My classmate Brigitta Erbzenzähler (here some previous works of her in german: zischende zwischeneinlage , short story) took recently a creative writing class in Baltimore, USA. She is trying to enhance her market chances, so she is now heading for the english language. Her assignment in Baltimore was to write a story which contained some elements of sex or crime and which could be suitable for being published in a womans magazine. She didn’t finish her assignment in time in order to get a native speaker spellcheck, proofread and lectorate yet. So the below work dubbed “008″ is a rather unpolished version. Her decision to prepublish this unpolished version on this blog was motivated by the possibility that some readers might be interested in publishing the final version. Since she is currently a bit broke, I accepted to publish her story again at randform, although it is again a bit out of the theme and style of the blog. It may entertain you during my absence.
She is a spy. The insight electrified him. A spy!
This would explain his neighbours sporadic absences and her absent social life. It would explain her fanatism for sport, her inconspicuous but constantly changing wardrobe, her absent day-to-day routine, the expensive car, her flights, her frequently changing hair colors and furnishings.
Her name was “Ziapullsky”. That was written on her door. “Ziapullsky” sounded to him somewhat polish but somewhat not. Finally she looked like a bulgarian with asian traits. She had greeted him always with a friendly but absent-minded look. It was only recently that he noticed how her glance rested a little longer on him, how her eyes got caught in his eyes for split seconds.
The other day they even had a short conversation about the weather and the climate change. While conjointly leaving the elevator they touched and he felt the warmth of her body. They lived in an appartment house right next to each other. He could hear when she was taking a shower. He could hear when she returned and when she left. She was always locking the door from inside. She would turn the key twice. A spy with fear? It seemed to him that turning the key twice was rather a ridiculous action against unwanted intruders.
His wife had a neighbourly respect for her. She would empty her mail box and water the plants when she was abroad. Thus he knew that her mail consisted of bank statements, bills from the telecommunications company or the fitness centre. She had never received any personal mail. Her first name was Jolana Ursula, but she was usually adressed just as Jolana U. Ziapullsky. His wife had helped her in finding a cleaning woman. Likewise his wife kept informing her about house meetings and so on. His neighbour never went there. Jolana showed her gratitude by bringing little presents from her trips abroad, like for example a jar with fancy mustard.
They both came from Berlin. Maybe that was partly the reason why his wife got so well along with Jolana Ziapullsky. Both had that snotty, almost vulgar overtone of the fast Berlin dialect in their voices. The overtone wasn’t at all matching with Jolana’s elegant appearance. It was fitting in with his wife Clara though. During the years Clara had evolved into a vixen. She already looked like a berlin “Kneipenmamsell” – a foxy pub lady. At least she was burking her berlin dialect. His relationship with Clara was droopy. There was not much left, which bound them together. But he stayed with her. His professional life was very strenous and during the past ten years the company where he worked had come close to insolvency not only once. He was often in transit. In all her gruff manner she was still a steady element and to be honest it was necessary to add that she was buffering his stress and that she was supportive. Sexually not much happened between them anymore. Sometimes she appeared to him rather as his own mother, than his wife. Although they were both just in their late forties. Jolana was the opposite, she seemed to be their age but her appearance was very differently. With her classic, slender traits, her sportive air she made even young men still turn around. She was taking care of herself, she was beautiful. She was walking like a ballet dancer.
“I shouldn’t think too much about my neighbour” – he muttered to himself and turned the car key in order to ignite the motor. A spy – what a malarkey! He chuckled to himself. The motor was starting.
She came out of the house.
After a baffled minute, he shouted across the road: “Misses Ziapullsky shall I take you along?” “Oh yes thanks, that would be kind” – she opened the car door. “I need to get to the station”. “That’s on my way” – he fastly responded, although this was’t true. The car moved off. “What could we talk about?” – he was mulling over. He had no idea and the silence between them became unpleasant. He finally heard himself asking: “Did the electricians install the residual-current device?” “Oh yes” – she was giggling strangely. “They made a big fuss and left an enormous dirt. Unfortunately I don’t know how this thing works”, she added. “With a residual-current device you may measure wether there are out of bounds currents…” and already while speaking he had to grin secretly. Jolana seemed to be amused as well. “It is like a switch which switches off everything if there is a damaged cable”, he quickly adjoined with his most businesslike voice in order to be on the safe side. “That means the switch could be my life-saver” she stated almost smuggily and glanced at him from the side. “Exactly” he said and pretended to be completely engaged in a passing maneuver. It was good that they arrived at the station. “Thanks for the lift!” she was shouting through the open car door, their glances met briefly and then she was gone. Like being in trance, nearly paralysed he kept steering the car and went to work. After all nothing had happened.
His wife was visiting her relatives for a couple of days. She had filled the freezer with instant meals and left him with a crate of beer. He was enjoying being a grass widower, on the other hand he didn’t really spent his free time differently than usual – thus he was mainly watching TV. He could meet with friends, he could “kick it”. After three days however he was still sitting alone in front of the screen and looked forward to Clara’s return.
The doorbell rang. Jolana.
He was annoyed how he appeared in front of her with his chunky slippers, his beer breath and his shirt hanging comfortably out of his trousers. “The residual-current device shut the current off” she said quietly and looked at him with a certain smile, “I have no idea how to switch the current on again.”
