Stopover

Photography
Cranes stopping for the night on a reservoir

Cranes stopping for the night on a reservoir, October 2013

Advertisements

Weekly Writing Challenge: Object – Andrea

Photography, Written word

Dear ‘Andrea of Butterfly’, I like your Challenge quite a lot. Thank you for your inspiration! Let’s see what we can find, shall we? I have this one in your honor.

This was not his first assignment. In fact, he had done gigs like this one a couple of times already. Whenever companies were interested in marketing their newest toys, guys like him were hired.

But this time, it was different. It was not a new toy, this company wanted to present. In fact, this little baby was older than himself. Built in the eighties of the twentieth century, it had seen a lot of miles on roads all over the world.

It was an overnight flight from the states to Germany and he had plenty of time to study the material, the company sent him over. While other guests fell into a quiet sleep the artist read the information sheets again and again. 325bhp, 4291mm length, 1775mm width. This little car needed just a few seconds to break through the 60mph barrier, 120mph was not an issue either. The frame alone was not very representative, though. The pure data sheets could not tell the stories and adventures this car went through.

But the company was helpful enough to list its drivers and their achievements. The beauty he was scheduled to meet in less than twelve hours drove the Twenty-four hours of Le Mans in 1989, the tenty-four hours of the Nürburgring a year later. In 1991, it won the twelve hours of Spa and Sebring. Again, it competed in Le Mans, Le Mans and in the ‘Green Hell’ and put on some serious competetion.

Those kinds of competitions were over. However, this little baby was not put asleep. Even more than twenty years later, it offered some thrill rides for drivers all over the world. Classic races were its home these days and even there, it never forgot how to win races. With Italian drivers, it succeeded in Suzuka, a team of French and Austrian drivers got it round the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Sao Paolo quickest. And 22 years after its last win at the Nürburgring it went there again to make it to the top spot on the podium.

It wouldn’t be that fast when the night was over. Very much like a model on display it would be there for him. Waiting and presenting itself. He was nervous. Just as nervous as he was before his very first date as a teenager. What, if he wasn’t able to bring it? What, if he didn’t find the connection he needed for his images? There was no going back now, he feared. The company would send a driver to bring him to his date. Everything was planned. Of course, everything would be punctual, on time and precise. He was going to Germany after all. Only, could he be punctual enough?

In the wee hours of morning, the plane touched ground. While the speed of his vehicle decreased, his heart went faster. Usually, he laughed at the amateurs who got up and out from their seats, before the plane actually stopped. Today, he was the first one at the doors, waiting impatiently to have them opened. He was not running down the gate after he left the plane, but oh boy, nearly he actually was.

The Immigration desk wasn’t a big issue. The letter of invitation of the company spoke for itself. Especially in this area of Germany, the manufacturerer’s logo was a piece of authority for everyone. He got through the baggage claim and through customs without any problems. As promised, there was his driver at the exit. Holding a board with his name, he was easy to find.

“Good morning and welcome to Germany”, he said when the artist approached him. “I hope, you had a pleasant flight.”

There was this thing about Germans speaking English. As an American, you have an image of a James Bond villain with a heavy German accent in your head which you can not quite get out. Even though, this gentleman was neatly dressed, perfectly styled and was well-mannered, his eyes were, well, professionally cold. Precision, effectiveness, punctuality. Of course, he was in Germany after all. The car – the newest four-door-saloon of his host company – was just outside the terminal building. There was a water bottle waiting for him in the back seats and his driver went off and into the country side.

He wasn’t much of a talker and must have gotten the feeling that his American guest was a bit too tired to start conversation himself. Tired? No, he was absolutely not tired. He got more nervous as the minutes passed by. When they left the Autobahn for the last kilometres, he felt even more like a little kid. He asked the man at the wheel if his gear made it ok.

“Yes”, it came from the front “Everything on your list is set up as you ordered, sir.”

Of course, precision. He bet, they hired an assistant who was nearly as much of an expert in his field as he was himself, just to make sure. Oh well, this would be a fun time.

When they arrived at the company’s site, it was about Eight o’clock. He was greated by some engineers, by some suit-wearing executives (a three-piece-suit on a Saturday morning? Well, he was in Germany after all) and two art directors. One – Klaus – was the one who took care about his belongings.

“We have set up everything you sent us”, he claimed proudly. He was a man in his forties, short dark hair, slim body. As everyone he seemed to be able to run a marathon for fun and might just have done it before coming out here this morning. “If you have any questions, don’t hesitate. We are here if you need any help”.

