Formentera Fever - some excerpts ...


1) Hammer was standing at the check-in counter, early in the morning, after a night of heavy drinking. He had fallen into his cab to the airport at four o'clock outside a corner pub in the south of the city. At least it was his turn straight away.

    After a quick glance at his ticket, the check-in lady stared at him, slightly irritated and indignant in equal measure. "The plane's already in the air!"

    Hammer frantically tore the ticket back. It did indeed say the message of death: departure time 4:20 p.m. He had definitely had 5:20 p.m. in mind. Alzheim, apocalypse. Out of an inner convulsion, he sent a small series of American fecal words to the floor, waved his right arm, but quickly regained his composure to bravely, if somewhat weakly, ask his question to the astonished woman: "Do you have any idea what I can do?"

    "This is the only flight from Hanover to Ibiza until the day after tomorrow. Why don't you go to the TUI counter? Maybe they can rebook something for you."

    No sooner said than done, he rolled away to the TUI counter, just a few meters away. In front of him was a group of four travelers for whom something had apparently also gone wrong. To leave no doubt as to the seriousness of his situation, he sent them a fiercely annoyed face, especially as, by all accounts, this was no longer about important things. Shortly afterwards, they actually pissed off.

    "Take a cab to Hamburg. There's another plane at 7.30am. And there's still plenty of room on it," the guy replied after consulting his screen, godlike and patronizing.

    A quick, painful glance at his wallet. "About 170 euros, the cab, you say? Good. Can you arrange that for me in Hamburg?" "No problem."

    Hammer went back out into the cool night air, late September, about 4 degrees, and negotiated a fixed price of 150 euros "no receipt" plus a smoking permit with the Turkish cab driver. He thought to himself that he was bringing money to the people and decided to do without a car for the first week. The fact that, after everything that had happened, this trip was more than far beyond his current financial means anyway was another matter.

    The chauffeur did a good job with his Mercedes, and Hammer still arrived at the TUI counter in Hamburg on time, albeit far too late for the obligatory hour before departure. The ticket was changed quickly and free of charge, and Hammer rolled back to check-in with his two heavy suitcases, still about twenty people in the queue.

    A little further ahead, a slender, delicate, long-legged woman caught his eye. In particular, the way her lovely ass hugged her back and the way that slender back was covered by dark, thick curly hair had immediately sent his strained brain into a small frenzy.

    Over the decades, Hammer had acquired a certain intuitive ability to deduce the shape of a woman's face from the shape of her buttocks when he first saw her from behind. But not only in simple criteria such as pretty or ugly. His ability to recognize had developed in far more subtle facets. Yes, he could at least guess how exciting or boring, bright or stupid she would appear from the front. Of course, this also worked the other way round, and had almost certainly actually developed from this perspective. The simplest example: grim face, grim ass. And Hammer was rarely wrong.

    When she bent down briefly and then glanced behind her, he saw her face. High forehead, slightly curved nose, almost amber eyes, a look and a kind of posture that intrigued him and let him assume certain pent-up energies.

    He wasn't sure whether she had Formentera in mind. She seemed a tad too straight, too determined in her motor skills, yet too natural and confident for Ibiza. Jeans with no rips or holes, a beige windbreaker, no silly appliqués such as nose rings or fringes, high-heeled western boots, bare belly button, make-up case... Nothing like that, just a small, dark brown leather bag slung over her shoulder. He watched her closely, smiled, felt the beer and the remnants of the white powder in his veins and secretly hoped that she would turn around again for a little eye contact.

    Her quick glance, the way she moved, simply an impressive appearance. Manager, model, whatever, mid-30s, an attractive woman who did her thing, here or there - regardless of the location. Besides, the days are long gone, Hammer thought, when you could still tell by sight which passenger was going to which island.

    "I'd like to sit next to the lady with the long, dark curls," he said to the check-in lady, who asked whether he was a smoker or non-smoker.

    "Will do," she laughed.

    He felt a little god feeling. Guided by fate, even though his desire wasn't really serious. It had just bubbled out of him cheekily. Was there a deeper meaning to the fact that he was now flying from Hamburg instead of Hanover? Which is much nicer, Hammer thought casually.

    Oh God, what would happen? Just that he wouldn't spout completely paranoid nonsense at her in his over-excited state? That she would turn away in disgust or even use the emergency button to call the stewardess for help.

    "This man is harassing me in an impertinent manner."

    At the very least, he would deny everything. "I'm very fed up. I don't understand what the lady means. Must have misunderstood something. Really!" And anyway, what was all that about? He had an appointment with Luisa on Formentera, urgently and in matters of love.

