THE BERLIN MANDARINS
The doorbell chimed, I went over and bumped my toe at the piano. The smallest one. Hurt like hell. After having pushed the button to unlock the front door, I took a baseball bat from the corner. Four cuts already decorated its surface, and the fifth one was soon to follow.
“You dumbassed-motherfucking dick of a piano! Stop standing in my way so stupidly! – ARGH! And you got the smallest of the pack again, as usual. Fuck it!”
The white piano keys just flew through the room, while the black ones remained put. They must have been attached differently. Then Ennio entered. He witnessed to my performance for a while and lit a cigarette for himself.
“And what else is going on?” I asked between two slams.
“I’m drunk,” he answered, “I’ve just returned from Tel Aviv.”
“What did you do there?”
“Can’t remember. At first, I was in Vienna. Met some blonde girl there.”
“We got wasted and flew off to Syria. And then to the Jews. Buddy, I tell ya: Don’t ever set off to Syria and try to get across the border to Israel.”
“Did they shake hands with you – nice and slow?”
“Eight fucking hours they kept us! And not a drop of freaking alcohol to be found, nowhere! Which reminds me. Gimme something, will ya?”
I handed the schnapps over to him.
“You still playing the piano?” he asked.
“No more, nah.”
“Didn’t eat anything at all the last four days.”
“Where’s the blonde now?”
“Can’t remember. I just came here from Tegel Airport – the cab’s still waiting downstairs.”
“Why didn’t ya say so?”
We walked down stairs and got in. Then we told the driver some pub’s name. On Kastanienallee, I saw the architect standing in a phone booth. We came to a halt and I opened the door for her.
“Ada – that’s Ennio. Ennio, Ada.”
“So, whatcha ya doin’, Ennio?” she asked.
“Nothin’ much. I’m drunk.”
” Me too.”
„Nice to meet you.”
„Wanna go and watch a Union match? Got tickets.”
“Against whom?” I inquired.
“Sounds like a deal.”
So we were chauffeured to the Alte Försterei, Union’s stadium, and I paid for the tickets with my last reading session’s payment. Then we stood near the Ultras and drank beer from paper cups. Wasn’t a bad game, actually.
When I went for a refill, I suddenly couldn’t see properly anymore. Everything went black, my tummy turned all woozy and I knocked the back of my head quite bad. I could suddenly see the world from Frog’s perspective, while my head throbbed. I was lying in some brunette‘s lap – who was most likely not the cause for the pain, though, and wanted to know if everything was fine with me.
“Sure. How ‘bout you?”
She had an awesome mouth, and I was pretty comfy in her lap.
“You just broke down, completely out of the blue.”
“Yeah, I had too much to drink.”
“But you don’t seem that drunk.”
“Nope. It wasn’t the amount of drink that did me, but booze is getting all messy in combination with my meds.”
“What do you take?”
“Whatever I can get hold of.”
“So, what’s your name?” I asked.
“Nice. And you’re a doc or somethin’?”
“Yep. A gynecologist, to be precise.”
“Marvelous. Wanna join my pals ‘n’ me?”
“Can you even get up onto your feet again?”
“Sure. I keep falling down over and over again. I’m an artist, you know?”
“And that’s what they do?”
“Guess so…” I cleared my throat. “Say…umm…”
“What’s the matter with ‘em?”
“They look so nice. Is there a chance for me to kiss ‘em?”
“You think it’s that easy?”
“No idea. Let’s find out.”
She bent down, which made me all excited. I usually play around a little with the girl’s upper lip, but this time it didn’t work, because everything was upside down. Like between Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Macguire. The Spiderman-kiss.
Finally, we bought some beer and took it with us to Ennio and Ada. “That took you pretty long, buddy!” the Italian shouted on seeing us getting closer.
“Yeah, but I do have a gynecologist with me.”
The rest of the match somehow slipped my attention, because it was so very consumed by Stella’s mouth. Union caught some silly little goal in the last few moments, but it didn’t really matter, because the vibe in the stadium was kick-ass. Afterward, we drove to Mitte and hung around in a pub.
“So, are you artists, too?” Stella asked at some point.
“Who would you take for an artist around here?” Ada asked.
“Well, me,” I clarified and plucked tobacco crumbs out from between my teeth.
“Psh, artists! We’re drunkards, all of us – that’s what we are. And unsocial, if you have to know.”
“Nevermind. It’s a pleasure meetin’ you.”
In the meantime, I threw up in the pub’s facilities and asked the barkeeper for a glass Aquavit against the smell. The very moment I returned to Stella’s side and hugged her towards me, the door opened, and Carmen entered the bar. She had tied her hair on top of her head.
“Hey, fellas!” she merrily greeted the entire bunch.
“Carmen, I love you!” Ennio said, “You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.”
“And I love you, too!”
Ada smacked his cheek lightly, “You told me the very same thing,” she said.
“That I’m the most beautiful girl in the world.”
“And so you are!”
“Thanks. That’s so cute of you to say.”
“Anyone willing to join me for some sparkling wine?” Carmen asked.
I ordered a bottle and made the cork pop into a group of whackos who shouted, “Watch out, you idiot!”
“If you’ve got a prob: The door’s right over there.”
They grumbled and whined, but dropped the issue. I kissed Stella again before she headed towards the bathroom. Then I clinked glasses with Carmen.
“Hey, baby,” I said, “Since when are you back?”
“I arrived two hours ago. Munich was hell!”
“And how are you?”
“Pretty fine. Union lost today’s game, though.”
“And who’s the chick who’s all over you today?”
“Nothin’ serious, really. She saved my life.”
“But I would marry you.”
“Still – it doesn’t make much sense, right?”
“Will you take me home?”
“If you want, sure.”
“Or is that a bad idea, with the new one and all?”
“Don’t worry. She’s a gynecologist, she’ll cope. And Ada and Ennio are still here, after all.”
“I just don’t wanna bitch around.”
“You never do.”
We set off on foot, because the way was really rather short. Long enough to buy two more bottles of sparkling wine, though.
“Are you still on your pills?” Carmen asked at some point.
“Yeah, six weeks nonstop again, currently.”
“And you’re getting along?”
“Doin’ nothing but sleeping, writing and playing the piano.”
“And your stomach?”
“It’s okay. Everything for art‘s sake.”
We reached my place and the oven was even warm still. We got naked and faced each other like that. When I moved towards her, I stepped on one of the splintered piano keys.
“Shit,” I said.
“Shit’s not a nice word to use.”
“I’m sorry.” I hugged her and we slightly swirled in a circle, looking each other deeply in the eyes.
“So, what happens now?” she asked.
“Just generally. In this life.”
“I don‘t kn ow.”
“Do you like me?”
“Do you think I‘m beautiful?” She made a full turn.
“You’re very beautiful.”
“So – maybe everything’s going to be alright?”
“Certainly, even. I promise.”
“I’m feeling better immediately.”
“See? You’re a good girl.”
“Let’s lie down.”
“Sure,” she went first, and I mounted her, grabbed her hair and everything was just the way it should be. Without yesterday, without tomorrow – simply here and now. A silent blink of the eye in this life, alive to love and strive.