Excerpt for The Red Handle by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

The Red Handle

Franz Drollig

Published by Franz Drollig at Smashwords

Copyright 2017, 2018 Franz Drollig

Translation of the poem in chapter 4 was taken from A. S. Kline, Goethe - Faust - Parts I & II. It is the intellectual property of the respective authors.

Chapter 1

Fritz was a thirty-year-old pump factory worker with a beer belly in its early stages. He waited for the subway at the "General Hospital" station in one of Düsselstein’s outer districts. Sad without an apparent reason, he studied the red handle with a lettering "Emergency train stop" above it.

The red handle, mounted on a plate, had a round shaft and an oval handle. A little box over it housed the device that transmitted the emergency signal. Above the box was a light bulb covered with transparent plastic. All parts of the device were painted with the same shade of red. This magnificent device had fascinated Fritz since his childhood. The Düsselstein subway system offered fin-de-siècle stations and archaeological excavations, but to Fritz none of that compared to the magic of the emergency brake handle.

Sometimes he thought that perhaps the round shape of the device evoked subconscious images of the female body, and his interest in the device was an expression of his suppressed erotic desires. This certainly could have been the case. Fritz didn’t have a girlfriend, and his prospects of building even a casual relationship looked bleak. His Cupido fired arrows at worker girls and female students of the Düsselstein Main University. The former were sexy but slow-witted, and despite their tender age they showed the first signs of alcohol-induced premature aging. The latter were intelligent and would have made great wives if they hadn’t suppressed their femininity in an ill-conceived emancipation attempt. Fritz’s friends tried to set him up with different women, but those dates inevitably ended in disappointment.

Like many Düsselsteinians of either sex, Fritz found it hard to hold onto the belief that love was the purpose of his being, so he sought meaning in civic society. He failed, however, since none of the political parties in Düsselstein seemed to do anything real. They talked about abstract ideas and prepared programs (which were so similar that in a blind test you couldn’t distinguish Liberal from Nationalist ones). Fritz failed to see, how he could change anything by working in those political parties. The only exception was, perhaps, the Greens, who fought for the preservation of the environment. They regularly staged protests before the offices of big corporations. But Fritz held the opinion that protection of nature wasn’t Düsselstein’s most important problem.

His search for meaning made him so miserable that he couldn’t even enjoy his vacation, the second day of which was now coming to an end. He watched a movie in a mall on the bank of the Danube, had lunch there, and now was returning to his flat in the Meidling district. He didn’t want to talk to friends. He needed solitude to finally figure out what his life was about. He was so desperate for purpose that he even considered suicide—a choice many talented Düsselsteinians made. It was time to pull the red handle, the emergency brake, he thought, but how to go about it? In life the red handle wasn’t as obvious as in the subway station.

It wasn’t a real subway station — the trains rolled in at the same elevation as the cars on the street. There was one track on each side with the platform between them. In the middle of the platform were there was a kiosk with a map of the city, the emergency brake that so fascinated Fritz, and some advertisements. Close to the kiosk stood a girl in her late teens, whom he noticed because she looked as absent-minded as he was confused. A couple of other people were around — retirees in their gray uniforms, patients with their hands in casts or bandages, people on crutches. Nothing unusual, except for the distracted girl.

Across the street was a helicopter landing place in front of the two-towered steel and glass Moloch of the Düsselstein General Hospital. It was surrounded by other buildings and was like a city inside a city. With over 9000 people employees, it was the biggest and most advanced medical facility in the Düsselstein area and one of the largest in Central Europe.

Chapter 2

About 2 hours before another young man in Düsselstein was thinking about his future. Dzhokhar Zakaev sat in a room that looked like a hospital ward. White sheets, medical bed, a cord for calling a nurse in emergency. He was put here yesterday, after the social workers got worried that he may kill himself. Their fears were justified because at the time, when Fritz had lunch, Dzhokhar’s life was presenting itself before his eyes like a movie. "25 years of torture". That would be a good title. Dzhokhar thought that 2 days ago his life came to an end.

Dzhokhar was born in the last years of the Soviet Union as a son of an Old-Guard civil servant in the Chechen Republic. His father was legendary for having enough balls to resist both Russian government and the official Chechen elites. The former wanted to give him Hero of Russia medal, and he refused it on the grounds that another recipient of that award, Shadyrov senior, used to fight against Russia in one of the civil wars of the 1990es and 2000es.

It was unknown whether or not he pissed off the Russian president, but he definitely did upset Shadyrov junior, the active governor of Chechnya. It was his father who received that medal. Dzhokhar’s father kept his office after this incident. He was too valuable a diplomat and hard to fire — his honesty was legendary. Both journalists and special services have given up hope of finding kompromat against him long ago.

Shadyrov got even more upset when Dzhokhar’s father refused to become an official Muslim. At public meetings of the Chechen government Dzhokhar’s parents were the only people dressed in a secular way. Rumors were that it was protection from the Russian president himself that saved him from being fired by Shadyrov junior. That made the latter even more mad.

