Skip to main content

Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 14 page 03


There had been trouble. Everybody knew a bomb had exploded close to the archduke as the royal cars had passed through the streets, and I suppose as heir apparent to the throne he should have been taken back to the railway station immediately and put on the next train to Vienna. But no, he had stayed on and had gone to a function at the civic hall.

I guessed immediately that Gavrilo was involved.

He was just outside my door, as I said, staring along the road by the river, at the people milling about, with his right hand pushed deep into his coat pocket. I am not sure exactly why I walked out of the shop towards him. Perhaps I felt responsible. For him? For a student who might just shout at me? Which in fact he did.

“Gavrilo,” I said, in the polite, gentle voice I use with customers. “Gavrilo, you should eat something.”

“What? Eat? Let me be!” he shouted.

Some heads turned, but across the road there were other people clamoring too, shouting about Serbs, if I remember.

“Gavrilo, you would be safer inside. Sit down at a table and have a plate of ćevap —”

“Moritz,” he said, realizing now who I was. “Moritz, I’ve got a loaded gun.”

“— Which you are not going to wave about, I think.” I knew for certain at that moment what was in his mind. “Gavrilo, it’s dangerous for you here.”

“I am not afraid of danger. I have work to do.”

“Perhaps not today, Gavrilo. You look pale. Your eyes… You should come inside for a little while. Come and talk to me, Gavrilo.” I tugged at his arm. “Listen to what those people are shouting over there. If they found out you were a Serb —”

“I would shoot if they attacked me!”

“I know you would, Gavrilo, but what would that do? I pulled at him again, and this time he responded, as if he had made a sudden decision for himself. He walked quickly towards the restaurant section. I took him to a little table he might have remembered from his schoolboy visits, and I nodded to the man in the kitchen. Gavrilo was shivering in a kind of rage. I sat opposite him.