The Man
In The Moon

The Man
In The Moon

The Man
In The Moon

The Man
In The Moon

Grounded SF from
The Netherlands
and Flanders
no. 2

Grounded SF from
The Netherlands
and Flanders
no. 2

AUTHOR

Willem Bosch

PITCH

Ezra’s father is suffering from dementia. The only thing he is interested in, is soccer. Every Saturday and Sunday, they’ll watch the tournaments start to finish, and the dementia will wander off somewhere. Ezra discovers that his father predicts every game outcome correctly, and Ezra begins to bet on the outcomes. Within fifteen weeks, he becomes the only person to ever have correctly predicted every final score of the competition. The money keeps pouring in, until Ezra gets arrested by two men in black. Soon they put Ezra’s father’s predictions into a different perspective.

Grounded SF

Translated by: Joni Zwart

My father had, in fact, been an old man his entire life. There are these people – you look at them and think: isn’t this how you were twenty years ago? Those wrinkles, that skin. The naps on the couch and sometimes a crossword puzzle book. Those zip-off pants and the incoherent grumbling about the electricity bill. Have you ever not been this person? The kind of man you picture being born and turning sixty within ten seconds. A man with only one half.

The second.

My father had, in fact, been an old man his entire life. There are these people – you look at them and think: isn’t this how you were twenty years ago? Those wrinkles, that skin. The naps on the couch and sometimes a crossword puzzle book. Those zip-off pants and the incoherent grumbling about the electricity bill. Have you ever not been this person? The kind of man you picture being born and turning sixty within ten seconds. A man with only one half.

The second.

My father had, in fact, been an old man his entire life. There are these people – you look at them and think: isn’t this how you were twenty years ago? Those wrinkles, that skin. The naps on the couch and sometimes a crossword puzzle book. Those zip-off pants and the incoherent grumbling about the electricity bill. Have you ever not been this person? The kind of man you picture being born and turning sixty within ten seconds. A man with only one half.

The second.

My father had, in fact, been an old man his entire life. There are these people – you look at them and think: isn’t this how you were twenty years ago? Those wrinkles, that skin. The naps on the couch and sometimes a crossword puzzle book. Those zip-off pants and the incoherent grumbling about the electricity bill. Have you ever not been this person? The kind of man you picture being born and turning sixty within ten seconds. A man with only one half.

The second.

My father had, in fact, been an old man his entire life. There are these people – you look at them and think: isn’t this how you were twenty years ago? Those wrinkles, that skin. The naps on the couch and sometimes a crossword puzzle book. Those zip-off pants and the incoherent grumbling about the electricity bill. Have you ever not been this person? The kind of man you picture being born and turning sixty within ten seconds. A man with only one half.

The second.

It feels almost too solemn to say that my father and I did not have a normal relationship. What it comes down to is we didn’t have any relationship. But that too sounds overly dramatic. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. We lived in the same house, with the same people, and shared our meals together. I never really asked myself if I loved him, and this was never anything I missed. He was fifty when I was born, and in my mind that never changed. My father, a given. Like the wind on the beach at our house – or our cat Cesar’s hair balls.

Then suddenly my mother died, and I saw him standing over her coffin with a bowl of custard and granola. Munching away, cool as a cucumber. And all at once I thought, “Perhaps now I’ll get to know him better.”

But it was only my mother I became better acquainted with. It’s what a funeral does in less than two hours – summarize everything. Suddenly you know what kind of child someone was. The way someone argued with cousin-such-and-such. How she never shared her dolls and was always brushing her hair. How one day she fell in love with an older man who was her rock.

Sometimes I’d ferret around in the parental home, trying to deduce a personality from the small changes. There were now bandaids where the wrapping paper used to be kept. And buttons where the cookies were.

It takes a long time before you realize someone is losing their mind when this person rarely speaks. You notice when you see the wet clothes in the microwave. Or the takeout in the tumble dryer. And even then there’s still this doubt – maybe he was always as forgetful as this.

