At Piata Regina Maria Åke Nilsson stumbled up some crumbling concrete stairs, he was dying for a drink, and this non-stop shop would have what he needed. Åke was one of the few really great IT architects, some called him a genius even though he himself would never have done so. Maybe he was gifted in his field, but what he really was, was a drunk, an alcoholic, and he knew it. Too many late night business meetings, those early pick-me-up to fix the hangovers that only got worse with age. Now he was in Romania, for a business meeting as a pretext, but in reality it was to indulge in the only thing he cared for except alcohol, the game of Go. He had wriggled his way out of the customary visit to one of the strip clubs. Not that he did not like to watch naked women, he did, but those places were just so depressing. He always ended up getting really drunk, paying a fortune for it, and falling asleep at his table, something he could do much cheaper at home.
He put his hand on the door, ready to go in and get a nice bottle of cheap whisky for the night, but before he pulled the handle he said out loud, “Fuck this,” scaring an older lady passing by in the process.
Åke let go of the handle, inhaled the air flavoured fumes from a busy street, and let go. If he would go in, he would buy a bottle, get drunk, and miss his meeting, he knew himself that much at least. So instead of pulling the handle, he dragged out the map of Bucharest he had in his pocket. Åke was supposed to meet Marius, the Go playing blogger he used to play against online, this evening.
Letting his now shaky finger follow the streets, he saw that he needed to follow boulevard Libertatii, take a right down boulevard Natiunile Unite and, “Bob’s your uncle I am in the old city.”
He cast a last longing glance at the shop harbouring all those nice bottles, shook his head to get that idea out of his mind.
He started walking, focusing on the movement of his feet and so pushed the voice in his head that screamed for a drink. It really was an easy walk, not a problem at all. The streets were of course dark, the pavement had loose stones that made him stumble, and some deep potholes he managed to avoid, but passing the gigantic Parliament building made up for that.
As he entered the Old Centre he saw that he had 30 minutes before he was supposed to meet Marius at the café “The Last Flamingo”. He checked the street on the map, should not be too hard to find, and so he stomped off to get there early. He looked forward to the game and the conversation, but even more he longed for the beers. His hands were shaking and he felt light headed with a thumping headache pounding his temples, but all that would soon be cured.
20 minutes later he had gotten totally lost. All the streets looked the same, so Åke Nilsson had managed to walk in a number of concentric circles, each one taking him past the same street he had already passed before.
“What the fuck, I don't have time for this,” and with that thought he approached the first person he met, asked for direction, and got none, the person did not speak English. Two persons later he finally found a group of teenagers that were helpful and pointed him in the right direction. It was not hard for them, the café was just behind his back, he had passed it at least twice before without noticing it.
Thanking them as they laughed at his stupidity, he cast a glance at his watch, seeing he was now 10 minutes late instead of 20 minutes early.
The front door opened up to a steep stairs leading down, he bumped into a suit-wearing-man, that looked away as Åke asked him to watch out. Down the stairs a rather large room opened up, divided by small alcoves, and a bar counter on the left.
“Can I have a beer?” he asked directly. The man behind the bar looked bored, but handed him a bottle of Heineken.
“How about a glass?” but that question did not give him a glass, so he simply took one himself from the counter.
“I am supposed to meet a friend, Marius, has he arrived yet?”
“The man said something in Romanian that Åke did not understand, so he took his beer and glass, and started checking the booths one by one, but they were all empty. He did however see a Go board together with bags of black and white stones at one table.
Guessing that not many Go players would be in this place at this time, he sat down, poured his beer, drank it, and waited.
Marius did not show up, “He must be in the toilet,” he thought, so went to get another beer, patting his own back for the fact that he had time to drink two beers before Marius showed up.
15 minutes later, Åke was still sitting and waiting.
He headed for the toilet, both to relieve himself, but also to see if Marius was there. Pushing the door open it go stuck, so he pushed it harder, something moved, and the door finally opened, showing the crumpled down body on the floor.
“Marius, are you ok,” asked Åke, and bent down, only then did he see the puddle of blood on the tile floor. He turned over the body, the neck rolled free like it was on a ball bearings, and when he saw the face, he also so the small red hole in the forehead.
To be continued...
© 2018 by J.M Svanström