elegant wood siding. As for the neighbors—a successful architect and his sociable wife—there’d been radio silence for some time. More precisely, ever since Florian and I had left an ugly dent in their garage door while playing soccer a few years earlier. The damage could have been repaired for a few hundred euros, but instead there’d been a lawsuit. The lawyer engaged by Florian’s parents, an elderly man with gray hair and the smile of a favorite uncle, asked us questions we didn’t understand—whether we’d foreseen that the ball might fly off, whether we had anything against the neighbors. We wondered if he was secretly on the neighbors’ side, a double agent not to be trusted. But Florian and I maintained a united front. We kept our mouths shut, just like the wily defendants we’d seen on afternoon television. Every statement, however small, could only bring trouble and the potential for defeat. The gray- haired uncle couldn’t wear us down, and never managed to play us against each other. There were a few more experiences like that one, and at some point—I no longer remember when exactly—we became friends. We weren’t the typical best friends, the kind that borrow each other’s clothes and align their personalities so they get mistaken for brothers. Sure, there were some shared interests. We loved all the same music, for one thing, and would buy every new German hip-hop album (Fettes Brot, Massive Töne) as soon as it went on sale. We played the albums non-stop, and practically learned the lyrics by heart. Florian had this CD/ cassette player—it was outdated even then, but still sounded better than the early MP3 devices.