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The German (excerpt)
Blind Man’s Bluff
Casual and Unobtrusive
Extra Strong
First time Bloomer
Ideal Parties
A little Life
The Bowling Alley
The Other Woman
The Bird
No excuses
There were Two of them
The Signing
Philosophy of Silence
Real Ugly Things
Small Town Diners
The In The Forest Thing
The Shop Assistant
What it’s like being a man
Alternative Ending
The Incident
The secret Dialogues
Worded stimulation for the little urges inbetween

Kookai Girl.

On Tuesday night I leave work with Dan we walk past Kookai and I gaze into the darkness of the shop.

You know there is this girl in here I fancy.

Oh yeah.

Yeah the thing is I will never ever have a reason to actually go in there and talk to her.

What you should do is go in with a friend, a girl, and just make sure you don't come across as the boyfriend.

Aha and then what, am I gonna stand there and say oh well I am sure so and so will think you look real good in that, but I, well I don't really care, I don't care at all actually.

Yeah you got to say it real loud so she can hear you.

Great and then, do I stare into her general direction eyebrow raised a smile on my lips one eye winking at her till my whole face starts twitching in an enormous long lasting cramp.

Long enough for her to genuinely believe that you are having an epileptic fit and for someone to call an ambulance.

And by the time the ambulance arrives I am back under control finally looking at her with what could be described as the perfect artificial smile.

Sounds good I think she will definitely fall for that.

I have serious doubts.

Dan leaves to catch a bus and I get on the tube, two hours later I repeat the conversation to John to see whether he got any suggestions.

You know what you should do ...

What's that.

You should enter the shop go straight for her and ...

No way ...

No wait, and ask her what she would choose for what, a fiver, tener, fifteen pounds maybe, just tell her that you don't know the girl that well and explain that this is the only way you can get to her, tell her to choose her most favourite item for the given price and flatter her by saying that you believe in her good taste which I guess you do to a certain degree.


Then after you have paid you give her the bag back and say it's for her.

I laugh.

Come on, what do you think ??

Yeah it sounds good but I'll never pull it off.

But you always say it's now or never.

OK but she works there and she will continue to work there so I can continue walking past there.

And what, wonder forever.

I could send her a belated Valentines card.

But they are anonymous.

I can leave my anonymous phone number on it.

Will she call.

Depends on how curious she is.

Nah I think you should go into the shop and buy her a present it would be real nice.

Would you do it ???

Well ... I don't fancy her.

Yeah but if you would, would you ???

I guess not.


See what.

It's a brilliant idea just that no one can actually do it.

Just you wait and see.

I am.

What ?


Yeah allright.

After that I am more confused brooding alone over a drink in a bar back in Shoreditch.

And if I were to pull all my guts together at once ask their attention and help convince them to follow me to the shop in town to speak those clever words to the girl I fancy at Kookais, what after that. What am I to say after giving the present over to her.

Paula walks by mumbles a hello disappears right at the other end of the bar and returns a few minutes later.

What am I to do, I ask her when she walks past again.

What about.

I explain my predicament that has become so through my own bloody doing. If I hadn't talked about it in the first place I wouldn't think about it now.

Well she says smiling her lips forming a point of elegance and arrogance, well, she manages to further pout her lips and flick her large eyes open and close at a humorous attempt to find an answer.

Then her face lights up and her eyes open wide almost covering her whole face in a deep blue.

Just hand it to her and say that ...  well you had thought about doing this as you didn't know what else to do and how else to do it but now that it was done you didn't know what to do anymore and just look into her eyes.

I am lost Paula.

Just say that you really didn't know how all this would go down but now that it was done you didn't know what else to say or better just say that now you didn't know what to say. What do you think ???

Well... I can see it happen that way, the thing is I couldn't see anyone else in the shop while I was doing it certainly no one in a radius of at least 5 metres.

How much is that in feet.

In feet hm, let me think perhaps 12 or 15, isn't it one to three.

I don't know.

Well something like that anyhow and I don't think the shop is really large enough for that.

So what are you gonna do.

Watch and wonder perhaps one day I manage to go in but more likely I find someone else to adore.

Hm, and with that Paula moves away again, towards the other side of the bar.

Another few days go by and I walk past the shop again and again. What only a week ago was some kind of distant adoration has turned into an obsession.

I torture my mind as to what I could do.

At work I have a chat with Chris, I tell him the whole story starting from the moment I told Dan and ending with what had become the harsh reality of my affection.

I was in a situation similar once, Chris tells me after hearing me out.

