Adam the Third spoke up about the undesirable newborn cats on his farm, scabrous and still blind; in other cases, he looked down on the Catholic Church and dismissed its rites with the words, Puppet Show! Farce! and nowadays he only shows his face in God’s house during the holy days, for reasons of decorum: the newborn cats, those little cripples, should be wiped out. I’ll hurl them to the floor or else I’ll throw them against the wall of the stable, till they’re done in! His son responds to the name Adam as well and has his own son, red-haired, who was christened with the name of his father, his grandfather, and the great-great grandfather who was expunged from the cemetery in Pulsnitz. Once, years back, when the now ninety-year-old man with the grey-flecked moustache and the trimmed eyebrows looked over the dilapidated fence that separated the two estates down into the carriage of the newly born and youngest Adam Philippitsch—Adam the Fifth—he called out in astonishment: He’s a redhead! Whereupon the good wife, pushing the baby, and the grandmother, who dyed her red hair blond, shouted back from the other side of the decaying fence: Adam’s got a red beard too! Without asking, Adam the Third tried to cut down a periwinkle bush from Maximilian’s parents’ garden, which borders the wall of Adam’s family house, because it blocked his and his family’s view from their new bathroom, and it was only because Maximilian’s sister saw Adam the Third in their garden with a hatchet, ran to the door yelling, Don’t cut it down! and informed her ninety-year-old father of their neighbor’s intentions, so that the latter, raising his index finger, censured Adam the Third, that even half of the bush still stands. Cuttings from that periwinkle bush decorated the coffin of Maximilian’s grandmother, Leopoldine Felsberger, who lost five children in the course of her life: three in the war, one just after birth, and one in infancy. Maximilian’s godmother—you will remember—the childless Hildegard Zitterer, led the then three-year-old by the hand over the creaking wooden steps to the mortuary chapel, took the child under the arms, and lifted him up over the coffin, decorated with branches of the periwinkle that Adam the Third had just tried to cut down, so that his family, while they splashed about in the bath and lathered themselves with a bar of turpentine soap impressed with the image of a fighting samurai to wash off the odor of the stable—Adam the Fourth had a successful spell as a Karate fighter—would have a better view from their bathroom window onto the parish house barn in which, now almost twenty years ago, Adam the Third had cut the two sixteen-year-old apprentices Jonathan and Leopold down from the rope, before the arrival of the doctor and the mortician, of the priest and shepherd of souls, of the police and the gendarmerie, the fire brigade and the water brigade. He had to, he couldn’t let them hang there any longer.
On Krampus day, Adam the Third liked to go dressed as the boogey man, with a red mask and horns, with his sister Karoline dressed as Saint Nicholas, rattling a cowbell and passing out horse apples door to door throughout the village; he would knock on the doors with a bundle of rods until the parents let in the two disguised siblings, and standing before the children, who had been stuck in the house since early afternoon, he would present a St. Vitus’s dance, pounding the floor with a bishop’s crosier, shaking his chain, and beating the bundle of rods against the table while the children clasped each other and knelt under the holy corner. The frightened children cried and were showered with dry splinters. The Saint Nicholas with the cotton beard, straining to change her woman’s voice to a man’s, made the children join their hands and pray a parody of an Our Father to her brother Adam the Third, who grinned under his mask, saying Our Adam who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. The grandfather on the mother’s side, who had come to his daughter’s house that night to see his five grandchildren and had sat down at the kitchen table, grinned and pressed the iron tip of his cane against the sheep’s pelt that covered the demon’s breast, pushing him backward; Saint Nicholas gave each child a red crepe paper sack with either a bishop’s head printed on it, or a Krampus with his tongue unfurled to his chest, filled with peanuts, figs, chocolate Krampuses and chocolate Saint Nicholases. To the laughing grandfather and old farmer Matthias Felsberger, Krampus passed out mounds of horse apples, wrapped in straw and sawdust, smelling of excrement, again in a red crepe paper sack. Limping on his cloven hoof, turning back around repeatedly, running back to the table, clanking the chain, cursing and beating the table with his bundle of rods, Adam the Third finally departed with his companion dressed in white, long-bearded and wearing a papier-mâché bishop’s miter, beating the cowbells and scraping the windowpanes another two or three times, tramping through the freshly fallen snow.
