Sometimes I thought my office was filled with just abnormal people and I fitted in well, but some people were really remarkable. One of the weirdest people I ever met there was Heinz. No idea what his job was. It looked like he only walked around. Like everybody else he was given a nickname by the others and not surprisingly this was: Heinz von Sprudelwasser.
Heinz was an elderly homosexual who lived in the neighbourhood. Once in a while you could see him walking around the shopping mall hand in hand with young guys. Gossip went that he paid them. Fact was that they never lasted. After one or two weeks they would disappear. Heinz himself was easily noticed. He normally would walk around in army suits, in the office he always was dressed in khaki coloured clothes. They reminded of army men in India in English films.
A normal conversation with him was not possible. He would start talking about his fighting in Angola and Namibia against the blacks. In his stories he was a well paid mercenary. He would boast about the amount of people he shot or would describe how to kill with a knife. At some point everybody was fed up with these stories. We would go back to work or just walk away, just ignoring him. Except for John. He could not stand these stories and would start a discussion about how wrong it all was and spoke out loud what we all were thinking: none of these stories were true.
Somehow the attention John gave did well for Heinz. So he made it into a habit to come over to John’s desk during lunch breaks, to grab a seat from somewhere and to start his annoying stories. John started to complain about it to others. But they told him it was his own fault. “Just don’t pay attention!” But this was easier said than done for John. He would sit there and eat his sandwiches while Heinz was trying to spoil his appetite by describing how to make a screwing movement with a knife in a blacks body. Swearing to be left alone only made Heinz laugh. He named John, “my lovely John”. And we thought he really fancied him.
One day one of us recommended to John to just get a newspaper and hide behind it while eating. This way there would not be contact and maybe Heinz would walk away. So the next day John was completely hidden by the newspaper. Heinz started to call him names, but John just stayed behind his shield. This went on some time. Then Heinz took a lighter out of pocket and put the newspaper on fire.
It took a while before John noticed what was happening because we didn’t warn him. We were flabbergasted. At the moment John dropped the paper it caught the fire almost totally and it set some files on fire too. Someone ran to get a fire extinguisher and then it soon was over. The pile of files on Johns desk was useless and his desk was flooded.
The same day Heinz was fired. He was walked out of the office by a security man.
After this I noticed that Heinz started to look scruffy whenever you saw him doing his shopping. There were no young friends any more. One day I was standing in line behind him and noticed how smelly he was. He always wore the same army clothes, but they seemed to shrink. He looked like being squeezed in them.
I saw him less and less walking by and in the office he and the fire incident seemed to be forgotten. Months later somebody showed an obituary in the local newspaper. Heinz died at age 54. A day later I was being told that he had committed suicide. Nobody of us went to the funeral.