“Well”, he thought, “they were also here to make sure, you don’t screw up.”

“Could you give me a few minutes alone with the car?” he asked Klaus. “I would like to get a feeling for it”

“Of course”, the Art Assistant replied. “But one thing. The car is not an ‘It'”. There was a change in the face of the German. “With this age and her history, we don’t think of it as an object anymore. It has a sould, we believe. It definately has a lot of proudness and her own will.” There was also a slight change in Klaus’ expression. Gone was the precision and coldness in his face. When he went on to go through the reasons, they even gave the car a name, his eyes spoke of love and passion. Something he had experienced with car owners in the past quite a lot of times. Something he had not expected to find over here on this cold morning.

“So, after it nearly killed him, he christened the car. After his mother-in-law, though, but it helped their relationship”. Klaus spoke of a dutch driver, who piloted it – no, her – during the 1993 24 hours of Le Mans.

“Ever since then”, he continued, “She was named Andrea. But enough from me now. Shall we say, I will join you in ten minutes?” Klaus’ question was not really up for debate, but more a guideline. He would be at his side in precisely ten minutes from now. He was in Germany after all.

They accompanied him to the garage where the shooting would take place. As promised they opened the door but would not join him.

And there she was. In dimmed light, his gear set up in precise order around her. It did not destroy his first impression of her. Not a tiny bit. What he noticed first were the headlights. Those iconic pieces of engineering. They not only were part of an era, but part of a whole brand. They spread warning and fear to everyone in front of them. ‘Be careful’, they said ‘Here comes something meaner and quicker than you’. The smooth bonnet leading to the windshield. Nothing was beneath it, since the ‘Andrea’ had her engine in the back. The brand’s logo, she wore with proud. So much proud infact, that it had parts of the city’s seal embodied in it. So much proud that every child all over the world recognized it immediately.

He didn’t dare to touch her. His first date came to his mind, where he was simply to shy to touch his girlfriend’s hands. He didn’t want to destroy the moment. Then and now, he felt it would simply wrong. He moved his hands, just inches above the surface of the car. On her roof which was so low to glide through the air with as less resitance as possible, down to the back which was so iconic again. The wide tyres beneath the big rear fenders, sticking out so widely, yet so smoothly designed. The rear wing which fits so nicely to the overall concept. Klaus was right. Even without its – most likely haunting and breathtaking noise – he could feel that this car, that Andrea, was not just a piece of engineering.

He could feel the speed this car must have been capable of. The pressure with which the wing had pressed the rear wheels on the race track. The noise the tyres had made during tight corners. The sheer power the engine had developed. Teasing the driver to stay on the throttle longer, haunting him with adrenaline rushes while overtaking or going through corners. This car, this masterpiece of German engineering, this mere collection of metals, plastics, petroleums and other pieces of chemicals, left the factory as an object.

But as it went on as envisioned of by these precise, effective, professionally cold engineers, it came to life.

“Are you ready”, Klaus came into the garage, silently he walked up behind him.

“Oh yes. Yes, we are ready, indeed”.

Disclaimer: As a German, I might have painted a darker image, writing about my fellow friends in this nation. Especially engineers in the automotive area are passionate about what they do. You can see it in their eyes when you talk to them. I also have taken a few liberties, thinking about photographers and how they get their gear across great distances. I also hope, you don’t mind, that his is not about a mere object in the end.

But mostly, I hope, you enjoyed this little trip down my mind. Tell me what you think! About this piece of writing. About ‘Andrea’ and of course, what I could have done better, if you don’t mind 🙂

A Porsche Carrera 911, built around 1989

A Porsche Carrera 911, built around 1989

DSC_5569

Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence

Written word

A challenge? Oh, how I love me some challenge!

I call this one ‘Rita’ and it goes like this:

Everyone knows, there are some buildings in your community which ooze authority. Ever dreamt of having a slumber party in a jail? Throwing confetti on a graveyard? Well, if your mind works like mine, you have, but hardly anyone considers this The Norm. There are things you simply do not do. Under no circumstances. Punishment would be severe if you didn’t follow the rules.

Rita knew this, when she entered the Castle Rock library this morning. She grew up around books and literature ever since her mom read her about leprechauns and fairies. She changed to Pennywise and Werewolves when she was 11. Pity the fools who dreamt about Bella and Edward, she had Randall Flagg and the Lone Ranger in her mind when she was 14. Tolkien changed to Trotzky in the years of her ‘rebellion against the man’, but her mind always stayed open for a good read regardless of its origin or background.