    Seat no. 29 D, a smoker's seat in the aisle. On E and F sat an elderly couple, to the left of the aisle three customs officers with upper lip beards - or perhaps freight forwarders?

    What's going on here? The little check-in chick, who could have immediately started working as a local tour guide in Ibiza with her stupidly brash face, had played God and just fooled him. No dark curls anywhere, nada. He dug his boarding pass out of his pocket again. Fuckin' 29D. The mouse doesn't bite a thread.

    "Good morning." Hammer said nervously and squeezed into the aisle seat. Both in their early to mid-60s, she with skillfully bleached platinum hair, silver jewelry, very elegant. With his white curls, the man reminded him spontaneously of former German President Scheel.

    Perhaps he would see them again in the luggage. "If you happen to want to go to Formentera, maybe we can share a cab to the port." Not really good. She might think he was a tightwad who wanted to halve his transfer costs. "If you happen to want to go to Formentera too, I'd be happy to share a cab with you." That's better. Wait, this is how it should be: "Excuse me, I'd like to bet that you also want to go to Formentera. Maybe you'd like to take the cab with me." Very good, awesome! Maybe add ecological aspects, saving energy, 1 car instead of 2, pollutant emissions? No, not bullshit like that at all!

    The plane took off. If the answer was yes, you could immediately add: "Look, you just don't give the impression that you want to stay in Ibiza". Do you? Or even: "Wouldn't you like to fuck me a little?" Nonsense, hammer! For now, you anyway. Nice conversations would develop and you could soon offer to be the older one, ha. Oh Hamburg, oh divine providence. But it didn't fit at all. Luisa was already waiting.

    He, Hammer, island addict, had met Luisa on Stromboli at Pentecost, shortly after Anna had broken up with him, i.e. actually on the Naples night ship, during the departure. The typical northern Italian, reddish-blond, brown-eyed, with a pronounced nose and wonderful laugh lines. She had fixed her gaze on him immediately as they both stood a little apart from each other at the railing, smoking, looking at the lights of the houses and the small harbor. Every time he turned sideways towards her, she turned sideways towards him, every time he turned back against the railing, she did the same, as did his turn towards the bar. A crazy little game.

    "What a pity!" he had said, pointing to the island. They were immediately in English conversation, she with that beautiful Milanese accent. Then, when they were about 2 km out at sea, the volcano had suddenly released a violent eruption, a magical image in the moonless night. The conical outline of the island - barely visible before, just the few lights of the houses and harbor lamps. And suddenly this rain of fire that illuminated and outlined everything. Ecstatic applause on board. And then the glowing ash rolled like a caterpillar down the Sciara Del Fuoco towards the sea. Renewed applause from all the people at the railing. "Oh, magic," Hammer had praised.

    "Somewhere there is my husband," she had said when Hammer had moved a little closer to her and pointed in the direction of the bar. So, damn it, a husband. They hadn't even introduced themselves. Asking that question, "What's your name?" had seemed too intimate, too inappropriate. Although, he had been pretty sure that under other circumstances he would have disappeared with her in the cabin after a short time.

    Then she had told him. She made ceramics, and her husband was the head of a large stainless steel kettle factory in Cremona, northern Italy, where the nougat came from. Cremona? Ceramics? Occupational therapy for rich industrialists' wives.

    "But I don't sell much." Sure. Ceramics with watercolors, fired by himself. Hammer had briefly talked about his guitar business. Arts and crafts or business, the fire was burning in her - just as it was in Hammer. Then she had gone away with a ciao, away to her husband at the bar.

    He had met her again in the morning in the hull of the ship, together. The man looked quite nice, a Wolfram Siebeck type, gray-haired, dynamic and likeable, but he had had a bad night, possibly. In any case, no opportunity to exchange addresses. He had liked her, perhaps a little too strong in the hips, but a definitely magical bottom and just this kind of body language, her intensity of action, this affection and a certain lascivious expression in her features, the interplay of her full-lipped mouth with her eyes when she laughed.

    Hammer - not lazy - had cheekily put his Italian distributor on the Yellow Pages, the employee Mara had actually called the boiler factory and asked for the wife's telephone number, in matters of ceramics. Since then, they had spoken on the phone almost every day.

    "Where can we meet again?" His suggestion of Formentera had been a hit, especially because a friend of her husband's owned a nice little property near Formentera's Swiss quarter.

    Hammer wondered whether he was now in the process of adopting a new attitude to things that he had never known before and was by no means willing to do. How could he be on the lookout for other women right now in the final run to fulfillment after all he had been inflamed? Was he not really serious about Luisa, or was he no longer really serious about love?

