October 10, 1967
From Uwe Johnson's Anniversaries
October 10, 1967
– Mrs. Cresspahl is not at her desk at the moment.
– The police have two suspects.
– Oh you mean the Linda Fitzpatrick thing.
– Apparently they were having an LSD party in that basement.
– I wish the suspect wasn’t a Negro.
– Well, you know, down on Avenue B.
– She had everything, the Times says.
– Daughter of a spice importer in Greenwich, 30-room house worth $155,000, swimming pool, horses, private school. If that’s not enough.
– Mrs. Cresspahl is not at her desk at the moment. May I take a message?
– Yes. Where she is.
– You used to live there too, didn’t you? East 11th. Wasn’t that near Avenue B?
– No, First Ave. It was getting more and more Hispanic. If you came home late there’d be Puerto Rican kids on the stairs, like they’d been waiting for you all day. Friendly kids. Only after they’d cleaned out my apartment for the third time did I move to the Upper East Side.
– My goodness, you know that Earl H. Duncan from Bolivar, Missouri? Turns out he didn’t send the sympathy letter back to Johnson because he’s against the war. He thinks the war isn’t being fought hard enough, he thinks that’s why his son was killed.
– That was in the paper?
– Yes, but where?
– We’ll have to ask Gesine, she always reads the paper.
– But only The New York Times.
– So where is she.
– Mrs. Cresspahl is not at her desk at the moment. This is Amanda speaking. May I take a message?
– She was called up to the Greece office, room 2402.
– I don’t know her at all. Is she the Danish translator or the German one?
– The German. Thirtyish. Nice body.
– Oh that one. She sometimes does special assignments for the vice president.
– You should invite us the next time she has a party.
– She doesn’t have parties.
– Who’s she married to?
– Beats me.
– You remember that picture of this Che Guevara guy, Ernesto or Anselmo or something? In the field, in the Times recently?
– Yeah. They’ve caught him.
– Who’s they?
– The Bolivian army.
– Yup, dead.
– It’s crazy.
– What, that they shot him?
– No. That he let himself be photographed. I bet that’s not in Mao’s little book.
– What does the Times say about it?
– Just go into Cresspahl’s office. She usually has it.
– Mrs. Cresspahl is not at her desk at the moment. This is Amanda speaking.
– This is Cresspahl.
– Oh, it was nothing. Someone sent a sympathy letter back to President Johnson and Naomi said you’d know more details.
– Sorry, I don’t know.
– So where was she?
– Didn’t say.
– Wait a second. Amanda, where was she?
– Mrs. Cresspahl, I’ll connect you.
– Oh shit.
– Sorry Gesine. You were gone half an hour, and naturally we were curious, sorry. Forget it. I’m sorry.
– I was in the vice president’s office.
– Of course, Gesine.
– What do you mean, “of course”?
– Mrs. Williams said something about that.
– About the raise? I only just heard about it.
– No. What do you mean raise?
– You know. A salary increase.
– Sorry. Aha. Aha! Congratulations!
– Thank you very much. There’ll be bourbon in my office at five. Bring ice.
– It was just a raise.
– That took half an hour?
– De Rosny is like that. I hear.
– And now she’s throwing a party after all.
– You should come. She’s fun, believe me. You’ll like her.
– We’re not really supposed to have office parties.
– Scaredy-cat. Where did you go to school?
– It was just half an hour. Don’t be all jealous.
– I bet I still make more than she does. Wanna bet?
– Of course you do. Men.
– We don’t hold it against her. Really we don’t.
– I don’t have a Danish girl in my collection yet.
– There you go.
From Anniversaries. Courtesy of New York Review Books. Copyright by Uwe Johnson. English translation copyright 2018 by Damion Searls.