Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"A Romance in Augsburg" (a novel) Reedited 2008

A Romance in Augsburg


In the Beginning

[Augsburg, West Germany, 1970] They were troubling times back in the late 60s and early 70s: the war in Vietnam was going on, protests all over the United States; a time of unrest, and the sounds of the Beatles and Elvis’ Come Back, as was the war inside of me, me being, Chick Evens, my head, slowly ending. Love does not have a name in my story, although it has side effects, for both involved. Love as we knew it was the wealth it gave us, for what it was worth at the moment, we both (Chris and I)—I think both—forgot to look at ourselves; what was important was grabbing the moment for our own personal reasons, or gains. It was perhaps what we wanted though, and needed, at the time, at the end of the road always feeling a little desolate; perhaps that was the best combination of the whole affair. Possibly, just possibly this was more an affair than what we bargained for, yes, that’s precisely what it was, more of an affair, yes—certainly. But I prefer it inhabit the river of truth, so I place it in the space that lies between two people as growing pains. She was twenty-four years old, I, Chick Evens, Private First Class, was twenty-two.


A View in
The East

[Chick Evens] The street was narrow—an army compound, with its towering concrete walls in West Germany, which towered above my head, as I walked along its narrow sidewalk. In the distance one could see the emerging city as it started to surround you: as you walked this location. Towards the end of this wall were guard towers, trees, and more streets. At night when I walked home along this walk, this wall, the lights seemed always to be twisted, but then I was seldom sober; perchance, a little twisted myself.
Until the huge wall emerged, the compound was completely concealed; therefore, until that moment, that very moment the element of surprise remained.
New recruits, assigned to the military compound would seldom dare to leave the base, walk, or even glance along this walk, this long side view of the compound in fear they would not find their way back: back home, to this compound I believe. They were young and unraveled for the most part, had contempt for being forced into this foreign land and city of Augsburg and even for being assigned to a small complex like Reese, knew no bounds in disappointment. We even had our protesters in the ranks of the military, in the platoons at Reese.
The waterpower, in back of the compound could be seen above the large concrete walls as could some of the trees when I walked steadily along the side of the tower wall going down the street as the VWs and Mercedes passed me. Very cleaver I thought if anything, —for surely World War Two, the Nazis’ could have used it in part, for spying; but the more I think about it, I suppose, the more I think they were used for more sophisticated means—and spying on whom, themselves?
The area around the compound had a gothic kind of look, medieval not like the inside barracks in the compound. The barracks were painted green and patched with red and brown colors: gave it a drab and rustic feeling, if not a flat affect on the mind. I never liked the colors, but then I’m no decorating freak anyhow, it would do, it did do.
Its countless windows with decaying iron and wood could have never contemplated another defense against any new war of the 60s or 70s other than the war it had, the Silent Cold War; for I’m sure its painful memories of the Nazi era filled its spaces. On all four of the barrack sides were doors, as heavy as the church doors down in Augsburg, its cathedral, in the middle of the city that is, with its iron sides like an old fire-escape. This iron went to the upper and lower parts of the doors.
The rooms were small, four men to a room, and in some, two men to a room (which would be half its four-man room size), and if you were a part of the Security Police Force, as I was, one to a room, but the room was like a prison cell, one could say, in that it was a thin emplacement: no more than twelve-feet long and six feet wide. Thank God I was not claustrophobic.
There were upper rooms to these three stories, the barracks we lived in, filled with staircases on each side of the building, and in the center of it, as if there were to be constant drills [meaning: having soldiers running about, hence].
The windows were dark at night, only a lifeless light could be seen from a distance: our bed check sergeant could be seen walking up those lonely steps at night with his flashlight as to check each room and see who was missing at twelve-midnight. He was an asshole, one who loved to kick people in the ass as they walked up the stairs, I often said to myself, ‘Don’t, don’t you dare!’ I think he read my mind, the bastard, because he never did play around with me like that.
Now that I think of it, looking back at the building over the wall, one might think of a Peeping Tom; the reason being, as you look through the windows you can see the light shinning in and on the stairs leading up to the second floor; I somehow can picture a crazy old man with a toothless mouth peering through the doorways like a guard in a prison cell: thinking about escaping.

As I continued to walk down the street, smoking a cigarette, I walked along this wall, I walk it almost every day, my mind would produce these visions as I pressed forward with the excitement I knew would be ahead of me: simple excitement for a Private First Class, in the Army like me, nothing to wake up the dead. I’d think of the coming bar scene, the smooth tasting mouth-watering dark German beer, and the girls, and a few friends that might be at one of the bars (in this case, the one I was headed for): that was my excitement, waking up from the dead excitement that is on base. I knew by walking, not by hiding at the damn compound I’d survive this adventure, aloneness—many a soldier felt abandoned, forgotten, desolate, an ordeal at times for them, you could call it; I’d get there, and the night would start, which would make me focus on ‘the here and now,’ not the bullshit of the Army life. And so I did exactly that, kept walking, looking ahead, and closer and closer coming to my lifeless adventure for the evening.

—The very air above me seemed fresher now that I had left the military base with its military madness. Ski would meet me there at the bar, or be there, most likely, that is at the guesthouse, the waterhole you might say, several blocks northeast of the compound. He merely put up with the military; his head was some other place it always seemed, wondering why he was still here, here at Reese [meaning: this military compound in Germany]. It seemed to me the way he acted was like he was on some expensive vacation: he was separated from the real army, mentally anyhow, —like the Army is from the Marines.
As I observed my watch, I noticed I was making good time, I do when I talk to myself. I was now far from the great walls of my assigned military base, my home away from home: out of sight, out of mind. That is how a draftee thinks I think. Or I wonder if I simply act the way I think other people expect me to act: sometimes I just don’t know. It seems about half the people in the Army actually joined the Army, not sure why, but the other half like me, got drafted. You know the ones that didn’t make it to college, or got married before 1965; a cutoff date someone came up with to appease us peasants. They have all these rules so they can figure out who is dispensable and who is not. I am one that is dispensable I guess. But then so was Elvis, everyone over here seems to like him, that being: the Germans in particular. Perhaps the US Government wanted to cool his heals back a decade ago, and this was their way of doing it. I think the U.S. Government tried to get rid of Elvis so they could get back to the old ways, the old music; but of course it didn’t work, He has changed the world in one way or another; and now thinking about it, he was surely a rebel for his time, all the way up to this time: again I say, if anyone changed America, it was him. He’s settled down now somewhat I hear.
I can see the guesthouse now from where I am at, catching the wooden beam crossovers in the middle sides of the guesthouse like a sloppy-x, it always looks so medieval heavy; and along the sides and front of the establishment is the walkway, it looks deserted, yet it is only 8:00 PM, early for night life, just wait, it will be swinging soon…!


The Guest House

The guesthouse always looked alive, or maybe it was I as I approached it, felt alive. I read the name as always, over the doorway, the heart of the inn: ‘The Lions Den,’ den—I liked the tone to that, I liked that word, back home in Minnesota ‘den’ —den, would be for some rich folks with an entrance in a house, up on Summit Avenue—the rich district in St. Paul, so it had a rich tone to it, echo to it; such rich and famous folks lived there such as the writer: F. Scott Fitzgerald used to live there, back in the 1920s and the tycoon John J. Hill.

Anyhow, the “Lions Den” was two stories high, with a slanted roof, laced curtains and old German beer mugs on the windowsills. There was wood on the lower part of the sills, varnished, which had allowed it to have a glow to them, fresh manure: I should have taken up agriculture, or been an artist or photographer, for I liked that sort of stuff, also taking pictures with my eyes, but never could afford a camera: but I’ll never forget those buildings, and the insides, in this case, they were shinny as a bald head freshly polished. Now that I’m on the subject: I loved great art, and the structures of buildings and bridges—the texture, and the colors of bricks, their tones, and mortar.

“Hello,” I said as I sat at a table near the window inside the inn, waiting for Ski, my friend, or perhaps Sergeant Mac, that’s what we called him—a sergeant from Vietnam, Buck Sergeant, he was part of the security platoon I belonged to; younger than I by a year or two, and being a machine-gunner on a helicopter I think got the best of him, but he only had ten months to go and he’d be home.
I was often mistaken for an office rather than a private, not sure why maybe it’s my smugness with these surrounding walls, it makes me put an air of insignificance sailing throughout the place with no lion.
You could see a portion of the building structures huge chimney across by the bar area: --it towered past the next level [second floor] and through the ceiling to the outside sky. I loved the iron stairs that linked the back of the bar to the upper floor. As you looked up, you felt you were in a courtyard of sorts, and as you walked about the upper level, it was like walking around a gallery.
I turned to my side, then half turning again, looked towards the door, it opened to the March air, —I then looked back at the bar and its twisting iron stairway again, there was a new waitress walking down the steps, laughing: ‘…she’s new, haven’t seen her before,’ I mumbled aloud.
I told myself: I’ve not been here for two months either, could she have been coming here for possibly that long—I bet; she walks like she knows the place well (I always talk to myself, always).
Tonight maybe I’ll be dancing, if the bar fills up. Disco music is filling the air I don’t really like it, but I like dancing to it. I feel as if my guardian angel has something in store for me tonight, I shouldn’t say that, I’m not much with the God thing, but I do respect the angels, they got to be someplace, why not here, I’m still alive, and with all this drinking I do, only an angel could be responsible for me still kicking. Maybe Mac will come, he likes to drink, Ski, I like him but he doesn’t drink much.
I seem to get a silent sense of humor and a smug look to my continuance: damn, every time I drink I get into this mode. The Waitress is giving me a joyful smile, I like that: funny, every man thinks a smile from a pretty waitress is an invitation to the bedroom: I wonder way [?]
“Hi,” I said with a grunt, and then looked on.
Ski, came in, I see him standing by the side of the door, actually concealing the doorway of the guesthouse somewhat, it looks like he spotted me, not sure if he wanted to… especially after seeing the new waitress, he looked at me again. She had caught his eyes just like mine, a beauty, and she knows it. Funny thing, pretty girls are always so sure of themselves: I suppose they feel if you do not smile the other guy will: and if they want to give you more with the smile they will, and if they want to toy with you, with the smile they will; I think they got, and like power with them smiles. I think they test out how powerful their smile can be. She had walked to a table to put linen-sheets on it, as the disco-music started to liven up the joint a little more. It was getting louder: the club, guesthouse, bar, all the same and it was getting louder.
Three or four minutes later he stood by the door not quite taking off his hat checking out the scene, then caught my eyes again. She caught Ski’s eye again also I could see, and was a little embarrassed it appeared, sometimes Ski can be like a bulldog, and out stare anyone. I wonder if Mac is going to stop on by [?]
All kinds of people must have seen her walking down those stairs, they were all watching those shapely legs, and her wiggled that ass, and those fine looking hips, —her silky white German skin. She brought the drinks for the four GI’s in the center of the guesthouse. They looked like they were still chilled from the frosted air outside, as they were rubbing their hands together. She had told one of the four gentleman in advance to be patient: —as he asked for two drinks and she only brought him one, matter-of-fact, she only brought each person, each one drink, one at a time; it is her first night I over heard her say to the group. That was bullshit; it was their first night, not hers, and she just wants a bigger tip I bet:
”Just hurry up with the drinks babe…!” one of the GI’s replied as she walked away to get their second order in advance, as they turned their heads to watch her walk away, checking out her ass some more, making cat-calls. She paid no attention, and just went about her business.
I noticed Ski now, he noticed me noticing him also, and Ski noticed the man that was a bit demanding, if not rude, to the waitress. Even at his best, Ski has a hair-trigger for a temper that is almost uncontrollable. Life had treated him harshly I felt, especially in terms of respect. And god-forbid who got on his bad side, although we were about the same height, both built solid and fighters, he avoided getting me mad, or mad at me, I suppose he needed a friend, and was never sure of me; we both could fight, and I gave a ore (image or some kind of signal out) that I was unbeatable (or perhaps not afraid to be beaten if indeed he could beat me).
Ski, seemed to me as if he spent some time in some kind of unthinkable institution; his guard was always up. He had explained to me a few times: friends were far and in-between for him. But for some reason, he tried hard to keep me from running away from him, or better put, turning on him; I being his only real friend I suppose. That’s how I felt at any rate. I liked Ski, but I wasn’t about to be controlled by him, and he liked to control.
It was out of respect Ski went straight from the door to my table without stopping at the rude table full of soldiers, and letting them know how he felt: which would had been normal for him. But he had it on his mind none-the-less, I’m sure, and came directly to my table; when he sat down with me, putting a dollar on the table for a beer, it took a little doing for him to put a smile back on his face, twisting a tinge to see the rude table of soldiers somewhat to my left, and a little to his side, since he was sitting in front of me and sideways to them, his stood twenty feet away from them anyhow.
“You find something funny?” Ski asked me.
“Mr. Ski, who are you going to hit tonight, cool down, the night hasn’t even started yet.” Ski smiled, and then kind of laughed: I read his mind and he knew it.
“I’m ready ☻,” he explained.
Ski was pleasant enough, even had some wit to him, and at times he could even be charming, and in another way, so charming if he wanted to he, and wanted to catch a certain new waitress’s eye, if that was to be his goal for the evening. If so, I prayed, that that table of rude soldiers be gone when Ski got wound up with alcohol; but then he seldom did, that is to say, he usually didn’t get as drunk as I.
I continued to drink and look about, I was one who didn’t quite know when to stop drinking it was fun for me, and yes I liked to drink, drink and drink; like Mac, he liked to drink, drink and drink until he could forget those machine-guns in Vietnam, and the helicopter that fell, I mean crashed. He had some of that Post Traumatic Stress stuff; he was seeing a doctor at the clinic for it, and sometimes went to Frankfurt to see a doctor there. He told me once they had to take him out of Vietnam before he went local, crazy.
Ski on the other hand drank slowly, was cool and calm, a thief in disguise, not many people liked him, but I did, and that allowed him to join with the others I suppose; and if, and I say if, because I seldom seen him drunk, but if he got drunk, usually I couldn’t tell, because I was perhaps already too drunk to tell, but like I said, he was more into other things: stealing cloths from the PX, finding girls wherever he could, fighting whenever he found a worthy opponent, but he could be fun. Yet, Mac was wild fun also, not dangerous fun like Ski though.
Ski said, surprisingly, “That gal over there keeps looking at you, she even took her finger and waved: a signed for you to go over to her.”
“Ski, I think you are checking her out for yourself, she is waving at you,” I replied.
Having said that, I did a double take on the young lady over in the corner, she was with a few girlfriends, her presence did seem to stand out: somewhat animated. A sudden anxiety came over me —she did take her finger and wave it at me, I’ll be, she really did.
“See….Ski….see, you’re right!” I said, hastily, then added, “Should I expect her to come to me, or I to her?” I was asking for Ski’s advice, totaling, and “I was just thinking out loud?”


