“Crying is human. I’m human, at least try to be. Maybe the reptile blood looks better on me when I have to bleed. It would be easier to show apathy if I knew we weren’t carrying the same juices. Even my wounds may close faster, but I won’t be a reptile. I feel my heart pumping as it shoots my warm blood through my veins. You think I’m gonna let some mean words stop me?”
“All right, cry boy.”
“It means nothing to me to cry in front of you. I think you still don’t get it.”
“You only get hurtful because I pride myself on scratching your pride off.” She smiled at me. I wish I could have put my hand around her neck. Instead, I stood there, turning her off with a wink.
“Fuck off,” I said, turning around, smiling and dropping my head to the ground. She didn’t yell after me. When I turned around, she was gone. I still smiled. It was nice to be with her, but time is running on and because of that everything has to have an aftermath.
It wasn’t the last time I saw her before I left. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and wished me all the best. I was defenseless against it. With the sequins in front, she rammed her boot into my crotch. I was crouching on the floor and she got into her new boyfriend’s car. What a life. I had gotten what I wanted, otherwise, I would hardly have said these vile things, cursing her in place of my feelings for her. What a comedy it is if I get enough distance from it. My testicles were throbbing, and as a result, I pushed the emptiness away with horniness. I smiled under painfully distorted and watery blurred eyes. A week after she left, I sat with another woman. I sat with my legs crossed in front of her. Under the table, following the phantom pain, I grabbed after it and stripped my step in painful nostalgia. I thought of her that early afternoon. my jeans got pinched as a result.
I was sitting in the employment office and the wandering noise in the air conditioning shafts first made me think of rotors. The fan at her side back in the bar where I had sat with her. It stood next to her when she was drying glasses to support the dishwasher turning old. She smiled at me while she was rubbing the water drop off.
I kept myself from thinking further about Magdalena. I had to get back into the moment. I turned my head left, looked across the hall and the other unemployed. The lady who was sitting there in the wind of a fan, with an open door asked the next candidate of the gap-filling program to come in to accommodate him. The decandence of doubled air conditioning. I smiled. The woman stuffed the last rest of her ham sandwich into her mouth and waved the next person in.
Curling iron burn marks she put on my skin in hatred. She destroyed the integrity of the 8 on my arm. The one, I had burned into myself as a memorial. The new bubbles formed their own shape. The 8 now looked more like the loops of a shopping bag. She added a square with a supermarket logo onto it when I was cooling down. How she could laugh about such arbitrary things. Hyenas perished in her gurgling. In the evening during sex, I held her by her throat and when we laid on the frame of her cheap feather mattress, I could sometimes see her smiling at me. What a shiver was running down my spine.
We ate together in the morning. She went to work. There she was as good as all day. I usually didn’t know what to do with myself. Whether it was even still writing how I passed my time. Most of the time I sat drunk in some park, even if it was cold, while the elite-controlled this world from heated chambers on ivory sticks. Sometimes in the evening, I saw them driving by in their cars as I made my way to where I rested my head-on. I enjoyed her company. Her teeth chewed the chitin off the flesh, the deepest layer of hard protection she ripped out of its bed. I could hear the crackling as her crowns tampered with the nails. The normal people around us were running with the clock. Maybe they were thinking bad of her. Thought her to be disgusting. That the woman chewed her nails made no difference for me, next to me and despite me. She wasn’t bothered by my presence, She was sitting next to me and it was late.
I was tired. All my old things discarded and on their way back to the woman who let me into her bed. I was thinking of Magdalena. How long it took me to pronounce her name without trembling. Without having to think about her. I had cut myself real bad with her. It got better. But the steppe dead eyes, like a curse I could barely explain. We had probably met under normal conditions these days and she still, she could claim that she had changed my life. Now I was here. On my way to Stacey. At the end of the world. Under the roof of a tram station and the summer wind blew around my nose. Next to me a woman with bad habits.