After the slaughter—mother and daughter took charge of the bloody work—the yellow chicken feet with the sharp talons and the damp chicken heads with their half-closed eyes were thrown out over the dung heap. When Maximilian climbed up the dung heap to pick up a few plums that had fallen from his neighbors’ tree onto the piled up excrement—he didn’t dare step onto the Philippitsch land to pick up the fat, ripe plums that had fallen to the ground, let alone pluck any from the branches—he tied the severed yellow chicken feet together with a cord and spun around three or four times atop the dung heap, until the cord slipped out of his hands and the yellow chicken feet flew over the plum tree and into the neighbors’ yard. Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, ye shall not eat of it. For if thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die! Maximilian had read in his catechism concerning the fashioning of the first man Adam, when he was still a schoolboy and would climb the dung pile from time to time to harvest a few of Adam’s fallen fruits from his father’s dung pile.
Adam the Fourth, often to be met with in his red Mercedes with a blue Adidas satchel in which, besides clean underwear and black flannel handkerchiefs, he toted a bar of turpentine soap impressed with the image of a samurai, wrapped in silk paper printed with Japanese cherry blossoms, had a blue coffin set up for his first public appearance in the Lindwurmstadt, before the mayor, who was a sports enthusiast. The muscleman stared a long time at the casket. The room held its breath. The wall bars chattered their teeth. The thick climbing ropes shivered down to their deepest fibers. In his suit, white as cherry blossoms, Adam the Fourth stepped forward, lifted his right arm slowly, gave an ear-shattering cry, and brought his hand down against the coffin fast as lightning. The boards flew left and right from his hand, amid the raucous applause of the audience, who had not known whether the coffin was actually empty.
More than twenty years ago, Adam the Third brought a claim before the municipal authorities against the then seventeen-year-old mechanic’s apprentice Hansjörg Schaflechner, having seen him, once again, shooting at sparrows with an air rifle. The apprentice hid the dead sparrows on the gangway of the sacristan’s barn under the red roof tiles, not far from the human bones stacked up in the ossuary. Looking for the mortal entry wounds, Maximilian would pick up one bird after the other by its feathered wings, and then tuck the blood-smeared animals with their disheveled feathers back in their graves. The apprentice’s family was officially cited after the complaint and forced to pay a seven hundred-schilling fine. Nevertheless, only a few years ago, Maximilian saw the muscular, red-bearded athlete Adam in his white samurai outfit—Adam the Fourth, that is to say, who goes into his new bathroom, hidden by a periwinkle bush, softens the samurai impressed in the turpentine soap with water and then maims him beyond recognition in the bushy red hair of his armpits and his reddish pubic hair—with his air rifle walking among the trees of the orchard hung with apples and pears. From behind Maximilian’s father’s woodshed, he pointed the barrel at the sparrows posted in the tree branches. The boys in the village didn’t shoot at the robins, the woodpeckers, or the wagtails; they only shot at sparrows, the sparrows were third-class birds and no one in the village had any sympathy for them, they should be wiped out, they do nothing but eat up the chicken feed. Sometimes crows were shot, too, and then tied to posts and stood out in the fields as scarecrows. In springtime, when the crows had rotted and the March sun shone through the fog, only the skeletons of the crows and a few black bunches of feathers remained hanging from the wooden posts scattered here and there across the fields of fertile earth not far from the Drava’s misty shores.
At a neighborhood meeting in the inn, three villagers from Pulsnitz, Adam the Third, the hunter Ewald Oberrauner, and Jonathan the suicide’s father, served alcohol to the seventeen-year-old mechanic’s apprentice Hansjörg Schaflechner, who did maintenance on the combine for the farmers after the harvest and readied it for winter, so that the boy couldn’t make it home alone. The three farmers carried him, drunk on beer and schnapps, through the village street on their shoulders, down to the Schaflechner household, hauled him up the steep wooden stairs to the servant’s quarters, and laid him out in bed. They did not pass by the calvary, as the Schaflechner house was in the upper part of the village, and the calvary, with its picture of Hell, was in the center, across from the schoolhouse, but no one doubted that Lucifer had stretched out his turtle’s neck in curiosity and peeked over the edge of the calvary wall to observe the men and their doings as they approached over the hill into the village. They lit a candle, opened the grated panel of a lantern, put the candle in its socket and placed the lit lantern on the belly of the drunken apprentice stretched out on the servant’s bed. Then the three jokers, thinking nothing more of him, left the servant’s quarters. Chanting, hooting, and singing elegies, they stomped down the steep staircase and stumbled home. He could have been burned alive, the apprentice’s mother complained, if the servant hadn’t come home from the inn that night and found the woman’s drunk son in his bed, the lit lantern resting on his belly.
