6 [The Town-let/or *The Castle Tower of the City] Dieburg was not large by any means, but it was an interesting town; it was alive, and not many American GI’s lived in Dieburg, lest they get scorned by the locals who still remembered WWII quite clearly, and the bombing by the Americans the city had to endure. Outside the city limits were grazing lands for a small heard of cows; and beyond that was an Army Nuclear Site, deep embedded within a wooded area. Thus, the city was really called; “Munster by Dieburg,” for Munster was the city one had to go through–or might go through–to get to the site; where Adam had been stationed prior to his military discharge, and his taking over as the manager of the PX in Babenhausen. Munster (or Little Munster, there was another Munster in West Germany ((in the South)), called Big Munster); Dieburg was a few miles from Munster, as Munster was a few miles from the US Army Site. And Babenhausen was back a number of miles behind Dieburg. Thus, to get to the Military site from Babenhausen, you’d go to Dieburg, often, and then to Munster and then to the Site. Or one could bypass Dieburg, and go straight from Babenhausen to Munster and onto the Site. But in this case seldom did Carmen go to either places, that is, the Military Site near Munster or Munster itself; rather Babenhausen, or Dieburg, Darmstadt, some fifteen away.
Dieburg was an old city, with an old tower. An old church that still had bullet holes in its thick front wooden doors left over from the war, deep scars, like Carmen had, that did not seemed to fade with time.
As she parked her car by her apartment along side of the road, she lit another cigarette; she was becoming a chain smoker. In a habit-formed response she looked up at the first story window to see if Ivan (the landlord, fifty-seven years old) and his wife Anna Marie (forty-five) were home, she didn’t see him, or his wife’s pale moon face that looked like a mask of a balled Hindu priest, with an undisturbed calm about it, as she seemed always to have. Her big bay window was empty, and the curtains covered it for the most part, no movement, no one staring out, or around the curtains to see if she was coming home, as often one of them did. Perhaps their friends Heinz, Gisela and Helmut, were over playing cards she conjured in her mind; that would be on the other side of their apartment, not the bay window side, in the kitchen. Oddly enough, their kitchen was on the opposite side of hers.
Her mind now shifted on cool lemonade as she walked to the wrought-iron gates (with a spiked brick wall on each side of the gates), to the door of the duplex, and its few flowers that sat outside the large house: perennials, minced with daisies. She then got into the hallway, walked up the fourteen steps to the second floor.
As she paced her kitchen floor looking outside her window, the park looked so peaceful and picturesque. Spring was beautiful in Dieburg, she thought, but not the forthcoming nights. She then poured herself some lemonade.
[Nightly Ineptness] Sometimes she just wanted to disappear when she thought Adam or Günter was laughing at her. She was trying to stand on her own two feet, as a woman and individual, in spite of her age. Whatever it was, she felt she had no ability to put herself to sleep, other than drink herself drunk to do so at times, which she’d do a few times a week; knock herself out with the kick of booze; it was her idea, do it quick, before she could dream, or unwillingly enter the world of nightmares. But much too often she felt useless and not in control, if she could avoid night-sleep completely, all the better, she would have done so. On the other hand, if she could get a good night sleep, it would be God sent. On another note, there was no synagogue in Dieburg; she’d have to go to Frankfurt where her mother went for her spiritual needs, one might say, once a month or so; or to Darmstadt, yet that didn’t help her sleeping dilemma.
She tried to sleep in her natural rhythm, but it would change, she tried to vision Adam staying overnight, for he had done so a few times in the beginning of their relationship, but she scared him off waking up screaming, and her heart pounding, as if she was running after the three SS-Soldiers who took her father from her in 1944, never to return again; that was the last time she had seen him.
She liked Adam, he had a long thick neck, how she remembered her father as; and broad shoulders, narrow hips, an impressive specimen of a man she’d deliberate, when alone; a young man of twenty-three; unbroken by the world yet, superimposed ideology.
Both of their natures were different in a sense, what they lacked was what they did not examine in fear of finding out, I would expect (Adam didn’t know his weaknesses, which would come out in time; and Carmen, knew hers it seemed, and thus, became dependent on Adam for support, which he really couldn’t give; couldn’t give because of his own weaknesses). Somehow it seemed in the long run–for they had been dating close to a year now–in the long run, they could not recognized how to work out their differences–partly because of her catatonic condition [s], and his runaway reaction [s]; and to repeat myself, examine them in fear of having to put work into it; let me explain: Carmen needed success in business to feel good about herself, where few women enjoyed the challenge without male hindrance (remembering this was back in 1960) she needed it, and pushed the male part out of her way to find it, to get it. Adam, on the other hand, a good looking man in many ways, with more of a stable personality than Carmen, but could also be a heavy drinker, and a hot tempered man at times and was much more carefree than Carmen, too much so in his business, to where it affected his management of the store: that is to say, his fooling around with the help, didn’t help his store’s profits, he’d steal from it if need be to make it through the month, and fix the books to make it all filter out properly, all in the name of amusement. He had spent two years in the military, and took a European out [as it is called, when leaving the military and remaining in country], thus, acquiring a job as the manager for the government store [as they say in the military: the PX], under a civilian status. But again, not much was being worked on the relationship, in the sense of trying to preserve it and deal with the surfacing issues:
[Colorlessly] The days were gone–where their presence, would create a spark within them…Carmen didn’t notice Adam’s preoccupation almost matched hers; his being how to get out of the relationship that seemed to be getting progressively stronger, or worse; and trying to start another life for himself without her; whereas hers was trying to hang onto him by all means.
