Thursday, May 17, 2012


There’s a group of four Spanish women dancing in front of Simon at CafĂ© Bombocado. The owner – a man who looks more cartoon than German – is doing a terrible job of concealing his arousal.
Simon doesn’t know it yet, but this man is going to be integral to –
Simon stops his brain’s voice over and gets back to writing his novel and sipping the white wine he hopes will cure the hangover dimming his creativity, and his writing progress.
Simon’s writing style had the same elasticity as a pensioner’s breasts, so, without a plan, the plot of his novel had stretched and shrunk again. He knew it would never be published, despite the ingenious title: Morbid Memories Make Mad Men.
In the beginning MMMM was the story of a man who wrote a eulogy for every one of his dead erections. So, literally, Simon wrote hundreds of eulogies for his protagonist’s dead erections, each one thinly veiled accounts of his own promiscuous sex life. But MMMM would never be published, and Simon knew this, for nothing truly genius would ever be recognised in its own time.

One of the Spanish women falls to the floor with a flourish. It’s started raining outside. Simon has an erection. His writer’s block, gone.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Third Time Eating Fish.

“Nothing owed to nuance.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“Not sure.”
This is the conversation I imagine the German couple are having next to me at McDonald’s at 3am.

After choking down the Fillet-O-Fish I ordered via language blunder, I make my way back to our apartment, skipping over dog shit like it were my first time dancing. The towers are eerie. The surrounding trees ominous. There’s silence among the communal bins.

At level two I pause and listen for what Mr Kauf is playing on his stereo, or singing, or shouting. Instead, there’s nothing and I get lost in whatever it is I’m meant to be thinking:
No matter where you go in the world, hairdressers always have puns for their salon names: eClips, hair of the dog, hairport etc. No matter what time it is, someone, somewhere in the world is having: a shower, a beer, a shit, a colonoscopy, open-heart surgery, their last meal.  No matter what anyone says, you can trust your mantra. And if you don’t have a mantra, you can trust that a Holiday Inn will provide a continental breakfast at a reasonable price and a cosy place to sleep, free of bedbugs. There may be the occasional streak of human faeces on the mattress cover, though. Which reminds me, I need to book a room for two for the start of June.

I escape my thinking, climb the final set of stairs and turn the key. There’s a rumble from the kitchen and I’ve momentarily forgotten someone sleeps there. My fly already undone, penis poking through my pants as if seeing the world for the first time, urine readied to splash into the bowl with great force. The same force that someone, somewhere in the world, is using to: flick a bug from a leaf, hoist an infant onto their shoulders, push a car into gear, or sign the customer copy of their last meal before stepping into oncoming traffic and being ploughed into by a scooter with enough force to send them plummeting back into the memories of the third, second and first time they had ever tried fish. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chris went missing #1

“You’re born, you shit yourself a few times, and then you die.”
This was the note we found on Tuesday morning in the fridge, wrapped around a bottle of Becks.

Chris hadn’t been sighted in two days. We’d considered putting up a poster in the local burger joint on Sonnanallee where he ate most nights. I’d even crafted it in Powerpoint:
(picture of Chris)
Last seen with BBQ Burger and Becks.
Comes to the name of ‘Chris’. Red hair.
Reasonable Reward
(my phone number).

The day before he went missing there was something noticeably different to Chris. His gate had slackened, his conversation had become laboured, his text messages almost indecipherable. At band practice he refused to sing. Clapping in bridges, howling during verses and not participating at all in the chorus.

To be fair, the night before Chris went missing he’d had his first altercation with a Turkish drug-dealer. His shins blackened by kicks, visible bruising on his neck where the brut had held him to a wall, threatening worse if he ever openly used the word ‘coke’ in a text again. The following morning the chain on his bike had come off a few times, and he’d been short changed at the local supermarket.
Not to mention that, on that same morning, on the day he went missing, his girlfriend had called from Australia and told Chris she didn’t really love him. That she’d never loved him, and that she in fact loved someone else.
I only say this so matter-of-factly, as this is how Chris had told it to us. Outside Laidak, cigarette in hand, two days ago.

Too early for euthanasia.

A man in a wheelchair, on the edge of a park, facing the canal, is the saddest thing I’ve seen all day. I’m using the commas, to express, exactly, how sad, it made, me.

Tired from a night of dancing, the boys postpone band practice for an hour. So I take the scenic route on my bike, via the park, and I see this man in a wheelchair, the saddest thing I’ve seen all day.

