Short Stories

  The view out  

Harlekin: The view out


‘Where would you live if you could choose?’ Lars asked Julian, and drew his legs even closer to his body, hiding his chin between his knees.


‘Somewhere you couldn’t reach with words, somewhere where only those thoughts would be that didn’t touch those words, so they knew what to do.‘ said Julian, who looked through the window of the kitchen, glanced over the roof of the neighbour’s house and waited until Lars finally lost his patience. He then left the kitchen.


Julian knew that Lars couldn’t stand these kind of answers anymore, that he was fed up with all of that. Julian understood. He himself was fed up with it, nevertheless he gave these answers in those conversations, talked as surely and safely and blindly as sleepwalkers move.


Lars had wished to find a person like Julian for a long time. Someone who gives beautiful answers that maybe do not make too much sense, but which touch something true that stays without a doubt. At least for one tiny little doubtless moment. Lars had never imagined that something you wanted so badly could annoy you so much, finally, when you have it.


Julian was dissatisfied. By himself, by the world and everybody. He had used up his contigentcy of dislikes against the world in a two-men-household before lunch. So Lars managed to live with his role as the happy one, the sociable one, the friend of mankind which he was in comparison to Julian.


Lars found distraction and affection in an affair with a workmate. Maybe a bore, a stopgap, maybe more. Someone who replied ‘Lisbon‘ when asked where he would like to go for a weekend. A workmate whose shirt changed its color every day, his wardrobe a real bouquet of polo shirts. A workmate who always stayed until the very end of the annual company party. A workmate who both flattered and irritated their boss. A workmate who wanted to have a yacht yet went to work by bicycle. A workmate who recycled the rubbish whilst on holidays in Italy, supposedly. A workmate who presented his wife an additional little diamond for her wedding ring every year for their anniversary. A workmate who often sat alone at the kitchen table and stared to the roof of the neighbour’s house. A workmate who wished to have children so much that he forgot everything else he desired besides. A workmate who just never became father. The workmate who told Lars again and again that he wouldn’t be into men without once being provoked by Lars.


Steven’s wife was called Ivana. She had been a former swimmer for the German Democratic Republic. In 1989, at the age of fifteen, when the German reunification took place, her family’s search for quick money, for happiness, wealth and freedom began. In their search for the West they all dreamt of, but never would have been found. ‘The expectation of happiness in people’s hearts in the East would never have found the happiness of the West, never, even if it would be there.‘ Steven fell in love with Ivana when she told him this sentence while grabbing her shoulders even stronger, her arms crossed, her eyes tired, glancing to the roof of the neighbour’s house on a sunday morning at five o’clock.


Ivana was Steven’s first woman. How many men had Ivana have before Steven? They understood each other.


When Ivana met Julian at her husbands company party, she was reminded of the way Steven used to be when their relationship began. Julian was thinking once more that women could be the kinder human beings to men. Even a woman like Ivana, straight and strong, as physically as emotionally, does have this kind of tenderness that only women have. A sensitivity far away from male mournfulness.


At the end of the night all four of them were drunkenly standing in the car park in front of the club waiting for taxis. Ivana asked Lars where he would like to live. Lars replied: ‘On Mars.‘ Julian intervened and said that was a lie wanting to embarrass Lars a little, but failed. Steven stepped in to help Lars by saying: ‘If there is anyone who will beat Mars, it’s you Lars.’ The two taxis arrived, the goodbye was short and strangely formal, despite their drunkenness.


The following morning Julian and Lars were sitting in their kitchen almost arguing about unimportant stuff about the party the previous night. For example, Julian’s almost unfriendly greeting to the company’s boss, the espresso which Lars himself forgot to bring to the table for Julian, the hiding ‘in-the-closet-like‘ behavior of them both in the disco. Lars after any stupid question, any stupid answer finally lost his patience and left the kitchen without having said what he had been trying to say every day now for almost a month. Ivana and Steven sat in their kitchen and Steven said with a pounding heart, but still calmly, honestly, at last straight away, what he had been trying to ay for almost a month: ‘Lars is going to leave Julian because Lars and I, we have fallen in love with each other.‘


And Ivana drew her legs even closer to her body, her arms crossed, and hiding her chin between her knees, stared under her eyebrows through the window over to the roof of the neighbour’s house. She silently said, affected, but not surprised: ‘I knew it. I knew it, but it never entered my mind.‘


Translation by Harlekin and K. O’Connor