Saturday, 28 March 2009

Nové Butovice --> Hůrka

I always get a kick out of seeing the restricted sections of the train stations. They make me think of what is behind the scenes on film set. It fits nicely into a fear I had as a kid that life was just a TV program. The fear lasted until I was about five and school brought a new batch of worries – I also realized this was one of those things you didn't admit to. Colored perforated metal fins run along the station's ceiling, which is made from metal tiles. It accentuates the imaginary nature of the place . It's as though it will all be pulled apart and packed away in a box at any moment.

People are queuing outside the station. I don't think I can stay too long before I attract attention. I circle round once. In the distance a barren fields walls in the area. I grab a pear from the fruit stand and head to the other side of the station. I assume there will not be much to see today.

The path leads to a square from which ventilation pipes poke. On them are graffitied the names 'killer', 'bloods' and 'many'. I assume the guy meant 'money'. (It's a common spelling mistake, which I know from teaching.) Unless the person responsible thinks of himself as some type of collective. There is a crown above the name, so perhaps he refers to himself in the royal we.

The quiet is unsettling. It gives you an impression of a ghost town. A few families pass by, but there are moments when the only sounds I hear are my footsteps and the murmuring of my trouser legs as they rub against each other. It doesn't seem possible. I can see cars and people in the distance. Behind the square is a construction site. But, the noise remains distant, as though muffled by the silence. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It is 2:30pm in the afternoon.

I continue along the path. It leads to the next train station. Around me are The buildings are different styles of buildings, some old and cake shop beiges, browns and creams, some tall and licorice all-sort pastels, thers modern highest quality German steel grey. Across from here is a panelak, which looks like a faded and dirty work by Mondrian. I pass some high glass arches and through them see the train station Hůrka. Nové Butovice is still visible in the distance.

The name Hůrka, reminds me of a police officer, Sergent Hůrka. He would be overweight with floury white skin, and folds under his large long-suffering eyes. His rank doesn't mean much. He's happy not to have the responsibility or the compromise.

From Hůrka, the train tunnel appears out from the ground. A great metallic worm making a dash from one side to the other, but caught and pinned on the cement pylons. If I follow the worm I will be able get to the next station Lužiny.

The worm passes over a park with small lake. It's noisier here. Mostly kids' and dogs' names and the occasional siren. A Great Dane passes me. Its shoulder come up to my up waist. It ambles passed with the clumsy gait of all large dogs. Its head seems too large for it to control. The other dogs keep away.

The park becomes an open field on the other side of the worm. A dirt track has been worn through the grass. An old man and his grand daughter don't stick to it. This is the first time I've seen this here. People are usually careful not to walk on the grass. I can still hear sirens and a child releasing a gurgling cry. I kestrel screeches and I see it alight with tentative claws on a winter stripped branch. It expertly sheaths its wings while it surveys its hunting grounds from the perch.

Sgt. Hůrka wonders how the girl went missing. Not that there is anything to work out. He knows what happened. It's just he likes to punish himself by going over it.

The girl was bundled into a car. The people had grown used to ignoring screams – that was other people's business. Or it scattered them like pigeons. Someone claims they saw two Roma guys nearby. They could've been Roma the witness said after the second questioning. Everyone at the station knows they didn't do it. The description given were too generic. As soon as Hůrka heard them he imagined a sketch on the front of a newspaper. Plus the times didn't match. The witness said he saw them speaking to the girl at two when she was still at school. Funny the little details people don't think to check when making something up. A younger cop said that they should pin it on them any way. The station chief rubbed his lined head and said that they didn't even have the funds to scapegoat people. So, they would keep asking people questions, while the girl was already over two borders and somewhere where cops came even cheaper, along with guns and cameras and whatever else you needed.

After the first few days, when despite the training and experiences, cases like this still found the soft places under the armour, Hůrka after his second beer, and too tired to deny the truth, said that what they should do is get a list of every film studio, every film distributor and basically shut them down until they got some names. Hůrka was moved to another case the next day. He had only said this to one of the younger officers.

It didn't even happen in this park. But it was similar. Coming here won't bring him any closer to the answers. It just reminds Hůrka that he is no stronger than any other person. He looks up when the sirens whines past and like everyone else he wonders what could've happened.

I return to the worm and follow it up the embankment. The ground is soft and almost sucks the shoes from my feet. There's a cement path at the top which leads to the courtyard of a grey panelak. All around are old faded signs. I find it comforting, somehow more comforting because it's real. Up from the panelak I see the entrance to Lužiny. Unfortunately a road blocks my path. The entrance is only 150m away.

I return along the worm. When I reach the lake again I realise that I'm going around the lake clock-wise. I went around the lake clockwise earlier too. Two kids run past. One stops suddenly and calls out to the other that she's feeling sick. I assume she's got a stitch because she starts to wretch. Stitches are something I associate with childhood too.

Lt. Hůrka goes around in an anticlockwise direction. He's right-handed and he's never thought about which direction he heads. Right now he's thinking about his own daughter, and as soon as he thinks of her he thinks of all the things he disapproves of, her boyfriend, her studies, her music.

I cross the square down from Hůrka train station to another square. It is connected to the first square by a bridge and there is a small doorway at the entrance. I assume that the square had once been a church and this was from the original structure – or they wanted to suggest the original structure. It's like walking through an unfinished sketch. In the centre is a gazebo which resembles a basilica. Inside are painted ceramic reliefs. The images are all non-religious. A fox, a lamb, a crown, a tulip.

I cross the bridge back to the original square, where there is sea blue building which suitably resembles a submarine tower. There's a bell and intersecting pipes at the top. Only when I read the sign that I realise it's a church, Kostel sv. Prokopa. The intersecting pipes are a cross. Perhaps, the resemblance to a submarine was intentional as though they felt religion was a resurfacing.

Before heading up to Hůrka train station, I scan the are one last time. Lt. Hůrka is heading home to one of those perfect identical squares. He's opening a beer and waiting for his wife to come home so they can watch Star Dance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a surreal afternoon! I think Nové Butovice Hůrka might be my favourite station so far.