A week later, Thomas and Hardy met in front of the Simpl. It looked ordinary. They went up the steps to the entrance. No sound could be heard from inside. Thomas pushed the handle down and opened the door. Hardy followed. they listened. Nobody spoke, laughed or sang, no music, just dead silence. The lights were also off. Hardy looked questioningly at Thomas. They entered the large taproom. If the void was followed by a vacuum, then so it was here.
Thomas joked, "Anyone home?"
In fact, nobody answered. There was a visible layer of dust on the floor and furniture. Cobwebs held him together. Everything had used the appearance of 10 years ago and suddenly left: half-full schnapps bottles, glasses and CDs on the shelves, crates of drinks under the counter, a stack of beer mats on top; the guests probably went out in one evening and neither they nor the landlord ever came back.
Astonishment was followed by curiosity: what had happened? To get to the bottom of it, Hardy pulled up two stools next to each other and gave the counter a quick wipe while Thomas dusted off two glasses and a bottle of Dimple. Hardy turned on the lights, they worked. Thomas let his eyes wander around the room, he saw the music box in the corner, covered with a tarpaulin. He pulled down the tarpaulin.
"Come on," he called to Hardy.
They both stood in front of it, amazed, because it was switched on. A single was still spinning on the platter, the tonearm hadn't managed to return from the end to the starting position for 10 years. Hardy crossed his arms. Thomas gave the box a nudge, that's what you do when a record is stuck. Then they studied the titles. A-380: Andrea Jürgens, I love you both. B-9: I'll show you my paradise. C-14: Tina is gone.
"Looks like," said Hardy, "as if my father had equipped it, he was a representative at Ariola and a self-confessed Andrea Jürgens fan. Andrea had a penchant for the occult, he was also told that Jack White had been influenced by her when writing the lyrics. She wrote satanic verses, which inspired Jack to write the titles. While Andrea lamented about Jesus and Satan, Jack wrote I love you both. And I'll show you my paradise was preceded by comments like that's Satan's enticement to young girls.”
"And why is Tina gone?" Thomas asked.
"It was probably dismembered by the devil as a blood sacrifice."
It all seemed logical. Logic is just a human construct and not a law of nature. The two sat down at the counter, toasted the empty room and drank Dimple.
"It must have been like that," Thomas said and tried to see his face in the mirror opposite, but without a chance, the mirror or the dirt on it absorbed all the light.
For about two drinks, the two sat without a word, looking around, thinking their part, constructing new parts, and plowing the memories.
"Self-service," said Thomas.
In the absence of an innkeeper, it needs momentum of its own, he went to the alcoholic shelf, let his eyes wander and grabbed a bottle of absinthe. He blew on it. Among the CDs he found Miles Davis. The CD recorder also worked.
"Let's go to the table," Hardy said, meaning the one to the right of the dance floor. This used to be the table of his special fan group, consisting of three people.
Finally the situation gave the necessary impetus as the empty bar was filled with imagination: Hardy and Thomas heard themselves play, the background noise of imaginary guests, familiar voices or a feedback.
"I've got something in my urine," Hardy said, walking to the bathroom.
"The main thing is that it's not a kidney stone."
The hallway there was unlit. He turned on the light. Head still full of shards of thought, he stumbled to the right, and because there was an alcove behind a curtain he stumbled in. He saw the outline of a lying figure. That something, too, was covered in dust. Hardy's eyes had to adjust to the darkness. He rushed the process and pulled back the curtain. What have we got here, he thought, that must be a corpse. By definition, a corpse is dead. Still, he knelt down, searching first for the head, then for the feet, and from there, groping for the hands. Hardy checked for a pulse. Without success. He called Thomas. He took a close look and said: "If this is a crime scene, he no longer communicates."
They found a brush and swept the body free. When they had dusted off the face, the astonishment was great.
"Looks like T-Base," Hardy said.
"Hm, the guy just hasn't gotten any older, look, he looks like he did 10 years ago."
"In fact," Hardy teased, "if we were on tour today, he'd have the best women."
"We'll probably have to bury him, but not now, he's not running away from us."
As he turned to leave, Hardy held himback: "His right leg twitched."
"Yes indeed."
Hardy touched T-Base's right leg with his shoe. Light, somewhat firm, gentle kick against the lower legs, and the leg twitched again. A chemical-electrical reaction was unlikely, more like a strained tendon that finally discharged after 10 years. Fascinated, they looked at the corpse. Then the transformation began, T-Base opened his eyes, blinked, raised his hands and rubbed the remaining dust from his face. Now he looked at Thomas and Hardy. Without batting an eyelid he said: "I know where I am, don't ask me."