Chick Evens’ Quest

The music was getting louder, and the upper part of the guesthouse which was open to the public now, was being filled up with GI’s and Germans, some hanging their hands and torsos over the railing looking down below, looking at all of us poor folk …Ski took a look, made a grimace—:
“How’d they like me to pull their f...en noses down here,” he commented, shaking his head.
“Yaw, it’s getting crowded with young gals, German girls… and GI’s,” he added.
“She seems nice,” I said to Ski, as he sipped on his dark-bock-beer, leaning back in his chair checking out the four guys at the table about twenty-feet to our right, and watching the waitress from the side of his eye (I noticed Mac had come in, or was in, I didn’t see him come in, and he sat at the bar, he didn’t like Ski, not sure if he saw me).
“Are you saying Chick, my observations were right on?”
“The German girl…?”
“You know what I’m talking about, don’t play dumb…”
“Yaw.” He smiled with pride as if he was the Commanding Officer of the 1/36th Artillery, for giving so much wisdom, but what could I say he was right.
“Hay man, she’s given you the indication to visit…!”
“Go dance with her…!”
“So how should I approach this?”
“Listen, you got the music, everyone’s dancing on the dance floor, just get up and get into it, this is a guesthouse not a funeral home, she’s wanting to meet you for some reason, not bad either, kind of on the richly $$… side I’d say, you know, good job, money, looks, car, you can’t go wrong.”
Somehow I heard that philosophy before, I think Ben Franklin said something like that, -- “…marry above yourself and you got nothing to lose…” something like that, Ski must had read a bit.
“She can come over here,” I said.
“She’s not going to come over here man, where’s your head, she already made her move, it’s your turn, your move, or she’s going to dance with someone else if you don’t get going, you’re going to lose her!”
(I glanced at the bar, Mac was not looking well, he was drinking one drink after the other, and he seemed to sniff the air, trying to figure out where he was at, or perhaps he knew, and he was back in Vietnam, I saw this before, whenever he got too drunk, and too lonely.)
I felt he [meaning: Ski] was probably right, she would dance with someone else soon if I didn’t make the effort, but I had learned in life also, yes, my little 22-years on this earth, I had learned, when a woman has her eye on you, it doesn’t matter if you are in a barn with one hundred-naked men with gold chains on their you know what, she will come to you; even if you’re in a chicken coup, she will come to you: perhaps it is a challenge, because as soon as they see something else they like, they will also drop you as quick as they found you: you got the picture, they go onto other things. And, for some odd reason and only they know—I don’t know—when they focus, when women focus, they are concise, I mean really focused, and when they shift gears to leave your ass that is what they do, for some unusual reason what they like fades faster than the wind…they run faster than a train. This was my experience at twenty-two years of age, anyhow.
She was about twenty feet from us making more gestures.
“She’s not coming to you Chick, go see what she wants.”
“Yaw, yaw, I’m going, I’m just not used to someone coming on to me like she is, normally I got to work for it.”
(I looked over at Mac again, his very silence, his not talking to anyone told me he was going through some hard times, I’m sure it is the attack coming alive in his head again. He’s mumbling to himself, his hands are moist, and he’s wiping them off on his pants. I saw his nerves go like this before.)
If it wasn’t winter it wouldn’t be so hard to date anyone now, I thought especially not having a car; I mean, dating in winter time is next to impossible. For Ski it wasn’t a problem, he had a car, a VW, but you never could really count on him, he was around, but not when you needed him, when he needed you, that’s when he was around. But what the hick, this was a night out, a Friday night out, and so I had to be back by midnight, might as well try, why not. During the week bed check was at 10:00 PM.
She hovered over her chair as if she was a cat waiting for a mouse; and I was her mouse to be: sitting —studying me…like a hawk; next move has got to be mine, ----I ‘…NNNNNNNooo…’
She had a few years on me, maybe two or three. A business degree, maybe, a manager possibly, unattached I hope. If we were ever to meet it might workout somewhat, she seemed to relay: but you know, men always think like that. That smirk on her upper lip tells me she’s a fox after a hound; and to be honest with my second self, I think I am dreaming faster than a rocket.
“Wakeup Chick! Stop daydreaming, she wants yooooou…!” said Ski. I shook my head: yes, I guess I was daydreaming.
Financially, I knew I could not afford her, but the theme was starting to take on a life of its own, its own course: to be exact, taken out of my hands—for the time being anyway; I think I was starting to feel her prestige involved; she had two girlfriends sitting by her and I was something of an imagined plot of hers: I told myself as I starred back at her, and she at me, and Ski at both of us, and Mac into his beer: perhaps we do have something in common after all, who was to say unless you took that step.
As I started to stand up, I noticed she was dressed in a fine up-to-date style of cloths, and it made her look a tad older than I first thought. She put her hand out (it was thin, slender to be exact, smooth, nice finger nails, milky white skin, with a tint to it, not much, just a slight auburn tint) and stood up, ‘shoots,’ I said, Ski laughing and covering his mouth (now Mac turned to look at me, he nodded his head, a slight smile as not to offend Ski and I figured I’d stop on over there afterwards. His head kind of fell to his chest, his chin hit his chest, like a bomb, I saw him do that before.)
“Don’t say it Ski, I’ll turn around and leave.”
“I’m not saying anything man, just enjoying the trip, dance man dance!”
She was almost as tall as me, sandy-dark-brown hair; a fresh looking face, with a nice smile, a laugh right around its corners, and she seemed like she was simply celebrating life, as I was.
“My name is Chris Stewart, sit down,” she said as a quick introduction; then her three girl friends said their quick hellos. Chris just looked about, and then like a kitten, came back with her eyes focused directly into mine, like a hypnotist.


Mac’s Dilemma

“Let’s dance; I do hope you dance,” she added, in a tone low, and a light laugh starting to come out of her smile again, almost disarming me. And out to the middle of the dance floor we went. About several couples filled in around us, and the dance became a mental waltz, as we tightened our bodies to each others, as we danced on the dance floor.
“You dunce vel,” she commented with her broken English, and Germany accent.
I didn’t instantly reply, she pulled me closer to her during the next dance saying, “I want to go to a club I know…I vant you to come along?”
She waited for a response. My pants started to bulge out a little in the wrong place or maybe right place for her. I thought, and thought –she’s asking me to go to a club she knows, I think. And I got to calm down, before I get laid on the floor here. I was starting to like the dance, it was smooth, and her thin body was melting into mine. I was hoping she would change her mind and just stay here.
“Well,” she inserted (again).
“I need to tell somebody I’m leaving first, ok?”
“Yaw, I guess.”
“Just a minute please…I’ll be back.”
As we got outside, I thought about Ski, I felt a little displeased with myself but Ski knew it was coming; it was not quite that evident to me at first, that is, that I’d be leaving the Den, but to him, I’m sure it was evident.
Chris was attempting to ease me a little as we walked out the door, not quite achieving it at first, realizing the slow approach I made at her calling me to her table in the Den, like a dog or at least I kind of took it that way, I didn’t tell Ski that, he’d think I was a kid, her approach was like ‘come here little doggy…’, even though I was a little nervous, and I did like the fact she made the first move… I put it together it just took me awhile.
She explained it wasn’t all that far from where we were as we walked around the corner to her car.
“A most interesting friend you have,” she commented.
“Well, I’ve heard that before I guess.”
“Eh… yaw-have…?”
“I don’t want to get into it, he’s …”
“Trouble…?” She said.
“Yaw, I guess you could say that, how did you know?”
“I can see it, I’m sure others can too.”
“I guess I thought it wasn’t that obvious, that I was the only one that could.” She smiled as if she would have me all figured out in no time. Was I that readable? I thought.
Rapidly she opened the door to the car, a new 1970 Ford Mustang and within a minute we were on our way to wherever. As we drove a few minutes I noticed a section of town that was quite alien to me. Then I noticed the big gray tower as she drove north of where I was stationed at Reese compound. I pointed it out, saying that was where I was stationed with the 1/36th Artillery. She said ‘Oh,’ as if she’d pick up the conversation on that subject later.
Then down around a number of buildings and around the city’s fancy regal design water fountain she raced as if the cops were her fans and wouldn’t give her a ticket; then up a few more unknown streets I hadn’t seen as of yet, -- she went; I actually seen most of the city on many of my long afternoon walks throughout the city. I counted twenty-seven blocks in all as her tires squealed around the corners, and then suddenly she stopped.
“Yaw … you ok?” She felt moved to say; “I need a cigarette…” she looked at me.
“Oh, I see.” I looked quite dashed I suppose, we both looking at each other.
“…In as much as, or rather I should say, it isn’t my business of course, but do you smoke?”
“Yes, but I don’t want to now,” I hesitated, “Well, not really,” nervously.
“My dear boy, we are here!” She gazed at me, with bewilderment—a little inward exasperation, as she sat behind the steering wheel, charming, eager, and full of life; so, anyone would have said.
“Must you have one now,” I said.
“No, let’s get into the bar….”

As we stepped out of the car, the stars were glowing in the cool glassy darkness. Chris pulled off her black small hat fixing her full thick hair with her fingers. Her hair was not long, but not short.
As we walked into the club, it seemed she was quite in charge of the moment. But it was a good moment I thought, a new corner of town for me, headlined with bright lights, a huge mirror along the bar and a jolly bar tender with a white shirt and black bow tie. A few guys and women seized Chris by the arm (friendly like) as we turned the corner from the entrance hall to the bar area, they started speaking something in German. Then she introduced me to her friends as her friends hurried to get a round of drinks for us as we joined them at their table.
“Just a few friends,” commented Chris.
“I like scotch on the rocks,” she told me. I tried to figure out how much money I had in my pocket. I had just gotten paid a few days ago, $127-dollars for the month and it had to last, and this place was high buck, costly by the looks of things.
She picked up her drink, and hit my beer glass “…a proast my new friend…hit my glass,” she meant ‘toast’, I mumbled, she smiled, ‘proast in Germany…’ but I guess it’s different in Germany, and so I did as the Germans do best, and down the hatch it went.
Her three friends talking at the bar came over with another round, and down they went also. Then I bought a round, $12.75, it was a few days pay, but I knew if I survived the night I could not duplicate it again this month.
There was little conversation between the five of us, for only Chris could speak English clearly, the rest of them tried but they were as bad at English as I was at German, and so I just kept drinking. But it was joyful.
As the drinks kept coming the voices at the table sank to a sleepy blur, and a few yawns. Chris smiled at herself or so it appeared, standing up a few times walking in circles. She got a sandwich ate half of it and asked me if I wanted the rest, I said ‘no,’ so it was left on the table, she seemed fatigued but we continued to drink, smoke and smile.
Chris drank slowly not as fast as I. It seemed to me she had a good sense of human nature attached to her character, and her sex-drive went up as my beers went down—or at least it seemed to me to be that way, as her eyes were removing my cloths. Or was it my mind, my imagination doing it for us. Who could tell?
In my mind I was counting the money I had left in my pocket, and how much I would have left for the month after this evening, yet I didn’t want to spoil the inner warmth of our connecting drowsy bodies being stirred up.

I earnestly hoped that this new lady friend would be a little sympathetic with the drinks: --I would have to tell her soon I was a private not an officer, that I couldn’t afford to go on spending money this way, but I’d wait for the evening to get a little more interesting. Timing was everything, or so I believed. And I didn’t want to leave the wrong impression.
For the second time in an hour I had found myself buying another round, another $12.75, this was number five. I had to remind myself again I had not come prepared to spoil Miss Germany with every penny I had, in the broad-spectrum, I could not go on like this.
“Chris,” I asked, “let me explain. I’m a Private First Class [PFC], not an officer. I’ve got to get back to base before midnight, bed check. But I guess the Army is doing away with bed check come next week. The whole damn army is. I hope we can see each other again. And please don’t think of me as being cheap, but I can’t afford this place.” She smiled, one of them cat and mouse smiles I do believe; but she understood.
“Yaw, I know, and you are a gentleman, and tired. Let me buy a few rounds.” I looked a little embarrassed I’m sure, but said to myself if she wants to stay here so be it, and I sat back down and waited for the next round. Actually my beer was the cheapest think on the menu.
It was almost like a holiday for me, you know, on one of those high-class vacations on the Mexican Rivera, the ones I used to read about in the Sunday paper back home. Beautiful bars with well to do women, and everyone dressed as a star, everyone that is but me. I was dressed all right, but these people here were dressed a little more sophisticated.
I almost couldn’t believe it, all this luxury, and a pretty woman to boot she was not any young girl I should say, but not old. And the club was playing my Elvis music, not that disco crap. Chris got a look at me as I was tapping my fingers and moving my feet ♪ with the song “Heartbreak Hotel” ♪ ☺ and then came “Don’t Be Cruel” ♫♫♪
“I see you like him to, Chris?”
“What’s your best song of his?”
“Not sure, maybe ‘It’s Now or Never,’ not sure.”
“We all loved Elvis coming to Germany; many of the girls used to try to find him while he was on guard duty, until they took him off. But that was ten-years ago.”
“That’s right he was here just ten years ago, how interesting.”
“He is now making a comeback I see, or so I hear.”
Chris liked the song, Heartbreak Hotel as much as I did, we both kind of rocked in our chairs looking at each other, and at her friends as they got up walking around chatting with everyone in the bar.
“You like the Everly Brothers?” asked Chick.
“Some of their songs are fine…not as much as Elvis though—why?”
“They played at my High School Prom.”
“So do yaw like me?” She asked. I hadn’t expected that, but I quickly appeased her by saying, ‘Yes,’ and there was truth in my voice. I’m not sure why I did confirm that, but I did.
She bathed her voice slowly, saying, “You’re quite handsome, I like your square chin, I mean jaw, I guess I mean both, and strong looking face.”
I knew she had been to the top of the mountain, and was not quite sure what she wanted with me, but I had nothing to lose. We were both attractive people in a sea of youth, and the timing was right. Everything seemed just right, too right.
She had reached a stage in which she knew what she wanted, and went after it, I figured that much out quickly. But I lacked the finery she possessed; yet she was proud and unspoiled, as I seemed I suppose, which she chose for her intellectual reasons.
As she fell back into her chair, she became very comfortable with me quickly, and for some reason I was not getting drunk but she was. She had that smile again, that laugh I noticed at the disco, and it seemed to come out sideways. It made me believe it was more of cunning assurance she cultivated for her prey, rather than sincerity.
The barmaid came by, “Can I help you with another drink…?” She asked.
“Maybe a little coffee, Chris?” failing to concentrate on my comment, she leaned over the top of the chair and took her finger and waved the waitress on closer.
“You know, Chris,” I commented, “This finger thing with you is a little disturbing, kind of like you would do to a dog.”
“Arf ffff… arfff….” she went, we both started to laugh☺ I leaned over toward her, within inches of kissing, but out of respect, I just couldn’t so I left it alone, it wasn’t the time or place, especially with all her friends around, plus she was too vulnerable. I have learned a few things in my young life and one is that if a person sees you taking advantage of them when they are weak, they will not forget that when they are strong. It is like telling someone your secret-weakness, and when you are arguing and you want to win the fight you take that secret weapon out and use it to shut the person up, yet, to do this is not to be honorable, and it is not a friend that would do this; friends do not do such things.
“Let’s go Chris…I got to get back….”
She got up, I helped her put her coat on; she smiled a little, and held out her keys.
“You…uuu driiive Chick☻ you’re more sober I--iiii think.”
“Sure,” I replied. As we walked out to her Mustang, I then thought about the way she dressed, I liked it, and it was as if she dressed for success. We both were excited about this first date, this enchanting evening, and we both knew we’d never forget it, how could we, it was the beginning. Chris asked optimistically “How about me…ee-meetng you at the front-gate of the base… tomorrow…?”
I murmured something to the effect, “Sure,” I was a little drunk, but she understood, as I opened her door.
When we arrived at the compound, it was 11:45 PM “See you tomorrow, about 5:00 PM ok?” I asked. She nodded her head yes.
Choosing a moment to wake up and stretch, getting out of the car, along side of the roadway by the iron gates of the military base, I went into the compound, she shook her head slowly, and said, “At 5:00 PM then…right?”
I walked through the gates by two security guards, and into the side door, for I was now one of the guards. I walked slowly to my room, looked for my bed trying to focus, and crashed, knowing it was in front of me.
I had the first shift in the morning, which entailed raising the flag, waving everyone through the gates, checking ID’s, trucks and cars for anything that might be suspicious, or possibly an Army theft. It would be a busy day; being part of the Security Force, they had rotating shifts: involving nights, days and evenings, something I didn’t cherish, but had to adjust to.

In the morning I had showered and shaved in the cold damp showers of this WWII barracks: where you’d have to run back down the hallway to your room before your ass would freeze, and you’d catch your death with the seeping cold from the shower windows, and hallway breezes that seeped through the whole thick building: which seemed to be an every morning thing here in Germany (in winter). I dreaded leaving that warm water coming out of the shower to endure the quick run escape back to our room. I seemed to get cold the moment I got out of my bed, all the way to the shower room and until I ate breakfast: the only moment of warmth was under the warm shower waters; even under my feet got cold a few feet away from the warm shower’s water. The weather was changing, and it couldn’t change too quickly for me, to spring. I pretended to be indifferent of it all, especially if my comrades ever joined me, for it was a huge shower room and several of us might shower together at any given time, hence.
I quickly rushed back to my room and readied myself, putting on my greens: my, green and more green clothing, -- then I put my SG patch [Security Guard patch on] hard hat on; next my white arm band, and blue police band, fatigues, white laced black shinning boots, and relieved my partner of his duties standing outside directing traffic.
I had been a guard for only a month now, originally being part of an ordnance battery before. But because they were short of guards, I volunteered, plus it was good duty, I wouldn’t have to go out three times a year to the frozen elements in the East of Augsburg some one hundred miles for training. It was a plus to be able to stay behind, or at least that was the way I felt, although I didn’t like leaving my four friends from the “Delta” barrack, all being from the south. We’d play [I’d play that is] the guitar while they all got drunk on their bunks.
The Security Police I now worked with, never did such things together, I kind of missed it. But they didn’t vanish from the face of the earth, and I compensated for not being with them when we did get together over at the Bavarian Crossroads Service Club. We always had a great time, and at the Enlisted Men’s Club where we could play slots and drink until we had to carry one another back to the barracks. It was always a good gathering for us.


The Passion of


I wave a few cars though the gate, feeling the sun resting upon my face warming my cheeks a bit, as I stood to the side of the compound entrance; it also was helpful in sobering me up.
My whole life had become suddenly real again I told myself as I continued to wave the cars through, and tighten my gloves. The morning was a bit chilly, I think it was the ‘bitter’ left over from the winter, the chill that is.
Being part of the Military Police, if a high ranking officer seen me just a little untidy, it could be reprimand time for me, and that I didn’t need, so I was constantly—like all the other Security Police—checking and re-checking my uniform, my appearance, I guess like our SFC our boss you could say [Sergeant First Class] would say ‘…you’re the first thing people see when they come to an American facility—LOOK GOOD!!’ I suppose he was right.
I asked myself between cars—had I imagined the whole evening before? After all, I was back doing what I did six-days a week.
My brain was a little slow today, the alcohol I think. I saw Ski in formation over by the artillery-barracks. Would it not be surprising if I told him how the evening ended, he’d evaporate, his mind was probably too involved with fancy crime schemes to pay it any mind: --and how to get over on the Army, nonetheless it was a good thought. I think I wanted to show-off.