Year after year, especially at Christmas, Adam the Fourth has himself sent a case of soaps packed in wood shavings from Japan, each bar individually wrapped in silk paper printed with Japanese cherry blossoms and sealed with a gold sticker the size of a coin; he wraps them up in wrapping paper printed with lit candles, green spruce branches, and winged, disembodied angel’s heads, and lays them beside the Holy Kinship under the Christmas tree. This is the day the Lord has made, I heartily rejoice. Today the Lord has thought of me, his praises fill my voice. Salvation from his mother’s womb is also here for me. I thank her child, who rose from the tomb, and from death set me free. Sometimes the bubbles from the soap lather threaten to choke the samurai, sometimes a red armpit hair, stuck in the soap, gets wrapped around his neck or even strangles him. When the samurai in the soap begins to wither, the red-bearded athlete, while playing with his muscles in the bathtub, preparing for a new display of strength, and blowing bubbles in his spruce-scented bubble bath, calls out to his dearly beloved wife, and has the next fellow warrior, wrapped up in silk paper printed with Japanese cherry blossoms, brought out of his treasure chest, and this samurai in turn goes slippery as soon as he makes contact with the water. As a god-fearing youngster, Adam, the muscleman, as they used to call him, was obsessed with cutting a rib from the devil in the calvary and burying it out in the fields. Let us make a man in our own image! the boy wrote with a red shard of brick on the whitewashed wall of the calvary, emboldened by his weekly religion lessons and his catechism. Later he was seen many times in the center of town with a Swiss Army knife, but his parents, passersby, and even the teacher, who would pound ominously on the windowpane of the classroom, kept him from cutting off the fiend’s horns and destroying the work of art. Stomping on the ground and mumbling to himself, the muscle-bound, redheaded Rumpelstilskin, always pushing the envelope, walked several times around the calvary with the knife unfolded, before bringing the sharpened blade to his lower lip and smearing the devil’s face with drops of blood. Chaste and humble virgin, my due is to serve thee. On thee His breath descended, and our King was born from thee. Men, worship in dust! Woe to Hell and its prey! But good tidings to Adam’s children, for the Lord is on his way.
Mirko Posojilnica, native of Yugoslavia, whom the village people call the Yugo, who has lived in Pulsnitz for more than forty years and still speaks such bad German that he can hardly be understood, and has, to the present day, refused Austrian citizenship—I won’t be an Austrian! I’m still a Yugoslavian!—and who moreover, on Good Friday, at the hour of Christ’s crucifixion, scattered pushpins all over the altar and floors of the church in Pulsnitz, lay down upon them, and sang Great God, we love thee, we praise thy strength! stood drunk out in the street recently, crying in the blizzard, and blathering to Rudolf Lamisch, the new pastor, while spittle dripped down his blue and bulging lower lip: Mister pastor, I need my baptismal certificate, give me my baptismal certificate, they want to do away with Mirko, I’m going back to Yugoslavia, to my homeland, Mister pastor, give me my baptismal certificate! As the churchman, who had tried to calm him down, went back up the hill to the parish house with the armless, life-sized Crucified that one of his predecessors had salvaged from a stream bed, the Yugo walked crying and blathering down the village street, caked in freshly fallen snow, to the calvary, and kept whining: they want to do away with Mirko!
His wife cleans the church every week and decorates it with flowers she cuts in the village, going from garden to garden. On the Sunday services there are, from each of the Catholic houses, some flowers on the main altar and others on the bye-altars. Her son, so the woman recounted, ran his sled into a tree when he was fourteen and has stuttered ever since. Once when they were in the center of town, opposite the schoolhouse where they had spent eight years together, contemplating the flaking, bleached-out flames of the calvary, neglected since the death of the painting pastor Balthasar Kranabeter, he stammered to Maximilian: Today I have to go to slaughter again, I have to go up the mountain and slaughter a pig, I have to slaughter! As a stuttering child—passively subordinating himself to the first acolyte Maximilian—he exalted the almighty Father, creator of Heaven and of Earth, at mass with the other acolytes.
Especially in springtime, when the laburnum blossoms right and left around the walls of the calvary and, after the winter’s pause, the bees buzz again in the beehive, his father, the Yugo, can be seen in front of the calvary from time to time, his head bowed and his hands joined—spittle dripping from his bluish lower lip—on his knees below the screaming sinner, with his hands stretched up toward Father Abraham, beneath the pitiless devil and the restlessly flickering flames, praying the Our Father in his mother tongue. Oče na, kateri si v nebesih, posvečbodi tvoje ime! Pridi k nam tvoje kraljestvo! Zgodi se tvoja volja kakor v nebesih, tako na zemlji!
