I asked them where we were going but none of the soldiers replied. I didn’t ask again, I didn’t seem to have the energy to care that much. It was a moment of action, of fighting for my rights, of slapping the table with my hands and calling the shots, but instead I was a leaf carried by the gutter current to an unknown destination. Outside the station I felt again like I didn’t belong anywhere; being there, forced to move and then being shoved into the backseat of a car was as reasonable, as acceptable as being next to you or strolling down the Great Wall of China. I hope you know what I mean. Of course I would have preferred being with you, hearing your voice, your laugh, painting together, having a drink on the balcony. I’m just trying to say that I was out of myself, hauled away from my mind, like sleeping without dreaming, with my eyes open, seeing but not processing the succession of trees, cars, pedestrians, street signs, all the greyness and diffuseness of Stuttgart that morning.
In the backseat of the car, I was flanked by two of the soldiers but they were not touching me. I thought this was because the car was ample enough for everyone to have that extra space, but then I noticed that the two soldiers were pressed against the doors. If not for their serious faces and their position of power over me, I would have thought that they were scared of me. They had their eyes unceasingly on me. Like golems mostly petrified. In a couple of occasions I held their gaze but then I looked away, accepted their victory; I didn’t have their compromise or their fear, whatever it was.
The Stuttgart that we were traversing wasn’t a Stuttgart I recognized, between the fog, my unforeseen and tired emptiness, the limited views through the car windows, and the patina of circumstance thrown over a city saddened and moody over the ongoing war. That general impression of Stuttgart was contagious. Instead of thinking hard about getting myself from that situation, plan my next move, I settled on the backseat, I allowed that blankness, that not caring, to overtake me. It was better not to fight it, just wait to receive more information or to be awaken. Then we turned out of traffic and through a tunnel carved into a classical-looking building.
We passed three security stops and finally the car came to a halt in the middle of a large courtyard, with members of the army walking in all directions. I was asked to get out of the car, much more nicely this time, and then I followed my parade into one of the buildings, up some stairs, along corridors and more corridors. When we arrived to our destination, a double door was opened and I was escorted into a room by two of my soldiers and ordered to wait there.
It was a small room, with a round table in the center. There was another door on the left wall and one of the two soldiers went there and stood by its side. The other soldier took his position against the right wall. They kept looking at me as if I represented some type of danger, but I suppose that was their job.
There was a line of chairs against the back wall. Even though I felt tired, I didn’t think about sitting down, I must have seen those chairs as props, or maybe my attention was too drawn to the decorative fruit platter on the center of the table. Most of the fruit pieces had gone bad or looked unappetizing, but I picked a small apple that didn’t seem to have any imperfections. It didn’t taste like much, but the juices were very settling. It was then, chewing the apple and ambling around the table, trying to ignore the eyes of the two soldiers constantly following me, that I looked up and noticed the string of paintings hanging on the upper part of the high walls. Mostly portraits and pastoral scenes, nothing inspiring, some of them so dark I could barely discern the content, much less the lines, strokes and details. Apart from their darkness, all of the paintings were very diffuse, as if the fog from outside had penetrated through the walls and was hanging up there in front of the frames and their contents.