When winter replaces summer, the city gets another side. Snow falls, and the white covers the grey. The day after, it melts. The exhaust fumes from the cars are too warm, and the masses of people trample the solid under their soles to water. Only a few heaps of snow remained, black colored by the dirty air, the snow lies next to the sidewalk and the parking lots of the cars. The wind becomes icy and cold and makes it not worthwhile to put a foot in front of the front door. It wasn’t beautiful and putting on a thick jacket simply another chore.
The truth is: I never knew where to go, for whom, or why we did the things we did. I had no active conscience. I was able to rationalize it. I was interested in the money and I would lie if I would claim that I wasn’t also into the variety of the forbidden. Just do something that wasn’t vulgar. My life wasn’t usually exciting. I didn’t have anything that caused something inside of me. I noticed this particularly clearly again in this unoccupied time. Ätz was worse.
After the police questioning, we kept our feet still for a few days. Ätz got nervous. Not because of the impending threat the arm of the law posed, as any normal man would be. He couldn’t sit with me anymore and just smoke and talk. He was chained to his cell phone, reading the incoming messages and probably thinking of the money that was lost.
“Enough,” he said, getting up and getting ready to leave. I didn’t realize what he wanted at first when he started dressing. Then I asked him to sit down. He ignored me. Ready to go, he stood in the hallway and I reminded him again most urgently:
“Can’t we just wait. It’s way too hot right now. We’ve got enough to get through for months on end.”
“I thought you wanted to get rich.”
“Hell yeah, I want to get rich… but do I have to act like an idiot while doing it?”
“I’ll go no matter what you say”
“They showed me your picture. They’re gonna want to question you soon. You ain’t gonna do shit.”
He got up and went to the coat stand to get his jacket. I tried to talk him out of it, but it didn’t work. He didn’t even listen to me. When he put on his shoes, I tried one last time. “Nigga, stop!” I said. He already had the door handle in his hand, but he didn’t operate it. He looked at me and waited for me to reject him again.
“Let’s go”. He was surprised. I grabbed my jacket, put on my shoes. We went down to the car. It was snowing.
On the way, he talked about having to teach a lesson to someone. The one to discipline, I knew only by sight. Ätz had his girlfriend’s address. He was hiding there. He had been hiding there unnoticed for a long time. But the two had to live from something and that drove the man to the street for a deal, where the eyes of the competition heard him, and the man forgot to give his share.
“What a fucking moron,” joked Ätz.
I didn’t listen to him anymore. I couldn’t get the police thing out of my head. I looked around. It took my mind off things. The city was really beautiful. It’s nice for one night. The street lights dancing in the snow, reflected by the white. I felt like I was in a snow globe.
We stopped outside the apartment. I was about to unbuckle when my phone vibrated. I opened the message.
“Hey, it was nice yesterday. Call me again” was read on the display of the one-way phone. Three months to the new free smartphone. I pressed the 5, a J appeared on the screen, but before pressing a second key, I closed the message.
“Why do you always give these girls my number?” I asked Ätz, who was still sitting in the driver’s seat.
“Because then I won’t have you stuck to me all the time, why else?”
Ätz laughed. I was not.
“What? Are you a fucking faggot now?”
“Those girls who think I’m the big criminal… one time good, but the second time I’m offended by the show” I explained. He turned the key around, the engine stopped, and the heater lost its drive.
“You know I won’t stop doing this” Ätz said sniffly.
I smiled shaking my head, but my facial expression changed with the subject.
“Are you sure he’ll be here, Ätz?”
“You saw them together after all.”
“Yeah but doesn’t mean I think he’s here.”
“I think so”
Ätz pulled up the zipper of his jacket and got out of the car. I followed him and when we got out on the empty road, I straightened up the collar of my coat. He locked the car and we turned into a side street three streets further on. At the front door of the apartment building, we both stood, Ätz looked for the door number where the girlfriend Mary lived, while I looked around and lit a cigarette.
“Did you find it?” I asked him as I drew in the smoke and ashed it on the bare tree next to the front door.
“Yeah, I’ll ring the bell above it”
“Let me do it” I looked at him, “you can be very… aggressive sometimes.”
I pushed the button. Ätz’s gaze became sharp, and before he could open his mouth to talk back, a woman answered at the intercom: “Yes. Hello?”
“Yes, I beg your pardon. I just forgot the key to the main door. Could you let me in the building?”
The buzzer went off. The door unlocked. I thanked him, looked over to Ätz, knowing about my short success and mocked him: “See, it can be simple too”.
“Fuck you” Ätz mocked me back while he held the door open for me. I threw the barely smoked cigarette to the tree and followed him into the stairwell.
At the door, Ätz knocked three times. A young woman opened it, but not completely, she had snapped the bolt so that she could only see us, two men, through a crack.
“Open up, we know he’s there.”
Ätz looked her in the single eye, said nothing and waited for an answer. The woman was shocked. Like a bus was driving towards her, and she knew she was done. She closed the door immediately. One, two, three seconds passed and when he didn’t hear an answer, Ätz threatened her through the closed door:
“How about this… I could go now, knowing that he’s there, which would make me angry, especially if I do get him or… and that’s a suggestion… you let me in and you prevent the anger that could from forming in the first place. Which would you prefer?”
She didn’t answer. I cast a doubting glance at Ätz, then a *click* from the other side of the door. He pushed the door open before the girlfriend could change her mind. Ätz`s weight almost threw out of her hook and the woman against the wardrobe. Her name was Mary, at least everyone knew her as Mary. Names were something that could take on different forms here, as could many other things.
