8th May 2021
Part Six. Berlin. February 1995
Richard was in the bathroom, trying to get his hair to do something presentable, when he heard someone shouting, in English, from the Hof,
“RECALLED TO LIFE ! RECALLED TO LIFE !”
Having just finished ‘The Tale Of Two Cities’, he instantly recognised the quote, and the speaker could only be Chris.
Sure enough, within seconds, there was the sound of key in lock, the door opening and Chris bounding in, repeating his phrase, with a wide smile.
“Hey, I’m coming, too ! Couldn’t miss Al’s gig.”
They embraced and whooped it up.
“What about work ?” asked Richard, having gone with Monika as she had driven Chris to work in Yorckstrasse, some hours previously.
“I raged against the washing-up machine. I threw down my tea towel, pointed at the head chef and said, ‘Fuck you ! I won’t do what you tell me !’”
“Well . . . OK, not exactly. I jumped out the window and legged it.”
“You’re gonna hafta fill me in here, Dude, c’mon, full story.”
“So I’m at work, and it’s Saturday and you’re going out tonight with my girlfriend, not sure how I feel about that, but by the by, everyone’s going to have fun . . . “
“No, we’re going to see Al. Have you heard Al ?”
“A minor point, I’m working and I get sent to get something, I don’t even know what it is, some long piece of meat, about two metres long, who the fuck knows where it comes from, real ‘Naked Lunch’ food. Anyway, I forget what it is I’m going for and I have to ask somebody . . . “
“I hate having to ask somebody.”
“. . . and I completely forget the fucking chef’s name. I know it’s something like Randy, Roderick, Reginald, but they’re not sounding too German, so I’m in the fridge, suddenly it comes to me. I run out, stand in the middle of the kitchen and shout out,
‘RUDOLPH!’ like, you know, as in reindeer. Everyone looks at me, then goes back to work.”
“Guessing his name wasn’t Rudolph, then.”
“Guessing you could be right. Randolf.”
“Ah, much more German.”
“I just thought, fuck this ! I’m standing in the middle of a greasy, pasta-stinking kitchen calling out for a red-nosed, possibly fictional, animal. And not even drunk. The sink is right by the window, looks out onto the street.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Future reference. You ever start a kitchen, don’t ever give the Spüler clean sight of escape.”
“Well, you just did your duty.”
“Absolutely. I mean, fucking hell, washing-up for a living, screw me.”
“Yes. Pretty rough, isn’t it. Monika should be here soon.”
Soon enough, the knock on the door. Richard opened it and he hugged Monika. She asked him,
“Ah, question, shall we go straight there, or would you like we go to another bar first ? Get a bit drunk ?”
At that point, Monika stopped. She had just seen Chris come out from the living room. He stood by the door, smiling,
“Liebling ! (Darling)”
“And . . . what is ?”
“I left the job. I’ll get another.”
“And, when ? You have something ?”
Monika walked into the room and into the kitchen, Chris expected to follow.
“Er, it’s OK, I’m just gonna put some blue shit on my face,” said Richard, trying to be tactful, and referring to a face pack he’d picked up at Zoo Station. Chris had no idea what he was talking about, but did know that he was in for a rather unpleasant meeting.
The bathroom wall backed onto the kitchen, so the voices were quite clear, especially the female one, which sounded somewhat angry. Richard turned on the taps and began humming to himself.
After a series of very animated, though muffled screams, Richard heard heavy footsteps, followed by the front door slamming shut.
He came out of the bathroom, with the face pack on. Chris just gave him a look, an intake of breath and shake of the head. Then he looked at Richard more intensely,
“You’ve got blue shit all over your face.”
“You going like that ?”
“Naw, thought I’d wash it off, first.”
“Cool. Ummm . . . don’t think Monika will be joining us, tonight.”