The Unstolen Truck
This is going to be another one of those “I was in a foreign country” stories people are always writing. I apologise in advance. In fact, I apologise for a couple of reasons, not least because I don’t really know what the point of this story is, but somehow there seems to be one and maybe in telling it, that point will become clearer, not least for me. The foreign country in question is the Czech Republic and the story takes place in a bed in a hotel room in Prague. I was with a woman named Elena, and she and I had been out all day, her showing me the city and now I was far too drunk and exhausted to even consider doing anything but watching Czech television. I’m sure she was exhausted, too, but she had enough energy to offer a mildly sarcastic translation of everything we were watching.
Most of what was on Czech TV at that time seemed to be valedictory shows in which old stars from the communist era would appear on a stage and tell vaguely off colour stories about life in the TV business under communism (or maybe it was just the translation). There was one show, though, for which I guess the word is “engrossing”. It was some kind of detective programme that was apparently constantly on when Elena was a girl. The main detective had long hair and a big moustache, and he generally had a kind of retro appeal that was entertaining in itself. The vibe seemed to be that he was a cop who played by his own rules, at least within the narrow options available at the time. The episode centred on the story of a stolen truck. Apparently a farmer had a truck. Some guys stole it. It was the detective’s job to find it back. I don’t remember the full story, but I remember the detective and his partner talking through theories, asking questions of the farmer, and then chasing some people for a while. In the end, it turned out that maybe the truck hadn’t been stolen after all. I think the farmer was the one up to something untoward.
I turned to Elena, “Kind of weird, isn’t it?”
“Everything was weird then.”
“No, I mean the whole premise of the show, that you could ‘steal’ something in a country without private property.”
“But it wasn’t stolen, you see.”
“True, enough. But they were still investigating. It really asks you to suspend your disbelief.”
“Maybe that was the point of the show,” she said, then she looked out the window as the streetlights were coming up. Then she said, “Maybe that was the point of everything.”