What did you do ?

I fancied this girl in a pharmacy and one day when she wasn't there I went in asking someone else for her name.


Of course they were wondering why, so I told them that I really liked her.

Did they tell you her name ?

Yeah the next day while she was out I dropped some flowers of for her and another day later I came by and actually talked to her.

What did you say ?

Just asked her whether she liked the flowers.

And what then.

We went out for a drink and actually went out for about five month.


Left with my thoughts later that day I walk past the shop on my way to the station and when I do one of her colleagues comes out so I quickly decide to ask about her name.

Excuse, me I say.

Bewildered and a little annoyed she looks at me.

What ?

You know what's the girls name in the shop ?

Which one ?

The one with the short spiky hair.

Why do you want to know ?

Cause ... well you know I walk past there every day and ...

Just come in tomorrow and ask her yourself, she says and walks off.

Great I think great, I think again now it's out there and it couldn't have gone worse.

I'm a bit very annoyed with myself now, what a cow why did I ask her and I am sure she thinks I am a complete creep but hey I am not really I am actually allright you know I am not to bad honest, damn.

The next day I don't even want to walk past the shop but I do cause it's on my way and of course I wanna see her too.

Instead of seeing her however I just see the girl from last night again.

I know that I have to go in there now or else never walk past that damn shop again, the thing I don't quite know is how to do it.

The shop still isn't big enough to get those five metres of space around her but the thing is that somehow I managed to get myself into a situation were I didn't have much choice.

So I keep walking by, trying to find the perfect moment but as things go that moment is unlikely to arrive and basically I have to come to terms with the fact that any moment will do.

I am still waiting for that any moment which hasn't quite come yet but as I keep walking by I realise that I need to get in with it before the situation gets simply to fucked up to lead anywhere but up a dead end road.

Another week starts which is week three of the curse and the first day passes with perhaps two missed chances, tomorrow is my answer to all my question but somehow I got the feeling that she won't be there tomorrow.

When tomorrow has arrived I am as eager to get to work as one can be at the same time I am as eager to stay away from the place as one can be.

I decide to pass by Johns studio before going to work and find him there boiling up wax and getting rid of some rubbish.

Morning, I say on entering through the open doors.

Toby, morning what gives me the pleasure of this early visit.



Yeah you know I told you about the girl in the Kookai shop.

Oh yeah did you go buy her a present.

Well no but I managed to make a fool of myself.

That's OK I do it all the time.

No you don't.

Well I did it with Cat anyhow.

She likes you so.

I don't know.

I am sure.

Well we see what about Kookai girl then.

I'm gonna have to talk to her I blew my cover, and I give him a quick rundown.

I think she smiled at me on Friday.

That's good.

Well I was so shocked I just turned my head and ran off, you know it's so weird I feel so irrelevant at the moment I just feel like there is definitely no way she even look at me I am so utterly convinced that she just brush me of cause she is or has become this almost god like being whereas I have become the guy who's name is nobody or at least that is how I feel at present.

Ah you shouldn't you know she is probably real flattered that you come to tell her that she is beautiful.

Well I can see that but ... I don't know you know.

Well it looks like you just got to go in there and talk to her and if just to let the air out of this thing and get back to normality.

You know when I walk past there these days I keep thinking that the whole shop stares at me they all know and they are waiting and watching me walk by.

I don't think so.

Kim was saying I looked thinner.

Are you ?

I don't know don't think so, but then it is getting summer we even got summer time back which is something.

A beginning.


So what's your plan ?

I gotta go in there today and I have absolutely no idea what I am going to say but I rely on my intuition and see what happens.

Perhaps you should tape it.

Tape it ?

Yeah be interesting to see what you will come up with.

Well I think I can tell you, anyhow I gotta run cause I am late as it is.

You will be even later if you go and talk to her now.

I know but at least I got a good reason for being late.

I almost catch the bus to Liverpool Street but as I say almost in the end I walk.

On the way I am playing through all these scenarios that may or may not occur when I go into that shop, and today I will cause I got to, but then she may not even be working in which case I wouldn't.

I like playing through scenarios it's almost as good as the real thing.

Hi, I think, I work down the road and well you know everyday I walk past here and I look inside and on a lucky day I see you and somehow I got real attached to you so attached that just walking past isn't enough anymore and well now I am here and I got absolutely no idea what to say but I think you are real nice, no lovely, no gorgeous, lovely, nice yeah I guess nice is the thing I could say easily, nice is kind of nice without implying to much when it is obvious that I like her anyhow. So I will say that she is nice, yeah.

