Tired and cold we decide to go to his uncle kebab store and grab something to eat. The good part is that it's always on the house, the bad part is I always believed I will get some exotic illness if I continue to eat there. It's no wonder I never refused a glass of rakija. Suddenly alcohol had a real purpose: to keep me healthy.
We sit at our usual table but Dejan is suddenly quiet. Weird of him, but I am too tired and hungry to give it a second thought. At the next table some guy I never saw before, utters indistinctly. Not really noticing him, I ask Dejan about the latest gathering which I considered a fiasco but all the others seemed to have enjoyed it. He doesn't answer. I repeat my question but as I am half way through, he stands up and jumps at the guy from the next table sending blow after blow to his face.
Shocked, I jump out and scream as loud as I (had no idea I) can "LEAVE HIM ALONE". The poor guy jumps off in trying to escape and it's then when I realize from his awkward behavior that he is a - oh how I hate such names - mentally challenged person. The uncle manages to get between them and stops Dejan before it's too late.
My universe collapsed right there and then. From my hero, he became the most despicable person on earth. I ran away for about 10 days before daring to watch him in the eyes again.
When I told Rand everything that happened he asked me if I know why Dejan violently jumped on the poor guy. "Does it matter?" I ask back with an aggressive voice. "He attacked a defenseless person. There is no excuse for that. Ever." Rand does not give up though "You've known Dejan for a very long time and you know he would not do anything like this. Would you believe it if somebody would have told you this story instead of seeing it?" He then leaves me alone without giving me the chance of saying anything back. "There is no excuse" I say to myself.
Rand always had the talent of seeding thoughts in my mind that I could not get away from. Was there more to it than it was visible to the eye? I went to Dejan's cousin for a cup of tea and by jumping from discussion to discussion I tell him the story, as I saw it. There is no change in his face so I dare ask, "Who was the poor guy?" He tells me the poor guy was the neighbor of Dejan. "What?" I ask amazed? "Neighbor" I've spent months in that house and never saw that guy before.
It seems the poor guy was indeed the neighbor who lost it during the war. We was never diagnosed or even checked by a doctor. The "mentally challenged person" label was just a guess in the end. Something seemed to be wrong with him, but no one knew for sure what. Every person in the village hated him as it seems he tended to utter indistinctly, well almost indistinctly, truths or lies about everybody. And it seems he managed to spread some dirty rumors that others picked up about Dejan's family but especially about their family guests. Me included.
"Was Dejan defending me?", the thought that did not left me for many nights. I didn't pay any attention to him mumbling that night, but Dejan must of.
"Things are not always what they seem", what a cliche... and yet we often look away and not deeper.