    Of course, it was precisely because things had ended so quickly with Anna that he had often thought about relationships and the course of partnerships recently. After seven years, almost every relationship is broken, after just one year the erotic desire can diminish dramatically, or after just two months?

    It depends. Or was it just the constellation, reservations from the start? Luisa, the object of his love, married, nothing really to do anyway. Can there be love when there are already real facts standing in the way? Love, object and reservations? Mr. Hammer, there's something wrong! But couldn't everything turn around? He would be with her, truly desire her like nothing else in the world, carry her off to his home and his kingdom, which would be his again in ten days, his alone...

    What did Hammer have to look for thick curls instead of concentrating on the one that was ready for him now? Wasn't Luisa much more subtle in appearance than the curly-haired one? Although... But it was precisely this weighing up that made him think again, made him doubt himself and his expected happiness.

    To what extent was he still capable of feeling happiness, love, fulfillment? He, who by now could deduce a stupid face from looking at a well-rounded ass. Wasn't it all a lie anyway? Had he suddenly checked into a system that he had always despised? Lost faith? Nevertheless, the thought of shooting himself or ending his life in some other way was further from his mind than ever.

    There was now not only Luisa as an object of desire, of fascination, of love... There were now two of them. Wasn't that even better? Or had he just become an immoral opportunist who now sought to consume love, what he had once valued as the highest emotion, half-heartedly? Was he the only one of his kind in the world who made up his mind like this, or did everyone really think like this? But what was that supposed to justify? What was all the fuss about?

    Hammer decided to let these things come to him as well. At worst to react, at best to take everything into his own hands. After all, he hadn't promised anyone anything. Luisa was without pretensions, the chubby one was a fiction at best. "Fuck," thought Hammer and immediately felt ashamed.

    Breakfast. "Well, I must have made a mistake," said the little shit stewardess from the check-in counter as she pushed the apparently heavy on-board snack trolley forward.

    Why was she here now? Had she been shunted off to this plane? As a snack pusher? Had everything now been rationalized to such an extent that the TUI staff had to both check in the passengers and be available on board as snack pushers? A degenerate profession? The other word for woman with a V formed in Hammer's language center. Or was it also spelled with an F? At some point, she was back at row 27.

    "I'm really fed up." she said knowingly, handing him the tray.

    "What do you mean?"

    "Oh, nothing..."

    He tore the clear plastic knife out of its transparent cellophane wrapping, pressed it into the side of the frame of the baked bread roll and achieved two halfway equal halves - half slicing, half tearing. Then he laboriously planed a flat slice of cold butter from the small thermoformed pack, in constant fear that the knife might break or the butter might fly in a high arc one row of seats away, or even onto the thick curls, ha...

    Finally, drenched in sweat, he positioned the butter in the middle of the roll, covered it with the sausage, smelled it carefully and reluctantly took a bite. He put another third of butter on the other half, the cooked ham offered itself as a topping. He grabbed the lettuce leaf underneath and tugged at the sticky thing with his teeth. Exasperated, he added the slice of cheese to the wholemeal bread, the packet of which was a real pain to tear open. Underneath was the last corner of butter...

    When he tried to spread it more evenly, the slice broke. He rejected the idea of opening the round packet of apricot jam and spreading it on the second slice of wholemeal bread. "There must have been a point to Hamburg," he thought again. Then the coffee arrived.

    Too soon to order a beer with it. Hammer took a tomato juice.

    "Salt and pepper are already on your tray along with the coffee creamer," the little stewardess grumbled.

    "Oh, why don't you give me another beer?" he said, following a sudden inspiration.

    He pushed himself back up in his seat, spying something thick. Nothing. She had to sit further forward, as clear as day. After he finished the beer, he decided to go to the toilet in the direction of the cockpit. Fucking tray. He asked the man next to him to hold it while he struggled out of his seat.

    "Gladly," he said amiably.

    Hammer slowly stalked forward, accompanied by the hum of the turbine, a feeling like walking gently uphill. He let his eyes peer over the edge of the seat. It was difficult to spot anyone at all from behind, sideways glances were very difficult from this direction. Nothing. He reached the toilet.

    A little girl was standing in front of him, fidgeting. He turned around and let his gaze glide slowly over the rows. He couldn't make her out, what was all this anyway? How could it come to this? Why at all? Isn't everything in life a coincidence? No, certainly not by chance. Or purely logical control, causal sequences that can't be influenced? Sense? Nonsense! it rumbled through Hammer's brain. Sense here, sense there, sense fuckin', no sense content. Whatever, fuckin' English, the only sense: Hamburg! Perhaps she was already asleep, had slumped down a little, out of sight.

