In a fit of insanity, I had jumped on the wrong metro.
A line had been diverted. Where otherwise we quickly go underground, now it remained light and sunny. Only after three stops did I realise, and even then, it didn't occur to me to get off. I was tired of everything and anything.
Suddenly, I saw the old, rust-brown towers of the old steel factory and I hadn't been there for so long that I decided to get out and have a look.
From the metro station, a path ran through the bushes quite steeply down to where the overgrown old railway line ran towards the factory. Long ago, a train used to run here to the transshipment yard a bit further down, on the other side of the highway. There was no highway then.
Now the factory has been empty for a long time. Recently, a small part has been opened to the public, with an exhibition space and some studios, a pop-up restaurant and a city beach. This is all on the other side of the immense site, behind the factory itself. Here on this side, nothing has changed since I was here 15 years ago.
Now that I was here again, through the hole in the fence, the black and brick chimneys, the immense rust-brown hall, the overgrown lower buildings on the site, and the large equally rust-brown expanse of sand in front of me, I could hear the voices and laughter again like I used to, when we would arrive from town and throw our bikes against the fence under the bushes.
I actually heard voices. And laughter.
As I walked further into the grounds, I saw a hefty mid-sized car parked near the former canteen building. Behind the half-crumbling wall I saw them standing: Pjotr, Modjo, Frick, and a few more I did not immediately recognise. They were drinking beer, music sounded from the car. Pjotr saw me first, and recognised me immediately. He smiled a little uncertainly, raised his hand. The others turned to me. Regilio, Willem. The latter immediately had a sharp remark ready, asked me if I had come to see how I had left it.
He was the one who was always afraid that I wanted something with him, while it was that very arrogance that made me find him absolutely unattractive. Our sparse conversations always lingered on something indefinable.
With Pjotr it immediately was right again, I felt it, his gentle gaze. He offered me a beer. The The old cooler we filled with a still working fire hose, and in which we tried to keep the beer cool, had been replaced by some coolers. They even had camping chairs with them now. We used to sit against the wall, or on it; dance, or run around, goofing around, joking and grunting. Our boots, trousers, jackets always reddish-brown with dust.
We had all gained some weight by now, some a bit more. I knew from their social media profiles that their former girlfriends were now their wives, that they had children, steady jobs, mortgages.
I remembered well, how they wanted me (except Willem), when the beer was almost gone, the girlfriends long gone home, and I could never stop dancing. Frick was usually the first to collapse, after throwing a few more longing glances. Probably that's why his girlfriend never liked me that much. But I didn't want Frick.
Pjotr I liked. We had never kissed; before it came to that, I had left. I still remembered his hand over my hair the last time I spoke to him.
Modjo was also still a handsome man. His twitter bio mentioned that he considers himself a soulful peanut.
He put his arm around me, kissed me on my cheek and in my hair, I smelled beer and a vaguely aftershave. His arm stayed loosely around my waist, while I greeted the rest. We chatted on the 'good old days' of which Marten immediately remarked that maybe the 'good' was better left out? I said I was doing well, by now, that it was not all that bad.
It became a friday night drinks not soon to be forgotten. The most boring guys soon left the fray, to go to their wives and children, help the in-laws, run down birthdays.
Frick looked back regretfully, but his Maaike was waiting. She already called three times.
The sun was already low in the sky, it was about seven o'clock, Freek had fetched some chips. While I was dancing with Pjotr, he came speeding towards us over the gravelly terrain. With a beautiful turn including a cloud of dust, he stopped right in front of us. While the rest laughed and fussed over the fries, Pjotr secretly kissed my neck. Very briefly.
We ate. More beer was fetched. As the shadows lengthened, the conversations became more serious and the choice of music more moody. I had to pee.
There were toilets on the site, for which we had once cracked open the canteen building. By now the water supply had been cut off, so we had to pee in the bushes. Pjotr walked along, almost naturally. It was nearly dark, and you never know. We heard the men talking softly, sometimes sounding Modjo's shrill laughter. As I looked for a spot without too much vegetation, Pjotr whistled softly along with the music we still heard. When I returned, he pulled me towards him, we leaned against each other for a moment, kissed. It was delicately soft, sweet, not too wet, not too dry. He wrung his hands under my jumper, but quickly withdrew them when we heard footsteps. Pretending we were just walking back, on the path we met Harm, who patted Pjotr on the back: "See you tomorrow, man!". I got a dark glance, a nod.
Quickly we walked back, grabbed another beer. Pjotr's mobile lit up, his girlfriend. Wife. Whether he wanted to bring fries on the way back, he laughed when he said it, with a wary eye on me.
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