March 14, 2012 by The Citron Review
by Eva Konstantopoulos
I met a man while you slept. It was after we fought about the train tickets and how I was always late. His name was Martin. He carried a newspaper and told me that the laws in Germany were hard. It was difficult to get back in once you were out. He bought me a beer and said he had a mother in Zimbabwe, a father in Chile; he said they wanted to come home, that they wrote him letters the old-fashioned way and used classic Hollywood actors for nicknames: Monroe and Hayworth and Grant. Martin didn’t look like he was from Zimbabwe or Chile. He was the poster child for the Aryan race, blond hair, blue eyes. I wondered what his parents had done to be exiled from Europe, or if they had been exiled at all. Why had they separated? And why was he here, while they were still abroad? Martin, I found out, was not a man at all, but a boy, maybe twenty-two. He was with another friend with wild hair and thick teeth. They both went to school in Hamburg, a few hours from here. The other boy drank nervously and wanted to go dancing. He was surprised that I wasn’t fat, being American. He told me that many people in Germany thought Americans were like bowling balls, rolling down the street, shitting out donuts. I couldn’t tell if he was joking so I told them that the dogs in Germany impressed me, how they always obeyed their owners and politely waited at cross walks. They shrugged. We started talking about music. It seemed safe. They asked me if I liked electronica, and I said, yes, that I loved techno. The one with thick teeth narrowed his eyes, said they were not the same. Eventually, Martin admitted he had only talked to me because they were bored. He was expecting a story or two to carry home with him. I asked Martin where home was, if he owned leiderhosen and only drank beer, if his sister was named Heidi and wore plaited braids. He looked at me for a long time. He said his sister was named Alice. Beer cluttered our tiny table all night. I didn’t think about you once. We drank until the lights came on, until they kicked us out, and then we stumbled through the cobblestone streets. I was glad to have met these boys, but there was one image still lingering as I pressed my ear to the hotel door, wondering if you were awake. It was when Martin was talking about Zimbabwe. The newspaper lay on the table and as he spoke he had taken the bottom of the page, slowly ripping the words into thin, even lines.
Eva Konstantopoulos is originally from New York. Her short stories have previously appeared in Copper Nickel, Flashquake, and SLAB, among others. She was the first place winner of an Equivocality Writer’s Travel Scholarship, as well as a finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers. Currently, she lives and writes in Los Angeles. To find out more go to www.evakonstantopoulos.com.