People, ideas, hardware – in that order. Benjamin Wittorf

The Menu

The menu

A rush of a short story, 2005.

There I sit on this white plastic chair in front of this white plastic table; this blue plastic tablecloth, lightly rubberized to repel the rain, lies on this table, and on the other side a friend sits in her turn on a white plastic chair. We sit there and talk, we sit there to keep each other company, to equally enjoy a meal or to hide behind when we have nothing to say to each other after all this long time, we sit there and smile sheepishly. Then we talk, wondering about the red band that appears in the wall from the moderately placed stone buckets to the right of me, wondering if this is the father of the girl and his ex-wife, at this also lovelessly designed table to my left; we wonder how the couple behind me is perceptible, without paying attention to them, in their choice of words, in the topics, we compare, and wonder all the more that the woman, sitting half a floor below us, sounds so above it all, we continue to look around, pondering the relationship between the young people there and the graying woman, probably the grandmother of one of the young people, who attends this restrained ritual of eating. We sit there and breathe in and out, crossing our eyes and pausing briefly, sitting there, I look at her and turn away and watch her out of the corner of my eye and I know that she does the same, we both assess; we sit there and assess what is around us so that we do not do it of each other, we look away and look at others, we are together in being lonely when we assess others.

The waiter comes, greets us, and puts a white paper tablecloth over the blue one, he spreads it out and pulls it right; I take a closer look at him and categorize him for me as probably the most Spanish-looking Greek I have seen so far; he pulls at the white paper tablecloth, tugs it to size, hands us the cards and asks us for our drink request; I sit there and compare, although it is not to compare, and she sits there and looks at me questioningly when the waiter inquires if we have a drink request yet. This closeness, there she sits, and I sit too, we sit opposite each other, on our white plastic chairs, and everything seems to be beside itself. To the waiter I express my drink request, a wine, and she agrees and adds a bottle of water, latched into the habit as it is still there, and she takes it for granted. Faster than I think I ask if we would like to share a two-person platter, faster than she thinks she agrees, she agrees and chooses what I like. I look around, and she looks around, I wonder if we are trying to make each other jealous, I wonder what she is thinking; I don’t know what she is thinking, if only I knew what she was thinking, sitting there, still looking in love, sitting there looking at others, looking through me. There she sits, the enigma that I could not solve and therefore separated myself from it; there she sits, unresolved and full of questions, in every facet of a fascination, the feeling of well-being, that’s how she sits there. Slipped away like the realization, the warmth runs through my belly and I flee. The object in the room, all black, and she is the signal, the siren whose lure I could not resist, and now that I have eluded, she reaches for me more than ever; I only understand in what perfection she was there only for me, and how she slipped away from me, how I still held her, embraced her and kissed her, how I kissed and caressed her, how I caressed her and exchanged the highest form of love with her, how I became part of her, how one and one only resulted in one, how we were one. She sits there now, as a part of me that has left me, so I sit there now, like a part that has been rejected, and I sit there, and she sits there, and her shy smile tears me down. I have to hide, have to escape, how could this happen; how could this happen that I will never have her again, sitting there now, slipping away from me completely.

The food comes, the moment to cling, to hide, I deal with the food, I don’t have to do it with her; I eat, I satisfy another primary need, and I sit there, and she is – perfect. I look at my food, how it lies thrown together there on a plate in front of me, how it lies there, disjointed, dissected, but inviting to become a composition, a successful composition, a composition as I like it, and I sit there and want to compose, and I sit there, in the black space in which I pulsate, because I have approached the white light cuboid again, how she sits there, and is no longer mine. No longer mine, as she sits there, and I want her, this perfect woman, I want her again, as I sit here, slipping away into the thought space, my heart pulsing, wanting to swallow the light so that it shines only for me; I see the plate in front of me, this perfect flesh, which is just not composed, and I sit there, and I start to grin, and then I smile, and look into her eyes, slip off into her universe, slip off into this universe of desire, warmth, longing, tenderness, but am repelled, and she is so perfect, how can she be so perfect! I look around me.

The young woman there in front of me, I look past perfection, I look at the young woman, and try to find things, I try to find something else, I want to find something else, want to find it, what is like her; I look, I look at what is like her, but I only find the skin there, I look at the young woman’s open back and see her skin, see her flawless skin; i look at her again, sitting there on her white plastic chair in front of this plastic table, with her even skin, the membrane of a primal feeling, her skin, and i look at the plate, i see the animal that once lived, i look at the animal; i look at the animal and see the skin that used to be around the meat, the meat as it lies before me, and how i can compose it; I want to compose, I look at the skin of the young woman, I take a piece of meat and I pierce it with the knife, I look briefly at the young woman and I see her there on a table, how I pierce into her; I see how I pierce into her, and slowly I unravel, I see how I pierce into her with the knife and I make a long cut; I cut long, and I separate her skin, I release her perfect skin, separate her from her flaws, the perfection that skin has, yes, it equals my counterpart; I have the skin, I pull it off, reach underneath, feel it slowly give as I separate it from the flesh; I cut a piece of flesh and eat it, from my plate. I look at it again, as it begins to shine and gives a part of itself back to me; it gives a part back to me and gives me a little satisfaction, it gives me a part of itself, I can’t have it, but I can have it with me!

