Fishing in Beirut

April 23, 2010

Part 7: Berlin, July 2001 (scene 10)

Filed under: Character : Frank, Part 7 : Berlin — fishinginbeirut @ 09:03

They rang at the door but were turned away. The Madame peered out from the gloom, shook her head quickly, and the slit they could see her through was gone. They were standing on the street at 4am.
Frank, Dev, and Martin were desire’s captives. This part of town had red neon and mirrored facades. It held promises of sin and swollen lipstick.
They turned down a side street and were beckoned by a doorman. “Good deal,” he said. “Beautiful girls.” The man was Turkish and overweight, in his fifties with a lime-green shirt. Martin spoke in German to better negotiate.
Inside, an ancient piano propped up a wall bedecked with sparkles. Girls sat at the bar, an older woman served. Through a half-open curtain they saw an obese German with two whores astride him, his tie on the floor beside a bucket with champagne. The speed they’d taken earlier was wearing off.
“Whiskey,” said Frank. “You know, fucking whiskey.”
“Ja, ja, I know.”
The barwoman busied herself mechanically, pouring Wild Turkey and, before they could stop her, adding Coke. Frank curled his lip and refused to go near it.
“What, “ she snapped. “You say whiskey I do fucking whiskey. Drink, drink.”
He gave her the evil eye but took it nonetheless.
A girl approached each of them, and before Frank was clear, he was on a stool with a hand on his crotch. The other hookers watched them, bored.
“So tell me your name, and your country.” She rubbed him and he rubbed back, the drink so foul.
“Ah, Irish. I love the Irish music.” From the corner of his eye he saw Martin stroke a dark girl’s hip.
“Yeah, Irish, and where are you from?”
“Potsdam,” she said. “Are you going to buy me drink?”
Frank said he had no money. She looked at him coldly and he swore he really had none.
“You won’t buy me drink?”
She turned away from him. She was still beside him but it was like he wasn’t there. Her eyes were dead and his talk echoed into nothing. The other girls did the same, Martin and Dev declining also, and the bar was now a frozen den of hostility.
“What the fuck are you doing?” said Martin. “We were promised a show.”
The barwoman stared at them bitterly. Dev looked at Frank and they were almost going to go.
“We were promised a show,” repeated Martin, louder.
A wizened little man appeared from somewhere. “Make show!” he ordered. “Make show!” He clapped his hands and grabbed roughly at the black girl, and she stood up and walked towards a pole. “Make show!” he said again, and music began.
She swayed, comatose, her body forming shapes but her eyes not there at all. Frank drank more Coke and nearly wretched. He pushed it away and watched her naked gyrations.
A mirrorball hung above, purple and blue light catching as it spun. Frank noticed how her shoes were so worn, battered silver sandals holding hard-skinned feet. She caressed herself like a zombie.
“Lets go,” said Dev. “Fuck this.”
The old man hovered over them, imploring them stay for more booze.

They sat in the Schwartze Café with cream coffee. Martin was talking about artists who made paintings from shit. It was an hour since the brothel, fully light when they came out, the sun climbing. The streets populated by cleaners and staggering drunks.
“Yeah, yeah, seriously boys. Their whole manifesto is art from bodily fluids. Shit, blood, semen. They work in warehouses and squats, and this stuff sells big time in markets.”
Frank began to feel queasy, unsure.
Dev spilled sugar all over himself, some patron doing that trick of leaving the cap unscrewed. He cursed, but the waiter was laughing.
“Machts nichts,” he called over, uncaring.
They got the U-Bahn back towards home, Martin leaving at Gneisenau Strasse. On their balcony Dev and Frank composed poems of that night.
“The fuckin’ eyes in the place,” said Dev. “They hadn’t seen light in twenty years.”
Frank drew a picture of the girls and threw it down to the courtyard.
They had a bottle of what the label called ‘Breakfast Cider.’ It was a strange, fizzy, non-alcoholic carbonated applejuice, and they guzzled the whole thing with pastries.
“I’d love a fucking sausage roll, or some chicken,” said Dev, dropping crumbs.
It was ten o’clock. A bright, hot mid-morning, the snores of Pd and The Behanser carrying out through the bedroom window, droning softly in time. Like a detuned accordion clogged up with gunge.
Frank whacked his knee with the empty plastic bottle, and a bird squawked and took off from a roof. The sound reverberated around hitting concrete and windows.
“One should always seek out the quiet parts of a new place,” said Dev. “The quiet parts can make even an old place new. It’s like when we went to that Jewish Museum. Just the design made the area around it more complete. Silence is like that, stripping away the noise and the panic. An unbroken silence is the same all over the world.”
Frank couldn’t argue with that. And so he didn’t, and they drank the rest of the juice in silence.


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