His eyes dull like marbles. Cheeks sunken like half-moon biscuit cutters. Hands fixed to his lap, as if super-glued to his tartan rug. The only sense of hope leaking from his pale blue scarf.
I ride past him. On my bike, completely able, listening to The Hives.
I wonder how he’ll get home.
Whether there’s enough muscle left in his arms to push him there, or if it had all eroded. Waves of aging, crashing into his biceps over decades. Peeling away layer and layer, until all that was left were hollow caves.

I wonder how many days he has left. I wonder if I should push him into the canal. If that’s what he wants. If he’s waiting there. In his wheelchair. Begging for someone to do him justice.
But, it’s only 11am and too early to consider euthanasia.
I’ve eaten two baguettes, had two coffees and a cigarette. I’ve walked into shops and said ‘hello’. Thought about my girl, spoken to friends. Joked about Aaron’s forehand in ping pong, the way he holds a cigarette, the ridiculous colour of his bike.
It’s only 11am and I’ve seen the saddest thing I’m going to see all day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Internet Cafe.

The shrill sound of the American upsets Marc’s rhythm. It’s been three weeks. His dick’s begun to resemble a cigarette left in the rain.  The memory of his girlfriend in the shower has washed away. Only vague outlines of thighs and breasts return if he shuts his eyes long enough. But there’s nothing distinct. No nipple. No neck. No…
“Excuse me, do you have any soap?”
Why the fuck are Americans always asking for soap? With only one shelf in the store, identifying soap should be something you’ve learnt by a certain age. That, and being able to brush your teeth without a mirror.
The guy behind the counter acts as if she’s speaking at a different frequency. As if there isn’t a do you have soap frequency.
“So-ope? Do you have?”
He’s not a fucking retard, lady.

Finally the American leaves and Marc re-opens RedTube.
Three bum holes and two scrotums re-appear. From behind the orgy, it looks as if a bunch of legs are playing a game of tic-tac-toe.
His dick begins to take shape again, when someone in a nearby booth hacks up phlegm.

Phlegm-guy takes a phone call. He’s talking so loud the person on the other end must be getting tumble dried in a washing machine somewhere in the south of France.
Finally, silence.

The camerman has gone in even tighter on the bum holes and Marc loses it.
He shuts the window, stuffs the un-used serviettes into his back pocket, leaves his seat, opens the fridge, buys a beer and heads for the canal.
Just as he’s knocking the top off his Becks, Marc catches a glimpse of a nipple. It belongs to the lady reading Murakami, lying face down on a picnic rug, feeding herself grapes.
Marc reconciles that if he happens to run into a hole in a wall large enough on the way home, he might just stay there the night.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Brave Like A Bear.

She’s too tall already to be wearing heels. The ice in this whiskey too cold, need to see a dentist. This corner too dark to work out if it’s chain grease or dirt or shit on my fingers.
Thoughts in the head too dumb. Too fast.  The 40-something in the corner still looking. Bubbles in the froth of my head still bursting. Emails still appearing. Music in my ears still playing.

Bernd approaches with a crippled book - Deutsches-Namen Lexikon.
“What is your name again?”
“Robin? Robert?”
The tanned pages ticking neatly in his hand, as if this were all part of an elaborate party trick.
“Robert. Robert, Robert. I see,” He points a finger, but I don’t look. I know he’s seen it. “It means, um, with light from yourself. No, wait, it means ‘Shine With Glory’. That’s it!”

With no hot water in our apartment, and a diet that consists entirely of doner and beer, I’m in disbelief.
“And yours, Bernt… what does yours mean?” Slightly frustrated, as I know I’ve pronounced his name incorrectly.
“Bernd, Bernd…”, Mumbling his own name as he flicks the pages again. “Ok, I see; ‘Brave Like A Bear’.”

People leave and some bottles are taken away and some more cigarettes are smoked.
“The boy who was behind you before, he’s a writer too. A Russian Jew.”
“A Russian Jew?
“I believe so.”
We talk more about the Russian writer, and tonic water once being used as a cure for malaria, and touch on the niche subject of music.

I decide Laidak is the perfect place to write. Cheap alcohol, smoking inside, dim lighting, wide-street-facing windows, shelves stacked with books, intriguing passersby, thought-inspiring bartenders.

