Uit: You Were Never Really Here
“Joe looked at the last text message sent: “Keep engine running. We’ll want to move quick.” “Copy” was the reply. Probably two bent cops. The alley went one way. That meant the partner would be to the left, idling, so he could pull right in, not circle the block. Joe hesitated. He was ready to leave Cincinnati. He had done his job. Extracted the girl. He didn’t need to take out the one in the car. His informant had given him up, gave them his hotel, even his use of the service entrance, but that’s all they could have gotten, because that’s all the informant had. Joe thought about what was in his room: a toothbrush, a new hammer, a bag, and a change of clothes. But nothing important, nothing identifiable. He had been heading out to get something to eat and was going to leave tomorrow, but he should have left as soon as the job was done. Sloppy, he thought. What the fuck is wrong with me? Soon the one in the car would come looking. Joe didn’t want any more fights, because you didn’t win every fight. Joe figured they just wanted to know how he had gotten to them and if others would follow, and then they would have killed him. But he didn’t need to take them all out because they wanted information. He was just one man. Not the complete arm of justice.
I did enough, he thought. The girl is damaged but free. So he ran the opposite way down the alley, darted his head out fast, looking to his left and right — there wasn’t a third man guarding that end. Nobody sitting in a car, nobody planted in a doorway trying not to look like a plant. He stepped out into the street, started to walk. It was late October and there was a sweet smell in the air, like a flower that had just died. He thought about a time when he’d been happy. It had been more than two decades. Then Joe spotted a green cab. He liked the cabs in Cincy. The cars were old and the drivers were old. It felt like the past. He got in. “Airport,” he said, and he fingered the money clip. He’d give the driver a nice tip.”
Soms praten ze met mij,
deze kinderen die ik niet heb verwekt,
en de dingen die ze zeggen,
hoewel ik ze vergeet,
lijken zinnen uit boeken
die ik ooit las en waar ik niet meer aan heb gedacht sindsdien.
Vandaag een jongen die bij afwezigheid
van zijn dichtheid mij had kunnen zijn,
de vioolkop van zijn hand
in de mijne, volgde mij
door de hal boven
en vroeg iets waarvan,
als ik moest raden,
ik zou zeggen, het had te maken met het lot.
Buiten passeerde een schoolbus,
het toerental van zijn motor
als een boog over een snaar gestreken,
een korte levensboog van geluid
het huis in en uit –
ramen en muren en rustige kamers –
waar ik met stomheid stond geslagen
en bijna klaar om te antwoorden.
Vertaald door Frans Roumen