Dzhokhar wasn’t involved in those issues. He’d been living with his relatives in St. Petersburg since 1994, visiting his home town Grozny only occasionally. His father sent him there in order for him to avoid the trauma of two wars. He seemed to be talented in his childhood, but somehow lost enthusiasm during adolescence. When it was time to go to college, he failed to get anywhere except a carpentry school. His intellectual abilities were too low for anything better, and his father refused to give bribes to the professors. Lack of a fancy degree made him even more insecure among his friends. Most of them were children of rich Russian and Chechen civil servants, business men, and people who combined both roles. Their parents were much less concerned about ethics, and, as a result, all of their kids had fancy cars, college degrees, and a self-confidence going overboard.

Nonetheless, that gilded youth considered Dzhokhar one of them and he always managed to scrap together some money to participate in their parties. During one of them in Grozny, the capital of the Chechen republic, Dzhokhar and several of his friends got drunk and started a race inside the city. Somehow Dzhokhar got behind the wheel of one of the cars. The power of vehicle’s engine was orders of magnitude greater than the intelligence of people inside it. When it crashed into a bus station, killing three people and injuring 10, it was Dzhokhar who was blamed for the deaths.

Now Shadyrov jun. got his chance of revenge. He offered Dzhokhar two options. The first was to get to an official trial, after which he would be sentenced to several years in jail. Dzhokhar’s father — once again — refused to hire a top-notch lawyer, and to negotiate with Shadyrov jun. privately. Without a good lawyer, Dzhokhar’s chances of avoiding jail looked slim.

The second offer by Shadyrov was to leave Chechnya forever. Chechen officials would cooperate with human rights organizations to make Dzhokhar look like a victim of an unjust regime. Shadyrov would avenge his humiliation by Dzhokhar’s father, Dzhokhar would get a new start in a Western country, and the international community would get a pretext for an angry press release condemning the current Russian elites (of whom Shadyrov was part) for violations of human rights. Dzhokhar agreed and his father didn’t care. One of the human rights organization managed to transfer Dzhokhar to Düsselstein, where he waited for his asylum application to be processed for several months.

In Düsselstein his life started from scratch. Dzhokhar wasn’t particularly bright, and his already weak mind was enfeebled by years of laziness and lack of challenge. But after that fatal car accident — fatal not for him, but for 3 law-abiding citizens, who just waited for the bus — he decided that he needed to start over. If he didn’t stop his decay now, next time it would be him, who stands in the bus stop and is hit by a bunch of spoiled idiots. It was time to pull the red handle.

He found a low-paying, but decent job in a shop that was owned by a Chechen emigrant and sold Russian foods. Business wasn’t particularly active, but Dzhokhar did what he could and was proud to have a steady job — for the first time in his life. It looked like he really changed for real, got serious, and life could only get better. Then he met Masya.

She was a Ukrainian au-pair girl and they met at the meeting of Russian speaking community in the "Capital City Lights" restaurant. It was a strange group of people, who went to great lengths to get out of the ex-USSR, and when they finally managed to do so, preferred to make friendships among the very people they emigrated from. Dzhokhar immediately fell in a believable imitation of love with this woman, who at first seemed all too simple to him. Despite her lack of beauty, intelligence, and sincerity, he became addicted to her. Maybe it was that they both were traumatized by post-Soviet life and both were in a foreign, hostile country. Whatever triggered his affection, they started to regularly see each other and got married three months after their first meeting.

Dzhokhar thought Masya was the diamond in the crown of his life, a reward for the hardships of his youth. There were no signs of trouble, except, perhaps, Ekaterina, a friend of Masya, who visited them from time to time and whom Dzhokhar was afraid of. She was very friendly to him, but looked at him as if she wanted to castrate him. She was couple of years older than Masya, successfully divorced, and Dzhokhar shivered at the idea that one day Masya may become like her, whom she looked at as her mentor or role model. But he shushed away those sad thoughts because there was no evidence of trouble.

The illusion broke down around his 25th birthday. The day before he got the official refugee status, which meant that from now on he was entitled to receiving financial support from the state of the Düsselstein region. This also meant that he could work, stay in Düsselstein as long as he wanted, and travel to all other countries of Europe that signed the Schengen agreement. He thought it was a good present for his birthday, and he was even more positively surprised by what a great party Masya threw for him. The party took place in Ekaterina’s flat.

Alcohol flew like Danube during heavy rain season, except that — contrary to Düsselstein — Dzhokhar didn’t have a Danube Canal, which was built to prevent the city from being flooded. Dzhokar’s friends got seriously drunk and started to court some of the girls against their will. Dzhokhar was relatively sober, until he went to the kitchen and overheard a conversation between Masya and one of her friends.

"I don’t understand, what you see in this saracene, Masya. You can do better." The friend said.

"Never mind, it won’t last long. As soon as I get a permanent visa, I can get divorced and be free again. But with all perks a Düsselsteinian residence permit gives you." Masya said.

"Alright then. I feared you were in love for real. I’m so glad you aren’t. Ugh!"

Dzhokhar couldn’t believe his ears. He didn’t have the courage to confront Masya and did the next best thing. He jumped into the stormy waters of beer, Champagne and drinks too hard for him to pronounce. He wanted to flood the Düsselstein of his mind with those waters, drown himself in them and avoid the reality of being alone now.