Mary was lying on the floor, screaming and when I closed the door behind me, Ätz had already stormed out of the vestibule into the living room. He ignored her. Left her on the ground. I went to see her. She seemed fine. Ätz opened all doors to all rooms, sat down on the couch and waited. I took my shoes off, but I kept my coat on.
“I don’t want to take the coat off; can we do this quick?”
Ätz didn’t say anything, not even when I sat down with him.
Mary moved again. She pushed herself up briefly with her arms, saw us both sitting on the couch and laid down flat on the ground. She probably thought we didn’t notice her, and she could play unconscious until we were gone.
In a quiet tone, Ätz said to her, “Stand up, please” She stood up slowly, trying not to lose her balance. She looked briefly at the door, probably wondering if she should flee.
“Don’t think about it,” I said to her.
Her lip had cracked. The red sucked into the white. Her blood dripped. Her T-shirt soaked it up. Dazed, staggering, she stood in front of the two men who were still sitting on her couch. Her eyes were fixed on Ätz, she didn’t pay any attention to me.
“I don’t want to hurt you, because you have nothing to do with this… But… if you want to die, I won’t stop you. So, one last friendly time, tell me, please, where is he?”
She didn’t say anything. Ätz stood up and walked towards Mary. He cleared his throat before asking loudly into the apartment:
“Where are you, buddy? Come on out. You don’t want to lose your girlfriend.”
Ätz grabbed Mary from behind, crossed her arms behind her back. She wriggled back and forth, but he suppressed her effort with ease. She tried to turn to him, to bite him, but against the arms of the muscular black, the skinny drug addict had no chance. Ätz seemed annoyed. He took her two hands in one hand. It was visibly harder for him to hold her like that, but even now, liberation seemed hopeless for her. She just seemed to be teasing the bull even more.
Ätz pulled a gun out of his pants, pushed it into Mary’s back. However, this did not seem to activate her instinct for self-preservation yet. With her movements, she challenged him to shoot or accidentally pull the trigger. He held his head closer to her ear and whispered to her. I couldn’t understand a word, but the woman stopped fidgeting and started calling out for her lover.
“Jacky please come out, he won’t hurt you”
Her whimpering echoed, Ätz became impatient and no one came out.
It stayed calm. Ätz pushed her away. She landed on the living room floor. The trigger clicked. “Fucking asshole!” screamed Mary. The magazine was in his hand.
“Where is he?” Ätz asked her urgently.
She said nothing, but a quick glance told me. It was no more than a fraction of a second in which she lost her facade, that was as enough. I pointed Ätz with my head to the cabinet door.
Mary was desperate, and Ätz said, “Sit down and stay calm.”
We stood in front of the closet. Ätz knocked against the door
“Whose home?” he asked. He grinned. I was not.
We lined up left and right in front of the wardrobe. He nodded to me and I opened the door, we turned to the side and Jacky stumbled his attack against the ground. Ätz put his foot down on his neck, Jacky screamed. I stepped on his fingers and kicked the knife out of his hand.
Ätz turned the barrel against Jack’s head. A hangman gets paid to execute him. Ätz wasn’t one, so he closed his eyes while he was executing. The crowd was there of their own free will, so they wouldn’t let their eyes go.
His Mary crawled between Jacky and the pistol. She enclosed Ätz`s hips with her arms and begged until her face was smudged with snot and tears.
“Don’t hurt him… Please… He didn’t do anything… PLEASE…” she stammered the words out again and again until they became just shrill sounds. Ätz looked down at her, not taking his foot of Jack while I waited, and he made Mary beg. She pressed her forehead against the gun. So tight, she started bleeding.
The gun went off, then it was quiet. Jacky watched his dead girlfriend fall on the floor. He screamed her name. I got sick.
“I’m going,” I said to Ätz.
Ätz didn’t look at me, he nodded briefly and said, “Okay.”
I had stormed out of the room, had already put on my shoes and was about to open the door. I waited for the second bang, opened the door and left Ätz behind.
As I walked through the entrance door of the residential building, the heat that had accumulated under my coat vanished. A taste caught in my throat, disgusting and repulsed. Standing, my head hanging to the ground, I vomited on the tree in front of the house.
I stayed that way for a short while and spat the taste of stomach acid out of my mouth. My fingers began to burn and painfully reminded of the winter, I went off towards the car. The whole time my eyes were on the ground. It was already two blocks away when I could see the blue lights in the dirty snow. I got into the wine-red Peugeot and wanted to go, but I didn’t know where to.
That’s it then. I just wanted to leave. Away from everything. I wanted to slit my forearm open and then suck on it like a gasoline thief until the old pump squirts the lifeblood out of my arm by itself. I wanted to put my head in an oven, wait until I’m well done and then lay in my urine puddle until the first neighbor finds me. I wanted to perform a handstand on a bridge railing, do pirouettes on it, and then in Salti, I wanted to say “goodbye” in a glorious final number. I was thinking about driving into the oncoming traffic.
I was desperate and thought back to home before I turned on the radio and let the music float me away. The heating didn’t work, but I didn’t mind. Independent of the cold I trembled before I pressed the gas pedal, but my legs could not be seen behind the metal and after the first meters it stopped, because for me she sat next to me again and even if I banished her from my head for a long time, the thought of a reunion, an unexpected restart, took away my fear.
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