Tuesday, January 10, 1984

Rump-rump, rattle-rattle, lock-lock. This sound is produced when a prison guard slams open the two steel bolts on the upper and lower frame of the cell door with his hands and feet in a fluid motion.

At the same time, he swings a heavy bunch of keys like a Colt and shoots the matching one from his hip into the keyhole. Then he turns it two full rounds at supersonic speed.

I can tell what a guard is up to by the suddenness, volume and frequency of the movements. It gets really unpleasant when I’m sitting on the pot. If you have regular bowel movements, you have a clear advantage.

After just three days and nights, I have learned to distinguish real silence from dangerous silence. Quiet footsteps that are actually moving away sound very different from creeping footsteps that cannot be heard, even though they should have been. Solitary confinement sharpens the senses for soundscapes, movement patterns and vibrations. Suspicious silence can be damn loud.

The door bangs open. No “Get out!” this time, but a demonstrative wait. Pants up and one step back. A glance at the epaulettes. Then my “Mr. Constable, custody room occupied by one prisoner”. Satisfied nod. “Get out!”. “Face the wall!”.

This time it’s through narrow corridors into an interrogation room somewhere. The interrogator, an old white-haired man in a gray uniform, asks me pretty much the same questions as the CID did a few days ago. He can’t believe that I don’t want to deny anything. That I had written the note after all and that we were just about to take the next transit train to the West. What if we had been checked, of course? Then the Stasi. End of story.

He tries one or two trick questions about spectacular escape plans, brute force and/or accomplices who know about it. Nothing to do. We just wanted to drive over like normal pensioners. I’m here now and will do it again at the next opportunity. As often as it takes to make it work. He is amazed. After I sign the protocol, he looks at me shaking his head and wishes me good luck. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

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