Ewald Palmetshofer

Artwork by Miko Yu

DAVID & SPIDERMAN.............A student in his mid-twenties
JUDITH & CATWOMAN...........David's sister, not quite yet of voting age
DORIS........................................Mother to David and Judith, a schoolteacher of French and gymnastics
WOLFGANG..............................The father of David and Judith, doing well on the editorial management team of a photo-journal
PAUL.........................................Business school graduate in his mid-twenties, now in banking. Friend of the family in more ways than one
ANNOUNCER............................The voice of a newscaster

The action takes place in a family house in some suburb somewhere.

Darkness. Empty space. A noise of wind. Now a search light probes the space. The announcer is heard in voice-over.

ANNOUNCER: Lastly, a story from closer to home. It looks like it's over. Local businesses are breathing a cautious sigh of relief after two months without an arson attack on shop or business premises.

For the best part of half a year, the wave of attacks has kept officials guessing, as arsonists fire-bombed their way with so-called Molotov cocktails through close to a dozen offices and retail outlets,  leaving a smoking trail of destruction in their wake. Viewers will recall that the story was covered in-depth by The World Tonight.

Today, security experts are hailing the cessation of the firebomb attacks as a major success. Police Superintendent Jim Wolf, in charge of the case, has been fulsome in praise of what he called "superb cooperation" between his force and the operatives of private security firms. Carefully targeted monitoring of radical left-wing groups, and a beefed-up security presence in major shopping areas, appear to have been the key to preventing further attacks. Yet despite their success, security officials are warning the community not to drop its guard. No one wants to sound an official all-clear while the perpetrators of the attacks remain at large.

That just about wraps it up from us this evening.

It's over to Konstanze Breitfelder in the weather studio for tomorrow's forecast in just a second.

But here's a strange little story.

The Superheroes are coming. The World Tonight has learned, from an anonymous tip-off, that people in the know are readying themselves for the first real life public appearance of...Spiderman and Catwoman. The two Superheroes intend—so we are told—to mark their entry to the world stage with...a political operation. That said, our sources can't give us a date right now, can't tell us when exactly we can expect Spiderman and Catwoman to burst onto the scene. Yes, it's going to be an anxious wait for our two new radical politicos. But never fear. After all, they're only comic-book heroes.

So to all of you at home, this is The World Tonight saying "so long." Thanks for watching; have a good evening; keep the faith. Good night.

(Darkness again. Wind. Perhaps some music.)

JUDITH and her MOTHER sit at table. Neither speaks. JUDITH is varnishing her toenails. Her MOTHER reads a bestseller detective novel in French. There is a platter of vegetable samosas on the table. JUDITH has barely touched her plate. It's quiet. Enter DAVID and his FATHER.

JUDITH: David! Hi.

MOTHER: David! Good to see you. Give me a hug. Hallo, Wolfgang.

FATHER: Hiya, Doris.

MOTHER: David, you look good. Really.

DAVID: Thanks.

JUDITH: Hallo Brotherbubba.

DAVID: Hi Judith.

JUDITH: Give us a hug. Come here. Hug. Kiss. Hug. You look good...All done?

FATHER: And how! All done. Right, David?

MOTHER: Hungry, David?


MOTHER: How about you, Wolfgang? It's gone a bit cold, I'm afraid.

FATHER: Thanks but no thanks, Doris. Grabbed a bite at the office. Besides which...well, thanks anyway.

MOTHER: It doesn't matter.

FATHER: So? David? Tell Mummy. David has an exciting announcement for us.

JUDITH: An exciting announcement? Rocking.

DAVID: Nah...

FATHER: Don't be like that. Never hide a little pride, David. So...

MOTHER: You two men. You really are the...You get a kick out of it, don't you? Little secrets like this. You get a kick out of it. David! Tell me what it is now. Please.

FATHER: Tell her, David.

JUDITH: Yeah, David, tell us, OK? Mum's gagging for it.

MOTHER: What's that supposed to mean: gagging for it? I mean to say...really...I mean this is my son here. I'm interested in his life. Aren't I? I mean to say. It'd be sort of funny if it didn't interest me. Wouldn't it? In which case gagging for it is hardly appropriate. It interests me is all. You and your notions, Judith.

FATHER: Doris.

