Printed from WriteWords -

Stephen Magic

by  Bergkamp

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Word Count: 782
Summary: My first novel (first draft). It is about a Croatian man called Stephan Majik who is badly injured in the Croatian war of seccession in 1992. He suffers from memory loss due to severe head injuries. The story is his attempt to piece together his past and that of his family.

I found this collection of writings and documents at 19 delaware Court, Eastern Road when I visited the flat at the end of November last year to dispose of possessions that had been left there by the previous tenannt. The cleaning company I hire to maintain to my properties between rentals, contacted me by phone. My brother in law Michael deals with getting rid of discard items like this usually, but my sister Jeanette, his wife, had just been admitted to hospital with an ectopic pregnacy. So, that is how I found myselfat the flat at 9 o'clock on a dank, overcast November morning last year.

I raely visit the properties in Dover siince I moved to Maidstone from there in 1995. So, I had forgotten that the outside of the building needed redecorating. I almost drove past looking for a better maintained block. It pays to be more hands on, I suppose. Michael had mentioned this to me from time to time. But with one thing and another, after the car accident and Billy's trial I have stayed away from Dover.

I when I first found the the papers on the desk in the bedroom I was going to bag them up and take them to the tip with evrything else. There were some clothes hanging in the closet, some furniture that needed replacing, that sort of thing. But something caught my eye. It was handwritten, for a start. The handwriting was strange, kind of loopy nad inconsistent. I sat down and began to read.

What follows are all the writngs, letters and documents that I found that day.

Peter Cooper
Maidstone, 24 February 2000'


10th. August 1999.

I died on 24th. July 1992, sometime around 5a.m. Medical records state that I received severe head injuries. My left eye had been gouged out. My jaw was smashed by a heavy, blunt instrument, a mallet, perhaps.

I arrived here in the winter of 1994, after fourteen months in hospital. First, in Zagreb, then in Milan. I came here as a refugee because I speak English. In 1985 I came to England for the first time and spent two years at London University where I completed my M.A. on John Donne.

A year after I arrived here as a refugee I moved to Canterbury. I had to come back after four months. The people here remind me that I am not from here, not from this world. I have a new name, a new identity in death: Stephen Magic.

Back then, growing up in Croatia, I was called Stephan Majic. I was born in J------, south west of Zagreb on 17th. February 1963. I had four older sisters, my parents and both grandmothers.

In death I am trying to piece together who I was and what happened to me. There were no eyewitness accounts; the killers have not been bought to justice. The doctors in Zagreb explained to me that my head injuries were so severe that I have some brain damage. My memory has been affected, my speech is slurred because I lost part of my tongue, and I suffer from severe headaches. My doctor here suggested that I write down my life story, that way my memories begin to return. I write in English because I am Stephen Magic. I am writing about someone called Stephan Majic. A Croatian, someone I barely remember. Perhaps English allows me some protection, a buffer against reality. It allows me to be an eyewitness to the past, my past.

I sit at my desk at my window overlooking Eastern Road. The rumble of traffic, the birdsong of children’s chatter and the blast of ships’ horns from the port in the distance. These are the sounds that snatch at my attention, the sights that flicker in front of my one seeing eye.

Delaware Court faces south. Eastern Road is a listless mixture of foreigners, mainly from central Africa and eastern Europe, refugees, like myself. That is what my British hosts would say. But the people here push their babies in buggies and carry home their shopping in brightly coloured carrier bags. Their children cry and shout and laugh. Groups of adults stand together talking, smoking, drinking, able-bodied, waiting, always waiting.

I am not waiting. I was granted British citizenship last year. Even before then I was not waiting. Waiting means that there is a future for me. There is no future for me. There are only snapshots of the present. Snapshots of Stephen Magic. A man with a patchy memory of his past, who has trouble seeing and hearing things. A man who slurs his words even when he is stone cold sober.