As I turned about, Ski was standing by my side, it startled me a bit, a smile on his face though, as if he knew what I knew—I think he had the smirk I was expected to have when he showed up, damn, let me have some fun I whispered to my evil side. Only his eyes were not the same, blood shot, like mine I suppose, if I could only see mine.
But it didn’t matter for Ski he still remained shrewd and charming, and yaw, --undoubtedly—stiffened with grief:
“How was your evening Chick, did you make it with Chris…?”
“Matter-of-fact, no…oooooo I didn’t do what are you thinking, but I got another date…today….”
He leaned back against the brick wall of the guard post, as was his custom—he liked to lean against everything, as if he was going to jump on someone. But with me he just toyed, I knew his stances.
“Today ---- haw?”
“Yes, today.”
“Really….” He was thinking I busted out laughing.
“You got your answer man…what more do you want?”
“The truth…you got laid…yaw!!!”
“Man oh man, where are you at Ski? You really are something,” I said, adding,”…she was eating right out of my hands…”
“You’re full of shit…out of your hands...” I gave him a grimace.
“Ski, there is something to be said about patients, and that would be… a foreign word for you I know…that is, to be patient, and all things will come to you…plus, what did you expect, for me to get laid in that little car of hers?”
“I’ve done it in a trunk—“
“No way man…in a trunk, you’d have gone to the Grand Hotel,” we both laughed at that.
“I got to work…”
“See yaw later PFC…Evens --!”
“Yaw Corporal smart ASS…” I told myself, he’d lose that strip before I leave Germany, and he’d be a PFC like me or, I’d be a Corporal, and he’d be the PFC, just a matter of time.

The cars were now picking up, it was time for breakfast, and the people off Base were starting to flood the gates to go to work, along with the German civilians and off-base housing people: --the rush would last for a little more than an hour now.
The rush hour would always be a little tense, many high ranking officers coming through the gate, --it really didn’t bother me, but a lot of the other security police it did bother: matter-of-fact now that I think of it, that is why SFC Flattery our platoon sergeant never was around at that particular time, in the early part of the morning….
The pain of drinking the evening before simply slows one down in the morning—for a few hours anyway, but we’d always get our focus back, and mine was coming.
I tried to pay close attention to the incoming cars, they liked it when you caught their eyes the driver’s eyes, and then they knew all was well. I could give them a ticket if they overlooked a signal. And they and I—both of us, wanted to offer the other as little distraction as possible, they were going to work, and I was working. I suppose Ski knew this, and that is why he said very little, he could play catch-up with me later.

Sometimes I’d get so drunk the night before I’d be too lame to work the next day, and had to pay someone to take my shift. And end up taking an evening shift for them at another time, it would tie me up from other plans somewhat, but that’s the way things work I guess. I had a ten-hour shift today. Matter-of-fact I have it all week. But I will get three days off straight, with no bed check, thereafter. No more bed checks…thank God.
The cars now were starting to weed out, so I lit a cigarette, shivering a little from the light breeze passing by, the March wind was very cool. Conversations were far and in-between at this gate, it was the main gate, and not like the other one at the other end of this somewhat, large, military compound: there you could talk a lot with passersby.
I liked the cobblestone streets left over from World War One [WWI] throughout Reese Compound [military complex]. My motor functions were improving now, -- my eyes seemed wider … becoming sober.

It was turning out to be a fine day; the temperature seemed to be just right with a light lukewarm-breeze making an interesting morning of comfort; over to the far northern corner beyond the gate there was an empty lot along the side by the flag pole where a huge rock rested, it had an inscription that read ‘In memory of the Battle of Chickamauga,’ someone told me it was some great Civil War battle, a bloody one at that. I’ll have to check that out some day, I told myself. I found for myself—often times, starring at that rock, day after day, it was strange seeing it way on the other side of the Atlantic, you know, the battle was way over in America, not here –I think in Virginia, 1861.
The only thing I didn’t like about this morning shift was I had to raise the flag. Not that it was a lot of work, but if you dropped it, it could be grounds for military madness. And I didn’t care to rock the boat. Plus I was starting to like Germany with its many festivals; it seemed like there was one going on all the time in this vicinity, and straightforward, there was one going on this very minute across the street, up the block from the compound. Or it will be this afternoon. It wasn’t real big, but it had a huge beer tent, as they called it here, and that is all I really cared about, or for what it is worth, what most GI’s cared about. All these fairs had huge beer tents, every one of them.
You could see kids, mothers, and fathers all wearing their Robin Hood looking hats; some were dressed in old German style pants and dresses, --yes, a good assortment of people were there. I liked it if not for the beer, for the home life it brought back into my memories, my body. It just felt good. It had been active going on two weeks and it would last one more week, I had been there three times, I figured I’d go there one more time: perhaps this coming weekend—possibly.
As I took my lunch break in the larger part of the guardhouse which was a part of the barracks adjacent to the city street, and to the side of the gate way to the facility—where a window was, I did my paperwork looking out of both windows watching German made cars drive by—not like back home where you would see a variety of cars like Fords, Dodges, Chevy’s, etc… there was not a great verity here to witness; I also checked out the side window were my partner waved the cars on through—then back to my paperwork, and checking and marking the documentation on my inspection sheets, and insuring they were in order, insuring I marked the trucks, and other vehicles I had inspected in the morning in the proper places, --very seldom did I ever find any contraband, and for today, there really was nothing out of the ordinary to report. There was a stand up metal ashtray by the side window, I sat down turned the radio off and sharpened my pencil and filled in with check marks in the proper boxes indicating no unusual traffic, and had a cigarette.
I was starting to think about Chris, I felt she was somewhat drawn into my emotional charms and frankness, I think that is all men are needed for nowadays anyways: emotional support. It seems they work, make money just like us men; to be blunt, she was doing better than me.
She seemed to be genuine for the most part. She was a German-Jew, she had told me, and her father was killed just prior to the Nazi’s deserting and escaping the occupation of their so-called Motherland, of World War Two [WWII]. I guess a number of SS men—Hitler’s Elite that is, --came into her father’s study room [library], he was some kind of professor, and her mother grabbed her as she was a child then in 1945, I guess she was only a year old at the time, and the SS Germans took him: --that was the last they had ever heard from, or of him. Chris had told me her mother and she hid behind a sofa chair and he tried to draw them away from them, and I guess he did.
He was never seen of again, as I have just mentioned, and I guess her mother took her to London, England, until after the war when they returned and reclaimed their property. She was a little careful about letting me know she was a Jew, not sure why, I guess being brought up in Minnesota, I never thought much of nationalities as a barrier. She was watching my response now that I think of it. And she got it out quick. I was worried if she’d want to go back out with a private, as much as she was worried if I’d want to go out with a Jew. I suppose her being more educated than I at first glance made me pull back a little, but that was past.
“Remember you got a few more hours left on your station, PFC Evens,” said Sergeant First Class Flattery.
“Yaw sergeant, just thinking about a gal I met, Chris.”
“Well you get your head back into the paperwork, and eat, you still got a little time yet before you’re off duty…. Right?”
“Well—ah, how was she—“
“You mean Chris?”
“If that’s her name—“
“Yes, yes. That’s her, something special, I think, --not used to dating in a while.”
“Ah! Have I got to tell you?”
“No sar-g…” I said soothingly “it’s great.”

The Sergeant walked outside, he most likely was going home, he lived off base with his family; he was a nice sort of guy, a little slow at times, he made E-7 [SFC], which is a good rank, yet some of the other sergeants made fun of him, but he had more class than they. It took him 18 ½ years to make his rank though, I guess normally it should take only about 10 to 12-years; he was about to retire in a year and a half he had told us at the guardhouse. He took everything with a calmness I never knew, something I’d like to inherit I told myself many times, I was always anxious it seemed, almost hyperventilating to get to the next step one might say.
Chris had told me on the way home last night she was interested in me, on one hand, but I think she wanted her cake and eat it to, for she was going with another man, a German she said, and had to let me know it was for money reasons, he paid her rent, some rich cat. I wanted to say forget it, and just go on with life, but I pretended it was no big thing. I had nothing to lose, plus I really did not have anything going for me here anyhow. And somewhere along the line, we could deal with that issue if it came up later, if she intended to develop any kind of ongoing relationship with me beyond a sexual-friendship.

It was 4:45 PM, Chris drove up by the gate door, as I walked outside with my uniform on, she leaned over with the window open, “Ant men funny,” she chuckled at me, or was it herself, she had a nice looking green Mustang, it shinned as the sun bounced off her hood.
“Fifteen minutes early,” I said.
“I know,” she replied, “I wanted to see you in your uniform, you look good—delicious!”
“Come please, I need to talk to you…”
There was a tear in the side of her eye, not sure what it was for.
“Wait a minute.”
“Joe,” I said, my corporal friend who was on duty next, “…can you take the shift now, I sense Chris is in a little despair?”

I quickly dressed into civilian cloths and rushed out to see Chris, got into her car asking, “What’s the trouble?” She drove off quickly and parked over by where she was a manager of a pizza café/guesthouse, which were several blocks west of the base.
“I called London, I lost $50,000 dollars, last night, the dollar went down and the mark went up. I had my life savings in it. I was up early this morning and been calling to see if it would go back up, but no luck.”
“Wow… sorry, ----$50,000!” I really didn’t know how to go about comforting her, I never heard of such an amount of money. I felt she was putting me on, but the tears were real enough. I was not sure how to console a woman with such grief—money grief, it almost looked as if it was a death in the family; she leaned over and just hugged me. I couldn’t say a word—I was frozen with stupidity.

She then said:
“Let’s skip it, I’ll be alright,” getting her breath back.
“Frazier’s going to fight some guy by the name of Ellis,” I commented, to create a new tone in the dialogue.
Chris looked at me strange, I think she got a message I was not able to digest that amount of money she was talking about, but it sounded impressive she knew that. Maybe that was what consoled her if anything. It took me another minute to know what had happened, and several more to believe it.
“Who’s Frazier?” she asked.
“Just a boxer, I heard it on the radio today. He’s a pretty tough one though, like Clay.”
I guess one might say I seemed a little—if not a lot—indifferent to her situation, her nerves seemed to settle down though, and the silence of the moment seemed to suggest the spell of grief was broken.
Maybe all she needed to do was tell someone, not sure why it wasn’t that other boyfriend of hers, but I didn’t bring it up, no need to, if she was trying to impress with whatever technique, the route and problem to its summit was stopped. If it was true, I looked dumb to it I suppose, and that may have had a good effect also. I often think people who are dumb are cleaver, they got to be, or they are dead. Maybe that is how she thought I was.
I am not very old, but in my little life span I’ve noticed one deep rooted thing, and that is a man or a woman can stop most any bad habit, like smoking, or drinking or gambling, you know, those kinds of things…even picking your ass, if need be can be stopped, but, and this is a big—BUT, try and stop, or tell someone to stop getting married, or having an ongoing relationship, dating, --they will tell you where to go, and go find another person to have the relationship with. I learned at a young age, I was very replaceable with women, and the prettier they are, the quicker they can replace you.
I knew the moment was gone, still not sure what to say though, then taking meticulous care I increased my voice, I managed to get a final [a little humiliation], “I’m sorry I can’t help you, I’m not sure what to say, $50,000 dollars is a lot of money. I’m sorry for your loss.”
She sensed I did not feel qualified to go beyond that. She would have preferred to leave it alone but felt there was emptiness still in sight.
To repeat a sentence she had first made, she added, “It’s simply been a bad day, nothing I can do about it.”
Unexpectedly a tense face appeared on her, and a tear rolled down her cheek again, as if it could almost reach and touch my shoulder.
“I’m a German-Jew, did you know that?” She told me as if I didn’t know she had already told me last night.
“Yaw, I know that Chris…you’re a Jewesses…, something like that” adding, “not sure what that means, I’m an American-Russian and half Irish,” she tried to hold a laugh back, but it came out anyway--☻ (She had been previously married, divorced I assume, she mentioned it in passing, and I suppose she had one of those Kosher weddings, but that was to me water under the dam, no big thing. There was also no pious undertones to her general makeup, which was good.)
Somehow the dark cloud that was developing disappeared. And a rose color came to her bronze face, with a light laugh still oozing out of her.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“Thought I take you for a drive through town, and on to the cemetery, my grandmother is buried there and I want to visit her.”
“Sure, let’s go,” I said, as she started her car back up.
As she drove I started noticing all the Volkswagens running through town, and the lights that hung on wires instead of poles like back home in St. Paul, Minnesota; I also noticed the towering clock in town, and the old police station, the Stadtwerke, with its soaring antique architecture.
“Look over to the left,” commented Chris, “the Rathaus, it was once the biggest City Hall in all of Europe. It was built in 1620 AD.”
I nodded my head and my eyebrows went up as if to be impressed: --but I had seen it before, not really knowing what the nine story structure was other than a big building that looked hundreds of years old, and the beautiful water fountain across the street from it. I had sat on its outer rim with a few of my GI buddies.
Augsburg was a military camp I had learned, in the year 15 BC, built by the Emperor Augustus. Funny, it still was today, that is a military city but with American soldiers. When I had first arrived in Augsburg during a briefing at the train station, this was brought out. It was a beautiful city, and old. I had always hoped to come to such an ancient place, with culture, and historical significance; and here I was, a wish come true.


The Potato Fields
The Cemetery

We seemed in the process of leaving the city limits, and no sooner had we left, Chris pulled the car over to the side of the street, looking at some potato fields, said:
“Well, shall we go visit the people?”
She started walking towards a tower.
“By the way,” I said, “…who are the people?”
I was following behind her as she got out of the car and started walking into the semi-wet, somewhat dusty and lumpy fields of dirt, and then she said:
“I like it here, yes, I think, I really think…” she hesitated, “…the sky is so blue, it’s not going to rain: -- these are potato pickers Chick…”
I looked about and noticed several women picking or planting potatoes, perhaps both, it all looked strange to me, why were we here? I asked myself, but it was as comforting as it was strange. It told me she had a simple and commonplace side to her like me. We stood in the middle of the field for a minute or two, silent. There was something about this woman that I found very sympathetic. Ever since she had told me she was a Jew, and the tragedy of her family, I had taken an interest in her a little more or so it seemed, -- her openness was fresh. Yet I found we had a great bond growing, something common yet I couldn’t name it, and not sure why I felt this way, she had been through more than me, yet I suspect it was spring to, you know, timing can play a big part in any event; I said to me, my impulsiveness that is, ‘hay me, far from being excited about being on a second date I dealt with her bad news.’ I added, ‘…hay me, I am proud.’ It told me I was growing.
“What’s the tower for?” I asked.
It was like an observation tower in the middle of the potato fields. Older women were picking and planting the potatoes all around us—more than I had notice before at any rate, Chris explained the towers,
”…they are for the boss to see what is going on in his field, let’s climb up one.”
I continued to walk through the landscape behind Chris, we came to a wooden structure that looked like a tower about twenty feet high, with four sides to the top, a ladder that went up to its boxed in observation post; a peaceful silence still seemed to fill the air. Chris put her hands on the ladder--, the brisk air reproduce a warm-chill inside of me, I held my jacket a little closer to my body, I was a little lost for the moment—like I was drifting at sea: my stomach and intestines stimulated somewhat, it would have been embarrassing had I tried to describe to her what I was feeling, but it was enticing.
Standing at the bottom of the ladder as I started to climb the twenty—foot structure I looked up as she climbed the first four five steps: in as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t stop my eyes from viewing her white under panties as her dress swayed with the wind and motion of her slim hips climbing those steps, her long thin legs stretching to the next step; I quickly looked the other way, as Chris just happened to turn her face, just happened I told myself, as she smiled (viewing her side profile); ‘ye!’ I said silently, that smile was as if she knew I was peeking, and I was, I think I was trying not to, but hick with the lying, I was-ssss…! What more can a man say, for some odd reason, I got paralyzed. I wanted to laugh and cry…I was not even ashamed (for the moment: no blood even my face), nor did I feel guilty for getting caught—actually I felt good about getting caught: it made it more daring, or it made me look more daring, not sure, but after a moments discovery, I was a hero to myself or enduring that moment, and I kind of wanted to just grab her and…well, I’ll leave it at that.
She could either have laughed or as she did, smile, I think she chose the more because she was more reserved, her approach in life anyway, maybe she did know. Women are like cats, sly and secretive, so I was learning. Men are like bulldogs, so predictable, so I was learning.
“Come on up,” she commented.
“How about the boss?”
“I know the owners, don’t worry!”
As I started to climb to the top, I noticed this was just one tower of several in the field; I hadn’t realized the field was so big before. Perhaps someday I’d realize what this was all about, at the moment, I didn’t mind being a duck, and just going along with it, after all, there might be some reason for all this, and whatever it was, it was imprinted in my mind to have a good-fun day, maybe I’ll remember it thirty years down the road and find out the reason I told myself. It was another side of the world for me, a common side that was taking me away from the military madness at the base, which was great. If anything, it was at odds with the rest of the world it seemed, or at least the world that normally surrounded me.
Chris leaned against the wooden beam, and gazed about as if she was in heaven. Something caught her eye, “We should go before it’s too late to get into the graveyard, and it’s not far from here. Matter-of-fact, it’s just up the street and across the field,” --if anything, I had found someone as restless as myself.
“Sure, let’s go,” I agreed: --this time she went down first, I think she was letting me know the show was over, ‘Damn,’ I said quietly, she looked up at me, just a glance: now she had gotten to the first step (smiling); next, we both knew for sure what was up.
Beside the car we both stood, Chris turned an enquiring glance at me again, blushed a little, after that said, “That was fun!” adding “you have something on your mind?”
“Never mind,” I said (hesitantly), “it’s true, I want to kiss you.”
“Yes…a...kssssssssssssssssssssss…” said Chris starring at me now.
She caught her breath, her hand crept up to her mouth, she touched it, and with her eyes wide open she looked deeply into mine: I gave a sigh.
“One feels like that,” she questioned me.
“Like what?” I asked.
“Like… let’s go to the cemetery.”