---------------

 

With dementia the drivel started. Very quietly at first, to himself above the stove where he dipped his bread in the fat that remained after frying some bacon:

May not find me. May never find me.

At first I thought of something concrete. Maybe he was worried about a parking ticket left unpaid years ago, and this thought was stuck in his mind like a ball caught between two springs in a pinball machine.

Then came the names.

Lieutenant-colonel Plankman. First platoon, death for a tea pot – front in Newark New Jersey.
May not find me. May never find me.

When I asked him what on earth he was talking about, he didn’t seem to know himself. And right before my eyes I’d see him change into the father I had known for thirty years. Crossword puzzle book in his hand, shuffling from cupboard to cupboard in search of the favorite beer glass he had dropped four years ago. A loser. Mumbling from time to time now:

Forty more years. Only forty more years.

I started to visit him on my own every weekend. I didn’t really give it any thought; my visits were as mechanical as cycling to work or brushing my teeth above a sink. I’d sit next to him on the old red couch and watch football. I had no recollection of my father enjoying football or even watching it. And yet, every Sunday afternoon, it was on, even before I came in; it was still on when I left. For a while I had the impression my father thought Iliked football and that was why it was on.

This is how barely we knew each other.

For six months we sat together in front of the television, sometimes without either of us saying one single word. Then one Sunday, AC-Milan playing Feyenoord was broadcast in the afternoon and just as the match started, my father mumbled:

Four – four.

I remembered because four-four would be a crazy result for any football match, but simply impossible for AC-Milan against Feyenoord. That much I knew. But one hundred and five minutes later, it was four-four, and my father gave a smile you would seldom see on his face. If he had managed to beat my mother in a game of Trivial Pursuit, when a little block of wood at the front of the stove burst apart with a damp snap. Or if the redheaded weather lady came on and my father said out loud: now that is what I call an attractive woman. He always did that.

Now, I was so relieved I almost laughed and was about to ask him what the result would be of the return match in Rotterdam when he got up and shuffled back toward the kitchen, his puzzle book under his arm:

May not find me, may never find me.

It feels almost too solemn to say that my father and I did not have a normal relationship. What it comes down to is we didn’t have any relationship. But that too sounds overly dramatic. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. We lived in the same house, with the same people, and shared our meals together. I never really asked myself if I loved him, and this was never anything I missed. He was fifty when I was born, and in my mind that never changed. My father, a given. Like the wind on the beach at our house – or our cat Cesar’s hair balls.

Then suddenly my mother died, and I saw him standing over her coffin with a bowl of custard and granola. Munching away, cool as a cucumber. And all at once I thought, “Perhaps now I’ll get to know him better.”

But it was only my mother I became better acquainted with. It’s what a funeral does in less than two hours – summarize everything. Suddenly you know what kind of child someone was. The way someone argued with cousin-such-and-such. How she never shared her dolls and was always brushing her hair. How one day she fell in love with an older man who was her rock.

Sometimes I’d ferret around in the parental home, trying to deduce a personality from the small changes. There were now bandaids where the wrapping paper used to be kept. And buttons where the cookies were.

It takes a long time before you realize someone is losing their mind when this person rarely speaks. You notice when you see the wet clothes in the microwave. Or the takeout in the tumble dryer. And even then there’s still this doubt – maybe he was always as forgetful as this.


---------------

 With dementia the drivel started. Very quietly at first, to himself above the stove where he dipped his bread in the fat that remained after frying some bacon:

May not find me. May never find me.

At first I thought of something concrete. Maybe he was worried about a parking ticket left unpaid years ago, and this thought was stuck in his mind like a ball caught between two springs in a pinball machine.

Then came the names.

Lieutenant-colonel Plankman. First platoon, death for a tea pot – front in Newark New Jersey.

May not find me. May never find me.

When I asked him what on earth he was talking about, he didn’t seem to know himself. And right before my eyes I’d see him change into the father I had known for thirty years. Crossword puzzle book in his hand, shuffling from cupboard to cupboard in search of the favorite beer glass he had dropped four years ago. A loser. Mumbling from time to time now:

Forty more years. Only forty more years.

