It was not quite a feeling, more like the cumulative effect of several conflicting memories interlocking subconsciously, so that I was constantly, in fact, sensing the presence of one set of experiences while thinking of something completely different. It started as soon as I saw the tower on top of Jested, lit bright against the uncommonly clear night sky. My stomach tightened walking up the cobbled street where I used to work, and my mind fogged like a man who returns to a childhood home and recalls that he was not always happy there. Things were only very slightly different: a new block of flats and a Lidl where I used to take the short cut to the bus station, an oversized branch of C & A at the bottom of Moskevska, and a just opened Interspar right by the swimming pool. Supermarkets, not religion, now the opium of the people.
We met Stevie in Plzenka, around the corner from the town hall. His wife had had a baby boy two nights before and he was drunk and tired and happy, but mostly tired. He took us to his old flat and then went home while we wandered around looking for a late-opening pub, finally ending up in the kebab shop. Gersende, a French teacher at a now bankrupt private school, and her boyfriend were at the next table, disguised by low lights and cigarette smoke. I talked to her for a while, skirting certain issues, then left.