Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The bracelet

Changes can be so abrupt, although the world up to now faked a certain idleness. It might very well be considered normal behaviour to blame your own fallibility on others. The world up to now tricked me into believing changes are an important part of life. I was naive to think that a) those changes would be in the right direction and b) I could control them.

All this goes through my head while it probably should be busy with other, more important matters. For example with the question how to escape this house unscathed. The building itself is of course not my main problem, but the handgun pointed at me.

Fear never stays the same, it has many colours. To be honest, I would have preferred it, if I hadn’t gotten to know my fear that well. I have always been suspicious of people jumping off bridges just to prove to themselves and the world around them that they are still alive. To me, behaviour like that seems to be a disease of civilisation.

A metal click brings me back to earth. I guess she removed the safety on the pistol. I have no previous knowledge of weapon handling and the connection to mankind’s general pool of wisdom as propagated by the movies seems to elude me today.

Everything would be so much easier if I understood what Anna is shouting at me. Not that I pride myself on thinking that I could defuse the situation. Probably, it would not even be consoling to know why she seems determined to shoot me here and now, because the “why” (in contrast to the “for what”) is usually of a more historical interest.

Is it possible to remove blood from a rug with salt and cold water if it’s several liters? And if so, how much salt would you need?

A movement in the corner of my eye distracts me. The door to the living room opens annoyingly slowly. It’s an oak door, two to tree hundred years old for sure. A bit unusual for a 40 year old house, but it’s this contrast that makes it look gentrified.

I should have known that I would see Ben again. It’s not without some irony that the situation I first met him in was also dominated by a small piece of metal. Admittedly, the brand Heckler&Koch was not involved back then. I slowly begin to understand.

From the outside, this would without a doubt be an interesting sight to see. How he talks quietly at her while she shouts back with a force bordering on audioviolence. Someone claiming that Italian is the language of culture doesn’t know Italian curses. A laugh almost escapes me, when I remember how I learned to pronounce compliments on a stranger’s underwear in a Beijing restaurant. This thought of the past painfully brings me back to the present. To this house by the beach. Up to know, the scene could not have taken longer than 5 minutes.

A small, but not insignificant detail has changed: Anna now points her outstretched arm in his direction. In my opinion, you should never point a weapon at your own family.

The shot is softer than I would have imagined. Like a closing door. A negligible sound trying not to disturb its surroundings. When I see Ben fall to the ground, I stare at the guy whose invitation led me to board the plane three days earlier. Munich-Genua. Two hour flight.

It’s only now I realize that tears are running down my face. My body seems to know the more appropriate reactions to my reality than my mind. I start to remember all the dinky details of my trip. The smell of the cab: Pajuli, tobacco, polish. The colour of the clouds above the lowlands of Milan shortly before my arrival: off-white, graying to the bottom. Rain clouds in the west. Rain that just arrived here this afternoon.

The only thing I can still hear is a quiet tingling far inside my head. Like the Christmas bell at home, signalling the arrival of the presents. I don’t feel anything. I feel everything at once. Not a single word passes my lips. Not that it would have been of use, because Anna doesn’t speak English. Doesn’t speak French. Doesn’t speak German.

The second shot rings out. It’s of a different tonal quality. Brighter? These two sounds will stay with me. How are you supposed to ever hear something again, if shades hidden in the sound remind you how life was before. Afterwards.

She crumbles and I can’t avert my eyes from her face. The only unusual detail is a red dot on her forhead, slightly smudged. Like an Indian woman whose sweat has let her Bindi run off. In life, you spend more time to forget than to learn, but you cannot forget the things you’d like to or keep the moments you need.

I stagger out of the living room, the house, onto the beach, sit down. Wouldn’t it be wise to call the police? The paramedics? I sit in the sand and watch the sun go down. The sea dazzles in all shades red.

He asked me to come. She pulled the trigger. Still it’s my fault, because I’m the only one left. Life can be so simple. 

There were enough indications that he wasn’t the rightful owner. I was too greedy. Talked myself into believing that this would be my chance. Doesn’t 100000 seem too low a price for two human lives? Isn’t it ironic that we live for decades, but everything important is packed into 72 hours? What could possibly come next? I’ve had enough for one person. I’m done.

Changes can be so abrupt. However, they don’t just happen. We change the world and I just sit here and watch us act it out. On a stage so big, so deceptively real-looking…

The last thing I hear before I lose conciousness is how quiet sirens merge with the sound of the breakers. The water dims out from red to black. The tide rinses the blood from my shoes.

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