I started to visit him on my own every weekend. I didn’t really give it any thought; my visits were as mechanical as cycling to work or brushing my teeth above a sink. I’d sit next to him on the old red couch and watch football. I had no recollection of my father enjoying football or even watching it. And yet, every Sunday afternoon, it was on, even before I came in; it was still on when I left. For a while I had the impression my father thought Iliked football and that was why it was on.

This is how barely we knew each other.

For six months we sat together in front of the television, sometimes without either of us saying one single word. Then one Sunday, AC-Milan playing Feyenoord was broadcast in the afternoon and just as the match started, my father mumbled:

Four – four.

I remembered because four-four would be a crazy result for any football match, but simply impossible for AC-Milan against Feyenoord. That much I knew. But one hundred and five minutes later, it was four-four, and my father gave a smile you would seldom see on his face. If he had managed to beat my mother in a game of Trivial Pursuit, when a little block of wood at the front of the stove burst apart with a damp snap. Or if the redheaded weather lady came on and my father said out loud: now that is what I call an attractive woman. He always did that.

Now, I was so relieved I almost laughed and was about to ask him what the result would be of the return match in Rotterdam when he got up and shuffled back toward the kitchen, his puzzle book under his arm:

May not find me, may never find me.

It feels almost too solemn to say that my father and I did not have a normal relationship. What it comes down to is we didn’t have any relationship. But that too sounds overly dramatic. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. We lived in the same house, with the same people, and shared our meals together. I never really asked myself if I loved him, and this was never anything I missed. He was fifty when I was born, and in my mind that never changed. My father, a given. Like the wind on the beach at our house – or our cat Cesar’s hair balls.

Then suddenly my mother died, and I saw him standing over her coffin with a bowl of custard and granola. Munching away, cool as a cucumber. And all at once I thought, “Perhaps now I’ll get to know him better.”

But it was only my mother I became better acquainted with. It’s what a funeral does in less than two hours – summarize everything. Suddenly you know what kind of child someone was. The way someone argued with cousin-such-and-such. How she never shared her dolls and was always brushing her hair. How one day she fell in love with an older man who was her rock.

Sometimes I’d ferret around in the parental home, trying to deduce a personality from the small changes. There were now bandaids where the wrapping paper used to be kept. And buttons where the cookies were.

It takes a long time before you realize someone is losing their mind when this person rarely speaks. You notice when you see the wet clothes in the microwave. Or the takeout in the tumble dryer. And even then there’s still this doubt – maybe he was always as forgetful as this.

---------------

 

With dementia the drivel started. Very quietly at first, to himself above the stove where he dipped his bread in the fat that remained after frying some bacon:

May not find me. May never find me.

At first I thought of something concrete. Maybe he was worried about a parking ticket left unpaid years ago, and this thought was stuck in his mind like a ball caught between two springs in a pinball machine.

Then came the names.

Lieutenant-colonel Plankman. First platoon, death for a tea pot – front in Newark New Jersey.
May not find me. May never find me.

When I asked him what on earth he was talking about, he didn’t seem to know himself. And right before my eyes I’d see him change into the father I had known for thirty years. Crossword puzzle book in his hand, shuffling from cupboard to cupboard in search of the favorite beer glass he had dropped four years ago. A loser. Mumbling from time to time now:

Forty more years. Only forty more years.

I started to visit him on my own every weekend. I didn’t really give it any thought; my visits were as mechanical as cycling to work or brushing my teeth above a sink. I’d sit next to him on the old red couch and watch football. I had no recollection of my father enjoying football or even watching it. And yet, every Sunday afternoon, it was on, even before I came in; it was still on when I left. For a while I had the impression my father thought Iliked football and that was why it was on.

This is how barely we knew each other.

For six months we sat together in front of the television, sometimes without either of us saying one single word. Then one Sunday, AC-Milan playing Feyenoord was broadcast in the afternoon and just as the match started, my father mumbled:

Four – four.

