Innsbruck by Daniel Dilworth McCarthy Fiction Prize Winner May24


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Innsbruck by Daniel Dilworth McCarthy Fiction Prize Winner

It was two days after the due check-out date that the hotel staff realised the British tourist was still officially a guest of the hotel. The maid gained access to the bedroom shortly before midday. The drapes were fluttering, the window thrown open. The bed sheets had been overturned and a bedside lamp in pieces on the floor. Inside the en suite there were splatters of blood on the wall by the bath and, inside it, lay the cold, motionless body.

The tourist arrived on the flight from Gatwick in the morning and made his way to the hotel in the Altstadt. It was grand, a remnant from the days of the Hapsburgs. He moved to the desk, put his case down on the marble floor and picked up a brochure on the countertop. Flicked through it. Put it down. Picked up another one. Glanced briefly at it, put it back. The receptionist noticed him.

‘Wie geht’s?’ How are you?

‘Gut, danke.’ He smiled. ‘I have booked a room.’

‘What is the name?’ The tourist told her. She went searching on the computer.

‘Yes, sir, room 212 is waiting. Dirk will bring you up.’

‘Vielen dank.’

Dirk came up behind him. ‘I’ll take your bag.’


As they walked to the lift the tourist started gazing up at the vast ceiling. The artwork was sublime, the plasterwork beautifully surrounded it, the walls were-

‘Watch where you’re walking!’

The tourist was brought back to earth. ‘I’m terribly sorry.

The man, in his forties, looked hard at him with his bright blue  eyes. ‘This isn’t a museum, so please stop having your head in the clouds.’

‘I am so sorry.’

The man with the blue eyes pointed to a bundle on the ground. ‘Look what you have done with my laundry!’

‘I am truly sorry, sir. Here, I’ll give you a hand.’ He bent down to pick up the clothes from the ground. The man’s hand struck his arm.

‘Get your hands off my clothes.’

‘I’m just-’

‘I don’t care.’ His eyes narrowed. The tourist broke off after Dirk.



The tourist put on a fresh shirt. The sun cast a long shadow of his across the bedroom and almost to the door. He took a bottle from his washbag and squirted a little bit on his cheek, proceeding to rub it. Throwing on a jacket, he took his room key and left the room. He waited for the lift. After an agonisingly long wait it finally arrived. It descended a floor, then a second. On the third floor it came to a stop and the doors opened. A woman walked into the lift. She threw a quick smile at the tourist, who returned it. She left off a soft ‘Hallo.’

‘A fine evening, isn’t it?’

‘It certainly is.’ She took a brief glance at the tourist. ‘Where are you from?’

The tourist told her.

‘Lovely part of the world, I must say. Some beautiful scenery.’

‘It certainly has.’

‘We are from Stuttgart. Do you know Stuttgart?’

‘I do indeed. Mercedes-Benz, Porsche.’

‘Ja.’  She smiled again, this time her lips parted slightly, revealing her teeth. ‘Have you been?’

‘I haven’t, actually. This is my first trip this side of the Rhine.’

‘Really? You have taken your time.’

The tourist grinned. ‘I have, haven’t I?’ The lift door closed.

‘Are you going for evening meal?’

The tourist nodded. ‘I am.’

‘Try the veal; it’s delicious.’

‘I will.’

‘How long are you staying in Innsbruck?’

‘Five days. Flying back on Friday.’ The lift came to a stop.

‘Will you eat with us actually?’

‘I’d be delighted to,’ the tourist replied. He smiled.

They stepped out of the lift and walked towards the restaurant, the woman’s hair waving as she moved. They got to the door of the restaurant. The waiter at the counter smiled.‘Good evening, Sophie. Good evening sir.’

‘Good evening,’ the tourist responded, giving a single nod of his head. The waiter and Sophie said something in German, before he led them to a table.

‘Drink, sir?’

‘I will have a schnapps.’

‘Good choice, sir.”The waiter disappeared.

‘So, are you single or is the other half back home?’

The tourist shook his head. ‘Single. I joined a dating website; I wrote a nice little description of myself and everything but all the women I was introduced to turned out to be fakes and liars.’

‘Sorry to hear that,’ she said, re-adjusting her position on her seat.

‘I’ve gotten over it, hoping to find a decent woman.’

She smiled. ‘So, why Innsbruck?’

