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Cold Kindness (Pre Chapter) Part I
News Release: it was a disruptive time between the winter of 1959, throughout 1960, and the spring of 1961. Elvis Presley was in the Army, in West Germany; Antarctica was agreed by the 12-nations who had claims on the continent, to use it wisely, and only for scientific reasons, no nuclear testing. Then the 1960-Olympics started in Rome. It was the year Nikita Khrushchev banged his shoe at the United Nations on his desk; and Castro addressed the United Nations as well, asking for support with Cuba’s “struggle” against the United States. The Soviet Union put the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin; Pablo Picasso, at age 79 marries his model, Jacqueline Rogue, 35-years old, 42-years his junior…
and the author of, “Cold Kindness,” had his first poetry published in his High School newspaper journalism class; and within nine years, he would be in West Germany.
Towers and Rain Drops
Two hearts never seem to beat
the same, and
two minds never dream alike
we are towers left alone it seems
fighting for our lives.
If only the sun
would remain out, melt
the ice away,
then we could live above the clouds
and watch it rain all day.
We are but drops of rain
evaporating, in the sun–
most people know how to mix, it seems
while others flow as one.
Inside the Dieburg Tower
Winter in Garmisch
She stopped the car on the road, it was full of ice and snow, the road leading into Garmisch that is, Garmisch, Germany; Carmen’s right forearm resting on Adam’s arm for a moment; in the distance ascending into the sky were the ski slopes. The wind was whistling around the car windows and the pine trees were swaying, it was a chilly winter’s morning. The mountain pass had to be made by car or bus; no trains could make it through the pass only around the mountain, and within a certain distance of the areas ski resort. She stopped the car, rested the motor, there was a lodge behind them, about a mile back down the road; and just beyond the pass ahead of them was the village (or town-let), called Garmisch, a ski region, a wintry haven for all of Europe; and a simple old tourist village the rest of the year.
Everything was shinny white, in the frosted weathered morning sunbeams; so much so, it was almost blinding you could say; thought Adam staring with his sunglasses on. Adam, he was Carmen’s American boyfriend. He was discharged from the American Military Armed Forces in Europe, about a year earlier, and had gotten a job as a manager at the local Babenhausen Military PX–and for the most part, he seemed to brave the elements of this trip without much difficulty. Carmen looked at him, a brief smile, a comforting intake of air, and drove forward through the pass.
“Is this Garmisch?” asked Adam with a vibrant blow to his diaphragm, trying to absorb its wintry wonderland beauty.
“Yes, yes, but it’s not quite the way I remember it to be, it was long ago you know when I was last here.”
They now had driven closer to the village where they both could get a better view of the whole countryside, a breathtaking panorama–; for a moment, a fairytale moment you might say, Adam was taken back, a bit awe struck from its beauty; then as they drove a little further they were in the village itself; a little quaint Bavarian Village by the Alps.
“The hotel is farther down,” Carmen instructed.
Adam looked over his shoulder, out of the back window, it was a long ride from Dieburg and the incline was steep and slippery, he was adjusting.
“Happy to have made it up here in one piece;” he commented.
Carmen burped out “We’ll have to cross this small bridge ahead of us,” turn to look at Adam’s expression, then added “…the hotel is right beyond that (pointing straight ahead).” Adam noticed a stream went under the bridge she was pointing at, and all the way (seemingly) through the village up to some farm pastures towards the mountains.
Said Carmen hesitantly, but with pride, “This is lovely country in the spring as well as summer: streams and forests all mesh together and give out many shades of green; and as you can see, most of the houses still have that old Bavarian architecture.”
“I see,” said Adam.
“Across the bridge is the hotel,” commented Carmen.
“And where exactly is the skiing area?” Although in Adam’s brain, the whole area could be considered, for it was all mountainous.
“There, over by the big hill, mountain I mean, you can’t see it fully, got to get a little closer, but it’s over a mile run down those smaller slopes alongside, there are several you know. We’ll be able to see it closer later; the mountains all kind of blend together, as you can see.”
As Carmen pulled up to the hotel, Adam cleaned his sunglasses a bit. At times, things were so bright, it was blinding, therefore, he rubbed his eyes, shut them for a moment. The snow was heaped up several feet high along side the hotel. Carmen parked the car. This was their first trip together; they had only known each other going on a month.
“There’s no bellboy here,” said Carmen.
“I see the ski-lift now,” the young man said, tucking in his shirt as he got out of the car, grabbing the two suitcases in the backseat.
“Perhaps we can ski this afternoon,” Carmen explained, walking into the hotel. “The weather is perfect for it,” it being twenty-five degrees out.
“How many folks are skiing do you think?” he asked, pointing now at the ski lift, way in the distance, or where he thought it should be, although a configuration, shadow of one was noticeable.