I remembered because four-four would be a crazy result for any football match, but simply impossible for AC-Milan against Feyenoord. That much I knew. But one hundred and five minutes later, it was four-four, and my father gave a smile you would seldom see on his face. If he had managed to beat my mother in a game of Trivial Pursuit, when a little block of wood at the front of the stove burst apart with a damp snap. Or if the redheaded weather lady came on and my father said out loud: now that is what I call an attractive woman. He always did that.

Now, I was so relieved I almost laughed and was about to ask him what the result would be of the return match in Rotterdam when he got up and shuffled back toward the kitchen, his puzzle book under his arm:

May not find me, may never find me.

It feels almost too solemn to say that my father and I did not have a normal relationship. What it comes down to is we didn’t have anyrelationship. But that too sounds overly dramatic. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad. We lived in the same house, with the same people, and shared our meals together. I never really asked myself if I loved him, and this was never anything I missed. He was fifty when I was born, and in my mind that never changed. My father, a given. Like the wind on the beach at our house – or our cat Cesar’s hair balls.

Then suddenly my mother died, and I saw him standing over her coffin with a bowl of custard and granola. Munching away, cool as a cucumber. And all at once I thought, “Perhaps now I’ll get to know him better.”

But it was only my mother I became better acquainted with. It’s what a funeral does in less than two hours – summarize everything. Suddenly you know what kind of child someone was. The way someone argued with cousin-such-and-such. How she never shared her dolls and was always brushing her hair. How one day she fell in love with an older man who was her rock.

Sometimes I’d ferret around in the parental home, trying to deduce a personality from the small changes. There were now bandaids where the wrapping paper used to be kept. And buttons where the cookies were.

It takes a long time before you realize someone is losing their mind when this person rarely speaks. You notice when you see the wet clothes in the microwave. Or the takeout in the tumble dryer. And even then there’s still this doubt – maybe he was always as forgetful as this.

---------------

With dementia the drivel started. Very quietly at first, to himself above the stove where he dipped his bread in the fat that remained after frying some bacon:

May not find me. May never find me.

At first I thought of something concrete. Maybe he was worried about a parking ticket left unpaid years ago, and this thought was stuck in his mind like a ball caught between two springs in a pinball machine.

Then came the names.

Lieutenant-colonel Plankman. First platoon, death for a tea pot – front in Newark New Jersey.
May not find me. May never find me.

When I asked him what on earth he was talking about, he didn’t seem to know himself. And right before my eyes I’d see him change into the father I had known for thirty years. Crossword puzzle book in his hand, shuffling from cupboard to cupboard in search of the favorite beer glass he had dropped four years ago. A loser. Mumbling from time to time now:

Forty more years. Only forty more years.

I started to visit him on my own every weekend. I didn’t really give it any thought; my visits were as mechanical as cycling to work or brushing my teeth above a sink. I’d sit next to him on the old red couch and watch football. I had no recollection of my father enjoying football or even watching it. And yet, every Sunday afternoon, it was on, even before I came in; it was still on when I left. For a while I had the impression my father thought Iliked football and that was why it was on.

This is how barely we knew each other.

For six months we sat together in front of the television, sometimes without either of us saying one single word. Then one Sunday, AC-Milan playing Feyenoord was broadcast in the afternoon and just as the match started, my father mumbled:

Four – four.

I remembered because four-four would be a crazy result for any football match, but simply impossible for AC-Milan against Feyenoord. That much I knew. But one hundred and five minutes later, it was four-four, and my father gave a smile you would seldom see on his face. If he had managed to beat my mother in a game of Trivial Pursuit, when a little block of wood at the front of the stove burst apart with a damp snap. Or if the redheaded weather lady came on and my father said out loud: now that is what I call an attractive woman. He always did that.

Now, I was so relieved I almost laughed and was about to ask him what the result would be of the return match in Rotterdam when he got up and shuffled back toward the kitchen, his puzzle book under his arm:

May not find me, may never find me.

