the phone rings.
the phone rings.
frau krueger shotputs into a sitting position. maybe an air raid? she shakes her head, re-attaches her woolen nightie, and saunters to the phone.
“ya. wer ist das?”
“dave. is peter home?”
“dong him for me, wud ya.”
frau krueger lays down the phone and shuffles to a piece of twine dangling from a hole in the ceiling. she pulls on it, yanks on it, swears at it. finally, the rope breaks.
muttering something about sharing an outhouse with neighbors, she de-bolts die tur and pops her head into the stairwell. and screams.
“peeeetttttteeeeeeeeeerrrrr!” she screams, “die telefon. dave an der linii”
four walls and a floor, the third, and a bedroom. sleep crumpled in a brown polish bedspread on a leaky blue mattress. windows open, shutters drawn.
the air is still and the room is dark, save for the pale, yellowish glow from a freddy flintstone nitelight in the hall.
hanging helplessly in an icon above the bed, st. johannes contemplates the moral flux of the sleeping shapes below. but before he can add to his list of damning conclusions, someone screams and slams the door.
frau krueger slams the door, scuttles back to bed.
the icon winces, falls on peter’s head.
the phone is past the foot of the bed underneath an overturned chair natched against the donger (so it won’t ding). it’s a pre-war party line job, ugly and chipped from being scuttled around and thrown against the wall by irate tenants for over 40 years. rubbing his forehead, peter gropes under the covers to unlatch the receiver clip.
“it’s official, kiddo, drain your dragon day. they called it 15 minutes ago. that leaves your 40. see ya there.”
“do i have to call anyone?”
“no, i think jarface got everyone.”
two bowls of fortunoff cookies and a wok. pills, vitamins, and a plate of blue spaghetti poisoned from the night before. rows of ashtrayed coffee cups stacked among socks and and yellowed tribs.
ah, yes, i remember the smell.
ah, yes. i remember it well.
i squeeze awake the shapeless form beside me.
“hey, i have to go to work now, so you have to get up.”
“yolandra, you’re gonna have to get up.”
“my name is dawn.”
“sorry, dawn, but you’ve gotta leave. i have to go to work.”
frowning, dawn slogs off the mattress. grump, grump. and i notice for the first time that she is missing both middle toes.
“what the hell happened to your feet!” i ask, now suddenly wide awake,
“oh,” she starts, “there was this guy …”
i don’t want to hear about it. “can you find your way home? …i hope so, because i’m taking your bike and you’ll have to hoof it.”
“i’ll be alright,” dawn replies, dressing hastily. at the door she turns and asks timidly, “are you going to be home tonight?”
“yes, i mean no. uh… i’m going to be on a secret mission for the next couple of weeks. i’ll give you a call when i get back.”
go to the kitchen and cook the coffee. open the refrigerator, see what’s edible.
tunafish in tupperware rotting in the kulschrank. a jar of pickles in various states of collapsement. the french mustard i bought last year is holding its smell remarkably well. no mold yet. pills, more coffee cups, another plate of that blue spaghetti, and packets of tylenol suppositories (a present to evelyn, eve’s headachy daughter).
“good,” i mutter to myself, “dawn didn’t find my stash.”
i plunge my hand into a pile of shelled peanuts and extract a film canister containing a black gooey glob of afghani goop. i can’t find the screen for the pipe, so i decide to eat a fingerful.
…i immediately feel much better.
trumper pants, toe clips, a pair of black boots. an old west point pullover with triangular leather elbow patches. keys? where are the keys? damnit, where … on top my wallet and security badge, etc.
“whew. now we are ready to pop balloons.”
down the steps and out the door. dawn’s three-speed is parked by the gate. attached to the seat with a smear of white lipstick is a note reading, “question authority.”
“ok” i say to myself in disgust, crumpling up the note.
my middle-finger-scoop ingested begins to take effect.
i think of inge’s bayern tan; my penis springs erect.
and off to work i go…
glauber strass, koenigsberger strasse, drake strasse, habelschwedter strasse, thiel allee, pacelli allee, past general suddath’s mansion, warnermunder strasse, hunderkhele strasse, past the polish consulate, hagen strasse, through a s-bahn tunnel, underneath the avus, down winding grunie pig path, and all the way to hell.
on the way, i keep a sharp eye out for the main-eating, dog-goaring boars and the recently radical raf. these vermin, especially the male of the species, are horny, protective and vicious, especially now with mating season on in full and the installation of the pershing missile sites in the zone.
on arrival i am greeted by a gaggle of bearded lingies in various stages of undress. we stand around flapping blue lips in the cold – mumbling outraged grumbles.
i sign in at the company, where i am quickly formatted, then walk to the urinalsysis control point, hoping all the while that the hash i have ingested has not been secreted through the walls of my pancreas.
i’m told to get in line: “get your cherry ass in file, dickhead.”
i’m told keep the line moving: “we’re waiting for you, asshole, not jodie’s sister.”
i start to sense that i am high
i fear the worst and do comply.
chilled to the bone.
my hands are whitish blue, cold to the touch and, practically speaking, worthless, even to my masters. and so i think…
and colors spread all over, mauve to red, chartreuse to pink, and black again. i turn to the fellow in line behind me. i say closing both eyes closed, “i fine day for greens, eh?”
