It was a rainy evening. I couldn’t stand my apartment anymore. The walls were getting closer. I went outside so I wouldn’t get crushed. This is where the sky fell on my head. In the form of drops pelting down the street. I walked with the umbrella and the wind blew into its skin and I just thought about her and imagined when I would see the first couple pictures on the Internet and how I would react to it.
One of the clamping slides of the umbrella ruptured. The wind turned the crown to me. The umbrella took on the shape of a mushroom that had been turned to me. The illusion would have been perfect if it hadn’t been for his black color and the part of the skin without tension that was fluttering in the wind and beating wildly in front of my face. I turned the umbrella. The deflecting part downwards behind my back. There the umbrella calmed down.
The wind whipped my face. Drops changed their trajectory, hit me in front of and behind the umbrella. In the neck. On the skull. Moist prints decorated my shirt. Like a dandelion, the wind tried to carry me away with my umbrella. I put him over my shoulder.
I thought of a paved path surrounded by trees and flowers. Under an umbrella, she and he marched tightly wrapped under the light of a street lamp, one of those old ones that protected the gas light behind a glass box. They happily jumped into the puddles that formed and ruined their fine clothes with dirty water.
The wind hit my face. I got on the subway to escape him. Arriving at the station, I waited at the platform for Ätz. My trouser legs were wet. The denim was stuck on my skin. I had two sponges strapped to my feet. On the other platform, I imagined I saw the two kissing each other. Her clothes were soaked and dirty, the wind shook her bones. They didn’t care.
I made a small fortune for the fear that made the smiles of strangers on the streets so fake. You got a smile for the minimum wage. That pissed me off. The rich man only had to smile when he spoke to his peers. They don’t know how to fight the windmills. We sat in a restaurant. the first stop of our evening. Where the food was good and expensive and not a lot, and our money gave us the least possible value.
“Give me a double whisky and one half of your finest waitress”
Rita brought me my whisky and a smile, a short conversation including names and I gave her a decent tip. I wasn’t a pig. Life was good. We cleaned up our steak and flirted while drinking with two women at the table next to use. We ordered drinks for the ladies and were waving over.
The best thing about being a nobody was that you could be who you wanted to be when you needed to be. Tonight, we were two start-up owners whose company was bought last week by Google for an outrageously high amount of money. We were the future, Tycoons, the Monopoly players of tomorrow, nobody could stop us, and our new acquaintances just got carried away. We got them drunk and with a cab went to a hotel. One with ceiling fresco, columns and sculptures. Ätz took the women to the bar while I organized our rooms.
“I’m sorry, sir. We’re completely booked”
“I got a hundred bucks saying something else”
“We’re fully booked, sir, for a convention in town. I’m afraid I can’t help you”
“I don’t know, I got a second hundred asking if that’s possible”
“What do you want me to do, sir? Do you want me to displace guests out of your rooms?”
“NAGUT, if you don’t want to make any money. A technical error during booking would have sufficed”
I went back to Ätz. He was sitting alone on a bar stool. Our companions were sitting with two other men. They drank champagne and ate caviar on crackers.
I’m not a loser. Losers lose, I just don’t win. It’s not enough to be rich in the world, you got to be the richest. I sat down with Ätz. We had another drink at the bar and ate peanuts from a bowl. A simple whisky cost 8€. I ordered a double and he ordered a Cuba Libre for 14€.
“Ätz, where is this going?” I asked him and took a sip of my whisky.
“What do you mean?”
“What’s the next step? What’s the End Game? Or are you just gonna keep going until they catch us?”
“They won’t catch us. They never did”
“If you say so….”, but I wouldn’t let it go that easily, “… but still, do you really want to live this life for all your life?”
“It’s not bad. Booze and weed all day… if you want. No rules, no etiquette. Vacation whenever you want. Free division of labor”
“…and always on the run”
“Don’t be like that. They won’t catch us, you know that. If we’re not, somebody else will make the money”
“You are spitting platitudes”
“Scared peasant’s head?”
“Oh, shut up”
The Double was gone.
“We sit here, and you enjoy it. Did you ever think we’d sit here once?” he asked babbling. “I don’t care where I sit. Whiskey gets drunk everywhere and the women are running away from us here too”
“Not the first one to run away from you”
“Oh, shut up” I hit him on the shoulder lightly, and we laughed. He had dodged my question again.
We separated at the taxi stand. I hoisted him into the back seat. Never let yourself be fooled to judge the drinking ability of a body when looking at it. Ätz was so much more mass and the alcohol seemed to have more surface area to drive in. I told the driver the address, took the house key out of his pocket, put it in his hand and closed the backdoor. I paid the taxi driver generously in advance with the request to take good care of him. He collected twice that evening from Ätz, as he told me the next day, but at least Ätz had arrived at home. The taxi driver probably thought we were well off without it because he picked us up at that fancy place.
I sat down on the stone steps of the hotel near the ashtray. My national flag and that one the European Union swung over my head. I took a drag. I hoped that if I told myself that I was doing it for her, she could believe me and forgive me.
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