22nd November 2022


6 minutes read

Thomas Raab

The Bride of Zorro

translated by Thomas Cooper

22nd November 2022

6 minutes read

“What is the capital of Mongolia?”

“Don’t get on my nerves, Wessely!”

“How ‘bout the Ivory Coast?”

“If you get such a kick out of parading your meaningless trivia, save it for the world outside and become a quiz show-winner for all I care!”

“I’ll miss you, Popovic!”

“I’ll miss you too!”

“Now if that’s not true love, what is?”

“Stop talking about love! Otherwise, you can leave your crap here. And promise me one thing, Toni: forget about her, forget Marie!”



Anton loves Marie.

Nothing particularly remarkable about that. No doubt about it, from the Westside to  Easter Island, from the South Seas to stretches beyond even the North Cape, at this very moment throngs of Antons ardently adore their very special Maries, and vice versa.

And that’s nice.

It’s a little less nice to have to let yourself be taken to the long-term visitors’ room set aside specifically for the purpose of Marie adoration. A closed intimate zone with no supervision, no surveillance. After that, it’s time to bid farewell and go back from the snug little cell to your own two-bunk cell. No fun in that, of course, but still better than nothing. And who would want that? That nothing? Anton, i.e. Toni Wessely, could write a book about it, since things hardly could have gone worse than they did in his case. Because, as I said, Anton loves Marie.

Marie, you see, does not love Anton. Not even a little bit.

And Wessely’s love, ever since, has circled in a sad orbit around the world so longed for, and Marie, the object of his adoration, ambles past this nasty fate as she goes from A to Z without noticing. Instead, she amuses herself with others. The little slut! Or so at least Ferdinand Popovic, Ton’s brother-in-cuffs, said in pretty clear terms. A little coarse, true, but quite clear. In the end, both Toni and Ferdinand had been granted their current all-inclusive stay “because of the slut.” And the story went like this:


As everyone knows, it is hardly easy to find, among the millions and millions of resplendent women on earth, the one gentlelady who either makes you forget the swarms of others or unites them all in one, in herself. No more “a woman for this, a woman for that, a woman for wow, a woman for whoa, a woman for damn-check-it-out, a woman for s’what-I’m-talking-bout,” but finally, at long last, a “woman for life.” Some men keep trying their luck forever, sometimes with several at the same time, like age-resistant princes with glass slippers in hand, still searching for the flawless foot even when they themselves can hardly shuffle along, what with their bunions and corns, and if they haven’t died yet, then someday they do in spite of it all. But in Toni Wessely’s case, there was not the slightest doubt: there can only be one.

Marie’s non-love, however, was every bit as ignorant as a moving car tire rolling towards an earthworm.

Thus, this could hardly have been more devastating. For Toni was tossed neither a harsh, humiliating rejection nor even a wordless, disparaging glance. Nothing. No grunts or guffaws. Then how, I ask, is a man supposed to figure out his next steps? In short: the purest provocation!

So Toni Wessely sat in the garden of Café Hoffmann for many, many weeks, from where he was best able to observe Marie’s ground-floor-level window on the far side of the street. Soon, thanks to his regular appearances, he was very warmly welcomed by Ms. Hoffmann with an “always a pleasure to see you! What will it be for the gentleman?” Yes, gentleman. Not because of his suit, a rumpled two-piece, but because of his demeanor. Clothes may make the man, but for those who are less interested in clothes and more interested in people, these kinds of sayings are quite superfluous. “Would we care for a fresh apple strudel today, with whipped cream? Or the usual small mocha again, with a bread roll and some butter? And the newspaper?” Yes, Ms. Hoffmann showed her esteem when she spoke to him, regardless of what he was wearing or what he ordered. Marie, in contrast, remained unmoved, whether Toni stood in front of her window and looked in at her or she came out of the building and walked right past him. Even his warmly whispered “Marie!” left her cold. She disappeared, without flinching or fluttering, into the waiting car and drove away, always accompanied by her regular gentleman callers. Yes, callers. In the plural. Perhaps Toni would have been able to see things more calmly if one gentleman caller had left as the other arrived. But they came in pairs. Big, strong, attractive coxcombs. Disgusting. Hanni and Nanni, that’s what he called them, because at least in Toni’s life Hanni and Nanni had long been little more than mincemeat. Hope always dies last.

And so one early morning he arranged a Car-to-Go for the purpose of shadowing. Perhaps there would be an unnoticed moment on the way somewhere for Marie to get in. At first, however, there was nothing.

The sun was blazing, the car black, the pool of sweat luxuriant.

Not the tiniest trace of a shadow. His craving for one or more cool beers grew so intense that all sorts of stupid thoughts flitted through his heated skull: for example, what massive quantities of mind-altering substances must have been consumed to have come up with the idea of calling a rental car a “car to go.” Station wagon or stationary wagon? Like renting crutches to the lame. Absurd. And Toni Wessely ended up spending hours in this parked car to go. He did a great deal of thinking. Car to Creep, various phases of REM stuck in, Car to Sleep, dreaming of Marie as she gracefully unfolded in front of him, Car to Peep.

Late in the afternoon, however, the time had come. The van came to pick up Marie, with the two male supermodels, and the journey began. Without signaling, Toni also drove out of his parking space and almost ran over Ms. Hoffmann, who was crossing at the crosswalk. Thanks to the breaks being vigorously slammed on, she did not end up under the wheels but rather delicately perched on the radiator grille. Side-saddle. Diva-like. “Well boom!” she slapped the hood. Car to tread. “Mr. Wessely, Mr. Wessely! If you want to fell me, just say so. I’m sure we can find a more pleasant solution!” An admittedly extremely affectionate response. Only how did she suddenly know his name? “You are Toni, are you not? Pepi Wessely’s son? When I was a little girl, he let me come along for the ride a few times. All the way to Stephansplatz. How is he? And how are Hanni and Nanni?”


written by

Thomas Raab

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Issue 04


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translated by

Thomas Cooper

More about the translator


The Bride of Zorro by Thomas Raab
Anton loves Marie, no doubt about it, but what’s a man to do without so much as a rejection, a disparaging glance? A unsettling tale by Thomas Raab.