I pushed the door open to leave, it was very stiff, I had to go. A woman came towards me, she wanted to enter the shop. I pushed the door to, behind me; I did not want her to go in.
“That was not very nice, you could have held the door open for me, it’s very stiff. You look like a strong young man, why didn’t you…”
“Yes, yes, very rude of me, I have to admit it. But I had good reason to let the door shut, I did not want you to go into that book shop. The books, you know, are…”
“What yer talking about?” She was angry.
“Let me explain. Somebody told me the shop was good for cheap books, mostly books that had been remaindered, sold cheaply because they had not sold well. But the books are bad – the books should be pulped together with the shop.”
“I’ll tell you about the first three books I picked up. First was “The Young Girl’s Guide to Disgusting Sex”, the second “The Schoolgirl’s Guide to More Disgusting Sex”, the third contained short stories with a title I can’t remember. This I opened at random and read something, I think it was story number 13 and called Levitations:
If the spot is white on the skin of his body, and it appears to be no deeper than the skin, and the hair is not white, then George shall isolate the person who has the mark for seven days. Then George shall examine him on the seventh day, and if the mark is still visible, and the mark has not spread into the skin, then George shall isolate him for seven days more. And George shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the mark has faded and not spread into the skin, then George shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab, and he shall wash his clothes and be clean.
“Do you see what I mean, the books are awful, I wanted to save your time.”
She laughed. “I just wanted to provoke a reaction from you, Jänner. And that I did. I believe you about the books, I’m not really annoyed with you at all. There’s a wonderful park on the other side of the road and you have nothing better to do, me neither. So let’s go for a walk in the park.”
The road was busy, but there was a traffic island in the middle of the road and suddenly we were in the park, the middle of which was green with a football pitch and a running track and probably a cricket square – typical for this country. But we took a path in the other direction into the woods.
“So how do you know my name? And why have I nothing better to do?”
“Friday and me decided to call you Jänner weeks ago, you have two faces, one looking backwards into the past and one looking forward into the future. You entered the country about a week ago, you have no fixed placed of abode, you bought an old car and you sleep in it.”
“There is no point asking you questions, you know all the answers, you know all about me.”
“You’re learning fast. Just close your eyes for ten seconds and we’ll walk around the corner, around this huge tree trunk.”
“Surprise, surprise, everything is different. The builders of this park must have a lot of fun with this park, maybe they never saw the park like it is now, all the trees must have been young and small then.”
“Oh, I dunno, Count Pückler designed and used machines for transplanting big trees in the nineteenth century.”
There was a surprise around every corner. “That’s your car isn’t it? Let’s drive home.”
Ten minutes later found us in a very pleasant apartment on the edge of town. The front door burst open and in came a young woman. “I’ve finished work and I’ve been shopping, something good for tonight. Hello Jänner! Hello Saturday!”
“You must be Friday!”
“Who else would I be?”