You knew each other, what was there to ask? Have you risen from the dead? Did he just sleep too long?
T-Base tapped his suit. He turned his head several times, alternately raised his right and left shoulder, stretched his body and murmured: "I need to drink something, my throat is dry as a bone."
Of course they returned to the table. Thomas got two more bottles from the shelf and rinsed a glass. Glasses and words clicked together. Laughter interrupted what was being said. Women crossed their stories, their characters dissected, like one of Hardy's little side acquaintances, a certain Dobi, who had to powder herself all the way before she could be powdered. T-Base refilled the glasses and looked at Hardy, "Dobi, is that the nickname for Doberman?"
"No," Hardy replied, "that's the way it is, her father was born in Dortmund, a real bred, and the mother came from Bielefeld, and when the baby came and they still didn't know what it should be called, they just added the first syllables together."
“Haha”, laughed Thomas, “imagine your parents came from Hagen-Wehringhausen and Hagen-Haspe? Then they would have been called Wasp.”
"He talks like a god who has become wise," Hardy said scornfully.
Almost seamlessly they slipped into a musical shop talk, and if there were guitars standing around here, they would have been connected and played long ago. Finally the band was complete again.
T-Base found a deck of cards. He examined the backs of the cards, looking for suspicious patterns. Only then did he shuffle them and ask, "What are we playing about?"
"Around the lid," Hardy replied.
Poker and skat were up for grabs, possibly Mau-Mau or Schwarzer Peter. He immediately gave them out in such a way that you had to play skat, because a stick has no place in poker. T-Base liked to play alone, i.e. without a partner, he didn't have to pay attention to the other player's cards like a fellow player had to do, he knew immediately what the others had when he looked at his hand. It was difficult to win a grand without jacks. That's why he lost the first game. Thomas liked to stonewall - to then achieve a march through with force.
Hardy's comment: "Masons and roofers are heavenly beings."
Alcohol, games and music warmed spirits. T-Base had to pee.
"Come back," Thomas called after him, and to Hardy, "Remember?"
"I know some things, but I don't know what you mean."
Thomas didn't know it himself, because on the one hand he meant the appearance of T-Base, on the other hand the old time 10 years ago.
As unexpectedly when one thinks the unexpected already behind oneself, Mary-Jane entered the scene. She was tripping, or otherwise high, and was holding a plastic bag from which she pulled a bottle.
"There you are again, where were you?"
T-Base smiled. "We've never been away, sit down."
Before she did, she found a CD behind the counter, put it in the player and cranked it up. When the first notes rang out, Thomas drummed his fingers, Hardy tapped his feet and T-Base played air guitar. At some point they probably recorded a Cheapoes gig and burned a CD. Mary-Jane pulled the cork out of the bottle, poured two fingers into the glass and asked, "Anyone else?"
The bottle was clear, and it was easy to see the contours of a Japanese pygmy octopus, dead or drunk.
"We don't drink formaldehyde," Thomas protested.
"Oh wow, that's a mind-expanding drink made by an African shaman, it'll make your toenails and souls supple."
This statement created trust, everyone tried. But before consciousness the bloodstreams dilated, the beat was in the air, and then the cards stayed on the table, because Mary-Jane felt like dancing. In addition to the portion of alcohol, Thomas also had dance in his blood, highly decorated by two dance schools up to gold status. Even after the first steps they were enveloped in a cloud of dust, but the aura was not only made of material dust, but rather of dark energy that had settled like a bell around time, space and memory. Thomas whirled Mary-Jane across the floor.
"He's in his element," Hardy told T-Base.
"Seems so."
“Shall we knobel?”
"Yeah, but the Cold Strike: three dice, one roll, highest number wins," T-Base replied and started right away.
Three sixes, more than a draw was not possible for Hardy. Second throw T-Base. Three sixes. Hardy wasn't surprised at all, he also smiled on the third six and threw three ones. Mary-Jane, blushing prettily, and Thomas returned to the table. They each drank a thimble of African soul liquor and washed it down with whiskey. T-Base started the next throw. He himself now believed that there would be sixes again. It was true.
"The next dance belongs to the winner," said Mary-Jane coquettishly.
T-Base was already the winner, but with a certain hubris he filled the cup again, held it up imploringly, let the dice clack in time to the music for a few seconds, and threw it to the table. But he didn't answer. Hardy did so after T-Base got up and led Mary-Jane to the dance.
"He can only throw sixes," he said.
In the meantime, all the alcohol consumed had found its way into people's brains, they continued to help themselves from the shelves and put the Cheapoes CD on repeat. Drinks and dancing followed. It was going well until my feet got heavier and heavier. Then you became sedentary.
