"I have a wallet," the voice came back.
"Not a wallet," I repeate. "I'm only looking for a black briefcase, with a shoulder strap."
The door of the middle stall opened and a young man emerged with a black bag over his shoulder, but it wasn't mine. He proffered a wallet. "I just found this."
Not very likely, I thought. But it wasn't mine.
"Is this your wallet?" the attendant asked me.
"No," I said.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. It's definitely not my wallet."
The young man walked away, and the attendant kept the wallet.
"Look," I said to the attendant, "can you please keep an eye on these other stalls, and when they come out, ask them if they saw a black briefcase hanging on the door with a shoulder strap? My papers are inside, with my name all over them. I'll be back in about 10 minutes." I wrote my name down on a piece of paper and left it with him.
I took off running again back to O'Reilly's, because I had had another flash. I had sat briefly at the bar, waiting for my drink, before I took it to the table. Maybe it was still there.
The Irish girls were working an ATM machine outside the pub. I rushed past them into the bar. Next to the stool I had sat on, in plain sight, was my briefcase, right where I had left it. My unfinished pint was also still on the table. I gushed huge sighs of relief, and checked to see if all my papers were still there. They were. I gulped the rest of my Guinness and offered five euros to the bartender, a young Australian, as a reward, even though he hadn't done anything, which he nobly refused. So I went back to the men's room in the station and gave the five euros to the attendant. I had to reward somebody!
On the train back to Kassel, I again tried to take stock of my new situation. The incident with the briefcase seemed to have brought me back down to earth. I had done it. It was over. I had my briefcase back, and I was rid of Uncle Sam, or would be soon.
I thanked my lucky stars.
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