Phil Doran
Unduly led astray by his star for so long, the German teacher wandered lonely as a clown into a maelstrom of cross dialogue, kaffee und kuchen and a delightfully crisp conversation with a pair of schizophrenics who were as solvent as could be expected given the prevailing psychological climate.

Fritz Leipzig from just outside Munich spoke first. His eyes were so far apart it was difficult to know which one to make eye contact with first. No matter however, since the halogen blondeness of his facial hair made such visual niceties as redundant as a prosthetic arm on a table fussball figure.

"I asked Uncle Google, but he wouldn't tell me," continued Fritz, as he wiped the Krautertee that was dripping from his beard.

"You were about to expound upon your philosophy of all things, Fritz", the German teacher hinted.

"Nein. In actual point of fact, I said that following many years of painstaking meditation and empirical research, I have indeed discovered the secret of all things, indubitably and beyond any shade of doubt. But I did not say that I shall be divulging aforesaid secret to all and sundry over a Windbeutel, as if it were of no import in the grand cosmological schemata of the multiverse. The significance of my findings should be lost like a kuchen in the Black Forest. You shall have to be your own metaphysical spirit guide, Hanzel."

"Indeed Fritz, indeed", nodded the teacher, before turning to Karl Heinze Duddelburg for a second opinion. "Your colleague is quite the wag, nicht wahr?"

Karl Heinze, who had a tangent all of his own to develop, and who preferred double espresso to the insipid filter coffee of the library mezzanine, yawned in mock agreement. His glasses needed cleaning badly, which is how they were accustomed to being cleaned, in common with everything else he wore: matted black hair, Czech army parka, third-hand zipped cardigan and borrowed boots. Mental hygiene was a higher priority than sartorial orderliness.

"I have a favourite cake now. I never used to have a favourite cake. I never used to give a flying strugel, but nowadays I have a favourite cake. It's..."

"...the world famous Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte?", intervened the teacher.

Classically, he couldn't resist finishing off the statements of others. It drove his students crazy. In present company, such an outcome would hardly have been noticed.

"Pah! The simple Käsekuchen is a design classic, worthy of the Bauhaus, and weighty enough in intent to defecate all over your Schwarzwälder. The Schwarzwälder is the whore of cakes", soapboxed Herr Duddelburg.

Herr Leipzig seized upon the other two men's discord to weave in another feral comment from the margins apropos Italian lager beer.

"Bah Duddelburg! What do the Italians know of pilsner? This is not Pietro Gnocchi or Lambretta or even Gina Lollobrigida. This is weiss bier! Hubris. Sheer hubris. I have had my basin full of Italian beer. It is an outrage that it is even allowed to enter Bavaria at all, above all in such proximity to OktoberFest. My abhorrence of the municipality is without bounds. The loathing in which I cover Alderman Krautzberger has no equal in contemporary brewing circles."

With fewer than ten minutes remaining before he was obliged to return to his classroom of precocious preoccupied preteens, the German teacher attempted to rein in disparity, diversity and deadlock with a final Latinate flourish he had been saving for just such an occasion.

"I fear that I must leave you to your ruminations. My class awaits. I concur that the ugliness of the Schwarzwälder is classic. It sweeps aside clarity and embraces ambiguity. As for the town council, there is no contempt worthy of the name. Therefore, let us pose no further questions to nature and, as Francesco Totti, the Italian Series A footballer, once remarked, when the sports reporter that was interviewing him, observed: carpe diem, Herren Duddelburg und Leipzig, carpe diem".

"We should seize the day for life is short?" proposed Karl Heinze and Fritz, in harmonious unison for the first time in years.

"Nein", replied the German teacher.

"In actual point of fact, the aforementioned Herr Totti apologized for his ignorance, adding I am sorry signor, but I do not speak English."

The two friends, neither of whom had succumbed to schizophrenia in some time, regarded one another with all the distrust of a pair of sleighted Latin scholars at a Poundstretcher closing down sale.

The German teacher smirked as he rose to leave. The tinge of residual paranoia would help take the edge off that afternoon's Deutsche Verbe Konjugationen.

"Guten Tag, gentlemen. Enjoy your kuchen."