Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

inghe pohl

at a poolhall in munich, we walked in and asked the bartender in english for a pint. he glared at us with his glass eye. he did not blink. he did not smile.

after a few moments of confusion, he poured us a pint that had that sharp acidic bite of piss beer. bad beer. a glass with the loamy soap feeling of something not properly rinsed.

he ignored us to watch a video in black and white full of native german speakers talking passionately about important things in important-looking uniforms.

we were alone in the bar with inghe pohl. he had bright white hair. he had a massive limp as if he had only one leg. he never smiled at us. he never talked to us. one had the distinct impression inghe was hiding a weapon or two behind the bar.

we played a round of pool. inghe limped over to show us how to put the euro in just right to make the balls tumble out from the mouth of the table.

he returned to his bar without a word. he rubbed at glasses with a dirty rag.

ruined pinball machines covered in german from 1977. indiana jones pinball gutted open, innards exposed, in mid-repair. a pinball machine from the early nineties with lots of interesting moving parts.

only when i played a pinball machine did he smile and become helpful. still, he mostly rubs the glasses with his rag, watches german cinema.

i sat down at the bar with my fellow traveler (a beautiful young woman who is disinterested in my exuberant, chatty nervous energy, alas. we stop into this web cafe so she can contact young men left behind around her world.) we look up and see an american certificate from bartender's school. he is certified as a mixologist after 40 hours of study at an american institution in san francisco. his qualifications include customer service.

i can see him when the place is empty. he tinkers with the decrepit machinery he has collected here. he watches americans come and go, and watches movies from his youth, when germany was a strong place, and the german army conquered the world and the precision engineering of the planes, tanks, and bombs matched the precision of the courageous german youth.

now he is old, and serves drinks to american tourists and precisely engineers these old pinball machines to pass the time, and to bleed all of the american tourists' euro.

his name was inghe pohl.

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