Three stones at the wall

Thomas forgot his name. Not his first name. He knows he is Thomas, but his full name. He was only aware of this when he was asked for it. It happened at the control point. He was asked: “Name”. And he replied “Thomas”. The guard just stood there expecting something else, but he was silent. The guard repeated: “Name”. “Thomas”, he replied. It was too strange. Finally he asked. “Full name”, and he replied “Thomas”. That was it. After that the guard said: “Documents”. They never asked for documents, but faced with such a situation, they of course needed to ask for the documents. Of course Thomas had no documents. He just went out for a walk. He had no intention of passing by a control point anyway. Yes, he knows that he should always carry his documents, but he was wearing synthetic shorts, synthetic pants, and the pockets are very thin. It’s very uncomfortable to place all the documents there. So he replied “No documents” and the young guard didn’t know what to do. It was, perhaps, the first time this happened.

This never happened before. He wanted to call his colleagues but they were too far away. He wanted to know, double check the procedures. Should he kill him? Perhaps declare that he is under arrest. Certainly he should not let him pass, but perhaps tell him to come back later, with his documents or at least his last name. Maybe he should temporarily arrest him. But how will he deal with the arrest afterwards? So he pretended to be writing down something, and he told his prisoner to “please wait”, which allowed him to think about everything, all the procedures. But then, he thought: “this might be a trick”. What if the guy was a terrorist? “Thomas” is probably not his real name. No. He doesn’t look like a “Thomas”. He is there standing just waiting to detonate the bomb. Of course he wants to pass, but if he doesn’t, he will explode the control point. So the guard decided to be nice to him, to keep him calm so that he wouldn’t do anything dangerous. “Just a moment, sir, I’m checking the procedures here and I’ll let you go in a moment”, he lied. The man seemed impatient. He was moving his hands. Into his pocket. Was there a detonator in his pocket? The young guard was terrified. His colleagues were nowhere to be seen. Not even Simon, who was always there, who always said “if you don’t know something, ask me!”. Why was Simon not here? Maybe he knows about something. Maybe there was an alert and he didn’t know about it. “Please keep your hands visible, sir” he said, “for your own safety, please”. He was sweating. His gun was wet. He decided to hold his gun to be sure it was there still. He was relieved that it was. The man said something. He didn’t understand. He didn’t know how to respond. Maybe he said it in a foreign language. He had to say something, quickly. “Name”, he said. “Thomas”, the man replied. “Your name, please!” “Thomas!”. “I need your full name, sir!”, “Thomas!” “Documents please!”. “No documents” “No hands in pockets, please!” Then the man said something else, but…

Something else, but… Thomas said something else but the guard didn’t pay attention. He repeated that he had no documents for the third time. He explained that he had just gone out for a walk, that his wife was waiting his return for dinner, and that he passes there almost every day and nobody ever stops him. But the guard was there, shaking, writing things down and asking him the same questions over and over. He probably wasn’t paying attention. Thomas though it was probably a good idea to go back to the park, to walk a bit more and try to cross the point a bit later. Maybe the guard would be another one, perhaps one of those guards who had seen him before, or maybe he would by then remember his last name, which he had forgotten. It would be dark soon, and his wife was waiting for him at home. His friends who liked to walk by the park were probably back by now. He only saw people who didn’t know his name walking their dogs. He concentrates a bit, hoping, perhaps that his ageing brain had a copy of his last name somewhere, that it had backed up those burned neurons somewhere. He tries that for a while, and then looks at the guard. He is writing. So he then decides to do it. Go for a walk. Refresh his mind. Return later. The guard continues writing nervously. So, without saying a word, he turns and walks away.

Up ahead he sees a kid throwing a stone at the wall. The sound of it hitting the wall is unusually loud. It echoes so loudly that he almost feels the sound hitting him. And then the kid stops and looks at him. A second later he does feel a cramp in his arm… no! It seems to come from his heart! He places his hand there. It’s beating strangely, irregularly. He feels the hot sweat dripping like it never dripped before. His shirt is completely wet. Is he having a heart attack? He immediately turns back and runs towards the control point. He can barely see the guard because the light is pointed in his direction. Then he hears another stone hitting the wall behind him, followed by another cramp, this one painfully cutting across his leg. He stretches his body to reach for it when his heart thumps so violently that he falls back and hits his head on the ground. As he falls he hears the loud echo of a third stone smashing at the wall. But the boy seemed so far away!

The guard should be here any moment now, he thinks. They’ll put him on a stretcher and send him to the hospital, which is just a few meters from the checkpoint. It feels cold. The sky above is red-blue. He feels better now, his heart seems to be beating slower, but he’s a bit dizzy. Relaxed, he finally he remembers: “Werfenstein”. He feels like getting up to run to the checkpoint, but the guard is already there, looking straight at him with a flashlight. This time he doesn’t ask “Name”. Why not? Thomas says it anyway: “Werfenstein!”, “Thomas Werfenstein!”. He sees the guard writing it down. It seems that he is free now. He feels light. He feels he can just walk ahead from where he is, and he does exactly that. The guard is no longer there. The sky is red-blue. Probably the sun has already set. He can’t see the wall anymore, just the red-blue clouds ahead. “Werfenstein”, he remembers. “I can’t forget that”. He hears a siren far away, and the echoes of some more stones being shot at the wall, the sound of people running, but he’s afraid to look back. It’s always better not to look back, he thinks; And then, the sound fades away and everything is silent, so silent, that he feels that perhaps, it’s time to sleep.


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