Sep 25, 2016


In front of an old building with cracked arches and plaster embellishments, a middle-aged man sat with sunken eyes trying to figure out when would be the ideal time to enter. He waited in the door threshold looking in the tall and narrow hallway.
The man rubbed his chin while studying the solid wood doors guarding the building. The old wood was set with iron bolts that nailed brass belts. The hinges were thick as a finger and quite rusty. "Impossible to move" thought the man. A nail pricked the hard door and on it a sign hung "Police Station No. 5".

It was late and the man stepped inside shyly. He enter cautiously among the people who were coming out. Left and right plainclothes policemen were bumping into him as they hurried home. A bandaged hand slapped the bulletin board, and in the back of a semi-circular hole a woman flinched:
- Public relations ended two hours ago, she said.
The man focused on making an effort to speak, he was looking for the words that came from somewhere behind his confusion.
- My brother was kidnapped, I want to ... a small break hung between them ... make a statement.
A few minutes later the man was degrading into a police inspectors seat. The inspector raised an eyebrow to the woman that brought him.
- If this is a joke I'll have you know I could have been at home by now and this would have fallen on someone else's head tomorrow.
- You work too hard, see what happens if you stay up late, she replied.
- I understand you want to make a statement. What happened? directed the inspector towards the man.
- I'll tell you what happened but please don't interrupt me, I'll try to remember everything.
- Fine, I'm listening.
- Two weeks ago my brother came to me with one of the most bizarre problems. He told me that his wife left him. My brother's not one of these guys that joke around, he's a professor, he doesn't do that. I looked at him like a idiot because this time he really had to be joking, he didn't even have a girlfriend as far as I knew. But he continued with Sofia this and Sofia that, Sofia was apparently his wife. I didn't remember nor knew any Sofia. And he married? Why didn't I know that? I told him these things and he gave me a funny look, apparently I had forgotten, how could I be one of those people that forget? I thought he lost his marbles. I tried to reason with him but to little avail. He took me to his apartment to show me pictures of the wedding, where I had been present, allegedly. We arrived at his home but found nothing. He said things started to disappear from the apartment, at first he thought she took them when he wasn't home, but now he wasn't sure. He didn't find any pictures from the wedding, nor any pictures of the two of them together but he did pull out an old picture of a girl sitting alone on a bench. He said the girl started to behave strangely, that she spoke of a missing child and that she finally "decided to forget him". I didn't know what he meant by that. He said he looked for her at work, and spoke to friends, but nobody knew were she was and what's even more bizarre, after a while nobody even remembered her. All this seemed very dubious to me but not even two days after that he disappeared as well. I went to his apartment ... nothing, I went to his job nobody wanted to help me, so I came here. To be honest I know he wasn't kidnapped, but he's gone and I want you to find him. I want to know if he's okay.
- Ok sir ... I'll see if I can help, please stay here while I look up some details.
In this pause the man stretched a hand on the police inspector's desk and began to feel it for scribbles and scratches. These scars were collected over the decades and the wood had harden with them. The desk had iron legs and a hook on one of its legs. The inspector's desk appeared to be a former student desk with a backpack hook holder. The man continued to look around and his gaze fell on the clothes rack, it had a metal tag stamped with some letters erased by time.
The inspector came back to the table and studied his eccentric interlocutor for a few seconds and then spoke:
- Can I ask what happened to your hand?
The man flexed his hand and a moment of clarity passed over his foggy eyes.
- Nothing, I hit a door, and then he lowered his hand under the desk.
- I did a few searches and you do not have a brother. Do not have a criminal record, you are not married, you do not even have unpaid fines. Now, come to think of it, if your brother doesn't exist should I be somewhat concerned about the missing imaginary woman? Do you have anything else to tell me?
- You have to go to his apartment, a old lady who stays  opposite his apartament will remember my brother and his wife. I don't know why but she remembers.
- Is that all?
- I know it sounds strange but you gotta help me.
As he was leaving the man ran his fingers over the embossed metal label of the clothes rack, reading it with his fingertips "Rack number ... for the Municipal School ..."

The inspector decided to stretch his legs and walk to the missing brothers apartment building. The stairs at the entrance were eaten away by the rain and inside the railing swung to steps of a tenant walking up the stairs. The apartment was listed as vacant on the maintenance list. The missing brothers apartment didn't have a number but it had a footprint of a missing welcome mat in front of the door. The inspector gently tapped the neighbors door and a old lady with her hair in iron curlers replied without much enthusiasm.
- Hello, sorry to bother you, could you help me? did you see anyone enter this apartment here?
- Who? where? There are so many renters, I can't remember them all.
- Here the apartment in front of yours.
- That one? no no .
- So you didn't see anyone going in here?
- I saw that welcome mat disappear, I don't know who took your mat but it wasn't me, I've had this carpet here for 12 years, ever since ..
- No ma'am, I'm not interested in the carpet.
- Oh wait, your brother was looking for you a few days ago. He seemed worried, you shouldn't lose touch with your family, it's a pity.
- My brother?
- Yes yes, blood is thicker than water, you know what they say ...
The inspector turned around, reached into his pocket and grabbed a key without thinking about it. He tried it on the door without a number and it opened the apartment. The one bedroom studio was nearly empty. A nightstand with open drawers sat next to a bed without sheets, but there was still something here, a specific smell, something familiar. The inspector tried to find the notebook were he wrote down the strange man's address. But curiously he had lost it. Chills were running through him from head to toe as he was trying to remember the man's address, then almost by reflex he knew where to go.

The inspector found the man on a bench behind the building. The man opened his hand bandage and threw it in a trash can. The inspector saw a hypodermic needle and a few drops of blood in the middle of the rags.
- Are you sick?
- No, the pain helps me concentrate, helps me remember, that's why I pricked myself. Without it everything goes blank, I'll forget my name before the night falls.
- I don't understand, what is happening? why don't I remember you, or anything else?
- I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it's for the best.
- Why?
- I think you chose to forget, there are some things you are better off not knowing. It's much easier than you think, it's like a fog that comes for you slowly and then quickens, details are lost, then nothing.
- And if I want to know?
- There is something written on your desk, it might help you. This will be the last time we see each other. I'm tired, I can't stay awake anymore.

The inspector returned to the office but looking at the sign on the door he felt something was wrong "The City Office of Geodesy and Cartography". He entered and the woman behind a glass pane waved her eyes at him.
- The boss is looking for you.
- I had a personal matter ...
He entered the office and a bureaucrat buried in paperwork  began to apostrophize him.
- Welcome back, how many hours does it take you man? I need you to look over these 10 buildings. They're awaiting permits, so forget the coffee breaks and help me.
- Sorry I had a thing to take care off ... I'll get right on it.
He had a itchy feeling in the back of his neck that he had forgotten something, something important. But what? was he supposed to meet someone? was he looking for something? His fingers ran over the scratched surface of his desk and stopped over the words written by a child. The writing had been thickened and pushed into the wood by stronger hands: "Mama whirly and dada twirly made a girly. Please daddy come home soon ...
- Come on, man, stop day dreaming we don't have all day, his colleague poked him.
And his last thoughts evaporated as he started assessing the  certificates on his desk. 

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