“Perhaps (she paused to look about, think before saying another word)…conceivably about one fourth of the normal folks that would normally come on a holiday or weekend, you know today’s only Thursday, we got a few days before the rush starts.”
“Great, great, I don’t like its crowded now, or will be, in particular.”
“Do you wish to ski as soon as possible?” she asked.
“Depends, ah, depends on what we have to do now I suppose!” he said aloud not realizing he was being overly loud; overcompensating for being tired I’d expect. She did a double-take on him when his voice had exceeded her calm zone.
“Yes, yes, I hear you…!” the young woman said. “But we should eat a fine, if not resilient meal first, rest a bit, and go later on towards early afternoon–we’ll be fresher and not so…(she hesitated, lost her thoughts, said), you know, not so loud please.”
“I’ve forgotten I’m hungry, and I didn’t mean to be so sharp, I suppose I’m just ornery from being tired, it does that to me some times,” said Adam.
[Inside the hotel] “Guten Morgan,” a voice said behind a counter, noticing Adam as an American he changed his language to English: “My name is Koln, do…” before he could finish his statement Carmen interrupted.
“I am Carmen Schmidt; you should have our reservation here?”
“A moment…bitte…please (he corrected himself back to English),” Koln said as he thumbed through some reservation cards: ‘hmmm,’ came from his mouth.
“Ya… (a pause) Ms Carmen R. Schmidt, and…dd, of-course–your guest…” (He said with a reluctant voice, or so it seemed).
“Yes, that’s me,” replied Carmen.
“Kabine sieben,” said the desk clerk [Room seven], adding in English, “…second floor, I see you’ll be here just three days…”Es ist schon” [fine], “…it’s good skiing weather,” he smiled and gave her the key, trying to readjust his earlier tentative sneer. Adam knew many German’s knew English, or at least conversational English, he himself knew a little German, enough to get a meal, a beer and an occasional date. And both Germans and Americans tried to use what little they knew; either out of respect, or simply for the recognition of knowing it.
“Danke,” said Carmen as they left the counter area, heading toward the main lobby, down the hall, Adam saying: “Tschus”[by]; then asked Carmen: “What is the ‘R’ for?”
“I told you I was a German-Jew, it’s my father’s last name, Rosenbaum, is that a problem?” she said with a higher defensive voice.
“No, no-oo… (a pause) not at all; what’s a Jew got to do with anything anyhow? I mean, I’m Russian-Irishman, American–big deal.”
She didn’t look his way, just asserted herself forward as she found the room and opened the door, smiled at Adam as she laid her suitcase on the bed, as if to say, the adventure of the weekend is about to start, let’s not draw back from each other.
[The Ski Lift] “We must have climbed a mile?” said Adam, stopping to rest by a farmyard fence; two cows came up to the wooden fence, with two big bells tied around their necks, Adam was leaning against the fence.
“How charming,” commented Adam, satirically? He walked up the path a little further, toward the farmyard; two little boys came running down the path towards him, and two cows followed along side them, along the other side of the fence. It was as if one boy ran after the other, and the cows just followed. They were twins.
“Guten Morgen” said one of the two blond haired boys, the one by the name of Cody.
Said Carmen with a perfect pitch to her voice, as if it was a soft flute playing (wanting to know where is the ski lift): “Wo ist…der Schilift?”
Said Cody with an impetuous smile, “Er ist…gehen Sie… geradeaus… (go straight ahead).”
Carmen looked straight in back of her, where the boy was pointing: ah, she could see it now.
“Gandige Frau…” said the boy, “wie heissen sie?”
“Carmen,” she said, was her name, to the boy. And she explained that Adam was her American friend.
“Aha…” said the boy with a bright smile again.
Then with slow and broken English, the boy commented, “He’s…my cow sir, isn’t…he big?” Adam looked at them, “H…mmm, they are big and healthy looking cows are they not?” Possibly it was a statement-question, but the boys both looked up and understood most of what was said; then they looked at each other, and were indifferent to it, as if they were holding back a laugh.
Both boys now looking at Adam, Cody said in English, “My name is Cody, and he’s my brother Shawn, we live there (pointing to the house up the path).”
Carmen thanked the boys in German, saying: “Danke,” as the two boys stooped under the fence and ran towards the cows at which time the cows started to run, and then all of a sudden the cows stopped turned to them (the cows, stopping and turning about) the boys jump back and laughed.
Said Carmen to Adam, “They are quite interested in Americans I think, they took a shine to you Adam,” Adam didn’t say nothing; it was more of a statement he thought, than a question.
“Nice boys, cute blond hair, just like little Germans. Anyhow, do you mean we got to walk all that way over there, I mean we’ve been walking for two hours, I think, or is it three [?]” He looked at Carmen, she didn’t say a ward, I suppose nothing to say, then finished his thoughts, “It’s just a little ways now.” Having said that, they started to transverse over to the area the boys had pointed towards.