He barely remembered what happened then, and how he landed in Ekaterina’s bed, half-naked. Ekaterina sat close to him, when Masya and the other girls came into the room. He was blown away with the paradox of the situation — it was Masya who betrayed him, yet he was accused of cheating on her with Ekaterina. Even though he didn’t remember the details, he knew for sure that no amount of alcohol could make his fear of that iron lady disappear. But however ridiculous these accusations were, now Masya had a pretext to end the marriage with him that every court would recognize. He learned it later. Back then he was too drunk to talk, much less defend himself.

Next afternoon he found himself in a hall of residence for students converted into a refugee camp after the crisis started, located in Gentzgasse 27. There was vomit all over his shirt, and he spent most of the day like a baby — vomiting, sleeping and crying. Social workers at the camp got concerned about his mental state and put him into a ward. From time to time the nurse came in, measured his temperature and observed his overall state. It was the first time that he got that much attention from the refugee camp staff.

The next morning he got a visit from one of the social workers. They talked, and Dzhokhar tried to make the impression that everything was getting better. He stopped vomiting, was rather calm, and the social worker left him under the impression that yesterday was a random incident.

But it wasn’t. Dzhokhar had no idea how to live further. His entire adult life he had nobody who would love him for who he was. Not because of obligation, not because of tradition, but free as a current, which runs under the surface of Earth for many kilometers in order to erupt as a brook in some special place. His marriage to Masya was such a water stream — and he needed her badly. Maybe it was the lack of sincere love in his childhood that made him crave for it in the adulthood, and which made him so blind about Masya that he couldn’t — or didn’t want to — see the deficiencies in their relationship until it was shoved under his nose. He got no messages from Masya and his last 100 texts weren’t answered.

It seemed like the camp officials cared more about him than his wife. He thought that even though he may have drunk too much on that one day, he was a perfect husband the rest of the time. Wasn’t he entitled to forgiveness for one little mistake?

Dzhokhar’s brain started to work after the alcohol was out of his system. He faced the reality of being alone in a foreign country, betrayed by his wife, and having absolutely no reason to live. He had nowhere to go. The first quarter of his life was gone, and he had achieved nothing but this hospital room, where nothing belonged to him. Even the clothes weren’t his — he bought them with the money he got from the government of the Düsselstein region.

In his mind, he heard the voice of his father talking about traitors and boarders. Whenever he talked like that, his glance got hard as steel, and his eyes would look at you, and it felt like he was crawling inside your skull with his eyes, and once he got there, inspected your neurons and axons for signs of high treason. Dzhokhar didn’t fantasize — he actually saw his father talk with other civil servants and politicians. Maybe it was this ability to scare the shit out of them that made the Russian president protect Dzhokhar’s father. He sincerely hated the "effective managers" (effective only in stealing state money), and those, who could work, but didn’t. From time to time he tried to pretend that this didn’t apply to his son, but the illusion never lasted for long. Dzhokhar’s father was an iron man, and for him principles were thicker than blood.

Dzhokhar sat there in this hospital room, thousands of kilometers apart from his father. Yet he felt that penetrating look on him, and it punished him for being a disgrace to his family. Given the influence of his father, Dzhokhar could become the next Shadyrov junior. Instead he was an outcast in a foreign country that pretended to care about the Chechens only to annoy Russian politicians.

Then he pictured Masya sitting next to his father, looking at him with condescension. In that she and her father, two most important people in his life, were similar. They both thought he was a failure. The only difference is that his father wanted to minimize the losses incurred by his prodigal son, while Masya tried to maximize her profits by exploiting his naivete.

He felt like he was standing in the mountains in Chechnya in the winter. Suddenly he heard a sound and saw a large snow mass descend from the top, too fast for him to run away. The snow surrounded him from all sides, until he couldn’t move. Now he was buried alive in a cold, white grave with little chances of being rescued. He expected Masya to save him, to dig him out, and heat up his body with her kisses. Now it seemed she defrosted him only to make an ice statue of him. He didn’t want to live like that. He’d rather break it to pieces.

These thoughts led him to the intention to fix all his problems once and for all. He remembered what his German teacher told him about the subway suicides in the 1980es. There was an epidemic of them. Which means that it must be rather easy to do it in the subway station. He stood up, took a shower, put on a clean, white shirt (he didn’t want to die in a T-shirt stained with vomit), and went to the entrance of the refugee asylum.

"I’ll go for a walk, Miss Maier, if you don’t mind." He said.

The nurse, who sat behind the desk, looked up and at first seemed worried. But then she noticed that he was washed, combed, and relaxed. The wrinkles on her forehead dissolved.

"Sure, Dzhokhar. Have fun!" She said.

When he walked out of the camp, he thought that he hadn’t noticed for months what attractive smile this woman had. He cherished this fact with the joy of a person who knows that death will solve all his problems today. He walked into the side street, and then strolled down the Währinger Strasse, past the white building of the district administration with a tower that look like the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. Dzhokhar was lukewarm about the Düsselsteinians, but he adored the architecture of this city. That’s why he took the longer route and went up the Martinstrasse to the Anton Baumann Park. It was his last day and he wanted to enjoy it.

