The scene of action is Bonn, the time of action roughly coincides with the date of creation of the novel. The very narrative is a long monologue by Hans Schnir, a comic actor or, more simply, a clown.
Hans is twenty-seven years old, and he recently survived the heaviest blow of fate – he left him to marry Tsyupfner, “this Catholic,” Marie, his first and only love. The deplorable position of Hans is exacerbated by the fact that after the departure of Marie he began to drink, why he began to work carelessly, and this immediately affected his earnings. Moreover, on the eve, in Bochum, portraying Charlie Chaplin, he slipped and injured his knee. The money received for this performance, he barely had enough to get home.
The apartment is ready for Hans’ arrival, his acquaintance, Monika Silva, who was warned by a telegram, took care of this. Hans hardly manages to distance himself from the house. His apartment, a gift of his grandfather, on the fifth floor, where everything is painted in rusty-red colors: doors, wallpaper, wall cabinets. Monica cleaned the apartment, stuffed the refrigerator with food, put flowers and a lighted candle in the dining room, and a bottle of cognac, cigarettes, ground coffee on the table in the kitchen. Hans drinks half a glass of cognac, and pours the other half onto a swollen knee. One of Hans’s urgent concerns is to get money, he has only one stamp left. Seated and more comfortably laying a sore leg, Hans is going to call friends and relatives, having previously written out all the necessary numbers from the notebook. He distributes the names in two columns: those who can borrow money, and those who can borrow money, to whom he will apply for money only as a last resort. Between them, in a beautiful frame, the name of Monica Silva – the only girl who, as sometimes seems to Hans, could replace him Marie. But now, suffering without Marie, he can not afford to satisfy his “lust” for one woman on the other, Hans dials the number of the parents’ house and asks Ms. Schnir to phone. Before the mother picks up, Hans has time to remember his not very happy childhood in a rich house, constant hypocrisy and hypocrisy of the mother. At one time, Mrs. Schnir fully shared the views of the National Socialists and “to expel the Judaizing Yankees from our sacred German land,” sent her sixteen-year-old daughter Henrietta to serve in the anti-air forces, where she died. Now the mother of Hans, in accordance with the spirit of the time, heads ” The Joint Committee for the Reconciliation of Racial Controversies. “She is also clearly not talking with her mother, and she is already aware of Hans’s unsuccessful speech in Bochum, which she not only gloats about, but in a telephone conversation, Hans says:” I am a clown and collect the moments. “Indeed, the whole story consists of memories, often instantaneous, but the most detailed, most expensive memories of Hans are related to Marie, he was twenty-one years old, and she was nineteen when he somehow evening” just came to her into the room that to do with her what the husband and wife do. “Marie did not drive him away, but after that night she left for Cologne. Hans followed her, and their life began, hard, because Hans was just starting his professional career. For Marie, the fervent Catholics, her alliance with Hans, not consecrated by the church, was always sinful, and in the end the members of the Catholic circle, which she visited with the knowledge of Hans and often accompanied him, persuaded her to leave her clown and marry a sample of the Catholic virtues of Heribert Tsyupfner. Hans despairs the thought that Tsyupfner “can or dares to watch Marie dress, how she screws the lid on a tube of paste.” She will have to drive her children along the streets naked, he thinks, because they have discussed for a long time and in detail how they will dress their future children. that Tsyupfner “can or dares to watch how Marie dresses, how she screws up the lid on a tube of paste.” She will have to drive her children along the streets naked, he thinks, because they have discussed for a long time and in detail how they will dress their future children. that Tsyupfner “can or dares to watch how Marie dresses, how she screws up the lid on a tube of paste.” She will have to drive her children along the streets naked, he thinks, because they have discussed for a long time and in detail how they will dress their future children.
Now Hans calls his brother Leo, who has chosen a spiritual career for himself. He does...not manage to talk to his brother, because at that moment the students-theologians are having dinner. Hans tries to learn something about Marie, calling to members of her Catholic circle, but they only advise him to bravely bear the blow of fate, invariably ending the conversation by the fact that Marie was not his wife by law. The agent calls Hans, Tsonerer. He is rude and hamovat, but sincerely feels sorry for Hans and promises to do it again if he quit drinking and will spend three months in training. After putting the phone down, Hans realizes that this is the first person in the evening, with whom he would have liked to talk more.
There is a ring at the door. Hans comes to his father, Alphonse Shnir, CEO of the coal concern Shnirov. Father and son are confused, they have little experience of communication. My father wants to help Hans, but in his own way. He consulted with Gennenholm, and he advises Hans to go in for pantomime to one of the best teachers, completely leaving the old manner of speaking. Father is ready to finance these classes. Hans refuses, explaining that it is too late for him to study, it is only necessary to work. “So you do not need money?” the father asks with some relief in his voice. But it turns out that we need. Hans has only one brand, lying around in his trouser pocket. Learning that the training of his son requires about a thousand marks a month, the father is shocked. According to his ideas, the son could manage with two hundred stamps, he is even ready to give three hundred a month. Eventually the conversation turns into a different plane, and Hans can not again talk about money. Seeing his father, Hans, to remind him of the money, begins to juggle with his only coin, but this does not work. After the departure of his father, Hans calls Bele Brozen, his mistress-actress, and asks, if possible, to inspire his father that he, Hans, is in terrible need of money. He puts the tube with the sensation “that nothing will fall from this source,” and in a fit of anger throws the brand out of the window. At the same instant, he regrets this and is ready to go down to look for her on the pavement, but is afraid to miss the call or arrival of Leo. On Hans, memories, now genuine, are fictitious. Unexpectedly, he calls Monica Silva. She asks her to come and at the same time is afraid that she will agree, but Monica is waiting for the guests. Besides, she leaves for two weeks to attend the seminar. And then he promises to come. Hans hears her breathing in the tube. Hans again remembers his nomadic life with Marie and represents her present, not believing that she can not completely think about him and do not remember him. Then he goes to the bedroom to make out. From the time of his arrival, he did not go there, afraid to see anything of Marie’s things. But she left nothing – not even a torn off button, and Hans can not decide whether it’s bad or good.
He decides to go out singing on the street: sit on the steps of the Bonn station as it is, without makeup, only with a white face, “and sing the akathists, playing along on the guitar.” Put a hat next to it, it would be nice to throw a few pfennigs there, or maybe a cigarette. The father could get him the license of a street singer, Hans continues to dream, and then one can sit quietly on the steps and wait for the arrival of a Roman train. And if Marie can pass by and not embrace him, there is still suicide. The knee hurts less, and Hans takes the guitar and begins to prepare for a new role. Leo’s calling: he can not come, because he needs to return to a certain date, but it’s too late.
Hans stretches bright green trousers and a blue shirt, looks in the mirror – brilliantly! The white is too thick and cracked, the dark hair seems like a wig. Hans imagines how his family and friends will throw coins into his hat. On the way to the station, Hans understands that now carnival. Well, for him it’s even better, a professional is the easiest to hide among amateurs. He puts the pillow on the step, sits down on it, puts a cigarette in his hat – on the side, as if someone had dropped it, and begins to sing. Suddenly, the first coin falls into the hat – ten pfennigs. Hans corrects the cigarette, which almost falls out, and continues to sing.