Mirko waits for his father to catch up. The climb is steep; the afternoon sun is baking.
“Time for us to get out of this hellish city,” Father said in the morning, surveying the wreckage of the apartment. “Mountains, real air, shepherds, zincica. I’ll take you to Rosutec; show you where I proposed to your mother.” Mirko snorted. Many promises under the bridge, many lofty plans. By nightfall Father was sure to be drinking with Janka or Dasenka or Lesia somewhere.
“Can you give me some grocery money?” he asked. Father opened the fridge, saw the yawning emptiness.
“You wishing you were back with your mother? Roast pork, dumpling, sauerkraut?”
“Hell, no,” Mirko laughed. “More excitement. But can I have money anyway?”
Father roared, “Chip off the old block,” handing him a hundred-crown note.
But before noon they are on the train to Zilina and now are climbing. Mirko looks back. In the city Father stops at every street corner to catch his breath; here his face is flushed but his step has spring.
When Father steps over the last boulder, they admire the vista. The meadow is flecked with grazing sheep. Wood smoke rises out of a shepherd hut, rock crags, tree-covered hillsides, rising mist. A village no more than a speck lies below them.
“All these things I will give you, if you fall down and worship me,” Father turns to him.
Mirko kicks a stone, laughing. “I’ll take it; I’ll take it.”