Next to the park was the shop owned by his employer. There seemed to be nobody in there, so he couldn’t say farewell to his boss. Never mind, he went through the park, past another old tower — the water tower of the district of Währing. The park — as always — drowned in pigeon’s droppings, but now Dzhokhar didn’t mind. He walked past the cage of the basketball field. The park was several meters above the ground. A six-lanes city highway called Gürtel and the tracks of the subway line U6 separated the park from the opposite side, on which the more modern buildings of the General Hospital lay. At the side of the park adjacent to Gürtel there was a bridge for pedestrians that led to the subway and the hospital. He went over it and descended into the station.

He waited for the next train to come and saw a fat, old guy looking at the kiosk in the middle of the station. That one certainly had everything. The train came, and he calculated from where to jump so that the train driver wouldn’t see him until it was too late. Next one will also be his last. Meanwhile he looked at the General Hospital and thought, how much of a risk it presented. They could carry him inside, revive, and that’s the worst thing a suicidal person fears — become handicapped in a failed suicide attempt. But he didn’t have time for fears and thorough analysis. The train came, he started to make the step and stopped. Inside he saw a group of young men, and recognized them. They were his friends, other immigrants and refugees, with whom he celebrated his birthday. Now he had to postpone his suicide. They got out and started to hug and shout at him.

"Dzhokhar, old fella! How are you? You look great! Are you going on a date?" Dzhabrail said.

"Nah, not quite. You know." Dzhokhar said.

"You betcha we know! That was one hell of a stunt you did with that chick."

Dzhokhar preferred, if these young men were a bit like the reserved Miss Maier and avoid touching his bleeding wound. What they saw as an exciting adventure — sex with a high-end woman like Ekaterina — was the biggest tragedy for him. In part because he started to suspect that it was Ekaterina, who made Masya break up with him. He started to be jealous of the people in the bus station he killed back in Grozny — at least their sufferings were over once and for all.

Chapter 3

Fritz saw Dzhokhar and his friends laughing and hugging each other. They were young, reckless, and happy. They had a purpose, even if it was to have as much fun as possible. Fritz became increasingly angry and was happy that 66 feet of space separated him from the joyous display.

At the other end Dzhokhar’s friends reminded him of his Masya-induced misery. It felt as if they poked around in his bleeding wound with a stick and sprinkled it with salt in order to increase the pain.

"What’s the matter, Dzhokhar?" Dzhabrail said.

"Don’t you get it?" He looked at Dzhabrail.

"What’s not to get, dude? You’re all set. Düsselstein region will pay for your heroic past and social workers will kiss your Chechen ass. Plus — compared with the local fags, you’re superman. All the chicks will be yours. Ain’t that paradise?" Dzhabrail said. He pretended to be a political refugee from Russia and was so corpulent that you would think the Russians kept him prisoner in a forced feeding camp. A piece of McDonald’s wrapping paper protruded from the pocket of his black down feather jacket. In one hand he held a pint-sized cup of Coke with a drinking straw. Dzhabrail sucked the remaining liquid from the cup, making a crackling popping sound like that of military drums. He withdrew a hamburger from the other pocket.

"Relax, dude. Here, this will solve all your problems." Dzhabrail said and offered the hamburger to Dzhokhar.

That did it. Dzhokhar hit Dzhabrail’s hand loosening his grip on the burger. Dzhabrail’s astonished glance followed as it bounced off the floor.

"You stupid porker! I lost my wife, get it? I’ve been screwed over by a chick, and you try to console me with junk food? Have you ever loved something except scoff? You fatass, don’t you understand that I have nobody now? No wife, no motherland!" Dzhokhar shouted and gripped Dzhabrail by the lapels.

"Dzhokhar, he didn’t mean to insult you. We were too wasted and didn’t know realize it was that serious." Ruslan, another member of the group, intervened. Ruslan turned to the stupefied Dzhabrail.

"Right?" Ruslan said.

"Yeah… Right. Too wasted." Dzhabrail said.

Dzhokhar released his grip. Both looked at each other in bewilderment. Dzhabrail was surprised by Dzhokhar’s reaction. Dzhokhar by how good it felt to be aggressive and in charge.

He had managed to stun Dzhabrail who was older and stronger. Adrenaline shot to his head made him feel as if he was riding an intoxicated wave. It had also made his pain disappear.

"Sorry folks. Sorry Dzhabrail." apologized Dzhokhar. He went to pick up the hamburger that was on the floor still its wrapping and was still edible, at least by Dzhabrail’s standards. But as he approached, he saw the pink shoes of a teenage girl — the same kind Masya used to wear. His excited mind created an image of his wife so vivid he could smell Masya’s perfume, or he just imagined it.

This image shot through his psyche like a bullet rotating in flight and destroying flesh, bones and the load-bearing walls of his self-control. And following it flew a mix of Adrenaline, Cortisol, and Norepinephrine that made him empowered.

The feeling was as intense as sensations after a night with a particularly passionate lover: Your body is covered with hickeys and the muscles hurt from hours of entwined love making. Yet that pain is the canvas, on which pleasure is painted like fireworks on the night sky. The night of his loneliness allowed him to shoot fireworks of fearlessness. Now he could do and say whatever he wanted.

