Monday, December 18, 2006

The concentration camp for Michael

We now come to the centre of our story, the core of it and so comes my despair as a writer. The core has a rottenness--though I am not sure whether it's in the character or in the writer. Most likely the writer.
For his characters tend to talk like factory hands, and the writer producing this work at the ripe age of 28, and out of a bottle and too much luck with women in Mexico. The access to too much sex and alcohol had ingrained int the writer a certain coarse bibilousness, yea, even a sluttiness of phrase. But the young fool was twenty-eight, feeling himself at the top of his form and fascinated by the story of his mother and father.

So here, without further ado, is Chapter Twelve of my ongoing novella, THE BLACK ICON

Chapter Twelve

Business boomed loudly at the Scheherezade, an enormous beerhall that squatted somewhat precariously on the east bank of the Rhine. Shattered soldiers, beefy factory hands and a sprinkling of thin, nervous women sat at square oaken tables set among holly-studded wooden columns. Raised, excited voices contributed to a general loud roar that drowned out the everyday fact of war and death. Here, the patron enjoyed the gemutlich atmosphere of friend and brew; he could forget the imminent national disaster.

But Michael and his crony cenebrated a personal victory.

Michael took a draft of the pungent imagination-prodding brew and benched comfortably. Across the table, Pavlo, a thin, balding machinist, blinked as alwalys when drinking, ran his fingers through his think hair and shook his head in mock disbelief.

"So they promoted you to foremen over the heads of two other slavvies. Not bad for a dumb Galician carpenter."

"Why not? Anybody can read a blueprint and set up work schedules," said Michael, pleased with himself.

"Well here's to you," said Pavlo, raising his glass. "If I can't make foreman at least I'll feel like one by the time the night is over. Prost."

Pavlo began talking about women and offering his opinion that a German piece was far superior to a Ukrainian one.
Michael answered with something appropriately obscene, but his mind was too elated. "You will make a good German," satisfied bosses had told Michael. "And what's wrong with being a German?" Michael asked himself.

Despite talk of Germany losing the war, he didn't believe it. True, there were frequent air raids, and even now, outside the beer hall, a distant siren wailed. But the air raids seemed to hold no more danger than thunderstorms or hurricanes. Few people actually died here in Bonn-Rhineland and Michael, at any rate, considered his life charmmed and safe. Many a morning he had come to work and found a whole wing of the factory destroyed by bombs, but raids never came on his shift and there had always been plenty of warning. And then the Mercedes-Benz bunkers were deep enough to survive any number of hits.

Pavlo broke into Michael's thoughts.

"Hey, now that you're respectable and practically a German, what are you going to do about our little sidelene?"

"What sideline?"

"The ration stamp business...You know."

"Oh that, Michel sighed. I guess I'll drop it now that my pay is going to be decent. Blackmarketeering is just too goddam dangersous. You get two months in the Straflager for that, and the tell me those punishment camps are no better than where they send those poor Jews.

Michael would buy a good part of his food ffor cash from smalltime marketeers and would sell his very dear ration stamps to aliens not entitled to them. He charged outrageous prices for the stamps, but he buyers always had the money, or rings, or bits of gold garnered from God knows where. A twinge of fear went through Michel's abdomen as he sipped his second draught. What if he were caught? Was it worth it? The thought of his distant family's upkeep soon chased away the irritation. You had to make money anyway you could. It's that or Sophia and the kids starve. "I'd pimp if it was the only way," Michel said to himself.

Just then, a stunning example of the trade entered the beerhall. A blonde, bob-haired prostitute shimmied toward the first row of tables where a three-man Oom- Pa- Pah band blasted out Bavarian favourites. As she came near the band, she suddenly recognized the portly tuba player and a look of surprised fear came over her fine, slightly over-rouged face. She tried to to get out of the approaching band's way, but was trapped against two tables behind her. Now the threesome approached her, the tuba player nudging the saxaphonist. The tubist mand vague, scratching motions towards his lederhosened ctrotch.

