Chapter no 11

Anxious People

Ten years later the young police officer is standing in the corridor outside the interview room. His dad is still in there with the real estate agent. Of course his mom was right: they should never have worked together, he and his dad, there was bound to be trouble. He didn’t listen, because of course he never does. Occasionally when she was tired or she’d had a couple of glasses of wine, enough to make her forget to hide her emotions, his mom looked at her son and said: “There are days when I can’t help thinking you never really came back from that bridge, love. That you’re still trying to save that man on the railing, even though it’s as impossible now as it was back then.” Perhaps that’s true, he doesn’t feel like checking. He still has the same nightmares, ten years on. After Police College, exams, shift after shift, late nights, all his work at the station that’s garnered so much praise from everyone but his dad, even more late nights, so much work that he’s come to hate not working, unsteady walks home at dawn to the piles of bills in the hall and an empty bed, sleeping pills, alcohol. On nights when everything has been completely unbearable he’s gone out running, mile after mile through darkness and cold and silence, his feet drumming against the pavement faster and faster, but never with the intention of getting anywhere, of accomplishing anything. Some men run like hunters, but he ran like their prey. Drained with exhaustion he would 1nally stagger home, then head oP to work and start all over again. Sometimes a few whiskies were enough to get him to sleep, and on good mornings ice-cold showers were enough to wake him up, and in between he did whatever he could to take the edge oP the hypersensitivity of his skin, stiAe the tears when he felt them in his chest, long before they reached his throat and eyes. But all the while: still those same nightmares. The wind tugging at his jacket, the dull scraping sound as the man’s shoes slid oP the

railing, the boy’s scream across the water that neither sounded nor felt like it came from him. He barely heard it anyway, the shock was too great, too overwhelming. It still is.

Today he was the 1rst police officer through the door after the hostages were released and the pistol shot rang out inside the apartment. He was the one who rushed through the living room, over the bloodstained carpet, tore the balcony door open, and stood there staring disconsolately over the railing, because no matter how illogical it might seem to everyone else, his 1rst instinct and greatest fear was: “He’s jumped!” But there was nothing down there, just the reporters and curious locals who were all peering up at him from behind their mobile phones. The bank robber had vanished without a trace, and the policeman was alone up there on the balcony. He could see all the way to the bridge from there. Now he was standing in the corridor of the police station, unable even to make himself wipe the blood from his shoes.

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