Lieutenant-colonel Plankman. First platoon, death for a tea pot – front in Newark New Jersey. May not find me. May never find me.

Lieutenant-colonel Plankman. First platoon, death for a tea pot – front in Newark New Jersey. May not find me. May never find me.

Lieutenant-colonel Plankman. First platoon, death for a tea pot – front in Newark New Jersey. May not find me. May never find me.

Lieutenant-colonel Plankman. First platoon, death for a tea pot – front in Newark New Jersey. May not find me. May never find me.

Lieutenant-colonel Plankman. First platoon, death for a tea pot – front in Newark New Jersey. May not find me. May never find me.

One week later, I was in time to see the league matches of the Dutch teams. The first was VVV playing Ajax, and part of me had hoped for a week that again he would hazard a prophecy.

I didn’t care if he was right, it was just that it felt as if we were having some kind of conversation.

But when I came in through the back door and had pushed Cesar aside, I found my father asleep on the couch, a plate of macaroni in milk turned upside down on his chest.

I cleaned up his kitchen for him, heard him wake up in the living room, and decided to –for the first time in my life – wash him in the shower. I shuddered at the thought of seeing him naked. But as I returned to the living room with the clean dishes, he’d sat up and had already switched on the television.

Two nil. One four. Nil nil. One one. Nil three.

There were five matches and he was right five times. If he had made one mistake, I would have just laughed out loud, or perhaps even called my wife. Now, I felt a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t after more mystery; all I wanted was a little contact with my father.

---------------

Of course, that same week, I had to file last year’s tax return and my son had to get new braces. The following week, to my shame, I found myself sitting with a football pool coupon on my lap and a phone in my hand. It’s not that I intended to get rich off my demented dad; it was more to see quite how far this would go and make some money along the way, just for fun. I suggested sharing the profit. But all my father said was:

Forty more years. Only forty more years.

The Dutch, German, and Belgian leagues combined played thirty-six matches that weekend. My father mumbled the results, one by one, at a rattling pace, the way he used to do the math in a French supermarket, working out how many guilders one crate of Stella beer was and if that would leave any money for me to get an ice cream.

I had to write at lightning speed, then phone in the results and place a five euro bet.

That same evening those five euros had become seven thousand four hundred.

---------------

One week later, after work, I drove to my father’s with a knot in my stomach. Although it was of no more use to him, it felt as if I had stolen his money. I decided to do this two or three more times, with a little more money maybe, to put him in a luxurious old people’s home and to give him all the care he would need till the end.

That would be enough.

As I opened the back door, I saw Cesar meowing and whining in front of a water bowl as dry as dust. And on the couch lay my father, with his belly up and his mouth open, the way he lay on the couch every afternoon throughout my adolescence, ready to jump up and shout “I’m here!” to no one in particular.

But this time he was dead.

---------------

Far fewer people came to his funeral than to my mother’s. I had to make a serious effort to find more than twenty people who could remember him at all. Eventually a handful of former colleagues from the municipality were willing to attend. And some volunteers from the church where he silently helped pollard the willows every year.

During the service they played a song that was actually one of my mother’s favorites, and I read a poem by a stand-up comedian that once made him laugh his head off.

The condolence was short.

---------------

A man whom I’d never seen before lingered a bit. His straw-colored hair was half long; he was wearing a gray coat over a thin black suit.

“How often do you think someone correctly guesses more than five different football matches in one week?”

We had sat down on the only bench in the cemetery, opposite the freshly dug grave of my father. The man hadn’t really introduced himself but had asked if he could steal five minutes of my time.

“I have no idea.”

“Once a year.”

“Oh.”

“And do you know how often someone correctly guesses more than twenty matches?”

“I don’t.”

“Never. It has never happened.”

I was obviously expected to answer now. But it seemed impossible to me that my father or I had scammed the football competition in three different countries, so I offered no opinion. This made the man smile:

“In the end, you can’t help it, none of you can. First you think a quiet life is enough, if only I can get away. I’ll be glad if I can just lay low. And then it starts eating them. Then suddenly a woman in Kentucky wins the Powerball five times in a row. And that’s how you are found.”