    While Hammer was pissing, he wondered whether he should add the last of the white powder. This nice little gift from Robert, one of his best friends, with whom he had spent the night in the southern town pub. Take this with you now, otherwise I'll have to eat it tomorrow. I know I'm going to eat it tomorrow. And I know it's not good for me.

    Good opportunity, here in the toilet. It could also bring him to the front if eye contact or anything else actually materialized on the way back. A look in the mirror proved him wrong. He looked exhausted, really exhausted. It would be better if no one ever saw him in this state, better no contact at all at the moment!

    She was actually sitting asleep by the window in row twelve, the unopened snack tray in front of her on the folding table. He paused for a moment, took in her appearance again, went back to row twenty-seven and lit a cigarette. Actually, he didn't want to smoke from this morning onwards. But was it already this morning? Besides, the big shit was already running through his head again: him, Hammer, bankruptcy, resignation, dismissal. But the course had been set.

2) The speedboat had cast off, and Hammer couldn't believe his eyes. A little further on, the Joven Dolores was moored at the jetty, this wonderful wooden boat that he had thought had been gone for at least two years. The two fellow passengers also looked in disbelief.

       "There's no such thing! The Joven!" they marveled as they pinched each other's arms. "No way!" Hammer muttered breathlessly.

       "Wait a minute," he said, putting the suitcases down and rushing off to take a closer look. As always, Joven Dolores was written in black lettering on the bow. However, the whole ship was freshly painted, old white, in good quality. The bow was adorned with unfamiliar rigging made of aluminum tubing with colorful light bulbs, and music was playing from inside the ship. And what was that? Three meters away from the tip of the bow, a bold red and green logo was emblazoned on a white background: Linea Italiana. Proxima Salida 11.00 was written on a sign on the running board. A guy from the crew stood on top and smiled. "Secundo giorno della Joven Dolores!" An Italian. Hammer was astonished, but gave both thumbs up.

       They went to the brand new Linea Italiana counter and bought tickets. The woman behind the counter explained that the Joven Dolores had been completely renovated by her Italian compatriots and was now available for ferry traffic again.

       "Better Italian than not at all!" said the travel companion.

       "Yes, Italia!" said Hammer animatedly. "The Italians have got it, capito!"

       After all, this old wooden ship had already been in Denia twice for several months for repairs. And evil tongues had long claimed that the Joven, the young Dolores, would never come back, dry docked, scrap metal, the fatal end of an irretrievable era. He sat down with the couple at a table in front of the jetty bar. They ordered café con leche plus a hierbas, just for Hammer. Hammer reached for the last Gitanes Filtre. But not the right time to stop smoking...

3) "What's all this about UFOs?" asked Moppel boldly, brushing his long, stringy hair back.

       "Last time, you claimed with one hundred percent certainty that there were some. But before you could explain that to me, you ran off because you'd spotted the guy with the Afghani shit and really wanted that stuff."

       Moppel ordered a beer, took off his glasses and took a deep breath. Hammer kicked Alfred in the leg with his left foot and Marianne with her right.

       "You ignorant pig! There are UFOs! I didn't believe it either, until I saw one myself. I was on my moped on the way from San Francisco to the Cap, I just happened to look up to the left and there was a glistening light, totally far away, but totally bright. It's there and -" Moppel's right hand rushed upwards with an outstretched index finger - closed, sank down in a flash, "it's there, and, close!" - the hand went straight up - "is up again, then" - Moppel's hand performed a multiple zigzag movement outwards, "zusch, wuck, zusch, wuck, szschschschsch.... - it was gone. I'm telling you, zigzag movements, there's no explanation for that. Nobody can fly that, and certainly not at that speed. And totally far away."

       "I know," Hammer said with amusement, "You went to the meadow in the morning, colors all over the place, and then those UFOs. You were just completely drugged up back then." That was Hammer's method of getting Moppel out of his shell in front of an audience, and it worked:

       "That wasn't the only UFO I saw." Now Moppel stroked his long hair with the spread fingers of both hands towards the back of his neck. "We once walked home from a party at half past three in the morning through the woods, a shortcut from Cap Street onto the Camino towards the garbage tip."

       "You and Andrea?"

       "Bullshit, you ass. That was Elke, my girlfriend at the time.  So there was a path off to the right, between the pine trees, and

in the clearing, it was like ET, there was this huge, shiny white disk, this glistening light, and creatures came out of it, like on a ramp. Everything was steaming. A spaceship, completely real!"

