Klaus Hnilica
Thursday March 22nd, 2012

Behind Sunglasses Before Gomera

Carl and Gerlinde (XXI)

26 degrees Celsius at Puerto Santiago! Cloudless skies! A steel-blue ocean looking like freshly ironed! And numerous minuscule ships before Gomera …

Gerlinde might easily have been happy in her apartment with the rough-hewn Spanish furniture. But no – for two weeks, she had now suffered from this terrible mental emptiness! Lethargically, without drive and perhaps even desperately, she bravely tried to get rid of this siesta sadness each day.

The horrible ’Kalima’ had thrown in his towel! Thank God for small mercies! She could have continued lying there and dozing under the awning all afternoon.…

But Gerlinde forced herself to get up, bought white bread, bacon, eggs and orange jam at the Calle de Honduras Supermercado and then decided it was high time to visit the ’Salzburg’ at Arena. Seeing Anna! Without Anna, her mouth would have grown stuck together! More often than not, the only person she talked to for several days was Anna …

She had not imagined the complex of bungalows could be quite so deserted at this time of year when she, spontaneously, had decided to spend the winter out here in order to get a grip on the situation with Carl and herself. Neither had this been the case when, ten years ago, she had bought this apartment with Jürgen. At least that had been the impression she got at the time; but then, they had never stayed there for any considerable time in winter, otherwise she would perhaps have noticed the very unstable presence of the English occupation right away: sun-tanned and beer-bellied!

Gerlinde had never told Carl about this little refuge of hers in the Canaries.  Of course, Hannelore and Kurt knew about it: after all, they also knew her ex-husband. And Jürgen probably had gotten wind about the fact that her first ’amorous intoxication’ with Carl had now paled. Which is probably why he – not without ulterior motive – had offered her the apartment for ’pondering and meditation’. Of course, it was free for her – and he had promised that he was absolutely not going to intrude on her or molest her in any way!

”Great Indian’s Promise”, he had sweet-talked into the telephone – cute in his own way!

And since he knew only too well how Gerlinde suffered from winter depressions, it was absolutely clear for him that she was going to bite.

After a few mouthfuls of champagne with lavish helpings of Aperol, she even agreed to squeeze into her white cotton dress, press the complementary black straw bonnet on her head and disappear behind her extra-large sun-glasses. All sadness was instantly gone! Encouragingly, she told herself that this new afternoon at the ”Salzburg“ in Arena was going to be approached with relish and she was determined to plunge headlong into evil-doing – hoping that an opportunity for such was soon going to present itself…

Then there was this incident when she was happily strolling along the picturesque promenade towards Arena: a girl standing on top of a single lava rock that protruded far over the ocean! Determinedly, she stared into the depth, where one wave after the other broke on the black lava cliffs.  The girl was totally immersed in herself, not taking any notice at all of the passing pedestrians; and they, too ignored her! Perhaps they had seen it all before?

But then, the girl was so tiny, so beautiful, so fragile, wearing her minuscule bikini. But before Gerlinde could cry – no, no don’t do it – the petite figure trembled and immediately afterwards the girl disappeared in the depths without any further ado!

Gerlinde was aghast and hurried towards the rocky edge, but all of a sudden, an athletic young boy looking around sixteen and wearing bathing trunks came running up the promenade path from the lower levels. He happily smiled at her and, without hesitating or looking, he dived headlong far into the ocean. About twenty metres down, his landing on the wavy water was as swift as an eel’s. The two lovers laughed and yelled as they crawled towards each other, embraced and kissed without ever even once looking up towards the few spectators.

As she went further on her way, Gerlinde also laughed. This bizarre happiness made her happy and she suddenly found herself wondering if Carl would ever have jumped after her like this? If not immediately, then after how many glasses of beer? One? Three? Five? Or not at all? Well, and then she wondered why the question had come to her mind? She actually was a little surprised at herself …

As always, Anna had kept a seat for Gerlinde at the “Salzburg“. Without prompting, she brought the Cortado, along with a huge piece of her beautifully crumbly apple cake with cream and a huge bottle of Aqua without glass!

Anna was approaching thirty. She was a good-looking dark-haired lady who had gotten stuck at this place four years ago. But now she already prepared to try her luck elsewhere. And Gerlinde felt drawn towards her…

The dashing cigarillo type – strangely enough, he looked a little like Carl, except he was a lot younger and more athletic – also again sat outside at the corner table with his obligatory “Corriere Della Sera“ and “Welt“. Like yesterday and the day before, he nodded towards her in a friendly manner when their eyes met. But Anna cautioned her! Dottore Sattori is not on the market, she said conspiratorially. For several years, he has now been accompanying a certain Dagmar von Platen, who was a person you did not want to get on the wrong side of.

She was a lady who might quickly see to it that something evil befell you, Anna whispered with a smile. The way she changed topics to talk about those forest fires wreaking havoc on the island for days on end and, like the Amen at church, setting a new hill aflame each night and leaving nothing but desolate, charred soot deserts was a little too hasty. Allegedly, they were originally triggered off by family feuds, knew Anna, but, of course, there was no lack of imitators!

Last night, they had set the hills near the ’Great Gala’ on fire. Anna said that was also why the fire brigades were ceaselessly on the alert and you could even see the huge trails of smoke from outer space. Then she jumped up to quickly serve an Austrian couple who had newly arrived. Apparently, she knew them, too.

Well, and then she had, again, been sitting here deep into the night! Once more, Gerlinde had indulged a little too much; there was not the slightest inclination in her to climb back up the hill she had climbed down at noon. Neither did she feel like rounding the harbour a second time in order to get to her apartment.

Instead, she preferred to pay for the taxi at the opposite side of the street. Unfortunately, Anna, again, could not come. She had to clean the pub, lock the door and deposit the day’s turnover at the bank. What a pity. Anna’s caresses were a balm for her …

Gerlinde felt tired and exhausted when she finally sank onto the sofa of her apartment! Without Anna, without Carl, without Jürgen and without Dottore…

And, again, she had not used the time to ponder about her situation! And it looked like she was not going to do so tomorrow, either, or the day after tomorrow: well, what was this stupid pondering supposed to get her, anyway…

Laughter and sounds of talking from the other houses made her get up again and walk onto the patio. The night was so shamelessly satiny, and on the opposite side, at Gomera, the car’s front lights trembled like fireflies through the protective night. All over the sky, stars seemed to sparkle!

But what good was romantic scenery at night if it was wasted on a patio, thought Gerlinde with a grumpy smile, before indulging in one last ’Carlos’ in order not to start weeping again …

But then the very last drop was also consumed! And the last cigarette was finished!

And when, around midnight, she woke up from her self-pity for a short moment and closed the patio door, she realized with shock that this nightly endeavour had been a fatal error; because, again, one of those ’devilish beasts’ had quickly found its way into her living room …

Oh God, how very much she would now have liked to call for her impossible Carl!

And call is what she did! Yes, she even yelled! Again and again, she yelled: Carl, you monster, this place is full of cockroaches! Cockroaches! Cockroaches! Cockroaches… Huge, disgusting cockroaches!

Carl, you have to kill them. You definitely have to kill them, because I cannot! Don’t you know…

But this abomination of a man was not here! As always when you needed him …

KH
(Translated by EG)

PS:
And two weeks from now, on April, 5th, 2012, we will be back with “Carl and Gerlinde”

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