I wasn’t offered a chair, or asked to move forward. I stayed there in the darkness, outside of the circle of light that included the table and their faces. I couldn’t know if they had recently started this meeting and they had been waiting for me, if I was the main reason for all of them being in that room; or if I was a minor item in their packed agenda, some type of interlude between more important matters, and they would play with me now before restarting their serious discussions about bombs, battles, and whatnot.
Nobody other than Müller said anything during the whole time I was there, nobody wrote any notes, nor made any gestures. I’m not even sure any of them moved on the slightest. Maybe they were trying to be inconspicuous so that all my awareness would be channeled towards Müller. If that’s what they were trying to do, they failed beyond measure, it was so unnerving that collection of pale faces behind the table and murky faces closer to me that every time that Müller said something I had to turn my attention to him, although right away my eyes would be pulled by one of the faces, then another, then another, searching for any flicker of emotion in any of them.
Adding to the strangeness and removed nature of those faces, Müller didn’t introduce any of the remaining people around the table to me. Müller started our conversation as if he didn’t know about the presence of the others. He didn’t look for their consent or readiness. He scrutinized me like an abstract painting, as if trying to understand the motivations and rationale that had led the artist to create me.
I say conversation because it didn’t struck me as an interrogation, even though I guess that’s what it was. It left me dazzled and dirty, so maybe it was an interrogation after all.
Müller started this interrogation of ours by making sure that I was the person they were interested in, which was reassuring because at that point I was beginning to suspect that they had apprehended the wrong man and there was someone back at the train station still searching for me.