“a-yup, kiddo, for pickle-suits and madness,” he replies.
sutco – sample urinalysis testing control operations, the army intelligence and security command’s insurance policy against overbright overworked underpaid underfed linguists tripping their brains out all over berlin.
“next!” a camofluaged blob cries.
i walk past two test controllers guarding the entrance to the latrine.
“you have 58 seconds,” they stay. “if you can’t fill the bottle in that time, then you’ll have to get back on line. ready, mark. …go!”
tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. …niagra falls, big sur, corpus christi, fire island, 17-mile drive, the hudson river, croton dam, waterfalls, lakes, beaches. water. hot tubs in the summer. noah’s ark, drinking gourds, 34 down: indian drinking vessels…
sometimes a great notion, far tortuga, moby dick, mutiny on the bounty, treasure island, the water method man, the old man and the sea. hmmmmmm…., the unbearable lightness of being.
“ok, that’s it. times up.”
bottle in hand, i exit and walk over the sutco officer, whose sop reads:
1) measure bottle temperature,
2) make sure color is normal,
3) mark sm’s opsign on the cap
4) cross name off list
“here ma’am,” i say, giving her a different bottle. “does this look like enough?”
“oh, that’s just fine, honey,” she replies, wink wink. putting on another pair of plastic gloves, she says: “64 degrees is perfectly normal for a boy your age.”
“great, does that mean i can go?”
“but you just went, honey.”
“ha ha,” i rejoin, “i mean back home.”
“remember to bring your shot records to midz.”
my head wobbles in assent, then uncontrollably, and i hurry out past the nervous line of others unable to drain their flaccid dragons.
i straddle dawn’s bike and leisurely cycle freehand back home.
easter morning, 4 a.m. only the crows are awake.
halfway home the front tire catches on an obtuse pebble. owing to my diminished capacity, i am unable to get my hands out of the kimono position quickly enough to avoid wiping out. how lucky, i muse, to have a left knee to cushion my fall. too bad, i think, bone is not as tough as cobblestone. slowly, bloodily, i resume my pedal home.
easter cycle, sunday rain.
peter cruises, feels no pain.
back on glauber strasse no one is up except for wolfgang the konditorei meister, a round and jolly hermicized crotat responsible for the worst-tasting apfel kuchen east of the elba. as is our custom, we exchange frantic waves and shouts.
“yolandra ist gleich zu hause gegangen! sie hat mir gefragt whin bist du gefahrt.”
“zu arbeit,” ich antworte, “auf dem teufelsberg,” to which wolfgang bobs his head side to side. he then gesticulates for me to come over and chat, but i decline, pointing to my knee.
“needs fixing, wolf old boy, gotta raus.”
aufweidersehen, old kuchen meister
you’re alright, but yolandra’s are nicer.
home. quiet. relaxation. some has cleaned up and scrawled free the babies on the mirror with a piece of ivory soap.
damn, i think. yolandra’s back. a look-see below the re-hung, still scowling st. johannes reveals two large feet in ankle-length argyle socks. yolandra!? i stealthily slip towards the bed and squeeze between the sheets.
..inner peace and perfect oms, varying states of tranquility complected into a serenely objective daze. fayed synapse squibbles. mixes of chemically altered endorphins matching something behind my eyes. concentric circles of reality close shut, things turn grey, begin winding round. my brain locks and i fall into a deep, deep, sleep.
a piercing pain rips my occipital
a pair of plyers: i’m octodigitial.
“argh!” i scream, clutching for my toes, “please, yolandra, not the middle ones.”
my sudden outburst causes the shape beside me to bold upright. “yolandra!? not her again!” and whack! she whacks me in the head, putting me back in dreamland.
seconds, minutes, maybe even hours or days later the room turns still, the air to black.
st. johannes glares down and the sleeping shapes below.
a phone rings. someone rocks the floor below causing the icon to fall on peter’s head.
and from dawn comes morning to lighten up the day.