JUDITH: David, tell her please.

FATHER: Yes, David, do say it. If you don't, I will.

DAVID: I passed. I passed the exam yesterday. All that's left is the dissertation, and then...

MOTHER: Wow, David. That's fantastic!

FATHER: You bet it is, Doris. He's almost done, is David. Almost done with his studies. Finally. That is, I mean...You always did so much extracurricular...I mean. There's a thing, though. Getting stuck in. Getting stuck in is a damn good thing. Right? Yeah, sure, it eats up your time. Got to be ready for that. But, well, sooner or later everyone...Anyway. Take the bull by the horns. Mummy and I never had anything against that. The bull...the horns...I mean to say. Besides which, it's a very positive experience. For later, too. Easy to underestimate. Positive. Can't be bad, that's for sure. So we never had anything against it...Mummy and me. Because. Well. That's it, that's right. Took a while, but...well.

MOTHER: Oh, David. I am really so happy. I didn't even know about the exam...Yes, but you never tell us that stuff anyway.

JUDITH: He tells me. I knew.

MOTHER: Well, yes, Judith, we know about you two, how close you are.

Anyway. He never told us anything even when he was younger. I often never knew when he had homework. If my colleagues at school hadn't let me know...I would never have known anything. Because he was always so independent...David was always so independent. He keeps everything to himself. Everything. Such an independent child. Never seen anything like school. It's great, David. All that's left is the final dissertation. Really great. It's gone really quickly in the end, hasn't it?

FATHER: Well, you know. If you just concentrate on one thing. It all goes smoothly. Of course, you have to take a bit of a back seat. Let others go in front of you. Let the others get stuck in, too. Everything slips into place if you let others...anyway. In any case, David. It really is a splendid piece of news.


MOTHER: Judith! We're just happy.

JUDITH: So am I.

DAVID: How are you, anyway?

MOTHER: Us? We're fine. Excellent. Aren't we, Judith? Yes. Judith and us. We're fine. Judith is working hard at school. Making up for lost time. She's in fine form is Judith. Aren't you? And as for Wolfgang and I. Well. Daddy and I. Yes. We are also...Well, then. School is going extremely...And Daddy's office...Yes. We're well. Really very well. Indeed. But I'm all the happier now. It's a great thing, David. And Daddy can no doubt sort something out at the office. Right? Wolfgang?

FATHER: We'll see. We need to look at everything else you...Well, there's the commitment you've shown, of course...and then...we need to find a decent way to sell the fact that it's taken you rather longer...Well, because the deputy editor...Right.

MOTHER: Such a nice thing, David. Really.

(DAVID takes a samosa from the platter with his fingers.)

FATHER: I'm off for a bath. Doris, are you coming?

(FATHER leaves.)

MOTHER: In a second, Wolfgang? Well? You don't like those, do you?


MOTHER: Oh well. Sorry.

JUDITH: Well it's not your fault.

MOTHER: Well, yes. I could have made something else. I really am sorry. I might have known. I don't know. Sometimes I feel I'm just...

JUDITH: Mummy!

MOTHER: Judith...Doesn't matter. Not everyone has to like everything they eat. I mean. If you don't like it, you just don't eat it.

(Silence. JUDITH puts her feet on the edge of the table and blows on the nail varnish. Her MOTHER gives her a look. JUDITH takes her feet off the table again.)

MOTHER: No. It's OK. Leave them. I'm not looking. OK. If anyone needs me, I'll be in the bath.

(MOTHER leaves.)

JUDITH: Jesus, she's such a pain in the arse. I just didn't like the taste, OK. I don't like all that dainty shit. I don't like the taste. Did you see? Did you see what she did? Fucking typical. I mean. What is that? Is that a reason to blub? Is it? Tell me. Is that a good reason? Well she bloody well should blub if it makes her so sad. Yeah. There's a reason to cry. Really. Some kind of fucking reason. If Judith doesn't like her food. Jesus. Let her cry.

DAVID: But she didn't cry.

JUDITH: No. But she nearly did.

Don't come and live here, David. I'm telling you. It's a padded cell. I'm living in a padded cell. Sooner or later, I'm going under. She's always bloody blubbing. And he's so bloody stressed. So then she cries for him simultaneously. It's enough to drive you nuts. For real. And you don't have any time anymore. Head down in your studies. What about me? What am I supposed to do? It's been eight weeks this time, David. It's about time we...I'm coming round your place. I'm coming to visit, David! OK? Let's get stuck in again.

