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The Dane.   nederlands

Matthieu was an aggressive bastard, but he also had good sides. For example, he looked after the dog of an acquaintance who had to go to jail for a while. And that was quite special, because it was not exactly a lap dog size, although the animal did want to sit on any lap. The Dane was a Great Dane in white with black spots, a kind of pet cow actually. He was no longer the youngest, and he was super sweet.
When i moved in with Matthieu, we had also just gotten two kittens, and they played with great pleasure on The Dane: they climbed on his back, on his head, and slept peacefully between his front legs when he lay on the floor - which was quite hard for The Dane, because he would cosely fall asleep with them, but then had to do his utmost not to lay his heavy head on the kittens.
We had hung a large piece of seventies net curtains in the middle of the room, and we could 'throw' the kittens into it, then they would climb up and tumble down into the rigging like little pirates, it was all very cute. And The Dane thought so too, and of course he wanted to join in, so in no time he was hanging with his big paws in the curtain, which thundered down with the cats and all. The game was destroyed by its own success.
His own toys and activities stuff were also bizarre: a dog normally has a piece of vertebral bone to gnaw on, but The Dane simply had an entire shoulder blade at his disposal... wtf.

So The Dane was a sweetheart, but he also had some aging issues, like he probably couldn't see very well in the dark anymore. That's why he was a bit anxious, or at least extra alert. Taking him for a walk in the evening always had something cool about it: he would walk neatly next to me, and if there was any trouble he probably looked very impressive - no one bothered me.
Listening wasn't really his thing, especially when there was food nearby. And then try to keep the pet cow under control: i couldn't do that. For example, he once galloped after a few businessmen who were eating their sandwiches nearby. The men were shocked and threw their sandwiches at The Dane. Me somewhere in the distance, shouting that they shouldn't do that, but yes... fear is a bad advisor, they say. Not for The Dane anyway. I remember a child throwing his ice cream at him in fright. While The Dane had very obediently sat down in front of him. Okay, he was drooling, which must be gross if you're just licking your ice cream. "He doesn't do anything!" i'm sure i have shouted it too when he had broken free again.

He really did a lot of weirder things too.
For example, we once walked at the market with him, Matthieu thought it would be better for him to walk freely - i had my doubts about that in such an abundant food area. The stalls were quite busy, i bought some oranges and looked around to see where The Dane had gone.
Let me put it this way: it was good that the man in question was wearing a long raincoat. At the same time, that was probably also the reason why The Dane had thought that it was possible to urinate on it. Yes, you read that correctly: The Dane was urinating against the back of a man, well, against his raincoat. And the man didn't realize anything. We quickly pulled The Dane away, but the damage was already done, and we had to laugh terribly. It was really that bad! I wonder at what point the man found out. When he got home, i assume?

One evening we were quietly listening to some music, the animals were sleeping, until downstairs in the large squat building where we lived, there was some commotion at the front door. An angry male voice, a woman shouting that he couldn't just come in and fast footsteps on the stairs to our room. The Dane immediately stood upright and looked at the door. There was another room there, and we (or maybe just me) expected the footsteps to lead there, but no. One loud knock on the door, which was immediately thrown open, and there stood a man - one second.
The Dane ran to him, and instead of closing the door again, the man left it open and ran down the stairs. The Dane went after him. Fortunately, Matthieu was quick enough and managed to retrieve the dog, the man had fled outside and left. I had no idea who it was. Probably another shady boyfriend of Matthieu? There were more of them, after all.

There was Francois, a sturdy white man with long dark hair - in this day and age you would probably characterize him as a nerdy metal fan. He came from Paris, with his girlfriend, a nice, much younger woman, about my age - we were still girls, actually - and i liked her straight away. Emma was a bit skittish - we probably recognized a lot in each other, i think i was just as skittish.
Matthieu was involved in some kind of shady drug deal, and Francois would buy a kilo of something and then peddle it in Paris. The plan was that Francois would go to The Vault, an actual safe in another squat, where the stuff was kept and sold. It was all very shady, but above all very clumsy. I don't remember now what exactly was agreed, in terms of money and such. I think Francois was afraid he would be robbed. Why Matthieu the Aggressive didn't go with him to protect him, i have no idea, i just don't remember. But they had decided that The Dane would accompany Francois. The idea was that no one would harass him with that dog at his side.

