The Dorić Diariesbyu06la14b©
The Dorić Diaries
My name is Andy Dorić and I grew up on a remote farm in Yugoslavia. This was before the ethnic genocides and senseless brutality of 1989 that eventually lead to the break-up of a great and beautiful country. This is my story and that of my family ...
It was my wife, Melinda, a Psychologist, who had suggested my returning to what is now Croatia, to the place where I had spent my childhood. She is my soul-mate or at the least, one of my soul-mates, a fact that was evident to us the very first time we met. It was at an 'Incest Survivors' meeting where she was sitting in for Dr. Nunn, the Psychiatrist who usually ran the program. The moment we saw each other our eyes locked and I knew I had found her, the woman that I would marry.
It's hard to explain the logic of this but I just knew that she was it for me.
Later that evening, over dinner, she began probing for details of my childhood and the rather unusual relationships I had shared with my siblings. After all, she had been privy to my oblique references to some of those experiences. Being the only man at the meeting I wasn't quite as forthright about my innermost secrets as the women were -- they seemed to have no compunctions airing their personal histories. I envied their lack of inhibition as they chronicled the details of their sordid pasts while laughing and/or commiserating with one another.
I had grown up in a loving home that was typical of most families with the possible exception that I had shared a sensual relationship with my sisters, one that bridged the multifaceted spectrum of filial affections. I say 'possible' because I am convinced that incest between siblings is far more prevalent than people let on - a fact that is substantiated by the large turnout at the numerous lectures and meetings I have attended (on the subject; this, in an attempt to come to terms with the experiences of my youth).
I am haunted by those memories, the incredible nights of lust and passion that have so influenced me that irrespective of whom I make love to, my sisters bridge the realm of sensual deception; thrusting, sucking, fucking ... their faces and bodies blending together in a collage of illusionary images buried deep within my psyche. It is the sounds of their moans and the soft, pliable feel of their plump nipples, burgeoning with the advent of womanhood, writhing uncontrollably as I pleasure them that reverberate within the recesses of my mind, my senses overpowered by their musty fragrance, exciting me like no other woman has ever been able to. It leaves me in state of constant sexual arousal, addicted to the memories of what once was.
It was Melinda who felt that going back to where it had begun would help me rationalize the perspective of those incidents and find closure and hopefully, freedom from these stifling bonds.
The trip to Suza
It had been sunny all morning intermingled with a misty drizzle but true to the nature of the Balkans the weather had turned, and without warning, the light, vaporous showers had given way to a heavy, blustery rainfall. The skies were now ominously overcast, blanketed by dense, dark Cumulonimbus clouds that had blocked out the sun casting a long, Cimmerian shadow over the sea, an augur to the impending storm.
I felt Melinda shiver as she nuzzled into the folds of my jacket.
"It's cold," she said snuggling closer, leaning her head into the crook of my neck.
Ten years of marriage and I loved this woman more with each passing year. It still thrills me when I watch her playing with the kids in the garden or when she's cooking and doesn't know that I'm looking at her. The way she pushes her hair back or bites on her bottom lip when she's worried, her unrestrained, throaty laugh; those endearing mannerisms that make her special to me. I am blessed that she chose me to spend the rest of her life with.
She is not classically beautiful but possesses an ethereal quality which transcends mere physicality. Though she insists that she was a clumsy child, she moves with the effortless grace of an athlete and is blessed with a body that is long and limber, with legs that just won't quit and small perfectly shaped breasts. Her face is more 'cute' than beautiful with a shock of sunflower-blonde hair which she keeps cut in layers a little past her neckline; a dense, silky mane that has been the envy of many women who have stopped to compliment her. But for me, it is her pale, translucent skin and eyes that are her best features. Her complexion has a paedomorphic quality that has defied the ravages of time and her eyes are like those of a Hindu Goddess - large and almond-shaped; shimmering pools of aquamarine that holds the promise of mysteries untold. I am still fascinated by them and when she looks at me in a certain way, it melts my very being.
But despite all that I feel for her, strangely it is my sisters who flood my mind when we make love; like Cytherean dryads they guard their possessions with fierce persistence keeping me trapped within the warm embrace of their incestuous thighs. I am haunted by their memories ...
