- Berlin Coffee Shop – A six-part digital novel / The Author
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- Episode 2 · Life’s no Walk in the Park
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Berlin Coffee Shop – A six-part digital novel
Follow Sandra and friends as they navigate life, love, and their late-twenties in Germany’s hip Berlin.
The best office in the world is in the Coffee Shop – a cozy cafe in Berlin. From here, Sandra plies her trade as a thing-finder. Her customers are people who have lost or want to find something which will make their life happier. But on her quest for other people’s desires, Sandra suddenly finds herself in search of her own happiness – and of herself. And a dead goose further aggravates her emotional turmoil …
Gerlis Zillgens lives and works as a freelance writer in Cologne, Germany. Throughout the years she has written many successful novels and screenplays, as well as developed television series and toured as a cabaret artist. She also enjoys organizing readings, enjoying the view from her office, salsa dancing, and Berlin
Sandra is a professional “seeker of things.” She serves customers who are looking for something they themselves can’t find. Sandra’s “office” is a table in the Coffee Shop – a cozy cafe in central Berlin, run by her friend Captain.
Captain owns a cafe, the Coffee Shop, which is the hub of Sandra and her friends’ lives. Captain is always looking for new male waiters who by no coincidence just happen to be stunningly attractive. For the sake of simplifying things, he calls them all “Sweetie,” since he replaces them as quickly as he does the daily special at the Coffee Shop.
Nils studies veterinary medicine, but he is actually occupied full-time as Sandra’s seeker assistant. On Sandra’s missions, the two end up in situations that bring them closer together. But they are really just best friends … Really …
Claudi is Sandra’s best girlfriend. In addition to Sandra, Claudi has about 7,112 friends – on Facebook – who get to hear about everything that happens in her life, as well as those of her friends Sandra, Captain, and Nils.
Episode 2: Life’s no Walk in the Park
Translated by Sharmila Cohen
“I seek, therefore I am …”
(loosely adapted from a French philosopher)
“I am a jelly doughnut …”
(loosely adapted from an American president)
Life’s no Walk in the Park
With equal parts desperation and hopelessness, I try to turn, push, press, and eventually pull out the knob. Then I try with all my strength to kick down the door. It seems to have no effect on the door at all, which can hardly be said for my big toe.
“It’s made of steel,” Nils says flatly. “You won’t be able.”
“Well great, thanks for the support. Why aren’t you helping me? You’re a man.”
“Yes. But I’m not some kind of genetic clone of Arnold Schwarzenegger and King Kong.”
I helplessly beat the door. “Open up, damn you, just open up already!”
“Maybe the famous magic words will help?”
“About as funny as a little girl’s fists beating against a fire door.” Nils shines the dim light of his cell phone on my face.
I shine mine back. “Nils, please tell me that this isn’t happening! Tell me we’re not in this damned storage room with no cell phone reception where no one can hear us and tell me that we’re not spending the night here and going to have to be thankful in the morning when Captain catches us here – together with the Doric columns.”
Nils shrugs. “Let’s put it this way: The bad news is we’re trapped in this damned storage room, have no cell phone reception, no one can hear us, and we’re going to have to hold out here for the night until Captain catches us in the morning along with the Doric columns.” He points to the shelves. “The good news is at least we won’t starve.”
I helplessly slump onto the floor. “That is no great consolation. Especially when you’ve just eaten a large serving of Thai curry.”
Nils squats down and puts a comforting arm around me. “Life is no walk …”
I quickly put a hand over his mouth. “Don’t say it! Don’t say, ‘Life is no walk in the park!’ ‘Life is no walk in the park’ is the stupidest sentence I’ve ever heard. ‘Life is no walk in the park’ is the last, last, last thing I want to hear right now.”
Nils gently pushes my hand away. “Sandra?”
“You just said it three times.”
“That life is no walk in the park.”
“Arrrrrrrrghhhhhh!” I scream as loud as I can.
Nils grins. “In the bad horror movie version of our lives (author’s note: Coffee Shop is not a bad horror film), I would now say: You can scream as loud as you like, no one can hear you!”
I scream as loud as I can for what feels like another fifteen minutes, then my throat hurts and I sound like my vocal chords are made of sand paper. “How come babies can howl for days without going hoarse?”
“Babies have mastered perfect stomach-chest breathing. Also, their vocal chords are brand new, while ours have been worn out over the course of our lives.”
“Are you trying to say that mine are old and worn?”
“I wouldn’t have put it that way.”
“But it’s what you meant.”
Nils gently strokes my hair. “Life is no walk in the park.”
“I will kill you now. And you can scream as loud as you’d like – no one can hear you.”
Nils continues stroking my hair, unimpressed.
“I don’t know what is worse. The idea of us being trapped in here and no one finding us or that Captain will discover us at some point. Neither he nor Claudi will trust me in the slightest ever again.”
“I trust you, Sandra.”
“That’s only because you have a tiny room in a shared apartment that’s not suitable as a fake office and you don’t have a cellar that’s big enough for things the size of Doric columns.”
“It’s because you are essentially a good person.”
“You know what bothers me about that?”
Nils shakes his head.
“The fact that you had to put ‘essentially’ before it.”
Nils laughs. “You’re just a person with depth. Sometimes you have to search a little longer until you strike oil.”
I shiver as a gust of wind blows across my skin. “How did that damned breeze get in here anyway? There doesn’t seem to be a window or anything.”
Using the dim light of his cell phone, Nils gropes around in the direction of the back wall. I can vaguely see him pulling himself up on a shelf and clearing away some boxes. “There’s only a vent. Nothing bigger than a rat could fit through it.”
“Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhh! Could you please never mention the word ‘rat’ again while we’re sitting in a dark, damp cellar where we’ll probably have to spend the entire night, at least.”
“Okay.” Nils jumps off the shelf and uses his phone to light the other walls – well, at least as far as you can consider the dim flicker of his display screen a light.
“You know the first thing I’m going to do when I have service again?” he asks.
“Download a flashlight app.”
“I have a compass app.”
“Great! If we get lost in here we can surely use it to find our way back to the steel door at the north end of the room.”
As far as I can tell from here, Nils grins. “So, I’m hungry.” He starts going through the shelves.
“I’m cold and wet.”
“Well, we can’t live with that.” Nils pulls out a roll of paper towels from one of the shelves and from another, he finds a couple of the blankets that are used for the outdoor tables when it’s chilly. He throws them down to me. Then he reaches into another shelf and triumphantly hands me a bottle of champagne and a package of shrink-wrapped cheese.