TDR New Novel Extract: ‘L’

Love, itself, was up for auction. Incredible as it sounded, and felt (gasp-gasp, rapidly fluttering eye-lids, shaky hands of the waiting reporters), it was going to the highest bidder. Within the hour, or so it was rumoured, it was to be a done deal.

‘What is this?’ an obvious tourist screamed nervously into the desperately hovering cameras.

This was no exclusive love-house with a purring, hissing, exclusive star lady (or man!). It had none of the usual markers; lonely ladies, lost men. No shady types acting as intermediaries.

No shady love.

No. It was all bright and clear and out in the open. On the large blue and yellow flashing billboard sign the message was quite unmistakable;

‘Love! Going to the highest bidder tonight. Use it while you can.’

This the citizens milling around in front of the seven star hotel did. Viciously. Some. Others with a certain (choking sound produced at the pronunciation of it; teardrop-teardrop) amount of nostalgia, as if remembering idyllic childhood moments or long-evaporated days of piercing youthfulness. Still others tasted it with last delight, as they would a frighteningly exquisite execution dinner desert, which virtually melted upon touching the tip of the terrified tongue. It was all rather a soft vanilla ice-cream passing over the taste buds along with hairy wild berries before the final shut-eye of a word which everyone had always assumed was public property.

Shortly it was indeed to be the death of love. But everywhere it could be heard on tips of tongues, used, savoured, flavoured; goodbye, goodbye, my love, the love!

‘I love your shirt. What colour is that, maroon? With turquoise? That’s a crazy combination, man.’

‘Isn’t it lovely, woman? I love you to love it.’

‘I’d love you to give me some loving tonight.’

Off those two went for a final plough while the word still existed in the public domain.

But there were still the thousands of others waiting in front of the hotel for any brief (‘that him? No, that is him. Is that her? What a disgustingly wonderful dress. Does she have no taste? With all that money? Moth! No. Yes. No, I love to disagree because I think that is that guy, the rich one, the richest one in the world, who I know from the magazine which lists rich people. It says he will eventually become the owner of the word’), fleeting glimpse of the potential buyers.

The auction was open only to billionaires, of which there were plenty in the world. Cash only. The briefcases came in all shapes and sizes. Grey. Longish. Brown. Severely rounded. Black. Silver. Rectangular. Purple with laces. Disgustingly green. Their owners were equally diverse. There were the Chinese. Brief and formal and saving all emotions for an unspecified later date. In suits and with simple glasses and faces which were already calculating, frantically. There were the Arabians (‘Arabs? No, you can’t call them that way. Not with the money they have. Well, I’ll call them what I want. No, you’d better not. Who knows which word will be next off the list’) who flowed past with effusive smiles and trailed fruity clouds of perfume and white robes that portrayed peacefulness and confidence. Then there, over there, came the Russians, and the Americans, and the Mexicans and the –

They were too many to keep track. One limousine after the other pulled up; heavily armoured, heavily superfluous. Because only one of these gentleman (for no one in that heaving crowd really believed it would be a woman who would pull it off, despite the nature of the word) could walk away with the incredibly powerful possession of a simple four-lettered utterance. But what an utterance it was. Wasn’t it? That was what attracted all these sharks disguised as men, women, and the odd dinosaur. In all their different crooked shapes, sizes and costumes. But they all had that one thing in common. A richness of greed which elevated their societal importance.

‘I love that spirit of arrogance, suitcase in hand, when all their fortunes are really gathering interests in the banks.’

‘Let’s not be creating a division of classes here. Marx is long dead. And happily so. These here men and women could be saving the state Fermon from complete bankruptcy.’

‘We’re not creating division. Just look. It’s been made already. We’re here on this side of the barrier. And they are on the other. And please, don’t call my country by that name of a company again. Look at that peacock parading there with her –

‘I’d love to show you a piece of my opinion. Fermon is paying a huge portion of our remaining public services for the next 20 years. Let us not forget that, by love of God.’

‘Fermon is a computer company, it’s certainly not the name of my country. And this farce of hyper-privatisation, I could well do without.’

‘You take big words into your mouth, but I’d love to see if you can back those up with some real big –

The fist-fight which ensued as a result of this heated discussion was not caught by any of the many internet-television cameras flapping about (wireless, unmanned), catching snippets of highly important celebrity opinions from all humanely possible angles. It was something of a contradiction because that fight was the most action that would be seen that entire night.

Thereafter it was all number-crunching. For hours and hours on end. The analysts called this the ‘novelty factor’. This was the first auction of a word in the world. That gave it, as the commentator with the orange beard and the overtly white teeth on channel Internet Makes TV said ‘a certain exclusivity which is worth countless billions of these individual uncountable fortunes’.

It went on and on. And on. And on. Higher and higher the numbers went. Some observers dozed off in the giant, glittering conference room where four glittering letters hung from the ceiling. And the people waiting outside, having seen their snippets of super-stars and super-humans, filed off to an insecure rented flat to make insecure love. The throwing about of numbers was not their business. Nothing with numbers was. Unless it was crunching numbers to make the bills come together at the end of the month. They wanted nothing to do with numbers which were so large that they often had to be made to disappear. That, if anything, was what the politicians of Fermon were there for.

Taken from the new novel ‘L’ by Matthias Krug

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