Suddenly, the saxophonist , concetinist and tubist pointed their instruments like phalluses toward the woman and gave out with the three-tone blast that was unmistakable in its intent. There was a loud fart from the tuba.

The woman, embarrassed, fumbled with ther patent-leathr purse and retreated towards the bar. Here, she bawled out a waiter, waving her hands disgustedly at the musicians, who guffawed at her before moving to various tables, their honks and farts now diminished and the music turning towards a more sentimental Lili Marlene.

A lusty chorus from each table encouraged their efforts. The whole hall soon rang with beery, but competent singers.

Even Michael and Pavlo, now feeling the spirit, joined in.

But towards the last chorus, three steel--helmeted Volkspolizei marched into the room, bringing hushed speculation from the patrons. To Michael's panic, he saw them approaching his table.

"Oh Lili Marlene,l Michael's shocked brain sang on as the police hauled him away, while Pavlo vainly protested the loss of his drinking buddy.


There was a minimum procedure at the police station. Michael was informed he was charged with blackmarketeering and his trial was fixed for the following morning. There was no possibility of bail. He was thrown into a cell where three other men squatted, playing dice on the floor. They eyed him without curiosity, then went back to their game.

Michael, half-drunk, frightened, sat in the corner of the cell and peered nervously at the threesome. Two of them wearing leather jackets, both husky men, dark and squat. The third was blond, slim, slightly effeminate and wore a faded suitcoat over rumpled, baggy pants.

Michael saw the the blond one was being victimized. He lost money steadily, and finally, in last desperate gesture, he tossed the dice-- and lost as snake-eyes stared up from the cubes. He swallowed nervously. Apparently, he had bluffed, and now, he turned both his pockets inside-out and shrugged his shoulders at the pair.

"Poor boy," said one of the toughs, grinning coldly, a scar on his cheek forming a grotesque extension of the smile. "Poor boy, he's broke, and probably hungry. Starved."

"Yeah, poor man," said the other."I'd say he's really up against it, starving even. . You know, I think we should give him something to eat. Dont't you think so, you Ausslander over there?"

Michael cringed in his corner.

"Y-yes, of course. People must eat," Michael hurriedly agreed.

"Well," said Scarface, eyeing the bankrupt crapshooter, "It seems we're going to have to give you something to eat."

"I'm not hungry," said the slim man.

"Not hungry? Dont be such a martyr," said Scarface, reaching into his pocket.

The slim man gulped, but found momentary relief in seeing what the thug had brought out of his troser pocket. It was a hard, tough bacon rind. But while he sighed in relief, he saw that Scarface was not through. Scarface pulled a piece of string out of the other pocket and began fastening it tight to the bacon rind.

"Wh...what areyou going to do?"

"Why, we're going to feed you, that's all." Already, the other man had crept behind the victim and had gotten hold of the slim man's arms.

"Hold him, Heiz, while I feed him this bacon," said Scarface. "Open your mouth, you fairy."

"No, please."

"Open your mouth or I'll strangle you, said Scarface, gripping the trembling man by the throat.

The victim opened his mouth.

"Now eat," said Scarface. "Eat it," he yelled. The man's lips were closed tight. Scarface kicked the unwilling diner in the shins until the man opened his mouth to howl. Scarface then forced the bacon rind, string attached, into the victim's mouth.

"Now swallow...swallow, goddam you." The man swallowed the bacon rind.

"There. Don't you feel better after having been fed?"

The blond, string dangling from his mouth, said nothing.

"You know something?" Scarface said to Heinz.


I think it's rude of Hymie here to hoard all that food for himelf and not inviting us to share."

"You're right, said Heiz. "I think he was very impolite. I think he shuld give it back."

"You're crazy," the victim shouted.

Scarface reached for the cord and yanked, causing the tortured youth to howl in pain as the bacon rind was drawn back, out of his retching gullet.

"Don't welch next time," said Scarface, kicking the dry-heaving man into a corner just as a guard came to the grate and yelled for quiet.

The two toughs then asked Michael if he wanted to shoot craps.

"I don't know how,' said Michael. "And I don't have much money."

