Monday, June 03, 2013


My name has been lost to history. It wasn't a particularly impressive name, and there is no real reason that history should remember it. Let's just call me Otto, it isn't my real name, but what difference will that make to my story? So I am Otto a native of the grey city of Berlin, and I am nothing special. My mother, when she was alive, would have, and did let anyone who would stand still long enough to listen that 'her' Otto wasn't 'anyone that you would really want to count on in a pinch'. Well in many respects she was right, I am not a hero, nor am I quite the villain that this story will make me out to be.

At the time of this story, late 1937 and early 1938. I had been on the police payroll for just under 5 years. I was nothing special to look at, and not the brightest student in my school, and Mother's poor choice of marrying for love and not money, had left me with a limited educated, and even further limited job opportunities. The less said of my father the better, he stuck around long enough to get my mother pregnant, but didn't have the sticking power to stay around and watch me born.  I suppose my Mother did the best with what she had, but I was never going to turn out to amount to much, and as it turns out I didn't except once. There was one time where I was one of the most important cogs in the machine of state, and without me perhaps the history of my country, and the world might have been a little bit different.

By 1937, I had come to realize my niche in society, and it was not as a belle of the ball type. I was one of those 'grey' men that wouldn't attract any interest unless I was standing directly in your way. My looks were nothing to write home about, and my home life wasn't that great either. I was scraping by working on the edges of Berlin society, going nowhere fast. My life had it's routines, and its own sort of pace that I didn't really have a terrible amount of control over. I hustled money when and where I could, and I knew a lot of what most people would call 'low-lifes' the detritus of a society that was 5 years into the Nazi regime of one Adolf Hitler.

The Kripo, the Berlin police force, had found me a easy enough recruit, a simple arrest for a simple burglary, and a promise of 'making it all go away', and I was there newest informer. A dirty, stinking, awful thing to be, but to me, it beat the hell out of spending time in prison. Therefore, I began to sell that most dangerous of commodities, information. The Kripo were very careful about when and where I would reveal all of my information. There was an office belonging to some private dick on Alexanderplatz that I had to phone once a month, and make an appointment to see 'the Count.'

To this day, I still have no idea who 'the Count' was, or if he was a real count or not. I guess it doesn't matter, he treated me like the shit you scrape off the bottom of your shoe, and I am sure that to him that is exactly what I was, shit.  But, I made sure that I became a useful shit, and my information was always good, and always 'checked out'.  I preferred quality of information over quantity, and though this frustrated 'the Count' at first, he soon realized that my information was like gold, a little scare, but very valuable.  I wouldn't say I was proud of what I did, and I had hopes that someday I would be able to tell the Kripo, and 'the Count' to fuck all the way off because my informing days were behind me. However, like most jobs, informing became a sort of means of itself. I had hopes and dreams, but they just seem to be stillborn, and the money I made informing was just enough to keep me body and soul together, and to provide me with enough left over to indulge in my own, personal vices, but that is beside the point.

I wasn't and am not proud of my informing, but a fellow has to pay the rent somehow, and informing was a job that matched my disposition, and my inherent laziness. Manual labour was not something that I every felt any affinity for, and it didn't take a lot of effort to hang out at the the dives I hung out at, and just pay close attention to the rumours that floated slowly by.  My monthly meetings with 'the Count' weren't overly strenuous, and allowed me to have a lifestyle that, while not luxurious, keep me out of the soup line.  Then one day all of that changed. I came across a nice little announcement in the paper detailing the wedding of Herr von Blomberg to his former typist "Eva". Or at least that was the name that I knew her by, and knew her quite well.

That the 60 year old commander in chief of the German army married a 26 year old girl from the typing pool came as a bit of a shock to me, but once I stopped laughing at the absurdity of it all, I made my way to a little studio on Nurnberger Strasse. The kind of place that you could find all the female company you wanted as long as you were willing to pay for the time.  I knew a fellow there, his name is also not important, but he liked to take pictures. Pictures that some men liked to pay money for, and that some women, down on their luck and needing some extra money, posed for.

I knocked on the door of the studio, and the photographer opened it himself. I showed him the wedding announcement that contained a picture of the blushing bride, and told him that perhaps our fortune was made.  His smiled widened as he recognized the girl in the picture, told me that 'he'd be right back', and disappeared into the darkened interior of his studio. I remained waiting, and he came back with a nice brown envelope that contained the photos of the Generals young wife as naked as the day she was born, and posing quite prettily for the camera. I nodded, and grunted my thanks, told him that 'I'd be in touch' and left as quickly as my feet would carry me.

My next meeting with 'the Count' proved quite fruitful, when he asked if I had anything for him, I produced the pictures with a flourish, and leaned back to enjoy the surprise on his face. It was a look of total surprise that crossed his face as he looked at the pictures and began to put together what they would mean to certain members of his party. I didn't know much about the man, but I knew without really knowing how that he was a Nazi through and though.  He rubbed his hands together, promised to make me a 'very rich man' and left with a bounce in his step. I left a bit later, already spending the money that I figured was my due.

The rest of the tale is actually history, unlike me. The general married to a girl who posed for dirty pictures, and who was also probably a prostitute did not last much longer in his position. To his credit, when offered the chance to divorce her, he refused, and disappeared into the mists of history. The mists of history from which I never emerged. It will come as a surprise to no one, except me at the time, that the 'Count' was not one to live up to his promise of making me a rich man. In fact, he paid me what I considered to be a pittance, and expected me to thank him for it.  When I finished counting the money he had turned over to me, and it didn't take long to do, I made that critical error of inquiring if this was just the first installment.  The 'Count' cornflower blue eyes narrowed, and it seemed as if the temperature in the room dropped a few degrees. A smile that did not reach his eyes came across the lower part of his face as he told me 'Otto, that is all you are getting, and you should be happy for it.'

I suddenly decided that happy is what I should be, and plastered a big grin on my face as I thanked the 'Count' for his generosity. That was when I knew that my informing days were over, and my running days had begun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great short story.