I wondered how one wins the Powerball five times in a row.

“Where were you between 2040 and 2043?”

“I’m sorry, where was I between what?”

“Where were you between the year 2040 and the year 2043?”

I didn’t laugh at his question because I knew it wasn’t a joke. Yet the man next to me must have seen the genuine surprise on my face, because he asked me again:

“Frans Hoenicker?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“You have correctly guessed thirty-six matches in the football pool?”

I shook my head:

“My father did.”

Now the man seemed to realize something. He looked at the freshly dug grave nearly opposite us, rose to his feet, and briefly wrote something down in a notebook he fished out of his breast pocket.

A cross behind a name.

“I do apologize. My condolences.”

And with that he trudged off through the cemetery.

One week later, I was in time to see the league matches of the Dutch teams. The first was VVV playing Ajax, and part of me had hoped for a week that again he would hazard a prophecy.

I didn’t care if he was right, it was just that it felt as if we were having some kind of conversation.

But when I came in through the back door and had pushed Cesar aside, I found my father asleep on the couch, a plate of macaroni in milk turned upside down on his chest.

I cleaned up his kitchen for him, heard him wake up in the living room, and decided to –for the first time in my life – wash him in the shower. I shuddered at the thought of seeing him naked. But as I returned to the living room with the clean dishes, he’d sat up and had already switched on the television.

Two nil. One four. Nil nil. One one. Nil three.

There were five matches and he was right five times. If he had made one mistake, I would have just laughed out loud, or perhaps even called my wife. Now, I felt a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t after more mystery; all I wanted was a little contact with my father.

---------------

Of course, that same week, I had to file last year’s tax return and my son had to get new braces. The following week, to my shame, I found myself sitting with a football pool coupon on my lap and a phone in my hand. It’s not that I intended to get rich off my demented dad; it was more to see quite how far this would go and make some money along the way, just for fun. I suggested sharing the profit. But all my father said was:

Forty more years. Only forty more years.

The Dutch, German, and Belgian leagues combined played thirty-six matches that weekend. My father mumbled the results, one by one, at a rattling pace, the way he used to do the math in a French supermarket, working out how many guilders one crate of Stella beer was and if that would leave any money for me to get an ice cream.

I had to write at lightning speed, then phone in the results and place a five euro bet.

That same evening those five euros had become seven thousand four hundred.

---------------

One week later, after work, I drove to my father’s with a knot in my stomach. Although it was of no more use to him, it felt as if I had stolen his money. I decided to do this two or three more times, with a little more money maybe, to put him in a luxurious old people’s home and to give him all the care he would need till the end.

That would be enough.

As I opened the back door, I saw Cesar meowing and whining in front of a water bowl as dry as dust. And on the couch lay my father, with his belly up and his mouth open, the way he lay on the couch every afternoon throughout my adolescence, ready to jump up and shout “I’m here!” to no one in particular.

But this time he was dead.

---------------

Far fewer people came to his funeral than to my mother’s. I had to make a serious effort to find more than twenty people who could remember him at all. Eventually a handful of former colleagues from the municipality were willing to attend. And some volunteers from the church where he silently helped pollard the willows every year.

During the service they played a song that was actually one of my mother’s favorites, and I read a poem by a stand-up comedian that once made him laugh his head off.


The condolence was short.

---------------

A man whom I’d never seen before lingered a bit. His straw-colored hair was half long; he was wearing a gray coat over a thin black suit.

“How often do you think someone correctly guesses more than five different football matches in one week?”

We had sat down on the only bench in the cemetery, opposite the freshly dug grave of my father. The man hadn’t really introduced himself but had asked if he could steal five minutes of my time.

“I have no idea.”


“Once a year.”


“Oh.”

“And do you know how often someone correctly guesses more than twenty matches?”

“I don’t.”

“Never. It has never happened.”