Feeling a pang of guilt, I pulled her closer, "We'll be there shortly. Do you want me to get you some coffee?"
"No, but I'm going to close my eyes ... watch the boys," Mel replied.
We had taken the ferry from the beautiful port of Bari on the eastern coast of Italy, a route that cuts diagonally northeast across the Adriatic to the coastal city of Dubrovnik. The large catamaran was being pelted by the rain and the waves crashing over the aluminum bow as it bobbed over the heavy swells, slicing towards the ferry terminal in Croatia.
For my sons, Michael and Steven, the eight-hour boat ride was the highlight of their trip. Michael was six and Steven was four and like most boys their age, they were irrepressible bundles of energy.
"Mike! Michael, come back here ... now!" I yelled after the boys as they ran up and down the aisles to the windows in the front and back, scrambling over other passengers to look out at the choppy sea.
Michael was the intrepid one but I was worried for Steven, he was still not very coordinated and as the catamaran pitched and rolled over the choppy waters, I could see them stumbling from side to side, laughing at the thrill of falling and grabbing wildly at anything to steady themselves. I looked down at Melinda, reluctant to get up and chase after them, hoping that she could exert some magical control over the rambunctious tykes. But I had no such luck.
She smiled up at me, murmuring, "Boys will be boys. Just keep an eye on them and make sure Steven doesn't get hurt."
Yeah, right ... every mischievous scheme that Michael cooked up ended with Steven getting hurt reminding me of my own childhood and I had to smile to myself.
It seemed like an eternity before we docked at the ferry terminal and as luck would have it, the family who had put up with the rowdy shenanigans of my boys was standing next to us at the taxi stand.
"I'm sorry, they can be a handful. I hope they weren't too much trouble," I said, offering them my best conciliatory smile.
"No, no ..." the stocky man replied, his wife and daughters nodding in agreement.
He then tousled Michael's hair playfully and reverted to the language he was comfortable with prattling on in Italian about what beautiful children they were and how he had enjoyed their curiosity about the sea and the ferry. It seems that Michael and Steven had brought back memories of his own childhood and the fascination he felt for the mystical waters of the Adriatic.
Since Melinda and I were fluent in Italian we made small talk until our taxi arrived. We exchanged addresses, inviting them to come to the US and promised to look them up on our way back home.
After spending a few days in Dubrovnik indulging ourselves and doing all the touristy things we decided that it was time to confront the ghosts of my past. We rented a car and drove north through Bosnia to the northeastern region of Croatia, to Baranja County and past the city of Osijek to the little town of Suza where I had grown up.
It had been a tedious drive where the motorways often turned to single-lane carriageways rife with huge potholes that were camouflaged by the rainwater - a motorist's nightmare of having to maneuver around the dark, gaping maws to the entrance of highway-hell. The last thing we needed was a flat tire or worse, a busted axle. So it was a relief when we finally arrived at the hotel, a little worse for wear, but without suffering any real mishap.
Finding the place was a small miracle in itself. The inn, which was an unpretentious stone house, was nestled on the side of a grassy knoll concealed by the dense leaves of the deciduous Ash and Beech trees that lined the countryside. And it was only the flashing beacons of yellow-golden light flickering through the steady rain and reflecting off of the raindrops, dancing in clusters like rainbow-hued fairies, which helped us navigate the unlit, muddy road. It was a road that wound endlessly through the black countryside and brought us, without egress, into the dimly lit, cobblestoned yard.
The boys were in the backseat, wrapped in woolen blankets sleeping like little angels. Steven, his blond, pixie-mop falling across his forehead and covering one eye, was leaning against Michael with his head resting on his older brother's shoulder. He was more like his mother in personality and looks and it was one of life's peculiar casuistry that Michael, who resembled me, was his mother's favorite and Steven was mine though we both tried hard to conceal our partialities.
I was about to wake them when Melinda stopped me, "Don't! Don't wake them! Let them sleep, darling, check us in and then we'll get them up," she whispered, giving me a tired smile.
