For this week’s Translation Tuesday, inexplicable shapeshifting, bad table service, tangible numerals, and a loving friendship that defies spatial logic are on the menu in “Heimat who Lives in a Box,” written and translated from the German by A.E. Sadeghipour. In this surreal microfiction, a dinner date is marred by embarrassment and a rude (and seemingly inhuman) waitstaff. Sadeghipour’s ability to flout realism while preserving the conventions of the short narrative leads us to a conclusion that is both ironic and “happily ever after”-esque.
These fuckers ain’t coming back. I’m sure they will. Nah, they bounced. They definitely skipped out and are not coming back. Okay, if they were, then why would they leave a note? Maybe to seem like they weren’t skipping out? But they definitely just dined and dashed. What if they went to the bathroom or stepped out to smoke? The bathroom? For twenty minutes? Umm well … Okay, not likely, but fuck it! I’ll go check. Hello? Hello?! If you’re taking a shit, pinch it and finish. Come on now. Hello?! See? Nobody. We’re the only ones here except Stoner Chef Jeff, who I think is passed out in the back. Right, see? So, where the fuck are they? They only ordered two waters and a plate of fries to split between them. Who splits fries? And who orders tap water without ice? Psychopaths. They are probably psychopaths or maybe hitmen. Hitpeople? Assassins. Some of the first assassins were women you know. Yeah. But were they? I didn’t get a good luck admittedly, and I’m normally pretty good at remembering people’s faces. Strange that I can’t seem to remember what they looked like. Let me think. I think one of them was wearing a hat. What kind of hat? What do you mean? A hat? Yeah. But what kind of hat? There are tons of different kinds of hats. Baseball hats, fedoras, beanies, sombreros – You think I wouldn’t remember if one of them was wearing a damn sombrero?! Well Mind-Like-A-Trap, you also can’t seem to remember what they looked like so. Oh, shut it! It was a baseball hat. Definitely a baseball hat because it had one of those, those, those … Who are you saluting there comrade? Shut up! You know, this thing that comes out of the forehead part. Nothing grows out of our forehead part unless you got a set of horns under those bangs. Damnit, the hat. Oh, you mean the bill? No that’s what customers ask for when they want to pay. Yes and it’s also the part of the hat that sticks out to block the sun. It’s called a bill, like a duck bill. Ducks don’t have bills to pay. Oh my god, the duck’s mouth is called a bill and so is that part of the hat. Gotcha! Well it was a baseball hat because it had a bill. Okay and what color was it? Oh shit, I, I don’t remember. What do you mean you can’t remember? This is important. Why is this so important? Because it’s all we got. You can’t remember what they look like. I didn’t get a good look at them from behind the counter, and what if something horrible happened and we’re the last ones that saw them alive. Or worse, what if they are on a murderous cross-country trip, and we are the ones that they let go and we have to identify them in a line-up. Our testimony could be the key to putting them behind bars, but I don’t think I could do it. I mean, what if they break out, which they most likely will, and then come after me for ratting them out. Why do you assume they are murderous villains? What if they were victims or fleeing captivity. What if it’s a romantic love story and they were never going to receive their parent’s blessings, so they left. They eloped and left a romantic note behind, and we are a part of their love story. They’ll return here depending on us to hold their table. Oh, come on! This ain’t no fucking movie, and you know real life is way stranger than any movie. Okay so what’s a movie plot that we haven’t thought of – Focus! What color hat were they wearing? All of our speculations don’t mean shit if we can’t remember a single detail about them. Focus. What color was the hat? I can’t remember. I can’t remember. You have to! I can’t. You have to! Red? Blue? Green? No, no, no, just give me a second, just let me think, think, think, think, got it! Did it have a symbol or logo? No, but it had one of those silver stickers on it because the reflection blinded me for a sec. Are you sure? Are you sure it wasn’t a reflection from the cutlery or a piece of jewelry? A watch? Silver tooth? No definitely a white hat with one of those silver stickers. Okay, what else? Do you hear that? Yup, shit, top of the hour
a car parks in the lot,
the door opens
something dull flies into the sky.