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

They read my mails

They read my mails

A short story from the abysses, 2005.

As always, I see my reflection in the glass front in front of me and how I face myself as I stride further toward the door of the company I work for. My appearance blends with the company name written there in large silver letters, and slowly the world behind the facade emerges, with its dark gray slate floor, the seating area of black leather just inside the entrance in its angular shape, single cubic seats with a silly decoration of chrome steel. In the center of the room, tables standing alone will await me, tables with an office chair behind them, also black, and two, sometimes three equally black leather armchairs in front of them; tables made of smoked glass, heavy and supporting, an LC screen on top of them and dark office supplies next to them, an implied wall to the side, gray like the floor, shelves, and drawer containers with them, shiny black and decorated with chrome handles; desks that look so important, and yet randomly distributed and cloned across this open, high and wide space, at the end of which a white marble staircase leads up, next to it one of those glass elevators; and everything shines and looks like it’s never been used, and every day, week after week, no matter what the weather is like out here or how many people have already cavorting in this world behind the half mirrors.

Then I face myself as I often do, but before I reach the door handle with my hand, a colleague comes to meet me, opens the door for me and says “Had a good hunger? Your wife is here and seems to want to tell you something important, at least she has some letters with her. Well, another deal down the drain?”. I look past him and see her standing at my table, on my side, holding some letters in her hand. I pay no further attention to him, but thank him and go directly to her without paying much attention to the other colleagues present. My table is on the left side directly at the center of the room, too convenient to not be the center of attention in any topic, and so I walk to her quietly and deliberately so as not to attract unnecessary attention. As I approach her and my table, I see out of the corner of my eye how some of those present here nevertheless try to look unobtrusively in my direction. Arrived, I give her a kiss in greeting, noticing how she stands out in this room in her white costume.

“Hey, sweetie, what brings you here?”, I ask, trying to hide my rising excitement.

“You know, I just got back from town, saw the mail in our hallway, and it looked so important, so I’m here for a minute.”

Always her with the mail! Yet, she knows perfectly well that this has time to wait until I’m back home. This effort, why?

“That’s nice, but it could have waited, right?”, I say, trying to reassure her—but also myself.

“I don’t think so, you know, while you were just gone, and I was here waiting for you, I already opened it and…”

“You what?”, I interrupt her in a certain tone.

“Yes, but this is really important, look!” she replies in amazement, wanting to give me the letters.

“So? You know very well that I don’t like it when someone reads my mail!” I say, already visibly louder. What’s the point? My heart is pounding faster, my shirt collar seems to be getting too tight.

“I’m your wife! And before you get any more upset…”

“What, I’m not getting upset, why would you say that? What are you doing?” I counter in a visibly loud voice. A colleague stands up and turns in our direction. Excellent, now everyone’s going to hear it. Did you have to do that? I am furious. “That’s why you come here, open my mail, and accuse me here in front of all my colleagues?”

“What the hell! You’re out of your mind. I just came here and wanted to, oh, calm down now!” she guffaws at me in a raised voice. “Now read this, damn it!” she says in an energetic tone and wants to put the letters in my hand.

“I’m not even thinking about it!” I yell. The colleague who has just stood up comes in my direction. Great, that nosy asshole, is he going to make some hippie crack now too? I snort, but if that’s not enough, I notice everyone around me staring at me. “You, you, ah!” I stammer because I’m so pissed off and have such a rage. Furious, I leave to go outside and vent a bit-while I’m at it, I don’t mind bumping into the lowlife door opener from a moment ago. “Hey…” he tries to start, but I just turn around and hiss, “What’s up? Has someone overlooked you again?”.

In the fresh air outside, I collect myself a little again, but it only upsets me. Why is she doing this? What was that about? Is that so hard! My business. Why does she always have to be so nosy? Can’t I just have my quiet time, space for myself? I hate this world for that, for its eternal repetition, this put-on interest, every day, over and over again, this mendacity of wanting to help, and being nice, and then wanting to know everything, to gossip it on behind you, to make fun of you. This anger! Every day, every damn day I see these grimaces, and always everything is fine, everything is great, we love each other so much, stick our heads up each other’s asses, but woe betide you if you show any private weakness, and then my wife too, in front of all these idiots! Why doesn’t she just tell me how I like it in bed! What a fucking… I take a deep breath, trying to control myself. Tonight I’ll just numb myself with wine and pull her hard from behind for it and cum in her face.

