Silence. Waiting for the train at Brussels Airport is a rather eerie affair at 11pm. The platforms are all empty except for an impatient looking balding man in a suit on platform four, a family with a hyperactive kid beside him and me on platform two. Suddenly I hear someone shouting – “Yee-Haw!”
I turn and find a young man stepping off the escalator. He is young, probably in his mid-twenties, and is dressed casually in jeans and a sweatshirt. His hair is short and is almost stubble and he sports a huge luminous ear-ring which I try not to stare at. He walks up to me,
“Yo, man, is this where the train is at?”
I think he’s American.
“Yes. It will be,” I pause, “if you’re going to Brussels.”
He stops and looks at me. ”I am in Brussels, man. I just landed here.”
I look at the clock above his head and note that I have another 10 minutes before the train arrives. It’s going to be a long ten minutes, I think.
“Where are you going?” Perhaps I shouldn’t ask. Perhaps I should ignore him.
“Man, I’m trying to find some shops. I need booze, man, you know, because I ain’t doing nothing in the airport tonight.” He waves his hand and something jingles. I think the gold caps I can see on his teeth are loose.
“Shops? For booze?”
“Yeah, the good stuff, you know? You know where I can find that?”
“Where, man, coz no one told me, like, this is a shop and you can buy the stuff for real from it.”
“There are good shops in the city.”
He tells me about life in North Carolina and how he’s just spent a year “keeping it real” in Amsterdam but is very angry that he couldn’t find any alcohol there. I try to keep a straight face.
“You sure I can find booze in shops here, man?”
“Absolutely. Right next to the station.”
“Which station, man?”
I pause, then, “The train station.”
“Dude, would I, like, lie to you?”
He considers this for a minute, “No, man, you’re like the man, man.”
I nod. The train arrives. I’m tempted to tell him that Brussels is spelt B-R-U-G-E-S.