by Jon Steinhagen
Your father and I are seeing a lot of things we can’t pronounce. Your father thinks he can pronounce things but the people here just look at him funny and it takes a couple of tries to get what we want or we give up. He doesn’t like the breakfasts at the hotel. He likes hot things but we get continental. It’s part of the room rate. It costs extra for a hot breakfast but your father won’t spend the money and anyway we’d have to leave the hotel and we’re already eating out twice a day.
There’s a castle that from where we are looks like a toy but when you get up close you can’t see all of it at once. You go in and you pay money and they only show you a little bit of it but I suppose we wouldn’t have the time to see all of it and you know your father isn’t good with stairs. I realized the other day that empty rooms one after another no matter how historic all look the same. All there is to drink here is beer but they give you so much of it even if you order a half liter and the steins are so heavy you know me with my wrist problems. I’m bringing you home a nice big glass stein you can use to hold your leftover pocket change or you can use it to drink beer if you can drink that much.
We still haven’t found the graves and I told your father maybe he didn’t hear right but he insists and so we been to every cemetery except three. We’ve seen an awful lot of pretty headstones though. We can read the names we just can’t read what comes after the names but they’re pretty.
The desserts are something however but all that cream and know how your father loves chocolate but it’s no good for him and so he belches half the night.
Here’s a picture of your father with a stranger because of the hat. I’m in the picture too but you can’t see me because the woman who took it for us didn’t really understand and so I’m there but I’m not. So your father and I bought hats. They match. They’re much cheaper here probably because they’re common. We’re blending in.
There are a lot of churches here but we haven’t been in any only the graveyards. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for your great-great-grandparents and whoever came before them and their brothers and sisters if they had them but like I said we haven’t found them and I’m worried we made this trip for nothing.
Don’t forget Tuesday is trash day so put the cans out on Monday night and put the bricks on the lids so the raccoons can’t get at it.
That’s all I can think of. Your father says hello and would you like a hat?
– Jon Steinhagen is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists; his play BLIZZARD ’67 was recently produced at the New York International Fringe Festival. His fiction can be found in print and online, recently in Barrelhouse, Four Ties Lit Review, and The American Reader.