When Frantisek Andre showed up one Saturday, he was out of his office to meet her like a bolt of lightening, as if he was watching out a window for her. She was becoming his, if not hers also, developing distraction; both fancied one another; that is, while her husband was in training, she grew to liking Adam more and more; or so it seemed, that it was starting to be.
Frantisek looked at Adam, he looked so miserable she thought. “I thought it would be all right to make a little visit down to your PX, and see you, getting some bread for ‘show and tell,’ you know, so no one picks up on …” she stopped, for nothing had really happened yet, it was all in the makings. “You’re good for me dear,” she said, something for him to think about was her intentions.
I would think, and Adam knew, or at least he felt it, Carmen loved him, but then she didn’t seem to love herself, I suppose a self-esteem issue that was more noticeable recently. And what bothered him most was she seemed to, inescapably project, her lack of self-worth onto their relationship, or better put, onto him. True, self-esteem can be made healthier if we feel loved, which she was trying to pull from Adam, but it was hard for her to believe Adam loved her–I suppose it scared her. She could suffocate him at times, and that was another peeve with him: “Prove you love me,” she’d say to him. As a result, it was hard for him to meet her needs.
But Adam loved her nonetheless–yet love is a challenge at times, and can be quite puzzling, and there were many danger signals he seemed to recognize in recent time. He was seeing her as she really was, not as he’d wished her to be (as back in Garmisch), and that again was a drawback. She needed help, and those dreams brought on frenzied, if not gloomy attacks, a dimness to his perspective on his wanting to have an ongoing relationship with her (so, unintentionally, he put her on probation within the vaults of his mind). And love was a decision, one he was not sure he could fully make, under such conditions.
O, they used to set aside time for certain things for them to do each week, and now it was more at random; meaning, the golden times were kind of over for them, and she was trying to sew them back together. Could he turn ‘hate’ around? …was a thought that was going on in his mind lately. Hate being the other side of love. He was in pain over this relationship. He couldn’t walk in her shoes; empathy was not in his heart, as much as it may have been needed to be.
A Morning, But no Sun
The morning comes, but brings no sun;
The sky with storm is overrun;
And here I sit in my room alone,
And feel, as I hear the tempest moan,
Like one who hath lost the last and beat,
The dearest dweller from [my] breast!
–T B. Read
As she looked at the tower, its beautiful thick stone structure, as if it was undefeatable, with its roof that looked like a hat, out of some Asian city, she was in its grips, it was numbing her, numbing her wits, her thinking, what thinking she could keep in place in her fragmented at times, and numbing mind; consequently, she tried to push it aside, ignore it, hide from it by pacing the kitchen floor; but the mind controls the body, and the body knows that and weakens as the mind overheats, as her mind often did. For a long time, very long time she had an emptiness in her, possibly it was her feeling that her father abandoned her; oh, she knew he didn’t leave her on purpose, ‘…but he could had taken off to London in 1943, taken off in time to avoid those SS-Men, and not waited until the SS came to get him in 1944, what was he waiting for, to get caught so he didn’t have to be with us…,’ were her thoughts
[The many thoughts of Carmen] Everyone blames Hitler, the Jew hater, the killer. They even drew pictures, cartoons of Jews attacking German girls (during the time of the war ((some fifteen years ago)), raping them to built hate against the Jew, but the Fuhrer wasn’t there that day they took my father (she told herself time after time after time). In 1944, the Americans and British troops were landing in France; he [he being: Hitler] was too busy with that stuff to order my father’s death. (‘No,’ she concluded a hundred times), Hitler was not the first nor the last word of the war or the direct cause of my father’s death (indirectly, yes), many people were with him, told him, pushed him to do evil, but he did not kill my father, evil or not, it was those three soldiers. Father’s death was by the Nazi system; by the three Bavarian soldiers who took him to the death camp at Chelmno (Carmen did not know for sure where her father was taken but had overheard a learned man was taken that day from a library out of a big house within the city of Augsburg, to Chelmno). They are the men in dark in my dreams, she had concluded. And so she told herself time and again all these things, wrote letters and made notes of her sorrows, her thinking; put them in a shoebox. She divided Hitler from the Nazi Party separating one from the other, trying not to get angry at the cause or social unrest, but rather at the serological minds that chose to do the damage; she even watched the Nuremberg trials over and over to see if she could identify any of the three soldiers who had taken her father from her. But she never could identify one. In her mind, they kidnapped him, with ill-conceived will, ‘…they could have passed the house,’ she chanted to herself. ‘They could have said, these SS-Men, if they wanted to, they could have said: No need to kill one old Jew today, let’s do something better than wipe out a Jew ok? Everybody at the trials in Nuremberg said: we were taking orders, which were a major part of their appeals, yet saying you’re sorry does not mean one stinking thing. It does not bring back the dead.’