I was obviously expected to answer now. But it seemed impossible to me that my father or I had scammed the football competition in three different countries, so I offered no opinion. This made the man smile:

“In the end, you can’t help it, none of you can. First you think a quiet life is enough, if only I can get away. I’ll be glad if I can just lay low. And then it starts eating them. Then suddenly a woman in Kentucky wins the Powerball five times in a row. And that’s how you are found.”

I wondered how one wins the Powerball five times in a row.

“Where were you between 2040 and 2043?”

“I’m sorry, where was I between what?”

“Where were you between the year 2040 and the year 2043?”

I didn’t laugh at his question because I knew it wasn’t a joke. Yet the man next to me must have seen the genuine surprise on my face, because he asked me again:

“Frans Hoenicker?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“You have correctly guessed thirty-six matches in the football pool?”

I shook my head:

“My father did.”

Now the man seemed to realize something. He looked at the freshly dug grave nearly opposite us, rose to his feet, and briefly wrote something down in a notebook he fished out of his breast pocket.

A cross behind a name.

“I do apologize. My condolences.”

And with that he trudged off through the cemetery.

May not find me. May never find me. Front in Newark New Jersey.
Only forty more years. Only forty more years. Only forty more years.

May not find me. May never find me. Front in Newark New Jersey. Only forty more years. Only forty more years. Only forty more years.

May not find me. May never find me. Front in Newark New Jersey. Only forty more years. Only forty more years. Only forty more years.

May not find me. May never find me. Front in Newark New Jersey. Only forty more years. Only forty more years. Only forty more years.

May not find me. May never find me. Front in Newark New Jersey. 
Only forty more years. Only forty more years. Only forty more years.

Over two weekends I cleared out my father's house. Closets filled with promotional T-shirts he never threw away or kept wearing until they were nothing but holes. White trainers and an endless number of cables for video recorders he had discarded ages ago. Birdseed. Two worn-out garden gloves.

A little box with my baby teeth.

In the attic I found our family’s photo albums. Me as a little boy on vacation in France with my father. Him already fifty. A genuinely happy smile in all those pictures, but a man who never wanted to stand out. For whom the smallest was enough.

Photo albums of my mother as a little girl who never shared her dolls and was always brushing her hair.

As for my father, nothing. Or rather, nothing before, say, his fiftieth year. No childhood, no memories. As if that was when he had suddenly turned up on this planet.

A refugee from another time.

Except for the boxes in his bedroom and in the attic full of crossword puzzle books. Filled, year after year, night after night, from cover to cover with the exact same phrases repeated as a morbid mantra in the empty squares between the black boxes, sometimes all across them even, in thick letters:

May not find me. May never find me. Front in Newark New Jersey. Only forty more years. Only forty more years. Only forty more years.

Over two weekends I cleared out my father's house. Closets filled with promotional T-shirts he never threw away or kept wearing until they were nothing but holes. White trainers and an endless number of cables for video recorders he had discarded ages ago. Birdseed. Two worn-out garden gloves.

A little box with my baby teeth.

In the attic I found our family’s photo albums. Me as a little boy on vacation in France with my father. Him already fifty. A genuinely happy smile in all those pictures, but a man who never wanted to stand out. For whom the smallest was enough.

Photo albums of my mother as a little girl who never shared her dolls and was always brushing her hair.

As for my father, nothing. Or rather, nothing before, say, his fiftieth year. No childhood, no memories. As if that was when he had suddenly turned up on this planet.

A refugee from another time.

Except for the boxes in his bedroom and in the attic full of crossword puzzle books. Filled, year after year, night after night, from cover to cover with the exact same phrases repeated as a morbid mantra in the empty squares between the black boxes, sometimes all across them even, in thick letters:

May not find me. May never find me. Front in Newark New Jersey. Only forty more years. Only forty more years. Only forty more years.

