Saint Vitus Day

An angry Gavril sat at a small street-side table along the open façade of Moritz Schiller's café in Sarajevo and picked at his ham sandwich. He coughed an unproductive tubercular cough and used his sleeve to wipe the spittle from his lips. Looking across Franz Joseph Street and the Miljacka River, he could see the little park where, the night before, his girlfriend Jelena denied herself to him. He told her that he was going to die.

It was June 28th, Saint Vitus’ Day. To Gavril though, it was Vidovdan, the day when Prince Lazar gave his life defending Kosovo against the Ottomans in 1389; the day when the Sultan felt the cold steel of the great Serb Knight, Miloš Obilić. It was supposed to have been the day of another Serb triumph but it had all gone terribly wrong.

Gavril’s eyes rose at the sound of tires screeching on the street before him. A deep red touring car ground its gears as it tried to reverse itself. It stalled. Gavril calmly rose, reached into his pocket and produced a Browning 1910. He raised it at the surprised passengers in the rear seat, a couple dressed in formal attire. He looked at the woman and hesitated. She was pregnant. He nearly turned away to run but five and a half centuries of pride stayed him.

Gavril Princip closed his eyes in a long blink and jerked the trigger. The woman loosed a glottal yelp. He squeezed again and the man’s jugular burst open. Franz Ferdinand and his wife bled out as the car sped away.

Scratched onto the wall of Gavril’s prison cell was “Our shadows will be walking through Vienna, strolling through the court, frightening lords." He was right, but it was more frightening than even he ever imagined.

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