There were three of us in the room: Mátyás Veszprém, Dr. Kálmán, his cousin and me. Veszprém complained about his nervousness, saying he would give up his company and retire all the way. The maid then brought a business card. Veszprém read it and pulled his mouth away reluctantly.
– Who is? Kálmán asked.
“Garzo,” replied Veszprém.
– Why do you bet! Kálmán shouted angrily. – Don’t bet. Throw it out. You must not be weak. Things like that then make me nervous. Throw it out.
“I can’t do that,” Veszprém said.
He gestured to the maid to introduce her. Garzo came in. He was wearing a long black jacket, the two wings of the jacket fluttering up as he walked across the room. His gait was quite strange, undulating, chairlifting, nestling. He wore long blond hair and a blond beard; he had big gray eyes; his face – calm -71-in a state – was suffering as a Christ; if he laughed, he was a wanderer like a vulture. He shook hands with Veszprém and Kálmán, then with me. Introducing:
– Oliver Garzó.
He took his hand by raising his arm high, then lowering it in a wide, swinging but gentle line and engaging his soft fingers in the man’s fingers; carefully, as if grabbing some sensitive, delicate object.
“Strange man,” I thought. – And he has a weird name.
Garzó sat down, said a few words about the time, then turned to me.
“I read your latest short story,” he said benevolently. – It was very bad.
I looked at him in amazement. This weird ur acquaintance is quite weird. Garzo didn’t bother.
“It was very bad,” he said firmly. “You sin gravely against yourself by forcing yourself to write.” Don’t write in your bad hours, no matter how much money you need. There are people who can handle this forced labor. You can’t handle it.
I wanted to answer, but Garzó wouldn’t let me.
– I usually find it awful that you have been leaving the old, waist, honest -72-writing principle: pure artistry. What do you want from the proclamation of social truths? Entrust it to editorials.
I wanted to answer again, but then Garzó turned away from me simply, smoothly and quietly, and what I could have said, sat down in a chair, all the way to Veszprém and began to explain something to him softly and emphatically. I set Kálmán aside.
“You, Kálmán,” I told him, “what a man this is.” What is this? Writer? Teacher? Musician?
– This? This is a machine agent.
– But yes.
– Your relatives?
– He took our cousin.
I looked at the blonde man. He leaned forward in his chair, all the way to Veszprém, who was leaning into his armchair, listening pale and lethargic. The face of Veszprém has always become more tired, always fainter, and that of Garzó has become redder and more agile. The face of Christ was tangled with the face of the vulture, the two gray eyes fluttering angrily, wandering in error.
“You,” I told Kálmán, “this man is not quite sane.”
“Of course not,” Kalman said -73-angrily. – Your father was a fool already. That’s why he baptized Oliver.
Veszprém then stood up. His forehead was sweaty.
“All right, old man,” he said, “I can’t give you money because I don’t have one.” But I sign the bill.
Garzó stood up, took a blue bill of exchange from his pocket, went to the desk, spread out the blanket, dipped a pen and handed it to Veszprém. Veszprém sat down and obediently signed the bill.
“Thank you,” he said softly and elegantly, “you’re kind.”
Then he turned to us.
“Son of Kálmán,” he said, “I hear he was unlucky.” You flattered yourself with the Koller boy. You did not recognize pleurisy. You left the puncture. Great nonsense, old man. Anyone who doesn’t trust their ears should at least know and dare to filter anatomy.
He smiled. It was a blood clot. Kálmán turned pale in anger. Garzó, however, turned softly softly and said in benevolence:
– Not at all. Not everyone can be a flame.
He shook hands with Veszprém, a wide and soft one -74-he gestured to me with a gesture. He didn’t even look at Kálmán, then walked out of the room softly, softly, with three long, undulating steps.
We looked at each other. We listened. Kálmán spoke first.
– How much did you sign for him?
“The amount is incidental,” Veszprém said uncomfortably.
– Not incidental. I want to know.
– A minor.
– No!… A thousand? Ten thousand? Twenty thousand? Thirty thousand?
Veszprém gestured yes. Kálmán clapped his hands.
– Unheard of. It’s awful. After all, he is not the fool, but you.
Veszprém turned ashamed; sat down, then said boldly:
– But now he has a really brilliant plan.
“He always has brilliant plans, but there’s always something wrong with them.”
– Not now. He explained. He has a new plow construction. He wants to make a factory. You do it with that money and then you have plenty of credit to take the business.
Soon after, I left; Kálmán came with me and said a few more words about Garzo on the way.-75-
“She’s a complete fool,” he said. “It’s dangerous, like a mad dog, it bites your leg for no reason.” It destroys Veszprém. Not only does he blackmail money out of it, he lies on his whole life. He interferes with his business, forcing him to come in contact with him, not even tolerating his taste to go his own way. He’s really brilliant, sometimes delightfully kind too. But if medicine had been more advanced, if his remarks hadn’t been as rude as the work of a lumberjack, so if he hadn’t just established public danger when something was already raging, this man would have been maddened long ago.
