I Guess Where You’re From

At the railway station, a few metres in front of a café, I held up a piece of cardboard torn from a box, upon which I had written in black ink marker-pen:


Claude looked like he had time to kill, waiting for a train connection. I watched, as he sauntered towards me, looking thoughtful. All in one motion, placing his briefcase onto the ground, clasped between his ankles, he pointed at the sign with his index finger, then pointed to himself.

I looked at him for a few seconds, with a blank expression on my face. “Belgian.” I said, forming an innocent smile.

Claude jerked backwards, as if a fairytale ogre had appeared behind him and given the collar of his coat a sharp tug.

“Belgian? You think I am from Belgium??”

“Switzerland.” I said.

“Suisse??” He said, fumbling, repositioning his glasses on the bridge of his nose, in astonishment.

“Madagascar.” I said.

“You think, I am from Madagascar?” There was a tone of annoyance in his voice, mixed with skeptical disbelief. “D’accord, d’accord, très drôle!” Claude said, not looking amused at all.

“Quebec.” I said.

Claude got close up to my face and for a moment, looked like he might slap me.

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