A Day Much Like Another
Günthersburg Park, Frankfurt.
I bob and weave my way through, deftly side-stepping a box of Barbie bodyparts. Who are these people and what are they doing in my park? Tattoo convention? Guys with tribal shoulders, girls in short-short tops showing love handles and sexy tattooed lower backs. Their offspring: dozens, hundreds maybe, their tattoos washawayable, scrambling for the best spots around the perimeter of the wide open lawn, dollar signs in their eyes. I remember—it’s the day before school starts over—when the local kids have their flea market. Boxes, bags, tables, and shoes and clothes and toys. An assault course of childhood paraphernalia. I zip by.
Today’s special at The Park Café is Greek yoghurt with honey, topped with crushed almonds, 3.99. Maybe later, right now I’m running, exercising-exorcising, sprinting past a couple of junkies sparking crack stones. The bell from the Dutch Reformist Church strikes the hour. A dozen Asians converse beside the swings. Indians or Pakistanis, I don’t know, play cricket. I wonder how they stand on Kashmir. Africans play football—soccer, if you’re reading this in the U. S. of A. A Dalmatian shits in the fountain. Few joggers today, Nordic walkers though—four abreast—taking up space, making a racket with their ski-poles, and yakking their heads off. A dead mouse, on its back, looking all cartoon-like. More prams and strollers heading to the flea market—stern young fathers, yummy mummies throwing last-second sideways glances as I pass. You bet I would. But, man, was I bad last night. Couple more corners, pulse normal, some sweat on brow. Older silent couple on a bench, staring off into the trees. He’s thinking about pussy, I know he is; she’s thinking about the grandkids. A canary bikini, inhabited by someone I’d like to rub down, olive skin, jet-black hair. She lies on her stomach and I can’t see her face. But sometimes a guy just knows.
The junkies are flaked out in the bushes. Sirens from the street. I’m not ratting on anyone. Pulse circa 160. My nipples sting, forgot to apply the damn Vaseline, again. A mobile bratwurst unit takes up position in the centre of the lawn. A kid screams and kicks the air as his mother sells Winnie the Pooh. But honey, you said you didn’t want Winnie anymore. Other kids giggle; the Dalmatian receives a slap to the head; a cat chomps down the dead mouse and slinks away, swinging its head from side to side. Mixing my drinks was not a good idea—all that beer followed by ouzo, followed by gin when they ran out of ouzo—not good. The Asians play football with the Africans. The canary bikini sits upright, her back to me, a back like Dali’s Gala. She has a luminous green band in her hair, and matching glittzery earrings. HOWZAT? roars the cricket crowd as one, and turn to face the umpire, because that’s what they do when someone’s been caught out. Pulse, 178.
The Talk Test—run, but only fast enough that you can hold a normal conversation. You asshole, get out of here! How could you? I never want to see you again. I mean it this time. Go! So I made a pass at her sister. Let her cool off, take a bath, everything will work out. Blame booze, promise abstinence. A woodpecker smacks its head against a tree; a Frisbee whizzes past, having the time of its life; cricketers clap politely. The junkies are up again, running around and screaming their heads off, looking for Anton. Anton, if you read this, steer clear of the park. The kid has his Pooh-bear back and nurses it in his arms. His mother scowls. A jogger with the Nike logo tattooed on her shoulder. Why on earth would anyone do such a thing? Twelve grim faces in the line for bratwurst, like a jury waiting for evidence. And a tattooed dragon breathing crimson fire at the sword-wielding portrait of the guy whose skin it’s on. He’s gained a few pounds since the tattoo was done, and lost a lot of hair. There are similarities to the cover of one of Meatloaf’s albums. I wonder how that works with copyright infringement. My sweat tastes of beer. The football game is all go. Their women look on, and stoke the barbecue. Canary bikini is resting her back against a tree, book in lap, hair hides face. I wonder would she want me too. They never do—they just want to be my friend. The cat purrs from the shade. I can change, I can change. But not now; not yet; maybe not ever.
Slight pain left knee, probably nothing to worry about. Junkies being pursued by police on horseback. The flea market kids scream in delight, except two—maybe six years between them—who are pissing against the church and checking out each other’s wieners. One says that his stands up hard and straight every morning. Mothers busy with phones. I’m sweat-soaked, ouch, Jogger’s Nipple, stinging secretions. Damn Vaseline. I negotiate the flea market quicker than I’d prefer but the decibels are too much, every table-blanket stall blasts a different music. Crack of a cricket bat. Incline, pulse 185. She’s lying on her side now, and a lot of bikini is gathered in the crack of her ass. Cat sleeps with one eye, eyes a group of pigeons with the other.
Left nipple bleeding slightly. A bell strikes the hour. I cut a couple of corners, by-passing the market, the football, the café. She’s on the phone now, to her mother or a girlfriend, telling how I disgraced myself again, and how this time she means it for real. Again. The Africans cheer a goal. A woman sprays beer across the barbecue. I pass through a cloud of meaty fumes. No change at the bikini station. The cat moves like a leopard to where the pigeons are feeding.
(above text by Kevin Ó Cuinn)