Frank was over at my place every week it seemed. And he tends to stay as long as he could—to talk. That’s what happens, when you’re not participating enough in life, in work: you are getting strange, stranger and stranger. In his shoes, I’d go more often to the gym and take it from there.
He wanted to say something, but somebody knocked at the door, the knocking grew louder and into a rhythm.
On my way I looked over my shoulder at Frank, «What the … who…?»
The moment I turned the knob, the door was pushed in and I heard my other crazy neighbor with his strong German accent turning the ‘th’ in my name into an ‘s’ «Arthur! Arthur!»
Thorsten marched in, his badly shaved face beaming at me, he noticed Frank with a nod, and addressed me again, «Arthur!»
I closed the door, «What? Last time I heard my name that often I made love.»
Frank’s mango-chicken exploded out of his mouth. His laughter subsided instantly to an inaudible chuckle.
I wiped my cheek clean, «Table manners», and held the back of my hand up for him to see, «Did this exit your mouth or nose?»
«Mouth, sorry.» His tie had become a glorified bib.
«I can’t tell through all the mess», I grabbed a towel and wiped it off; he didn’t move.
«What are you waiting for?», I asked, «You want me to hose you down? Washroom!»
«Sorry», he repeated himself, and holding his bowl and spoon in a frozen motion, he inched in the right direction. His tiny shuffles the only sound in the room.
I couldn’t hold it back anymore, «You walk like … did it come out the other end, too?»
Thorsten took the towel out of my hand and rubbed the mango-chicken off his sleeve, «He kinda took the wind out of my news.»
I motioned toward his shoulder, where more sprinkles had landed. Trying to find the spots, his face grimaced, wrinkles showed. He was the only person I knew around fifty.
«What are your good news?»
«I go.» His excitement returned.
With no clue what he was talking about, I said emotionless, «Hurray.»
«Arthur, my dream comes true!», he waited for a reaction, then he weighted every word, «I go back!»
«Back, back to wha… wait, wait!», it dawned on me: back, his dream, «No.»
«Yes!», he threw the towel over the sink.
«Yeees, I go back in time, they called me.»
«When did they…?»
«Just now, a minute ago.»
«That is … congrats, man!», I hit his clean shoulder.
Frank peered out of the washroom, «To what?»
«To making history. We have a time traveler in our midst», I said.
Frank came out, he had washed his face but his shirt still sported streaks from the collar down to the belt. He had taken off his tie, leaving its white silhouette on the shirt, «Congratulation, Thorsten!», he shook his hand.
«Thanks! Thank you guys.»
«Saturday, party at your place!», Frank said.
He shook his head, «I leave to tomorrow. They pick me up. First thing in the morning. I just came … to say goodbye, guys.»
After a moment of silence, I said, «You will see the world in color.»
«I know, I know», his hand ruffled through his hair, «I can hardly believe it.»
Frank spread his arms, «Come on guys, group hug!»
Thorsten stepped back, I buried my hands in my pants.