I’m an idiot.

How many times have I told myself not to chat up the owners of the corner kiosks for language training? Pick a kiosk that you don’t have to pass to get to and from your safe house; every time you pass, they will see you and wave you down to chat. If you don’t, they will get upset.

Right at the end of this slope, where I have to catch my ride to Sarajevo, is such a kiosk. I blundered myself into a slanted friendship with Mustafa, the brother who tended it. I should want to time this just right, so my ride arrives the same time I do… precluding the option to chew the fat with Mustafa.

It was early morning, not quite all the way light yet, definitely foggy as fuck, and I’m grumpy, not wanting to talk to Mustafa — or anyone. Nobody should want to talk to me either, grumpy-ass me.

Bosnia was just a gloomy country in the days just post-fall of former Yugoslavia. The locals referred to the times as “prije rata/posle rata” and “Bivshe Jugoslavia”: pre-war/post-war and former Yugoslavia. There is no joy or rejoicing after such a devastating war where there is no victory. And there was no joy in Geo before he had his morning kava (coffee).

The fog was so heavy and in a state of dysphoria, not certain if it wanted to be fog or rain. Well, it had better hash out its identity soon enough, before it was time for it to use the restroom: I’m a wigwam, I’m a teepee… I’m just two tents!

I heard a sound behind me: “pith, pith, pith, pith…” the staccato of running shoes. Stepping completely off the road I rested my hand on my 1911 and waited. To my befuddlement, the sound was tied to a running figure coming up the slope — not down. The dense fog had nicked me acoustically.