Truly the last action hero
On 21 December 2005, the last great Czech action hero, General Rudolf Pernicky, reached the end of his earthly journey. The text is a literary tribute to the General, but unfortunately it is entirely fictional and any resemblance to real events, though chilling, is nevertheless only coincidental.
The hero went abroad to fight against the fascist occupiers of his
of his native country, where at the time his pragmatic compatriots were shirking under
under the banner of „Nothing but the nation“. After an adventurous journey and many vicissitudes, he arrived
to England just in time to begin his training for a rear-area deployment
the enemy and thus fight at home, while still getting acquainted with the departing
Gabcik and Kubiš, destined to be trained for similar actions. After many
waiting, he was dropped into the Protectorate on the day he turned 61.
before his death. He coordinated the rebel groups and prepared the uprising
and the seizure of power before and at the arrival of the liberators.
He graduated from a military academy and received 20 years of the harshest penalties from his nation’s officials for actively opposing communist practices after February ’48. Even in the uranium mines he did not lose his charisma and remained mentally unbroken, as evidenced not only by the memoirs but also by the literary treatment of their fates. During the temporary communist relaxation, he actively tried to help his former fellow prisoners and comrades in arms, for which he earned the status of an outcast in his homeland again after a few months of consolidation of normalized conditions.
After the Revolution of ’89, despite his advanced age, he helped both former political prisoners and World War II veterans. All his earthly actions were done selflessly as his service to the right cause. You don’t do these things for metals or money. Two minor illustrations: he allowed himself to be persuaded by a blue book winner, former expatriate and Free Europe contributor who serves as Defence Minister that this is finally a regime that is at least symbolically trying to rehabilitate those on whom the „statehood“ and „civil society“ of a small free nation is built. He and his comrades in arms moved to the old age home in the Military Hospital. There, with their comrades in arms, they intended to spend the last few days, months or perhaps even years of their bloody lives. But alas, after settling in, after burning all the bridges to their former homes, the veterans had to disperse again and for the final time in earthly life among the dying in a terminal stage in various hospices throughout Bohemia.
It is impossible to care for the sick in a nursing home for ninety-year-old veterans in the middle of a hospital. Unfortunately, the minister can do nothing about this administrative obstacle, the responsible deputy, the prime minister, and the president, present or past, can do nothing, nothing, nothing at all. But a legislative change is being prepared and in two years‘ time the war veterans of the next generation will finally have such a facility, 250 years after the opening of the Prague Invalides.
And perhaps this will finally convince those centuries-old veterans who are so paranoid and have not wanted to trust any regime in their territory in their long lives, God knows why, not even a fair one that compensates for the damage. The Minister unfortunately had no information about the General’s condition, after the correction his spokesman had perhaps once visited him in person briefly, after another correction the book the spokesman writes about the General has nothing at all to do with his position as a close associate of the Minister and all those visits to the General can unfortunately only be considered purely private. The President is certainly not thanking, through the mouth of his secretary, the leaders of the party with the slogan Nothing but the Nation, who have articles in their press about the communist collaboration of soldier Pernicky (a decent phantasmagoria), and the dying general, who had his leg amputated, is still invited in front of the cameras to receive a high award.
But the General is still stupidly loyal. He appreciates the honor. It is not a medal for him, but for those who have given their lives for some abstract ideals and have not been, are not and will not be seen in the media. Thus not in textbooks, and unfortunately not even in scholarly historical works. They are, or soon will be, dead. By the hand of the Nazis, the Communists or by the decrepitude of age or fate.
They served, they didn’t ask who for what. They knew their business. Evil must be resisted, it’s not done for medals, the reward will come in the kingdom of heaven, and gratitude and satisfaction is utter nonsense. The only reward for service to good is hard work and the surrender of one’s life. That’s all. And it must not be given up. One must fight, one must not give in, and every yielding has a fatal consequence. But the Heavenly Horsemen do not meet in the common graveyards of the living and the dead. Their kingdom is not of this world. The phantoms continue to drag through the darkness. They are ghosts of goodness and hope. And the darkness of the earthly world must be illuminated.
Evil has horns of steel and eyes of blood. But I hear the hoofbeats and believe in illuminating phantoms, that is not ghost fiction, that is faith, and the fictionality of this text cannot change it. „Mehr Licht, General!“