       Hammer nudged both feet towards Marianne and Alfred again, who listened attentively. "So, aren't you then..." - Hammer searched for the right words - "let's say you went to the Guardia? You could report an incident like that to the police somewhere, let's say. Do your duty as a proper resident."

       Moppel slapped his forehead with the flat of his hand. "No, the craziest thing is that it took us two and a half years to even think of it again. You see, it was two and a half years before we were able to talk about it for the first time. You know, they switched off our consciousness. They don't want any witnesses."...

4) He actually still licked her, and she licked him even more, but not until later in the evening, after she had brought a fantastic tomato salad with feta cheese, black olives, shallots and fresh basil to the table, as well as a steaming pot of unbeatable tagliatelle with pesto. Then she had been in the bathroom for a while and surprised Hammer with a fishnet bodystocking which, in addition to the usual openings, also had one between the legs, as Hammer discovered after a brief examination.

       "Is that all mine?" he asked at her challenging look.

       "Tutto, all!"

       It was this tension between tenderness and hard eroticism that fascinated him, this sudden shift into the animalistic. Hammer's fingertips trailed over the large meshes, this beguiling unity of spun textile and delicate, naked skin. It sent him into a frenzy to stir, press and twist the buds lying firmly under the net, while she pulled him unerringly towards the leather chair, pressing her hand on the bulge of his pants. Then she yanked his pants up and down, turned around and squatted on the soft nappa leather...

5) "Do what you want!" he replied to the attack. "I won't hit you. But there will be consequences."

       "You're a stupid wanker!", the Asian continued to rant, E. indicated with a regretful gesture how little he thought of his adversary, turned around and left.

       Suddenly the sound of a bar stool toppling over came from inside, another source of unrest. A short, lean journeyman dragged a tall, rather fat and baffled-looking guy out of the bar onto the terrace, stood up in front of him and shouted: "You're not going to grab my girlfriend once more, you fuckface!"

       Then he lashed out and hit him with a full right hand on the chin. The fat man looked astonished, unmoved, and only his head jerked back almost imperceptibly at the impact of the fist. The little fury boy swung again, hit him again, and the fat man's head jerked back in the same way, as if that would take all the power out of the blow. Then the little one was held down by several people and wrestled, jerking and cursing, to escape the grasp of some strong arms again.

       Now the fat man, who was bleeding a little from the lip, leaned forward and said calmly: "You, Rolf, if you hit him again now, you'll get one back. But I wouldn't advise that."

       The woman, who was apparently the choleric man's girlfriend, came rushing out of the bar, insulted her companion loudly and shrilly and dragged him away through the alley leading to the so-called Kontakthof.

      The incredibly plump Gaucho-Peter shouted something like "That's not how it is here! You're banned from here from today!", and things calmed down again. Shortly afterwards, Hammer was told by one of those present that the big fat man had been a heavyweight boxer a few years ago and was not allowed to punch by law, because: Fist equals weapon. "If he had hit Rolf with a thunderbolt, he would have gone flying right into the contact yard, all his teeth behind him! And then two weeks in hospital in San Francisco."

       Was it the full moon, was it the imminent end of the season, or was it simply the secret vibrations of this island that drove people's potential for aggression to erupt?

6) The two of them got up and looked around. Everything was full of blood, it smelled of blood. What does human blood smell like? That must be the smell! Apocalypse. Now.

       José, the innkeeper, was the first one back in the action. This man had just lost probably his best guests, was Hammer's first, evil thought. But there was no more damage to limit. "Muertos, todos muertos!" shouted José. "Que pasa, porché?" Tears welled up in his eyes. It appeared that no one from the assembled table was still alive. Further to the left, a young woman had started to scream hysterically.

       Moppel grabbed her by the shoulders and shouted at her. "It's over, it's over!"

       A minute later, the Manhattan howl of the Ambulancia could be heard in the general din, mixed with the wailing of police sirens. The Guardias jumped out of their jeeps. Seis muertos, six dead, was heard again and again. A guard ran over to the hostal, picked up K.'s automatic rifle and took it to one of the cars.

       The paramedics crouched briefly over the dead man and indicated with regretful gestures that nothing more could be done. Blue lights, yellow lights, an incredible flickering and an unbelievable racket.

       "Stay here!" shouted one of the Guardias to Hammer and Moppel.

       "Si, si, we're staying, quedamos," replied Moppel.

       Hammer's whole body suddenly shook and he let himself fall into one of the chairs. One of the Guardias spoke some German and sat down, a notepad in his hands. "How did this happen?" he asked. Hammer left it to Moppel, the resident, to describe the crime: argument, jumped up, upstairs balcony door, the shots...