She did not like to keep all these books to herself, though. There was this thing about buying books, reading them and forgetting them on a shelf at home which she never got used to. She loved the worlds of libraries. The vast and sheer endless amounts of knowledge and worlds of stories blew her mind any time she walked through the aisles. There was something about the French Revolution. About the reasons, the Chinese Boxers fought. About a world where trolls lived on bridges and were friends with elves and dwarves.

She got her own library card at the age of seven. Ms DeFleur handed her the piece of cardboard when Little Rita was not even able to reach over the counter. She got the green one – the one for the grown ups – for her sixteenth birthday. And when the library walked the walk into the web2.0 she got her ID before anyone else in town.

So, yeah, she knew the routine of this place. She knew it very well, indeed. Walk in, find a desk in the hall, leave your belongings there and make your way to find anything that hits your mind. Even though she rarely saw Ms DeFleur, she knew the old lady was there. Wandering through the building, watching. The woman was old. Even in Rita’s memory she was never younger than at this day. Nearly it seemed as if she belonged to the library. Or did the library belong to her? Nearly it seemed, Ms DeFleur would be the lone keeper of the knowledge here. Even Rita’s mom could not tell her, when the head-librarian actually started her work. All she could tell her daughter was, that she was there. Every day. Every year. Her glasses and her cardigan fitted the typical image of her profession. But when Rita got to know her, she did not think of her as an evil person. Not a demon or a witch as in those horror stories of Lovecraft, Poe or King. No, Ms DeFleur simply was there. A rock of authority, unimpressed by the waves of stupidity and immorality of this world.

This is not a story about the librarian after all, though. This is going to be about Rita. The woman who nearly disappeared inbetween the racks full of books deep inside one of the library wings. Today, she found herself in the section of classical british literature. William Caxton, John Prise. Oh, the wonderful world of sonnets and early beginnings of the english language. Rita found an arm full of books within a minute and got back to her desk in the main hall. “If someone took hours, days or even years to write a book“, her mother said when she was young, “you should at least give him fifteen minutes to convince you, my dear. If you do not like the book after that, it is no shame to put it back“. Those were her precise intentions right now. The Castle Rock library was perfect for this exercise. Especially in the morning, the reading hall was flooded with sunlight which was so much more powerful than the artifical lights on the ceiling. Coming through the window glass the light felt warm and cozy (Rita tried to read about the nature of light when she was fiteen. One of the books she put back quite quickly). The chairs in front of the desks were comfy. Not too comfortable to fall asleep in, but your butt would not hurt even after reading for hours nonstop. The desk itself was made of dark brown wood and was vast, compared to her little table at home. She loved and adored sitting here reading in silence.

Edmund Spenser was great. The Faerie Queene – even though inclomplete – was exciting and lovely written. Rita did not understand Thomas Sackville’s Gorboduc, but she never liked the great playmakers anyway, so she was not too disappointed. She found another three books she would take home today and was nearly at the end. And then she came to Alexander Wedderburn. His Anthology of poetic wobbles of the night caught her eye when she scanned through the rows of books. “What or who were wobbles“, she thought. Some weird kind of ancient term for literature? She didn’t know, but that never stopped her from plunging into topics.

Applying her 15-minute-rule, she got through the first chapter. She was confused. There was no sense in the sentences. She could not understand the sense, Mr Wedderburn tried to express here.

Babbling through building blocks,
porpling about to wobble along.
The brute hobbled forth,
along the sabbered fence,
observit the flarce,
in the summer lense.

Yeah, right“, Rita thought. She was nearly ready to break her mother’s rule. And she should have done it. It would have saved her so much trouble. But, oh well, even Pandora’s box’s warning was ignored, right?

She flipped the page, ready to be confused some more when she discovered the note. Later, she swould remember that the hand writing was really neat. As if someone had written the thin lines with a feather with style to the right of the book’s text. Hardly anyone could read her own handwriting, so she envied that person’s abilities even before she actually read the note itself.

Now, for some extra entertainment, read again, but in the voice of Rowan Atkinson (That’s Mr Bean for you). Enjoy and remember where you are!

At first, she didn’t know what the notes scribbler meant. Rowan who? Who was Mr Bean again? Then she remembered her childhood. This weird and awkward Englishman. Not the nine-O’clock-News was one of her favourite comedy shows when she was young and Atkinson was one of its stars. A second later, it was all too late. She heard him in her voice, reading the poem aloud again and again. Louder each time and exaggering his very own style.

