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    #1

    The lieutenant, part seven

    Please would you take a look at the seventh part of my short story, "The lieutenant", and correct my mistakes.

    I knocked on the door on the second floor, and when I entered the room I was surprised to see the lieutenant lying on the couch with his boots on its arm. For the first time I saw him without his cap, and now I understood why he preferred it on his head. His dark hair had thinned to baldness at the front of his head and the sides had become grey. His right hand was folded under his head, and his left was holding a burning cigarette. There was a bottle of slivovitz on the table and a half-full glass. A TV in the corner was showing a light dressed singer, but the sound was off. The window was open, but the smell of slivovitz and sweat were still there. I put down the plate and stood at attention.

    “Relax.” The lieutenant said. “Do you drink alcohol?” I seldom drank slivovitz, although I used to help my father every year when he distilled its own slivovitz, which he would enjoy often with our neighbours and occasional visitors.
    “Sometimes,” I said not to make him disappointed.
    “Fetch the glass from the cupboard and put it on the table.”
    I did as he told me, and he sat upright and poured the colourless liquid into my glass. I sat at the table and we toasted. The strong drink immediately burned in my throat and stomach. The lieutenant probably noticed that I winced and he said, “Take some snack, boy. It goes well with slivovitz.” I took some cheese, which soothed the burning. He asked me where did I come from and when I answered, he drew deeply on his cigarette. “You know, I’ve been in your hometown many times. Beautiful women. I’ve asked myself why there are so many beautiful women there, and I think it is because of the river. They start swimming as children and water forms their bodies like a sculptor. What do you think?”

    “You're absolutely right, comrade lieutenant. We all learn to swim early. The river is magnificent, clean and calm, its bank packed with people in the summer.” For a moment, I was back in my hometown, standing on a hill and watching the bathers in their thousands lying on the banks. Suddenly I was swimming, the warm water lapping gently against my body, stroking me like a woman’s nimble fingers.
    “There’re so many plums in your region, aren't they?” The lieutenant’s voice brought me back to reality. “I remember orchards in the autumn. It was like watching the sea, dark blue as far as the eye could see.”
    “Yes comrade lieutenant. There’re so much plums, slivovitz and marmalade that you cannot find a house without them.”
    “Are you married, boy?” he changed the topic. My answer was negative and he said, “Good, good, if you want to hear my advice, don’t marry early. Don’t rush. See the world first, gather experiences, get your education, and then you can settle down. Look at me. I’ve made a great mistake and now I pay the price.”

    He emptied his glass and poured another one. His voice began to slur as he told me about the moment when he had returned from the military exercise earlier than expected and found his wife and her lover sitting in the kitchen and drinking coffee in his flat. “I could have killed them both with this pistol,” he bawled, touching the leather holster, “but I didn’t want to end up in prison and rot for the next twenty years.”
    He emptied his glass again and poured himself another. “I didn’t shout at them, or threatened them in any way. I went at once to my superiors and asked them to post me in some godforsaken place, hundreds of kilometres from my home, and they granted my wish. I thought it was better to live in a self-imposed exile than lose my freedom or my mind.” He pulled on his cigarette, exhaled the smoke through his nose and said, “Don’t trust women, boy. Don’t spoil them. My wife told me she wanted to travel to Italy and buy designer clothes and shoes. I didn't protest. I gave her money. I wanted to make her feel happy. Then she wanted to travel to Austria and Germany, and again I didn't protest. I liked to see her well-dressed, satisfied and pleased. When I was young, my father used to tell me that women should be treated like princesses. I followed his advice, and look how I ended. I never hit her, let alone beat her, and that was a mistake. I should've beaten her black and blue like some men do with their wives. But I was in love, and her body was like my own. Don’t trust women boy. But you haven’t heard the worst part. My daughter doesn't want to talk to me. Her mother had brainwashed her and made her believe that everything was my fault, and that I was an abuser who made her life hell. My letters were never answered, and when I sent her money, she sent it back. She is married now and has a child, but I can never see him or tell him that his granddad loves him, despite his mother’s reluctance to talk to me. This is how women like to punish you, boy, subtle but effective.”
    To be continued.

