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

Situations.

I like sitting in cafes at lunch time or better just before till just after. That means I got a seat while everyone comes in looking for one, I am bound to attract someone to sit down on my table, not because of me, simply because there aren't any more chairs.

I can sit in that cafe patient drawing up ideas while observing life around me.

When I sit in a cafe I can do all sort of things one is to observe peoples habits in a social public setting, watch them communicate and interact, it’s interesting and tells so much about people.

You may start a conversation but I guess most people aren't into starting conversations with strangers in their lunch break while they are trying to chill, but it does happen occasionally.

At the moment I am sitting at the corner of Old Street and Great Eastern in a cafe.

 

A woman in her mid thirties sits down opposite me after a few minutes she asks me what I am writing.

Just some ideas, I reply.

Are you a journalist, she asks.

No, I answer with an uneasy smile as she turns the table and I am not the observer anymore but the observed.

So what do you do ?

I'm, and as always when asked this question I hesitate trying to find the perfect way to formulate what it is I do.

I'm an artist, I say.

Oh, what kind of art is it you do ??

I really am on the spot now.

Installations, I answer after a further moment of hesitation.

Her appearance is energetic, friendly and calming in a strange way.

Installations, she raises an eyebrow.

Well I work with video and sculpture creating a situation I suppose.

And what are you trying to communicate with that, you have to excuse my ignorance but I am not to knowledgable about modern art.

It all seems preocupied with communication and miscommunication, misunderstandings, information the abstraction of information for credibility reasons and the overload of information.

Like . . . like what for example.

Let's say chinese whisper know how a rumor comes into being through the passing on and reinterpretation of the given information, I find that fascinating. I don't think we are capable to simply pass information on without adding our personal view, perhaps not at a fundamental level but definitely at a lower level.

Sounds interesting, and there is that winning smile and she wins me.

What do you do, I ask her.

I work as a psychologist.

Oh no.

Sorry !?

So what can you tell me about myself so far.

I am not a clairvoyant and I am just talking to you I am not analizing every word anyone speaks in my company and if I did I think I would be very bad company, and then there is another smile.

Fair enough. I was actually working on an installation involving a psychologist.

Oh yes !?

It got shelved for the time being but I got the feeling I am about to dig it out again.

Tell me a little more.

I wrote this monologue, actually I have written a few monologues which I usually performed myself in front of the camera but the last one I wrote I wrote for a woman just that I can't find anyone capable of performing it cause it's a little long and a little complicated.

What is it about.

Well this woman is stuck and seeing her is actually very frustrating cause you want her to snap out of it, then there are moments of clarity and you think, yes she is coming out but then she keeps snapping back.

Sounds familiar.

Does it ?

Well yes, she laughs.

OK now, and I get rather excited as I approach the grand finale, there were a few ideas I had at the beginning but two things I was particularly interested in. One was the state of mind of the character which I wanted analised the other the state of the artists mind which I wanted analised as well so there are two conflicting analysises, both of those I wanted analized by another analyst, this time not a psychologist however but rather a priest, doctor or lawyer.

So the second analysis is done with or without knowledge of the first one.

No, the original video is not known by the second analyst so in a way they are reconstructing the situation prior to the analyses. It's chinese whisper cause all those analyses are happening independently of one another and all will probably come to different conclusions.

Wow, it does sound like a challenge.

I think it would be really good.

I would like to have a look at the script, you don't have it with you do you.

No I don't. But, and here I hesitate again, I don't know how much time you got I live down the road though … I or we could go and . . . I mean if you are really interested you know I don't want to drag you anywhere you don't want to go.

I know, she smiles again and I wonder whether she is flirting with me or whether that is just my imagination.

I am free for the afternoon.

You are, well if you want we can go and I show you.

Let me finish my coffee, and she lights another cigarette.

Did you think of the gender the analysts should be.

No . . . yes, well I guess the outcome would be different every time so it would actually be interesting to have it done by both male and female.

I mean the thing could go on for ever so I really got to draw a line somewhere but the essence and any starting point is the monologue.

At that very moment she gets up.

Shall we go ??

Yeah and I grab my jacket and my bag and we leave.

Outside she points at a silver Volkswagen new model - flash - we get in and turn back onto Old Street, Shoreditch High Street turn left behind the Church and park.

By the way I'm Toby.

Natalie.

And we shake hands.

I can just go and get it and we can go for another coffee somewhere.

No it's ok, I like to go all the way.

It's a bit messy, and I am getting a little nervous.

She likes to go all the way what does that mean and I have rather fantastic thoughts about what it could mean.

It's over there on the corner, I point out.

If she is taken aback by the appearance of my house it doesn't show. The staircase smells awful and I try my best to open my door quickly.

Here we are, come on in would you like a coffee.

Have you got any tea, she asks.

Sure - milk, sugar ?

Just milk, thanx. Are all these pictures yours ?

Pretty much, yes, as I turn on the kettle, sorry about the mess.

It's ok.

I find the script under a pile of things on the table and hand it over.

That's it.

The secret Dialogues, she reads aloud.

See the problems are the gaps, like at the beginning there is a lot of driffle but nothing is really said.

Hm.

And then further down there are all these fantastic theories.

Hm.

She looks rather classy and attractive the way she sits there on my sofa legs crossed wearing a kneelong darkish grey expensive looking skirt complete with a slightly darker jacket, skin color tights and black slippers a white blouse and a multicolored tasty silk scarf, she got nice legs, nice hands and a lovely smile. Or to put it differently she is a very attractive woman somewhere between 34 and 37 and she is in my flat right now.

She is reading and I get restless as she goes on and I feel like saying something but there is nothing to say, so I tend to the tea.

 

Tea, as I hand her the cup.

Tea, oh yeah, a brief nervous smile that reminds me of something I can't quite pinpoint.

As I am watching her read the script I am indulging in light but sordid sexual fantasies that we could outlive together.

This however is soon to be stopped as she continues to delve deeper and deeper into the psyche of my character.

Natalie, no reaction and again louder this time, Natalie.

Her eyes flickering with unease she looks at me bewildered as my character would do.

Stop reading let's talk.

Stop reading, she mumbles and stares down on the script.

Stop reading, she repeats again.

I gently retrieve the script from her and put it away put it somewhere out of reach.

She still sits and stares but slowly the woman I met earlier is reemerging slightly shaken she eventually lights a cigarette there is silence and then more silence.

Are you OK.

Yes, she speaks silently.

Yes, and then there is a tear rolling down her cheek.

I'm sorry.

No I am, I didn't expect . . . this . . . do you want some water . . . or . . . anything.

I better leave I think.

She's in a daze and I don't think leaving right now is such a good idea.

Wait, stay for a little while chill out, relax.

This doesn't usually happen.

But it has happened before.

Sometimes.

It's ok though we all got our traumas you know.

Sure.

And now there is a deep sadness in her voice.

Sure.

And suddenly she looks old and tired.

I really ought to go now.

Are you sure you are ok, perhaps we can go have a coffee somewhere or are you hungry, do you want something to eat, some biscuits, anything.

No I have to go. I am real sorry about this . . . situation.

Don't  worry it doesn't matter, and I smile at her.

I walk her to the car and before she gets in she gives me a long hug, then she leaves.

I am pretty sure that I will never hear from her again and damn the whole afternoon started so promising and then this - weird.

 

© Marcus Bastel