DAVID: Get stuck in. That's what he calls it. I really had to hold myself back.

JUDITH: Ha! I have to hold myself back the whole time. Pull Myself Together. You know how much I've had to Pull Myself Together these last few weeks. If Paul hadn't...

DAVID: I'm sorry. Who?

JUDITH: Yeah. You know. Paul. It turned out...well, that's how it turned out. I mean. I need some way to...You never have the time. And I need to...I mean. Yeah. Nothing serious.


JUDITH: So when can I come round? David? When can I come?

DAVID: When I've finished the dissertation.

JUDITH: David! Don't be an arsehole. I'm serious. I'm the one with the problem here, aren't I? Trapped in this fucking cell. I'm drowning. I need a break, David. And you're being an arsehole.

DAVID: Judith...

JUDITH: Don't fucking "Judith" me. I'm gonna go all transparent.

DAVID: Hey, come here. Oh, you. Maybe next week. OK?

JUDITH: You know how she hugs me? Like she did you just now. I don't let her anymore, though. "Let me strangle you with my love. Let me strangle you. You shall not escape me. I'll squeeze you till your fucking head comes off with the power of my love." Jeepers creepers. I wanna barf. Really. I wanna barf. Shall I tell you something? It was a mistake. It was the biggest mistake of all. I was so naïve in those days. So naïve. For real...I say that stuff to her. I still say that stuff to her. So naïve! Mother and daughter. Women together. A bond. An energy source. A pile of shit, is what it is. It's bloody guilt! That's all it is. How can you be so naïve and say that kind of shit. I mean...And then I tell her she doesn't need to worry anymore because I'm going to therapy anyway.

DAVID: Ah, well you see. It's hard. Two children, both in therapy. That's pretty damn hard. You have to start asking yourself: "Where did I go wrong?" I mean.. Judith. Look at us. You have to ask yourself...

JUDITH: Yeah and you have to start blubbing too, right. Cos it's so fucking sad.

DAVID: Does he know too?

JUDITH: Ha! What do you think? "Don't say a word to Daddy. I can't bring myself to tell him."

DAVID: "No, don't say a word to him, Judith. Not one word. It's his nerves, Daddy's priceless nerves. Not a word. Priceless. Think what they must have cost! His shiny new nerves. Not a word."

JUDITH: I don't tell them anything anymore. If I'm having a shitty time, she worries; and then I worry that she's worried, and I have an ever shittier time. It's like...For real...I could go back on the cigarettes, frankly. And what has she done? Eh? Has she ever actually done anything for me? No. Blubbing. Blubbing is what she's done. That's it. I could croak in front of them and they'd stand there and watch. She blubs and he's off for a bath. Giant foam-padded fucking babies. I'm gonna tell her...For real.

DAVID: You know, Judith. You gotta do everything yourself.

JUDITH: That's right. You gotta do everything yourself.

DAVID: That was the Hour of our Birth, Judith.

JUDITH: The Hour of our Birth. Clever old Brotherbubba. The stuff he comes up with. Our first Operation.

DAVID: Someone's gotta do it. Yeah. Someone's gotta get involved. "Get stuck in."

JUDITH: The way that pig looked at us. The way he looked. You and me standing by his bed in the middle of the night. And him unable to speak.

DAVID: 'Cos of his mouth. Which is glued shut.

JUDITH: And he can't move either.

DAVID: 'Cos of the handcuffs.

JUDITH: And then it goes "Click." And the padlock slips smoothly over his little pricky-dicky and his scrotum-ette.

DAVID: Won't catch him feeling anyone up again who isn't up for it.

(JUDITH goes to the hi-fi, turns it on, and looks for a CD.)

JUDITH: Yeah I really wasn't up for it at that party.


JUDITH: First time is always the best. That was really something special, David. Our first operation. The Hour of our Birth. The first time.

(Enter MOTHER. She has a long bath towel wrapped around her.)

MOTHER: How's it going, then, you two heroes?  Are you telling him about Paulie.

JUDITH: I have to pee.

