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no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

trespasses


One of the two elevators is broken again. The floor peeks out, half-way up the doors that are cracked apart.  A light dangles from a hook. A man's dirty hands are scratching around. There is a screwdriver on the floor next to me. I see it, passing it to him without even seeing his face. He mumbles a thank you. The doors to the other elevator bang open, and I step inside.

Upstairs, I think of this scene. The doors apart, the slice of light that plays around. I think to load my camera with a fresh roll of film and go back downstairs. The film is cold, tucked into a bag in the corner of the fridge. It needs to come to room temperature before I put it into the camera or moisture might condense on it.

The roll stands on the edge of the kitchen table. I clean the camera, blow air inside it and behind the lens. I turn it over in my hands, and then the canister is warm enough and I load it. At the same time, I understand I cannot take this picture. If the man sees me, he might be furious. Documenting anyone working here, it is something a spy does, or better said - an informant. The shot is not worth it. The risk is too great. The country seems to be built on trespasses. So much is forbidden. Even the gravestones in cemeteries have little fences around them.

Then, I decide to take the elevator to the second floor, not the first and maybe I can take the picture from there and never be noticed. I pull on a black trench coat. The camera hides under my armpit.

Downstairs, I peer into the darkness of the first floor. The doors are closed. He is already gone.



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