Monday, October 27, 2008

Wake-Up Call

Today's events were tinged with the otherworldly and the mundane. I awoke to the doorbell ringing, scampered down the ladder of my hochbett, and opened the door. I was expecting to greet the DHL guy. My roommate Joscha, who is out of town, mentioned that a packet may be coming for him. There was no one there. Whoever it was had disappeared. Then I heard the tentative reversal of footsteps on the landing below. After a moment a young slim brunette woman appeared. At first I thought she was the lithe, friendly young mother who lived in the flat below, Djzene (pronounced "Jenny") from whom I had picked up a packet, kept in my absence last week. But no, this was a new gal, a dead ringer for Djzene with a similar slight build, reddish brown hair and doe eyes. She had a sense of purpose. We had a quick exchange in German in which she asked me whether I had seen her friend Constantin. She said something about his dog and, half asleep, I thought she had told me that his dog was missing. Sein hund? Nicht sein hund. She switched to English and said that the dog was inside the apartment (you could hear it barking) but that her friend had been missing for two weeks. She said he often played music. What kind of music? Techno. There was someone who had been playing techno, but it had stopped days ago. Then again, there are many people playing similar music at various times during the day. Of course, she said, there was no way to tell for sure where the music had come from. I took her name and number, promising to inquire with Joscha when he returned from Hannover. She then pulled a sign out that was peeking out of the mail slot. It was like a Do-not-disturb sign, only it said "Ich strieke". She laughed resignedly. "He's on strike," she said. I laughed as well. About an hour later I hear voices outside the door. The police had been called and were trying to access the flat. They banged several times on the door and surveyed the outside. Then my doorbell rang again. The very friendly Polizei wanted to know if I had seen Constantin. "Ich wohne hier nur fuer ein Monat. In diese Zeit habe ich ihn nicht gesehen." Or had I? I think he had had his door open one day, all day. Or was that the guy on the next floor down? Oh well, I had neither seen nor heard anyone in the last couple weeks. I closed the door and hopped in for a long, gas-consuming shower. As I was drying off I heard more voices outside the door. Naked, and still drying myself, I peeked through the keyhole. The next few minutes unspooled in exorable, real-time surreality. Several people were now in the flat, but I couldn't ascertain if they were friends or authorities. The conversation was in the normal, hushed tones of sober Germans. But nothing sounded out of the ordinary. I thought maybe they were allowing his friends to look through the apartment. I heard more voices, this time fairly jaunty, in an all-in-a-day's work cadence. Apparently the landlord had let the police in. Strange. I milled about, back and forth between my room, the bathroom and kitchen, as I often do due to my ADD. Still naked a few minutes later, I again looked through the peephole. I felt like the observer at a double remove. Voices came from the bottom of he stairs. Two men in uniform ascended the stairs with a gurney. The entered the flat and disappeared down the corridor. There was writing on the wall opposite as you entered, written in what appeared to be blood, Manson-style, covering the length of the wall. The inscription read simply, "Thanx" . Still naked, I opened my door to get a closer view. The inscription now appeared to be painted dramatically in red paint. Above it hung a large meat cleaver, and below it an arrow, like you'd see pointing to the exit in a movie theater, only it pointed to the back room. I retreated into the flat. The men came back into the hall. They were dragging a body. I can only assume it was Constantin's body. They set it down and opened the body bag, which I heard them unzip. The bag sounded crisp and crunchy as it was laid out, like a brand new tarp. The body went in the bag, was strapped to the gurney, and walked out of the building. Two people remained in the apartment, one of whom chatted blithely on the phone with a colleague or family member -- it could have been either. I couldn't get it all. Then the man and woman quietly left the empty apartment. They could have been real estate agents for all anyone knew. I was left with a need to find out what happened to Constantin. All the signs point to suicide. I have the dark-haired girl's number, and I'm tempted to call her. I feel really bad for her. I'll be keeping up with this case, and doing some research on Constantin in the days to come. My friend Mary asked me if I was spooked out and melancholy from this. But no, I'm not spooked out. I am a little spooked out by the fact that I'm not spooked out. So I guess I am meta-spooked out. I thought of the banality of it all, and the old saw about the banality of evil (a quote which I believe was generated in the wake of the Holocaust, in reference to the vast murder machines). But this didn't seem evil. A young man took his life, albeit in a somewhat hammy way, in a gaudy tableau. I think he was going for Grand Guignol, to make a big statement, but in the end he just left a cold corpse in an empty apartment. Just another day's work for the fuzz.

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