I didn't blame her. Every second that they were asleep translated into moments of tranquility for us. They were a handful and she could use a break from the constant fussing.
The architecture of the inn was typical of the region, rectangular with beige and grayish, stone walls capped with a red, tiled roof. The large windows, made of wood and painted a deep green, were shut to barricade against the lashing rain. The dim lights of the outdoor lanterns cast weird, twisting shadows that cavorted eerily like chimeral apparitions leaping from the bushes in exuviating, mottled patterns stretching across the yard only to disappear again into the blackness of the night.
There was a more recent addition to the left of the cottage that was lit by brighter wall lanterns trussed to the side of the building, their brilliance illuminating the small, box-like annex made of brickface and stucco and painted white. It was connected to the main structure by a covered walkway and shaded by a large oak tree overhanging the roof. There were several smaller trees and saplings lining the yard towards the rear of the compound that bordered a vegetable garden that melted into the darkness.
I could hear the soft, uneasy bleating of sheep accompanied by the muted snorts of pigs as I dashed across the front yard and up the short flight of Bluestone steps to the main entrance, my nostrils tickled by the organic smell of dust and manure reminiscent of my childhood.
I stood under the green canvas awning on the front façade thankful for the respite from the pummeling rain and noticed that the door that was made of glass and etched with an emblem of a wolf's head was being held open by a man standing silently in the shadows.
It was late, well past 11:00 PM, so he must have heard the engine of the old Skoda as we drove in. He was smoking a cigarette that he flicked away into the yard as I walked by him scattering the wispy trails of curling smoke that hung precipitously in the air.
"Hello, we thought you were lost," he said, his deep, gravelly voice carrying over the heavy drumming of the rainfall. His accent was laced with the Eastern-European intonation intrinsic to the Balkans.
I stopped short when I got a look at him. Stoja Bakić was in his late sixties and bore an uncanny resemblance to my father. He was tall and lean with a shock of spiky, gray hair that was cropped short and I could feel the strength in his grip and the roughness of his palm when we shook hands. It was the hands of a workingman.
"I'm Andy Dorić. We weren't lost but the rain ... it slowed us down," I replied studying him carefully.
"Ah yes, the rain, always the rain," he paused shaking his head, "it has been pouring, unh?" he asked rhetorically paused again and then continued, "Dorić? You know Stefan Dorić?" he asked looking straight into my eyes.
We were about the same height but I had him by about twenty pounds some of which, despite my best efforts, was beginning to migrate to my midsection.
"He was my grandfather," I confirmed then my curiosity piqued and I asked, "Did you know my father, Mislav Doric?"
He didn't reply but instead continued looking at me, the silence building awkwardly, and I could see him contemplating the situation but then after a moment's hesitation, he turned and walked back behind the counter leaving a trail of that sweetly peculiar combination of Old Spice cologne mixed with cigarettes and sweat ... just like Papa. 'He looks more like Papa than my Uncle Roko, my father's younger brother!' I thought as I watched him.
He poured over a thick ledger, painstakingly writing our names and address, scratching and rewriting 'Algonquin Street' several times before he finally spelled it correctly. It came as no surprise that he would eschew the convenience of a computer.
"I will give you the new, luxury suite; no extra charge. It is for your grandfather ... my respects," he said looking up from the counter and handing over a set of old fashioned, bronze keys. On the split key-ring was a heavy, metal tag with the room number, 1A, stamped on it.
"Thanks, much obliged," I replied suddenly feeling tired and craving a hot shower and the comfort of a warm bed.
"The rooms are on the right when you go out. You need help? With bags ... I can help," he offered.
"No, it's okay ... we can manage. Thanks again," I replied.
I saw him leaning down to retrieve what looked like a policeman's baton. It was a black umbrella.
"Here, take this," he muttered, holding the parasol out towards me.
"Thanks that will help." I said and paused, wanting to ask him about Papa but thought better of it and nodded, "Good night."
When I got to the glass door I turned and snuck a quick peek back and saw him hunched over the counter, resting on his elbows, staring at me, his eyes glinting strangely through the feathery spirals of smoke from the cigarette that he had just lit up.