"Oh, don't worry, we'll teach you," the two chimed in.

Michael happily lost all his money that night without feeling the least bit of regret.


Morning came and along with it, Michael's sentence. Three weeks int eh Straflager, the detenting camp.

While the war raged across Micheal Galician former home, his cheif worry was stealing enough potatoes from the camp kitchen to keeep him from starving. He was caught, and drew another week.
He tried to run away and when redungeoned, he was pretty sure they were about to throw away the key.
. There was no release date.

..........end Chapter Twelve, THE BLACK ICON


EA Monroe said...

I don't think I've ever read or seen anything like the bacon rind trick, Ivan! Like Josie and I keep saying, "Movie!"

All we need to do is find you some big shot Hollywood producers. Or maybe some of the folks over at Lion's Gate Films since that's Josie's turf. Goodness, she spots enough celebrities wandering about the grocery store!

Didn't Josie's Marilyn Monroe photo resemblance give you the chills?

Josie said...

Ivan, this is getting really good. I loves stories about the war. This is definitely a movie. Why hasn't this been made into a movie by now? Who (whom?) do we have to speak to. (I never get that right).


Josie said...

To whom do we have to speak?

ivan said...


ivan said...

"Whom are you?" she asked.

You are right in last comment. It's whom.

Ich bin gestoffen.

Is that close to Afrikaans?

Josie said...

Heck if I know...

I always remember the caterpillar in "Alice in Wonderland,"

"WHO RRRRRR U.....?"

Do you remember that?

ivan said...

Oh do I remember that!
There were little bubble talk baloons R's and U's fading with the smoke.
I had for years been taken with Through the Looking Glass and ,asked to privately tutor the children of a family from India. I was only too pleased to acquaint the children with Lewis Carroll-- and for the boy who was doing so badly at school, ARCHIE COMICS.

The twelve-year old went on to
passing all his grades and was taken off the "slow" list forever.
I don't know who put young Gorov on the slow learner list. "Do what you can with him," the mother had said.
Likely, some education "professional" had, possibly through prejudice, put a bright child in the dum-dum class.
Nothing dumb about my little students from India. They took to Alice in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables (and ARCHIE!) immediately.
They soon read out loud with confidence and could discuss compex themes.
I certainly miss that experience!
I also miss Through the Looking Glass, but as I get older, I realize that Mr. Dodgson's intentions towards Alice were not entirely honourable.
Ah well. Good art.

Josie said...

There is a very famous photograph of Alice Liddell, taken by Dodgson, which shows her half-clothed and looking very seductive, and she's only about ten years old. She looks very JonBenet Ramsey-ish in it.



EA Monroe said...

Josie, your cinnamon bun has started a brawl.

EA Monroe said...

Yikes, what's with Dodgson? I believe I have stepped through the Looking Glass with that post from last night.

Maybe we should do a Through The Looking Glass story, Ivan?

ivan said...

You're gonna get me to start Googling again.
I knew the Rev. Chales Lutwidge Dodgson was a one-time photographer, but I'll have to look for the Alice pic.
Egad. Alice in in a garterbelt inside this tiny house? And a mirror! And I woldn[t even want to discuss rabbit holes. The mind boggles.

All men are pervs! I'll have to google for that photo!
It is small wonder that Mr. Carroll was banished from the Lidell household.
Still, we have our Michael Jackson
--automatic laugh!--and he has his kinks too.
Genius hides in the strangest places!
I am told that even the game of chess is somehow related towards incestuous urges towards the mother.
I now have an excuse for being a lousy chess player! I got nothing against the King and though my mother was a queen, I'd rather go for the real thing.
"Ain't nothin' like the real thing, baby."
Crikey. Do I have to back up on a lightbulb to be a world-famous author?
I mean, I'm eccentric enough already!

ivan said...