She stopped in front of the cemetery, by a half opened gate, an old gate with a Star of David on it. Trees were all about, moss-topped the stones of many of the old and aging-chipped graves as we made our way through the thick of the mud and the leaves and tossed about branches. Opening her dress pocket Chris pulled out a book, and kissed it, standing in front of a grave, then placed the item on the stone. There was no more pain in her face as we stood there, she seemed to be in a silent prayer, -- catching a deep breath, I started to walk away, and in the next moment, she did also. It was as if her grandmother was talking to her—or someone, as if she had something personal to tell her
I thought of the poem, for I loved reading them, and writing them, I had written a few dozen as I was growing up, I wondered where they are now, must be at the old house cramped away in some cigar box my grandfather gave me; my brother and I grew up with my grandfather, and my mother, all in the same house (an extended family situation), where my mother lives now, yaw, that’s where they are, next it came to mind a poem by Carl Sandburg, a poem he called “Lost,” I liked the name, it was kind of where I seen Chris today, lost that is:

“Desolate and lone
All night long on the lake
Where fog trails and mist creeps,
The whistle of a boat
Calls and cries unendingly,
Like some lost child
In tears and trouble
Hunting the harbor’s breast
And the harbor’s eyes.”

Chris noticed something in my facial expressions, something she could not figure out, but she never said a word to me about it. If I were to guess, I might say it was disengagement of what was going on; in essence, pertaining to our relationship; but she would have been wrong, -- I was enjoying the moment, grabbing the moment, putting it in my pocket for the future, that is all—but it really belonged to her more than I, since she had more invested in this little spot of the world.
“I have a blood disease called Leukemia. The doctors give me five years to live. I am thinking about going to Rochester, Minnesota and see if they can help: -- is Rochester a good clinic?” asked Chris.
“To be quite honest, I didn’t know we had a clinic in Rochester.”
“Oh yes, it is world famous, and maybe it can help me.”
“That would be great…maybe we would end up seeing each other in my home state.” She smiled at me.
It had been on one hand a comfort to know there was more to this visit; she was looking at the face of death…imposing on it.
“Surely they can do something for you,” not quite knowing the severity of her illness, but becoming a little more vested in her health.
“Chick, it is called cancer, it spreads, and really there is nothing one can do about it.”
I reached deep down into the back of my mind, I could not quite understand cancer, and how it worked; how tried to dodge this sensitive area: --I diverted myself from this quarter of conversation… by looking out the window, and remained silent.
“It sort of confuses me, you look so healthy,” I commented (actually I was thinking out loud looking out the window, not directly at her).
“Better still let’s leave this alone I just needed you to know where I am at,” replied Chris.
Preoccupied still as I looked out the window into the fields and houses nearby, I did not see Chris check my expressions out, she was going on to another area of thought, and so I continued with my window observations.

“Well”, she said, it was a good and bad day, all in one. And so, let’s make the best of it while we can.”
I coughed to clear my esophagus, but I think it was really for clearing my head. I turned away from the window, towards her so she could easily look and focus on me, should she care to. She smiled, it was what she wanted, what she was looking for: that is, the opportunity tell somebody neutral whatever she wanted to tell them; I continued to look out the front window now (she could see my profile), quietly, and listened quietly and just remained present for her I guess; I was someone to help her absorb her own air, the sounds of the wind shifting by her car window, that is all she wanted for them moment from me I believe, that was life for the moment, real life for her, and the smile, she needed to smile. I leaned back in the car seat then smiled also.

The Forest

As we drove farther into the outskirts of Augsburg, looking out placidly across the top of cars, houses, and at the dogs running about, I got thinking, thinking how I felt being with Chris. It was like I was cast into a spell, an enchantment, or perhaps a curse; very seldom did I ever feel like this. Normally I would feel like this only if I was in the presence of a great person, like my karate instructor in San Francisco, Gosei Yamauchi, or his father ‘The Cat’ Gogen, who was one of the few 10th degree black belts in the world. Normally I’d be high the whole next day. With Chris I felt the same way I knew tomorrow I’d be high all day, it was a natural high.
Once—I can’t remember when—I had read something about the poet Emily Dickinson, she was something like a recluse, but she made a poem indicating nature was her high and I always remember that. How true this can be, grabbing the moment and cherishing it, absorbing it as if there was no tomorrow, and at the same time absorbing nature: the sounds and the heart beat mother earth, and sky; others humans, and the dogs and birds, all such things that at that moment surround you; they are all somewhat magical. I was learning, how to be a listener if anything and it entailed all things within your presence.
Chris was fully alive now, as I turned my head towards her delectation her steering wheel facing me, at which made the moment a little more interesting, as she felt good about me checking her out; a weary kind of sense, not defeat, just a good profile look; I thought dimly in my mind as she drove mile after mile: how could she afford to look so prim and proper all the time. Do her hair in a unique style, not a hair out of place, so it seemed. I guess in our own way we are all unique, I heard that someone say that someplace, not sure where.
An hour and a half had passed on by and she was still driving, and it was getting dark. She pulled into a wooded area; she said it was the outer rim of the Black Forest (otherwise known as the Eyebrow of the Woods), I think I heard of that forest in a fairytale book or at least that is where my mind said I got it from. An enchanting name; I must have said it to my second self, that little person inside of all of us that we talk to: Black Forest, Black Forest…!
“So you see,” said Chris”…here we are!” She added her conclusive little smile to her face as she said that; as we entered the dark huge green forest, parking the car a little off to the side of a dirt road that lead into the deeper and more distant part of the forest, partly covered by trees and bushes now.
There was a chill in the air so I rolled up the window, as she turned on the radio for some music.
Very quickly and carefully she moved her thin reserved neck and shoulders into my area, she just starred at me, as if she was going to eat me up; as her left arm was lowered, it pulled out a bottle of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer wine, 1965 wine, -- I looked the bottle over 9.5% volume; I knew they had been making wine around this intriguing river and hilly area for close to 1700-years. It was good wine I had tasted it before, not sweat or dry, flowerily white wine to be exact.
“Now,” said Chris indignantly, but with the air of a certain point, “…let’s see what we can do with this battle.
We started to drink and laugh.
“Ah, yes,” I said to her, “you have a lovely profile.” She smiled and threw her head back.
“Well,” I thought out loud “… this is a good way to pass the night away, and begin romantic indecencies”-- she leaned over the center-divider of the bucket seats to kiss me. She opened her mouth, sunk her lips on mine, as she pulled her long legs to the under-part of the dash, she then started to unzip her zipper to her boots.
“This,” commented Chris” passes everything…I never did it in a car before.” She had drunk down 1/5 of the wine like a person drinking water.
“Chick,” said Chris,”…come over here.”
I moved my body closer to hers. Everything seemed to be in the way. I could not back out of whatever was going to happen; and I knew what was in the makings.
She was starting to stretch her hands out: --her blouse went over her head, I just kept looking as she started to strip, I was growing, getting as hard as lead in a pencil.
“Oh, damn Chick,” said Chris heartily as she touched my item. Just her saying that aroused me; then pulling off her bra, and her skirt up I seemed to become tranquilized somehow, my mind slipped to King Solomon, of all things, as he once defined the beauty of a woman’s body and how it was to measured for one’s pleasure by enjoying it fully, and this was all I wanted to do now—enjoy it, and I think Chris was feeling the same way for even though we were both a bit on the tipsy side we were fully aware of our responses, I had lost complete focus of the uncomfortable situation, as she did…
…now that she was almost completely stripped only her panties on, she curled up in a fetus position holding her legs and leaning back, then opened up her legs slowly… I thought what every on earth possessed her, yet who can predict women I told myself, and started to take off my cloths, quickly…getting out of this spill of sorts. I guess it is true, men like to observe, and women like to touch. I liked both. This was not dirty sex, this was pure sex, at its height, one might even say, it was like a painting; she painted the picture, she taught me how to enjoy what she had to offer.
“I’m going to get it all off in a minute,” I said, it was difficult working in this cramped space… she chuckled, “Slowly please, I can wait…”she softly said as she rested her head back and I caught my breath, that is what she wanted, that is, for me to calm down, yet remain hard and possessed with her offering: I think we both had multi-orgasms

“I feel fine now –“ I said, adding, “a bit cramped but fine…☺”
Chris opened up her arms I couldn’t back away after that, could I?
I told myself: I have a private room at the barrack; then said it out loud to her: “Of course, -- next time…” said she, and we continued to make love for the third orgasm for me, for her, perhaps five or six.
We seemed to flop around the front seat finding the right position…’she‘s looking at me eeeeeeeee’, I told myself, I’m cramped, nothing to grab a hold of, her head leaning against the glass of the window. Without a word we continued: --my body heavy onto hers, my heart beating two-hundred ticks a minute, we both were hot, enmeshed in the moment, a lustful, and burning moment; I wanted to open the door, but feared the light going on and someone would see us, plus the air was cool, too cool. I had no escape we met each other’s eyes as I penetrated her. She looked again deep into my eyes as she tried to catch her breath, to make sure I was still alive I think. It was seemingly unfair for me to put her through this I thought, but the thought only lasted a half second, I found myself exploding … as my heart dropped to my feet, and again, and again, I exploded and burned as if I had opened myself up to a volcano; I had learned at that moment, the difference between happiness and pressure: happiness was listening to her talk before, and then came her smile, now the pleasure, sex; I hurt, this had never happened before.
“Nice evening, isn’t it?” I said as I started pulling her body closer to me.
“I hope you are not offended I am taking the lead?” said Chris.
“Not at all,” I said, adding, “I’ll catch up.”
“There are times,” said Chris, “when rules are made to be broken like now, them...mmm damn silly rules…” she pulled herself up a bit, “I stopped believing in those rules… this is one of those moments I want to remember…remember for a long time, even after I am dead.”

As we tried to untwist our bodies, we caught ourselves laughing at our odd situation. We had made love, and became a little more sensitive with each other…a little more possessive of each other, I guess that is the nature of things in a relationship, they are made to progress, or stop, one or the other, and it was never to take place again in the front seat of a Mustang I knew….
She laid her cheek against my hand.
“You realize don’t you, this can’t end here?”
“There’s no reason for it to end, is there?”
She spoke some German words I didn’t understand, German mingled with English I should say: then somehow, she went silent…maybe she was taking time to remember the moment, digesting it; I didn’t know, nor did I want to try to guess, I just looked at her, her smile it seemed to promise something, grace; instinct was in it also, around her small enclosed eyes, as they opened and shut slowly they were weaving a web I do believe, “It won’t end here, I promise.”
Pleasant and agreeable-like a well-cultured woman she was, maybe too much for me, she opened the door, and dressed quickly, then got back in.
“Want a cigarette?” I asked, sitting up straight.
“No and neither do you. We are both restless it seems. Come over to me,” she started kissing me.
As she released her lips from mine, she sat upright now, pulled out a cigarette, lit it and started blowing smoke rings into the air.
“You know perfectly well, I’m very much attracted to you…you… right?”
“I hope so, I feel the some way.”

“Luckily the wine deadens the bruises (discoloration).” I commented, she laughed and kind of stretched her back to put it back in place…”Me to,” she replied.
“I wish all relationships could start like ours, it is like saying let’s drop all the game playing and pretend we are on the fifth date, and cut the crap; I like you Chick, I like you very much…”
“The bruises will show up tomorrow,” I told Chris.
Kind of saying maybe we should go, but neither one of us seemed to be all that bothered with that so we simply started kissing again after her cigarette brake…it was a long and needed pause for me, for a second breathe, a refractory period I needed [from uninterrupted sex]; that is, having multiple orgasms drains a man. I’ve learned also, women don’t need this rest period; so in time I’d learn how to last longer, and perhaps stretch the orgasms thinner but again, longer (three hours at the most; and I did).
I thought in my head, she was having sex with me, and then that rich boyfriend she had; she was getting her multi-orgasmic pleasures indeed, perhaps a secret to some women, for once they discover this, it is hard for any man to keep up with them, lest he be a superman of sorts. I did not even at that young age have the capacity to pass six organisms; five was my limit I learned. I was limp now; my penis had been as pointed as a scorpion’s tail a while ago.

As scary as it started out for me I thought my reactions afterwards was cool, I seemed to be letting things take their natural course. It was a dark and colorless evening. Grossly romanticized in such an unimpressive way (so I thought in the back of my mind), yet Miss Chris was perfect.
I thought to myself: maybe she might be annoyed with my lovemaking… I guess every man wants to please the woman, wife, girlfriend, the one he is making love to, or should want to please her, but most don’t, they can’t when they pop so quickly. This is a fact, I’ve talked to men, and when they say they go so quick, no woman could get it on in that time period. A woman taught me how to hold myself from climaxing too early, thus allowing the woman to catch up—and therefore, allowing my female mate to get it on and enjoy. I know this evening went a little fast, but Chris was modest about it, like that other woman who had taught me, helped me, to help her, so we both could enjoy each other more; as my slowing down kept my penis hard longer, allowing her pleasure zone to become wider. This was something of the case in hand, but not completely.
Most men think they make love better drinking, but it’s far from the truth. Most men do not know how to make love, no one taught them, so all they do is screw, and that is not love, that is, if anything, a quick climax, like eating a big fat burger, and wiping your mouth in its enjoyment and then leaving the café only to find out: you got indigestion, and had you went to a nicer restaurant, ate slower, you’d never forget the meal.
I have experimented with that theory, and it is nine-minutes verse four-hours, I say four hours, but I knew in my head it was only one time I lasted four hours, two and a half was the norm.

I was thinking now—as Chris kissed me—how I owe some women a bit of gratitude for allowing me to have my pleasure and not returning it to them; that’s the caretaker in a woman I think. But women just don’t know men can learn. And men are too bull-headed to let women teach them what pleases them. I had learned a good lover was worth his weight in gold and even maybe a little more: sometimes they can be irresistible.
One could hardly tell her it wasn’t hastily done, our sex (to me it was) for it was, but she seemed to understand the circumstances, and we need not prove anything today, only allow our bodies to be sanctioned to the other. So I think we both felt. Lovemaking would improve as time went on.
“I’m afraid my lover, we will have to find better accommodations next time,” Chris said, smiling at me.
“Yes,” I hesitated, “absently,” I hesitated-- “I feel the same way.”
“It’s a little hard in such a cramped car luckily we are both a little tipsy….”
“I’m afraid I’m not, somehow I sobered up when you took your blouse off.” She smiled, with a grin.
“Yes. I sense you have, do you really like me Chick?”
“You are growing on me. And what is there not to like?” I said with a light smile.
She, like a schoolgirl at times, needed to be encouraged, to grow up, and needed to be admired. But she didn’t need permission to live, she was taking that—but I’m learning to appreciate women more, I told myself, and it seems the more I show appreciation, the more they respect me, and to be quite frank with myself, I need respect. And why not … the world will give it, if you demand it, and if not, let that part of the world go, so my second self, my mind’s eye, told me.
But then as I looked at her, if she really felt she was on death row, with cancer, maybe I was just a remedy for a while, and if so, so what, maybe I needed a remedy to make it through my time here in Germany; so seemed just to me.


The Spider and the Web

A warm-wind had picked up it seemed, and April and May in Germany was a paradise of light-cool sunrays, it was a spring never to forget, Chris and I were growing on one another, like white on rice. More community drinking fairs were picking up and Chris and I tried to make a few, drink it up and eat and just go with the flow; it was a good time for living.
Chris and I were known throughout the guardhouse-barracks as lovers and a heat wave at that. She seemed to have a charm with my soldier friends, and often drove her German boyfriend’s Mercedes car to the gate, and about, showing off kind of, not only to me, but it seemed at times going out of her way to show it to the other guards. Most of my friends thought she had two cars, I simply did not up date them, if they were not in my way of thinking or inner circle—why squander my time; and in most cases they didn’t have a need to know; but Ski and a few others knew the truth. I felt: plus, I felt: why not let Chris make an impression at the guard shacks, if it helps her ego so be it. I do not think I was envious, rather amused. I’m sure somewhere along the line I’d have to deal with envy, but who at my age is envious, for what, I have a lifetime to catch up.
She flirted with the guards, and they all thought it cool. At night, if I had to work, she would bring me by a sandwich while on duty; in one way she got the guys a little jealous, or in lack of a better word, annoyed. And sometimes she would simply walk into barracks, which had about fifteen-guards some running around half naked from the shower room to their room, while others went visiting. She’d come knocking on my door. She’d spend the night with me, it was an improvement from the car, and for some reason we only went over to her house once in the following two months. I knew we were not fooling anyone at the guard-barracks, but we pretended to be secret about it anyway.

She had been truthful in telling me she had another boyfriend, a rich one at that, with a Mercedes, in which she often drove his car. She even took the effort to talk about him, indicating that she had told him about me; without being offensive or obvious, she seemed to be asking for permission to continue the relationship with both of us, and to talk about both with me, or to see how I would dealing with him. For the most part, I had put him deep in the back of my mind, so far back in a little box, I didn’t want to open it up: I would have preferred have left it: ‘Out of site, out of mind.’ He was not only a lover of hers I had learned, but also a support system for her. He was older than her—she told me, I think she said thirty-five, and she wanted both of us to meet one another someday. Strange I thought at the time.
Solitude was what I wanted to give him; couldn’t believe when she asked me to meet him, what for. She said he was the one who really wanted it to come about, more than her, she protested. The man thing again I suppose. I said I’d go along with it, even though I didn’t understand the reasoning behind it—fully; it was beyond my grasp of perceptiveness, why. On the other hand, she wasn’t asking for it to take place tomorrow, or next month for that matter. Not yet anyway; so I didn’t need to nurture it for the moment. I was a little surprised he allowed it, a love-circle of sorts to be constructed, why did he not say forget that American private: --the Germans didn’t like us all that much anyway. Maybe he was as mixed up as, or more understanding than I.
She was always with good manners, even when she brought bad news it seemed, no guilt, or at least she would not acknowledge it. And she did not want an argument out of it, nor I, I was getting what I wanted I suppose, and so was she. I think she expected me to try and put a stop to it, but when I didn’t she was going along for the ride also; to we’d see how long it would last.
I still needed to figure out how to share her without being jealous. Something I did not—really did not need to bring up, nor did she. On the other hand, I knew I needed to adopt a new philosophy to survive in this sharing world; or this developing love-circle, except she was doing the playing around, not me. And so I chose an alternate plan, a plan B, you could say; that I could love and date beyond her: if she could have other interests beyond me, so could I.
Yet for some reason I feared telling her this, bathing the idea it would cause our relationship to disappear, and so I’d take baby steps at this, as a result, discouraging myself to talk about it, and if I ended up at a party equal to her lover’s relationship, so be it, I’ll plunge into it. Although it will not be for revenge, but rather out of boredom, and to break that bond a little, the one that ties you to the other person (the codependent bond), while they are untying your knots. Surely if I found another she’d understand. So I thought.