"There is hot water in the shower, right?" I asked, stopping by the door. Not all places in Croatia had hot water.
"Yes. There is a hot water tank ... if it finish, you wait fifteen-twenty minutes and get hot water again," he replied and took a long drag on his cigarette, the reddish glow lighting up his face.
"Okay, that's good ... thanks," I said and risking superstition I unfurled the umbrella indoors before walking out into the rain.
How much did he know? Was he related to me? What made this oddly disturbing was his uncanny resemblance to my father, especially his eyes. He had the same obsidian eyes that were set deep under thick eyebrows with a long, narrow nose that flared at the tip. His mouth was wide and thin forming an unsmiling hard line above a strong, square chin that gave him the fierce appearance of an Illyrian warrior. I was sure that if we were to trace our family trees, our ancestry would lead to a common forefather.
(Note: The Illyrians were the first Europeans to inhabit that region)
That night I slept restlessly, dreaming not of my sisters but of Papa, Petar and Lucian Dragovic ... Lucian Dragovic and the events of 1986.
The Scavenger, 1986
Lucian Dragovic gazed down from his balcony at the crushing throng mulling through the market square and smiled. 'Insects', he thought to himself, his lipless mouth curling derogatively over coffee-stained, crooked teeth, as his mind filled with disgust. He hawked up a clotted, glob of greenish-yellow sputum and spat it over the brass railing hurling the stringy wad towards the swarming crowd below. He did this without concern and with total disregard as though it was a right that he had earned and then smirking stared down at the unfortunate stranger he had splattered.
Lucian was tall, about six feet six or seven, but stood with a pronounced stoop that he had developed as a boy when he was teased mercilessly by his classmates. Beanpole, Scarecrow, Bones, Vulture and the one he hated the most, Insect, were all nicknames they had used for him. He was essentially a coward and though he had been put through some self-defense classes in the army, he had an inherent fear of physical confrontation. His mind and body would freeze rendering him useless. But the survival instinct, which ran deeply through his core, had honed in him a Machiavellian mind, sharp and quick, and able to defuse most situations and use them to his advantage.
A few years back, with a stroke of cunning genius, he had put his meticulous plan into motion. He had wormed his way into good graces of the local party leaders and ingratiated himself to the head of the provincial government, Pavo Marković. He had sworn his allegiance to this insecure, rather dull man and in return for his obsequious loyalty he was made the Regional Director for Farmland Affairs.
'Regional Director'! The words reverberated warmly in his mind reassuring him that he was indeed who he thought he was -- a VIP; a very important person. It was a position that wielded unrestricted and extreme authority and allowed him to exploit the naiveté of the simple peasants and exert what he believed to be his God-given right to prey on them. This, more than anything else, allowed him luxuries that were rare at that time and provided him with a very comfortable lifestyle far exceeding his meager salary. He was, after all, the Director, and without him the stupid bastards couldn't even wipe their sorry asses!
The office of the Regional Director for Farmland Affairs was responsible for the distribution of feed, seed, grain, livestock etc. to the local farms and in return, apportioned how much milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, meat and other products were expected back from each of them. These items were then packaged and subsidized by the government and sold in the market squares to the people through Government outlets and pre-approved farmers. It was a good concept but one that was rife with corruption and exploited by the politicians to further their own wellbeing.
Not only had Lucian mastered the nuances of the political game but he had cleverly implicated most of his superiors in his illicit machinations by providing their families with the best cuts of meat, cheese, fresh cream, milk etc. while keeping punctilious records of every item that was delivered where, when and to whom. He didn't think he would need this but you could never tell. He was fully aware that at a table full of card-sharks, it was a good idea to have an ace up your sleeve. If nothing else, Lucian Dragovic was a cautious man who was given to mulling over every detail.
Things had worked out better than even he had expected, especially when he realized how easily he could manipulate the system to barter for things he fancied, including the beautiful women who had for years been beyond his reach. And, in particular, those who had at one time or the other spurned him; their perfunctory rejections cutting him deeper than they could have ever known. Rejection was something the Director didn't take too well. His deep-rooted insecurity had engendered in him a long and unforgiving memory.