When I was still in a rock band in Ljubljana, there was a man, small, but muscular, that used to visit us in a cellar of a band's guitarist. We practiced there regularly, at least three times a week. The name of the man was Jozhe, but everybody called him The Carantanian. Behind his back, of course.
»Slovenia-Carantania!« he shouted when he got drunk. »Slovenes-Veneti!«
He was always drunk. When he was drunk, he was a pain in the ass.
»You know,« he used to tell me, »don't walk by Stara Cerkev at night. There's a gang there. They'll grab you and take your virginity!«
Then he started to gesticulate.
»They'll make a hot bulb outta your ass!«
Back then I was living across the Tivoli park, near Stara Cerkev, so I had to pass it by after our band's practice. Sometimes I walked home very late at night, as the practicing continued into some very late hours. In the summer we used to sit in his garden behind the very old, wooden table.
»Jozhe, what will they do to him?« asked the guitarist mischeviously and pointed at me.
»It's obvious!« shouted the Carantanian. »They'll take his virginity!«
The Carantanian was a very mysterious person. He was unemployed, without social security, living in various places. All the landlords and landladies kicked him out sooner or later, because he was making fuss, wasn't paying the rent and kept a knife under his pillow.
»They'll never get me!« he used to say.
In his own mind he was a legend, a martyr, giving his word and soul for the freedom of Slovenia.
»They locked me up!« he used to say, lighting his cigarette. »Used to beat me like hell! So what! You can break out of prison, but when you're ten feet under there's no way out!«
He always looked at me after that.
»Watch after yourself, you're precious!« he used to say. »They'll rip out your soul and dance on it!«
Then he ordered another beer.
»I'm not afraid of anybody!« he continued. »I do this ...« – he made a jump – »... and this!«
He made another jump, but it was obvious to us that he was showing us how he beat somebody into molasses.
In the summer he was always working at various houses in the suburbs of Shishka, Koseze and Podutik. He was good at painting the facades of houses, fixing the roofs and also working construction.
»I'm 61 years old,« he used to claim, »but my pecker is as good as new!«
Then he grinned.
»He beats and slams, that pecker!«
Sometimes he came in while we were practicing and listened to us playing. He raised hell as soon as he heard a word that was Muzak to his ears.
The guitarist always showed him the door rather impatiently.
»Hah!« the Carantanian used to shout. »You sing shitty songs, you oppress our beautiful language!«
»Jozhe, what the hell!« the guitarist used to grumble. »Don't meddle in our work!«
»Go to hell!« shouted the Carantanian. »Shit, if you want to! Phew!«
He spat on the floor.
»Jozhe,« said I, »is it the »too much« that we put into the lyrics that bothers you?«
»Too much?« ranted the Carantanian. »Too much is an evil word, a bad word. Anglo-Saxon shit! You know who we are? We are Slovenes, Veneti, Carantanians! The English people are bad, they want to exterminate us Slavs!«
Our drummer said:
»All that because of our 'too much'?«
»But of course!« Jozhe continued. »Too much is not a Slovenian word. It's not a nice word. It's an Anglo-Saxon word, a shitty word!«
»Jozhe,« said I, »too much are two words!«
»And they're both bad!« the Carantanian persisted. »I can write two better ones with my pecker. How can you sing that kind of shit?«
The guitarist called for a pause, figuring we'll never manage to play and listen to the Carantanian at the same time.
»Jozhe, don't come back again while we're practicing!« mu je rekel. »You're ruining it for us!«
»I'm going to get cigarettes!« said Jozhe. »I won't come again! I can't listen to you shitting like that!«
»Well, Jozhe,« said the drummer, »no language is pure, you know!«
»Our language, our Slovenian language is a pure, a crystal thing!« said Jozhe. »A beautiful thing! Do you hear that, France?« he turned to the guitarist.
»He writes the lyrics, tell him that!« said the guitarist while pointing at me again.
Meanwhile I was sitting in the garden, talking on the phone. Suddenly the Carantanian appeared before me and began lecturing me:
»You are a great man!« he began. »You write great songs! But you always soil them with that Anglo-Saxon shit! The English people are bad, they want to exterminate us Slavs!«
Suddenly he remembered something.
»What about your pecker?« he asked and started to gesticulate. »Is he working? Is he?«
I hung up the phone.
»He is working!« said I, afraid of being reminded of Stara Cerkev again.
»Do you exercise? Do you eat?« continued the Carantanian.
»Yes, I do!« I answered. »I eat lunch every day and ...«
»Lunch? You have to eat minced lard and bread!« ranted the Carantanian. »A lot of fat and grease! It strenghtens the pecker! Do you exercise?« he repeated.
»I always come here by foot!« I answered.
»Where do you live?« he asked.
»Across the park!« I said. »On Zhibertova!«
»There's a gang there!« howled the Carantanian. »I'll beat them, I'll crush them! There's a reason for that knife under my pillow, you know!«
Our drummer said:
»Did you ever use it?«
»Damn right I did!« shouted the Carantanian. »I was alone and there was five of them! Oh, but I showed them hell, just like Krjavelj did!«
»I bet you did!« I mumbled. »Five times splash and five time sp-lllllash!«
»You were drunk and called them shitty motherfuckers!« said the guitarist. »What did you expect?«
»Me, drunk?« howled the Carantanian. »I was as sober as I'll ever be!«
And he stumbled across the garden.
»Sober!« he shouted. »I'll split them all with my pecker!«
He looked towards me.
»Where did you say you live?«
»Near Stara Cerkev, Jozhe!« said the guitarist.
Oh, thanks a lot!
»That's not good for you!« said the Carantanian. »They'll get you and take your virginity. They'll make a hot b…«
»Jozhe, it's all right, we've heard it already!« I said impatiently.
»No, no, let him say it!« said the guitarist.
»They'll make a hot bulb outta your ass!« said the Carantanian victoriously, and the guitarist just couldn't stop laughing.
If he got drunk, he used to come banging on the guitarist's door in the middle of the night.
The guitarist wasn't happy about it. He came to the door and tried to shut him up.
»Jozhe, go to sleep! You'll wake up the neighborhood!«
»Who the hell cares!« shouted the Carantanian. »I'll show them! France, open the door! Let's smoke one!«
»No smoking for me at one a. m.!« said the guitarist while shutting the blinds. The Carantanian used to fall asleep on the bench in the garden. In the morning he was gone.
Then he stopped coming to see us. I didn't see him again until last March. We met at the marketplace.
»Hello to you, too! How about your pecker? Is he working?« he greeted me.
»Yes, he is!« I answered. »What about you?«
»Oh, I'm all right!« he said, freshly shaven. »I'm out to get some bread and beans. Do you still practice at France's place?«
»Yes!« said I. But the end of that fairlytale was approaching fast.
»You watch out!« he said. He grabbed my hand confidentialy.
»They'll take your soul!«
He was right. That was also the last time I ever saw him. Or heard of him. I hope he's doing all right, whereever he may be. In some new apartment, among his friends Veneti … I wrote a song Hot Bulb about six months after I left the band. For me and for the Carantanian. I don't live near Stara Cerkev anymore and the band is history. We did some good songs and maybe the Hot Bulb would also be a hit. And if the Carantanian would join the band as the sixth member, we'll be playing beautiful, nice Slovenian songs. Puristic rock'n'roll.
Translated by author