Tuesday (Dienstag), middle of July, itching from backside to armpit with lice. Parasites, tireless germs bringing slow death. Oh, dear mother best tha’ doesn’t know…. he picks at a piece of sausage gristle, caught last night, between his molars. Can’t say, hand on heart, that he misses home. Here among the rubble of a thousand bombs, the ruins look the same as anywhere else. Just the dust, mother, playing havoc with my bronchial tubes! Like powdered glass trapped in the khaki wool and smeared into my pale, sensitive skin. I shouldn’t complain.
Here, in Wilmersdorf, Berlin, to clear up the mess. And bear witness.
Don’t know when I’ll next be…
Myrtle deserves more than a letter.
He traded with the street urchins, some as young as ten, no trace of Nazi on them. Though what would become of these kids, these refugees from the innocence of childhood, was anybody’s guess. They’d get under the feet of the Trümmerfrauen, the women who rummaged in the rubble and waste. He’d managed to get a Leica camera, a pair of superbly crafted motorcycle goggles (kept the dust out of his eyes), swapped for Woodbine cigarettes, mint humbugs, even his mother’s home- made rhubarb jam. It was trade, a sense of obligation; also, Private Eric Watts was a natural born collector.
He kept himself to himself. Bearing witness. If nothing else.
He’d seen the fat French pimp. Everybody’s friend, with his clean smelling tarts. Seen him violently beat one of the Trümmerfrauen half to death. Nothing he could have done to help.
Particularly irksome was the fat pimp’s waxed goatee. Funny that.
Myrtle deserved more than a letter. Let her know, tenderly, that life would never have worked for them. Tethered to tradition, or something….? Something like.
He would use the Hitler Youth Butterfly knife. Yes. Resolute in his thoughts. Knew the Pimp’s daily routine. His mother, his muckers at the barracks, and anyone’d ever known him, would all agree he wasn’t the impetuous type. Would be over soon enough. Just an animal sinking its teeth into another animal….
Someone had to pay.