Friday, December 11, 2009

Chapter 7: On Patrol

There’s something wrong. It’s too quiet,” Heydrich whispers. “Let’s spread out.”

His men take cover accordingly, moving behind parked cars, vans, tall garbage cans.

An elderly man, white wavy hair, muscular and fit, pedals by them on a bicycle. He stops a few houses down and steps down. His bicycle is filled with bread loaves, fruits, bottles of sauerkraut, wurstel and bright red apples. As his hands touch the loaves of bread, a gunshot rings out from the first floor of a building across the old man. The loaves of bread scatter as the old man crumples on the muddy and wet street.

Get the bicycle and the food, you idiots!” a harsh voice orders from inside the open window.

Heydrich yells, “Cover me,” as he zigzags, crouching and dodging bullets to help the old man. “He’s alive!” he tells his men as he begins to pull the old man behind the carcass of a car.

A gun battle breaks out between his G.O.D. League and the band of lawless men.

They want the food,” gasps the old man. “I pawned my gold watch to buy this food.”

Don’t talk. We must get you to a hospital!”

The bullets are going ping! ping! ping! against the car.

I’m a doctor. Save the food and the bicycle. My wife and grandchildren need it. Keep this.” Heydrich feels a piece of paper thrust into his hand. Distractedly, he puts it in the pocket of his trench coat. “Please!” pleads the old man. Heydrich nods “All right.”

Heydrich looks up. The shooting is coming from several young men in the balcony on the first floor of the building. “Go up there but don’t enter until I join you,” he shouts to his followers. He takes advantage of this momentary lull n the shooting as the hooligans confer on what to do next to grab the bicycle full of foodstuff and drag it behind the broken down car where the old man can see it.

Strasser, stay with the old man.” “Can you use this?” Heydrich puts a gun into the old man’s hand.

Yes, but not well,” replies the old doctor.

Shoot if anyone tries to steal the bicycle with your food,” he instructs the doctor. Heydrich runs across and enters the building. Hinkel is waiting for him in the courtyard. “They’re holed up in the apartment to your right.”

Here’s what we’ll do. We’ll explode the firecrackers in the courtyard, yell a lot, then run back towards the old doctor, help him get to a hospital. One of you see that the food gets to his family.”

We’re not going to have a gun fight?”

We’re here to defend the defenseless, not be killers. Let’s go.”

Hinkel hesitates.

Hinkel, listen to me. You won’t be sorry,” Heydrich says sincerely.

Later in the evening. Reinhard Heydrich and a few of his men are back at the building where the man on a bicycle was shot. His leg is bandaged and he seems to be quite comfortable though shaken.

The bullet only grazed me. If you look carefully in the street, you’ll find the empty cartridges. But for you, my family might have been without any food for who knows how long?”

You said you’re a doctor,” Heydrich reminds him.

I have a Ph. D. in physics but I’ve also studied medicine,” he says very matter-of-factly.

Heydrich’s men exchange an “It’s going to be one of those conversations” expressions. One of them volunteers, “We’ll see what turns up on the street while you and the doctor talk shop.”

This is fascinating. I had dreams once of becoming either a pianist, violinist or a biochemist,” Heydrich says sadly, checking to make sure they’re alone.

These are tragic times when young men like you speak of broken dreams,” the doctor declares with real sorrow in his eyes.

“Germany’s defeat, the economic situation, the non-existence of law and order, the lack of money for scholarships in Science, my father’s temporary financial setback, everything has made me reflect on a different path.”

Which is?” asks the kindly looking scientist with concern.

Perhaps a career in the Navy. I haven’t the courage to tell my parents. Especially my mother. She’s been my music professor while my father’s been my mentor.”

How ironic. Until the shooting incident, you and I were strangers. Now we are exchanging confidential matters. I am leaving Germany in a few weeks for Great Britain. Professor Alan Turing is my sponsor in Oxford University.”

Germany’s losing someone like you? I can’t bear it! Professor Turing is a genius,” exclaims Heydrich. Then he says emotionally, “I don’t even know your name.”

Franz Siegfried,” he declares in a very hushed voice.

The Professor Franz Siegfried of light and time travel?”

Before Siegfried replies, Heydrich says, “Someday, I’ll bring you back to Germany. Even the sky won’t be a limit.” He gazes into the Professor’s eyes and realizes that his hair is prematurely white.

Professor Siegfried picks up Heydrich’s flashing pupils. “We were gassed,” he says quietly. “All my comrades in the trenches around me died. When I reported back to my commanding officer, my brown hair had turned white.”

Keep well, Herr Professor. Believe me. Believe in Germany. I’ll see that you and others like you return.”

Professor Siegfried might have doubted the words spoken so sincerely by the young man sitting before him if he had not seen the determined qualities of a leader during the shooting on the street. “There is something about you which makes me believe you. At any rate, I owe my life to you. So does my family.”

Loud clatter of footsteps in the hallway.

Till we meet again, Herr Professor Siegfried.” Heydrich bows respectfully and heads for the door.

Wait! What is your name?”

Heydrich pauses briefly with his hand on the doorknob. “Heydrich. Reinhard Heydrich.”

God keep you, Reinhard Heydrich. I’ll remember the name. When you send for me, I’ll come back.”

Heydrich laughs a little. “I’m 17 years old. Give me 10 to 12 years please.”

Then God keep me, Heydrich,” Professor Siegfried laughs back.

1 comment:

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