A kings’ undertaker
Written in a form of a confession, Łukosz’s story tells us about somebody who – like Robin Hood – takes from the rich to give to the poor. The only difference is in what he steals: a free space inside a tomb. The narrator throws away the ashes of important persons from their tombs and gives the place inside to the corpses of illegal immigrants, poor and rejected by the society.
It all starts in 1980’s when as a young student he escapes to Germany. Hoping to get political asylum, he tries to model himself upon the heroes fighting for human rights. The authorities turn down his application. Wondering for years from one place to another, the Polish refugee takes up any job he can find without a work permit. He’s finally employed by an old church institution where they need a worker in a local crematorium. He gets used to his everyday routine of burning German corpses and walking back from the crematorium to a shack where he sleeps; however, it is rather a mockery of independence than actual freedom. The narrator seems to live in a distorted reality of a concentration camp: he is the one that burns corpses and he is the one that is imprisoned in a hut. All his comrades from the shack are either illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe and Asia, or junkies, strange perverts and alcoholics. When any one of them dies (and they die quite often, especially when summer’s over) there is always a problem with burying their bodies. The narrator decides to use some of the tombs that are inside the church or at a nearby cemetery. Thus, he becomes not (as the title suggests) the king’s but the beggars’ undertaker, which he considers his mission.