“The thing, you see, about Berlin, Robert, is that many creative people come here. It’s just, we make never any money.”
Two girls walk into the bar – the first customers in the last three hours. One is pretty with paint-speckled pants. The other is dreadlocked and clutching a unicycle.
I think about malaria, and creativity and shining with glory. And Bernd sits, facing the door, muscle-swollen hands clutching a pint, Brave Like A Bear.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Walking home from -

“My eyes won’t collaborate with my face.”
“Shut one eye then.”
“I see many colours.”
“Like a kaleidoscope?”
“In my head I’m building a house…”
“What kind of house?”
“One with windows… and, a, ah, roof. And some walls.”
With the abandoned airport and techno music as a backdrop, running on artificial energy, Daniel turned to me and asked earnestly about my childhood:
“Were you happy as a child?”
“I mean…”, I started.
“Because, when I was a child, you know, there were things that were… ah, how do you say, strange?”
“Yep, ‘strange’ is a word.”
“Because, like, back in Dusseldorf…”
“Your humour, even when I am in this state like this is not so good.”
“Back in Dusseldorf, when I was very young, we had this dog, you know? And like…”
Dead sober, I recalled all the times I was high in a club, discussing the darkest moments in my 25 years, completely dead pan, with sliding smiles encouraging me to divulge everything I'd ever buried. 
Of course he had a dog. It would have died when he was 14. They’d have given it a human name, which would have made it even more of a tragedy, because it called for greater empathy. They would have had a mock funeral, their father curling the Jack Russell into a shoebox, before burying it in the corner of their property. Years later, he’d re-visit to find there was a rose bush growing where Mickey had been buried. And he would have stood there, in Hawthorn, by the picket fence, with an ice-cream and his best friend and reminisced about the dog he’d had for as long as he could remember. And even though he’d moved to Berlin from Australia for three months, he’d still remember, years and years later, the dead dog he’d described losing as a child to a sober dude on an abandoned airport runway, high on MDMA, speaking in broken English, with his eyes not collaborating with his face.

Plane Ride.

'I guess I've never given it enough thought, but if urine did have an enemy, it would be turbulence.'
The Dutchman is yet to acknowledge me, but I know he’s Dutch. And I know he knows I’m talking to him because we’re the only two in our row on the plane. And I know he knows I know he speaks English because I heard him ask for the ‘Chicken Rice’ dish when the waitress with the heavy eye make-up came past. I know he knows about pissing on planes too, because, just before the meal cart came around, he climbed over me and went to the toilet. I watched as the cubicle turned to ‘engaged’, and timed him. And I know it only took him two minutes to do whatever he was doing in there. So either he was vomiting (didn’t smell like it when he came back), or he was urinating. So he has urinated on a plane. I know that, so I continue:
'I mean, with shitting, you have the issue of a dirty toilet, a toilet too close to the kitchen of the girl you're sleeping with, the toilet without ventilation, the toilet without toilet paper. And don't get me started on shitting outdoors. My girlfriend once showed me a YouTube clip where a... Anyhow, all I'm saying is, urine is like Superman, and turbulence is its kryptonite. Poo, on the other hand, is like a normal human. Susceptible to many evils. Do you get it?'
I nudge him and he pauses his movie, puts down a spoon full of Chicken Rice and removes a headphone.
'Shit, piss, urine, crap! You get it?'
'You ever noticed Tom Cruise wears a lot of ¾ length pants in Mission Impossible? Like, a lot...?'
‘Where are you from?'
He puts back on his headphones.
I know he’s Dutch.

I stand and stalk the aisle, searching for a spare seat next to a new human. I sit next to a boy of roughly the same age, reading Bonjour Tristesse. I try and dissect his story like the most annoying human beings in the world do:
-       Duty Free bag cradled between his feet
-       Reading a French love story with photobooth shots of a pretty young girl as a bookmark
-       En route to London by himself.

Ok - he’s on his way to meet a sweetheart. Bonjour Tristesse is the book she recommended he read on the flight over. The story of a romance between two persons of roughly the same age. Young adult sex on pine needles. Bottles of wine. Fast cars and France. The photobooth shots sent to him via snail mail. Something handwritten on the back. Used as a bookmark; a casual reminder. The Duty Free bag at his feet containing her favourite perfume. The scent he’s missed for six months, re-ignited when walking through the cosmetics aisles while in transit.

A smile comes across my face as the plane falls and then catches itself again. And I know that someone else now knows that turbulence is urine’s greatest enemy.