Publicat de: leonard oprea | 21 Octombrie 2010


















leonard oprea


And the hero was surrounded by enemies. He fought like a god, like an angel. But they were as many as the grass leaves. And he could not die a heroic death, as he would have wanted, as it would have fit his dignity and his nature.

He was taken prisoner.

The world public opinion zoomed in on it. What was to be done with the Hero? Execution would have turned him into a martyr; a life sentence of hard labor would have meant thousands of convicts admiring him, protecting him. That would have brought in reporters to augment the story on TV and radio, peace and environmental organizations, and who knows what other kinds of trouble. It was decided that the Hero be given a forced domicile in a castle on top of the mountains.


Years went by. Peace set in. And then they remembered the Hero.

The case was re-discussed.

The Hero had to be released.

One fairly sunny morning, the Hero had to leave the old castle that had meant a decent life for him. He felt somewhat uneasy about the release. He had grown accustomed with life at the castle.

True enough, there had been other moments when he did remember he was a prisoner after all.

There had been moments during his siesta, or while relaxing with a mistress, or at the end of a hunt offered by the governor of the castle, or while admiring from the top of the buttresses the snow-clad peaks in the sunset, when he wondered whether ‘freedom’ was not really a rather obscure word.

There had also been moments when he meditated on the duties of a hero.

Well, he had grown accustomed with life at the castle.

And he felt somewhat uneasy about the release.


He embraced the flooded-eyed governor and pressed him against his broad, sinewy chest.

They sank in the scarlet leather armchairs.

They lit their Cubans. They smoked for a while in silence.

Every now and then they sipped their perfumed cognac from the big-bellied glasses.

Eventually, the governor informed the Hero with emotion in his voice that he had been awarded an honorary citizen diploma.

The Hero extended his warm gratitude and decided he was leaving the next day. The governor invited him for a good-bye dinner and the Hero offered him one of his medals.


A year had passed since the release. Meanwhile, the Hero had traveled throughout the country.

And the country whose hero he had once been, declared war against the country he was now in.

And invaded it.

The Hero found himself tormented by dark thoughts. If he stayed he would have to confront the invader, which was his call, but then his former country would hold him for a lowly traitor. If he went back to his country after so many years and in wartime he would no doubt be taken for a dangerous spy and not be allowed to fight for his country.

What was he to do?!

Neutrality was out of the question for, after all, he was a hero.

He then decided: a hero can only be a hero if he fights – on the battlefield – for a just cause. And it has always been the case that invaders are waging unjust wars. Now this country is being invaded.

Just as the other homeland had been years ago.


In this battle the Hero was surrounded by enemies. So many that, although he fought like a god, like an angel, he could not die a heroic death, as he would have wanted, as it would have fit his dignity and his nature.

He was taken prisoner.

As he was an admired public figure worldwide, they could not easily sentence him to death as a traitor, nor treat him as a regular prisoner.

A fortress on top of the mountains became his forced domicile.


Years went by. Peace set in. Inside the fortress, the Hero was now leading an entirely civilized life. He had grown accustomed to it. But he had been thinking increasingly often about the castle where he had lived a similar life. And he had been meditating about the meaning of freedom and the duties of a hero.


One day he escaped.


He wandered through the woods for a fortnight.


One summer afternoon he was following a deer when he reached a bright glade. In front of him there were two groups of soldiers each commanded by an officer. Before he knew it, they fell upon each other. So there was a new war. He drew his sword and summoned them to cease the struggle. Nobody listened. He ran from one side to the other shouting at them. Then he was attacked. He defended himself. But they attacked him again. This went on until nothing could be heard except for the voices of the wood.

Long moments passed as the Hero stared wildly at the corpses.

Suddenly, he yelled that someone take him prisoner. Somewhere a crow cried, a scold shrieked, a secret creature puffed.

The Hero haunted the woods sniffing for the war. Wanting to be made a prisoner. Hungry, tattered, pale, and with dark circles around his eyes, he looked like a ghost.

Flea-ridden and delirious with fever, he came upon a hamlet. The mountain people gave him shelter and looked after him until he recovered. He now looked as impressive as in his days of glory, his eyes shining as those of a god or an angel.

