فصل 02

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فصل 02

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 8 دقیقه
  • سطح ساده

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CHAPTER TWO

A meeting with a shark

The train raced on for five minutes more, then began to slow down. The woman closed her phone and busily collected her things together.

‘So, Koln!’ she said brightly and stood up. ‘Now I must find my husband and you must go to the Berlin train. Platform 2.’

Soon the train came to a stop and Hiro followed the woman off on to the platform. Immediately after they’d said goodbye, she called loudly to a tired-looking man waiting at the bottom of a staircase. The man hurried over to her, then followed her up the stairs, carrying all her bags.

Hiro made his way to Platform 2. He had half an hour to wait for his next train and, for some reason, sitting on the station made him feel lonely again. As soon as the train arrived, he climbed in. He found an empty seat, then sat looking out at the crowd of people outside the window. Hiro noticed an attractive blonde girl with a big blue bag getting on the train. He wondered if the girl might come and sit in the seat opposite him. But after taking a few steps towards him, she chose a seat three rows away. Hiro was disappointed.

Then a man with silvery-grey hair, wearing a grey raincoat got on. He was pulling a small suitcase on wheels. Hiro watched him come closer. He stopped some way down the train and spoke to one of the people there, giving a wide toothy smile. Hiro didn’t like the look of the man. There was something about his smile, his grey clothes and the silent way he moved, which reminded Hiro of a shark. The man came down the train towards him. Hiro hoped the man would walk past. But he didn’t.

‘Excuse me,’ the man said in English, giving the same smile. ‘Is anyone sitting here?’

Hiro had no choice. As well as the seat beside him, the two opposite were free. ‘No,’ he said, ‘of course…’

‘Thank you so much,’ the man answered.

The man pushed his suitcase under the seat, then sat down opposite Hiro. Hiro felt uncomfortable. The man’s eyes seemed very small and his teeth very sharp. Hiro was reminded of a shark once again. He imagined the man swimming towards him and smiling. The smile made Hiro feel very cold, as if an icy hand had touched the back of his neck. He watched as the man took off his grey raincoat, took a mobile phone from the coat pocket and put the phone on the table between them. Hiro noticed the man’s hands. They looked terribly clean and the fingernails perfect. Hiro wondered if the man might be a dentist.

The train pulled out of the station. Hiro tried to look away from the man and read his book again, but something kept making him look up. The man had taken a newspaper from his case and put on a pair of glasses now. He looked quite strong, but with his grey hair, Hiro guessed he must be in his mid-sixties, even seventy perhaps. After a while, the man put down the newspaper and checked his phone. He did everything very carefully, holding the phone at a distance, and looking at the screen. His fingers moved lightly over the keys. After a couple of minutes, the man put the phone on to the table, sat back in his seat and closed his eyes. Hiro suddenly felt much calmer. The man had made him nervous. It was like being near a dangerous animal. ‘Yes,’ Hiro decided, ‘he’s not a man; he’s a shark.’

Hiro relaxed and read his book. The train was soon racing along again and his book was very exciting. The next time he checked his watch it was after four o’clock. He looked at the man opposite. ‘Good, the Shark is still sleeping,’ he thought.

Hiro got out his guidebook and tried to decide what to do when he reached Berlin. He had booked a room in a cheap hotel, the Hotel Alma, in an area called Kreuzberg. But how would he get there? There seemed to be an underground train called the U-Bahn, but also an overground one, the S-Bahn. Which one should he use?

All of a sudden, the train braked sharply and a number of things happened at once. The braking was so hard that a woman walking down the train fell across the table between Hiro and the Shark. As she fell, she knocked the Shark’s newspaper and phone off the table and on to the seat beside Hiro. At the same moment the Shark jumped up and his hand shot out. But instead of helping the woman, he reached out across the table to try to get his things back. Hiro was very surprised. The Shark couldn’t reach his things but, after a moment, he became quite pleasant again. Speaking in German, he took the woman’s arm and helped her up. A conversation followed, then the woman went away. The Shark sat down again. Almost immediately, he said, ‘You have my mobile phone, I believe.’

Hiro didn’t understand for a moment. Then he looked down at the seat beside him and saw the man’s phone on his jacket. Hiro was surprised because he thought he’d put his own phone there. He picked up the phone and passed it across.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said.

‘That’s all right,’ the Shark said, taking the phone. As he did so, their hands touched. The Shark’s hand felt cold. ‘These trains are so dangerous,’ he went on. ‘They are too fast! I am always nervous travelling in this country.’

‘Yes,’ Hiro answered.

‘Will you excuse me for a moment?’ the man said. ‘Please be so kind to keep my seat for me.’

Without waiting for an answer, he picked up his phone and walked up the train to the toilet. Hiro watched the Shark close the toilet door, then saw the light above the door come on.

For a moment nothing happened, then Hiro heard the small ringing sound his phone made when a text message came through. He looked down. Under his jacket, he found his phone. So, it was there after all. His heart gave a tiny jump. Could it be a text from Akiko? He picked up the phone and pressed a key to open the message.

For a second or two he didn’t understand. He could understand the English, but not what it meant. He read it twice.

MEET BRANDENBURG GATE 1 PM TOMORROW. COLLECT EQUIPMENT AND HALF FEE.

It was another two or three seconds before Hiro realised the phone wasn’t his.

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