To get Masya out of his system was his biggest wish and he didn’t care if someone got hurt in the process

"Bitch! I hate you!" he shouted.

Relief! He kicked the hamburger away and it landed on the pink shoes of the teenage girl at the kiosk. She looked at him as did several others including Fritz. Now he could see her better.

Maybe she was like Masya? Maybe she was also screwing someone like him? Or on her way to the crime scene? Or away from it?

"What are you looking at, you stupid little slut?"

Dzhabrail, Ruslan, and the rest of the group approached Dzhokhar to prevent him from doing something regrettable.

Fritz heard what Dzhokhar said and noticed a group of dark-skinned young people approach a young girl with pink shoes.

"Should I defend her? I was never good at fighting. Maybe they’ll stop by themselves…" Fritz thought.

He looked at the red handle and remembered that his life was so empty that he had considered ending it. If he killed himself, the society wouldn’t benefit from it. However, if saved a woman’s dignity at the price of his life, then his death would not only end his suffering, but also make his tribe better off. The second option had a higher return on investment of his life than the former.

That was his last conscious thought. Thereafter Fritz was unaware that his heart started beating stronger, and his breathing pattern had changed. He had became more alert and less pensive.

"Leave her alone!" He shouted.

It was as if he was a protagonist in a movie, when a normal person suddenly discovers they have supernatural abilities. For the first time in his life he felt he really could prevent an evil from happening. The giant within awoke and was ready to defend the defenseless. He had been held captive long enough, and now was breaking out. This station was his Shawshank and his Alcatraz.

Neither Dzhokhar, nor the rest of the group reacted.

"I said leave her alone, you blackass Saracenes!" Fritz said.

Now they noticed and turned to confront Fritz. Dzhokhar and his friends were mostly peaceful, as long as outsiders accepted their superiority like that of Barbarians invading Rome. Most Düsselsteinians recognized this for fear of violence. They felt that people like Dzhokhar were more inclined to physical violence. Police statistics confirmed it. A few agreed with this, but conceding that it was a traumatic consequence of war. In other words: Not the refugees’ fault. They were a very vocal minority and soon this Weltanschauung became the officially accepted one.

Dzhokhar and friends weren’t used to Düsselsteinians talking back. Tonight Dzhokhar was determined to beat someone up, but it was not masculine to shout at or beat up a girl, especially if there was a better option.

"Sorry, Fräulein." Dzhokhar said, walked past her and approached Fritz.

"What did you say, fag?" Dzhokhar said.

Ruslan, Dzhabrail, and the other refugees had surrounded Fritz and Dzhokhar, who both experienced ecstatic bravado.

"I said get the fuck back where you came from, you Arabic piece of shit." Fritz said.

Dzokhar motioned to Fritz, shaking his head, and Fritz instinctively flattened himself against the kiosk. He could feel the handle of the emergency brake in his back. Meanwhile, Ruslan joined Dzhokhar and asked him something in a language Fritz couldn’t understand. Dzhokhar answered, also in Russian. Their intonation made the words sound threatening. They rolled their eyes and surrounded him. He decided that it was time to pull the red handle.

Slowly, so that nobody noticed, he put his hand behind his back, brushing up the fabric of his jacket to the cold metal of the emergency brake. He pulled as hard as he could.

A buzzer went off and for a moment Ruslan looked away. Dzhokhar turned his head to towards the noise. This was enough — in a fraction of second Fritz pushed him aside so that he almost fell on the tracks, then ran to the only exit from the station platform.

He headed towards the escalator and stairs that led to the General Hospital. Just for a moment there was hope — a blue uniform, a policeman chewing on Kebab. Fritz was mere seconds away from resolving the conflict in a truly Düsselsteinian way — pretending nothing serious happened.

Tragically it wasn’t his day. The policeman didn’t react to his cries. Either he had lost himself in the Kebab as Eminem in music, or didn’t want to face charges of racism by having to deal with the asylum seekers. The gang was younger, faster and eventually, they caught up with Fritz, threw him down to the ground and started to beat him with the senselessness and brutality of an Eastern European uprising.

Chapter 4

Fritz had been sitting in the waiting room of the general hospital for more than an hour. He had a shiner on his eye and bumped into people and objects, when he walked. His nostrils were congested with dried blood and snot. He hoped that the doctors will let him stay in the hospital for a couple of days, until he recovers, but the receptionist told him to sit and wait, and so he did.

People with dark skin and black hair, women dressed like garbage bags - with only eyes visible to the outsider - and men wearing warmer-like headdresses, were getting ahead of him. They were more assertive than him, pushed themselves forward, but that wasn't the only reason, why they got what they wanted and he didn't. When he tried to act like them, one of the nurses, a busty blond with short hair in her late 30es, told him that those Arabs were refugees and they got a decree to treat them first, except in acute cases. Fritz felt too insecure to get into a fight with this well-fed, but not fat, woman. He waited for his turn and fell asleep.

"What are you doing here?" Fritz heard a voice, talking German without accent, but with a softer intonation, and woke up.

