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10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 6 10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 6
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-02-04 09:36:53
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6. Sports pub and Barbie’s

I was in the pub the other day with Richard and Marc when a man, who I had the feeling I'd seen too many times before, entered carrying a small red box and talking on his mobile phone. It is strange this feeling when you see a stranger, somebody to whom you have never spoken, you have no idea who he is and what’s his name but you think that you know him so well. I mean I could sort have recognized his gray coat and I knew that he was going to order a pint of bitter.

“A pint of bitter,” he said and I was looking at my plate on which a thick burger, well-cooked, and a lot of chips sat. I thought that I would like to have some mayonnaise. And then he paid cash and walked to a table a couple of tables away from ours under a television that was showing a hockey game. Richard was talking about his daughter’s Barbie’s and Marc was stuffing his mouth with big bites of burger, we had ordered exactly the same thing. Strange, but the best bacon burger in the city is made in a sports pub, I mean a pub full of gigantic television screens connected all the time with sports networks.

The man took off his coat wearing just a t-shirt underneath and sat down taking a quick sip from his bitter. He looked nervous for a bit but then he sat more comfortably and still holding his pint he started watching the game in this casual style people have when they are not really interested. Richard and Marc had gone really hot with their Barbie conversation and Marc was talking now about his daughter’s Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend; and his daughter’s obsession to undress him. Marc made a comment about Ken not having any genitals and they both started laughing hysterically. I smiled.

I was going to laugh but the man with the gray coat on the chair next to him was looking at us and there was something in his look that wasn’t funny at all. I don’t know; some people have this look; it is like a red light flashing every time they look at you and big letters like in a cartoon on top of their head saying ‘I know you!’ Well, I know you man but I don’t know how and why I know you!

He had sort of turned our way so now I could see his t-shirt, a black one with a soldier’s face in the middle, something from the Second World War with the characteristic German helmet and something hard and ugly on the soldier’s face. It must been the hard lines of the drawing! And then there was something written in Finnish that of course I could not understand. I had seen this t-shirt before, actually I had seen all the versions of the soldier, on jumpers, on fleeces even on a jacket and seeing the picture with the reference to the Nazi’s doesn’t matter what it means for the Finns always bothered me.

I mean they were allies during the WWII and I knew that in the name of security with their big bear neighbours the Russians, the Finns had become very close friends with the Nazis and I had heard a million times all the excuses about the defensive war but again the enemy of my enemy is not necessary my friend especially when this ‘friend’ is much worse than my enemy and in this case I found very hard to accept the forgiving and forgetting feelings Finns have with the Nazis. And the man had turned back to his pint and the hockey game.

Richard and Marc were still talking about Barbie’s and I was wondering how the hell it happens three grown men in a pub are talking about Barbie’s and nobody finds it strange or prevent and instinctly I checked around if anybody could hear us. Fine, it was just us the man with the gray coat a couple of tables away and the girl behind the bar further away! I checked on him again while taking another bite of my burger. Damn why do they always put all the ketchup in one place and when you bite there the ketchup finds its way to all your face and why in places like this they always bring you only one paper napkin? Richard and Marc looked seriously involved in their Barbie conversation and the man was still looking at the hockey game and this was the first time I noticed.

It must have been the way he was sitting down with his right arm on the table holding his pint and his left arm hanging lose on the side of the chair. And you know how it happens, when you stare at something, when you know why the other person just looks back and the man did exactly that. Too late for me to start talking about Barbie’s, I was staring at his hand and he was looking at me. Thankfully that very same moment Marc had turned to me asking for something that I didn’t really hear but it gave the chance to turn and ask, “What?”

Marc looked a bit surprised with my loud answer but I supposed he’s used to my often strange behaviour because he said, “Are you coming with us later?” my brain had to work quickly, I could see or better I could feel that the man was still looking at me. “Yeah, I think I will join for a drink or two!” and while saying that I was trying not to look at the man’s direction. Suddenly I had lost my appetite and since Marc is all the time hungry I gave him my plate. Hey it is pity half bacon burger to go wasted and Marc can deal with it easily. I turned to look and the man had gone.

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Get it off your chest
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Paivi2009-02-04 22:10:34
Cliffhanger eh, exciting!

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