Ernst’s House

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Fiction, Issue Thirty-Two

Ernst sees, shaking the blind hands of sleep, the son who will never be Jesus Christ again. And this has been going on every night for six months now. Sometimes, in addition to a boyish smile, he dreams of shovels without holes and flowers without graves. But most often I dream of eyes.

Old Ernst’s old house. He wouldn’t trade his house for anything: Ernst Laden would bring the devil slippers in his mouth in the morning, just to have his own place and not share a roof with neighbors or in a nursing home. It is not surprising that Ernst never lived together with his lover, preferring rare meetings on neutral territory. Especially after my son’s death…

Old Ernst starts every morning with coffee and a new pack of cigarettes. He keeps his half-opened cigarette packets in a sideboard that once held yellowed bundles of yellow newspapers and sodden black-and-white photos. After lunch, he always goes to the store, of course, for coffee and cigarettes (newspapers have long ceased to serve because of the economic disadvantage). The saleswoman smiles toothlessly at Ernst. And here’s Ernst…

The memory ends. The little robot starts beeping in a panic, and incomprehensible ciphers pop up on the monitor. The lab technician picks up the robot and takes it with him. The apartment is getting empty. The apartment is cool and damp, and pieces of mold compete with pieces of cobwebs in the speed of growth.

Ernst feeds the neighbor’s cat, which stole a piece of halva from his table, of course, halva. The cat looks up at old Ernst and talks to him in pure Bavarian German. He pats the cat as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening. The cat smiles, happily demonstrating its knowledge of German.

Unknown Cemetery, where Ernst is buried by an unknown person under unknown circumstances. The neighbor’s cat comes to the grave every day and is silent, unable to understand and accept death. Also, a laboratory scientist who has been studying Ernst’s biography for the past three months comes to the monument every six months and draws a pink triangle on it. The cat purrs in Bavarian German and silently mentally says “meow-meow”. Five years after her death, the cat has been coming to the cemetery and scaring Ernst with Bavarian German. And Ernst sees, shaking the blind hands of sleep, the son who will never be Jesus Christ again. And so it repeats itself every day and every night.

The sky moves over the cemetery, and Ernst looks with his dead eyes for a trench or depression in the ground where his son might be hiding. Ernst dreams of finding his son to hide him from the evil people near him, in the depths of his grave, so that his son will finally find a home…

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