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I AM FC KÖLN by Fortunato Salazar

11/29/2009

Triclinius and Barry hiked in the earthquake-transfigured woods, the littered woods, Goethe's woods. As they hiked, Triclinius recited in full voice fragments of the poems of the lawgiver Solon. Out onto your shade, active treetops! Dieter trotted along behind Barry who trailed behind Triclinius. Dieter, still a cub, just barely managed to keep up. Dieter had imprinted on Triclinius. Triclinius played the part of mom to Dieter and Dieter played the part of a devoted masked child.

The identical twins, Martina and Claudia, heirs to a fur dynasty based outside of Hamburg, hiked the trail along the ridge, accompanied by their father, a generous but protective martinet who did not permit his daughters to speak to strangers. Barry inquired of the twins how one says "raccoon" in German ("Wie sagt man "raccoon" auf Deutsch?"). The father answered. While Barry mangled a language he thought he knew better than he actually did, the twins dandled the raccoon. The raccoon was fond of being dandled by strangers, but only to a point. After that point he voided his bladder. He chose one of the two identical chests and voided upon it. The twins, unfazed, accustomed to the foibles of small mammals, handed the mammal back to its adoptive parent.

In the parking lot Barry left a short note, a well-intended but pathetic attempt at formal, deferential German, under the most likely pair of windshield wipers.

Outside the parking lot, in the wider world, existed a collection of photographs of Barry posing in front of a statue that had his name on the pedestal, the lone name "Barry." The twins added yet another photo to the collection. Then Barry turned the tables and photographed the twins in front of Barry. The photographer's given name was Barone, but Triclinius called him Barry or Specie, the latter in reference to his initials, which happened to be the initials of the luminary on the pedestal, only reversed.

Triclinius proposed that to help tell the twins apart, they all walk down to the water where the tattoo parlors are. The twins would go home with a souvenir of typical American ink. Claudia's tattoo would read "Barry" and Martina's "Triclinius," either that or "Mom." The twins refused to believe that Triclinius's real name was Triclinius. Triclinius's full legal name was Triclinius Was Appalled And Became Human. Barry was his best friend and even Barry didn't know what his name had been before he changed it to Triclinius Was Appalled And Became Human.

Triclinius proposed that to help tell the twins apart, they all walk down to the water where the hair salons are. The twins would go home with differentiating hair. At the last minute the twins balked. Triclinius chivalrously took their place. Triclinius attempted to engage the stylist in a conversation about the middle infield, but he was only making an effort to be polite. The stylist went beyond polite by enlightening the foursome about the use of powder to mask the stench of vermin in the coiffure of the 17th-century French aristocracy.

After a typical American lunch, Barry and the twins made a mighty effort to converge upon the name of a small mammal, a small but fierce carnivore known for fighting off much larger animals like wolves, coyotes and bears. The twins did their part. Their English was superb and they excelled at impersonating small fierce mammals. But where there should have been in their vocabulary the name of the small fierce mammal they sought, there was instead a small but frustrating lacuna. Barry wrestled with the lacuna and came up short. The afternoon might then have taken a gloomy turn if not for the fortuitous intervention of Reginald Kenneth Dwight. Reginald Kenneth Dwight fortuitously at that moment sang a narrative about posttraumatic enervation manifesting itself in the gaze of a 20th-century American combat veteran. The twins asked Barry to explain an idiomatic euphemism for enervation. Barry roused himself from the fatigue of his struggle, explained the euphemism, and entertained the twins with a series of impersonations of severely enervated eyes.

The twins sang a German football song. Barry wondered why it was a song about a team that wasn't Hamburger SV. The twins responded with a lengthy and complex anecdote. Triclinius noticed that Barry was struggling again and came to the aid of his friend. Triclinius announced that as a Welcome to America present to the twins, he'd decided that he would change his name from Triclinius Was Appalled And Became Human to FC Köln. No longer would he be the Triclinius who was thought to be feckless but in fact spent much of his time pondering the enigma of Cherenkov radiation. No longer would he squander the generous daylight of summer at the quarry, sunning himself on a flat rock. FC Köln proposed that they walk down to the water where the courthouse is. FC Köln told the twins not to hurry, there wasn't any rush. FC Köln said that already he felt the strangeness of the fact that only a few moments earlier he could have said to himself "I am not FC Köln" and it would have been wholly the truth. He said that it was strange to think that with equal truthfulness he could have said to himself, "I am not Stadium Operations." "I am not Tickets." "I am not Sales." "I am not Promotions." "I am not Marketing." "I am not Community Relations." "I am not Fan Development." FC Köln said that everything had changed. Now he felt the strangeness of the fact that he would just as soon think to say to himself "I am not FC Köln" as he would think to say to himself "I am not the wispy strands of trailing rain that descend from the clouds but do not reach the earth."

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Fortunato Salazar's work has appeared in Abjective, elimae, FRiGG, McSweeney's, Mississippi Review, Nerve, Sleepingfish, Wigleaf and other journals. He lives in Los Angeles.

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