He looked at the speaker. It was a dark-skinned man with black hair, glasses, and a Mona Lisa-style smile on his face — not clear, whether he mocked you or tried to comfort. On the badge on his white coat Fritz read "Dr. Abdul Al-Khamid, General Hospital". Fritz noticed a little yellow book looking out of the pocket of his white coat.

"I was beaten up—You know, in the subway station."

"I see that you are injured. Why didn't you get your wounds cleaned? Where are your X-rays?"

"Ugh, I didn't get them. The nurse told me I have to wait until the asylum seekers get their treatment." Fritz pointed to the reception desk with a crowd of Arabs in front of it.

"Alright. Could you stay here for a couple of minutes?"

"Yeah, sure."

Dr. Al-Khamid went away and came back moments later. He moved a wheelchair before him. There was something aristocratic about his straight spine and the way he held his head — slightly above those of others.

"Get in, mister." He said.

Fritz sat into the wheelchair and the doctor started to move the wheelchair.

"Abdul, what's the matter? Don't you know the regulations? We have a truck load of refugees waiting for vaccination out there!" The well-fed nurse shouted across the hall.

"That's an acute case, Mary. If you disagree, I'll sue you for discrimination against bosses with migration background." Dr. Al-Khamid said.

"Ha-ha." The nurse said.

Dr. Al-Khamid moved the wheelchair into the examination room.


It was already night, when Fritz was woken up by a nurse, who brought him medications and his supper. He lay in a hospital bed in a room designed for four people. The other three beds weren't occupied, which was strange given the crowds he saw at the reception. Fritz smelled the pleasant odor of clean sheets mixed with smell of rose petals, which came out of an electric aroma diffuser that stood on the nightstand.

The nurse put the tray with the food on a little table mounted on his bed, then left. Fritz looked at the plate. It contained a breaded pan fried cutlet — the Düsselstein Schnitzel. It covered the plate like the Düsselsteinian empire used to span entire Europe at the time this meal was invented. On the periphery of the plate lay French fries and a piece of lemon. He took the lemon, squeezed it, and poured the juice over the gold colored crumb crust. Next, he sprinkled salt over the French fries. In a few moments the little bread particles would caress his palate like the lips of a sober, clean, and consenting eighteen year old girl. The smell that came from the Schnitzel, a mix of fried bread and veal, was so seductive that Fritz thought he would choose the Schnitzel over the girl, if some of the nurses came in to have fun with him. He cut a little piece of the sacred meat and cherished every second of his culinary orgasm. Then, he heard a knock on the door.

"Come in." Fritz said and wondered if his fantasies about a young girl materialized.

Dr. Al-Khamid came in.

"Good evening, Fritz."

"Grüß Gott!"

"How do you feel? I see my orders were followed."

"What orders?"

"I told the nurse to put you in a VIP ward so you can have some rest. They normally would put you in the same room with several other people."

"Thanks, doctor."

"You are welcome. There is one thing I need to discuss." Dr. Al-Khamid said.

"Yes?" Fritz said.

"Do you want me to write you a formal certificate of your condition?"

"Huh? What do I need this for?"

"You will need it, if you inform the police on that incident. Someone beat you up, right?"

"Yeah. But I don’t need this paper." Fritz said.

"Why not?" Dr. Al-Khamid said.

"The Kiberer won’t do anything." Fritz said. Kiberer was a Düsselsteinian slang word for "cop". "One of them saw the refugees beating me up. He munched his freaking Kebab as if nothing happened."

"So what are you going to do about this?" Dr. Al-Khamid said.

"Nothing, I guess." Fritz said. He started to get annoyed, but didn’t want to offend the doctor by asking him to leave.

"Really?" Dr. Al-Khamid said.


"I mean, doesn’t this incident make you think that it’s about time to take emergency measures? To pull the red handle, so to say."

"But what can I do?"

"What did you try?"

"I attended meetings of all the political parties here in Düsselstein."


"They are all useless. They won’t fix this mess with the refugees, that’s sure."

"So what do you want to try next?" Dr. Al-Khamid said.

"I said: nothing. There is nothing I can do." Fritz said. He salivated at the thought of the piece of Schnitzel he already cut.

Dr. Al-Khamid shook his head and stopped to smile.

"That’s so Düsselsteinian." He said. "You run into an obstacle and you give up. I grew up in a land that was devastated by the foreigners like-" Dr. Al-Khamid said.

"The Düsselstein Region?" Fritz said and they both laughed. Then Dr. Al-Khamid became earnest again.

"I fled from my home and the Düsselstein Region became my second motherland. I always thought it was impossible that it would go down like my first country." Dr. Al-Khamid took off the glasses. "Nowadays I’m not sure about that any more. What scares me most is that most Düsselsteinians think like you — we don’t know a quick, immediate answer, so we don’t do anything."

"But what can I do?" Fritz said.

Before Dr. Al-Khamid could answer, they heard a series of beeps. Dr. Al-Khamid took out a pager out of his pocket, looked at its display and wrinkled his forehead.

"Fritz, as much as I like you, I have to run now. We can talk about this later. There is an emergency right now. Car accident on the Gürtel." Dr. Al-Khamid said. He stood up, put his hands on several pockets, and retrieved a thin, yellow book a bit larger than the palm of a hand.

