For a moment he could do nothing other than look in surprise at the name in front of him. He did not recognize it in the slightest, but still it was in his contact list. It couldn’t have been someone else who added this stranger’s contact details. Of course, people forget. They do so all the time, but this name was not the sort which one would escape one’s memory just like that. Or better said, not in this country and especially not if we take into account the composition of his circle of friends and acquaintances. He did know some foreigners, but like most people he knew few of them and even fewer he knew well.
“Think”, he said to himself. “Where could I have met this man?” He repeated the name over and over again inside his head, “Dimitri Dimitriou, Dimitri Dimitriou, Dimitri Dimitriou”, in the hope of hearing a voice, seeing a face, or picking up a particular smell connected to it. Not a single memory came to him. By now he was near to obsessed with the phantasmic person behind this name which presented itself as an unquestionable fact on the screen of his phone. Who was Dimitri Dimitriou and how did his name get into this contact list?
The bus took a sharp turn to the right. He looked up and saw the pink plaster of the neighbourhood’s café-restaurant. “I have to get off at the next stop”, he thought to himself, and put his phone back into his pocket. Attentively, he observed whether any of his fellow passengers looked like they wanted to get off at the same stop. He preferred not to take any initiative. If he were to decide himself when to call for a stop, he might do it too early and make it seem as if he was unknown with this bus line. It was a thought which brought him to inspect his fellow passengers each day he came back from work. None of them seemed to share his destination that day though, and so he reluctantly pushed the button the corner before his stop.
After he got out and started walking home his mind turned again to Dimitri Dimitriou. Unlike his name, the phone number was not foreign. Perhaps a simple phone call would be the best course of action. He could ask whether they had met before or if they had any common friends. Then again, what if this person did not wish to be called? What would he do if Dimitri Dimitriou started asking him how he got that phone number? Of course, it would be without any danger to him. It is, after all, not illegal to dial a number of a total stranger to you. Nevertheless, it would be very discomforting. To seek out such a situation would go completely against his intuitive avoidance of conflict.
By now he had reached his house. Undecided on whether he should call, he set about to do other things. Soon he thought no more of Dimitri Dimitriou.
* * *
It was during lunch the following day that the newly acquired phone contact came to mind again. He was sitting alone in the canteen. Not out of a dislike for his colleagues, but simply due to circumstance. It took but a few taps on his screen and he had found the phone number, 06 764 108 78. Again uncertainty over whether to call Dimitri Dimitriou or not took hold over him. All of the sudden he realized that he hadn’t tried to look online for him yet.
It would be better try to discover who this contact was without having to call him. In that way he could hopefully avoid a potentially awkward situation. Luckily it was one of those days which distinguish themselves by being almost surreally calm. There was nothing which needed to be done urgently, no meetings, nor any tasks which required lots of energy. It is on these days that we are shortly brought into contact again with the timelessness we felt so often during our childhood. It was the perfect day to spend time searching for this stranger.
After having finished his lunch he quietly started working again, but in the meantime he also started his search for Dimitri Dimitriou. He began with his own mailbox and the company’s files, in the assumption that it was most probable for him to meet a foreign person in this setting. The same counted for anyone he would be quick to forget, as his job was as unexciting as it was unambitious. What it did offer, however, was stability. A precious thing these days.
This even provided him with a decent excuse were anyone to see and ask him why he was searching for this man. “I was just searching for a person I met at that conference we visited last year.” “I’m trying to find an interesting analysis which I read some time ago.” “He is an expert on that new product we are looking into, I’m want to have a meeting with him.”
And so he started his search.
* * *
The room was pitch dark. His eyes stared into the grainy nothingness of the night. He hadn’t found a thing about Dimitri Dimitriou even though he had searched the whole afternoon. Even after work time he continued at home. There were no social media profiles, no articles, comments, mentions on webpages. Digitally, Dimitri Dimitriou didn’t exist.
This was not wholly unthinkable. If Dimitri Dimitriou was an older man, in his late fifties or early sixties, it would not have been uncommon for him to have a very light digital footprint. It did, however, make finding this character more difficult. Of course, he could call the phone number in his contact list, but should be another way of finding out about Dimitri Dimitriou.
Outside the chirping of the birds started slowly but surely. It was night no more. He took his second pillow and buried his head underneath it. He couldn’t stand it when the birds started singing in the morning. Why had always been unclear to him, but the sound had always bothered him. Now all he wanted was to fall asleep again, just so that he wouldn’t have to hear the dreadful noise from outside.
Then he heard a buzzing noise from the opposite side of the room. His phone had received a message. He tried to ignore it as he tried to ignore the tweeting and cawing and hooting which penetrated his walls and windows. However, after a few minutes he decided that further resistance was useless and he got up, slightly pulled up the shutters and walked over to the phone to look who had sent him a message this early. It was from Dimitri Dimitriou.
Full of excitement he unlocked his phone and opened the message. “What’s taking you so long? Come meet me at the Old Market Square in two days at four.”