SALVE ROMA! A Felidae Novel - By Akif Pirincci

Life is beautiful – Mankind is ugly.

Unknown Philosopher


Humans plan. Though everyone knows that life wouldn’t follow any plan. And though everyone also knows that above all the best things in life accrue from unscheduled events. Why, at least when looking back – and, well, sometimes anyway. Then again, life and this world apparently can’t be overmastered without having any plan at all. Everything is just too complicated as to simply leave the handling of our future to chance. Even the most enjoyable moments, waiting for mankind like eerily wonderful air holes, need some planning. That’s what makes humans tick.

Yeah, humans plan. But what about us, about my own

kind? (1) I admit, we aren’t any better! We also have fallen for scheduling, though in a somewhat more relaxed manner. And as for me, I’m positively obsessed with making plans. When things don’t go according to plan, I freak out. As a matter of fact, this happens all the time. Because if anything goes according to plan anyway, it’s the fact that our bodies one day will make the delicious acquaintance of worms!

So this was the plan: Springtime, oh thou gorgeous May, oh thou homeopathic Viagra for elderly men, oh thou young Prince of Seasons, capable of vitalizing my old blood! So this welcome monarch stood at the gates of our district, and towards us he had already blown his fresh breath in the shape of wildly budding flora and luxuriant sunshine. Gone were the icy Christmas holidays, when like narcotized I had been lying on, underneath, beside and – as I remember dimly – occasionally inside the heater, and when I had been sucking for days on those bones of the Christmas goose in a size of a cow that Gustav had prepared. Also gone were January, February and March, the period of these boorish brothers, who always seemed to fight about if it was to rain, snow, freeze or fog. May had a foot in the door, and I had my head in the clouds.

Through the open bathroom window I squinted at the backyards behind our Gründerzeit building, which positively exploded with luscious color and stimulant redolency.

Swarms of butterflies fluttered above the clinker brick walls that formed a maze. The weather-beaten, mostly brick-lined back facades of the old houses, which had been built in a square, beamed skeptically like a blind man after the saving surgery.

Families of birds tried to out-tweet each other, human families sank down on their loungers and got their first sunburns. And family of mice bred like there were no tomorrow or, more accordingly, us.

Oh yes, the plan! To outsiders it might sound a little trivial. More precisely, it wasn’t so much a real plan but quite honestly more of a longing for paradise. More detailed, the pipe dream which comes to haunt me each year in springtime: sleeping underneath shady trees in the afternoon, lazily snatching at flies, rambling the territory carefree at sunset, taking one or two colleagues by surprise whilst their rackers and giving them a clip round the ear, and eventually tracing a sweetheart and becoming one with her in sunrise. In short: enjoying the warm days.

I admit that at my age such expectations have as little relation to real life as the childlike belief in angels. After all there exists an undeniable coherence between the real season and that in which one is stuck in age-related. And bringing to mind the recent teasing comments of my highly admired fellows, the burning lack of interest on the part of the whiskered ladies and the steadily increasing, pitiful miens of »animal-loving« humans at my sight, I had found myself in arctic winter long ago. But whatever, I stuck to the plan because even if it didn’t dangle an Indian Summer, at least it promised a somewhat Indian Fall.

However, there was a big time contrast. Namely between my cheerful mood and the desperate situation, Gustav found himself in recently. Gustav? Well, that’s the 290 lbs heavy, almost bald 58-year-old »can opener« afflicted with the looks of an industrial silo approved for demolition, who – guess what – usually opens my food cans. He has everything a successful man at his age doesn’t have: a tattered terry bathrobe from the era of Boris Becker, in which, due to his gory red-wine-hangover and his pale stubble face, in the mornings he somewhat looks like a prisoner of war finally facing execution after months full of torture. Being the responsible guy he is, he always carries a condom