Friday 25 November 2011

15. Januar 2008
Tschüss! Schluß ohne Ende

Now F begins crying, as does B. Both sit silently as tears brush their cheeks. F composes herself and continues, matter-of-factly: "As always he made sure his coat was neatly fastened before he picked up his bag and slid it over his shoulder. This is where he normally smiled, thanked me, told me to take care of myself or have a good rest of my day. This time he approached the counter smiling, looking resolutely into my eyes and began to speak."

F shifts in her seat to change her posture, sitting up straight, but leaning against the back of her chair and says, "He said:

'I can't begin to explain the joy it's... At the end of last year I happened upon unexpected luck. But it is nothing compared to the pleasure you have given me every time I think about you, which is often. I want you to have my luck.'

"And with this he pulled a medium-sized manila envelope out of his pocket and put it on the counter without breaking our eye contact. I took it but didn't really know what I'd accepted because of the eye contact thing. With that he thanked me again, turned on his heels and wished me well.

"I watched him go.

"After a few minutes I locked up and went to the back. I sat and stared at the walls for a while. I went home and did the same for several days.

"I completely forgot about the envelope until I went back the following Tuesday. It was still there next to the cash register. I decided at that moment never to open it. I stashed it under the counter, deciding I'd give it back to him when he came back. I didn't want whatever was inside, and I was angry at him, suspecting I'd never see him again. But I waited - that day anyway.

"When spring ended I decided that I'd wait the summer out before closing shop and doing who knows what. When summer ended I decided to wait until January 6th; then the following Tuesday; then twenty more months.

"In the end I made it to our fifth anniversary before I'd apparently had enough. I just locked the doors for the last time and mailed the keys to the regional rep with a note saying I was done.

"I came here, checked-in across the street with the plan to kill myself. That led to procrastination, which led to an intermittent curiosity regarding the more detailed specifics of my - situation. So I finally opened the envelope. Had I done it sooner, I could've at least spared myself the additional five years in that silly café. Or maybe not.

"After reading the letter, I was no longer curious. I have no idea how much was in there originally, just that it was a pile of large notes that would probably last me forever. And that was before the changeover.

"Every bill I grab is like another day waiting in the café. And though I decided to move on, I'll never get past it."