some of the things Tom said and some of the things I said
He wouldn't make it before 6 o'clock, he said. He had forgotten about Belgian railway system and the weekend schedule.
He got to the place around six, stood in front of the red table. I had a half a dozen of people to talk to, couldn't interrupt the conversation, said hi. Hi, he said. After that he took some time to look at the thing we had on the wall. The people I had been talking to left the place and I noticed he stood gazing one of the walls, apparently that with the Gerard Herman drawing on it. Nice show, he said.
We had plans for dinner and I had to admit that the restaurant I'd been thinking of closed on Saturdays.
The thing was, we always had fun having dinner together. As it most often took thousands of miles and often years to meet, fairly similar to the Sebald story on Austerlitz, the dining place had to have something fitting both the rarity of the occasion and the informal nonchalance of that thing around the corner. It had been like that in Paris and in Oxford, in London and Winchester where we had shared a single room, and on any occasion that he had been in Gent. So we went to la mama, an Italian near the place where it all began.
There was a sudden breeze of cold air and autumn rain and I had to pull advanced manoeuvres to get the car parked. The garçon came to the doorway and said that it got loaded as an egg. No free table for the two of us.
The rain kept silent.
Meanwhile I'd been thinking of a half a dozen of other places. None of that fit the occasion more than Mauro's place, partly because Tom had his Italian girlfriend, both living in Brooklyn. We took the angle-shaped plaza and looked up to the store where it all began, as many others apparently a building without history. Holland Island, I said.
He knew on Holland Island, he said, and Maryland. We sat at Mauro's place. Maryland has beautiful landscape, he said. From then on the talk made its usual curves.
'I was never a fan of desert moments,' he says, 'but I love northern French movies.'