Then we divorced. Five months later, I went up to Veszprém one day. His face was tired, worn, stabbed.
– What is wrong? I asked him.
– Garzo was here.
– What did you want?
– Money. The credit situation is terrible, you don’t get credit anywhere.
– Did you give it to him?
– I signed.
– How much?
– Ten thousand.
“Poor old man,” I said, “this kinship is a little expensive.”-76-
“But he is such a brilliant man,” Veszprém said warmly. “You can’t make it so bad.”
Four weeks later, Kálmán ran into me one morning.
“Get your coat,” he shouted excitedly. – Come with me. Immediately.
– Where? Why?
– To Veszprém. You’re a friend, help save her.
I bought my coat. Kálmán ran out.
– What is wrong? I asked on the way.
“He’s got Garzó,” Kálmán gasped. – It ruins it if we don’t stop it.
– What do you want from him?
– His plow turned out to be a brilliant creation, you just can’t plow with it. Now he wants Veszprém to give as much money as he can to maintain his factory. Until you perfect your plow… Your creditors have rushed you… You can’t even talk to them under a hundred thousand crowns.
We reached Veszprém. Kalman ran in, I followed. In the other corner of the room – apparently after a constant retreat, chasing and squeezing – sat Veszprém, crouching in his armchair. Scared, excited, pale. Leaning in front of him, Garzo lit his eyes.-77-
When we entered, Veszprém looked at us with happy relief. Garzó turned his head back, wanted to speak, then smiled once and his face became a bloodthirsty face; then he turned away. Since he couldn’t get rid of us, at least he didn’t care about us.
He spoke softly for another time; However, Veszprém stood up and pushed him aside. He’s released.
“Sweet man,” he said, “I can’t do that.” The two bills, the thirty thousand and the ten thousand, I pay; if I now withdraw such a huge amount from my business, or if I take such a huge loan, I will ruin myself. Myself and my family.
Garzó stepped back, the redness of his face disappeared, his eyes flickered one or two in error, then he looked over Veszprém’s head and asked hoarsely:
– Is it my family?
“For you,” Veszprém said very warmly, “here I am.” But what if I go bankrupt?
Garzó still looked over his head and said softly into the air.
“But I wanted to make the first million.”
Veszprém was prepared to say something with great kindness:-78-
– Hja fiam…
Garzó, however, was already looking at him by this time, his gaze more confident, his face calmer and clear in voice, his head raised, he said firmly and calmly:
“That’s why you’re responsible for the collapse.”
Veszprém looked at him coldly; Garzó pressed his voice:
– Therefore for the collapse and all its consequences. Before God and man.
Veszprém shook in protest:
– But you think it’s crazy. How can you talk like that?
In a starkly sharp voice, he said further, into his face, the accusation:
“You’re responsible for me going into this business.”
Veszprém wanted to speak but could not.
“You took it in,” Garzó said harshly, every word bouncing. “You took him in and now you’re deliberately going to ruin to bury me under his ruins.”
He gasped for air in Veszprém.
“You can’t listen to this anymore,” Kálmán said.
He went between them. He wanted to face Garzo. However, Garzó didn’t even look at him, turned and walked out.-79-
Veszprém stroked his forehead and closed his eyes.
“Sit down,” Kálmán said, “because you’ll pass out.”
Veszprém sat down, leaned back, closed his eyes and moaned painfully. He looked at me later. He spoke and could only speak with a stutter:
– It says… that I… took it in…
“It’s crazy, it’s crazy,” Kálmán said.
“That’s right, it’s crazy,” I said.
Kálmán then gave Veszprém a glass of cognac, urging him to travel somewhere. Veszprém recovered and I left.
It was morning. At six o’clock in the afternoon, I read in the evening papers that Garzó shot himself in the head and died. I rushed to Veszprém. In the hall, the maid told me that ur had become very ill in the afternoon, Dr. Kálmán came and brought two professors.
I went in. There was a bitter wailing from the bedroom, the screaming of a persecuted man.
Kálmán accompanied the two professors outwards. When he came back, I asked him in horror:
– What happened?-80-
– She has a fever. He received this letter in the afternoon.
He took a letter from his pocket and handed it to him. I read. Under the letter is the signature of Garzó. The text of the letter is:
»In a quarter of an hour I will shoot myself in the head. You bear the responsibility for my death before God and man. You took it to decay. My spilled blood splashes on you. You will perish miserably . ”
I was horrified.
“But he was a madman, a madman, a madman.”
– That was.
There was a bitter moan from the bedroom. The cold ran down my back.
– How is Veszprém? I asked anxiously.
“He will perish miserably,” Kálmán said between his teeth.