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Gabbi WernerGirl Friday – the Book of Bad 23. Frankfurt On My Mind

Von | 17.01.2014, 9:01 | Kein Kommentar

Frankfurt, of all places. New buildings next to old ones, elevators going up or down, people eating sausages. No way out, until further notice.

Welcome. To the stories I told in many hotelrooms. To a man who had trouble falling asleep. A business deal. He paid for my words. Here they are.


Frankfurt, Hotel Hessischer Hof, beginning of December. 

I spent the entire first evening in my room, waiting for R. to call me. He did not. I went to reception at half past ten. Asked if maybe he had not arrived yet. Was his plane delayed? But he had checked in. I asked if he had left a message for me. No message. I inquired whether reception knew if he was in his room. The man at the desk said that R. was indeed in his room: He had ordered something to eat at nine o clock, and said not to be disturbed furthermore.

Well, then, I would not disturb him.

I went back to my room.  Sat on my bed. Unpacked my suitcase. Hung my clothes up. I never do that. But there was nothing else to be done. Unless I would call R. I looked at his number and did not dare to dial it. I tried calling my boyfriend but he did not pick up. Probably still at work at the restaurant. I had a bath. Checked my phone again. Nothing.

Frankfurt was dark and cold. To go outside now would be stupid. I would not have dared to go into a bar all by myself. And if I would have, I would have been sitting there all by myself. And then what? Have a drink? Alcohol? A cocktail, champagne, vodka? What if someone would start talking to me? What if a man would try and pick me up? Or think I would want to be picked up? What could I drink and be left alone? But if I would be left alone, I would seem lonely for sure.

So I unpacked my toilet bag. Arranged my make-up around the mirror.

I waited until midnight, then gave up. R. never called for me this late.

I thought of doing a drawing behind a painting, but it was screwed to the wall. And R. knew. That I did the drawings. It no longer felt as if it was something private.

I took a bath, had some tea. Checked my phone. No message.

I sat on the windowsill and looked at the street for some time. There was nothing to be seen. A car would drive by every now and then. There was a tiny park in front of the hotel.  Behind the park loomed the enormous grounds of „Die Messe“.

Frankfurt, of all places. I had never been to this city before, only passed it by train back in the Eighties a couple of times.  Frankfurt was about industry, punctuality. A punctual city. A stern word for a city. The centre of money. Complete lack of content. A functional, rich, well organised world. Frankfurt. A sausage named after it. With reason, I would discover.

I went to bed. At some point, sleep did catch up on me, I discovered a tv channel called: „Die schönsten Bahnstrecken Europas“. It was brilliant: A camera was put in the locomotive of a train. Filming the rail track ahead of it. That was all. Nothing more than that. A train, sometimes halting at a station, sometimes speeding up. Highlights were found in driving through a  tunnel, or passing a railway crossing. The train rolled on and on and on and the sound of the motions rocked me to sleep.

I woke up at about eight o clock. I had slept four hours at most. R. had not called. No sms. I went to reception again. Asked if there were any messages. None. After asking a couple more questions, reception reluctantly informed me that R. had left the hotel at seven thirty.

I would have to wait. Nothing would have me go back to the hotel personnel and ask again. They could think I was a stalker or something. I decided I would have breakfast. This would be my first business breakfast, in a way: It was the first time since we had begun travelling that I had not overslept. I took some bread, a boiled egg. Tea. Chewing and swallowing the bread was extremely difficult, my mouth was dry. The tea was way too dark, nearly black, bitter. The egg had been boiled into a green state of solidity.

There were only businesspeople in the breakfast room, men, in duos, at most three men at one table. No one sat alone. Except for the waitress, there was no other woman besides me. The men ate hurriedly, some of them were discussing matters in low volume, others read their newspapers. At 8.45 sharp, the whole crowd dissolved. There was nothing but the sound of a vacuum cleaner somewhere in the hotel. A dishwasher in the kitchen. An elevator going up. Or down. So I went up and down the elevator myself, put my coat on and went for a stroll.

I walked the streets, crossed the river. There were new buildings next to old ones, spread out in an erratic pattern. It could have to do with the war, I thought. New buildings had been erected on the premises where old buildings had been bombed. The ruins, which must have been on almost every housing block of this city, suddenly seemed visible to me: The new buildings became transparent and revealed the burned-out carcasses that had once been homes. I could imagine the curtains that had once hung in the windows, women looking out of the windows into the streets. All gone now. Replaced by glass and concrete. I made it into a little game for myself to count the buildings I passed: bombed, not bombed, blown up, bombed. Some new office buildings, maybe, were just put there by real estate developers who had torn the old buildings down in order to make money.

Every road seemed to lead to a windy square. On each square was a bar or a restaurant, styled to look homely good old fashioned German, in a new building.

A Christmas fair rose up at the riverbank. Wooden sheds with flickering electric lights. Loud music played, German folk songs with a house beat pasted underneath them. One barn was already open, it sold sausages. There was this solid black steel wheel with a spiral of sausage on it. It rotated over a fire. The smell of the grease travelled all the way to where I was standing. It was nauseating. People were pushing the sausages into their mouths. I looked at them, shoving the sausages in, until they turned to me and looked back. They must have seen my expression, for they stopped eating. I walked away.

To be Continued. Next Friday. Every Friday. From 09.00h.

Link to German Translation: click  Girl Friday – Buch des Bösen 23. Frankfurt On My Mind

Artwork: Gabbi Werner

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