The tourist looked at her for a second. He blinked his eyes twice in quick succession before responding. ‘The scenery, to be perfectly honest with you. I’m hoping to possibly visit Liechtenstein whilst I am here.’

‘Liechtenstein is a must.’ She smiled. The waiter returned with the schnapps.

‘Danke.’ The waiter smiled and left.

‘Why are you here?’

Sophie looked him. ‘What sort of question is that?’

The tourist smiled. ‘I think it is a fair question.’

She cocked her head up. ‘As a matter of fact, it is our honeymoon.’

‘I beg your pardon?’ A man approached the table, his bright blue eyes staring at him.


She looked up. ‘Ja?’ Innocent and sweet.

‘Who is-’ he stopped to look at the tourist. ‘You!’

‘Calm, Dieter.’ She smiled at the tourist. ‘He’s with me. I invited him to have dinner with us.’

Dieter’s eyes squinted. ‘Okay.’ He sat down at Sophie’s left-hand side. ‘Has the waiter come around yet?’

‘Just for drinks.’ He glanced at the schnapps.

‘Will I call him for you, Dieter?’

‘No.’ He shouted something in German. The waiter came back and proceeded to take his order, then Sophie’s and, finally, the tourist’s. The meal was eaten in frosty silence between the men. Sophie made the odd remark.

Finally, before dessert, Dieter got up. ‘I’m going to the bathroom.’

When he was gone Sophie spoke. ‘I’m sorry about that. He can be pretty stuck-up and gets jealous.’

She looked around her. ‘Do you know each other?’

The tourist thought about that morning. ‘No.’

‘From his reaction I was sure you had seen each other before.’ She leaned over the table. ‘Come on.’


‘We are leaving.’

‘But dessert is next, and Dieter.’

‘Exactly! I don’t like him.’


‘Have you been paying any attention?’

‘A little.’

Sophie got up and left. The tourist followed her to the hotel lobby.

‘This is ridiculous. It is only the honeymoon!’

‘I know. Best to get out now rather than never.’

‘You could get a good divorce settlement in five years.’

‘And what? Be mercilessly beaten just for a little extra money? I want to live my life. I want a man I love.’ She looked into his eyes and tugged his  sleeve. ‘Up to your room.’



The tourist saw the bathroom door open and Dieter walked out. His face was emotionless. His face went red; he saw him. He started to give chase. The tourist ran, Sophie after him. Up one flight of stairs, up a second. Finally, he got to his room, fumbled in his pocket for the key. He entered the room, Sophie directly after him. He shut the door with a bang.

‘We should be safe here.’ The tourist remained silent. She kissed his neck.

‘Get off me! Look at what mess we’re in now!’

‘Don’t blame me! You were the one who decided to run upstairs.’

Another kiss.

He pushed her away. ‘Keep away from me!’

‘No wonder you never got a girlfriend.’

‘Because I want some one honest, not a cheating-’

‘If you don’t accept me, well then…’ she smiled, ‘I will not be responsible for what happens.’

‘What?’ She held her smile.

‘No.” Silence. Footsteps coming down the hall. Stopping. Starting. ‘Last chance.’

‘Keep away from me!’

‘Okay.’ She shouted something. She repeated it. She threw herself  onto the bed. ‘Hilf mir!’  A knock came on the door.


‘Hilf mir, Dieter!’

‘Open the door, you damn British-’

‘You’ve got it all wrong Dieter!’

‘Leave my wife alone!’

‘I’m not harming her!’


He kicked the door once. Twice. Three times. The tourist took a step back. Sophie yanked his leg. His head hit the lamp, smashing it. She crawled to the door and opened it. Dieter ran in and commenced to beat him up.

‘This will teach you a lesson, you ignorant-’

‘Stop! Please stop!’

‘Oh, you beg for mercy, do you?’

‘Stop! Bitte!’

‘You’re funny, you know that?’

The tourist hit him in the stomach. He ran to the window, threw back  the drapes and opened the window. Dieter yanked him back from the window. ‘Not so fast.’ He was dragged back into the bathroom and flung against the wall. Dieter dug his fist into his stomach and his ribs. There was a crack. He struggled to breathe. Finally he fell into the bath and watched as the final punch hit home. His vision grew blurrier.

Sophie approached the bath and smiled.