Like too much water breaking a damn, hilarity got loose in her mind. Exaggerating the b- and p-sounds she found it funny first. Smiled then. And lost control finally. Her first grin was slient, she could hold back the first loud laughter that followed. But then Rowan started again. He was shouting in her head now.

Babbling through building blocks,
porpling about to wobble along.

She could not hold it anymore. The sound that left her, was half way between a snort and a laugh and caught everyone’s attention in the hall. Rita looked around, deeply embarrassed, but that did not help her at all.

The brute hobbled forth,
along the sabbered fence,
.

It got worse now. Rowan was on a run here and got Rita all geared up. She gave up as her urge to laugh overcame her very last reserve of decency. She did not need to read anymore, Atkinson had learned it quickly and recited enthusiasticly as if on a hunt for the next BAFTA. It had to get out of her. Like a maniac she started laughing loudly. Tears shot into her eyes as she and Rowan continued.

observit the flarce,
in the summer lense.

He seemed to scream. Of course, nobody could understand a word as Rita could not stop her laughter. When Rowan started again, she tried to open her eyes. With the last pieces of her normal thinking mind, she expected to be stared at, she was ready to die of embarrassment, but found this extremely hilarious. What she didn’t expect was Mrs DeFleur.

The old woman stood in front of her. At any other day, her expression would be ready to stop the loudest and meanest gang of teenagers. Right now, Rita looked at her, stopped laughing for a second and continued even louder. Her eyes closed again, her Rowan restarting for the gazillionst time in her head, she was not ready to be stopped that easily. Even as the librarian crossed her arms to signal her final warning, Rita did not care. She couldn’t even if she wanted. She was in her own world. Narrated by Rowan Atkinson, telling about hobbling brutes along a sabbered fence.

That did it for Mrs DeFleur. It was always the quiet ones who discovered this utterly disgraceful book. Always the nice women even who were so eager to read, so they discovered the note. What an evil joke of Mr Alexander Wedderburn who not only wrote the poem, but also the note. As she walked away from Rita’s desk to call the ambulance, she wondered once more how this author could have heard about Atkinson nearly 500 years before said comedian was born. Now, nothing else could be done than to call for medical help.

It was a shame. And when Rita was taken away – still in tears and inside her own world if laughter – , Mrs DeFleur brought the woman’s books back to the shelves. Nobody saw her small and short little grin.

Disclaimer: I have taken the names of some authors of the early british literature to help me with the story. I hope, you don’t mind, that I also took some liberties with the poem itself. I don’t know if all the words actually exist. But in my world – where everyone talks like Mr Bean – they definately would.

Also, for those who have not heard Rowan Atkinson lately, follow this link.

Daydreams, part I

Written word

The other day, someone asked about daydreams. Little moments where your mind wanders off. This was my answer. A daydream I call ‘Heike

There’s hardly any sound. Only the light breeze of wind hitting the trees in the area. There must be a cricket a few yards to my right trying to attract his female companions. Other than that, silence around me. I can feel the concrete floor beneath me. Weird, people use concrete on roofs of houses. I can see the road in the distance through the periscope.

And I know who will be in this view in a few moments. She walks the same route every day. Every day at the same time, she is buying her lunch at the same coffee shop. Two pieces of cake and a large coffee. No sugar, I know that. It would spoil her otherwise carefully watched figure, she tells the barista who told me about her. As if sugar could harm her any more.

On her way down the road the first piece of cake disappears in her mouth. The second one will be gone even before she is back at her office space. She is talking during the walk. Either on her cell or to herself. Does she ever stop talking? Will the oceans ever be dry? In a few moments, it will not matter at all.

She is not the fastest living mammal on two legs. I can follow her steps through my periscope easily. She will not skip the road but use the pedestrian lights. Even those require some effort on her side, since the green light phase seems to be just a few seconds too short for her. Will the drivers in the first row in the road hope, she will not die of a stroke in the middle of the road? Are they laughing about her behind the wind shield? In a few moments, it will not matter at all.

I can see her now. As always, she is balancing her lunch carefully in one hand like an acrobat on stage while she has her phone pressed to her ear. She is grinning, while chewing while talking to another person. How is this possible? In a few moments, it will not matter at all.

“Son, you only pull the trigger between breaths” my dad always told me. An advice based on experience. A wonderful advice. I can feel the recoil pressing the shaft of the rifle into my shoulder. Someone with less determination would not be able to follow the bullet. Not my game. I want to see the effect.

Will she make a sound when it hits her? Will the person on the other end of the line notice what happened? Or will the last thing that goes through her mind be a bullet. Right now, it does not matter at all.