It is late, I am tired; I don’t know how far I’ll get with this tonight. I suspect that this account of my last hour will be somewhat disjointed and lacking the rich atmospheric descriptions which it deserves, but that’s the way it goes, sometimes. And yes, yes, I know I promised to tell you about yesterday, but that will have to wait. Tonight all I have the energy for is a small tale about the end of today.
I don’t get down to The Globe much, maybe once a year. It’s down near the center of town, where beers tend to get pricey, and I find myself venturing into the center less and less. The Globe is also a favorite among Americans, and while I appreciate talking to people now and then, it’s not the sort of vibe I look for on a general basis. Tonight, however, I was at the Globe, and I had a damn good time. There was music, conviviality, and a generally friendly feeling in the air. This story is not about that.
The café was closing, and there were still quite a few people there, some of whom I knew, others I had just met. “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here,” the saying goes, and the group seemed to be trapped by the option. I knew, however, that I was going home. “Where are you going to catch the tram?” Don Diego asked me. “I’m walking,” I replied. “Walking to… the tram?” he asked. “No. Home.” I could have told him exactly how the walk would go. Instead I am telling you.
I said goodbye to the group, and started up the street. There was some agreement that most of the rest of them were going the same direction, so I paused and looked back. There was no action. Don’t say goodbye twice, I decided, and left the group to mill about. I set off. The wind had died down but it was still chilly, but when I got into stride I unbuttoned my coat to let the cold air in. By the time I was passing through the drunken brit section of town, I was moving. The pickpockets and pimps did not even glance my way; I passed through them with point A firmly behind and point B directly ahead, and all their games require slowing the target down.
At the top of Václavské NámÄ›sti I popped into the McDonald’s for my long-overdue supper. I purchased my McRoyal(tm) (rhymes with Quarter Pounder(tm)) from a guy who quite obviously hated his job selling deadly food to drunks, then I was back out on the street, throwing back the 26 glorious grams of shimmering fat which will form a gelatinous layer in my already-abused stomach, somehow making things better. By the time I was past the museum the burger was just a happy memory. It was Friday night, so there was still a fair amount of foot traffic as I passed though Å½iÅ¾kov. I considered some of the all-night places I passed, thinking perhaps that one last beer might compliment the burger nicely, but the temptation was only slight. I was in motion.
Between the long skinny park and Flora I heard a small crash and looked ahead to see a very drunk person struggling to stand back up. I crossed to the other side of the street, reflecting that I was not going to compare well with any Samaritans who might be out and about. Hopefully the door the drunk was trying to open was his own.
Past Flora are the graveyards, predictably dark and quiet, and the skeletal remains of Autobazar Å koda, a car dealership, now defunct. The signs are still out, and streamers rattle metallically in the night wind, but there are no cars anymore, and no guard dog to dutifully bark at me, reminding me once again that I should just keep walking. I miss that dog; we were starting to get along. Past the ghost dealership is the empty lot that only weeks ago hosted a circus; the ruts made by the big trucks as they carried the show away still visible. I am almost home.
I consider once more stopping in somewhere for a final beer. What I really want is to bring something home with me, to keep me company while I write about my walk, but this is Strašnice. I turn left at the final graveyard and find my way home, roughly an hour after I set out. Perhaps there were other hours today that were more significant — hours of accomplishment and interaction, connections made and ideas shared — but looking back, my hour alone on the streets of Prague late at night was my favorite.