Then she got thinking: perhaps she was a ting cold hearted, she should ask how he is doing, and asked, “How are you doing Adam?”
“I suppose all right, I’m a bit fatigued, I mean, I mean, I only rested, not slept but an hour at the hotel. And this long walk, and the long ride up here, don’t you German-Jews ever get tired?” She smiled; not saying a word, figuring it was a rhetorical question at best.
Adam, at the present, took off his jacket, he had a sweater under that, and a wool-shirt to boot, and a cotton undershirt under all that, and as a result, he was starting to overheat.
Now, noticing Adam quite exhausted, Carmen (shaking her head) stopped, said with a humbling voice, “You can wait here, I’ll go check and see if we can ski.”
Adam [brooding] “O–No–no, I came all this way here, walked all this distance, no need to stop and rest a few hundred yards from the site now.” It was more like a quarter mile, but the mannish part of him–the Id was the driving force, although not destructive at this point, and it was a little ego involved, that is, which got its demand from the Id, I suppose, thus, he felt in control; in any case, he–the mannish part of him was not going to allow the female species to have the upper hand.
–Said Carmen to the husky, beer bellied man in the green ski-lift hut, sitting down operating some gears, occasionally looking through a window in front of him, and Carmen to his side, “Wo kann ich eine Fahrkarte kaufen? (Where can I buy a ticket?)”
“…Hier Schatzi!” (here darling) said the burly German, watching several ski-lifts going higher and higher up the mountain, threw the sparse wooded area. “Zwei…” (he said, implying she needed two tickets, as he looked, or tried to look, deep into her bottomless and blue beautiful eyes; Adam catching his gaze, the German paying Adam no heed.
Carmen responded in German: “Bitte…vielen dank” (please, thank you much).
Carmen was catching her breath, said to Adam in a low tone, “Three Marks for a ride, three each, that’s close to a dollar!”
“Swell,” said Adam [suddenly], “let’s go for a ride.”
“Guten Tag,” said the man–he now pointed to the ski-lift they were to go on.
Adam saying in English, as if to impress Carmen in the fact he understood a little German, and very little, “And good day to your sir…!”
“Are you able to ski?” asked Carmen, realizing how exhausted she was, and he seemed even more so.
“We shall see once we get to the top.” I think he was thinking if she would, he could, but if she gave a little hint she was tired–well, I suppose he could go along with anything to get a long rest back at the hotel; anyhow, that was his answer.
He sat back tight against the ski-lift as it ascended up the mountain; Carmen by his side, the seat was made of wood, the rest was made out of steel. It was all painted green, like the woods around them; under him were some twenty feet of air, and accumulating more the higher they went of course. Adam gripped his hands tight onto the sidebars of the lift attached to the seat. Being somewhat fatigued, his eyes started to close. Carmen noticed that; she nudged him to wakeup: reinforcing the fact he needed to hang onto the side of the seat’s side-bar.
“To ski down this mile run is nothing,” said Carmen, “if you are not tired that is; but if you are–tired like me or more so, you–you could possibly break a leg.” She was a much better skier than he, and Adam knew it, and so hearing that, he took in a deep breath of air and thought on what she had just said a moment ago. On the other hand, Carmen knew that men seldom listened to women when they sounded competitive, or she felt they could outdo them, so she added: “I’m more tired than I had previously thought,” and although she was tired, she could have skied a few hours more without much effort. But for the most part, this was the best she could do with a warning for him, in allowing an escape path for his ego; thus, let him do as he pleased with this kindest escape clause, she had done her best to create.
“Yes, yes, I understand,” he said with eyelids half open.
“Yes, I see you do,” commented Carmen. At the same time Adam started tapping with his fingers on the steel bar next to him.
Said he, “How do I determine if I’m too tired or not, or how have you determined you might be…?”
Carmen [interrupting] “You are not deaf, are you?”
“No,” said Adam wiping his brow.
“Well, I’m telling trying to tell you we both are–tired, but if you’re not going to listen we’ll both break a leg together–go ahead, I’ll risk it also, otherwise we can turn about and go back to the hotel; I mean we got three, or is it, two days [?] anyhow, we got more than enough time to go skiing, it’s no big deal, as far as I feel, we do not have to push ourselves beyond what we know is not safe”; having said that, they both got off at the next stop and jumped on the returning ski-lift and back to the hotel, not even stopping to warm-up.
–When they got back to the hotel, they sat at a table, the bar area was behind them with stools and a few guests lounging about, but practically the whole place was empty–for the most part, perhaps four or five other people were present. They stayed for a few hours talking and drinking. A man and his ten year old boy were both playing violins with German, Bavarian traditional festive cloths on.
As the waiter came up to take their order Carmen quickly took charge to order, “Ich moechte zwei Stueck Brot, ein Kruegel Bier, und ein Glas Wein…danke.”
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