One day his hosts told him the Hero had been taken prisoner and is now living in a castle on top of the mountains. He was petrified.

He fretted all day and all night, until he felt inside an endless desert.

In the morning he greeted the people in the house. They stared speechless at the shaking old man in front of them. He never got to eat his bread and drink his milk.

He died slowly dropping his head onto the course plank of the table.

The priest told the mountain people that a man growing old over night and dying suddenly could only be the work of the devil.

So they buried him without a cross outside the hamlet, at the edge of the woods, under a yellow rock.

Years went by…


The yellow rock at the edge of the woods was called the Unholy Rock. Those who know its story stay wide clear of it and cross themselves when they are around that place.

Only the children who drive their sheep by that place find rest there and sometimes they even sleep peacefully in the shadow of that rock.



Iar Eroul fu înconjurat de duşmani. Luptă ca un zeu, ca un înger. Dar erau ca frunza şi iarba. Şi nu reuşi să moară eroic, cum şi‑ar fi dorit, cum ar fi fost demn şi firesc pentru el.

A fost luat prizonier.

Imediat opinia publică mondială şi‑a aţintit ochii asupra lor. Ce trebuia făcut cu Eroul? Execuţia l‑ar fi transformat într‑un martir, iar condamnarea la muncă silnică pe viaţă ar fi însemnat sute şi mii de osîndiţi care să‑l admire, să‑l ocrotească, ar fi adus reporteri care se strecurau peste tot şi făceau din ţînţar armăsar; televiziune, radio, organizaţii paci­fiste, ecologiste şi alte necazuri. S‑a hotărît atunci ca Eroul să aibă domiciliu‑forţat într‑un castel din creierii munţilor.


Trecură anii. Domnea pacea. La un moment dat, şi‑au adus aminte de Erou. S‑a analizat cazul. Eroul trebuia eliberat.

Într‑o dimineaţă, suficient de însorită, Eroul trebuia să părăsească vechiul castel în care dusese un trai civilizat. Eliberarea îl cam descumpănea. În toţi aceşti ani se obişnuise cu viaţa la castel.

Nimeni nu poate nega, existaseră şi clipe în care îşi amintea că era totuşi prizonier. Fuseseră şi clipele cînd, în timpul siestei sau după ce se relaxa cu vreo curtezană, sau la sfîrşitul unei vînători oferite de guvernatorul castelului, sau cînd admira de pe mete­reze apusul pe crestele înzăpezite, se întreba dacă nu cumva „libertate” e un cuvînt greu de înţeles.

Existaseră şi clipele cugetărilor asupra îndato­ririlor lui de erou.

Ei bine, se obişnuise cu viaţa la castel. Şi elibe­rarea îl cam descumpănea.

Îl strînse la pieptul său larg, musculos, pe guver­natorul care avea ochii umezi. Apoi se aşezară în fotoliile din piele stacojie. Îşi aprinseră ţigările din foi. O vreme fumară în tăcere. Din cînd în cînd gustau din paharele pîntecoase coniacul parfumat. Într‑un tîrziu, guvernatorul îl informă cu emoţie că lui, Eroului, i se acordase diploma de cetăţean onori­fic al acestei ţări. Eroul mulţumi călduros şi se hotărî să plece abia în ziua următoare. Guvernatorul îl invită la o cină de adio şi Eroul îi mai dărui una dintre decoraţiile sale.


Trecuse un an de la eliberare. În tot acest răstimp, Eroul călătorise de‑a lungul şi de‑a latul acestei ţări. Şi ţara al cărui erou fusese declară război ţării în care se afla acum. Şi o cotropi.

Eroul se pomeni cu sufletul sfîşiat de gînduri negre. Rămînînd aici trebuia să lupte împotriva cotro­pitorului, asta era menirea lui, şi atunci fosta patrie l‑ar fi considerat un josnic trădător.

Reîntorcîndu‑se în ţara lui după atîţia ani şi‑n vreme de război, cu siguranţă ar fi fost tratat ca unul dintre cei mai periculoşi spioni şi nimeni nu i‑ar mai fi permis să lupte pentru ţară. Ce să facă?!! Neutru…?! în nici un caz nu se putea declara, el fiind un erou.

