.

Mirjana was a good-looking woman with dark hair and sharp blue eyes, and had what Mirko described as a ‘wicked smile’. He liked her playful manner and her open mind. She was an intelligent woman who knew what she wanted, and was very independent minded. This appealed to Mirko very much. He looked her over as she headed in his direction, her pace increasing as she noticed him. She loved his dark eyes, very much.

“Cigarette” she offered him as she sat on the seat opposite him, across a small circular iron table. He nodded as she lit one for him and then handed it over. He stroked her hand as he took it from her and gazed into her eyes as he inhaled.

“Where have you been lady, I haven’t seen you for days. Are you hiding from me”

“I might be”, replied Mirjana teasingly. “I might have found another man, perhaps a big strong soldier”.

Mirko quirked his brow. “Well in that case, why have you come to meet me today, is it to taunt me by telling me you have another man?”

Mirjana laughed. She could never really tell when Mirko was being serious, or if he believed her teasing or not. She knew he was deeply in love with her, perhaps more than she was with him. But she did care about him more than anyone else in the world.. He knew this.

In editing mode…all thoughts appreciated. What do you think? 

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