“It’s kind of sweet how you do it,” I told her in a quiet tone with a smile.
“Listen, Nathaniel. I should stop doing this.”
“I’m not encouraging you, am I?”
“Kind of…yeah. after all, I want your attention”
“There is greater reward in this world”
We looked at each other. her eyes were fixed on me, She looked so happy. A sound of heavy transportation gliding on the tracks. Her eyes let go. Stacey pointed behind me, “The tram”.
We got in and all the way to her apartment my fingers stroked through her hair.
“What do you want to eat?” she asked me.
“I don’t care. I’m not really in the mood for anything.”
For most of the trip, we remained silent. It made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t say anything. Her hair felt great between my fingers. I looked out the window. What a place I was trapped in. Stacey leaned on me.
“You seem absent today”
“Just tired and drunk,” I replied.
Shortly afterward we arrived and walked down the street. Left, up a slope, left, to the cul-de-sac where at the end a gate led to her house.
“Chinese, I want Chinese,” she said while walking.
“I’m in the mood for. . . noodles.”. Her fingers danced past each other in a stiff form while she was grinning at me, but I didn’t find the strength to react as she deserved. I gave her a smile, but I realized she was expecting more. She turned her back on me and looked out the window.
Sometimes I have clear moments and look through myself like through glass. All the colors I have adorned myself with and what they became, what I say, nothing is of value anymore and I look through an empty wall behind which nothing is hidden and I could take the step behind it, maybe I would then know if something “real” lurks there. Because from there I sometimes hear screams and the sound of my beating heart and yet I doubt its authenticity because I only hear it when I am alone. In the quiet sober hours, the throb beats against my ribs like a mallet against a bone xylophone, producing a melody that is so magical, it makes flowers drown and fishes fillet themselves and I want to vomit, she speaks so beautifully of a cursed world not wanting to accept cause and reaction and smirks about history devoid of context. I listen to her talk, laugh at the words of the text, because she sang of the doom of my world, just as 50 percent of all Americans thought their generation was the last. When inevitably the pitch changed, the beautiful things become wishes, and the leitmotif becomes neglect and regret, then I say “Stop”; and close the hole, holding the kettle of the trumpet from which the blood splashed out of the golden instrument, when its sound finally replaced the xylophone and made my skullcap shake. And then I look around and my attention is no longer on me. It’s on this world – for what emotions and emotional burden being involved seems to be. A constant power struggle. And in this hierachy, was hatred what I gathered and it carried on. But I can’t stop the bleeding. My brain was bleeding into my life.
It was one of those days. I felt my shoulder blades tremble. It’s been keeping me awake for days. Feels like I’m trying to grow wings. Even now through the hard plastic of the tram seats. She kissed me on the cheek. My face was probably affected by gravity because her smile seemed to fade as she looked closer at me. They were always more attentive than I first assumed, but never as intelligent as I wanted them to be.
One could speak of malnutrition when one could tell from the smell of one’s excrement alone which food one ate during the day. The mush that came together in my stomach seemed to have only green light and could shoot comfortably with some horsepower through the intestines, and I wiped afterward with her four-layer flower paper over it, and had I removed the skid marks from my erogenous front door, so I realized again, that nobody came home here with substantial profits. Neither could I satisfy her off of her work, nor was my stomach adequately treated when we came through the door. On this day I had got myself 2 burgers around a coin each to eat. I was full. When I was lying in bed a few weeks ago, my stomach always growled, but I knew that I could just sleep on it. I just didn’t have to here. She offered me some of her food. I said no out of pride.
“Will I see you tomorrow?”
“We’ll see,” I said and her eyes danced in ecstasy. Thousands of suns collapsed behind the iris, and her chest pulsated with the tune of her breath. I whispered in her ear: “Tomorrow is only a word” while my fingers were driving along the angles of her kneecap. The tune stopped. My fingertips were groping ahead. A few inches of naked skin. Vulnerability. The inside of her thigh were so soft.
