I just finishing chimping this shot when the owner of the small stall, made up mostly of used books and cheap trinkets, approached. He asked what I was taking the picture for.
“Just for me. I liked the composition, Kennedy there and Tito there.”
“Of course you know he was a phony.” He was referring to the former Yugoslav leader, not the assassinated U.S. president.
I smiled. “I’ve heard some of the rumors.”
He then began a capsule summary of the widely-held theory among Balkan conspiracists that Josip Broz Tito, the peasant born to a Croatian father and Slovenia mother, was not the same man who would later rule Yugoslavia as a sharp dressed man with an iron fist. He was in fact a Russian spy —more specifically part Russian, part Ukrainian, he said.
Someone Vladimir Putin would like.
He sensed my disinterest, polite as it was, and wrapped it up after suggesting the switch to the phony Tito came in 1940 or 1941.
“We won’t know the truth for a long time,” he said. “That won’t become public for another two hundred years.”
Among the offerings on the table next to the Tito as Hero book were two pairs of colorful high-heeled shoes. To lighten the conversation, I wanted to ask if any evidence existed to suggest that Tito was a cross dresser.
But when I turned around he was gone, leaving his books, shoes and stall unattended and yet another question unanswered.