‘Here’s your coffee’ said a bald, chubby barman from behind the counter putting a plain white cup filled with black, piping hot liquid down. ‘It’s the internet again?’
‘Yeah’ answered a young man who’s pale face had a bluish glow from a laptop. His tired eyes didn’t even move from the screen.
‘Why don’t you just change the ISP? I bet there are lots of discounts for new clients these days…’
‘Well, if I decided I want to terminate, I still would have to pay them for three months. Everybody has that in their contracts. And I have to finish this code until Thursday. But the repairman will be this Friday. I have no idea what excuse I can use to be at home at that hour…’
‘So why do you sit here instead of work?’
‘Because I hate it’ he took a sip of the bitter coffee. ‘I mean, not the programing itself. Even while studying IT at the University I wouldn’t consider writing children games with rainbow ponies a career, but that part is acceptable. It’s the people I can’t get on with.’ He frowned and his fingers danced on the keyboard with lightness and precision. But his eyes never lost contact with the screen.
‘Just change the job then’ the barman shrugged.
‘And work where?’
They both laughed grimly.
But the code wouldn’t write itself. The young man bent over the laptop. Did he add all of the libraries? Did he close all of the brackets in the right places? Did he… Oh no, that method doesn’t make sense! Not after he had changed that other part. Michał bit his lip and massaged sore eyes. The whole twenty lines of code had to be rewritten. He sighed, highlighted the body of the method, and deleted it. Then his fingers begun dancing so fast, they blurred.
After several minutes of focused writing, he tried to debug.
438 errors and 322 warnings
There was no way for half of those errors to occur. Unless… the libraries had errors.
The young man stretched his arms and looked around for the first time. This pub was all too well known to him. It was small and had the sort of used up look. But it was silent and very close to his home. And it had free Wi-Fi. An indispensable thing for any programmer.
Then he realized there was another man, sitting two places away from him. That one’s face seemed worried, but in the same time as if it’s muscles weren’t used to such expression. With his proud, blue eyes, square jaw and broad shoulders, he looked more like a soldier. But with the way he wore his jet black hair and what he was wearing, the man looked out of the place.
‘Excuse me, did you steal your clothes from your grandfather’s wardrobe?’ Michał started before he realized such a notion isn’t exactly the right way to talk to a stranger.
But the soldier just smiled, as if it was a good joke, and reopened one of the documents that were lying in front of him. His brows bent and he went into the world of his own problems again.
‘Maybe I can help?’
The brunet looked at Michał thoughtfully, then again, at his documents.
‘Yes, I think so’ finally, the soldier’s deep voice could be heard. ‘Could you please look for somebody through… this?’ He pointed at the laptop.
‘Yeah, sure. If they’re famous or have some kind of blog or profile there should be no problem. You’re not a stalker, right?’ the young man laughed. This looked like much more fun than those over four hundred errors. ‘What’s his name?’ He stopped with his hands hovering over the keyboard, ready to write.
Michał didn’t move.
‘Captain Stanisław Drozdowski?’
The soldier nodded.
‘Born in 1913?’
‘Yes’ he was pleasantly surprised the young man knew that much.
‘He died in 1949. If you’re looking for his grave… Well, the UB got him and executed. His body has yet to be found. My great grandfather was his best friend. Why are you looking for Drozdowski?’
The soldier looked like someone just pumped air out of his lungs. His eyes got a little bit red, but he blinked and looked into his documents again. He certainly didn’t expect such answer.
‘Staszek had some of my stuff with him…’
‘Your stuff? You mean your family’s?’
‘No, I mean mine’ this time his voice was so confident, almost scary. The brunet threw one of the documents to Michał. It was a small, thin, dark red book with the words
United States of America
written on it. He opened it. There, from a black and white photo looked at him the same man who sat next. Above was written the name of the owner: Janusz Wojciech Prohaski, and his date of birth: 1912.
Michał frowned. He looked at the man, as if asking if that was a joke. But Prohaski seemed to be dead serious. He looked at the passport again. Was it fake? It hasn’t yellowed from old age. But the seal appeared to be fine.
‘So you’re… But Drozdowski told my great grandfather you… If that’s really you, that is… You are BlackHawk’
‘Where is this boy at this hour?’ an elegant middle aged woman looked at a grandfather’s clock. ‘He should have been home for at least two hours.’
‘Give him a break, my dearest Joasia. Janek is probably hanging out with his new friends from the Warsaw University of Technology. Besides, he’s already grown up. And far more responsible than most of us’ said a broad-shouldered man with white, tight cut hair. He was reading a newspaper while sitting at a table which has been set for four. ‘He knows we always start dinner at 7:00 pm.’
But Joanna’s husband didn’t seem to calm her down.
That’s why when she heard a doorbell, she jumped, then ran to the door.
‘Good evening, mother’ a blond young man with a broad smile entered the hallway. But he didn’t close the door behind himself. He opened it wider instead. There were three people: two boys and a girl. All of them wearing gray, used up coats and having jet black hair. The oldest of them, one of the boys who looked Janek’s age, entered first. He put down an abraded case, took off his hat, took the mother’s hand and kissed it. She was so shocked she did not know what to say.
‘They are Prohaski siblings. Janusz, Józef and Jadwiga’ Janek pointed at each of the newcomers. ‘Janusz just started studying at our faculty, we have almost all of our classes together. Their parents died recently, so he is the legal guardian of the younger ones. I’ve told them they can stay here.’
‘Come on children, then. We were just about to start dinner’ the mother smiled at the girl, who was hiding behind one of her brothers. ‘Staś, put the book down and bring more chairs’ and she vanished behind a wooden, ornate door.
The boy called Staś was looking like a teenage, slightly smaller version of his father. But as the parent read the newspaper with icy calmness and calculation, the son had fire burning in his eyes, which seemed to be just a prelude to what was going on in his soul, yet didn’t spread onto the rest of his face. ‘Yes mother’ he put the book down on a shelf with other books, and went to the guests. Staś greeted boys with a firm grip, but to kiss Jadzia’s hand he had to almost chase her behind Józek. Then he went to another room.
‘Come on in, don’t be shy’ the father’s deep voice rang, and on his face appeared the smile inherited by his older son.
‘Good evening Mr. Drozdowski. We’re really thankful for your kindness’ Janusz went first again.
‘It’s a tradition to any Pole and a duty to any Catholic to help those in need.’
But the young man somehow didn’t seem to appreciate those words. And Mr. Drozdowski noticed it.
‘Either way, I’d like to talk with you after the dinner. Please, sit’ the father pointed at the chairs Staś had just brought. At the same time Ms. Drozdowska managed to bring more dishes.