Recently, Ignaz Unterberger’s wife was found under a blossoming apple tree after a fainting fit, her face turning blue, and taken to the hospital in Villach by the Red Cross ambulance with its blue lights and howling siren. Her husband, whom the farm people used to go to and borrow the bolt-gun, the buffer, which was stored in a hardwood box lined with fine green felt, its cartridges tucked in the hollowed-out niches, died from a heart attack more than ten years back, just hours after being admitted to the hospital—his skeleton lies in the clay vessel in which the putrid-smelling bone stock was rendered from the bones of slaughtered animals, to be brushed on the horses with a crow’s feather around the eyes, nostrils, and belly, over the skeleton of Eva Philippitsch, the birthmother of Adam the Third. For six months after his grandmother’s death, Adam the Fourth wore a black nylon band on his right arm, in his competitions at home and abroad. After his exhibitions, the tattered nylon band sometimes lay on the tatami and was taken home joyfully as a souvenir by his young male and female fans. On the damp floor of the shower there was always a wet, clumped-together piece of silk paper printed with cherry blossoms. During the half-year of mourning, the Carinthian samurai dedicated his international victories to his deceased grandmother Eva, who, fifteen years after the expansion of the cemetery, courageously elected to be the first to have herself laid to rest in the place where Maximilian and his mother used to pick white and red radishes, cut lettuce heads and, with the earth-caked kitchen knife still in their hands, carry the vegetables past the buzzing beehive under the clouded sky and the painting of Hell to their house in the upper part of the village. When the seasoned young farmer, a devotee of native Carinthian dress, was thrown to the mat by a slant-eyed foreigner, Adam the Fourth turned his back on sports and dedicated himself to the increase, enhancement, and glorification of his estate, which he had taken over quite early from Adam the Third. Adam the Third, after transferring him the farm, was not seldom to be met with in tears as he repaired his Krampus mask or deloused the black sheep’s pelt of his Krampus costume. His sole consolation was his redheaded grandson, Adam the Fifth, who drove a plastic tractor back and forth between the house and the stable, the sand pile and the planters, imitating the noise of farm machinery.
When the hardwood case lined with green felt lay open and empty on the window ledge in the kitchen in front of the flowers in their pots, the squealing pig, bucking and driving its hooves into the cement floor slick with excrement, was pulled down the ramp of the stable with a rope. At a shaving trough filled with steaming hot water, made of wood held together with rusty iron rings, the stunner was pressed to the pig’s temple. Maximilian hid in his bedroom, lay in a fetal position under the bed and held his sex organs. Only after it discharged did he let go of his still-hairless genitals and crawl back out from under the bed. The pig kept kicking, but could no longer make a sound when the now ninety-year-old man with the grey-flecked moustache and the trimmed brows, known near and far as the pig-gelder and called now and again to extract the testis from the young hogs, stuck a butcher’s knife into the dying animal’s throat and blood ran over the knife and over the back of his hand. The deaf maid, who had a rosary wrapped around her hand, held a washbasin under the wound and caught the warm foaming blood. The blood-caked rosary stayed several days on the windowsill of the smoke kitchen, until it was washed with a Hirsch turpentine soap and hung out on the balcony on the wash line between the men’s and women’s white underwear. Only when, with the blessing of God, the morning sun’s rays beamed down and dried the clean rosary did the maid take her keepsake from Lourdes from the clothesline and place it on the nightstand in her bedroom. The old man of ninety with the trimmed eyebrows and the grey-flecked moustache never charged his son Maximilian with going to the Unterburgers’ to fetch the bolt gun or to bring it back to them; he went himself, just to be safe, or sent Maximilian’s brothers, whom he trusted more. Instead of money, the family from Naz, as they were called, was given a few kilos of fresh pork, a few frying sausages with gut casings, or a salami in a synthetic casing.
