Hedgehogs in the Fog, Part XI

This story was published as a part of the Only fools die of heartbreak collection by Equus Press.

Have mercy – please, please, have mercy. Be careful, baby, the bastards are cruel – they are shockingly vicious.

The other night, I am at work as usual at 2:30 a.m. when the old German hand Heimer phones. Heimer says he was beaten and robbed by a thug after exiting the Metro, and tells me to leave a message for the bosses he will not be in the next day. Heimer is old and bigger than fat, with elegant grey werewolf mustaches, who limps along with a cane in one hand and a black briefcase in the other. As Heimer told it: The lousy crook jumped him from behind in the darkness near where he lives out in Prague 8, hacking and trying to wrench away the black case.

The German battleship collapsed to the black slush-covered ground, all the while declining to surrender the case. The thug savagely fist-whipped his face, then began to strangle the German tankboat, knees on his chest and arms. The briefcase was eventually wrenched away.

The old Munich hand lays defeated, the pervitin-maddened thug running off to savor his briefcase booty of Kraut newspapers and a mobil phone.

Oh shit, Heim. Shit. That sucks.”

I’m O.K.,” Heimer rasps over the phone. He coughs. “I’ve got a broken arm and some scratches. . . .”

He returned to the office in a few weeks, but was never quite the same. Even a year later, he would call me over to help him slip his coat over the bad left shoulder. He’d hobble out with the cane and the case.

Be careful out there, Heim,” I’d tell him. “Anybody bugs you, you whack ‘em with that cane.”

Don’t worry,” he’d laugh. “My wife’s picking me up.”

Yes, let’s hope. Stay safe, drive slow, never assume or believe the condensed version or even your eyes. Do what you must, but at the very least: Be kind and tolerant of strangers, but never obligated. Hug children and old people, then leave them to their work. Don’t worry, rest assured, there will always be a payment. Kick back and enjoy the show. Let grief fall away and – if you can help it at all – do not worry. Because you can never know much. You can never be strong. You can never be secure. You can only have smokes.

Balto walked off for some water, but now he’s back at my feet, licking his balls and it looks he might not stop. Go, baby, go! He rolls an eye up to check on me, then, satisfied I’m not going anywhere, gets back to the ball work. Say what you wish, but the balls must be well cared for. They give us our main reason for being here, and I’m certain, certain, we’d all be licking our own if given the opportunity, don’t kid yourself. Nothing and no one can stop a dog from licking his balls, nor should they – there’s no finer expression of nature’s pure form, as necessary and unrelenting as the ocean waves, Mount Whitney and MarlonBrando.

God, it must feel good, probably nothing better.

published: 28. 7. 2013