"I want you to recover both physically and mentally, and who can cure your soul ails better than the Great Master? I read it during lunch break. One right verse — and poof! — all my stress is gone. Good bye, Fritz!" Dr. Al-Khamid said.

"Good bye, doctor." Fritz said.

Dr. Al-Khamid laid the little book on the table and went out of the room. The Schnitzel was still on Fritz’s table, but now he was intrigued what kind of book this may be. The title read "Faust, first part of the tragedy". He browsed through it and found several places marked by lines drawn by pencil, exclamation marks, and comments in German and Arabic. The sheets of the booklet were so loose that they almost fell apart. He picked a random place and read:

It’s written here: ‘In the Beginning was the Word!’
Here I stick already! Who can help me? It’s absurd,
Impossible, for me to rate the word so highly
I must try to say it differently
If I’m truly inspired by the Spirit. I find
I’ve written here: ‘In the Beginning was the Mind’.
Let me consider that first sentence,
So my pen won’t run on in advance!
Is it mind that works and creates what’s ours?
It should say: ‘In the beginning was the Power!’
Yet even while I write the words down,
I’m warned: I’m no closer with these I’ve found.
The Spirit helps me! I have it now, intact.
And firmly write: ‘In the Beginning was the Act!’

Last line was underlined twice and with such force that Fritz felt its imprint on the other side of the sheet.

Chapter 5

One week later Fritz was released from the hospital. He wanted to return the book to Dr. Al-Khamid, but he was absent. However, Mary, the nurse, gave Fritz an envelope with the doctor’s private business card. Graphic designers say that the size of the font on a card is inversely proportional to the company’s or person’s ego. The minimalistic layout of the doctor’s card suggested that he a had a very small ego.

To Fritz’s astonishment, his Muslim friend lived in the same district as him — Meidling. They made an appointment and a couple of days later Fritz went out of his apartment in Tichtelgasse. He crossed Gürtel, which ran through the city of Düsselstein like an artery. Then he walked down the Arbeitergasse, past Einsiedlerpark. This park was interesting for two reasons. First, on its territory there was one of the oldest public baths. The Einsiedlerbad was opened in 1887, two years before Hitler was born. Two world wars later, it still functioned. Second, a sign close to the entrance said that a criminal attacked a police man in this part at the beginning of the twentieth century. The crime was never solved. Nobody knew, who the criminal was and what he did in the park. Fritz pondered why people remembered this crime and forgot others, until he reached Ramperstorffergasse, with the police station at the corner. Couple of minutes later he stood before the door to Dr. Al-Khamid’s penthouse apartment.

The door opened and Fritz saw Dr. Al-Khamid. He wore a white shirt and black trousers. He had ruddy cheeks, his shoulders were relaxed and the smile on his face would make the Cheshire cat jealous.

"Welcome, Fritz!"

"Hello, Dr. Al-Khamid!"

"You can call me Abdul."

"Ugh, okay. Abdul."

"Come in here and take a seat." Abdul said and went to the kitchen. Fritz took off his shoes and placed them next to the black leather shoes. Then he went to the living room.

"Fritz, do you want tea, coffee, or lemonade?" Abdul asked from the kitchen.

"A cup of Melange would be great." Fritz said. He didn’t want to stay for too long and asked for coffee only out of politeness. Melange was a specialty coffee Drink — a shot of Espresso served in a large mug with a lot of milk. An instant later he heard the familiar noise of the coffee machine that sounded like a rocket taking off. Fritz looked at the room. In the center there was a round table with two chairs on the sides, and the reddish newspaper "The Banner". There were two decent newspapers in Düsselstein: "The Press" and "The Banner", the former leaned towards Christian-Democratic, the latter to Socialist party. Other newspapers were either tabloids (like the "Three Groshes Newspaper") or insignificant (like "The Düsselstein Newspaper" which was read only because it published data on bankruptcies). A desk before the window. Bookshelves everywhere. The number of bookshelves was the only thing that stood out, everything else in this apartment was typical for an average Düsselstenian flat.

Abdul returned with a tablet on which two cups of coffee, a jug with cream and two little glasses of water stood. Abdul put everything on the table. Fritz sat down.

"How is it going, Fritz?"

"Well, fine. I recovered now. Will get back to work soon."

Fritz remembered about the Faust book.

"Oh… here’s your book." He said.

Fritz handed over the book to Abdul. He took a napkin, then laid the book on it to prevent being damaged by the drops of water on the walls of his glass.

"Thanks. I like reading a verse here and there. It’s like eating a piece of a good chocolate cake except it doesn’t make you fat. Did you like it?"

"Frankly, I don’t really understand it. It’s a tough read… and, generally, I’m not into poetry."

"No problem."

They both took couple of sips from the coffee mugs. Then Abdul drank from the water glass. Düssselstein had a rich coffee-drinking tradition. Coffee was always served with a glass of drinking water, which you could drink to compensate for the dehydrating effect of the coffee. Abdul drank out his water and looked into the empty coffee mug as if he was searching for truth at its bottom. Then he put the coffee mug and the water glass such that they stood on a perfectly straight line.