The Klagenfurt police called the gentleman with the grey-flecked moustache and the trimmed eyebrows and asked him whether he was the brother of the Eduard Kirchheimer who resided in the Lindwurmplatz in Klagenfurt. It seemed the tenants in the building had not seen him for several days, a scent of rot was detectable in his entranceway, and the fire department and finally the police had been called. As the policeman revealed that his brother Eduard had died—Your brother is deceased!—Friedhelm, his younger brother, a retired schoolteacher and former SS-man, dropped in by chance. The gentleman with the grey-flecked moustache and the trimmed eyebrows asked Friedhelm whether he couldn’t call Lazarus and give him the news that Eduard had died, because he, the gentleman with the grey-flecked moustache and trimmed eyebrows, owing to a dispute over the estate—Lazarus, with the fat earlobes, called him an estate-robber—had had no contact with his older brother for decades, and they only saw each other once a year, at the blessing of the tombs on All Saints’ Day, where they stood staring stubbornly at the candles flickering and crackling on the graves, looking neither left or right, or at most shook hands at their parents’ tomb, though they exchanged not a word. That’s not for me to do! The schoolteacher answered evasively. Why can’t you call him and tell him Edi’s dead. Didn’t we all crawl out of the same hole!? the gentleman with the grey-flecked moustache and the trimmed eyebrows answered, but, wanting to avoid a fight, he picked up the phone nonetheless. Plump little Lazarus, with the fat earlobes, picked up the phone. Oswald here!—So what! What do you want!—Edi’s dead!—I’m sick. I’ve got a sunburn. I did everything for Eduard, and I never got any thanks for it. The whole family can kiss my ass. Make a scene about it if you want!—Nobody’s making a scene, our brother’s dead!—After these words, the gentleman with the grey-flecked moustache and the trimmed eyebrows hung up the receiver without saying goodbye. He told his brother Friedhelm that he thought the telephone would explode, Lazarus had screamed at him so, just for notifying him of their brother’s death. Today the ninety-year-old man regrets even having called. I should have just mailed him the obituary! he often says to Maximilian.
Only recently, by chance—thanks to the intervention of Lazarus’ son, the brothers came to exchange a few words a year—the ninety-year-old man ran into his ninety three-year-old brother Lazarus, who also wore a grey-flecked moustache, in a field on the banks of the Drava, and asked him if he was getting along well. What else could I ask for! the ninety-three-year-old man with the fat earlobes and the grey-flecked moustache answered lapidarily, shrugging his shoulders. On another occasion, they spoke of their brother Friedhelm, who would soon be entering his nineties. Brother Friedhelm is the only one of the brothers who does not wear a grey-flecked moustache. He’s done nothing, he doesn’t even own his own house, he’s passed his life in a little apartment, so says Lazarus Kirchheimer. Plump little Lazarus, with the fat earlobes and the grey-flecked moustache, reserves the term miscarriage for those of his acquaintances who have not succeeded professionally— That one’s nothing but a miscarriage!
Their brother Eduard, addicted to alcohol, often to be found in the center of Klagenfurt in his pyjamas, a bottle of wine in hand, was buried in the Annabichler cemetery, alongside his wife, the pastry chef, who fell dead twenty years before her husband in the Rabitsch pastry shop in the Lindwurmplatz in Klagenfurt, in front of the customers buying their Christmas cookies, who stepped back in horror and snuck out the door of the business.
In the clay vessel in which the putrid-smelling bone stock was rendered, from the bones of slaughtered animals, to be smeared on the horses with a crow’s feather around the eyes, nostrils, and belly to protect them from the mosquitoes and horseflies, over the skeleton of the twelve-year-old child, who at a bus stop, across from a butcher’s shop—slices of ham hung out over the crunchy edge of the roll—ran carelessly into the street, lies the skeleton of the bishop’s chauffeur and pastry-maker Eduard Kirchheimer, who not infrequently regaled the Bishop of Gurk and his nuns with cream horns or a Malakoff Torte, and the skeleton of Emilie Kaiser, who lived for many decades with her brother, Viktor Kaiser, in a cabin without electricity or water and who, on Saturdays, when the first acolyte Maximilian used to go from house to house passing out the parish bulletin and would take a seat, curious and anxious, under the holy corner of her kitchen, which smelled of potatoes and polenta, would tell him of the terrible doings of Krampus and the Habergeiß in her native village in Styria, where women and children were dragged off by the devil, and left maimed and bleeding in the snow-covered spruce forest. The two siblings fed themselves from their little vegetable plot, on homegrown herbs, on goats’ milk and chicken, and on foraged mushrooms and fruit from the forest. For a time they got water from the well in front of the house of the gentleman with the grey-flecked hair, preferably at night as opposed to during the day. When the pious Emilie died, the crusts of filth were so thick on her legs that the two corpse-gofers had to vomit outside her front door. Around her neck she wore a tight chain with a gold crucifix, which had grown into the oozing flesh of her breast. We didn’t even wash or dress her, the young corpse-gofers said, we slung the corpse into the coffin like a log and shoved it into the Mercedes. Her other brother, who used to beg throughout the region, was found frozen in a ditch some decades back.
