The darkened grey skies illuminated by the intermittent bursts of light from incendiary bombs and the clouds of dust and debris filled the night air as General Keitel looked out of his office window, his mind haunted by the sound of his ‘Master’s voice’ bellowing the fortunes of the new ‘Volken’ Germany with his dreams of glory and honour in an expansive conquest of the wider world. The turning record mesmerised his mind as he gazed at its label spinning on the gramophone with its tulip like trumpet through which the endless ranting of “Der Furher” played on his mind. The words of glory were a stark contrast to what he could see outside. The carnage and shattered ruins of Berlin with twisted railway lines bent and torn among scattered railway sleepers. The deep burnt out craters from the penetrating bombs, pieces of concrete, brick and wood strewn everywhere, with oil fuelled fires burning for hours all around the place. Tears streamed down his eyes as the realisation that the dream of a dominant ‘Das Vaterland’ ruling the world was as destroyed as the world outside.
Every now and then the building trembled and the lights flickered amidst the shuddering groans of pressure from weakened reinforcement supports under cracked and splintered concrete. Memories of his parents and his childhood when Germany flourished before the First World War filled his mind disturbing the stubborn hold on his love for Hitler which overrode even his failings. He held his mouth to stop his garbled scream of anger for being part of the nightmare that haunted his homeland. He remembered before the First great War the lines of maidens street dancing in their plated blond pony tails and long floral dresses to the sound of a harpsichord with its continental music blaring harmoniously as they jigged and turned hopped and jumped then clicked their heels as they held hands with young feathered green hat borne men in their shorts, white shirts and identical bracers, long beige socks and brown boots merrily and fleeting moving to a patterned dance. The beaming smiles on their faces painted a picture of sheer joy, rising prosperity and serenity amidst the rise of industrialization and development which was changing their world.
Twenty-three years later in July 1968 after he was supposedly hanged in the 1945 Berlin trials; he lay one morning on his bed naked as he gazed at his braced legs, misshapen and crookedly deformed after being shattered in the First World War when a 25mm shell exploded on the field and he was unfortunately in the killing zone radius, the blast flung him some twenty feet away into a pool of blood and mire shattering his pelvis and thigh bone. Month’s of convalescence in a small hospital near the Seine in France saw him shipped back home to Germany. The doctors had considered amputating the Captain’s legs but somehow chose to try and save them. Now as he looked at his distorted torso and considered that maybe it was the wrong decision. It was there at ‘Ypres Salient’ that he first met Lance Corporal Hitler who was his batman, a fiery young man with a passion for Germany that befitted his Bavarian heritage from small Austrian village of Braunau Am Inn just across the border from German Bavaria. Despite this he was Bavarian in every sense of the word. He too was wounded though not as seriously. He remembered the young Hitler banging his head in the mud in dismay at not being able to fight the ‘pig dogs’ on the front which he took rather badly Keitel thought. He remembered how Hitler summoned him to office when he assumed power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933. They reminisced first about the war on ‘the Front’ before ‘Mein Fuhrer’ gave him his citation and commission as General Chief of Staff.
He reached out for his bottle of ‘Mossel Blaunchin’ and swigged a large gulp. Outside the African crickets were singing their eternal whining song with pulsating bursts that rang both night and day. In his mind sprang the vision of the harpsichord organ chiming again and he dangled his better leg down from the cast iron spring ridden bed and coir mattress and banged it against his box like trunk as was his habit. He hummed to “Sophie Sophie hee ha ha ha” and smiled at the luminous vision which sprang in his mind baring his teeth and the two vacant holes of his missing front teeth glistened in the dim 20 watt light hoisted above his head near the ceiling. He rolled his eyes and then in self pity looked at his useless legs. Strewn across his dilapidated antique chair was his habit and gown dress, together with a striped apron soiled with mud from his day in the orchards where he pruned the fruit trees of apples, plums and oranges. Leaning upon the chair over his clothes were his hardwood walking sticks with their shepherd’s crook handles, his trusty aids for walking around.
As usual he never got a wink of sleep. Memories of both wars flashed in his mind. He would sleep for a few moments before starting as the rumble of guns and roar of bombs penetrated his mind and being. He opened his old trusty trunk which creaked and groaned as he lifted its lid and reached within, taking out his familiar grey uniform with its insignia and military decorations and medals. The silver and black Iron Cross glittered in the dim light.
He rose from the hard bed with clustered lumps in the mattress and manoeuvred himself to his clothes and rather skilfully draped them on himself. He shoved the habit on his head and twisted and slid it into position. He hastily washed his exposed face and shaved the small stubble that had appeared overnight in the nearby basin whose water came directly from the nearby water pumped by a tall windmill whose pump constantly drew water into large storage cisterns just above a small metal pylon frame. He rinsed his mouth with salt before cooking his oatmeal porridge on the small wood filled stove in the nearby kitchen which he gobbled down greedily with a jug of fresh cow’s milk from the dairy can stored in the cold room also nearby. The morning sun began to rise and he knew the small orphans would soon come walking down to the dairy and pig sty for their daily morning walk. So he sat on the old chair which he had dragged to the doorway. There was one particular child he longed to see, it was the one he knew had knowledge of his secret. How he didn’t
Know but the look the child gave him every time he lisped out the greeting told him.
“Good morning Slister Mateya!” the scrawny blond haired waif piped as he lingered and stared at her, the others milled away behind the nanny who led them towards the dairy. Most of them were scared of Sr. Mateya’s wrinkled face and broad grin as her swinging leg banged against the walking sticks which in turned rattled against the open door.
“Good morning Rupert!” He rasped back trying as hard as possible to sound like a woman but the rough guttural grunting noise that sprouted from his throat gave it all away. The boy stared Mongol eyed at him with a beckoning look that penetrated his very soul. He shuddered and then coughed before making a prominent humming noise with his mouth.
“Hmmmmmmmn! As he nodded repeatedly before the youngster turned on his bare feet and ran after the others a fair distance in front of him only Jasper the school dog waited for him his tongue dangling.
“Come Jasper!” Sister Mateya ranted and the dog rang up to her, she petted and rubbed his fur before letting him run after the boys...................................