A New Friend

This morning was payday, a Friday to boot, and my three southern friends from the barracks over at the ammo-battery, where I was first assigned at Reese Compound, wanted to meet me outside the Soldiers Club on the compound, and so we met.
It was great meeting them again—we shook hands, lit up cigarettes, talked about what was happening in our lives. I told them about Chris, although they had heard I was dating someone, they didn’t know her name. They mentioned they had met Audrey, a young girl we all three met at a guesthouse the first month I was in Germany. Both Josh [my size, about nineteen years old from Alabama], Tim [taller than I, with ulcers, from Arkansas’], and Henry [Buck Sergeant from Tennessee] had not dated any of Audrey’s friends or Audrey herself, but they kept going to the same guesthouse she catered to and ended up getting invited to a party, a party that was going to take place this very evening, Audrey had said to Josh: “…bring Chris, and yourselves along, ” and so they were inviting me.
As we leaned against the building smoking a cigarette, I remembered Audrey slightly, I was a bit drunk when we met, and I did dance with her at the disco where we had met, she was a mulatto, very kind and not bad looking, about my age maybe a little younger, and the guesthouse came to mind again. I think she had wanted to get it on with me that night that first night we had met, she had said “Sir—” and I had said, “yaw?” and she added, “let’s go to my place…” but that was when I had curfews, and had to retreat…but maybe she still had an interest in me.
“Let’s go tonight, 7:00 PM,” said Josh with his strong southern accent, and excited vice.
I had not dated Audrey nor really cared to after that first meeting, and especially after finding Chris, but Chris was tied up with her other boyfriend this evening, and I wasn’t really shopping around looking, but why stay at the barracks and do nothing but get drunk and look at the walls.
“Sure, let’s all go, ok!!” I said with a decisive voice. I had made up my mind I was not going to stop my life for Chris, nor was she for me evidently. Next, we then went inside the club and we started to play ping pong, I figured we’d play a few games and then pool, have early dinner at the mess-hall, and then get dressed, get some booze, have a few beers and head on down to Audrey’s party.
Audrey was not as well off as Chris, rather, she lived in a big apartment complex on the shady side of the city, but she was kind and friendly, -- there was cuteness to her, and her mixture of a light-black skin, with her German accent made it quite interesting. For some odd reason, I had always felt above her in a way, or at least felt we were equal. With Chris, I almost felt as if she was in the major league, and I in the minor. Like an A movie star vs. a B movie star, something like that. I didn’t let it show, nor that it bothered me, but it was there, lingering about as if it was homeless

as we all went out for a few drinks after dinner, we didn’t arrival at Audrey’s apartment until 8:00 PM, she opened the door, and the four of us walked in. Her two girlfriends were there along with three other couples. I brought along a bottle of wine and a huge bottle of beer for the party. They were playing my song as I walked through the door, El Condor Pasa.
As I walked about the tight and un-roomy little apartment, I seen the pictures of the Apollo 13 taking off in the German newspaper laying on the coffee table with a bottle of scotch next to them, where I had now put my wine and beer, there were also four bottles of Black Daniels sitting there.
It reminded me of home my old neighborhood where we would get together, several out of about twenty-two of us, and simply booze it up either at a house, bonfire, in a basement, garage, any place would do—but this place was cozy, a down to earth apartment.
Out side you could see the lights of cars passing by the apartment building complex, and the noise of their horns seeping through the windows, the wind was also picking up, you could hear that through the windowsills …and you could see the apartment shades half opened with their lights on throughout other sections and floors of the building: people standing combing their hair, others simply talking, and still others, watching TV, and so forth and so on; this apartment complex was a WWII building, it had four apartment buildings to its completeness, that encircled a large court area, like the ancient Sumerians, with a gallery one could walk around to get to the other buildings; and an arch way you had to walk through to get to one of the four doors leading into one of the four buildings. I guess for me it was unique, not especially for the Germans, which was perhaps common.
As I glanced out the window into the courtyard, there were a few trees starting to brace themselves with the oncoming winds. A few motorcars parked along side of the road, as I looked through the archway.
“You got some beer?”
“Nope…ant got a beer yet…”
“What yaw drinking, American beer or German?”
“Here’s a big German beer Chick, I know you’ll like it…”
“Thanks Audrey.”
“I was really hoping you’d come—
Yaw, me to…”
Audrey left me for a bit to say hello to a few other people, then she came back to me, up behind me, she put her hands on my shoulders, and for a moment turned hesitantly to her girlfriend, as if she was shy, and got the ok sign to grab me…
I knew karate quite well, and broke the hold, twisted around in a stance,
“Don’t do it!” she said, as her hand left a defensive posture. Audrey stepped back, “I wanted to give you a bear-huge,” she commented. I smiled. She then grabbed my hand, and we started drinking together.
“Come on, let’s go…” she again grabbed my hand, and brought me into her bedroom, latched the door it was a little past-Midnight.
“Put your beer on the table Chick I want to make love…” she said quickly, double-checking the door. Her gray eyes were captivating, as she made a 180-degree turn about and jumped on me as I fell to the bed.
“I like your muscular body, and fine smooth skin, your clear shapely chest, jawbones,” she wasn’t shy, and it felt good to have a woman tell me that. Chris made love with me fine, but never really complimented me like this. Not sure why, but it felt good.
For two hours we had sex rolling around as she put some kind of oil on me, we slid on and off each other’s bodies.
We stopped for a rest, “Who are your other friends,” I asked.
“I don’t know who they were,” she said, “Connie’s friends I suppose.”
“Should we join them?”
“That’s sounds like trouble. Let’s stay here.”

Then we both fell to sleep…

we both seemed to have woken up at the same time, it was 3:15 AM, and again we had sex for forty-five minutes, and again, we both fell back to sleep. It was 6:30 AM this time when I woke up, and then Audrey woke up. I looked at her privately, considering: should we try again? Her eyes giving me another invitation for round three—yup, here we go…we both ended up making love again, rolling all over each others oily bodies.
“You are my sex machine,” she commented, as she sat on top of me, waiting for me to climax.
At this point the shyness seemed to descend for both us to a somewhere else stage, I mean there was none: her voice was evident, she liked me, as it was, and I did not renew her affections to insure her I would be available for her in the near future: I left well enough alone. But as she got dressed I did demonstrate a kind of connection we had made, if not for a commitment, for a friendship, and one that might lead to the same results another day.
As I opened the door, we were the only ones in the apartment, and so Audrey made me breakfast: hardboiled eggs, toast and Jelly, coffee. That was it. But I sensed she had very little money to have even given that.
“Here,” I said, handing her a five-dollar bill.
“For some groceries,” I added, feeling I had drunk her beer after mine was gone, and now eating her food. She really didn’t want to take it, but smiled and thanked me for it.

As I started walking back to base, which was about three miles west of Audrey’s apartment I found myself whistling? I was happy, ‘I did it,’ dated another girl other than Chris. I even wanted to let her know, and gaze into her eyes, let her absorbed it; but remarked to myself ‘leave dead dogs lay. No need to do that.’ I could now see the steeple that was behind Reese Military Compound. It was a good landmark for me; in case that is, in case I got lost I needed only to keep heading towards it.
The morning had a chill to it, it was fresh I liked it. Then after about twenty-five minutes of walking, a green car was approaching.
“Oh, ohhhhhhhoo shitttt,” I said “of ...ff all coincidences. IIII,
Believe it.” It is
“Where are you coming from?” asked Chris, as she stopped in the middle of the street, hanging her head out of the car window.
“I’ve been to a party, why?”
“Oh, just fine, greeeeee
ee shit-tt!” she commented, with a lump in her throat.
“What did you do at the party?”
“What do you usually do at a party Chris, get drunk?”
“No, that is not what I am asking, and
Damn… you, you know what I’m asking!”
“Ok, I met a friend a while ago, who invited me to a party. It is a girl. I am not attracted to her as I am with you, but since you are gone most of the time what do you expect. Matter-of-fact, I don’t think we need to assume anything beyond that.”
“I demand you not see her again!”
“You do what!! That seems a little unfair. You mean you can and I can’t.”
“Yes, in Germany it is ok for women to have other lovers, it is not a big thing;” She then started to cry.
“Listen,” I commented, “as unpleasant as this is, I will avoid dating other women I really do not care to date [plus it was too expensive I thought], it’s not a big thing.”
Chris smiled, she got her way, and I think she knew just how to do it; if it would have been a ‘now or nothing demand’ it would not have worked with me…girls are smart though, born with a PhDs in psychology, the day they come out of their mother’s wombs; yes, I do believe, already activated inside their female heads on how to and how not to deal with men; it is like their ‘Antivirus’ is on automatic and can come up with the exact words to win; whereas, men got flex their muscles to find a way out of their web.
“Get into the car I’ll take you back to base. We’ve acquired a smooth relationship, I believe… don’t want you to throw it away please.”
I gave her a glimpse of confirmation…nothing more.


The Barracks and the
Gold chain

That night I was with a few friends seeing if I could down a beer faster than Tony, who was the Buck-Sergeant with the girlfriend living in the barracks with him, or should I say harboring two girlfriends, on vacation from school, from the states, in the backroom. Their names were Shelly and Barb. Those three found their way up the block to the local pizza-guest house, where most of the GI’s went when they had no means of transportation, and didn’t want to get drunk at the local EM-Club [Enlisted Man’s Club] on base. Chris and I had been there a dozen times. John, joined us and his wife Jane, who had just come over to be with her husband while he served his last twelve-months of duty, they got military housing not far from base, actually right across the street from the pizza-bar were there were four, -- three stories buildings for military personnel, they lived in one of them.
“Where is Chris?” asked Tony, with his hand over the shoulders of Shelly.
“Gone to her rich boyfriend’s house,” so I told him and everyone who asked. But they still kept it a secret from Chris and never said much to me about it, plus tonight I was getting drunk, I didn’t care who knew.
“Hay, Ski,” I hollered “over here.”
“Chick, haven’t seen you for a while,” he replied.
“Yaw, where you been?”
“Keeping a low profile, the Military Police have been questioning me on that robbery at the PX three months ago.”
“Yaw, I heard about it,” I answered, but I knew Ski was the one that robbed the $3,000 dollars worth of cloths; matter-of-fact, Ski had showed me the amount of cloths he took; it was actually in his room, in a chest, he had the nerve: --I never could put my finger on it, but at times he frustrated me. Why I ask myself, why he does these things, the only answer I could come up with was…because it was impossible for him to be God--, and that bothered him. He tried to give some of those cloths to me, unbelievable, why then did he still them if he wanted to give them away. I refused, thank god I did.
“Going to the mountains in Switzerland in a few days with one of your friends in the Security Barracks Chick,” Ski commented.
I said: “I hope you take it easy on him, no fights like we almost got into on the train to Munich,” Ski laughed.
The other guys were sitting at the table looking at Ski, they accepted him only when I was around; Ski was a trouble maker, and everyone knew it, and maybe that was Ski’s perk for staying friends with me, not sure.
“He’ll be able to handle it,” Ski said like a chap ready to add sometime funny to it, but it just didn’t come out or up. He was what I would call a human dilemma; that is to say, he would do the opposite in many cases, which is to fence one’s self in, instead of freeing one’s self of: in order to get out; and if he found a girl it never lasted, he worked more on exclusions than forming an ongoing relationship; his expectations, that is what it was, dealing with girl relationships (and they seemed to know it quick enough) involved a hard core, control factor—on his behalf.
Ski was built well, and nice looking, but no one but Ski knew Ski, maybe that also is what bothered the girls he dated, they couldn’t figure him out: too unpredictable; they only liked what they saw for a very short period, then they wanted to escape; on the other hand, I was too predictable.
We had met a girl once from Denmark (met her at the October Fest of 1970, in Munich), and he dated her for a while thereafter by going to Denmark to see her—yes, he had gone to Denmark to date her; I remember meeting her, and she was a doll, dark bronze skin, healthy from the breast to her little toes. Like I said, He met her at one of the big fest with me then Ski went to Denmark to be with her during one of his ten-day vacations; only to come back and say she smoked pot, and took some LSD when he was with her, along with some other drugs, and he tried to reform her and she got mad and told him the relationship wouldn’t work, and to be quite frank, Ski hated drugs, and she was lucky to get away from him. I think when I was with him I really didn’t want to meet anyone, kind of claustrophobic of some form of impending disaster to befall me. But the train to Munich was a blast, there again we almost got into a predicament.
As we all sat at the bar drinking I figured somewhere along the line tonight, this night, before the evening ended Chris would attempt to find me, it was useless to attempt going any other place, she’d suddenly show up, and if she was drinking she’d drive all over town and the cops would stop her, although they never seemed to, maybe that was more my fear than hers. I was better to stay here, right where I was, if she didn’t show up, it would be fine, I’d just go back to my room, get drunk, go to sleep.
Sandy was feeling good tonight, she was one of the waitress’, I think she was high all the time [pot], especially at after, or during dusk; it was 11:30 PM. They closed the bar at 2:00AM.
“Feeling silly,” I asked her.
“No…just funny………….. Ignite me…eeee baby!” she sat on my lap, head back as if someone was going to pour a drink down her throat. She grabbed my hand and we got on the table and danced…then a few more Germans did the same.
After an hour she stopped, comb her hair, checked her mascara and calmly said, “…it’s Chick’s fault he got me drunk,” and she called to the other bar maid, “it’s 12:30 Hun…let’s go home?”
Ski was looking at Sandy, I think he wanted to give her a ride home, not sure if it was all the way home though where he really wanted to take her; if she doesn’t go into tangents, I’ve seen her drunk, and it’s no picnic, she’d be fine, and could maybe just take a taxi I thought.
“Ski, I’d let that one go she’s too wound-up.”
“Yaw, but I like her dressing-gown,”
“Ya-www, sure…Ski,” I said, then she sat up at the bar counter, lit a cigarette, and must have thought about passing out or sobering up, she just starred at the bottles across from her, logic would say she really didn’t care for anyone at the moment, an unanswerable question.
“Chick, take me home…mmm,” she let out of her mouth, in one big gulp of air, in one half sentence, as loud as could be.
“Well, -- I am in love with Chick, you know that…” she turned about, almost falling off the stool, “…start the car, I want to go home—.”
“So do I” I remarked.
“What do you want to do Chick?” asked Ski.
“Be careful, now, she’s coming after you…Sandy that is.”
“Ski, let’s get out of here.”
“We’re out of here man…” said Ski, standing up, as I did, Sandy had turned around again—I figured if I made it out the door quick, she’d not notice, and someone else could give her a ride home (an out of sight, out of mind thing).
Ski and I walked back to the barracks, he didn’t say much, nor did I, I suppose I never said too much, and Chris, she made up for the lack of my dialogue.
“I’m tired Ski, see yaw soon again…bye!”
I walked in the barracks, and Ski walked down along side of the building, then around the corner, and to his barracks which was next to mine.
As I opened the door to my room, I felt at home again, safe I suppose. Chris came to mind; I just can’t figure her out, I questioned myself: She desires the very things that will destroy her at the end. I mean if she really has this illness or disease, drinking, smoking and running all daylong to her pizza guesthouse, seeing friends, me, her kid, and her hotshot boyfriend, she will burnout before her time. Maybe this was the wrong thing to think, for if she was dying, or for that matter if I was dying, I’d want to make some kind of connection with life…live as much as I could, in the limited time I had; I stopped for a second, yaw, maybe this is/or was the connection before: now or never.
As I sat on my bed, it came to mind: here is this girl, a girl I had met a few months ago, sitting at the disco and swaying her finger about for my attention. I was a bit shy, and she made some promising remarks. And now the relationship that sprung from that moment, the one we absorbed, or it absorbed us, with all its moods, ways of thinking, and so forth and so on, here we were: now acquiring doubts and hesitation: these elements, and other things were filling our world, our relationship, and still ahead were some kind of needs we still needed meet head-on, for both of us; maybe to live each day to its fullest, for if five years was all the doctors gave her (so she had told me), hell, make the best of it I’d say, although it did make things awkward I’m sure for her, thirty-years from now she’d have been dead for twenty-five of them, what then would I say? Good question for me. I looked at my clock it was 1:15 AM. Well, she’s not coming (I told myself), go to sleep Chick; I must like talking to myself I was doing a lot of it this evening.
As I laid down on the bed, my head started to spin, and think: what a pity to have her prefer me for her lover; she wanted self-satisfaction in her selection, and along came pains with the romance, and work, I don’t think she was planning on this (a lot of work in maintaining an ongoing relationship), but maybe she just got a little more than she planned for; maybe after I go, she would find another like me (a new soldier boy, so I was contemplating off and on, but not much). It was the first time or maybe the second time it had occurred to me she could have ongoing GI boyfriends (past, present, future), you know, none that would last, only the rich one would last until she was a…dead person: perhaps he was selected to be her death partner. Maybe that was she, and his solution to her dilemma. Maybe he wanted to see me because I lasted the longest of her extra curriculum conquests; what was I made out of: candy and spice and everything nice? I had lots of guesses, and that is all they were.
It would be too bad if she called it off. If anything she seemed to be more seriously dependent on me than I to on her. Or maybe that was just the way I saw things, or felt. And she didn’t know it. Yet she wasn’t all that able to take care of herself, for the sickness was making her lose weight, making her weak; too many thoughts for my spinning head.
I had to step outside my own concerns now, step outside my little world you could say, I did make an effort to understand the situation, or so called one-way relationship; she felt often I did attempt to love her, but only halfway saving the other half perhaps for safety reasons. She never knew it, but she never once said she love me, maybe that bothers me. I never said it either, maybe I wanted to but couldn’t, and that also bothered me. But could we afford to really and truly love? I asked myself. My mind was never broken, and I often thought, how all this was going to end. I guess I felt we had it all, a rare thing one might say: we touched each others lives, and I might have said at one time ‘…it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all…’ another saying I had heard some place, but now that I think of it, love or romances, especially when you know they are not going to last, take a lot of energy, human resources, I’m not sure if I’d go along with that philosophy anymore. Not if I would be able to see in the future that is. But then I’d not trade it either, nor would I try to stop it, nor did I try to stop it.
Everything I seemed to want from her was at a different level than hers, something she could not give, yet she never asked me to go beyond where I dare not go. I guess she thought, beyond it was unreal, and time did not allow it. Which seemed not to have anything to do with love, as long as it was left on the surface? For some odd reason it seemed as if I was shaking myself free, yet, knowing somehow it would not last at the same time; and on the other hand, I would survive I knew this—I would survive through whatever kind of relationship developed from this bond; therefore, while here in Germany, why should I sabotage anything that made me happy, gave me pleasure, and took a little work, and a lot of understanding. And most likely she would do the same. And so that is how my mind finalized this, for the moment.

