But first there was the house that someone I sort of knew lived in, next door or next to that. The landlord/head-of-house (it was a kind of halfway house for boys who wanted to live on their own but couldn’t quite manage it yet, and/or boys newly released from prison) was away and had locked up so my acquaintance couldn’t get in to get his clothes and books. The lock had a battery, the size and shape of a phone battery, partly exposed, and we thought the lock might be jammed because the battery was flat but could find no way to change it. Then I discovered that the back of a cupboard in my own house was stuck on with chocolate, so I thought that the back wall of the locked house might be the same.
We never got to try, though, because moments later I found myself in a castle garden with a blonde girl in her late teens and a man who was offering her a job, admitting that it was far away and possibly illegal or immoral or both, but she took it anyway, and I offered to take her there on public transport because I happened to know where it was.
This was in a large sprawling city that might have been Brussels or perhaps Berlin, though everybody spoke some sort of Dutch. We went on a bus, then ran through a park (really nice smell of fresh air, and the park was called something perfectly appropriate like “Scent of Heaven”) until we came to a two-story tram stop to catch the number 4a-T tram on the upper platform. (There were more number 4 trams, but without the letters or with different letters and they were no good.) When the tram came it lowered all of its sides like unfolding a box, and folded them up again after people finished boarding.
By that time I’d lost my companion, at least I don’t remember being with her after the tram stop.
On the tram there were several people, mostly middle-aged men, playing a game involving cards but the main focus was boastful storytelling. The cards may have been rewards for successes, because the people high on the score list posted in the tram turned out to have the largest decks. I joined in and got dealt three cards immediately, and one of the men wrote my name at the bottom of the score list. At the end of the tram ride, all the way out of the city and through three towns that I know are in Belgium (a case for the city being Brussels, though those towns aren’t close to it or to each other or even all on the same railway line) I had a dozen cards or more and my name had crawled up to almost halfway.