There were days when I thought at some point I wouldn’t care about that other woman. But her way had sadly this habit of staying with you, like a receipt in the inside pocket of your coat. She had infected me with her zest for life within seconds when she was in proximity to me, but she also had the power to take it away from me in a few words. And keep it with her. Months, I was almost ready to count in several years. I was at her mercy at all times, even though I had not seen her for years. Even now, when I don’t have her face in front of me anymore and don’t talk to her, when I’m alone. I still feel her smile. Even when I am alone.
I never feared to be alone. Being alone is how I operate. I think of additional people as more of resources. Of extra hands more than of extra thoughts though. Following an exact vision is simpler than working together on one. A more clear path to follow, I suppose. Tracks already laid ahead of you and nothing to steer you off course. Most people need this. Given, your mind wanders off some time and you blame yourself for thinking a thought shouldn’t be allowed to haunt you into your grave. People will follow when you lead and they feel the cause. Yeah, it is a course you have to put your trust in, even if it means believing in what leads eventually into a giant train crash tragedy. I could write about a million of those. I like to head straight into them. Catastrophes at the railroad yard: You can’t blame the leading wheel if the Loc’s tracks are laid out all wrong.
What makes a good leader is knowing what makes a bad follower.
Once a girl asked me out, I was about 15 years old and what I would consider one hell of a Loser. I still am, but it feels easier to cover up to others. You talk and talk and talk, and never once comes the thought into their heads, what it is you are even doing here or they represent to you. They underestimate you because you shouldn’t open your mouth about these things, if you are not considered naive, that go on in your head. You seem weird if you try to make everyone understand. Keep the diplomatic distance. We all learn to cope with it.
I was 15. I meet this girl on the beach. We made eye contact, and we were always shying away. She took the initiative, something I couldn’t take until years down the road, and we went out together for one night. Her relative, her niece or a little girl came with. We went to the Arcade. Played and laughed the whole night. Never kissed. Never held hands. I left her, vacation over, and she was from Switzerland. She was gone. And then one night, I was 16, she texted me.
I was always alone. I hated myself so much, because of how others viewed me. It is so complicated, the fault is partly with me, partly with them, but I am not supposed to blame them, so I take it all onto me. Girls hesitated around me because I hesitated with them. I wasn’t ugly. Just messy, poor and not really to be ever considered easy approachable or beautiful. A talker, that couldn’t stop or never got going.
So one night, when I was 16 years old. She texted me out of nowhere, that she was going to be in the city. Her name was Irina. I was a romantic. Sometimes when I felt particularly sad, I thought about her and the night in the Arcade. It warmed my heart a little or at least the thing I consider to have been one too many winters ago. She told me, she was in the city. Tonight, they are going to watch a Musical. She told me the name of a theater and a time.
I begged my father for a twenty, my father generally not a big fan of me, but I told him the truth and I thought he respected that. For once, I was to drive in the city and to maybe get something to eat with her. Nothing fancy, just McDonald’s. I wasn’t god and as long as I was good to her, talked honestly and let her talk, I thought, she would enjoy it as much as me.
I took the first train. It wasn’t cheap. A quarter of my money gone. I waited for an hour. We kept texting, but as the time came and I stood in front of that building. Time started to pass very slowly. My breath started to show in the air.
We texted the last time that evening back and forth. I asked where she was 15 minutes past 8pm. She told me she mistook the theater. I told her I could drive to the other one. I didn’t know where it was, no smartphones, but I didn’t tell her that. No problem I said, jut tell me where you are. Then half an hour wait on her part and she just had to be okay with a coffee.
She never answered me. I stood there waiting for a text in the cold in front of theater nobody would come out of for me. 10 minutes like a fool and 10 more to make myself even sadder.
When I came home, I cried. One night and another. I was 16 and I was alone. It was about to get better.