And what will she reply ?

Ah, what will she reply she probably got a boyfriend anyhow afterall she is just super sweet  as she is. So all she may say is well that is really nice of you to say but then I got a boyfriend ... sorry.

And sorry I will be too, but then she smiled at me the other day or did she perhaps she didn't.

I could go in there and go, Excuse me.

Yes, she would turn, can I help you, not recognising me.

I ... yes ... uhm ... I live no sorry work.

That is nice for you what are you looking for ?

I ... actually I am ... was looking for you cause ... uhm ... think you are real nice. I work down the road and whenever I see you, you are the highlight of my day, yeah.

Do you want to buy something ?

No ... I ... actually wonder whether you would like to meet up sometime ... for a drink ... or a coffee ... something. How about it.

I am sorry but my life is real complicated right now ... I am about to get married as well.

Oh ... well never mind I am Toby what's your name anyhow.

You don't need to know ... I'm sorry I think you should leave, and with that she would turn and I would be standing there with bright red ears the whole bloody shop looking at me seeing me retreat.

Could it get that bad, I mean she smiled at me I am sure she did and she seems real nice.

I reach Covent Garden and my stomach feels like it wants to turn its inside out but I am brave and swallow it down again I am almost tempted to take the stairs those 193 stairs to heaven but I take the lift cause I am late.

Upstairs the sun seems to laugh at the day and the day laughs back and then there is me trying a smile and trying again till I succeed.

It's not that bad I am just a little nervous but my eyes are sparkling and I know I can do it whatever it is.

There is Kookai and my steps are slowing, time and gravity are slowing as I get the first glimpse of the interior which I am about to enter and as I walk in I can't see her anywhere, where are you I wonder.

I take the stairs down and am about to leave again when I spot her there is no turning back now and I stagger across what feels like a mile of barren land but really is only a meter or two

Hi, comes out of my mouth just before my mouth goes very dry.

She smiles as her head turns in what seems to be slow motion.

A very drawn out and seemingly endless yes comes out of her mouth and for the first time I can see her eyes up close and they sparkle the way I imagined they would from a distance.

I swallow and it seems as if I am swallowing all those words I prepared so carefully. The yes she said, what did it mean but I haven't got the time to analyse every syllable.

I couldn't help noticing you ... walking past here every day, I hear myself say.

She is still smiling and she doesn't know how grateful I am for that smile but I need to go on.

As I said I couldn't help noticing you cause I walk past pretty much every day, I guess I wanted you to know that I ... well ... noticed you and I thought I come in and say hello and perhaps we could go for a coffee or a drink sometime ... actually ...

Yes ...

Yes ?

No you said actually ...

Oh yes ... I think I could almost do with a drink now.

It's a little early for a drink.

I know I mean it just takes a lot out of you coming in here to talk to you but I am glad that I finally did.

Shelly told me about you.

Shelly ... oh the girl I asked about your name.


Sorry about that.

It's OK.

She seems very nice, very very nice.

Where do you work ?

At Central just past the pub.

Oh the design place.

Yes, and I am going to be real late I am thinking but it's OK.

I'm Toby what's your name, your friend didn't tell me.


And she is still smiling and my heart is beating away at some drum and base level unheard of so far, I should probably be dead but I am glad that I am not.

Nice to meet you finally, do you want to go for a drink sometime then ?

I don't think so.

I don't bite.

I might so. But I guess I can take this as a compliment, hm.

Yes definitely.

I guess I will see you around.

Well I am still walking by everyday, and now there is nothing left to say, so I say good bye and hope to see her soon again.

When I leave I realise that she is even lovelier then I could have possibly imagined at the same time she just stepped out of my dreams. But I am glad I finally talked to her, I can relax now.

When I get to work I tell Tex and Paul who I've been boring for the last three weeks with my affected self.

I talked to her.

You did ?

Yeah !

Thank god for that.

What did she say.

She said: I don't think so !

Really ?!

Yeah, I could send her an easter egg, though.

She'll probably return it with a restraining order, Paul says.

Maybe not then, somehow my day just went really lumpy, grey and grim.

And of course now I am looking back and I think why didn't I say ... something else. But at the time there was nothing I could think of.

Shit happens and who the fuck needs girls anyway and of course she got a boyfriend she is extra super sweet.

And then the day slowly runs out.

When I finally get to bed that night I feel very empty and very quiet and for once I am not sure what to say to myself.

I stare at the dark ceiling hearing some muffled voices outside passing by and my mind moves away.











© Marcus Bastel