"Do you see blue circles too?" asked Mary-Jane.
The others agreed.
"So we're definitely on a trip."
She tried to get the octopus out of the bottle with a wooden stick, but eventually it somehow got in. Of course it wasn't a mess or a massacre because the bottle was empty and Mary-Jane was high.
"There's bad karma here," she said, leaving it open whether the bottle or the simpl was meant. "Anyone who raises dust will choke in it," she added, laughing. The laugh sounded simple. T-Base laughed along.
The cover bill had yet to be played out, although neither intended to actually pay it. Whom too. The knob cup stood there. Thomas advanced, Hardy followed, and T-Base threw three sixes. Half a dozen throws later, Thomas called out: "The dog shits on the lighter, are the dice jinxed? It must be the shaman's liquor, isn't it, Mary?”
He looked her way, but her chair was empty.
"Where has she gone? Did you see a puff of smoke?”
"Sure on the loo, refill," Hardy said.
Because of the events so far, and those that may be yet to come, they decided to let things unchangeably take their course. It must have been dark outside by now, or already light again. The hands of the Barcadi wall clock said 11:30, and hadn't moved since. Maybe it is, and at exactly 12 hours? Also how often Jack the reefer already ran in a repeat loop, no one could say. Each occupied with their own thoughts, they spent a second looking at each other, climbing peaks, diving in the sea, making up stories and filling their glasses. Hardy mumbled a few words to create a philosophical sentence. T-Base took the dice cup and rolled the dice without ambition. Almost bored, he registered the sixes. As if the dice had no other numbers. He thought of his old Hofner bass, which had sounded strange depending on the time of year. The seller had told him it was Paul McCartney's bass guitar and had sat in a damp basement for decades.
Thomas braced himself on the table and watched a neutrino slide through all the matter. He followed the particle to the next bend in the earth, around the world and off into space. Thomas managed the Cheapoes. O.K., he managed the performances every month at the Simpl. OK, he called Hardy and T-Base and reminded them to be on time. T-Base took care of rehearsals, he had the keys to the rehearsal room. Hardy paid the rent, got 2/3 of the two back. Roughly in this order ran the activities of the synapses of their brains, somewhat faded, mainly glorified, but quite ambitious. And the Cheapoes were already planning their next gig, at least mentally, not knowing what tomorrow would bring. There were women, children, life partners, dogs and budgerigars who wanted to be taken care of. Einstein would object if they turned back time, they would have to turn back women, children and dogs too.
The cheapoes sat at the table. The outsider would say they were half-drunk fully drunk, but no one was outside and no one else was in. Unless Mary-Jane had crouched in the alcove to dematerialize. Suddenly the jukebox started to work independently. A single was guided from the shaft and placed on the plate, the playback arm pushed to the beginning. It crackled. It's nice to be in the world.
"Heintje was my grandmother's nightmare," said T-Base, laying the shaman's bottle flat and spinning it. He already turned it so that the neck always pointed to one of the others. Then he pointed the bottleneck at himself and said: "My destiny is the toilet, that's where I have to go."
His departure was not very theatrical, but he did not come back. When Thomas and Hardy found their bearings in the moment, they got up, implored themselves to support themselves in case of danger, and went to the toilet. The men's room was empty. The shit cabin too. They huddled together, alternately looking at the ceiling to see a hole and at the floor. It was only at the end that they lifted the toilet lid and inspected the obvious hole that might have caused it to disappear in the first place.
Hardy shook his head: "T-Base will never fit through."
"If he has changed his state of aggregation?"
There were still a few wine-whiskey-liqueur bottles half and quarter full, before bankruptcy an innkeeper usually invites his regular customers to drink leftovers. The innkeeper at the Simpl must have missed it. Thomas and Hardy slowly returned to their own world, to the table, each to their own anyway, but to the common reality. They talked about how to organize the next gig on Wednesday.
"It's business as usual," Hardy said.
Thomas doubted: "If, like today, no guests come?"
"We didn't play today either."
Knee-deep in the swamp of subjectivity, afflicted by African spirits, Thomas and Hardy eventually gained the overview.
"Remember," Thomas asked, "when the landlord said we should pack it? Hm? Can we pack it?“
"Yes, let's do it."
Thank God the bright morning sun didn't shine in their faces, they knew it was morning, but the sky only had clouds to offer. When they left the Simpl, Thomas put on his sunglasses: "I'd say until Wednesday."
He turned right.
"See you then," Hardy called, veering left.

written by H. Malorny