MOTHER: How come you have to go as soon as I come in?

JUDITH: Because I have to pee.

(She leaves.)

MOTHER: Do you know, David, why Judith's always so mean to me? It hurts, you know. Yes. Everyone makes mistakes. Of course they do. Everyone always makes mistakes. Everyone except her. Oh no, not her. But she has a therapist. Right? And do I say anything? I say nothing. Have I ever said anything? David? Hey? Have I ever once said anything? I say nothing. Nothing is what I say. You try it with her. You dare. Sharp tongue? Hers is a...dagger.

DAVID: I think it's good.

MOTHER: What? That she goes around sticking her knife into me?

DAVID: The therapy thing.

MOTHER: Is she feeling better? David, is she feeling better? I mean, not that she had such a rough time after all. She just...She just took it all...Something like that can overwhelm you. You have to be strong. I don't understand it. She's not having a rough time. But there you go. I hope it helps, anyway. But she's not having a rough time, is she, David? Is she having such a rough time? I don't think she is. I don't think she's having such a rough time.


(She looks at DAVID, undoes the bath towel, and wraps herself up afresh.)

MOTHER: Is my hair all right at the back there?

DAVID: Yes. I'm going to bed. Good night. See you in the morning.

(He leaves.)

MOTHER: Sleep well, David. And "Jolly well done." OK? Congratulations. Sleep tight.

(MOTHER lies down on the couch and picks up her book again.)

Darkness. The noise of wind. A searchlight. SPIDERMAN and CATWOMAN revealed, briefly. Then they are gone. During which we hear the announcer in voice-over.

DAVID, JUDITH, and their MOTHER at breakfast.

MOTHER: So how's our Paul?

JUDITH: He's good, I think.

MOTHER: I'm so glad.


MOTHER: Well, I'm glad that Paul and you...He's a real sweetie. Much nicer than that Robert. Much nicer. He was a real shocker, that Robert. Not that we ever said...Anyway. It's one of those things you have to find out for yourself...Anyway.

JUDITH: Yeah, right. If you're that stupid. Stupid enough to hook up with a Robert.

MOTHER: I'm not saying that. Not at all. But our Paul. He's a real sweetie.

JUDITH: Yeah. Paul's OK. And he is better than Robert. In all respects.

MOTHER: Hmm, I see. Yes. Paul. Like that, is he? In all respects. I see. Paul.

JUDITH: No shit. He's a real. No. I'm not gonna say it.

MOTHER: Judith! I wasn't going to ask! But really. It's marvellous that you're having a good time with Paul. And after all, these things are not exactly unimportant. Your father and I...

JUDITH: No. It's not exactly unimportant. You're right. He's fantastic in bed.

MOTHER: Oh, I am pleased for you. Your father and I really are pleased for you. Having such a good time with Paul.  You never got on with him, did you, David?

DAVID: With Paulie?

MOTHER: No, with Robert. He was never really up to the mark.


MOTHER: Andy, though. You got on OK with Andy? Your Dad was fond of Andy, too. When I say "fond"...I mean...Andy was a nice enough...


MOTHER: All I'm saying is...Andy was...

JUDITH: Mum, you don't know anything about Andy. The guy was another bloody psycho.

MOTHER: Really! But Andy was...Anyway. I don't know. Pity. I always thought he was nice. What shall I cook for tomorrow, then?

DAVID: I dunno.

JUDITH: Don't care.

DAVID: Don't say "don't care." Then you won't like it again.

JUDITH: What the fuck...? I mean, Jesus. I won't eat anything anymore, if that's what you want.

MOTHER: All I'm asking is: what shall I make for supper. Judith. What would you like? Shall I wok something up?


MOTHER: A wok it is, then. How you two can smoke like that...

DAVID: Oh come on, Mum.

MOTHER: I'm not saying anything. I've got to go. I'm on duty. See you later.

(She leaves.)

DAVID: See you.

JUDITH: So what was that all about?

DAVID: What?

JUDITH: That supper business. Saying I don't like anything. What a slime-bag.

DAVID: Yeah, right. And what are you, then? Eh?

JUDITH: I'm not in the slime business.

DAVID: Exactly. You don't do slime. But you don't mind telling her all about Paulie, do you?