She pushed her way into the barracks and into my room: “Ok…can I stay for a few hours? I got to sober up?”
“No problem, just be quite, ok?”
She nodded her head yes. The gradual discovery that she was successful in getting into the barracks, and that, faintly discovering no one was there with me, no girls that is, made her happy; she took her cloths off and jumped in bed with me.
I looked at her slim waist, I asked: “What’s the gold chain around your waist for?”
“I have it on so I can tell how much weight I’m losing by it.” I did not follow up on it, for this cancer thing in my mind was still in the premature stage of disbelief, although I knew there was something to it. She then laid on top of me, as I caressed her long thin body as smooth as silk; I shut the window, it had a chill coming through the cracks, we then made love, both passing out within the hour.


Music and the

A glimpse of July morning sunlight crept through my window, soothing as it moved along my face until it covered my eyes waking me up more than I wanted to be. Discovering with a happy surprise and sense of accomplishment I had slept until 10:00 AM, quite late for me. I normally got six hours sleep, not nine, if not four.
It was Monday, and I had to work at noon, so I quickly got dressed and headed down to the Barbarian Crossroads Service Club. When I got there I grabbed a candy bar out of my pocket I had gotten from the benders in the guardhouse, it would do for now, a kind of quick breakfast; after that, I went to the backroom of the library section, there I sat in my usual chair, shut the door behind me. This was really, a one-person room, sound proof at that, with a record player. I picked up my favorite long playing record that had about twelve songs of Nat King Cole on it, and played “When You’re Smiling,” several times, I could sometimes stay for hours drifting into never-never land in this room: going into fantasies like a movie projector playing one after the other…
I look out the upper small window, which looked over the tall wall of the compound to see the traffic on the other side of it. And then back to my resting spot. The song, Rambling Rose was now playing: --I liked that also, and then came Wolverton Mountain. How we learn to appreciate little things in life! I played the guitar, and music, in all forms seemed to be a delight for my soul; likened to water, rivers, and lakes.
It was nearly noon, I thought I had better not waste any more time and get to my guard-post at the main gate. I could be relieved for lunch at 1:30 PM, if I wanted to, but I really didn’t like going to the mess-hall [military kitchen] on this side of the compound, I’d rather go on the other side where the MP’s [Military Police] ate. They always had good food there. Matter-of-fact, I had just signed a petition somewhat out of duress along with some twenty-five other soldiers, complaining about the lack of food being served at the Artillery mess hall. I really did not want to sign it but my friends kind of made me feel as if I was spoiled because I could eat at both mess-halls, and they couldn’t and needed my support, -- it seemed ok at the time so I did, somehow I think it’s going to come back and bite me though. One should follow one’s instincts I do believe, or at least I should have, they have always been pretty much right on, almost like a second language to me, an ancient inner language telling you of danger.
The letter was sent to Washington D.C., in hopes it would cause some kind of havoc, and generate a food inspection, supposedly a Congressional Investigation. I had heard the higher ups, the officers, Sergeants, on base were taking the meat and selling it on the black-market, which I didn’t care for, for the most part, so why am I getting into signing things, luckily I have access to both mess halls like they said, or it would be more personal I expect: --or I’d starve to death here, which was off limits to anyone other than Security or Military Police, people.
I had also heard the higher ups had used military equipment to create a football or baseball park for the local merchants (we are now talking about colonials and majors and perhaps a general or two); the only problem was, was that they got paid for it, and it was not allocated and properly authorized. That had happened before I came to this military base. And again, I just didn’t want to get into the politics of things. One guy, Terry, had said (to me and everyone else he caught sight of) that he was falsely inducted into the Army, and had started a law suite against the Army, and I think he was the one always trying to get even with the Government. The antagonist I called him, inside my head. I’d talk to him, but he was trouble like Ski, but more trouble I think.
As I walked to the guardhouse, my post, I was already in my green-fatigues and had my military helmet on that read SG [Security Guard] in the front middle of it, and my arm band in place, and so when I got to the gate it was just a simply matter of stepping in front of James, who was on duty, and taking over. The sun was out, I liked it, the grass was a pretty shade of green, dark with light shades interwoven, as if the sun was warming it up right in the center and lit its vanes—and somehow the whole area seemed a little too perfect today, you feel that way I think when you get a few bad days, or things go wrong for a day or two, and then when everything is fine, it kind of pushes you off balance.
“No problems this morning,” James commented as he left his post, and I stepped into his position. Then he turned around and commented, “Hay, Sergeant First Class Flattery, knows Chris has been coming around, he kind of told several of us to whisper to you he knows about her staying overnight in the barracks, and it would be best you let her know not to…You…ooo, you know… right?”
“Yaw, I figured it would be sooner or later he’d find out. But it’s kind of nice he isn’t being a snob about it. I guess if he tells me, he would have to write me up, you know make it official, and I could be busted to plain private instead of Private First Class.”
“Yaw, that’s a good point,” commented James.
I started to wave a few cars through, but my mind was on how to tell Chris she couldn’t walk freely through the hallways anymore. Again I refocused, and again my concentration was broken by the conversation I had a few minutes ago. I continued to wave a few cars through without attention. Then I noticed there was the colonel, I didn’t salute his car, “Oh shit…I suppose this will come back to haunt me also.”
James just kept walking into the main guardhouse, while I walked across the road to the other side were there was a small guard shack, we used both on each side of the road in case we needed to pull over a car leaving or coming in. On that side of the street, was where I normally went at the end of the day, when people were leaving the compound, and on the opposite side in the morning when they were coming to work.
Chris pulled up with her boyfriend’s Mercedes. It wasn’t a moment too late I thought, my mind was on her and what the sergeant had said, also on the thing I signed: everything, and it was a good time to give her the bad news anyhow. She stayed in her car, “You have breakfast?” She commented.
“Not yet.”
She pulled out a ham and cheese sandwich, “Here’s thinking of you,” she smiled, and did a U-turn.
“Shit,” I said, I had to turn my back as to wave another car through… and she did a damn U-turn right in the middle of my guard post: man, I feel my face hot, hold your temper, I told myself hold it, hold it back you’re going to explode, I told myself.
“Here is the sandwich,” she was holding it out of the window for me—
“Chris, I didn’t see that, if I did, and someone saw me not see what you did, they would reprimand me for not reprimanding you, you’re going to get me into trouble…!”
She smiled dumbfounded, as I simply shook my head, and she drove off the post, fast out the entrance. As a matter-of-fact, I was happy she was gone, so I could do my job, but it seemed I always looked forward to seeing her car at such strange moments, and she did show up most often; when you least expected her; as if we both had ESP, and were simply expecting the other.

“Oh,” said James as he was leaving the barracks to get lunch for himself, “Chris was here earlier.” I didn’t respond back, his smirk on his face told me he was not happy with my setup, and him having to report to me about her comings and goings, I suppose I can’t blame him, we both were First Class Private, in rank: equal. Matter-of-fact, I heard enough bad news from him for a day; maybe it was I with the smirk, plus he was no big friend, only one of the guys who kept to themselves. But he wasn’t a troublemaker either, and I respected him for that. He was short, hated the Army, and like me got drafted. He shook like crazy when he was in front of officers, funny, I felt like I was at home with them, just the opposite. He was a big time coward I’m sure, and really didn’t belong in the Army, the kind of guy that would get you killed in battle, god help me if I go to Vietnam and he was behind me. I would be the first one to say, ‘Hay, let this man out of the Army…’ he’s out of sight now, in that nasty mess hall.
Now for this ham and cheese, my mind was a little calmer at the present, for some odd reason. If anything I didn’t have to worry about an unannounced inspection, and the Command Sergeant Major finding her in my room, which could be quite messy; that is, she wouldn’t be around to get me caught.
Matter-of-fact, it was but a few weeks ago when I and some of my comrades were painting the hallways in our barracks with their high WWII ceilings, until 2:00 AM in the morning, and left beer cans all over the place, and the Sergeant Major came through the barrack hallways that evening about 4:00 AM, and reprimanded everyone for the sloppiness of the cans, but thanked us for the fine painting job. This whole Army thing doesn’t make sense, but it’s a meal, a paycheck, and a roof over my head I told myself; that’s a way to survive, find the good out of a troubling situation; put horns on the bad so you can walk away making it look good, that’s my way of thinking, and you can survive the rest, that is, if you got to live with it.
It was a little ridiculous, maybe peculiar, I thought of the Command Sergeant Major coming into the barrack the way he did, because I was naked and had to cover-up and explain to him the situation. What an asshole, --he could have waited until the next day to confront us: --he simply thought he was a hotshot, and I guess he is as far as a military career man goes.
I waved in a few more cars through, and started to think about what Chris had told me the night before, about having a daughter. I felt a little uncomfortable with that, every time I think there is no more to this relationship she comes up with something new. Evidently she did not care to let it all out at once. She would probably decide to let me know the rest later, whatever the rest is, and somehow, I know there is more. In that mind of hers is a constant assortment of business categories rolling over and over, for most everything could be put into a form of business with her I suppose. That is not to say she was cold, not at all, just calculating.

I looked at my watch; I was getting off at 4:00 PM today, doing a half-day for a friend…who I had to pay back for taking an afternoon a while ago for me. I wanted to be with Chris that day, a month ago, or so…
Chris was going to bring Carmen today, her eight-year-old daughter. We were going to go bowling. It was a pleasant idea I thought at the time we talked about it, not sure why she wants me to meet her, or for that matter, everybody she knows, she’s only going to drop me when I leave Germany anyhow. Why get to know the whole clan. But maybe I’ll be here for the rest of my tour, fifteen-months left. Or maybe I’ll stay and take a European out, I heard about them, they are like a delayed free ticket home from an extended stay in Europe, all the way up to a year; that is to say, after you are discharged from the Army; as a result, the US Government will pay us soldier’s way back home, up to a year after our release. Good deal.
As I straightened out my helmet, a car pulled up asked for directions to the motor pool.
‘Let her do what she wants, I got nothing better to do,’ I said out loud as the car pulled away in the direction I was pointing. It was with some effort, I refrained from swearing; she had so many deletions, things she neglected to let me know after months of dating, and then spring a kid on me.
I poised motionless, pausing for a quick release of oxygen. As I gazed up now thinking with a little resentment: of course she had taken her good old time about telling me, no rejection this way. Like fishing, pull him in slowly. When she found I was comfortable in our relationship—at any given point—something else came up, another deletion came up…this is the last straw. A fool of a woman got me lovesick, -- but it was not quite that way really, the truth of the matter is I am a little gullible, thinking women for the most part—in general, that is—do not have that kind of malice inside their bones as us men do. Oh yes, but I am learning, like that damn poem I heard, “The Spider and the Fly,” I was the fly, and she was the spider, and slowly she was humming me on, tranquillizing like, and then –now—I’m in the damn web…and she’s going to eat me up
but many men think like I do, I think (?)
I feel like I’m a frog being boiled alive sometimes, slowly, and the funny thing is I’m just finding out the water is boiling. Yes, yes…I’m like those dogs you train: --put a piece of meet out, turn on the light, and salivate—go for it. And then one day you turn the light on and you look around for the meat, and it is not there, only emptiness. If anything I am learning. On the other hand, I knew I was a little gullible anyway, shit, she even told me in so many words I was, I didn’t believe that, like I didn’t believe her illness, I don’t know if I believe anything, except I’m in Germany, it is summer, the sun is out, and the grass is two shades of green, and I see the flag flying over by that big rock. Everything I believe in is right in this department called ‘a minute’.
I’m here for however long they want me here, and when I go so be it. Matter-of-fact, if I do not get orders to go to Vietnam soon, I will most likely stay here out of the twenty-four month military commitment I have, I would have less than a year left. They wouldn’t send me to Vietnam for eight-months, I don’t think so. They never send anyone to Nam for eight-months, I’m repeating myself.
“Stop,” the car entering the Compound doesn’t have a sticker on it,
“Your ID please!”
“Is this OK sir…I just started working for the MP Mess Hall yesterday?”
“Yaw, it’s ok, you’re German right?”
“Yaw, why…?”
“You really need to get a sticker as an employee, or you’re going to get stopped all the time and checked.”
I looked into her eyes, she was young and pretty, plus she worked at my mess hall…I should say, the one I eat at.
“Go on through Miss.”
She headed in the right direction, so I turned about, started thinking about Chris some more, right on time—another car, no…it’s Chris, she waved at me, she’s coming back, no, no UUUUuuu-tueeeern…
ssse no!

“Come, jump in I got to pick up my daughter at the Pizza Café, I left her there with my girlfriend, Holly. Leave your uniform on, she’ll like to see you in it.”
“Hold on,” I said, “I have to wave this car through, I got to get my replacement, is it time already?”
“I got it Chick…go,” said my friend John. I jumped into the car.
“Good lord,” I shouted, “you’re dressed so fancy and I’m…I’m you-- know, just kind of plain.”
“Chick, not so loud, I’m right here.”
“Sorry, I forgot I’m off duty.” She smiled.


