²⁸ A few weeks ago, at night
I had gotten off the train and the girl sitting opposite had said “good luck, wherever this is”. Our passports had been inspected, stamped.
It is dark outside and I soon pass the small station building. I pass a few hooded silhouettes on the road, avoid looking, go on, just straight.
The shadows parted and it is clear that one among them is following me. My bagpack is heavy, it is past midnight: better wait, let it catch up, rather than turn an open back to it.
It is a boy, slightly bigger than me, slightly stooped.
Where you go
We walk on.
Under a lampshade, I see that his face is strangely carved; perhaps a defect from birth, congenital idiocy, or cruelty, bored.
He invites me to stay at his family’s place.
Just the day before, I was told that someone had been stabbed here.
Yes - to death.
I must keep the boy at bay. I flex in my thin raincoat, mark my territory, you there and not closer - without words; because the words themselves, the ones I speak, they appear to be spoken by someone else, another voice, from the pictures perhaps; I don’t recognise its accent.
The boy doesn’t speak much English.
I tell him the first name that comes to mind
A name from the movies, cartoonish.
He says Abdallah, or Mohammad, something Arabic, and I ask if
The face chuckles; maybe there was a joke involved, some jest that I couldn’t understand, and
Come to my House
Often, I had talked to friends about fear, learning fear, what fear can mean for someone who hasn’t grown up experiencing it. I wonder if this is fear, this country road, the closed industrial hangars on both sides, the camp sleeping behind us and what I had seen last time: faces of fear, and despair, and unfulfillable desire to find home, a home, any home
Come to my house
Stay where you are, boy
Don’t touch me
I wonder if I should hit him. He is bigger than me and I am carrying a heavy bagpack. But maybe a strong, single kick would suffice. How long has it been since I haven’t hit anyone. I’m getting closer to my destination, and he’s already out of breath, we’re walking fast, running almost, he wouldn’t be able to catch up after a kick.
I think he’s telling me that he speaks German. I flex
and I am probably shouting, Du
We walk and I think he’s telling me to give him money
No money, my friend
Money, my friend
No Dinar No Euro
No Cash, verstehst du
I think he’s asking for sex, because there is a smile on that face, and he says
Sex is good
Should I kick now
too late now, because
a car is also following, slow, an Old Volkswagen, and I decide not to turn back, but the boy stops and speaks with the driver, a few words, and I continue walking, I didn’t think it would be so far, and the car catches up, the boy panting behind, and I won’t turn back
What is it
Do you want a ride
That boy’s crazy
Thank you, man
but I’d rather walk tonight.