Rupprecht Mayer

Three Stories

In the for­est of the rub­ber trees

After three years he was once again look­ing for a per­son he could be nice to. He would, so he imag­ined, stand behind her at the edge of a pool, clasp her tight­ly, and while they fell twist around so that his own back would touch the water first, there­by spar­ing her the pain of impact. Underwater, he would push off pow­er­ful­ly from the bot­tom of the pool to lift the person’s head — per­haps she can’t even swim — above the sur­face of the water, there­by sav­ing her life. Afterward, he would stand before her with a smile, slow­ly extend his arms, and place them on her shoul­ders, while whis­per­ing words of admi­ra­tion about the shape of her ears. Perhaps he would even step clos­er to the per­son, and place his left fore­arm hor­i­zon­tal­ly across the line that leads via the col­lar­bone from one shoul­der to the oth­er, and then soft­ly blow a strand of hair from off her fore­head, but not with­out first hav­ing fresh­ened his breath with mouth­wash. Finally, he would take the per­son by the wrist and lead her at night into a for­est of rub­ber trees. The smooth heavy leaves would gen­tly beat against their faces and breasts, but no dan­ger would emanate from the tips of dead spruce branch­es, as so often hap­pens on such excur­sions.

Translated by Kenneth Kronenberg

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Kundel’s flight from B.

In B., after only three days, Kundel, embarked upon a larg­er tour, opt­ed to depart.

The emp­ty frames fill­ing the muse­ums of B. dis­turbed none of the few, chance vis­i­tors. Those who came alone set­tled curi­ous looks of long­ing upon those who came with oth­ers. Couples, by con­trast, were only inter­est­ed in one anoth­er. They clutched hands so tight­ly that a painful jerk was required to dis­en­tan­gle their fin­gers in order to briefly part (e.g., to dis­ap­pear inside the WC).

At B.‘s rare opera per­for­mances hard­ly any­one watched from the mez­za­nine seats. Crowded were the bal­cony booths peer­ing over the stage, for they offered the most unob­struct­ed views of diva cleav­ages. The first inter­mis­sion nor­mal­ly emp­tied the house.

Kundel loved mush­rooms. The promi­nent mush­room sculp­tures adorn­ing so many of B.‘s pub­lic squares strong­ly whet­ted his mush­room appetite. Alas, he was forced to dis­cov­er that the peo­ple of B. took no culi­nary plea­sure in the mush­room, that such dish­es were entire­ly unknown. Perhaps the fun­gus is sacred to these peo­ple, Kundel thought.

Whatever the case, B.‘s food cul­ture was far from Five Star. Nearly every­where food out­lets sold the iden­ti­cal processed fare pack­aged in paper sleeves. Easy acqui­si­tion plus quick table turnover told the tale of local din­ing.

However, the cus­tom that most irri­tat­ed Kundel was how, on B.‘s streets, men and women eyed each oth­er from top to bot­tom. Emphasis on the bot­tom.

Kundel had been warned not to set foot inside the pub­lic baths.

Togetherness Time was prized in B. as life’s ulti­mate good, yet shared leisure pur­suits failed to cling cash reg­is­ters with any asso­ci­at­ed con­sump­tion. Still, thanks to the abun­dance of nat­ur­al resources, the local work­day was suc­cess­ful­ly reduced to four hours. Then again, also before hours were short­ened, office staff rarely returned from lunch.

But it was what Kundel learned down the road that told him his deci­sion to depart was cor­rect: the moment they arrived back home, the peo­ple of B. tore off their clothes and as cou­ples – usu­al­ly in the het­ero sense – climbed naked into bed to behave like Greco-Roman wrestlers.

Translated by Eldon (Craig) Reishus

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The can­di­date

A. and B. inter­view C. In a large, dim room the first two stand across from the third. No micro­phones, no writ­ing pads, every­one in white shirts, arms dan­gling.

B. begins things by ask­ing, »What hap­pens on Sunday?«

»The elec­tion,« C. says. »On Sunday I’m up for elec­tion.«

A. asks, »Up for elec­tion?«

»Yes, if peo­ple like me, they’ll give me their X.«

B. asks, »And if they don’t?«

A. asks, »And if they give their X to some­one else?«

C. is silent for a long while. He pinch­es back the tears.

Translated by Eldon (Craig) Reishus

~

Rupprecht Mayer was born near Salzburg. After some 20 years liv­ing and work­ing in Taiwan, Beijing, and Shanghai, he recent­ly reset­tled in SE Bavaria. He trans­lates Chinese lit­er­a­ture and writes short prose. English ver­sions appeared in AGNI Online, Atticus, Bicycle Review, Blue Fifth Review, Connotation Press, Frostwriting, Gravel, Hobart, Mikrokosmos/Mojo, NAP, Nano Fiction, Ninth Letter, Postcard Shorts, Prick of the Spindle, Radius, Sou’wester, Stymie Magazine, The Newer York, Toasted Cheese, Watershed Review, Word Riot and Washington Square.