Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Strife in September


     Of all the places to take a break from college I had to choose Berlin. Downtown was reveling in Oktoberfest like there was no tomorrow. They had no idea how right they were. So there I was your drunken college kid stumbling in the dead of night back to the hostel. I’d just spent my allowance at one of those cabaret shows. For someone who accidentally showed up at a Deep One clambake once it’s hard to surprise a guy like me but boy let me tell you. Actually come to think of it I better not. Anyway there I was completely flipping lost and stumbled into the carnival section, all boarded up for the night. But there was movement under the canvas, and not the good kind. Soon I was surrounded by maybe a dozen goons. 

     Not just any goons. Brownshirts. Deep in Socialist territory at that. They looking for brownie points by beating up somebody heading home from the wrong part of town coming out of the wrong kind of bar. Now for all I care as long as you’re not on the menu there is no wrong kind of bar. As a foreigner I was probably worth double. If only they’d have known my full name? They probably could have won a toaster.

     One of them jerks the phrasebook out of my hands while I’m thumbing through the chapter on insults. I get a crash course. Then they start pushing me around in a circle. I lose my balance just as one of them tries to sucker punch me. They laugh and I laugh with them, shaking my finger. Being the weak kid growing up taught me the importance of being the class clown. Then I introduce Smiling Hans to my right hook. Then it felt like I got smashed by a tidal wave of torsos. Then the rain of boots. I curl up. Did these guys play rugby? Am I gonna get to finish my term paper?

     Then there’s the shouting. What the hell’s a Blutflügel anyway? I could feel the weight of bodies getting pulled off the pile. The last guy floats off of me. These guys were getting pushed around by…a midget? The hell was this, a stunted white and red faced clown with a red miner’s light on his helmet? It was no kind of clown suit like I ever saw. What kinda clown wears combat boots, heavy gloves and a cape? Well this one obviously. This shorty was fast and had moves I’ve never seen before. Way beyond boxing and too disciplined for street. This must be one tough circus. Whoever he was, he was kicking their proto-fascist keisters. Three of them were already laid up and twice that many hobbling out of range. That wasn’t a miner’s helmet either. Some kind of combat helmet with spikes welded on…were they supposed to be horns? The way this fella was proportioned I soon realized this wasn’t a dwarf. These goons were getting thrashed by a kid who might have just had his bar mitzvah. With a loud rip I heard one of the SA goons ripping a tent pole out of some canvas.

“Can’t play fair, can ya?”

     The goon was already wobbly from a few body shots so I gave him a leg sweep and knocked him backwards. The two-by-four clattered and bounced off my temple in the process. Soon I’m playing tug of war on the pole with this joker while I try and scream the German word for “Utility knife some bastard just pulled so look out behind you”. I'm sure there is one. That’s when the kid’s headlight started sparkling. I think it was more than the booze because the grunt with the knife stopped in his tracks too. "Give me the weapon" he must have said, because the big guy just straight up offered it to him. And both me and Grunt #2 held out our ends of the pole to pass it to him like it was the most natural thing to do. Then the kid kicked him where it hurts the most and he crumpled like a sack of potatoes. I looked at the guy next to me.

"Der Blutflügel?” I asked. The guy scampered a few feet then stumbled up and ran in the other direction screaming.

“Danke,” I slurred as I reached for a wall to pull myself up.

“You’re welcome, Mr. Littman.” he replied in English as he lifted me up like I was a bag of leaves.

“What? How do you know…?”

“Go down two blocks and you’ll see the train station!” I heard him echo.

Haven't seen him since.