ISSN 1556-4975

OffCourse Literary Journal

 Published by Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998


"The Notice" by Joachim Frank


I’m giving notice herewith to Print-A-Neighborhood, LLC. that we wish to return our PAN country house, model NIGHTBREEZE, printed on August 14, 2014, serial number 897-2014-3098, and ask for our money back in full.  We also ask you to remove the house from our lot by December 31 of this year so we can print a better house on the premises, but — I assure you — not likely with your company, for reasons that will become clear below.  I’m referring to Clause #5.1 (Full Consumer Satisfaction) in the Expedited Warranty Agreement which I’m enclosing a copy herewith, see passage highlighted in yellow.

The reason for our decision to return NIGHTBREEZE to you complete with three sets of keys and all interior furnishings and appliances is that neither I nor my wife nor our two children are satisfied with the physical cast from the blueprint that we had agreed upon in the contract with the PAN representative — I forgot his name, Miller or something.  This is in fact putting it mildly since the house, from the moment your noisy cranes left on that hot day in August, had an abundance of unplanned and unwanted features that are inefficient, harmful, and in some cases life-threatening.  The list of such features, I can assure you, is quite long, and I’m giving you only the most annoying ones, in no particular order.

First, our dog, Wolfgang, got lost twice on the Escher® optical illusion staircase, each time for days, and I wouldn’t wish such drama on anyone of your other customers.  The dog is now permanently traumatized and refuses to step on ordinary stairs, as well.  By ordinary I mean stairs without the optical illusion.  We have to carry him upstairs and downstairs every night and every morning.  My wife has a bad back so it is always me who has to do the carrying until — who knows? — my back will give out as well, and in that case we will need hired help.  Wolfgang is a sixty-pound German shepherd, by the way.   

Second, we were unable to detach the tea set from the kitchen table — it must have been a demo feature that should not have made it into the production run — and have to work around it every morning at breakfast.  You will appreciate the extreme time pressure created by the need to get our kids ready in the morning, in time for school, when every inch on the surface of the kitchen table counts.  There are pancakes for one and granola for the other, and they always insist on eating at the same time.  One goes to kindergarten and the other, a girl, is in third grade.  The older is the smart one.

Third, two of the paintings printed on the living room walls (we selected a Matisse and a Picasso) bleed colors into the printed frames, and the result is dreadfully inauthentic.  Another painting is printed upside down, but fortunately it is a Miro.

Fourth, we found out right away that the grandfather clock, which you will recall was a bonus feature for of our willingness to pay cash upfront, is printed in one piece with the inside wall of the bedroom closet, where it chimes 24 hours a day in the dark.  We might as well not have one, is how my wife put it succinctly.

Sixth, how come the house has no windows in two of the three bedrooms?  You will appreciate, for future reference to a lawsuit we are seriously contemplating, that lack of daylight has been linked to depression.  We are reasonable people and only ask for what is due to us, and fair.   Quite reasonable people, if I count my wife.  In short, the house has become an albatross tied around our necks, which threatens to strangle us sooner or later, and we request satisfaction of our reasonable demands before we meet this unacceptable end. 


Helmut Blumenthaler 


Joachim Frank is a German-born scientist and writer living in New York City. He has published a number of short stories and prose poems in, among other magazines, Offcourse, Conium Review, StepAway Magazine, and Wasafiri. Frank is a recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His first novel "Aan Zee," has been published by University Press of the South.
Frank's website carries links to all his literary publications.

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