Yes, a looking glass story.
That subject is just loaded with imagery and symbolism.
Jorge Luis Borges says somewhere that a mirror is an unnatural thing that leads us to dimensions not entirely from God. The Other Guy?
...I'll have to see if I can find the Borges story...Borges damn hard to find these days in most libraries. And even if you find the book of short stories, the search is harder still. Like was it in Ficciones or in The Aleph? If anybody has a handle on Lewis Carroll or D.G. Chesterton, it would have to be Borges.
Hey Borges, Dead Guy, you were just so cool!
...But I'm veering off towards my strange epistemology.

I'd bet you, just bet you that you could come out with a real snapper of a looking glass story.

Josie said...

Ivan, you should rename your blog "Ivan's Stream of Consciousness"...



ivan said...

Heh heh.

I think I must have ingested something psychedelic during my ten-mile walk (down from twenty, feel kinda crappy. Beer?--and am going, sort, of, Oooh it sparkles!

It has struck me, Josie, that if you had a waterspout carom down upon you in Vancouver, I wonder what's happening 240 miles to the east. Waterspouts are liable to wake up sea monsters in Okanagan Lake. Bit out of your bailiwick, but I wonder how the famous Ogie Pogie is doing.

I read that they are develophing subdivision tracts around Lake Hefner in Okla, Liz.
Does lake Hefner have a monster?
I know Chicago has one in Hugh.

Just think, you buy a subdivision house on Lake Hefner, open your kitchen window, and what should slide in but the head of a giant Ogie Pogie, wanting a snack!
Yeah, I know.
I am beyond help!

EA Monroe said...

Hi Ivan. I'll have to give some thought to the looking glass story. (Sounds like mescaline staring into the bathroom mirror.)

Josie's got me started on a saloon brawl, unless Erik beats me to the punch...err, draw. He's the Western dude.

I've heard some of the same rumors said about J.M. Barrie and his Peter Pan.

I'm going to check the Norman library for Borges.

ivan said...

Norman is a university town and you may have some luck in finding a Borges book of stories.
I am especially fond of "The Aleph and othe stories" by Jorgue Luis Borges.
The Aleph will blow your mind.

ivan said...

Hey Liz,
I knew Jorge Luis Borges came to U of Okla many years ago, but I just found a reference that I was too lazy to pursue:

Jorge Luis Borges Conference University of Oklahoma, December 5-6, 1969 The Department of Modern Lan- guages of the University of Okla- homa organized this ... - Similar pages

Josie said...

Ivan, I swear I am going to publish a book just of your blog comments, and I will make a ton of money. Lard Jaysus.

I'm still laughing.


EA Monroe said...

Josie's right. We need a book of your comments, Ivan. I'll look up Borges. I want to read The Aleph.

San injured her left back leg jumping, or something, this afternoon so this evening I have been busy playing nursemaid to the little attention hog. She's doing better now.

ivan said...

Thanks, Josie.
Look out Art Buchwald, Dead Guy.

Too bad about Doggie-San.

Maybe chasing hedgehog through fence wiring..

Kerrogu Korn Freks!

No, San. That's a trapped hedgehog.

Josie said...

They're actually making me work today... argh.


ivan said...

I think that's going around, Josie.
Liz seems busy too.
Wonder how San's rear leg is doing.
San struck something. Gimpy.
Wonder who's taking care.


Devon Ellington said...

Very good work.

Regarding your post on my blog -- there's nothing wrong with being touched by the moon -- especially when you're a Pisces!

EA Monroe said...

Hi Ivan. Yep, I was swamped with work this morning and it's kept me out of trouble. So far.

Devon's right -- that goes for Moon Children, too!

Oh, and San's doing better. At lunch time, she wanted to work on her small vertical leaps. I said, No, and she pouted. We still plan to run away and join the circus. You should see San milking the sympathy.

ivan said...

Thank you, Devon.
Took me a long time to realize you're a girl. But what an accomplished girl! So many books.
Have a Merry up there in New York City.

ivan said...

I too am a moonchild, though my techie had me listed as a Pisces.
...Shows Devon is a careful reader.
Ah well. New moon.
I am seriously thinking of going back to my old Remington.
I seem to trust typewriters more as they appear to produce copy almost written in stone--and I don't bury my opening paras that way...Can always check back immediately without losing thread of thought.
Ah well, it's a notion.
Keyboarding is so much easier--also easier to produce so much crap from over here.

ivan said...

