Klaus Hnilica
Thursday December 15th, 2011

Not a Day Like All The Others

Carl and Gerlinde (XVII)

What a morning! No to mention this hideous ticklish feeling around the palate. Carl suspected that something was brewing inside and gave a sneeze. And then another and yet another!

In between, he made a snotty-nosed decision: never again to get up! Never again to leave this wonderfully warm bed! No matter who came noisily coughing towards his door!
But there came a time when – he finally made his dripping way to the bathroom!

He might just have hoped that a hot shower could carry him back to the shore of the industrious. Well, it worked, didn’t it? All of a sudden, Carl lingered in front of Gerlinde, coughing and snuffling around the dinner table. She had already finished her first cup of coffee and sat there holding the newspaper in front of her nose while she nibbled on her second piece of plum marmalade toast.

Regardless of his heroic victory over himself and his individual parts, Carl was not quite sure if Gerlinde had taken notice of him at all? Well, she certainly had not shown any visible reaction, had she? And there was no honey for his tea on the table, either. Not to mention the spoon for the plum marmalade. Or was he supposed to use his tongue chameleon-style in order to reach down into the glass of marmalade? While she was apparently learning the obituaries by heart and then immersing herself in a sexy newspaper supplement advertising lingerie.

Now wasn’t that strange, how she suddenly seemed so interested in ladies’ underwear?

But did she at all notice what happened around her?

For instance, did she hear what an audible effort he had to make in order to get up and bring the honey and the marmalade spoon? Not to mention the tea that had turned undrinkable, because she had left the thermos open. Some people liked their tea nice and hot, didn’t they? Or did she notice how he got more and more annoyed with all this ignorance, wondering if it was still a good idea at all to eat breakfast at home?

Come to think of it – why did he not just get up and drive to his office where his always friendly, elegantly dressed secretary would serve him a nice hot cup of coffee? Exactly at the temperature and with as much sugar as he liked it. And she also served cake. Delicious! Home-made!

Without another word, Carl got up and left.

When, after a loveless and distant kiss – because he did not want Gerlinde to catch his cold – he remembered to at least apologize by telling her he had an early appointment with Dr. Osterkorn, Gerlinde admonished him to drive carefully: the roads are frozen!

On top of everything else!

He made his grumpy way to the front door, checked the situation and immediately almost landed head-first on the cobbles. At the last moment, he managed to grab the door handle; half of his thumb nail was gone! But that hurt …

Yet, he had to salt the path. There was no alternative! With the shoes he was wearing, he would not even make it to the garage.

But when he finally sat in his low-temperature Audi and slid along the street trembling from the cold, he was surprised to suddenly experience something like a surge of joy.  After all, he was convinced that the hardest part of the day must now be behind him …

At nine-forty-four, he finally arrived at his office! Even with his runny nose and other mishaps, Carl noticed a worried shadow on his secretary’s face – she was wearing too much make-up – when he wished her a good morning.…

Well, no surprise with this weather, was it? His own bout of hilarity, too, had quickly disappeared during the drive to work. In fact, it had turned into quite the opposite, because some dude from abroad had parked on his reserved parking space. It seemed like the day was going to continue like it had started!

But at least the coffee was under way. Along with a piece of streusel cake her daughter had baked – as Frau Wolf remarked not without pride while looking quite serious.

”Please do not forget the ten o’clock appointment with Herrn Dr. Osterkorn “, she added with anxiously large eyes. Carl nodded distractedly, meanwhile looking for a few data and pictures about the new, successful winter underwear collection ‚Burlesque’ in berry colouring. After all, he wanted to be in a position to react adequately when Herr Dr. Osterkorn would run one of his small, treacherous attacks against him. The former expert on artificial materials and current department director was always good for a surprise!

Unfortunately, two years ago, Herr Dr. Osterkorn had also taken over the entire market for the sector ‚hosiery and knitted articles’, which included Carl’s  ‚lingerie’…

”There are rumours“, Frau Wolf whispered secretively. The door to the anteroom was still open and she cautiously pushed the cup of coffee to the usual place on his desk with her blue-manicured fingernails.

”Please no rumours now, Frau Wolf“, Carl coughed, ”I need all my faculties, otherwise there might be a catastrophe happening today with Osterkörnchen…“
He blew his nose.

”But it might be important?“ she tentatively tried again.

”No – please, Frau Wolf, don’t. I will just finish this cup of coffee and then I will be on my way“…

”What a pity“, said Frau Wolf and shrank away. The marine-blue suit looked excellent on her.

Dr. Osterkorn, one head taller than Carl, sun-tanned and full of vigour, greeted him with his usual routine friendliness. Without really being interested, he also asked after his health. When Carl started coughing and blowing his nose, he laughed, remarking that it seemed to be a fortunate coincidence that he was now – as Carl was apparently not absolutely fit –  in a position to offer him powerful support. In the past, he, Osterkorn, had never been able to contribute towards lightening Carl’s load, since he himself had always had too much work.

Starting next month, Frau Miriam Braun would be in charge of the entire marketing for the sector ‚hosiery and knitted articles’. Regardless of her youth, Frau Miriam Braun, was an excellent employee. She had the reputation of not only being attractive, but also extremely assertive! And he, Osterkorn, was truly proud to have discovered and lured her away when she worked for the competition.

Now was the time for him to drink a toast on this successful coup with Carl S., some other colleagues and Frau Braun. His entire face was full of joy and he asked his secretary to prepare all that was necessary. And when he added that he was sure Carl was very proud to have such an attractive boss, Carl tried a friendly smile. But then he was glad to be able to hide behind a fit of coughing.

When Carl had digested the initial waves of this shock and talked everything over with Frau Wolf, she advised him to go home early and immerse in a bath tub full of hot water. That is exactly what he did.

But then he was quite surprised to see that at home everything was dark.

Even the Christmas illumination was turned off …

And – there was a letter on the dinner table!

From Gerlinde!

Formless!

Just a few lines on the rear side of a bio frost order. She asked Carl not to be angry, but certainly he, too must have noticed how the distance had grown between them during the last few moths. For her, wrote Gerlinde, this got more and more insufferable. And she was sure the same was true for him. And so she had, with a heavy heart, decided to put an end to it and take a time-out. But since she did not have the courage and strength to talk it all over with him, she had simply packed her suitcases today! To be sure, this was not a stroke of genius, and she wished to apologized, but talking, talking, talking … would not have been a solution, either!

Please do not look for me, Carl! If I ever come back, then I want it to have been my own desire and not because someone asked me to. With gratitude, Gerlinde.

Carl blew his nose – and then had a long fit of coughing …

KH
(Translated by EG)

PS: Oh-oh, how will all this end?

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