Somewhat calmed, but with flaring nostrils, I go back inside, and just look at the floor, this uniform gray, feeling everyone looking at me. I don’t have to look up to know that, in the back on the right, that little pissant, in front of him the office bitch who would like to but no one lets, on the left, not far from my desk, that miserable emphatic wanker who sucks up to everyone and so tries to steal ideas together, all these assholes here as if they were better people. With their heads down? What do I do, show myself beaten or remorseful? I build myself up and look reproachful at my table—and can’t believe my eyes. There sits this nimrod, who was so curious just now, at my place, with my letters in his hand, and next to him my wife! What is this shit? All those people around the table? They are all looking at the letters, they are talking to each other, they are whispering! Why! Why! I knew it, they are all there to read my mail, they read my mail! Whispering they want, those sick idiots, making fun of me! I fucking know it, those eyes, the way they stand there and smirk, and look down, the way they disagree, turn on me, those! I hate them! I hate them, I’m so angry, I want to destroy something! Quickly I go over, to my table, to mine, I’ve earned to sit in the middle of the room, me alone, they should get out of there, why are they standing there, what are they doing! Why are they laughing! They are laughing at me!

“What the fuck are you doing here? Don’t you have anything better to do?” I yell at her. “Why you, huh, I thought you were on my side!”, I yell at my wife. “You little faggot motherfuckers, all of you, you’re fucking perverts, don’t you have lives of your own?”

“Look, we just wanted…” one of them says.

“You guys just wanted to what? Fuck me? You want to fuck me? I won’t let you little cocksuckers fuck me, get your own life if you don’t have one, but not my life, not my mail, not my life! Don’t! My! Life! And you? Why are you sitting in my chair? Huh?” I yell wildly. He stares at me with wide eyes.

“I, I wanted to… I, here…” he stammers to himself. Such a cowardly pig, could at least stand by it.

“What do you want, huh? What? Huh?” I interrupt him. This idiot, he deserves a lesson, he deserves one, one for everyone, I won’t let him do that to me, not to me, why does he do that too, it’s his own fault, it’s his fault, why does he do that! And I grab him by the back of the head, digging hard into his hair, with all my strength I hold it, he screams, and it spurs me on, it spurs me on and proves me right, yes, I knew it, I knew it, those lost assholes! “Here, you want the mail? Take a closer look at it!” I laugh, haha, yes, I laugh. Then I gather all my strength and thunder his head on the table with all my might, with all my strength, and I hear his nose break, and get momentum again and slam his head on the table, and finally blood flows, but only a few drops splash, again! Again I slam his head on the table, and leave him like that, full of self-satisfaction, and I laugh, and say “He didn’t deserve it any other way! You all had it coming!” and I laugh, feeling invincible, so invincible, as I look into their incredulous faces. There they stand, yes, there they stand, and now they know that I won’t let them do that to me anymore, won’t let them look into my life, be there for them to make fun of me.

“What did you do there? What did you do!” my wife cries. “What have you done, why? What did he do to you, he just wanted to…” she cries to herself and breaks down. One of the surrounding flat fuckers comes running around the table looking at this loser lying there in his own pool of blood on my table.

“I think that’s enough,” says a voice.

Who is that? I turn toward him.

“That’s enough, you’ve already broken enough. Calm down and try to understand what you just did.” I continue to hear him say, in a sober, analyzing, cold voice. This must be one of our customers, and I pause. I pause and look around.

I look around… They are looking at me, but there is not at all this gloating that I had seen, they are not laughing at me at all. There they stand, frightened, but the mood that gave way was a different one, a friendly one. But why? Why…

“They’ve calmed down a bit, good, and I can tell they realize what they just did. Come on, I think you should come with me and be observed for the night.”

Crazy? Me? To a padded cell? I’m not crazy, am I?

“You’re not crazy, it’s for your own good. Believe me.” he says, suddenly calm.

“I’m not crazy, you’re right! I’m not going to the nuthouse, let me have a moment… Let me just…” I talk more to myself than I answer him. What have I done there! What! My knees go weak, and it all comes crashing down on me, my strength fades and my eyes go black, I fall backwards against the table. “Fresh air!”, I groan and stagger outside.

Outside again, I gasp for air. What have I done? What, what, what only? My strength is fading. He’s right, he’s so right. But I’m not crazy, am I? I’m not crazy! “I’m not crazy…”, I mutter to myself while I wait for him to take me.

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