The surrounding scenery suddenly looked rather busy as she drove through the city, --down by the Rathaus, Old City Hall, and the old regal fountain, with its spurting water; I admired it so often when I’d walk down and through this area with my buddies, matter-of fact, there is the guesthouse I usually have a few beers at when I go solo, or with a few friends on weekends walking around and getting drunk.
If Chris thought, she was going to impress me with her daughter, she was wrong, yet remarked to me, “I know, I’m going the wrong way, the Café is back there. I got to pick up some money at the bank before it closes.”
She quickly parked the car, jumped out and ran up the steps through the bank’s front doors. She was always in a hurry I thought, high energy like me.
As I sat there looking out the window waiting, pondering, it seemed to me she was surely in some kind romantic stage in her life; it puzzled me some, perhaps it’s just one of those female phases I concluded. She had a career, a child, -- was I her prince charming, a private in the US Army, no way, yet I was something, for she selected me, but what for, or why, only she knew; she never treated me less for being a private, I’ll put it that way. She wanted the best of the best out of life it seemed, and only had a little time to get it, and maybe she had it, yet perfection seemed to be part of the goal, and maybe this was her fairy tale ending—me. She could do better I thought, if she had time, and maybe I would do better, for I do have time. But it was our time, now, and it was great…but becoming a little entangled nonetheless. This prince charming did not have the silver or gold crown to go along with the show. But that was ok, the other guy did. His money, my charm, if anything, we made a good threesome, whoever the dick head was

she seemed to make the right choices, yet life was still not fair with her, as with child rearing, and boyfriend issues. She seemed to rationalize away difficulties: --ignoring the emotions of others often. She was not like other young women I knew, matter-of-fact, she didn’t seem young to me at all, she just looked young and attractive; not beautiful, but good-looking, eye-catching: not gorgeous, but smart; on the other hand she was a working woman, like my mother, she had to work at making both ends meet for a long time I supposed.
She was the superwoman everyone wanted to be, but couldn’t; she was succumbing to its side effects also, the loss of weight, which she really could not afford. But maybe all this life she was trying to fill her self up with, and being filled up with—kept her alive a little longer.
This might have been noticeable to her friends for they tried to explain to me one evening that stress coupled with her illness was trying on her system, as if I had some control over her ways. Although oddly enough they thought I did. She was trying to live fifty-years in five. Most people would cushion those years; Chris didn’t, not with me at any rate, possibly with boyfriend number two she lived to the contrary. Her romantic fairytale was not perfect, but she must have realized there was no perfect people out there, yet, perhaps she got thinking an imperfect prince was better than a toad, for she could be guarded at times with me, making me feel like a toad… and sometimes this prince could make her laugh and laugh and laugh… helping her forget all the painstaking things in life.
I did feel a wedge between us sometimes, jealousy that really wasn’t jealousy, more hurt I suppose, control that she wanted…double standards because she was Chris, and I was me, an American soldier in her country. I think she forgot men get hurt, they just do not like showing it, rather, they’d like to show anger, and throw the hurt away.
But the sex was good, and I didn’t need it all the time like a lot of GI’s felt they had to have it. Sometimes I felt they were putting on an act to brag, kind of, out of necessity. If you say you don’t need sex to the guys in the Army, then the men around you think something is wrong with you, and that isn’t good in the Army, so we all pretended, or at least I did.
But Chris was warm, and affectionate, at times demonstrative, and at times a ting cold, she did not lack in any department. The nature of her woman-ness was activated quite easily when we had foreplay, as if her hormones were on automatic: set in motion within minutes. Somehow her brain signaled the right parts of her body at the right time and made my bloodstream become hot, -- as if she was in an adolescence state almost, overcoming some lost-hidden desire. Whatever it was I liked it, and she threw pretense to the wind.
Most guys don’t know a damn thing about girls, or women, except how to hop between their legs, get a hard-on, stick it in, ‘climax’ then say: ‘…was it great baby?’ With their chest popped out. And the woman goes along with it. I had a woman once who wanted to make love so bad, that when I took her into the bedroom, she was saying hurry up, hurry up, and I was trying to hurry up, and in all the hurry up bullshit, I couldn’t get, or keep the little hard-on I started to get, then the hard-on advanced a little noodle like hard-on, and she said, ‘well, are you going to f… me or what?’ I think I was just a score for her, like Billy the Kid, a notch on her pistol, you know a trophy, and finally I got the hard-on she was waiting for, at last, so I quickly pushed it into her big hole, and she said again, ‘hurry up, hurry up,’ and you know most women say, go slower. And so I climaxed, she jumped off the bed, put her panties on, her dress or whatever she was wearing, I think it was a dress, and said I got to go with Jack on his motorcycle. That was back in my old neighborhood, in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Cayuga Street. The cops used to call it: Donkeyland. Perhaps that was sometime in 1967 or so.
Life is just not fare, I’m not complaining I just don’t know much about women in general, and I doubt any of my friends do either—male friends that is, and even when they think they got them figured out. Guys think they know, but they don’t really. One thing I did know, Chris was so unpredictable she could be draining. If I had learned one thing in life it was you can’t control another person, not really; and when you try to do it, you never come out the winner anyhow, who wants a puppet. I suppose I kept Chris guessing with puppet, a prince, toad or me; I come up with a motto to live by: whatever floats the boat—it’s as simple as that.
I guess I learned somewhere along the way, how to deal with the hurt, and throw away some of the anger, it isn’t worth the time and effort, like revenge, no one wins, and you simply bury one another. The best revenge is success.

I was in some deep thinking mode, and then all of a sudden I heard a pounding on the window. It’s Chris.
“Open the door, yaw sleeping?”
“No, I don’t think so, I guess I was daydreaming, something like that,” she gave me a peculiar look, “Let’s go.”
I seemed to wakeup some, slowly that is, I was really in a deep fog, I looked at Chris, she smiled back, with a curious look, hoping to find out what I was dreaming about I think, but she left well enough alone. It was a quivering moment for me, taken by surprise with all my wavering thoughts.
“Here we are,” Chris announced, as if I couldn’t see, her eight year old daughter was standing by her friend Holly outside the brick, two stories café waiting with a camera.
“Mama,” she called to Chris, “Now tell Chick your name,” she asked her daughter “Carmen” she replied, with a smile.
I took the camera and snapped a picture of the three. Then Holly briefly kissed me on the side of the check. She had a beehive for a hairdo (with dark brown hair), about several years older than Chris, a little shorter, and with a little more weight, but far from being over weight, plain looking for the most part.
Carmen had short hair, a blue sweater on, and long white tights under her short blue dress, a pretty brown leather pare of shoes, and a round face like Chris’s, with spicy looking eyes, as cute as could be,

“SNApppppp…♫♫, ☺”
the picture was taken, and she started to sing,

“Chick…listen—I made up a song… I call it, The Yellow-Flower”:

‘I’ll love you today
… ♫ today and tomorrow
I’ll love you today-- ♪ my flower

And if you---- happen to see
… ♫♪ that I can’t be— all the things
I ought to… ☼
Please still love me…and be eee--♪ my flower’☻…

“Let’s go,” said Chris, as Carmen stood looking at me…
“Did you like it…Chick?”
“Like it, it was greeeeeeeeattt,’ like Tony the Tiger says.”
“Who is Tony…?” asked Carmon.
“Oh, he is just a cartoon character, someone I grew up with when I was about your age, my mother bought me this rubber blow-up toy, something like that, about four-foot tall, and his name was Tony the Tiger.”
“Oh, maybe I saw him [?]” replied Carmon.
“Carmen! … Jump into the back seat, let Chick up front,” said Chris.
“Hay, I like your uniform…it’s groovy,” said Carmen.
“Shan’t be long now, Mama,” questioned Carmen.
“She’s learning English, how is she doing with it Chick?”
“Great, she sounds better than you.” Chris did a double take on me when I said that.
“Very funny,” she said, than she started to laugh, as did Carmen also…
“We will get there, and I was told Chick, there will be no bowling leagues until later this evening so we can get right onto a lane.”
The car pulled up next to a host of buildings and we all walked down a stairway into the bowling alley. Once inside, next to the bowling lanes was a bar with candy and treats sitting on its edge. As we started bowling, I bought Carmen a candy bar, Chris quickly told her not to eat it until after dinner, saying it would spoil her appetite.
“You really should not have given the candy bar to Carmen, -- Chick! She’s looking at it now.”
“Sorry, I guess I wasn’t thinking about spoiling her appetite, but I suppose you’re right …”
I didn’t say another word, she wasn’t smiling; the game was over now. She looked at me strange,
“You suppose what? Let me explain, she is my child, and I give the rules to her.”
As Chris turned around to look at Carmen, she noticed she was eating the candy bar, and then she quickly walked up to her, pulled the candy bar out of her hands, slapped her in the face, and as she went for a second slap, I grabbed her hand.
“Not in front of me… you don’t slap her;” everything went silent for a moment around us, and then you could hear the sound of feet passing briskly by us on the wooden floor, people staring at Chris. She looked about, “Let’s go,” she said.
As we got into the side hallway, she explained again, in a harsh way,
“She is my daughter, and I will discipline her where and when I want to.”
“Just do not slap her in front of me—like that!” I repeated.
Chris caught her breath, and calmed down, she then looked at Carmen, smiling at her saying, “I think he likes you Carmen, let’s go.”
No one had ever dared to do that to her I expect, she was taken by surprise, matter-of-fact it was a little abruptly done I thought, maybe I should have been a little more gentle about it.
“Cigarette?” she said.
“Are you asking for one, or offering one,” I responded.
“No, take one of mine and light me up one, PPPleasessss!” Her pack was hanging out of her purse sitting along side her leg. I lit it and handed it to her.
She spoke in the manner of one who makes unreasonable statements I thought: -- suddenly we both became a bit uncomfortable; Carmen became tongue-tied. And then we all seemed to be looking out our own little windows.


The Boyfriend

It was the middle of August, and although Chris and I still had a relationship, and it was going as smooth as one might expect, there was still some tension in it. The child, the incident with the slap, the boyfriend, and now for some odd reason, Chris asked me to meet him at the local guesthouse up the street from the Army base. She had brought it up previously and I guess I pushed it aside hoping it would remain there, but now she was saying he wanted to meet me, or was it really her who wanted it, maybe he did, whatever the case, it was coming out of Chris’s mouth almost as a demand. I told myself to keep peace, it wouldn’t hurt I suppose if I went along with this charade of sorts. But I wasn’t sure what the purpose of it was. The boyfriend was rich, a nice car, I couldn’t compete with him, and wasn’t about to try. Then, what for—was the meeting [?] I asked myself… to see the competition, he could see me at the gate anytime he wanted to, and matter-of-fact, Chris did say one night during our drinking, he had told her he saw me, or thought he saw me at the gate. I felt it was no big deal. But again, I gave into Chris.
She told me, he simply wanted to see whom she was dating, and that she would end up walking out with me, which was a prerequisite of mine; otherwise I’d not stoop to such a thing. And she said ‘…we both agreed to it,’ adding, ‘no one need to know the full situation,’ as if it was some big secret love circle. I suppose in a way it was… I wasn’t about to try and explain this to anyone, I could careless if anyone knew—, and it was indeed, too odd for any one’s mind to even digest, let alone, ponder on it. Damn, I thought: what passion can make a person do. It makes you act like a stupid fool; someone told me once the definition of a fool, and I’ve liked it ever since, he said, ‘…a fool is the other side of the coin,’ and I asked, “And what is on the other side of the fool’s coin…?” And he said, ‘…wisdom.’ So I guess a fool is someone who is not making wise decisions, and by the looks of things, he was right.

The Meeting

…as it was Friday, Chris drove up to the gate to pick me up….
there was no fear in me if lover-boy wanted to fight, matter-of-fact, if he should decide to change his outlook on the meeting, that is, not to meet me at all, -- fine with me, or even fight me, fine again, but for some reason he told Chris to bring me up in the car… “I’ll leave my uniform on,” I told Chris as she picked me up… “No sense in changing, let’s get it over with,” I told her as I got into her car.
“How honorable,” she commented, “He’ll like that.” Sure I thought, we kicked Germany’s ass in World War Two [WWII], and he’s going to like my uniform, let’s see (this was only twenty-five years after the war; many Germans had not forgotten the toll it had on them). Maybe it was I who was looking for a fight. I was somewhat guarded. But then it was almost natural for me to be that way, my neighborhood kind of built it in, that is to say, when you are invited into someone’s life, and you’re screwing the same woman he is, men don’t usually take too lightly to that, they do not like to share; I smiled at Chris but did not make a big deal of smiling, there had to be a reason for all this and I was not in on it.
As she drove the several blocks to the guesthouse she parked her car alongside of the building, covered with creamy color stucco: --his car was already parked. Next, we slowly disembarked the car as if it was a train, so it seemed, thus, trying to look about as we (or I) gathered ones composure; Chris in front of me, then we walked slowly to and through the doorway. Chris automatically had seen him as she opened the second door leaving the enclosed doorway entrance open—and started walking over to him. He had a tailored gray fitted suite on, a beer and a glass of cognac on the table. He stood up looked at me, straight in my eyes, a smile appeared, and then he extended his hand for a shake, checking out Chris at the same time. Slowly I put my hand out, somewhat waiting for a sucker punch in the face, it has happened before, but it didn’t appear, just the hand shake. He noticed I was alert to a possible battle.
“So, this is what you look like,” he spoke good English. Not knowing what to say, I just nodded my head. Not sure if I was suppose to say anything.
“Sit down please; -- let me order you a beer.”
“No that’s fine, thanks, I don’t mind standing. I’m not sure what this is all about, but here I am.”
“I feel like I know you Chick, Chris of course, she’s brought your name up a number of times. I’m glad you showed up.” Having said that, I looked at Chris, and no words needed to be spoken.
“Han’s we got to get going” said Chris, Han’s smiled and implied he understood, as I started to walk out to the door. Next, she quickly said something to him and joined me.
“See that wasn’t hard,” she said, “What do you think of him?”
“I don’t even know him, he looks fine, and he was polite, I don’t know. You two got your wish, or he got his. Not sure how it goes. Do you expect us to be buddies or something?” I said somewhat disturbed she brought the question up it wasn’t called for.
“Maybe, but I’m glad you chose to show up, I think he feels better about you and, and possibly, everything.”
“I’m not sorry I was so brief, I felt awkward somewhat in that situation,” I said as we got back into her car and pulled away.


The Long Bath
The Party

“Such a shame,” John told me, as he entered his apartment, and introduced me to his wife Jane.
“He is the one honey that wants to take a long bath. He’s one of the security police at the compound.” He said to his wife. She looked at me,
“What a strange request,” she commented.
“I have not taken a bath since I was drafted into the Army, ten-months ago, I’m sick of showers. I really miss it.”
“Incidentally, Chick,” asked John, “when is Tony, Shelly and Barb, coming?” It was 6:00 PM.
“They said they’d be over at 8:00 PM for the party, Chris is coming also,” John knew Chick, but not well. John worked in the mess hall, and was really one of Tony’s friends more than mine. He was a different John, not the same John at the Security Barracks I knew.
I put down a bottle of wine and a huge bottle of beer on the table, my contribution to the party, while Jane took me into the bathroom.
“Have fun,” she commented.
I got undressed and listened to the water filling the tub. I hesitated in the room wondering whatever reason did I suggest this for, like a wish come true, and when it happens, you seem, or I should say feel, dumb for asking for it. But I appreciated it. For a moment I tested the water with my toes to see if the water was just right, moving them a little, impetuous I was, then I jumped in, slowly allowing my body to slide down the back of the tub. In the Army you get showers and that is that, no more to say, like it or not. All my life I had baths. I really missed it. Now I was lying down comfortable in the water up to my neck.
An hour went by.
“Anyone in there?” called Jane…“…are you ok in there?”
“Do you have to use the bathroom?” I answered.
“No, not yet, just checking.”
I then leaned over to see what time it was, I had put my watch on the floor next to the tub and then leaned back for over thirty-minutes or so, I then heard a door open; it was Tony’s voice, and Shirley.
“Uppppppuu…” the party is starting early.
With that I jumped out of the tub, my hands looked white and wrinkly like an old mans, just like back home. I loved it. I felt a little disappointed that I had to stop the bath, but I had no time to deliberate, soon Chris would be here.
By the time I got out, and put my civilian cloths back on, a dark pair of pants, and auburn t-shirt, my black waist-level leather jacket, combed my wavy hair, I was out among the others.
“I do so agree with you Chick,” said Jane, “you look happier now?” We both smiled as she went and opened the door for another guest. It was Barb, -- Shelly’s girlfriend. And right behind her was Chick. Jane was pregnant three months, had been at the base for about thirty-days now, and Jane had just arrived a week ago. So it was kind of a get together. Everyone brought something to drink. And no sooner had everyone introduced himself or she, the booze started to flow down everyone’s throats.
Everyone liked Chris, even though she spoke with a marked reserve.
“Miss Shirley,” commented Tony her boyfriend, whom was hiding her in the backroom of the security barracks, was gone for six weeks to Rome and Greece, had comeback this way [Augsburg] to be with Tony for a week, then she was on her way back home to the states. She was really simply traveling around Europe with Barb, she was not really looking for an ongoing relationship, or so it seemed, it just happened to be she got involved like Chris with a GI and now she was back for a little more action, maybe we were all simply familiar with one another and that made her want to spend her last week with friends.
“Let’s hope we all get tipsy with all this booze. And how was Italy?”
Replied Shirley, “We didn’t see all of Italy, only Venice and Rome. But I liked Venice and all its waterways, and Rome, well, we went to the Spanish Steps, and sat around and talked to the hip kids, you know like us,” then she looked at Tony. Tony was a Buck Sergeant who had been to Vietnam as a helicopter assistant of some kind, and was serving six-months of his thirty-six month military commitment in Germany. Then he was going back to Arkansas to put his life together. He was a little resentful that Shirley would not stay in Europe with him but she wanted to go back to California and finish her law degree. I knew Tony felt that would be it for them if she did. Oh well, once I left it would be that way for me also.
Gently every one started to drink the beer, wine, and scotch. Chris brought some Jack Daniels whisky, John brought a case of beer of Miller High Life, Tony brought a big bottle of wine most all the GI’s got it at the Commissary or PX [military commercial stores on base].
“You’re not much use to anyone sober Chick, let’s see who can put a beer down quicker,” said Tony, he was only twenty-one years old, and often used to smoking pot instead of drinking but a high was a high for him. I guess I’m not much older.
“Ready Chick?”
“I’m ready.”
Doooooo wnn
Nnn it went. “Awww…who’s got it, who won,” asked Tony. But as he looked at me I already had my bottle sitting on the end table.
“I should have known better, no one could beat you Chick.” They all laughed.
It was now 10:30 PM, and Chris, myself and Tony were all laying back on the sofa, both of us guys had our hands around Chris’s shoulder, drunker then a skunk, slurring our words, while Jane watched from across the room laughing at everyone.
“We should try another beer contest Chick?” asked Tony.
“No…ooo…” I replied, “I’m too drunk to try another one.”
“We should all take care,” said John.
“Take care of what?” asked Tony, “Take care of this boozeeee that is all I want to take care of.”
Tony when drunk acted the drunk. “Nobody said you had to stop drinking,” said Shirley “but no more contests like Chris said, otherwise you’ll be too drunk to walk home.”
“Isn’t that the purpose…Miss lawyer to be,” she smiled at Tony, and the night went on.
Now Tony moved over to the other side of me, and I had my arms around both Chris and Tony; Tony was holding onto a glass of beer, he could hardly keep his eyes open.
Chris was dressed in a tight white dress, very lovely I thought, with real pearls, three roles of them; she was smiling, laughing, and her eyes were like they were pinned shut. I looked at Chris, “John,” I called, “take a picture of us,” he pulled out a camera from his jacket, “Here,” ‘Snapppppppppp…!’


