Fiction: We´ll Meet Again

Frank Joussen

Frank Joussen

The party wasn’t over. I wasn’t even tired. I could stay up till four or five in the morning in those days. But somehow, I’d had enough, enough booze, enough silly repetitive party games, enough disco music. I shut the door and was standing outside. A German village in the 1970s at two AM – dismal and deserted. The fresh air did me good, though, after the smoke-filled air. Now it started to rain. I drew the zipper of my rain jacket up to my throat and buried my hands deep in the pockets of my jeans. 
Not far to go, I comforted myself. Surely nobody in the street. Hang on, there may be some of the boys in the long driveway leading up to the tenement houses. Bully boys all of them! Well, I’ve got to get past it fast, especially in the dark. Better cross the road …
“Hey, hey you!” someone leaning on the wall of the driveway shouted from the dark.
There´s someone there after all. Probably looking for trouble. Not with me! Some of them threw stones at me a while back.
“Please! Please, can you come over here?”
Only one. And the voice doesn’t sound like trouble at all.
Suddenly I noticed that I was standing in the middle of the deserted street. He, it was obviously a teenage boy, had caught me crossing the street to avoid the tenement bullies. Now I went back towards the block of grey houses.
When I got there, I could see him more clearly. He was squatting in the driveway, leaning against one of the gate pillars, his head tilted backwards. Meanwhile I was looking down at him, straight into his face. It was blood smeared.
“Has someone hit you on the nose?”
“No, no! I get a lot of nosebleeds. Can’t help it!”
I could feel the embarrassment in his voice.
“Hold on, I’ve got some tissues somewhere.”
I opened my fists and started rummaging in my pockets. The raincoat was my first choice – more space to rummage and probably cleaner tissues, too. – Lighter, cigarettes, key, a handkerchief. Cloth, not good for a boy I’d never meet again. – Too many questions from my mum.
“Hang on.”
“Thanks, but you needn’t … Really.”
Now I was in luck. In my left jeans pocket I found two brand new tissues.
“We can take both of these. – Look, hold one under your nose” -  I gave it to him with my left hand and made the other tissue a little wet by pressing it against my rain jacket, – “and you can press the other, the wet one against your neck.”
Almost like a little boy, like my little brother really, he did as he was told. Otherwise, he didn’t resemble my little brother at all. He was a big, black-haired guy, probably a bit older than me.
The bleeding stopped pretty soon.
“You’re soaked!” I said to him when I realized it, “what are you doing here?”
“I was at a party. We danced and all of a sudden my nose started to bleed. Happens to me more and more. The others first gave me some daft babbling and laughed. Then a bit of blood – one drop only – was on the carpet, in the living room. And they threw me out! Just like that!”
“Do you live here?”
“Yes, up there.”
He showed me the third window on the fourth floor. A dim light was visible behind the curtains.
“You’re wondering why I’m not still down here; not going up, right?”
“Yeah, well, maybe it’s because of the nosebleed.”
“Not only. If my old man is still up, there’ll be hell to pay.”
“But why? What can you do against a nosebleed?”
“What can I do about how he hates his life? Only get out of the way. Only not cause trouble. Anything, the smallest little thing means trouble. My blood on someone’s carpet sure means trouble. – Sorry, I didn’t mean to …, you know.”
“It’s all right.”
He gave me only an “ah” as a reply. Looking down, I saw that his nose had started bleeding again. All I had now was the handkerchief. Without hesitation, I took it out of my rain jacket, crouched down beside him and pressed it on him. “You need to hold this against your bleeding nose when you go up there. So as not to – you know, annoy your dad.”
It was pretty dark there in the driveway but I’m sure he tried to look me in the eye. 
“Really? – But how can I give it back?”
“Give me your phone number, I’ll call you after the weekend,” I said.
“Do you have a piece of paper to write on?”
“No, I’ll just memorize it.”
Phone numbers in those days had four digits; even I could hope to memorize one, five minutes away from my home.
“4947! What’s your name?”
“My name’s Paul. What’s yours?”
“Peter.”
“Peter? – Peter and Paul, having the time of their lives on a Saturday night in Littleton!”
“Ha, ha”, he laughed audibly through his nosebleed and finally got up.
“Thanks a lot.”
“Nada!”
“See you. Or rather hear from you, Paul.”
“Sure, I’ll call you on Monday, after school.”
“No, please make that five o´clock. When I’ll be back from work.”
“Oh, okay. Sure. Take care!”
He had already turned in the direction of the big entrance to the tenement block, but waved a short farewell with his left hand over his shoulder. His right one must have still be holding my handkerchief.
I walked the last 500 metres without putting my hands back into my pockets. Somehow, they didn’t feel cold anymore and I noticed that it had stopped raining. I was also looking forward to taking out my key and inserting it into the lock to my quiet home with sleeping parents who trusted me to look after myself and find safely home on a Saturday night.

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