Pînă la urmă se hotărî: un erou nu poate fi un erou decît luptînd; pe cîmpul de luptă; pentru o cauză dreaptă. Şi, de cînd e lumea şi pămîntul, cotropitorii poartă războaie nedrepte. Acum această ţară era cotropită. Cum, cu ani în urmă, a fost şi cealaltă patrie.


În această bătălie, Eroul fu înconjurat de duşmani. Atît de mulţi, încît, deşi luptă ca un zeu, ca un înger, nu reuşi totuşi să moară eroic, cum şi‑ar fi dorit, cum ar fi fost demn şi firesc pentru el.

A fost luat prizonier.

Fiind Eroul cunoscut şi admirat de întreaga lume, nu puteau nici să‑l condamne la moarte precum un trădător, nici să‑l trateze ca pe un prizonier oarecare.

O fortăreaţă din creierii munţilor a devenit domi­ciliul său forţat.


Trecuseră anii. Venise pacea. În fortăreaţă Eroul ducea o viaţă absolut civilizată. Şi se obişnuise cu ea. Dar tot mai des se gîndea la castelul în care trăise ca şi aici; din ce în ce mai mult cugeta asupra înţe­lesului libertăţii şi asupra îndatoririlor lui de erou.


Într‑o bună zi evadă.


Rătăci prin pădure vreme de vreo două săptămîni.


Era o după‑amiază de vară. Urmărea o căprioară cînd ajunse într‑o poiană luminoasă. În faţa lui, două pîlcuri de soldaţi conduse de cîte un ofiţer. Pînă să se dezmeticească Eroul, se încleştară. Era deci din nou război. Trase sabia şi îi rugă să înceteze lupta. Nu‑l ascultă nimeni. Alergă dintr‑o parte într‑alta ţipînd mereu la ei. Apoi fu atacat. Se apără. Dar iarăşi îl atacară. Şi tot aşa pînă cînd în poiană nu se mai auziră decît glasurile pădurii.

Minute lungi Eroul privi buimac leşurile.

Deodată urlă, cerînd să fie luat prizonier. Undeva croncăni un corb, ţipă o caţă, pufni o vietate ascunsă.


Eroul bîntui zile întregi prin codru adulmecînd urma războiului. Dorindu‑şi să fie luat prizonier. Flămînd, zdrenţuit, palid şi încercănat, părea un strigoi.

Stors de puteri, delirînd din cauza febrei, nimeri într‑un cătun. Muntenii îl adăpostiră îngrijindu‑l cu omenie pînă cînd îşi reveni. Arăta la fel de falnic ca odinioară, iar ochii îi străluceau ca la un zeu, ca la un înger.

Într‑o bună zi însă, află de la gazdele lui că Eroul a fost făcut prizonier şi trăieşte undeva într‑un castel din creierii munţilor. Rămase ca stană de piatră.

Toată ziua aceea şi întreaga noapte se gîndi, se zbuciumă pînă cînd îşi simţi dinlăuntrul un nesfîrşit pustiu.

Dimineaţa îi salută pe cei ai casei. Oamenilor le pieri graiul avînd în faţa lor un bătrîn care tremura din toate încheieturile. Nu apucă să‑şi mănînce bucata de pîine, să‑şi bea laptele din cană.

Muri lăsîndu‑şi încet capul pe scîndura negeluită a mesei.

Preotul le spuse muntenilor că îmbătrînirea de peste noapte şi moartea fulgerătoare a unui bărbat în puterea vîrstei nu pot fi decît lucrătura diavolului. Aşa că îl îngropară fără cruce în afara cătunului, la marginea pădurii, sub o stîncă gălbuie.


Se scurseră anii.

Stînca gălbuie de la marginea pădurii a fost pore­clită Stînca‑Necuratului. Oamenii care‑i ştiu povestea o ocolesc de departe, scuipă în sîn şi‑şi fac semnul crucii.

Doar copiii care ajung cu oile acolo se odihnesc şi chiar dorm liniştiţi la umbra stîncii.



X-LIBRIS publishing House/ a Random House division

Copyright © 2008 by Leonard Oprea.

Library of Congress Control Number: 2008901520

ISBN: Hardcover 978-1-4363-2366-6

Softcover 978-1-4363-2365-9

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval

system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying,

recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.)


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