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The lieutenant, part seven

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post

    I knocked on the door on the second floor, and when I entered the room I was surprised to see the lieutenant lying on the couch with his boots on its arm. For the first time I saw him without his cap, and now I understood why he preferred it on his head. His dark hair had thinned to baldness at the front of his head and the sides had become grey. His right hand was folded under his head, and his left was holding a burning cigarette. There was a bottle of slivovitz on the table and a half-full glass. A TV in the corner was showing a light dressed singer, but the sound was off. The window was open, but the smell of slivovitz and sweat were still there. I put down the plate and stood at attention.
    I'm not sure what you mean by a light dressed singer. Scantily dressed?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    “Relax.” The lieutenant said. “Do you drink alcohol?” I seldom drank slivovitz, although I used to help my father every year when he distilled his own slivovitz, which he would enjoy often with our neighbours and occasional visitors.
    “Sometimes,” I said not to make him disappointed.
    “Fetch the glass from the cupboard and put it on the table.”
    I did as he told me, and he sat upright and poured the colourless liquid into my glass. I sat at the table and we toasted. The strong drink immediately burned in my throat and stomach. The lieutenant probably noticed that I winced and he said, “Take some snack, boy. It goes well with slivovitz.” I took some cheese, which soothed the burning. He asked me where did I come from and when I answered, he drew deeply on his cigarette. “You know, I’ve been in your hometown many times. Beautiful women. I’ve asked myself why there are so many beautiful women there, and I think it is because of the river. They start swimming as children and water forms their bodies like a sculptor. What do you think?”
    "Take some snack" is not natural. "Eat something" is better. (Also, say: "I ate some cheese.")

    Quote Originally Posted by Bassim View Post
    “You're absolutely right, comrade lieutenant. We all learn to swim as children. The river is magnificent, clean and calm, its bank packed with people in the summer.” For a moment, I was back in my hometown, standing on a hill and watching the bathers in their thousands lying on the banks. Suddenly I was swimming, the warm water lapping gently against my body, stroking me like a woman’s nimble fingers.
    “There’re so many plums in your region, aren't they?” The lieutenant’s voice brought me back to reality. “I remember orchards in the autumn. It was like watching the sea, dark blue as far as the eye could see.”
    “Yes comrade lieutenant. There’re so many plums, slivovitz and marmalade that you cannot find a house without them.”
    “Are you married, boy?” he changed the topic. My answer was negative and he said, “Good, good, if you want to hear my advice, don’t marry early. Don’t rush. See the world first, gather experiences, get your education, and then you can settle down. Look at me. I’ve made a great mistake and now I pay the price.”

    He emptied his glass and poured another one. His voice slurred as he told me about the moment when he had returned from a military exercise earlier than expected and found his wife and her lover sitting in the kitchen and drinking coffee in his flat. “I could have killed them both with this pistol,” he bawled, touching the leather holster, “but I didn’t want to end up in prison and rot for the next twenty years.”
    He emptied his glass again and poured himself another. “I didn’t shout at them, or threaten them in any way. I went at once to my superiors and asked them to post me to some godforsaken place, hundreds of kilometres from my home, and they granted my wish. I thought it was better to live in a self-imposed exile than lose my freedom or my mind.” He pulled on his cigarette, exhaled the smoke through his nose and said, “Don’t trust women, boy. Don’t spoil them. My wife told me she wanted to travel to Italy and buy designer clothes and shoes. I didn't protest. I gave her money. I wanted to make her feel happy. Then she wanted to travel to Austria and Germany, and again I didn't protest. I liked to see her well-dressed, satisfied and pleased. When I was young, my father used to tell me that women should be treated like princesses. I followed his advice, and look how I ended up. I never hit her, let alone beat her, and that was a mistake. I should've beaten her black and blue like some men do with their wives. But I was in love, and her body was like my own. Don’t trust women, boy. But you haven’t heard the worst part. My daughter doesn't want to talk to me. Her mother had brainwashed her and made her believe that everything was my fault, and that I was an abuser who made her life hell. My letters were never answered, and when I sent her money, she sent it back. She is married now and has a child, but I can never see him or tell him that his granddad loves him, despite his mother’s reluctance to talk to me. This is how women like to punish you, boy, subtle but effective.”
    Now I feel sorry for the lieutenant.

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    #3

    Re: The lieutenant, part seven

    I meant to say "lightly dressed", but wrote wrong "light"
    You see how a non-native speaker easily makes mistakes. I believed that I could say "Take some snack", and could not remember that I should simply say "eat something."

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The lieutenant, part seven

    OK. Hey, next time you send me a PM about a new post could you also send me a link to it?


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    #5

    Re: The lieutenant, part seven

    Do you mean a link to the post?

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    #6

    Re: The lieutenant, part seven

    Yes. (I should have said a new thread. My mistake.)

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