Zoltán Danyi
Stan & Pan

On that day Jóska Fabri was on duty.

Batboy had told Jóska on phone to turn on the radio, or if it had already been on, to turn it to the Kossuth Radio station because something big had happened in America. Many colleagues had been lost, said Batboy. Jóska Fabri opened the drawer and dug out a small transistor radio. A September afternoon had been idly langoring through the open window: dust was taking a nap in a deep tractor rut. On the brick footpath two sparrows had just started a noisy brawl as Jóska Fabri turned on the radio.

The phone rang again. It was Jani, or as they call him, the Bugbear. Have you heard, goddamn it?, he asked. In America, 300 firemen. Fuck! I’m going, I’m gonna call for Géza Bushy as well. Outside, a third sparrow had born down on the other two and then all three of them flew off in a twitter: the argument, which stirred up a cloud of dust as big as a watermelon, had ended.

Kossuth Radio had said it was 400 with the policemen included. Jóska Fabri, taken aback, shut the window. Poor colleagues, he sighed. Poor American colleagues…

Batboy arrived first, but he was not even through the gate when Bugbear and Bushy rushed in as well. They leant their bicycles against the walnut tree. Jóska Fabri took out some plum brandy, and when Hat had arrived, they all clinked their glasses in honor of their overseas colleagues. On the six o’clock news, Kossuth reported the death of 350 firemen.

The five of them were sitting round the table in their uniforms. They had already drunk the third glass of brandy. The cleaned, polished instruments were already standing by. At 7 p.m., the men saluted before the flag of the village’s fire squad, which had been at half-mast. Then they got down to playing a musical piece they had been practicing lately. Confutatis, molto adagio. They knew if a similar accident had happened to them, their overseas colleagues would have done the same: not five of them but 500, with a concert running late into the night. They would have also saluted before the squad’s flag, if this had happened to them. The Americans would have also drunk for the rest of their souls.

Provided that they had known about the whole thing. If the news had reached them and the announcer of their Kossuth Radio.

Translated by Róbert Andruskó