The car had left immediately after we got down. I walked across the road and sat under a tree. The man had started doing crosswords on his newspaper, which had its edges starting to get yellow and pinched. I glanced at my watch. It was 2.13 PM. I could not take guess as to how time flew like this. I felt like it was only half an hour ago that I got picked up in front of my hotel.
‘Time flies quickly in the mountains. It’s the mist and snow. People wouldn’t understand how.’ He said without taking his eyes off from the paper. It spooked me a bit that he seemed to be reading my thoughts.
‘How did you know I was wondering about the time?’ I asked.
‘I saw you looking at the watch and then to the sun!’ He pointed upwards where there was a glow in the clouds. ‘Usually when people do both, they are having believing issues. You are not familiar with mountains, I guess.’
‘I come from the plains… which are not far from the sea.’ I said.
‘There was a time when I went to war with the people from plains… not far from the sea.’ He looked at me.
‘Oh. What happened?’ I was intrigued.
‘They beat us. Put a sword through my stomach. But, they couldn’t kill me and many of my friends.’
‘Sword? You mean a bayonet?’ I wondered if bayonets were popular in the Second World War. I was not a war historian.
‘Bayonet… Sword… all serves the same purpose.’ He muttered.
‘I take it that you live on a soldiers’ pension, then.’
‘Hmph! No pension. It wasn’t an army… just a band of people fighting for freedom.’ He said.
‘Armed Resistance against an occupation… like in France?’ I asked.
He looked upwards, like he was expecting something. It was getting darker. I was feeling hungry so I took out a burger I got packed from the hotel. I offered the old soldier one. He waved me off, ‘It is not time for me to eat. Go ahead.’
A noise started shaking the ground we were standing. I felt like a thousand boulders were rolling down towards us through the gravel road. I moved away from the road and slowly moved under the cover of the tree. The man rolled his newspaper into a pipe, again and stood up from the milestone. But, he didn’t move away from it. A couple of birds flew away into the sky from a nearby tree, leaving the branches shaking like they were possessed.
A horse carriage came running down the road and screeched to halt next to where we were standing. An exceptionally tall man was sitting behind the reigns.
‘Wilhelm, Still doing your crosswords, I guess.’ He said in a deep, nasal tone to the old man, who for the first time looked a bit uncomfortable. Then he looked at me. All I could see was his penetrating eyes. His face down from his eyes was covered in a dusty white cloth. ‘And, this must be our guest. Welcome, sir… to the Castle.’ He touched his millennia old hat with his right hand. He had long fingers.
(to be continued)
- The Castle: Part Two (starscrutiny.wordpress.com)
- The Castle: Part One. (starscrutiny.wordpress.com)
- castle in the clouds (sivanea.com)
- Castle Johannisburg (liebesgermany.wordpress.com)