Berlin Pastoral

This is the story of Uschi, Susi and Tom who live peacefully on a balcony in Berlin. When a baby comes along, their idyllic relationship in a very small space is threatened but using cunning and creativity, they make do. First published by Fatboy Review now re-issued for this mobile format. I'm working on a German translation to be published here, too. This story will only be online for a while as a teaser for the publication of my collection of short stories by MadHat Press |


8. The Dead Man


One day, Uschi, giving milk to the baby, looks down and sees a man lying next to a large chestnut tree. She wakes Tom, who wakes Susi, who goes downstairs to check it out. The balcony is in the 2nd floor so that they can hear Susi without her having to shout.

It's still early, not many people on the street. "He's dead," says Susi. As an ex-assassin, she'd know. Tom notices that Susi put on her jeans but forgot to wear anything on top. A man walks by and stares at Susi's breasts. Susi covers herself with one arm and gives him the finger. The man walks away, fast.

Susi says Tom should throw her down a tee-shirt. When Tom wants to know which one, she says he should stop being such a girl and tells him to tell Uschi to throw down a tee-shirt, any tee-shirt. Tom's upset now. The tee-shirts are all different, no poem is like any other, and he feels that Susi is not appreciating his art. “Life’s not all about your tits, you know," he says, knowing that this doesn't make a lot of sense, but he's angry.

An ambulance appears and a police car follows behind. A tall officer with thick blond hair and a big smile gets out and Tom notices how Susi's seems to lean into the man when she talks. Tom laughs and when Uschi asks why he's laughing, Tom says that he wonders what the guy would say if he knew that Susi was really dangerous.

Then he sees the officer look up to them and waves. The officer stiffens. Susi looks up too, she seems disappointed. "He's giving her grief," says Tom.

Downstairs, the officer says that these people - he means the homeless - die easily. Susi says that she doesn't think so. She calls them Clochards, and she has to explain what that means.

"Interesting," says the policeman, but it is obvious that he thinks she's weird, though he has thought about asking her out. Susi's breasts are beautiful and at this hour of the day, she seems sleepy and cuddly both.

"Your husband up there?" the officer asks.

"No, not at all," says Susi, "just someone I live with." Then she returns to the dead man. "I wonder what he died of," she says.

The officer snorts. "Living outside all the time is hard on the body," he says.

"We live outside, too," says Susi, "it's okay as long as you enjoy board games."

The policeman looks at her as if she was crazy. He gets officious.

"You should go back inside now," he says.

"Don't tell me what I should or shouldn't do, mister" says Susi. She's awake now and can see past his uniform and his white teeth. Meeting over a dead man's body isn't all that it's cracked up to be, she tells her friends later.

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