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Ghost Stations 2 – Moabit: 1983

The second of five pieces by Linda Mannheim, with ghost station photos taken from Futurerhythm/S-Bahnhof Potsdamer Platz – Geisterbahnhof bis 1989, via YouTube.

 

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Moabit: November 1983

Finally, they go out, agreeing that he really should show her the city, show her the sights, at least show her the Wall before she has to go back to Paris and return to her classes.

They walk over to Turmstrasse Station in the November night, their breaths turning to smoke in the air. The city is filthy and dark. There are wooden hoardings with Lene Lovich posters pasted up. There are not enough people around.

He tells her that you can get on to a train without a ticket here – there are no turnstiles; no one will stop them from entering. Every now and then, inspectors will come on to the trains and ask to be shown tickets and passes.

She watches him to make sure she understands what he’s telling her.

He has a pass and he thinks the best strategy would be for her to just come along, and if they see a ticket inspector, she can explain, in English, that she doesn’t understand. He will slip away, be waiting for her nearby.

She agrees and they walk into the station together. No one stops them. When the train arrives and the doors slide open she steps on with a stagger of disorientation. After Paris, after New York, the trains seem disturbingly spacious. There are bearded men and spike-haired women, passengers in parkas and kaffiyehs, people wearing plaid shirts and enormous woolens. They cajole one another, confess urgent things, shove hands into the pockets of their beat up jeans, roar with laughter.

She wishes there were subtitles, that she could understand the conversations going on around them. She wishes she could eavesdrop. She wants him to translate for her.

And he does.

He tells her that the man standing nearby is asking his friends what bar they want to go to. The one they usually go to isn’t open yet, and they are trying to choose someplace else.

He tells her the blonde woman is complaining about all the meetings they’ve had to attend. She wants to take action now. She is tired of consensus building.

The plump woman kneeling down to talk to a little boy is reassuring him that he shouldn’t worry. Snoogli – this is probably a toy – will be waiting for them at home.

When the train stops at Kurfurstendamm she is almost disappointed that there was no ticket inspection, no other level of conspiracy available to them yet.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Mannheim’s most recent book is Above Sugar Hill (Influx Press), stories of a one time New York City landmark that became known for its high homicide rate and heroine trade. Eimear McBride wrote that: “Mannheim’s restive tales of her desiccated stretch of New York provoke and abide like a slap.” Above Sugar Hill was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize and was a #readwomen2014 pick of the year. Linda is also the author of a novel Risk (Penguin), set in South Africa during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Hearings. Her stories have appeared in Ambit, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and New York Stories. She lives in London.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, June 30th, 2015.