“I won’t mention her to you,” he said, “I promise.” The smile he gave me genuine. He was convinced I was the lucky one for he was interested in me. After all, hadn’t I been the loyal friend to lure him into bed? The fact that he had just left his wife and now asked to move in with me a form of flattery for him, a sign of devotion not shared by me.
For anyone who knew Elsie, the story I’m about to tell won’t come as a surprise. Elsie was hands-on, her clothes often covered in mud, her behavior boisterous at times. In her family, she was the quiet one, for everyone else, she was rather peculiar with a sense of humor bordering the crude. With a heart too sensitive for the outside world, she kept her feelings hidden behind a facade of I-don’t-care, her emotions aggressive whenever she feared someone threatened to expose her inner world.
Her stories always rather gory, her friends were used to hearing fables of lost limbs, wives celebrating their husbands’ deaths and infected dog bites. They didn’t flinch at pet names such as Ebola or Plague and had learned to laugh off her regular slurs. So one day, when Elsie started to tell one of her stories in a voice bubbling with suppressed rage, no one questioned the name she used to describe a beloved family member and that, in return, said a lot about Elsie’s friends themselves.
“Didn’t I tell you,” Elsie asked half annoyed. “She’s finally dead. I can’t believe how long it took her to finally call it quits.”
“Did you already stand in line to get tickets for the Berlinale?” Angus sits across from me, his eyes resting on mine with a casual smile.
I shake my head and sip on a fruity cocktail, waiting for the ice to freeze my brain. I’ve been thirsty coming to this place. The bagel shop on the second floor. The store next door is being renovated once again. Something always changes in Berlin and yet it strangely remains the same.
“Me either.” Angus glares at me with a look that leaves me guessing. He pauses, then sighs. The way his spikes an olive from our appetizer plate almost seems volatile. “Too many years have passed since I last won a Bear. No accreditation for me this year.”
I watch how he picks the olive from his toothpick, his lips glistening from the oily dressing. “I don’t know what it is with this film festival. Last year I was too ill to attend, the year before I was struggling to keep my job. Must be the season. I don’t feel I’m missing out on anything.”
“Berlin is gray in winter. They say the festival brings color to a dreadful season.” Angus picks another olive and chews on it.“No shopping for investors at the EFM this year?”