It was I suppose why she needed to be self sufficient, somewhat in charge of herself; just something inside of her, telling her: no one should be allowed to put you back into such a predicament.
She looked at the corner of her bed, a table was there with a light on it, and the Talmud sat alone in its embossed brown leather with its leather clasps. Her father thought much of it, she hardly ever read it though, but it was a keepsake, and still it was her gift from her mother, her father took it wherever he’d go, if it was for more than a week at a time that is. He was scholarly at its contents, of the oral law. He used to tell her “It is the wisdom of thousands of years condensed.” Then he’d add: “It is my daughter, the conglomerate of law, legend, and philosophy.” Then he’d insert, “…use it for unrealistic problems in your life, they will come,” adding, “Werden alle dich dose …!” (Become all you can). But she was only four years old, and now it didn’t seem to matter.
‘It was in 1944,’ she whispered to herself, now looking at the tower again, ‘1944, I was sitting in the library of father’s study, it reminded me of a bell tower of sorts, he used to toy with me about that, and when I looked out the window, I could see other towers, (it was in Augsburg, Germany), maybe they were steeples now that I think about it; then mom and I were taken by surprise when the SS-Men, Hitler’s Germans came in, dad said, “Hide behind the armchair and curtain,” it was a long curtain, and the chair was in front of it, and we hid, but I could see from a crack I made in the fabric of the two curtains together, I could see them. And they pulled him away, pulled him away like a dog, akin to a drunk off the streets; all three men; one was an officer, the other two of lesser rank possibly. We then went to London to escape, mom and I. Dad always told mom to do that, should something resembling this happen because they’d torture him until he talked, and he needed to know we were safe, so he made us both promise to quickly go to London, to leave everything except for the cash we on hand, along with some hidden inside a book on the bookstand in his library and some jewelry, along two paintings on the walls, small paintings worth a few Marks, or Franks, or dollars, should this very thing happen.’
It was not easy getting to London, and bribery was needed to persuade a German friend to drive them to Paris, a painting that was in the library persuaded him though, a Picasso, and in the dark of the night, Carmen’s mother passed as Hermann’s wife, from there, she had found a boarding house in Paris, which had refugees from several countries, all pretending to be of German stock or at least not Jewish, and in support of the new regime. At the boarding house the French supporters of the Germans, were not supports as they had pretended, and made arrangements for Carmen and her mother for passage onto London. Again, she gave a painting she had hidden away in her suitcase for the hardship of getting them there, a painting of Goya’s.
As she looked at her bed, she wanted to make love with Adam, to forget her day-dreaming. It was Saturday evening, Sunday the restaurant was not open, so that was good. But the PX was open, and Adam had to work.
[Wake up] ‘Carmen woke up,’ a voice said (too often a distant…and bewildered voice within her, intruded–) it was the middle of the night, out of her sleep she bent over the bed, lo, the same nightmare had come and faded away, but not until she was in a panic. The nightmare was like her shadow, she couldn’t shake it; she was struggling with tears to overcome it:
“I’m sorry daddy, honestly I am,” she cried. Then started thinking: how will it be in ten-years? She was still leaning over the bed, the leather book by the side of her face. “Everything in ten years will be the same: in twenty-years, in thirty-years.” She shook her head, and then added to her self-talk, “I know Adam’s toleration is melting away, and I love him so, so very much.” She bent upward toward the bedside window, there was the tower again. It had strength to it, strength she needed: she whispered to herself as if talking to the tower: ‘One has to have somebody daddy?’ a statement-question possibly. She felt childish, and slipped back under her covers to try and fall back to sleep again (wearing a black calico nightgown). She wanted to be: free, free, free of the burdensome nightmares. She found herself drifting off saying: “Frei, frei, frei, frei, frei…” (…free, free…) as if she was counting sheep. Then no sooner had she fallen to sleep, the telephone rang, it woke Carmen up from a dead sleep, one she cherished, for there was no duplicating of a nightmare then; those kind of sleeps she never had a memory of, with a little irritation she rolled out of bed and went into the kitchen to answer it, then it was already on its forth ring; when she answered, the person had already hung up, but the light of the day was shinning through her window: no need to turn on the light she told herself. She sat down by the window, looked at the tower again, the brook over in the park and just thought of Adam, how it used to be, and started to write two poems, poetry and water calmed her:
Off, on Off
We fear death [it]
Weeps at its breast…
For we cannot change–
What we fear to lose
Hawks dyed coal black,
I rode to hell and back;
All I saw was a mass
A mass of clay
From fiery flames–
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