This is at least 30 years ago and I still remember it as if it was yesterday
I saw it all happen and to me this was so special that I cannot forget it. So here it is.
Aard lived in “Leusdenkwartier” (one of the districts of the town Amersfoort). A small house for single and elderly people. His nickname was ‘Sauerkraut’, because of his bushy moustache and the many times he had snivel in it, either old and dry or fresh and still wet.
I passed by his house almost every day and Aard was always sitting at his table smoking a cigarette and also always wearing his hat. I never saw Aard without that hat, so he must have been sleeping with it as well, which explains the greasy shine on the hat. I don´t think it was ever cleaned.
Aard moved through town in an old-fashioned tricycle wheelchair, you know the one with the bicycle gears on the front wheel that had to be turned around with the hands. He missed one leg and didn´t always wear his artificial leg, his “substitute claw” as he called it.
Aard was a regular in the butchery where I worked. When Aard stayed outside, I knew he did not wear his “claw” so I went outside to take his orders. Did he wear his claw he stumbled into the shop. He always ordered the same, a shoulder chop, a piece of bacon and a meatball and while he was waiting for us to prepare his orders, he always ate a few slices of sausage. I think, that sausage was the only reason to wear the claw, he didn´t want to miss it. He even checked how much sausage was in the bag that I brought him when he stayed outside and of course, never enough … “is that all?”
Like any man Aard had his needs. Close to the butchery, in the top floor of a corner house, there was the local brothel and twice a month Aard visited the ladies. Anybody knew when Aard was there as his tricycle wheelchair was parked outside. The story is that the ladies carried Aard upstairs as he couldn´t climb the stairs on his own.
Saturday mornings it was always busy in the butchery, husbands with grocery-lists were send out by their wives to do shopping. The butchery was the meeting point for all those men and all kind of stories were told, better than the popular theatre. Many times I had to lay my knife aside to prevent accidents – laughter because of the stories.
Aard was always present on Saturday morning and when the other men knew he had visited the ladies they made fun of him, ridiculed him. But as long as there was warm horse-sausage Aard didn´t mind, “What I do there, you don´t get at home … “
Aard allowed me to take his portrait, in his house, at the table where he always sat, wearing his hat. A brief furnished room, just big enough for the closet, the table and a couple of chairs. Behind Aard there was a big sound machine and on the wall an empty place where something used to hang. The spot was clearly visible as the rest of the wallpaper was discoloured by time. Now there was a small photo on the spot.
I modestly asked Aard what had been there. “Lad, you know a lot about me, I visit hookers and I don´t care that people know, but other things hurt and I rather not talk about that.“
So we switched subject … respect … honour people´s integrity … you can be too curious.
But still, from that moment on, whenever I was there I looked at that spot.