From where he was standing on the balcony, he could see them both. They couldn’t see each other. He could speak with the neighbour that had locked herself out on her own balcony, and was looking for a way to enter her house. He was talking to her, with sweet soothing words, as she was already getting scared. She was scared of heights, she was scared of the cold, she was scared of raindrops, she was scared she would have to stay out there until her husband returned. The reason she was locked outside? She thought she saw rat turds and she went out to investigate. He was telling her to remain calm, not to look downstairs and that he would call her husband or her mother. Meanwhile, something else was happening inside the room. The other one, standing on the bed, was lifting her blouse slowly, revealing her tummy button initially and then her breasts. Her eyes were inviting him girlishly, her body womanly. As the neighbour was continuing her agonizing exploratory dialogue, his replies began to falter, his responses becoming more general, as he clumsily tried to recapture her words. “We are going to be late for the concert…”she told him, stressing the -cert bit particularly, playfully hinting she was not at the least interested in the concert.
He placed the unused concert tickets inside the plastic box and then sealed it, leaving it on top of that last short side-table, left behind by the removal people.
He walked towards the balcony door, stepping on the wooden floor, leaving his echoing footprints on the dust that had previously been covered and had not been mopped since the bed first went into the room. His eyes turned to the wall on his right.
There was a blue paint mark at the height of a piece of furniture that used to be there from previous tenants. Konstantinos, the landlord, pointed that out the day he first showed the house to him. He didn’t mind it he said, he would paint the wall anyhow. Later he decided not to paint it, because he decided he liked its patina. Then he brought a poster to cover the mark. But he wanted to frame it first and then he decided that he would finally paint the wall. He had to abandon this plan as well, since he had already started planning his exit from the country and had decided he would leave this house.
He looked down. The poster was there next to the heater, wrapped in a nylon roll. He took it out with ceremonial tenderness and stretched it. It was an A3 poster, cream, full of words and doodles. When he bought it, he thought it was Peter Brook’s notes for his book, The Shifting Point, since the quote “Hold on tightly, let go lightly” was prominently written somewhere on it but it turned out they were simply the notes of some advertiser graphics designer in New York. He bought it as a gift to his son who was studying theatre studies who he was going to meet later that day.
He delayed arriving at the meeting point. The sky was all dull red. Desert dust had emigrated from Africa flooding the sky. He felt his eyes smart and dry and thought of them the same colour as the sky. A stench from a cat carcass or something, made an entrance to his nostrils. He looked alternately the soles of his shoes, and then the open litter bin before he entered the café, hoping to discover the dead animal and solve the mystery of the origin of the smell. His palms were equally red and swollen. He had an allergy to dust and his own sweat and he hadn’t relaxed for a single moment his grips of his motorcycle steering wheel driving there. All that was distracting him from his sincere decision to enter a dialogue as an active listener, to really hear his son out, to not reply hastily and unreflectively, to not reply at all if necessary. It was their first encounter after a long time. It felt such a success to convince him to see him. He had decided not to disappoint him again. How crucial a meeting that was? Crucial indeed. His son was already there, standing in a remote table at the back of the main hall. He could see him. A young waiter with a full body apron passed by in front of him jostling him annoyingly.
He raised his eyes again towards the blue mark, wrapped the poster up without looking at it and placed it at the corner of the empty room, touching on the floor leaning against the wall.