And I look around as I devour the flesh, I look around; there sits this girl, sitting there like that, bolt upright; I see her sitting there, with her slight hollow back, her flat stomach, firm chest; I see this body, this balanced flesh, this flawless flesh, sitting there, awakening desire; this desire for this flesh, to mingle mine with hers, I sit there, and she sits there, and I want her flesh, I want to feel it! My flesh, and then, as God’s grace sits before me, removed and held back, I see her, the image of creation, and I turn away, and I break her neck because I don’t care about her, and I remove what bothers me, what I don’t care about, and I cut off a piece of flesh and chew on it, gnawing lightly on the fibers, pulling it off, and I taste the flesh passing into me; the flesh passes over, and I look at this young girl, I just want the flesh; and I want her flesh and I cut off her head, with a knife, I stab her in the neck and in the carotid arteries; I stab her in the carotid arteries because I want to free her from the blood, I want her to hang out, I just want the flesh, and then I cut off the head, and I cut off the skin, and then I have her flesh. I look at my plate, I look at my plate and I take side dishes, I compose more, I enhance, I see the meat with the side dishes; the side dishes enhance it, and I see how I put the skin from the young woman over the meat, how I sew it down, with stitch after stitch, how I let it slowly become one again, and I sew the skin back on, and I admire my composition that I have created, how it takes on perfection; the perfection towards me shines and shines, it shines; it shines and gives me a part of it and a part of me, it rewards me for striving for it, I sewed the skin on, and I am Prometheus of my love, I create in the image, as I tightened the skin, it nestles around the flesh.

My menu is incomplete, and I drink wine, sip it, red, wine, and the meat! I stand in this dark room, the pulsating cuboid slowly becomes red and fiery, it is hot and I want to burn myself on it, this cuboid, this lust, this irrepressible lust to become one with it, I want to become part of it, want to dissolve in it in ecstasy, carnal lust, want to become part of the flesh.

The siren, I look ahead and I listen, I see myself going, and I go to the siren, and I long for vegetables, the part of the taste; the vegetables, and I cut off her head, and I put it with my meat, and I take the vegetables and put them with my meat, I put them with it, I compose, and it is almost complete, and I take this head that speaks to me, that speaks over everything, as it sounds over everything, and displaces all voices; this head, it speaks only to me, and only I can perceive it, only I understand what is said to me, I sit there, and I cut off some flesh, and I chew on it, I sit there, and the siren is connected, and I connect, I see the head, and I see it before me, and I see it before me; she’s so perfect, and nobody’s allowed to have her, not even me, but I have to do her justice, I have to do everything so that I create something perfect that does her justice, and I want to become one, just one, a whole, I want to come up, be part of it, I want to be fulfilled, I want to be part of it, starting from the bottom, like I’m starting to be part of her, part of the perfect, and I reach for the skin, that lies there so immaculate, and I drink wine, this wine, and I want to be the heartbeat, the heart, I have to become the heart, and I take this body and I drill into the chest, I want the heart because I want to be it, the giver, I want to be part, I want to rise, and I take the body, and I will love it as one can love something in its highest form, and I take the body and love it; I chew on my flesh, it becomes part of me; the flesh becomes part of me, and I love the body, and become part of the body. Flesh, this desire, I see it in front of me, I see it on the plate, and I want to become part of it, she smiles at me shyly, but I can be with her, I have to be with her, I have to be in her, just me, this perfection, and I take the skin, and slip it over me, i want to be under her, to be in her, and i take the skin and put it over mine, and i am under the skin, i am in her, but not part of her, and then i take the meat, and cut into it and eat it, i eat the meat, become part of it, it becomes part of me; the head I put before me and speak to the head, and the head answers me, it answers and speaks to me, says how I become part, how I belong to her, and how she belongs to me.

I have done it, and I have let the flesh become part of me, it is part, and I must become part, so I cut at myself, and I pierce into myself, and I cut off the skin, I pull it from my face so as not to be repulsive to her, and I pull it from my belly so that she can have the flesh of which she herself is a part, and she is to cut me up and put me before her, she is to make a composition of me; I want to become part of her, and she a part of me.

And I sit there and look at her, and feel love, I sit there, and we frolic, and I sit there, and evaluate with her, and I sit there, and will strive for her.

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