You over the arrhghony and non-ecstasy of work yet?

Josie said...

I just popped in to see what trouble you guys have been getting into today. I went to the kids Christmas concert. They did Handel's Messiah for Young Voices. Beautiful.

Now I'm going to raid the kitchen.


ivan said...

Nice on the Handel.

Bon apetit, Josie.

But close those shutters.
No sooner does the Hydro go back on than in comes that horrid high wind and rain warning. Poor Vancouverites!
We are golfing in Toronto.
Colorado socked in solid.
Oate de Hell.

EA Monroe said...

Hi Ivan. When's your birthday? We'll have to celebrate.

ivan said...

It's a long way off, Sweetie.
About the same summertime as yours as a fellow moon child.
Letcha know.

Josie said...

Well, mine is (ahem) two days after Christmas. Everyone forgets about it.


And, I have to work.


ivan said...

Capricorn (December 22 - January 20)
Gradually, your doors have been pushed open, your limits have been stretched, and your prejudices have been melted like a marshmallow over an open fire. It turns out after all that the crispy exterior of Capricorn is a thin veneer stretched over the extreme of sensitivity that you have learned to allow in your life. It's not that you lacked sensitivity before; you just were not quite as sensitive to it as you are now. I trust that it comes as a relief to be in harmony with your inner core, and to be happy that the story of this relationship with yourself goes on. Finally, instead of being pursued by growth, you are the one seeking opportunities to work out the inner complexities you've carried with you for so many years. Remember that in any relationship situation that arises where there seems to be some complication, reverse the roles. It will be easy for you to see yourself in the position of the person you're talking to, and this can pretty much solve everything.

ivan said...

..Or are you on the cusp?
I know so little about these things.

ivan said...

Liz's and mine:

Cancer (June 21 - July 22)
Looking back, what will you remember about this year? What are the more poignant scenes, encounters, and transitions? They may play second oboe to the mental skills you learned, principally, the ability to negotiate where your feelings are at stake, even when you're at your most raw and sensitive. We hardly think of feelings as being something actually worth another person's time and effort discussing, much less negotiating over. True, most people descend into irrationality when it comes to their emotional experience of life, but someone close to you has set an example, provided a structure, or taught you language that will come in handy for the rest of your days. Coexistence is something that humans have always done, but never with the expectations of personal autonomy that we have today. The question is how to be yourself and be in a relationship at the same time. You may not think you have the answer—but you know a lot more than you did one year ago.

Leo (July 22 - August 23)

ivan said...

Oh Lord,
Am I ever faking it!
Any excuse at all not to put in a blog.

EA Monroe said...

Josie, are you getting all Ivan's comments copied into that Coffee Table Book? The World According to Ivan.

I want a copy!

Ivan, you fake it pretty good!

Are you guys already hitting the eggnog?

Josie, my ascendant is Capricorn.

I wonder if that makes me opposite myself? Pass me some of that eggnog! With whatever Ivan's having in his.

ivan said...

Blame it on that roast I bought.
Red meat makes you thirsty and rambunctious.
Gotta taper off with beer.
What time is it getting to be?

Major Tom to Ground Control...

Think I'll steal David Bowie's dress.
But then he'll hit me with his purse!

EA Monroe said...

Ivan, time to wake up. Let's get blitzed!

Josie, we'll have a party for you while you work. You can tell the robots you have a Christmas Cheer hang over.

ivan said...

Hey baby, hey baby.
Here I am, up in the mornin' and up to Alchool!
Gotta be noon somewhere!
Cjhuck Berry forever!

Josie said...

Just popped by to say good mornnig. They're making me work again today.



ivan said...

Hi Josie,
The Beta Blasters over at blogger did something to my blog this morning-- that or I did something while doing a Hemingway number with a bottle and not a gun.
Have the IQ of a mollusk this morning (it wassn't very good in the first place). I am trying to fix.
What a friggin' unriliable system.


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