Fishing in Beirut

April 13, 2010

Part 7: Berlin, July 2001 (scene 1)

Filed under: Character : Frank, Part 7 : Berlin — fishinginbeirut @ 09:09

The band shakily took to the stage. Its four members tuned their guitars and vocal chords, and launched into a bloodcurdling rendition of an Irish folk song. The assembled Germans were aghast.
Frank, Dev, The Behanser, and Pd sweated for the nation. They could see the bar manager regretting giving them a call. Nevertheless, they hit a rousing chorus, The Behanser falling over in the heat and his drugged-up state. His sense of timing wasn’t missed.
Dev bashed the bodhran and Frank strummed unperturbed. Pd hit a high note. The swirl of music, and a crowd, and a head full of E and grass, took Frank outside himself, a guitar strumming, worriless thing. The Behanser got back up and started playing.
When the song finished they slumped and drank. Four more pints would arrive when these were gone. Some places happily doled out drink to them, others needed prodding and suggestion. Frank saw a woman uncross her legs.
The crowd were getting into it now. Pd sang a version of “Danny Boy” a cappella, roaming about the pub trailing the mic. He disappeared midway through the climax.
On the U-Bahn down to Oranienburger Tor, Frank felt nervous. He snapped out of it when The Behanser gave him a drink. They went into a bombed out department store, a victim of the war and before that the Kristalnacht. Artists and others gathered here. There was a dwarf breathing fire, and a strange dog that was constantly stoned. It chased its swishing tail and drooled saliva.
The Behanser went looking for a dealer. The others could see him crashing about, disappearing behind pillars and reappearing, and then he was back. He sat down and they prepared his captures. Tired after the day. Some girls hovered about to see if they’d share with them.
Frank recognised a dealer he’d seen occasionally, not in this group now loitering, just going past. A little blond German pixie. He held her with his eyes but she ignored him, and then Pd was saying ‘that’ll floor an elephant,’ and handing him a cone. He breathed deeply.
Dev started playing his bodhran like a bongo, patting out a rhythm with his fingertips. Frank lay back using his guitar case for a pillow, every single star up there a galaxy unknown. Every single person and blade of grass. An Australian voice said something unintelligible, hundreds of bodies around, tripping, pissed. On some nights there was trouble and the sting smell of Mace.
“Are we gonna get some food,” said Dev, “some fucking sustenance.” A Hungarian girl sat down beside Frank. She asked his name and then called him Frank Sinatra. I get no kick from champagne, he sang in her ear.
The girl suddenly started screaming, and moved her body away from Frank’s arm and stumbled into the night. Frank turned his attention to the stoner dog.
“Woof,” he said, and the creature ran over unsteadily, a crazed look in its eyes. Pd rubbed at its paw fur. The Behanser came back from the kebab shop, handing out doners and eating a currywurst. Dev started complaining that his had no sauce.
At seven am they crossed the road to a bar called Obst und Gemuse. They sat outside with the sun rising, beers in front of them and guitars alongside. Frank went to the toilet and there was graffiti above the bowl.
To be is to do” – Sartre
To do is to be” – Camus
Do be do be do” – Sinatra
He pissed and shook his head and went back outside.
“Possession is not the key to feeling,” Dev was saying. “You can feel bad with a hundred fucking cars.”
The Behanser eyed him sceptically, smoking. An unkindness of ravens pecked at something hidden across the street. Perhaps they weren’t ravens, just crows. Pd threw a banana skin and they scattered.
They left soon after, paying the bill and heading for the U-Bahn. They clattered back towards Neukolln, in a four-seat booth each.
Dev rolled a joint, absorbed in the act of construction. Frank thought of the sun climbing through the world. Each stop picked up commuters bound for work, business suits and builders, the builders with beer in their hands. The steady chatter made Frank want to sleep.
Back in the apartment on Bohmische Strasse, they collapsed amidst bottles and ashtrays, on couches from the street. An enormous grand piano sat in the corner. Dev picked out a few notes on it, a Bluthner from the 19th century. Pd put his hand down his trousers.
The Behanser stood up and announced he was making soup. They heard the woman who lived above leave with her dogs. The animals scampered down the stairs outside, the owner following with leads tingling in her hands. They were hitting together and making a kind of music.
Frank dozed till the soup was ready, knowing he could sleep for a few hours, and then it was back out to play. On the Ku-damm, in Prenzlauerberg, anywhere. He remembered he needed to buy new strings for his guitar.

Aria and Laura were at the beac


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