Here in Fangorn where I live you’d be fined with 10€ if you lost your house keys.
Last Saturday I was, along with others, with three friends Veejay, Moira, and Targ. Veejay and Targ are my elders and are biennial visitors and so I treat them with special care. Moira is the new gal in the pack, one with whom I am comfortable and so sometimes runs the risk of being taken for granted if I’m not careful.
On the way home from our long-distance outing I was sitting with Targ on the bus, absorbed and mesmerized by tales only the likes of him have experienced: tales of alertness and readiness and endurance and solitude. I asked him to tell of what he can to me and so, dedicated on the subject as we were, I even got to take home for keeps some diagrams of paraphernalia that unless he did a rough sketch of I barely would have been able to imagine, and so be able to incorporate into the new-found world forming at the back of my head.
Targ was, for some reason, alert for Veejay’s movements and so it didn’t surprise me that bags were reshuffled as we alighted the bus, on our final stop now, so that Targ carries a bit of Veejay’s load. Targ was looking out for Veejay, I was waiting to walk with Targ, Moira was waiting to ride our non-visitors’ bus home with me — and so there we were four.
I know that Targ didn’t see it coming, none of us did, but Veejay suddenly broke out in cold sweat, couldn’t take one step more, and was generally running out of breath. Speaking for myself, I was scared for Veejay.
Targ got in charge of Veejay’s load, us three distributing it among ourselves, as I held Veejay’s arm to steady him. We had to stop at a bench for a while until Veejay got the courage to take baby steps, counting down the mileage (in meters, that is) until we got to their hotel. Veejay cleared with us that he was going to be fine and so we let him rest, while quietly going to Targ’s room after unanimously deciding that we had to call up our Big Dad to inform him of Veejay’s little incident.
All that done Moira and I exited Targ’s room and was breezily walking on the way home. I was chattering away like my usual chipmunk self, swinging my arms this way and that, virtually singing on the shadowy road because at last I was going to be on my peaceful abode in just a few minutes hence.
We had to wait for 10 minutes for our bus and so I gleefully showed Moira the treasure sketches I just acquired from Targ. On to the bus I kept on my chattering even though Moira was more ‘half dead’ (as our teacher would tease us) of fatigue than I was.
!!!!omo-momo-momo!!!! where’s my backpack!!!! <== my brain screamed as we were about to get off …
… I have my clothes there, my precious notes and book, my pink flip-flops, and most importantly my house keys!!!!
Where oh where oh where is it???? I wanted to kick myself for leaving it at the bus stop, or so I thought. It’s Saturday night and the apartments’ warden is naturally relaxing with beer among his friends though at nearly 11 PM might even be asleep already.
With 10 minutes to spare me and Moira searched for the warden’s room (we never had a reason to search for it before), had him (who was unusually joky and smelling of beer, of course) open my room for me, and then rushed past him on to the approaching bus, while shouting to him that “!wir finden es” by which he cracked another inaudible joke at our retreating backs — something about discos blah blah…
Quickly on the bus back again, while hoping that nobody had picked it up from the bus stop bench, Moira and I had to rouse our brains and do some theoretical sleuthing on other possibilities. Oh, wow, now we had to grope for the logic that detectives are supposed to employ, with their magnifying lenses. We simply had to laugh at our crazy extended outing, forced to ‘rise’ from the almost ‘dead’ tiredness we had found ourselves in many hours past already.
I was not even slightly sure then but slowly it came back to me that I deposited that pretty backpack beneath Targ’s hotel room table that is beside the window, to make room as Moira and I were inputing Big Dad’s phone number into a mobile phone ready for Targ to call from when he comes back shortly after having to fetch downstairs his huge traveling case. I deduced then that if indeed I left my backpack at the bus stop I should have performed an about-turn motion with my body before leaving Targ’s room in order to pick it up from under the table. Since I am sure that I didn’t make such a motion then the conclusion is that it’s still there under the table.
A couple sitting at where Moira and I sat before while waiting for the bus home looked at me strangely as I stooped to take a very good look at a backpack deposited beside them. Nope, it wasn’t pink. On to Targ’s, then.
Like the way prehistoric man called out to each other across distances and the dark back when fire was the most precious commodity, I simply decided to shout out Targ’s name towards all and any of the hotel windows that COULD POSSIBLY include Targ’s. Speaking of taking crazy chances. (The reception desk is vacant; Targ does not use a mobile phone in Fangorn.) For 15 minutes still no Targ. I reasoned that if the bag was indeed there with him then it will remain to be there regardless of whether Targ saw us or not. If the bag wasn’t there then it still won’t be there even if Targ saw us. Conclusion: It’s either lost or not, and we should be going home.
(We had a second clue: had my backpack been with me I wouldn’t have been able to freely raise my hands in the air at a full stretch as we were walking away from the hotel earlier, to the bus stop. A third clue: Moira could not recall seeing a backpack beside me as we sat at the bench waiting for the bus.)
Naturally Moira was putting up a usual cheery face through my lunatic chattering, helplessly oblivious to any mental stimulus now. Had I not been so uptight we two could have slept the night off right there on the running bus.
Here in Fangorn where I live it could happen that some drunk after an entire night’s party would insist on turning your locked door’s knob repeatedly even when you have been doing your harshest !go-away shout, plus matching banging at your side of the door, for 10 minutes already. I was then about to call the police when I sensed that, after 40 minutes of standing at attention, no one’s at the other side anymore. The night following I tried to figure out how McGyver would secure together two adjacent doors with a shoestring, a shoe rack, and a cooking pan so that when the outer door is forcibly opened the door next to it will be simultaneously stuck firmly in place, effectively preventing a larger aperture of the former, unless the person trying to barge in was Incredible Hulk. Then I really will have to be able to call the police stat with just a single-push dial on my non-Smart handy.
This evening without my keys I was confident enough to sleep soundly with my door secured, my gray flip-flops put in place of the cooking pan, which makes it now a slightly more sophisticated system. Only Targ can do a nice sketch of it and since he’s away right now then I can’t show you the configuration, one which Targ jokes I should get patented.
Targ brought my backpack to church the following day, walking with much bigger baby steps along the way with Veejay. Targ’s strong and he thought nothing of carrying what was a bit heavy for me, also casually waving off my implied apology.
I’ve been trained not to lose keys since I was 15. I’ve been trained not to lose bags since I was 7. I’ve changed residences 12 times. I generally am not prone to losing stuff along the way. I was 6 the last time something similar happened to me. (Indeed, I found my cute umbrella again, back then . . . ) I did not forget my backpack just because I’ve become a coffee drinker. I have no explanation whatsoever why I was as carefree as a kite for the 40 minutes between having turned my back on my backpack and realizing that I did so. Only cerebral deduction assured me that it was safe with Targ, and survival instinct dictated that I won’t be annihilated should I have lost it…
And when, indeed, I saw it with Targ the following day, I later felt like a new creation.♦