In this story I am taking a weekend break at the Schatzberg Hotel in the remote mountains. It is expensive but they will cater for my terrapin and their towels are always neatly folded.

This year the bar-lounge is crowded with a great number of furtive figures wearing hats made out of tinfoil. At first I fear it is some outing of tinfoil fetishists, who frankly give me the creeps. Then I see one of them glare suspiciously at the waiter and demand to know what he is writing down in his notepad.

I beckon the waiter over and he confirms my surmise.

'It is the annual convention of the Paranoiacs' Society,' he says with a roll of the eyes.

'Those weirdos,' I say indulgently to my terrapin Jetta, stroking her on the nose and telling her not to stare at them.

Without wishing to eavesdrop I chance to hear some of their muttered and whispered remarks:

'Only a fool thinks Norman Wisdom died of natural causes.'

'The Queen of England killed him because he knew she was an alien.'

'Princess Diana was killed because she was the bloodline descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. This is why she had a benevolent disposition and a hot body.'

'A man has invented self-polishing shoes but the beeswax interests have suppressed them.'

'Why is everyone whispering? Is it about me?'

Just then a familiar figure in black clothing and dark glasses appears next to me at the bar. Politely I move Jetta off her stool so that he may sit.

'Hello Roy,' I say. 'What brings you to the Schatzberg Hotel?'

'We of the rock star elite often patronize this establishment,' he replies. 'Its remoteness affords relief from paparazzi and the neatness of its towels is legendary.'


While I am mulling over which conversational gambit to deploy next there is a terrible commotion. The foil-hatted conspiracy theorists rise from their tables with a look of outrage and point rudely at Roy Orbison.

'A Man in Black!'

'He has come to spy on us.'

'Seize him.'

'Trepan him roughly to look for alien implants.'

'Make him confess the full extent of the conspiracy.'

'Force him to hand over Tesla's perpetual motion machine and the suppressed final chapter of Edwin Drood.'

The paranoid mob advances on us menacingly. I attempt to remonstrate to no avail. The waiter hurries us out and we flee to the sanctuary of the hotel kitchen and barricade the doors against the maniacs.

The waiter wrings his hands. 'This is worse than last year, when we double-booked them with the Bilderberg Group.'

'What is to be done?' demands Roy. 'I warn you that geometric towels or not this place will not long be the haunt of the haut monde if you allow your guests to be torn limb from limb.'

The hapless waiter can only say that Roy is safe for the moment and that a free basket of fruit will be given him in amend for the outrage. Discreetly I clear my throat.

'There is one thing we might try,' I say.

'Name that thing,' says Roy.

'Obviously we must attempt to blend in with the paranoiacs. We must all don hats of tinfoil too.'

'Very well,' says Roy.

I make to a cupboard and extract a roll of tinfoil. Quickly I fashion hats of tinfoil for the waiter, Jetta and myself.

'Now you, Roy. But hold,' I say musing. 'Even with a tinfoil hat your trademark black clothing and dark glasses would still excite suspicion.'

'It is so,' says Roy. 'Suggest another expedient.'

I stroke my chin, indicating that I am musing some more. 'Perhaps if I was to cover you from head to toe in tinfoil. You would then pass for an exceptionally thorough paranoiac. Not only would your clothing be hidden, but you would be the envy of the conference and the centre of attention in a good way.'

'That would turn the tables with a vengeance,' says Roy. 'Commence to cover me from head to toe in tinfoil at once.'

I strive not to vomit as I contemplate the ridiculous and horrible idea of Roy Orbison being wrapped in tinfoil.

'They are trying to break in!' I cry, pointing at the doors.

Roy and the waiter brace themselves against the barricaded portals.

'I see no-one,' says the waiter after a moment.

'My mistake,' I say. 'Oh no,' I add. 'I have bad news to report.'

They turn to look at me and at the burning roll of tinfoil I am holding.

'Regrettably in the excitement I slipped and fell against the gas cooker, turned it on and set fire to the tinfoil,' I say. 'As you can see it is completely burned, all the roll of it.'

'Ach,' says Roy. 'The fates conspire against us. Now I will be trepanned roughly and interrogated until I say my platonic friend Queen Elizabeth is an alien lizard.'

'Let us not despair yet, Roy.' Once more I stroke my chin musingly. 'Plainly we will have to find some substitute for tinfoil to cover you in. Some other substance, perhaps, that is commonly found in a kitchen. Hmm... I wonder...'

'What do you wonder?' urges Roy.

'It occurs to me that clingfilm, for example, might answer our need,' I say, nonchalantly flicking some lint off Jetta. 'It further occurs to me, now I think of it, that were I to wrap you in it to a depth of many, many layers,' - the nonchalance fails and I quiver somewhat - 'it would acquire a silvery sheen that might just pass for tinfoil at a distance.'

'I bow to the inevitable,' says Roy. 'The links of your logical chain cannot be snapped. Plainly I must be wrapped in clingfilm to a depth of many, many layers immediately.'

'As you command,' I say.

I return to the cupboard. It is admirably well-stocked with clingfilm and fortunately I also happen to have a roll or three about my person in case there is not enough.

I start from the ankles and work my way up. I work quickly but passionately. I must wrap each limb individually so that he is free to move but do it to a depth of many, many layers until the accumulated clingfilm acquires a silvery sheen. He is like some black-clad mannequin being transmogrified into a state of silvery-translucent apotheosis. Soon, Roy Orbison is completely wrapped in clingfilm to a depth of many, many layers. My eyes become flying saucers and swivel like a lunatic's.

I shake the waiter by the lapels. 'He is completely wrapped in clingfilm!' I cry.

Roy makes a muffled noise that may be, 'Now to mingle casually with the maniacs.' We unbar the door and venture out into the hotel.

We get as far as the lobby before we are spotted. The conspiracy theorists point and cry and surround us. Although Roy's black clothing can no longer be made out properly beneath his clingfilm carapace the new disguise proves sadly inadequate.

'Look at that strange silvery-translucent figure!'

'An alien if ever I saw one!'

'Seize him.'

'Dissect him roughly.'

'Make him return Glenn Miller.'

Fortunately just then there is a distraction as Roy's platonic friend the Queen of England walks through the door, doubtless also drawn here by the promise of cloistered privacy and impeccable towels. I point at her in desperation and the mob of paranoids promptly divert their attention to her.

'The arch-conspirator!'

'Seize her.'

'Prove she is an alien.'

'Take her crown and remove her face.'

'Make her admit she killed Jimi Hendrix because she bore his love-child.'

'Force her to say where she was when the Hindenburg crashed.'

They start to lynch the hapless monarch and there is a pitched battle with her security lackeys. In the confusion I bundle Roy into a cupboard.

Two days later cleaning staff find us and tell us the coast is clear.

'You saved my life,' says Roy to me after they unwrap him. 'Here is a voucher that will entitle you to a 15% discount on my new LP.'

I bow my thanks.

'There is just one thing,' says Roy thoughtfully. 'That accident with the tinfoil strikes me as very strange in retrospect.'

'Roy!' I say. 'Do you think I wanted it to happen like that? For what possible reason? Perhaps someone else has become paranoid!'

The dark glasses regard me enigmatically.


(C) Ulrich Haarburste 2011

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