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from the February 2016 issue


(Common room in a senior citizen home. Two elderly men in wheelchairs. The first is watching the one o’clock news, the second is devouring an apple pastry.)

FIRST MAN: The nerve. Everyone cheers for him on the Heldenplatz and then he goes and cuts deals with the Russians.

SECOND MAN: Yes, that was a mistake. But, come now, it was so long ago, at some point there’s got to be an end—

FIRST MAN: That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about Schranz. Salzburg is bidding to host the Olympics, the chancellor is almost in tears, and what does he do? He advises Putin. And who wins? Sochi. It’s hardly surprising. I remember very clearly, back then, his return from Sapporo.


FIRST MAN: Schranz. Because he wasn’t allowed to start. We stood for hours on the Heldenplatz . . .  We waited until he came out . . . We all stood together, unforgettable . . . Then he came out on the balcony with Kreisky and waved, and suddenly it was crystal clear: Austria! Is! Poor! At that moment he was one of us . . . We were Austria, all of us together, from him on down . . . Cheated out of victory by dark machinations . . . Powerless against superior forces . . . (A short pause, then bitterly) And now he’s betraying us to the Russians . . .

SECOND MAN: It’s always the same.

FIRST MAN: Yes, always the same. But one thing is certain: I am not going to stand out on the Heldenplatz a third time, no matter who comes out on the balcony

SECOND MAN: You couldn’t, even if you wanted to.




 From Man kann nicht alles wissen. © Literaturverlag Droschl Graz-Vienna 2011. By arrangement with the publisher. Translation © 2016 Tess Lewis. All rights reserved.

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