Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Entry for "Writer's Island" and "December"

“Come in, come in, Colonel. Sit down. It’s a pleasure to see you again.”
“The pleasure is mine, Ma’am. I hope you’re comfortable here in the hotel.”
“Oh, yes. The Forum is a great hotel. By the way, we’ve known each other for quite a while; call me Anna.”
“Oh, no, Ma’am. I mean, the General’s wife…”
“Couldn’t we forget all that General’s wife thing for a while? I feel almost as though I was here on vacation. You see, Colonel, I know Bratislava well; I went to school here as a teenager. And now, here I am staying at the famous Hotel Forum.”
“Ma’am, I do apologize for bringing this up, but Major Hertzog has put out an official proclamation doing away with the old name of this city, Brato...”
“Yes. Since March of ’39, this city has a new name, a proper German name: ‘Pressburg.’ That is the only name that we can use when referring to this city in either conversation or in writing.”
“And that is on the orders of – Major Hertzog?”
“Colonel, I’m a little puzzled. My husband placed you in command here until he arrives next month. You certainly outrank a major. Why is this Hertzog giving orders?”
“Well, Ma’am, it’s a bit complicated. I realize you are new to the army and it must be confusing at times. It’s just that this is the way things are done”
“Is Major Hertzog SS?”
“Yes, but that has nothing to do…”
“I see. I think I understand. Don’t worry; I’ll say no more about it.”
“Perhaps that would be best.”
“Look at this picture, Colonel. Someone slipped it under my door back in Berlin. We were told that the Slovaks welcomed us when we came in ’39. Now here’s a picture of a woman who was forced to give the Nazi salute and she was crying as our troops marched in.”
“No, not at all, Ma’am; that’s a famous picture. Those are tears of joy.
She’s thrilled at our triumph. She is happy at the thought of her country becoming part of the Third Reich and that it will last for the next thousand years.”
“I see.”
“Is there anything else I can do for you, Ma’am?”
“Well, yes, Colonel. There is something; I wanted to ask a favor of you. I thought it wouldn’t be difficult – (she laughs) – but that’s before I heard about Major Hertzog! You see, I have a friend here in…uh…”
“Yes. Her husband has been arrested and is being held somewhere here in the city; they won’t tell her where. She swears he has done nothing wrong. This woman is an old school friend of mine, a very close friend, Colonel. I wonder if you could allow the man to be released to go home. After all, it is December; it would be wonderful if he could be with his wife and family for the holidays."
“I would certainly like to be of help, Ma’am.”
“It would mean a lot to me. It’s why I made the trip here.”
“I’ll submit the request to the proper authority and we’ll see what can be done.”
“The proper authority – that would be Major Hertzog?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“And that means there is little chance that this will happen?”
“Very little.”
“Perhaps there is a way that you could do this without having to bother friend Hertzog, without having to notify him of it?”
“Perhaps I should explain. I could easily do this. I could sign a paper and your friend’s husband would be home with her in a couple of hours. But Ma’am, I would be a dead man! Do you know how the SS handles people they regard as traitors?”
“I have tried not to think about it, actually.”
“Well, think about it for a moment. They use a hook, a huge sharp meat hook that they place here, see, right under the chin – and they HANG YOU LIKE MEAT!”
“Good heavens.”
“If I may offer some advice, Ma’am. Take the sightseeing tour of the city and then go back to Berlin and plan for what you might do when the war ends – and it looks like that might not be all that far in the future.”
“The news has been so bad lately. Colonel – do you think we might lose?”
“I bid you good day, Ma’am.”


Anonymous said...

Welcome to the Island. It's a nice change to read a bit of prose! Not such a nice subject though. I have a horror of war and politics - maybe because I lived through WWII. But your story is well written and grabbed me almost from the start.

Elizabeth said...

Intriguing take on the prompt. It pulled me in immediately. Good writing and welcome to the island,


kathew said...

oh scary to have lived in Germany or anywhere in Europe during that reign of terror.
Well done!

Anonymous said...

Well done, indeed, though horrifying...

Berowne said...

My thanks to vivinfrance, Elizabeth, kathew and gospelwriter for their friendly comments.

Understanding Alice said...

a cold December this - I was totally absorbed!

jaerose said...

Hi Berowne - well, this took us in a departure from the expected tales about December..I had images of the truce documented on Christmas day when they played football (soccer!) together..and also lots of thoughts about the 'Wikileaks' story at the enjoyable and strong narrative..thank you for visiting as well - let's just call them spuds! Jae

Greta said...

You've made my December cold with the topic but warm with your writing skill! You hooked me.

Berowne said...

Understanding Alice: "I was totally absorbed!"
You show great understanding, Alice. :-)

Saire said...

Wow - fantastic writing, Berowne!

I have always found writing dialogue quite difficult - somehow it never rings true for me. Your dialogue is awesome and the conversation matter compelling.

Thanks for such a great post! :)

gautami tripathy said...

What a post! Thinking about it...

dead woman and her stillness in a cold december morning

Mary said...

That's a hard December. Very well done though.

spacedlaw said...

A disturbing tale. Good.

flaubert said...

Nice prose and good writing.
Welcome to the island!

Lilibeth said...

It would be just another good story except for the fact that it happened too many times. How cold a story for December.

Berowne said...

Lilibeth: "How cold a story for December."
"A sad tale's best for winter" -- W. Shakespeare.

Berowne said...

"Fantastic writing, Berowne!"
Fantastic comment, Saire!

Berowne said...

Welcome to the island! Pamela.
Glad to be here.

ds said...

Riveting and horrifying at once. Really taut writing, Berowne. Well done!

Anonymous said...

A chilling subject. It was interesting to see a German perspective of the SS.

brenda w said...

What a great story! I've been working with my students on dialogue...oh that they would pick up some of your prowess. Engaging from the get go, makes me count my lucky stars we don't live in Pressburg. :) ~Brenda

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

great dialogue! somehow I couldn't stop thinking about a John Candy movie with the name of the city (Bratislava) therefore I was expecting a sarcastic/funny twist at the end.

gs batty said...

nice writing

Pat said...

Chillingly portrayed. Excellent!

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