DAVID: Think about it. Ha! Might it be that there's something a little peculiar about that?

JUDITH: I don't see why.

DAVID: Parading your sex life in front of your mother...

JUDITH: Oh, please. Sex life. How was that my sex life? All I said was, Paul...OK. You're right. Sex life. But with the details left out. I mean. I still might want to tell someone...

DAVID: What? That Paul is a better fuck.

JUDITH: Are you out of your mind?

DAVID: But that's what it's about, isn't it, Judith? That he fucks you better.

JUDITH: Right. Why don't you say it a couple more times.

DAVID: No problem. Paulie's a better fuck. And that makes Mum happy.

JUDITH: Right. Paul is a better fuck. Exactly so. And how! He fucks me so sweetly, you have no idea. Nothing in your sex life could possibly compare. He fucks like a god. It's a bummer, isn't it, not having a sex life?

DAVID: Frankly I'd rather do without.

JUDITH: Well you don't have one, anyway, do you, David? What a shame.

DAVID: You make me sick, Judith. You always do this. And I sit there and smile nicely. You broadcast your sex life. But what about me? Does anyone ask me, even?

JUDITH: Oh, would you like that? Shall I ask you at dinner?

DAVID: Judith. You dare...It has to be a David Productions show. My show.

JUDITH: OK. I'll restrain myself. I promise.


DAVID: Judith, I...You know...You...You let everyone see what's inside. You let everyone in. You go transparent. Like glass. But me. I'm a vanisher. A disappearer. When I fall apart, the pieces fall inwards, Judith. With you, they go flying outwards. You can explode. Outwards. Not me, though. It's always inwards with me. I implode.

JUDITH: It's a partnership, David. Together, we can blow out. Explode together. Like two bombs. We're a team. Superheroes, David. You and me. Us two. Spiderman and Catwoman. You and me. We're Superheroes, David.  As always and forever. I am hot Catwoman. Mega-hot Catwoman. The hottest fucking cat there is. She goes like THIS and scratches guys' eyes out. I get them like THIS by the balls. And you're Spiderman. Super-sexy Spiderman.

DAVID: Sexy...?

JUDITH: OK. You can be SpiderStud. Hard man SpiderStud. Straight to the heart. Nothing is sacred. None can stand before him. Outwards. Always outwards. Breakout man, David. You have the balls. You are the SpiderStud. Let's explode together.

DAVID: Yes, indeed. Spiderman has balls. Balls of fire. Us two, Judith. Spiderman and Catwoman. Breakout man.

JUDITH: You're my hero, David. My hero. I love to watch as you start to open up, as you summon your powers, as your private life opens up to the politics of the world, as you let Spiderman in.

DAVID: And you are Catwoman. Don't let anymore people in, Judith. The return to visibility. The going out. The going out and exploding. We two. We are heroes, Judith. Come here. You're so beautiful.

Evening. DAVID and his MOTHER sit in their living room. The TV is on. MOTHER is reading a detective novel.

DAVID: When is Dad coming home?

MOTHER: Any moment now. Why?

DAVID: Just wondering.


MOTHER: So how are you, anyway?

DAVID: I'm good.


MOTHER: And otherwise?

DAVID: What?

MOTHER: I mean, how are you otherwise?

DAVID: Good.

MOTHER: Great.


MOTHER: And how is Joanna?

DAVID: She's good, too. Why?

MOTHER: Just wondering. So what is she up to, your Joanna? She doesn't have a boyfriend, does she?

DAVID: No. But she's a real sweetie. A fully paid-up sweetie.

MOTHER: Really. I see. Joanna.


MOTHER: It's a shame that with Tania you never...Anyway. You don't really have the time, do you? Always studying. No time at all. For that sort of thing. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if your life was as complicated as Judith's. To have two of you like that. Frankly, I'd rather have five sons than one daughter. Ah. Here's Dad now.

(Enter FATHER.)

DAVID: So. How was your day?

FATHER: Pretty much like all editorial meetings, really. Paul says hi, David.

MOTHER: Good evening, Wolfgang.

DAVID: Paulie. How did you run into him?

FATHER: We went for a drink after work. We were just sitting there when Paul walked in. He specially asked after you. Specially. He walks up to me and asks me how you are. Specially comes to talk to me. He seemed really interested. Chatted a bit. About himself. He sells himself pretty well. Good talker, that Paul. Asked after you specially.