Such a deal must then take place in the dark for reasons that are completely unclear to me - it seems to me that something like this would be more noticeable in an extinct city, but anyway, they seemed to know what they were doing, and off Francois left with The Dane. Emma and i stayed at home, i don't remember where Matthieu was.

I don't know exactly what happened.
About half an hour later, Francois still wasn't back, which was strange, The Vault wasn't that far away. Matthieu had now returned, and we decided to go outside and have a look. We walked a bit towards the place of the deal, and suddenly we saw The Dane approaching, at full gallop, the short leash flapping around his neck. He was so panicked that he didn't even see us at first, but luckily when we shouted and ran to him he recognized us and we were able to calm him down. I took him home, Matthieu went looking for Francois.

Another half hour later, Francois was also found.
It turned out that Francois had become a bit paranoid - tip: don't smoke pot before doing a drug deal. He was afraid he was going to get ripped, and decided to run. The Dane had panicked and broken free, and both had run in different directions. Ultimately, the deal went through, a day later. So far, so good, only the worst was yet to come, and this is where the slapstick ends.

The stuff had to be brought across the border, and who did Francois came up with for that? Emma, of course. She had to return to Paris by train with the stuff stored somewhere very amateurishly. Francois would stay a little longer and then travel back by train. I really hated that Emma had to do this. You could say: she could have refused this after all. I don't know if that was possible. Given my own situation, i couldn't help her, and she couldn't help me - i think we were kind of in the same boat.
I never saw her again.

While Emma was crossing the border, we were suddenly visited by another lady, several years older than Emma, let's call her Lucie. She also turned out to be a friend of Francois, and it slowly became clear that she was the real friend, Emma turned out to be a piece of equipment that is also called a mule, i think. I couldn't do or say anything... and i don't know if Matthieu was aware of this at that point. He thought it was all fine.
They stayed over for a few days, Matthieu thought i should do better to be nice to our guests, but that was quite difficult for me. When they left, i was relieved, but i kept wondering about Emma.

Some time later (it was long before the internet) we heard from Francois that Emma had been arrested at the border and was now in a juvenile detention center. My heart was already broken, but that broke me even more. Bastards.

More than 25 years later, my work was at an art fair in the east of the country, Huntenkunst.
I had a good spot, a lot of people and good company from the artists around me, my partner was there. At one point a somewhat shady couple came to look at my work. The strange thing was: i saw them walking straight to my shop. They looked around, looked at me, looked around at the people and when they saw me looking at them, i received a compliment about my work, in German.
At the time i didn't even realize it. I just saw a somewhat shady couple who came to look at my work, and when they walked away, i even went after them to give them a card with my details...

It wasn't until minutes later that it dawned on me: these were Francois and Lucie... They looked exactly the same, just a little older, but the dark sunglasses made it all a bit hidden and vague. Only that they spoke German was strange. Although: maybe Emma had talked at some point to the police, and they fled? Or had they been disturbed somewhere later in their criminal careers and emigrated. Or they only pretended to be German for me, after all the artfair was around the corner from Germany.

What a strange situation. It seemed like they came especially for me. Maybe they were hesitant about who i was. But what did they want from me? I've never heard from them again, and i never saw them anywhere again after that.
It's a big mystery.

The names of the people in this piece have been fictitious. I remember the original names of the two men, but i have forgotten the names of the two women. So it could be that i accidentally gave them the same name as their original name: i have no idea. I would say: let me know if that is the case, but i think that will be quite complicated. Because: how do i know who you are if you email me? Je ne sais pas. Donc, excusez-moi, je ne veux pas révéler de noms ou causer des ennuis aux gens. Mais je veux dire c'était vraiment con pour 'Emma'.

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DateTime: 2024 jan 19, 11:55 CET
Auteur: Mulder

 Great Dane 

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