Paulus Hochgatterer, (b. 1961), lives as a writer and child therapist in Vienna. He has received various literary prizes and commendations, most recently the Elias Canetti Stipend of the town of Vienna, and is the author of several novels and story collections.
ranslated by Jamie Bulloch
I’m eating mashed potatoes with fried onion rings. Lore cooked it. It tastes alright, especially the onion rings. She’s still a Polish whore all the same. I’m drinking lukewarm peppermint tea. Gerstmann is going back and forth across the car park, clearing it with the snow plough. It’s pointless as it’s going to snow again tomorrow. Gerstmann does pointless work and we pay him for it. Sometimes he just takes one of the cars and goes for a spin. Then he comes up with some excuse such as the car’s got to have a run around. Dad says that Gerstmann is the most important man in the company after Reiter, head of sales. Because he knows everything that’s going on.
Daniel’s back. He’s lying down in his room, asleep. He never used to sleep so muck. He says he’s got to catch up. He says that after four shitty months of being deprived he really needs to catch up.
The dishwasher door is jammed. I leave the plate next to the dishwasher. Lore will clear it away. Daniel says that at home she prays to a picture of a saint who worked miracles, and then she does it with various men. Just like all those Polish whores. They’ve all got shocking hairstyles, too, mostly platinum blonde.
I help myself to a slice of Christmas stollen from the plate. It’s from the cake shop and a week old already. Mum says that there’s so much fat in it that it won’t go stale. It tastes like it, too. Maybe a touch of vanilla. The second slice tastes of almost nothing but fat. It’s a miracle that I’m not getting porkier. That’s what everyone says who’s seen me eat. Daniel says that people who are highly strung can eat what they like without getting fat. But that can’t be true, as our dad’s tummy hangs over his belt and they don’t come more highly strung than him.
The door to Daniel’s room is closed. I imagine him lying there on the bed, on his stomach, his right arm wrapped around his head. He said that sometime he’d tell me what happened inside.