The Fight and the

“Look, I’ve just read Jimi Hendrix died of an overdose of drugs [September, l970],” said Aaron one of the security police at the barracks to me, while walking through the hallway with a paper in his hands, the paper being sent from his parents, and a few weeks old.
“Yaw, but who is he?” I asked. Aaron thought for a moment, thinking I was kidding, but as he looked at me a second time, looking straight into my eyes, he knew I was not kidding.
“All you know about is Elvis, Nat King Cole, and that Rick Nelson guy. You got to get out of that circle man, check it out. What you doing later?”
“Not sure why?”
“I’ll meet you at the guesthouse—Chris is supposed to be there with several of her friends.”
“What time?”
“About 9:00 PM I suppose.”
“I expect to see you their Chick,” Aaron said suddenly, as he walked down the hall to his room.
He knew a few of my friends, Holly for instance, and her other boyfriend would not be there, and there were three or four other faces he remembered meeting at the Club down town. But for the most part, he did not know who was going to show up, and wanted to make sure I was there. It was Chris’s birthday and she for some odd reason chose this bar to celebrate. All her friends were Germans, and that didn’t really put a spark in my mind as to have a night of enjoyment with them. To be quite frank, I really didn’t like drinking with her friends all that much, they couldn’t speak very much English, and I was just as bad at German. And so that left Chris doing her talking mostly in German, plus they were a different breed I felt.
As the clock struck 7:30 PM I walked out of the barracks quietly up the street, several blocks to the guesthouse. I had some bad news to tell Chris, I thought nothing on earth could be worse or better. On one hand it was good, for the relationship was getting a little complex and nervy, and it was really never made to last forever anyhow. On the other hand, it was not what I really expected.
As I continued to walk to the guesthouse, it was odd I told myself, that a good-looking girl like Chris would have so little confidence in herself. The reason being, she was always trying to be in control. But then I was avoiding some of my thoughts also. I guess somewhere in all this complexity, her trying to departmentalize everything and everyone was getting to me. I had never felt love, anger and frustration all in one day over a person, and Chris could do that lately to me: --yet I was compelled to hang on, and at the same time wanting to let go, and now I get orders to go to Vietnam at the end of January, [it was October 5, 1970 now].
I hadn’t kept up with Vietnam much, I did know about the Mylai Massacre everyone was talking about, in the newspapers all the time, and that the South Vietnamese troops went into Cambodia sweeping through a Viet Cong area, and a few thousand American troops had left Cambodia. The war didn’t seem to be going any place soon.
I was called into the Command Sergeant Major’s office the other day, and was told I had orders to go to Vietnam. I knew why, it was because of that damn thing I signed—the petition. The Sergeant Major denied it, when I brought it up to his attention, but who sends someone to Vietnam when after I would leave Germany, take a thirty day leave, and only have eight months left to do inside the country, no one, it’s silly, normally if you got orders to go to Vietnam, they wanted you there for one-year at least. But it’s all right, war is war, and hick, it will be something new: so were my thoughts. Things were getting a little tense around here lately—anyhow. It is just another draft, like the first one that sent me here in the first place so I told myself. ‘It’s all right,’ I told myself as I continued to walk to the guesthouse. Speaking from complete ignorance of the subject, what was there to like, I’d find something about Vietnam, the traveling if anything. I liked to travel.
I was kind of wondering how I would be in a combated zone anyway, you know; would I freeze under fire, hide when the bombs came. I’ll find out when I’m there, f… it, send me I’m ready. I’m not running to Canada, like the other cowards, or maybe they were smart. I don’t give a shit. My neighborhood was probably more dangerous than Vietnam. Life is like a storm, you just got to be optimistic or you will sink before it’s over. Hitler was probably like that, had to adjust getting his ass kicked. Now it’s my turn to kick ass.
‘Very well,’ I said aloud, talking to myself again, indifferent, as always, I gazed upon towards the guesthouse about a half-block away. I had until December 10th to get mentally ready for this, a thirty-day leave, and then advance jungle training in California, or Washington State, then onto Vietnam.
A cold chill came over me; my mind shifted back to something I had read yesterday, Janis Joplin had died from an overdose of drugs. Funny I thought, that was two famous people who died recently, all in a two-month period, they come in threes I hear, and now Vietnam, now does that sound like a coincidences or not? I learned one thing in life, don’t make something out of nothing, leave that for God, and so let’s get on with the party.
It’s funny I thought, no one in the barracks really talked about Vietnam, most of the GI’s stationed at Reese stayed there for the duration of their tour of duty. Matter-of-fact, they were more up on the Beatles breaking up, or the Jumbo Jet that was skyjacked recently and brought to Havana, and Castro celebrated by laughing at the world, or was it the US he was laughing at, whatever, but not Vietnam, no one talked about it, not even Tony, and he was there. Most of the people who went to Vietnam were assigned to Germany if they had time left in the Army to do, the other way around.


I opened the door to the guesthouse and took a sharp right, and through the second door, I was in the main portion now of the establishment, several tables about, and the place was busy. To my far left, was Chris with several of her friends, they had put three tables together with a nice looking tablecloth covering all of the tables together, white as white can be. I noticed everyone was half drunk already.
Things usually don’t bother me, but for some reason watching them pour down the booze, smoking, looking at the half filled ashtrays, a hundred drinks on the table or so it seemed, half of them empty, I simply wanted to swear. “Mm-m?” I walked closer to them looking at one of the two waitresses’.
“Look,” Chris told her friends, “Chick is here.” They all looked at me, as I put on a smile to join them.
“Good-en talk,” I said to her guests, and friends, as if they really could understand my Germanic-gobbledygook. They all said their hellos to me in German.
“Holly,” I said, “Hi, how yaw doing…” two of the men, who were at the pizzeria café where Chris was the manager, who got drunk there one occasion, one evening with me and tried to explain to me the illness Chris had, were at the table also, we caught each others eyes, and their hello’s came.
I ordered a beer, told Chris that Aaron who she had seen at the security barracks, and knew of him slightly—but did not know him as well as Tony knew her, whom now had gone back to the states—was coming up in a little while to join us. She smiled nodding her head as if to say, ‘so what,’ then turned to her friends and continued talking in German to them. They were talking too fast for me to understand anything clear. I spoke a little German; it didn’t of course take into account the proper pronunciation, but only the real basics. That is to say, I could order a meal, drinks, say goodbye, hello, and those things, and at times beyond that, but not too far beyond.
I sat idly as they talked for about an hour, everyone smoking, drinking; the tablecloth looking at me, starring at me as if it was the dominant figure in this whole darn scene. For some reason I told myself, my Irish and Russian and Polish temper was emerging, and when I got mad and crossed some kind of dividing line, I lost all senses, which I normally did not get mad, I had what they called a long wick. One could say I wish it was longer tonight, but it isn’t…but god help me and everyone around, and the establishment if I could not control it. I have tried all my life it has been one hell of a task. Matter-of-fact, one night in the NCO-Club [Non-Commissioned Officers Club] here in Germany at the American Hotel, around the corner from our base, I got drunk and someone called me a Niger lover because I was with a black friend, who walk in the club with me, a big black dud, and yaw, I walked right into trouble. A man confronted me, calling me on, I kicked him in the nuts, and as he fell to the floor, I elbowed him in the spine which bought him smashing down on his face, head first on the bar floor. The Command Sergeant Major, grabbed me in a full nelson to stop me from fighting, and I broke his nose, with a back punch with my fist. Everyone wants to stop the winner, why? At any rate, that was the second month I was here, and I thought the Sergeant Major forgot what I looked like, maybe that was why he is sending me to Vietnam, that was hidden in my subconscious I think.
“Chick, Chick…aaa…”
“Yaw, what do you want?”
“Nothing,” I really wanted her to take notice though. I tried to get her attention again but she did not answer again.
“Look, I’m going to go.”
“Yaw, all right…” she mumbled without even looking at me, “damn bitch,” I mumbled. She didn’t even look.
The next few second, I seemed to be going into a trance looking at… observing everyone across the table, down the table, down and up, down and up, I felt indiscriminately on Mars, I wanted to jump on the damn table, and say look at me!! But I kept looking at the tablecloth, no one paying me an ounce of attention…going on two hours, f…en! Hours. I couldn’t go cheerfully anymore, with all the strength in my focus and hands I grabbed the tablecloth with two hands, and jerked it so hard all the beer, cigarette butts—everything… flew all about, -- flying on everyone’s laps, in their faces, onto their pants, Shock-Shockkkkkk everyone was in shock. I loved it. I just stood there and watched as if I had landed on Mars now. Now I got my attention…you see I said to my alter ego: there is a price for everything, and silence my friend does not mean life is going smoothly, it often is the opposite.
I was standing looking at the mess I had created and the Germans were looking at me… “…F… yaw all,” I said
“Who’s first,” I added, I looked about they all wanted to be first, not a very good idea, I told myself, but so be it…
Said Chris in shock, “You better get out of the bar,” I then turned about and started walking out. One of the Germans picked up a chair, and was about to hit me in the back of the head, and Aaron came in, and evidently hit him, and a fight started, at which time I was half drunk standing outside cooling off. Not knowing what was going on.
Three or four guys came running out of the bar after Aaron and Chris behind them. The guys got into a circle and started to punch him. I grabbed one by the shirt, and Chris pushed me away, said, “Let it be, he hurt one of her guests,” and the punching went on.
“Stop the fight or I’ll stop it,” I said. It continued for another minute, and I said it again, --then before I could jump in, Chris jumped in telling them to stop. Then I walked away, --my friend on the ground and Chris walking away with her friends…’f… you all…’ I mumbled as I walked the dark pathway back to the compound. I told myself as I walked away, I should have helped more. I didn’t know exactly what happened, but I didn’t feel good about it.


The next day Aaron came to me and asked why I didn’t help. But I did, I just didn’t help enough, yet I didn’t say a thing, no matter what, it would not be good enough and I knew it.
“What is it, I was there for you, and I stopped a man from hitting you with a table, when your back was turned?”
“Aaron, I don’t know,” I said with a low voice. Everyone knew I was not a coward, but maybe this girlfriend of mine was making me weak, for that was not my style. Whatever, I did not want to talk to her, or for that matter, anyone in connection with the previous evening.
A week passed, and Ski came by and asked why I didn’t help Aaron, and I just walked away from him also, said I didn’t want to talk about it. I went to the river, it’s really kind of a …kind of a cannel with a dam not too far from the compound; it was on the way to the city; I liked the area, walking about its wooded area, watching the water flow through and over the dam, water always calms me. I liked the bridge, which was kind of a walkway over the dam one could walk over it, stop and watch the water beneath them. It was a small, but intoxicating dam.
Then I walked by the civilian complex [housing] where John and his wife were living, they looked more like huge square boxes to me, compared to the antique buildings throughout the rest of the city. I was alone most of this time trying to figure why I did what I did, and the only reason was Chris and what I kept hearing in my head, “Don’t, don’t, or I’ll…” threatening to leave me, or something. Was I that into this woman, boxed in. If I was that drowning with passion for her that I would step back from a friend, the affair wasn’t worth my time. This was not I, and I did not like what I was becoming. She was like salt water, you couldn’t drink, yet I kept trying, didn’t I?
The second week, I decided to call her boyfriend up, I had his phone number, Chris didn’t know but I kept it, saw it written down in her phonebook, which I checked out when she went to the bank a while back. Damn bitch I murmured, as I dialed the number. I had found out he was married, and he was paying for her apartment, what an ass.
“Good Morgan,” said a woman’s voice over the phone.
“You a,” the voice said again.
“Nothing, just nothing,” I said, and hung up the phone. I can’t even get revenge. It just wasn’t worth it. I’ll be gone and this will all be history I told myself.

The Confrontation

Another week went by [the third], Chris came by in her car but I wouldn’t wave at her, she acted as if nothing had happened. She also called but I didn’t answer the phone, or return her calls; then out of the blue my superior NCO, Sergeant First Class Flattery, called me to the side of the security building along with Aaron one evening.
“Listen,” he said in a fatherly voice, “I try not to get involved with your personal affairs…” he hesitated, Chris walked around the corner—stood still as Flattery continued to talk, “As I was saying, you have your own personal life, as well as your military obligation but when it comes to fighting, causing problems in the German community, it becomes my problem. Come here PFC Evens,” he ordered, and she did, “she says she wants an apology from both of you or she is going to the Command Sergeant Major, and possibly the Colonel. It would be nice to settle this here.”
I looked at her as if she was crazy, “This Sergeant Flattery is ridiculous, she is nothing but a trouble maker, and wants more blood, what more does she want, I’ve had enough of that, bitch.” Aaron was standing against the wall of the barracks, looking at me as I started to walk away.
“Listen,” said Sergeant Flattery, “I did not excuse you private!” I stopped, “I’m not apologizing to her sir, do what you got to do, but it stops here.” Aaron to my surprised apologized to Chris.
Sergeant Flattery shook his head, “Aaron,” he asked, “…say something to Private Evens or this is going to be out of my hands soon.” Chris (Stewart) looked with her eyes glued on me, as if a nightmare was being activated.
Said Aaron, with a pleading voice, “Listen, I’m not sure why it all came about, but it isn’t worth what’s coming down. For me, please say you’re sorry Chick.”
I caught my breath, holding back my anger; Chris started to come to me,
“Don’t come this way,” I ordered, “I can see you from here,” she stopped, not sure if I was bluffing, “I’m sorry,” I said, my voice a little muffled. She looked at Sergeant Flattery, “That was really not sincere.”
“I said I’m sorry, what more do you want, blood?” I said again. She looked at Flattery.
“I think you got what you came for, miss.” Chris turned around and walked by me, “I’ll call you later,” she said as she walked across the street to get into her car.
Aaron came by, put his hand on my shoulder, “Let it go, I now understand,” I looked at him, and then at Chris’s car going, I didn’t understand, any of this…how could I.

As Sergeant Flattery walked by me he smiled, said, “Carry on,” he was happy he could settle it without taking it to another level. He asked Aaron, I could hear, ‘Who won the fight,’ Aaron said, it was even, with a few flying cigarettes in the faces of the Germans. Maybe it was water over the damn I thought; I noticed everyone was making light of it now. Maybe it was a tense issue for everyone. It becomes that way when people don’t know how to react I suppose.
I was telling everyone the truth, I didn’t know why I acted the way I did, if they knew… well, it was more than I did. If anything it was a bracing strain on my mind, a good reason to get drunk and stay drunk. I did not feel misunderstood, only alone with the issue, hurt like an animal; one could call it hard luck, a poor break, but whatever, I wanted to forget it. The phone rang in the guardhouse, I picked it up, and it was Chris.
“I suppose you don’t want to talk,” she said.
“I’m talking, aren’t I,” I responded.
“Please,” she said, “…aaaah, you mustn’t hold this against me. I’ve been troubled already with this. I can’t think why it all came about.”
“Yaw, why not call me tomorrow, about noon, if you want, we can go some place.”


The American Hotel—
Minnesota Bound

We continued to see one another off and on, almost as much as we had before the fight at the guesthouse, but it was never quite the same, we were not really the same, in fact I made a moral decision which weighed on me, that I needed to let go, but somehow I was co-dependent on her, a little, in the sense, she filled my time, my mind, my needs, and I hers. When I talked I spoke her name, when I ate she was a ghost by my side. We had bonded somehow internally, it would not be easily broken, if ever. No one condemned us for our actions at the guesthouse, not even Aaron, but it stuck nevertheless in my mind.
On December 10th, I went to the American Hotel, around the corner from the compound, as I walked outside the main gates I could see the top of it, it was painted drab-yellow, I had eaten there once every month I had been in Germany, on paydays usually, had a porterhouse steak. As I walked over to the Hotel, there Chris was waiting in the restaurant area. She was crying. It was about to come to a finish, --end.
It’s as though we both wanted it to end but did not know how to do it, and I guess it was being done for us. I would have liked to stay there in Germany, but psychologically things would have gotten worse, different, yes, not better though. Considering this uncertainty, it was better I simple get on that bus when it came to the hotel, and never looked back, as I expected Chris would. That’s the way it should end I told myself, like it started, fast and brief, like it never was.
We ate, looking up at one another; we caught each other’s sadness, and relief. People around us, some of my old friends were there, even Aaron, to bid me farewell. Maybe they all forgave me, but I didn’t quite forgive myself one hundred percent yet.
I remembered the poem by Robert Frost, “The Road not Taken,” as the bus pulled up. Chris walked with me out of the busy restaurant and onto the sidewalk, we hugged, and I looked at her, thinking there was only one thing I hoped for, perhaps even wished for, before I got onto the bus, that the pain of leaving for both of us be gone, but I guess sad feelings mean you had good times, we both could have taken a different road many of times but we chose not to, for whatever reasons, everything seemed naturally taken, we never seemed to have any doubts of that. Had we taken a different road in the beginning…oh well, let’s leave that alone for another day, maybe down the road I’ll be able to answer that question more clearly for myself.
As I got on the bus, got situated, I sat down looked at her out of the window for the last time, gave her the victory sign, with my two fingers, not sure why, maybe because we both needed to feel we won, you know, in any kind of transaction, deal, everyone should be a winner…and I suppose we both were, we just got a little too connected; she smiled... the bus took off…I seen that smile for miles and miles and miles and years thereafter….

Written in 2001, published in a single book under the same original title, “A Romance in Augsburg,” (non-fiction) revised in 2007 & 2008.