MOTHER: He was in the same class as David at school.

FATHER: Who? Paul?

MOTHER: Yes. He was, wasn't he? David. Earth calling David. Isn't that right? It is, isn't it?


FATHER: So how come you broke off...?

DAVID: Broke off what?

FATHER: The thing with Paul. Why did you break it off? He asked specially after you.

DAVID: What is it you think I broke off, Dad? What would that be?

FATHER: Well, I've never had a problem with Paul. You just break everything off. You shouldn't be surprised, you know. When you go around breaking things off.

DAVID: Surprised?

FATHER: David. Where are your friends? Where are they? You just break everything off. Paul specially asked after you.

DAVID: He has his reasons, no doubt.

FATHER: What sort of reasons could he possibly have?

MOTHER: He likes to show an interest. Our Paulie is a real sweetie.

FATHER: I mean who have you got? Eh? Who? Who have you got apart from us? David? Apart from us, you've got no one.

DAVID: Blimey! What the...? Yesterday you were all proud of my exam results. And today...!

FATHER: That's quite a different matter, David. This is about being sociable. So go on, tell me: who have you got? Eh? Who? Do you have any kind of a network? A social network?

DAVID: Yes. I have.

MOTHER: Oh come now, David. Try to tell the truth. It's all rather...fleeting, isn't it?

DAVID: Oh yeah. What about Tania? And Joanna? And Peter? And Agnes?

MOTHER: Ooh. Who on earth is Agnes? You've never told us anything about her.

DAVID: Agnes is a real sweetie. A proper sweetie.

FATHER: If you're honest with yourself, you have nobody.

DAVID: I have networks.


MOTHER: But David, you never introduce us to anyone. Take Joanna. Why don't you introduce Joanna to us. For example. Or maybe...Agnes?

DAVID: I'm in love.

MOTHER: Oh, David. Cool.

FATHER: Oh really. In love with whom exactly?

MOTHER: Yes, with whom? Is it Agnes?

DAVID: No. It's Martin.

MOTHER: I beg your pardon?

DAVID: I said Martin.

MOTHER: Oh. I see. Yes. Right then. If that's the way it is...Right. Your father and I...I mean to say. Well, you're quite old enough. If that is your decision...We're not going to lecture you about anything. You're quite old enough. Right. Yes. If that's the way it is, then that is the way it is.

DAVID: Yes. That is the way it is, in my case. What's more, I like it that way. I like it a lot.

FATHER: Broken off everything, you have. Everything. I'm not surprised. No. I am not at all surprised. You never did try to integrate. Why did you never try to integrate, eh? Paulie asked after you specially. But you just never...No. Not you. The key thing is to make sure you integrate. Damn it. It would be no skin off your nose. But no. You just can't bring yourself to do it. Sir can't bring himself to do it. He always has to...Well, I understand that, I suppose. You were always too smart.

MOTHER: Yes. Daddy's right. You really were always too smart.

FATHER: But for Christ's sake what about the business of integration. Do you know how hard it's going to make it? Damned hard is how hard. I don't know who you get it from. Your mother and I...Look at us. We integrate, damn it. We engage in the integration process. It's just a question of...Well. Paulie asked specially after you. In your shoes, I would start integrating PDQ.

MOTHER: But, David, if that's really your decision...You really are quite old enough.

FATHER: I have to go to bed.

DAVID: Apparently there are some quite good self-help groups. For afflicted parents.

MOTHER: What does that mean, afflicted parents? We are not in the least afflicted. It's your decision, David. It is entirely your own decision. No one can take that away from you. Afflicted? Really. I mean to say. You're quite old enough. Are you saying we...David. It's your decision.

FATHER: Your mother and I are splendidly integrated. Doris. Why don't you join me. I'm tired.


DAVID: I told them.

JUDITH: What? No. You didn't. David. You hero! When's your next therapy session?

DAVID: Judith...I...I broke it off.

JUDITH: Why, David?

DAVID: Because that Ms Schachinger...Anyway. It wasn't doing any good.

JUDITH: But why? She was doing a good job, wasn't she, your Ms Schachinger? Did you get bored of it?