People are cruel. I never wanted to be cruel. But I also learned that, when I look back to that night, one the of requirements as a future partner of someone has to be, to make them forget how this feels. Make them forget, who they were with. How you do it doesn’t matter.
I personally would prefer honesty, so that I kept showing it. And I shrugged off the thought, that it seemed like they didn’t want to listen. Seeming transparent gave me confidence. I walked down out the door onto the street, Stacey was up there, her body leaned over the window, she looked at me. I waved at her.
I walked that night, and carried this memory with me. I wasn’t supposed to feel bad, about leaving here that night,
had become better at it.
It was years ago. I threw my cigarette into the trash can on the side of the road. I was about to forget, what it was that held me back in the first place.
5 am in the morning, on the way to my own room, a little time left until the train arrived. Two men were with me on the platform. When I walked on it, one of them went straight for me.
“Do you have any spare change?” I wanted to tell him to “fuck off”, but I didn’t get there. From the inside, another man in a worn-out coat joined us. We were four on the platform. Two clumped together. And the one, who had just appeared went straight to talk with the two of us. The new guy turned to the beggar. He was about to insert himself, create physical proximity, “Dude I’m homeless myself. I have to bum myself”, when he heard this he turned away from him. He disappeared into the concourse of the peripheral railway station and the one, who asked me first followed him without raising another word to me. I wondered about this moment and was still standing there amazed when the train arrived,
Later that morning she called me and asked me why I walked out of her apartment again. I just didn’t feel like it.
She wanted to say something, but I hung up. She called me again, I didn’t pick up. She called again, this time I responded, I said “sorry, you didn’t deserve that”.
“Why did you do it then?”
“I am sad”
And she was fine with my answer.
“That’s okay”, she said. “Call me later. I have to get to work”
“Like you got anything better to do”
We laughed. I faked it. I said I will get back to her later and hung up.
I like the way you talk about your loneliness. It almost feels like you can share them. The hole in which you can’t see the ground, where you fall in for a while and where you float without ever enjoying the comfort of slipping on the ground”;.
“I don’t think so”
“Then at least it can be interpreted”
“Interpretation only leads to problems. Empty words that can be filled with his selfish purposes”
“You mean values”
I looked at her. My hand stretched out to her. She gave me back my note. I set it on fire. We didn’t look away from each other. I thought she’d stop me, but the burning paper ended up in the metal bucket. We looked away from each other and watched for a while.
“You’ll never find the words to encompass everything. Never strive for perfection. They don’t exist. You can only do things damn well, and at the end of the day, how many doubters can you conquer if you ask them to put in the effort to deal with something that tortures them?”
“You didn’t understand. In the beginning, after I turned my back on my home, I thought it was still mine to have. Six months have already passed again since the last time I laid in the dirt and what do I have to show for it? I took the first steps years ago and still never stepped off the spot. I’m still brooding in the same heat, sweating in front of a spinning air reaper the dirt from my body, instead of sitting in an air-conditioned hotel listening to someone reciting overseas earnings. Instead, I’m actually planning to give it up. I don’t know. . . I can’t see these text walls anymore”
She didn’t seem to be listening to me anymore. She had got up when I started talking as if she didn’t want to listen to me suffer, and she had stood up with a look on her face as if something had occurred to her that had been on her tongue all day. She had gone over to a chest of drawers and had started rummaging around in it when I was about to start moaning again about not wanting to string words together and having hung up the pen and its calling.
“I have something for you,” she interrupted me.
She came back. With a stack of paper clamped under the arm.
“Start again,” she said, “you owe it to yourself.”
“Nobody owes me anything. Who am I?”
“Your heart is warm enough to lay your head on when it gets really heavy, how much more can you want from a person?”
“I don’t think so”
“You can act as cold as you want. I can feel you listening to me”
“That’s enough for you?”
“I think that as long as you listen to me and I listen to you, it can only come from a deep desire of one of us if it finally fails”