From “Liberation”

As the clock ticks toward’s dawn’s ultimatum–the newspaper staff must turn over TUNA, a Serb army deserter, or face attack by Serb armor–a couple of the news crew and TUNA hunker down in the cold….

ZLATKO:  (to TUNA) I don’t get it. You obviously have feelings, yet you can kill prisoners. You care for your sister, but you rape strangers. How can you sit there and not do anything? It’s a crime, Tuna. All of this! It’s a bloody, fucking crime!

ISMAIL: Too bad they shelled the courthouse.

ZLATKO: And why, besides the obvious, is that?

ISMAIL: The Serbs. You could sue them.

ZLATKO: Lucky none of you can sue me.

ISMAIL: Boss! The very thought! We know you have no money.

ZLATKO: Thank you. This past year, thank you.

ISMAIL: You’re the only paper in town. With a building.

ZLATKO: Your wife and all.

ISMAIL: Ah well…. You’re welcome. Hope you can pay me back. Hope someone can.

TUNA: Sir?

ZLATKO: What?

TUNA: His wife? Is something wrong?

ISMAIL: Wrong.

ZLATKO: Tell him.

ISMAIL finishes bandaging up MILENA.

ISMAIL: There you go, sweetie. Sleep now. He’s not interested.

ZLATKO: I think he ought to know.

ISMAIL: You want a bedtime story, Tuna? Heard you lost your folks.

TUNA: Yes.

ISMAIL: See, we’re all about “that” big. The three of us. My wife lost her mother. A war incident. In the process, my wife was damaged. Her body. Her soul. She’s afraid. Can’t take care of herself. She’s waiting at home right now. Alone. Have to wait a little longer, I guess.  Go ahead. Turn away. It’s all right. Everyone wants to hear, but no one wants to take responsibility for what they hear. These stories, once you hear them, they stick to you. They get to be your stories. My stories. Your parents and my wife. All of us, pincushioned with stories.  You want to know? My mother-in-law and my wife were at the market, waiting in line for bread. Someone—maybe the Serbs—lobbed at artillery shell into the queue. My mother-in-law saved my wife’s life.

TUNA: How?

ISMAIL: Everything hit her first. Made good pictures. Made CNN. The best part was when the Serb spokesman said the Muslims shelled the market to make the Serbs look bad. Oh, we laughed over that. My wife lost her legs. Lost her mind. Luckily, I’m an optimist. Someday, she gets her mind back.

TUNA: I’m sorry. I’m tired of saying I’m sorry!

ISMAIL: I’ll assume you didn’t fire the shell. We are prisoners of madmen, Tuna. You, me, the tankers out there. We are not geniuses or idiots, saints or devils. We are only lucky or unlucky. To varying degrees.


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