He pretended to frown and mumbled somewhat bashfully: “One needs to eliminate first the cause of defect.” “The blackout happened when I switched on the toaster. I checked the fuse, but it has to be the device.” “OK”, he sighed with a casual tone, “I come with you and check.”
“I disconnected the toaster of course immediately after the power outage” she said when they entered her kitchen with candles in their hands. “May I offer you something?” “Ah yes, why not?”, he answered fast ” – finally its a weekend! And after a short pause, astonished by himself: “It is in fact almost a little dreary at my place since my wife is visiting her family.” She seemed to had overheard his remarks and rummaged in one of her cupboards. “Unfortunately I have no beer at home, but I could mix you a cuban cocktail.” “Sounds exiting!” he said while being appalled at his straightforwardness. “OOOKay” she said while turning around rather slowly in order to look firmly into his eyes. He started to feel hot. “I can certainly bear another small drink.” He gave his voice an extra placid tone and inspected the toaster intensively. The drink kicked in strongly, the shouting green liquid must have been high-proofed.
The toaster functioned properly, it had never been out of order.
She must have noticed his discomfort. “I want to be honest to you-” she suddenly said with a stiff, silent voice. “It wasn’t the device.” She took a long breath. “I need to have someone in my appartment tonight. I am being observed. Through these windows over here.” She stepped towards the windows. He felt alarmed. “It has to look as if you would be my lover. You must understand: it only has to look as if you are my lover. No sex. You only have to display vicinity.” Now her voice sounded hounded. “Tomorrow I’ll be gone, thus you don’t have to be afraid of neighbourly complications. It is important. I can’t tell you more. Please speak to me so that they can’t see your lips from one of the windows.” She seemed to be a completely different person. In her voice there was a shiver, her previous self-conciousness was gone. She looked so fragile how she stood in front of the windows, her enemies gaze resting on her shoulders. “It seems I wasn’t too wrong with this spy thing” he thought, while not knowing how to deal with this unexpected change. “Please don’t ask any further questions” she hastily added as if she would again guess his thoughts.” “OK”, he finally said after staring for too long at the toaster. Strangely her change made him suddenly feel astonishingly sober and strong. Maybe this was due to the alcohol, but he felt like being an actor in a B-picture. “All right. I will stay this night with you, what am I to do?” ” You have to stay in bed with me and you have to pretend caresses like cuddles. I will wear a Latex suit in order to make it easier for you.” “That wouldn’t be necessary” he thought by himself but he didn’t dare to say it loudly. At this point he would do basically everything she asked him to do. He took another sip from his drink and got up. “I am going to hug you now in the candle light.” She was fizzing quietly and interupted herself with a loud voice, turning towards the window: “Kiss me!” She threw herself onto him and kissed him unemotionally on his mouth. The kiss was clearly pretended, but he didn’t find that unpleasant. He relished her proximity and delved into her hair.
“Please go now into the sleeping room, don’t switch on the light and lie down. I will join you after a short while.”
The sleeping room was completely dark. He had to leave the door open in order to find the bed. The bed was fragrant. It was sweet with roses and her parfume. At home the bed was smelling like fabric softener.
He hadn’t noticed her coming into the room. She was suddenly huddling against him and hugged him calmly. Then she took his hand and slipped it along her arm until he reached her finger tips. She kept his hand firmly in her hand and passed it into her face, down her neck towards the breast bone. She turned around and continued so that his hand finally rested on her hip. “Please go on” she whispered. He was totally sober by now. In what kind of situation had he brought himself? “The Latex feels strange” he spluttered without having a plan. “I am sorry” she spoke under her breath and turned around to get a little tube from the night table. She pressed a cool gel into his hand and passed his hand again to her hip. “Please just caress a little up and down around the hip, thats all.” Her fizzling whisper sounded almost a bit impatient. He pushed his hand monotonously up and down along her hip. The Latex made her appear much more chubby than she was. The gel turned her into a fish, a cool, curvy mermaid. She basked and suddenly he noticed his exitement. His hand was like a little fish who was slip-sliding along her round forms, a fish who was investigating the slippy valleys and hills and slowly proceeded into darker caves. She wasn’t protesting. On the other hand she also didn’t display compliance. He felt defiant and scooped his hands into even more forbidden regions. She was still not protesting. When he felt that the Latex suit was dagged below he lost his retention. “I think I can’t hold off, after all that alcohol”, he stammered. She didn’t say anything but reached over for a package of condoms. “See – if I wouldn’t need to touch you I could contain myself” he floundered a little too much out of breath. She was still not responding and kept lying quietly. He draw back his hand, but the exitement didn’t go away. He couldn’t help it, he knew that he would put back his hands. It occurred to him that meanwhile the whole suit was covered with gel. She was a big eel, a snake meandering around him, slippily weaving along his body. There was no way. He felt like tearing this cold, smooth skin with his teeth. He had turned into a beast which was -deadly wounded- impending to implode.
Like a wave it flashed over both of them. The vehemence and intensity took their breath, dissolved them and spread them as spume.
They kept lying quietly for quite a while and listened to their heartbeats. “It had never been that way” he was susurrating tenderly. “That’s right” she said loudly, while wriggling herself out of his arms and while switching on the lights. Clara. He felt betrayed and utterly naked.