Willem-Bosch

WILLEM BOSCH 

Willem Bosch (1986) is a scriptwriter, film director, and novelist. In 2015 he won the Dark Matters Feature Award for best scenario at the Austin Film Festival for his script Sunny Side Up. In 2017 he was awarded Best Narrative Short at RiverRun International Film Festival for his directorial debut, Weg Met Willem. In 2011 Van God Los, a TV series written by Bosch, received a Gouden Kalf nomination for best TV drama at the Netherlands’s most important film and TV awards. The series Penoza, for which he wrote nine episodes, was remade in five countries, including in the US as Red Widow. In 2017 he wrote ten episodes for the American series Hunter Street (Nickelodeon). The rights to his first novel, Op Zwart (Black Out), have been sold to Pupkin Film, one of the largest producers in the Netherlands. He lives in Amsterdam with his girlfriend and son.

Photo: Geert Snoeijer


Published twice a year by Lebowski Publishers
© Lebowski Publishers  |  Amsterdam

For international rights please contact:
Oscar van GelderenTracy Fisher, Jill Gillett or Sylvie Rabineau

This literary magazine for Grounded SF
from The Netherlands and Flanders is
published twice a year by Lebowski Publishers.
© Lebowski Publishers  |  Amsterdam

For international rights please contact:
Oscar van GelderenTracy Fisher , Jill Gillet or Sylvie Rabineau

This literary magazine for Grounded SF from The Netherlands and Flanders is published twice a year by Lebowski Publishers.


For international rights please contact: Oscar van GelderenTracy Fisher, Jill Gillet or Sylvie Rabineau

© 2018 Hanna Bervoets, Willem Bosch, Rob van Essen, Jerry Goossens, Erik Nieuwenhuis, PJ Pancras, Joost Vandecasteele, Gina Hay, Joost Devriesere

© TRANSLATIONS Antoinette Fawcett, Kristen Gehrman, Thijs van Nimwegen, Jonathan Reeder, Sarah Welling, Joni Zwart, Paul Evans

© 2018 Hanna Bervoets, Willem Bosch, Rob van Essen, Jerry Goossens, Erik Nieuwenhuis, PJ Pancras, Joost Vandecasteele

© TRANSLATIONS Antoinette Fawcett, Kristen Gehrman, Thijs van Nimwegen, Jonathan Reeder, Sarah Welling, Joni Zwart

© 2018 Hanna Bervoets, Willem Bosch, Rob van Essen, Jerry Goossens, Erik Nieuwenhuis, PJ Pancras, Joost Vandecasteele

© TRANSLATIONS Antoinette Fawcett, Kristen Gehrman, Thijs van Nimwegen, Jonathan Reeder, Sarah Welling, Joni Zwart

© 2018 Hanna Bervoets, Willem Bosch, Rob van Essen, Jerry Goossens,
Erik Nieuwenhuis, PJ Pancras, Joost Vandecasteele

© TRANSLATIONS Antoinette Fawcett, Kristen Gehrman, Thijs van Nimwegen, Jonathan Reeder, Sarah Welling, Joni Zwart

© 2018 Hanna Bervoets, Willem Bosch, Rob van Essen, Jerry Goossens,Erik Nieuwenhuis, PJ Pancras, Joost Vandecasteele

© TRANSLATIONS Antoinette Fawcett, Kristen Gehrman, Thijs van Nimwegen, Jonathan Reeder, Sarah Welling, Joni Zwart

EDITORS Oscar van Gelderen, 
Jasper Henderson, Maaike Pleging

DESIGN 
Bart Heideman  |  uncanny.design

EDITORS Oscar van Gelderen, 
Jasper Henderson, Maaike Pleging



DESIGN
 
Bart Heideman  |  uncanny.design

EDITORS 
Oscar van Gelderen, 
Jasper Henderson, 
Maaike Pleging

DESIGN 
Bart Heideman
uncanny.design

EDITORS 
Oscar van Gelderen, 
Jasper Henderson,
Maaike Pleging

DESIGN 
Bart Heideman  |  uncanny.design

EDITORS 
Oscar van Gelderen, Jasper Henderson, Maaike Pleging

DESIGN 
Bart Heideman  |  uncanny.design