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By: Jan Vitek

The Patsy Trap

Pages: 204 Ratings:
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“I don’t know…” whispered Růženka, leaving her doubt unvoiced.

“What do you not know?”

“If I can believe you or not.”

I understood that she had a problem with me. To convince her, I must crawl out of my shell, lay myself bare and surrender to her mercy.

“Please listen to me, you need not say anything, just listen to me for a while,” I began. “I am 33 years old, Christ’s age. This is a turning point in the life of every man and all the more so of a dreamer such as I. Schopenhauer says that all dreamers should die at 33 because they have nothing good to expect any longer… When a man reaches Christ’s age, all things lie before him stripped and bare, without embellishment, warts and all. He thinks of all his failures, though he does not regret what he has done but rather that what he could have done and did not…from lack of opportunity, feebleness of will to act or because of a missed chance or that he was too weak. And then he does not sleep at night and ruminates over what errors he has made, how many times he has slid down and rose again, and he tortures himself with hope that in the other remaining half of his life, he will live more fully, when there is no more time for trifles, games and pretense. I met you at the right time. My batteries were low, I vegetated from one day to another, I was burned out. But now everything is different. In your presence, I feel young and strong, I want to live, to fight and to love. The odometer shows zero again. Life begins with you, and you are my future.”

At a time when it was almost unthinkable to do so, Jan Vitek, 1928, took a stand against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia; his courageous engagement would leave an indelible mark on the rest of his life. Expelled from Prague University for demonstrating against the 1948 communist takeover, Vitek was forced into hiding, adopting a new identity as a means of avoiding arrest. Under this new persona, he joined the army, where he would meet a powerful and significant ally, Lieutenant General Václav Prchlík, a man who would become his mentor and protector. Prchlík, a fellow dissident, enables Vitek to assume a career as a journalist.

He would later earn a position in the International Labour Organization in Geneva. After Soviet invasion of his home country, Czechoslovakia, he chooses exile in Switzerland. Besides being a prolific publicist, Vitek published half a dozen books and hundreds of short stories in Czech and one novel in English, A Pebble in the Torrent (2013).





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