We are walking through the hushed streets of Prague, my mother, Milan Zika and I on our way home from the dancing classes.
“I sleep in a hammock”, Milan says with on his most blasé expression. “Beds are boring.”
“How wonderful!” Where did you get it from?” My mother wonders.
“My father brought it from a trip through the Amazonian forest. He swapped it for a gun with the chief of cannibals. I’ve a shrunken human head, too.” Milan says casually.
“Oh!” My mother gasps. “What does it look like?”
“Well, nothing much, really. Just like a normal human head reduced to the size of a coconut. Would you like to see it, Gnadige Frau? It has all its hair and a beard still on.”
“Oh yes!” My mother looks thrilled. “What about the eyes?”
“Honestly, I don’t know. The lids are closed. If you wish we can force them open,” Milan offers obligingly.
“That would be extremely rude!” Objects my mother, who had taught me never to do to others what we wouldn’t like them to do to us.
“We could drop in at your place after lunch tomorrow if that’s all right with you,” my mother proposes.
“Oh, I don’t know.” Milan blushes from ear to ear. “My mother doesn’t feel well and the flat is a mess.”
“Never mind, too much order gives me willies. Of course I’d hate to impose on your mother. Why don’t you give us a ring when she is out?”
“Why won’t Milan bring the things to us, Mummy?” I intervene. Like everybody else but my mother, I know about Mrs. Zika’s drinking problem, not to mention the rest. She might even have sold Milan’s bed, for all I know. Their financial situation is desperate.