Mercy at the feet of the Saint of Thieves

A few weeks passed by and Ätz and I sat in an Italian Restaurant. We stayed there longer than usual, stuffed our stomachs full with deliciousness. I enjoyed for a change not to pull the pizza out of our own oven. The dream though, I still couldn’t cast it aside. We drank ourselves under the table and intoxicated Ätz tried to explain to me once more, where the intrigue of my dream comes from. He failed at his drunk pronunciation and because of the whisper volume, he kept falling back to, and at some point, we just started laughing about it and the dream was forgotten again. Ätz paid the bill and we went on our way back to the apartment.
It was after midnight and we were tramping through the streets. Running from the street side to the street side and celebrating the time loudly in the empty streets. Enough with the booze, we got back together, walked next to each other. We lit cigarettes. A man passed us. At first sight, one noticed the fine thread and Ätz looked after him and I looked at Ätz and he grinned maliciously.
“Time for a lesson”
He stopped, turned and then I stopped and watched confused. He shouted after the guy in the suit, “Excuse me”. The man didn’t react. Ätz started walking after him. I followed him.
“Excuse me, please?” repeated Ätz.
The suit turned around and stopped. Ätz got closer to him and I followed him. What was that crazy nigger up to again? As soon as I thought of it, he took the wig off his head. The man was shocked, you could see that he wanted to run, but Ätz had already put his left arm around his shoulder like a wheel claw. Ätz opened his other hand. He stretched out his bright palms to meet the banker. He asked him in a quiet tone:
“Give me your wallet”
The man looked at him confused.
“I won’t ask nicely again”
The suit didn’t do anything at all, nor did he even seem to understand. His eyes wandered from Ätz face back to his opened right hand and then into my face back to Ätz. When he was about to turn it into a merry-go-round, Ätz drew his attention back to himself with a powerful “Hey you, here is, where the music plays”.
Ätz used his fingers to tell him in a gesture, that he was supposed to be handing the wallet over to him now. His fingertips touched his palms faster and faster to tell the banker his (and my) haste in the matter. The lawyer seemed to be recovering from the shock. He reached into his inside pockets and pulled out his wallet.
“You know what you’re doing?” he asked Ätz when he handed it to him.
“Yes, I’ll prove something to my friend.”
He took it from him and opened it. The owner of a chain of sawmills was at the mercy of the situation and this was visibly unpleasant for him. Ätz wouldn’t let go of him, even when he had what he wanted. He was hopelessly trapped in the black man’s pliers. The banker turned to me hoping that my silent nature meant that I would not approve of what Ätz was doing. I didn’t. Still, it wasn’t my problem.
“Your friend is making a mistake. You seem to know that. It’s not too late to stop him.”
I pushed out “Naa” and had to grin because I saw how Ätz was going through his wallet solely with his right hand. He unfolded it. Looked at the photos first.
“Pretty woman you have. Two kids?”
He pushed the photo out of the plastic, stuck it between his index and middle finger and showed it to me.
“Yes, a really pretty woman,” I remarked.
He put it back again, searched for cards, shoved them out, looked at them, but took nothing with him. In the end, he checked for cash and closed it, still having the Politicians head in the lock.
“My friend here and all the others. They’re strong in the system they created. But the system is only strong, even at his strongest, if you stick to it. BUT. he can’t scream for help, can he?”, he playfully hit the banker’s wallet around on his chest, “Until someone would be here, we would have beaten him into the mud. He can’t stay long in a hospital because he’s important, you see, even if he claims he probably could need a break, he wouldn’t want to afford it. And because our General Director here doesn’t want to lie stiffly around somewhere and because I understand that too, and I don’t fear the consequences, I’m stronger than him now.”
He wiped his wallet over the tailor-made suit as if he were cleaning it with a feather duster.
“Isn’t that right, Mister von Hammerstädter?”
Ätz grinned at him proudly.
“I didn’t take anything out, go see for yourself.”
Ätz gave him his wallet back, threw it to the ground in front of him.
“And don’t forget, I know where you live now, Mr. Hammerstädter.”
He patted his suit again with his right hand and removed the claw from his shoulder.
“Have a nice life,” Ätz said to him.
We both moved along, back home. When I turned to see the banker, he was still standing there staring confusedly at his wallet. I didn’t quite get it either. At first, we walked faster. When we were far enough gone, and walking started to no longer drain on my breath, I wanted my answers.
“Where does this come from. Will you please explain it to me?”
“I already did. Even the most powerful man is at the mercy of the situation. Strength means understanding that. And I didn’t do anything, did I? Would you go to the police for this?”
“No, but he could. If he does, you did something.”
“What is a possession, Nathaniel? Ask yourself that question. For me, possession is when a claim is a right that can be defended. Legitimate, I guess. Did he look like he’s in shape to fight?” Ätz paused, “You see, Nat, the state is protecting his property for him right now. But imagine what large-scale chaos could do to his right If he can’t even help himself about chance on the street. Nathaniel…we are a coincidence”.
“Maybe we are, but he could be a coincidence too”
“If he remembers our faces, Nathaniel, do you think he cares enough to break his schedule to go on the hunt for thieves that hadn’t stolen enough, maybe his pride in the moment and don’t forget he doesn’t have to talk about it. Why the hassle, if nothing is lost and you are…”
“I am the only witness”
Ätz nodded in agreement, laughing from his stomach. Happy.
“Want some coffee? We’ve been invited by a rich patron.”
He pulled out a €10 bill. I laughed.
“Seriously? Well, I’d love to”
We went to the Café near the apartment. We talked a lot. He told me about the things he did. Ätz tales caught me off guard. Cause it didn’t sound so wrong spoken out of his mouth. They were his war stories and they were full of wit and if you could part with the fact that he was sitting across the table, then he only looked like a figure thanks to them. I wish I hadn’t wanted to see these things, because in his story the punches didn’t sound very painful.


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The Romans Would Have Eaten Fries


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