Only recently, Maximilian smelled rot as he passed by the feed troughs in the stable of the ninety-year-old man with the grey-flecked moustache, and stopped, where the reek of decay was strongest, before a young bull; looking at the iron chain around its neck, he saw that it had grown straight into the animal’s skin. The ninety-year-old man, who had neglected to let the chain out as the bull’s neck grew, tore the metal, smelling of pus and decay, from its flesh, spread thick black anti-inflammatory beech tar over the wound, wrapped the blood-smeared chain hung with clumps of hair and smelling of animal flesh, pus, and rot, in a jute sack printed with a whip and the words Café de Guatemala, and put it back around the bull’s neck. As he closed the jar—black beech tar was running over his index finger—he said that the farm people, who often let the chain sink, not only into the skin, but deep into the flesh of the bulls’ and oxen’s necks, had often been reported to the police for animal cruelty by the butchers, who discovered the deep wounds in the animals’ necks in the slaughterhouse, and when this happened, they had to go before the judge.
Emilie Kaiser, who had worked for a season in a household in Paris, and whom Maximilian saw reading religious books and pamphlets on his frequent visits to her cottage, had a regular seat in the church, which no one disputed her. The people of the village used to joke about the two siblings, because, even from far away, when you approached their cottage, you could detect the acrid aroma of their nannies and their old billy goat. Even in the church they couldn’t cover up the scent of their animals, it had penetrated into their clothes. Emilie had always hated the calvary and its picture of Hell. Many times she had complained to Maximilian, who carried the parish bulletin from house to house, that she couldn’t understand why the pastor Balthasar Kranabeter had painted Lucifer on the wall, why he hadn’t immortalized the mother of God with the Christ child, the Good Shepherd with his herd, or Saint Christopher with the Christ child on his shoulder. She refused to put flowers under Hell’s sea of fire, but two or three times a year she would tie a bundle of herbs from her garden to a shingle on the calvary’s roof. She had asked her brother to light a holy candle, only a holy one, in front of Hell, if one day, when the time came, he outlived her and she were carried over the village street, behind the cross-bearer, passing by the calvary to the church for her final blessing. Bâton des exilés, lampe des inventeurs, / Confesseur des pendus et des conspirateurs, / O Satan, prends pitié de ma longue misère!
In a bus stop in Villach-on-the-Drava, the twelve-year-old Lukas asked the bus driver if there was time for him to cross the street and buy a sausage roll from the butcher. The boy threw his knapsack in his seat and scurried down the steps. Just as he was crossing the street, a car came and ran the twelve-year-old down. The child died on the spot. The day after the calamity, the family received a phone call from a flower shop stating that a bouquet of flowers was there for them to pick up. When the dead boy’s father, who had to identify the child in the hospital, went to the florist’s, he found a scrap of paper in the bouquet on which the driver expressed his condolences to the grieving parents. In court, it was confirmed that the driver was not only speeding, but also driving recklessly.
Later, the marriage produced further offspring. Two children were born, a boy and a girl. You’ve got two beautiful children, what more could you want! the people say, when they run into the mother with her children on the street. Those two children, the people say, have their unfortunate brother to thank for their lives. If Lukas hadn’t been in the accident, those two wouldn’t have had more children, so say the wagging tongues of the village, behind cupped hands. When she was three years old, the daughter said to her mother: I made a cemetery from Lego blocks, I left the cemetery gate open, that way Lukas can get out! In the wounds of this heart, my soul is still. In my hours of joy and suffering, to shout to the world is my will: praised for all time, blessed for all time, be the holiest heart of Jesus sublime.
The Rail is proudly running this fantastic translation of When the Time Comes through the summer and into the fall of 2013. When the Time Comes will be published by Contra Mundum Press in the fall of 2013.
JOSEF WINKLER (b. 1953, Austria) is the author of more than a dozen books, among them When the Time Comes and Natura Morta. His major themes are suicide, homosexuality, and the corrosive influence of Catholicism and Nazism in Austrian country life. Winner of the 2008 Buchner prize and current president of the Austrian Art Senate, he lives in Klagenfurt with his wife and two children.