DAVID: No, I blew up. She chucked me out.

JUDITH: You what?

DAVID: She chucked me out. She can't work with me anymore. Unfortunately.

JUDITH: Oh shit. Why?

DAVID: Because I don't engage. Apparently. I don't engage. And if I just want to be coached, I should go somewhere else. There are cheaper places for that sort of stuff. And then I wouldn't have to engage. But what she does is therapy, and you have to engage.

JUDITH: Hmm. Shit.

DAVID: Bollocks to shit. You think I'm going to let her sedate me.

"Your anger is a mask for your grief."

She's shitting herself. Completely shitting herself. Trying to persuade me my anger is grief. As far as she's concerned, I'm simply a sad guy. Anything but angry. Grief good. Anger bad.

"There are no flaws in the system, David. You simply need to alter your perspective. It's a systemic problem, David."

Systemic my arse.

"You need to alter your perspective; make room for your grief, David. Then you won't need that feeling anymore. That feeling you have, that something is wrong. With the world. Of course something's wrong. And how, David. But the feeling you have, David, the anger, David. You won't need that anymore, David. It's a defence mechanism, David. Your views are merely a point of view."

Everything is a point of view. There are only points of view and some kind of superduper existential Ur-grief.

"David, you are not engaging. Make room for your grief, David. I don't see the Gestalt right now, David. I'm not getting a clear Gestalt from your politics, David. It's not substantive, David. Not at all. Unfortunately, David. But if you persist in hiding behind your politics, then a coaching session might suit you better, David. Cheaper, in any case, David. And you wouldn't even have to engage, David. It's a defense mechanism, David. But go ahead, if it protects you, David, then..."

Like fuck it protects me. What is it supposed to protect me from? My politics can't protect me. And I say this: I'm not interested in grief. I have this rage in my belly. And then she goes:

"Very well, David. If you prefer to engage with your anger, David. If it's anger's turn at the moment, David. For you. Well then. If that is the NOW, then let's explore your anger, David. Show me your anger, David. It may be that your anger must become a Gestalt first, David, in order that you can then make room for your grief..."

And then she gives me a baseball bat. And puts a mattress on the table. And I'm supposed to hit the mattress with the bat. "Perhaps the mattress will acquire a face, David. And something will surface, David." And then I'm supposed to hold onto the image.

And when she says stop, I have to stop.

So I stand in front of the mattress and mammock it. I really go for the mattress. Full on. And I get really in touch with myself and beat the shit out of the mattress and beat the fucking mattress black and blue. And somehow I'm really into it. And I tap right into my inner powers and my central self and into the rage in my belly. Fantastic. To be so up for myself. Fantastic to have made contact and to be engaged. And I feel completely well in myself and can grasp the whole Gestalt and I rain my anger upon the mattress. And I hit it and bash it. And I bash the shit out of it. That fucking shit mattress. I beat the fucking mattress black and blue. And then I have the feeling an image is forming. I have to hold on to it. I hold onto it. Do I ever hold on to it. And I'm hitting and hitting. Hitting with all my strength. I hit like I've never hit before. I hit out all over the place. And there's the table. And I start hitting that too. Do I ever hit it. I hit the hell out of it. And then the bookcase. I start hitting the bookcase. And the books. And the couch, and I really get in touch and I get there, finally I really make contact with my inner powers and I beat and I hit and I hit and I let her shout "Stop" and I'm beating the crap out of everything and feel nothing but rage. "Stop" she screams. "Stop". And I'm so hot. Any moment now, I'll get there. Any moment now, Ms Schachinger. My powers. Any moment now. I blow up. I'm there. Any moment now. Give me the powers and I'll freak out all over them. I will so freak out all over them out there. I'll explode. Light my fuse, Schachinger. Right now. I'm off to freak out. Light my fuse, Schachinger. Right now. Light me up cos I'm a bomb.


"Stop, David. I'm telling you to stop."

I trashed her entire therapy room. I transgressed the boundary. I went too far. Her personal space. Her boundaries. She had said "stop."

JUDITH: David...

DAVID: She wanted to see my anger, right? Let her integrate someone else. I was so up for myself. Like never before.


JUDITH: You did over your therapist. Hot. David. For real. You truly are the SpiderStud.

translated from the German by Neil Fleming