"Fritz, I need to ask you an inconvenient question." Abdul said.


"Have you changed your mind regarding the police report?"

"No. I don’t see, how it should help. Couple of days ago I heard the police released rapist. No sentence, nothing. Just because he was a migrant. There are dozens of cases like this." Fritz took a sip of coffee. "I was only beaten up. They won’t even listen to me, I guess."

"So what are you going to do?"

"What could I do?"

"Haven’t you heard of people defending their societies on their own? I mean civilians, not soldiers."

"Like what?"

"Like the resistance in France, for example. During World War II."

"Hm. But they were organized. They had weapons."

"Alright. If you had weapons and were organized, would you give it a try?"

"Well, probably. But how…"

"That’s another question. Before I tell you, let me refill your coffee mug." Abdul said.

He went to the kitchen again and returned with a jug full of coffee. They talked for several hours thereafter. Abdul told Fritz about his plan and Fritz agreed.

The Meidling Liberation Army was born.

Chapter 6

Abdul and Fritz were walking down a vault. The light of the lamps that hung from the arched ceiling reflected in the metallic surfaces of knives, swords, and the barrels of firearms that hung on the walls. The vault was located in the building of the main university of Düsselstein. This edifice, built in the second half of the nineteenth century had an area of over 107000 square feet and enough place for everyone.

Before them walked Hans with a lantern in his hand. He was a senior member of the fraternity "Aurora". Hans wore short, black hair and had a moustache. Poor illumination and the scar on his right cheek made him look threatening.

He devoted his life to taking care of the young — as a professor of maths and logic during the day, and a member of the fraternity at night. As a professor he gave his students the knowledge that would feed their stomachs. As a fraternity member his goal was to satisfy their souls. The latter was much more difficult than the former. The club organized a lot events like football games, parties, published newsletters, and helped its members form helpful connections in the Düsselsteinian society. None of this, however, helped the members make Düsselstein a better place.

Fritz knew Hans from the days of his political soul-searching. After one such event, when Fritz was more drunk than usual, he asked Hans how all this entertainment will help cleanse Düsselstein of undesired foreigners, or increase the fertility that had been dangerously low during the last decades. Hans couldn’t answer. That’s when Fritz stopped attending the events of the fraternity.

After the meeting in Abdul’s flat, Fritz thought that Abdul and Hans may complement each other. Hans had resources, but no big idea. Abdul had a big idea, but no resources to implement it. The purpose of this meeting was to find out, if they could work together. Hans stopped, turned to Abdul and Fritz.

"Gentlemen, we’ve arrived. That’s the holiest place of the fraternity Aurora." Hans said.

They were now in a round room with a slightly higher ceiling.

"Herr Doktor, look here." Hans said and led Abdul to one of the walls, on which an old painting of an officer from the nineteenth centry hung.

"That’s Frederick Börner, a famous poet and member of our fraternity. A brave warrior and great writer. He wrote plays even for the Imperial Court Theatre! For what the stirring lyre erst hath gleed…" Hans said.

"The free act of the sword hath won indeed." Abdul said.

"You know Börner?" Hans said.

"Yes, Herr Professor. His poems are very powerful, like they have something in them that modern ones lack. I often wonder what it is. Courage? Freedom? Or is it because Börner fought Napoleon and today’s poets fight obesity?" Abdul said. He has spent enough time in Düsselstein to know the reputation of fraternities like these. The media made you believe they consisted of xenophobic idiots. He also knew that sometimes the nobility of his spirit could transform them. Abdul was prepared to a conflict and was glad that it hadn’t occured yet. Hans looked at Abdul with big eyes and turned to Fritz.

"Don’t be surprised, Herr Professor." Fritz said. "Abdul speaks German better than I do and reads Goethe for fun. Can you believe it?"

Hans was still suspicious. The majority of migrants in Düsselstein fell in two categories: Integrated political prostitutes and savages.

The former spoke German and accepted the Düsselsteinian culture in its totality, including the notion that some ethnicities were inferior to the Düsselsteinians regardless of a particular person’s achievements. Turkish migrants of this type would laugh and sometimes tell racist jokes about Turks, Ukrainians pretended to be Bulgarians, and virtually all of them agreed with what decent newspaper regarded as the right opinion at the moment. Migrants who spent a decade or longer in Düsselstein believed the propaganda as if it was their own beliefs.

The savages, on the other hand, failed to integrate into Düsselsteinian society. These people couldn’t speak German decently and communicated mostly with their compatriots. In most cases their patriotic integrity has been imposed upon them by the lack of language skills, laziness, and self-confidence.

What made Hans curious about Abdul was the fact that he managed to integrate into Düsselsteinian society without betraying his Arabic motherland. Such people were like the Edelweiss flowers. This plant was a cornerstone of the official ideology and decorated the epaulets of the Armed Forces of the Düsselstein Region, coins, and logos of countless montaineering clubs. Yet it was so rare that most Düsselsteinians never saw one in real life.

Abdul went around the hall and inspected the armor to the left of the niche with the painting. On the wall behind it hung a shield with the coat of arms of the fraternity.

"Herr Professor, I am honored by being able to be here." Abdul said, went to the shield, and looked at it. Then he turned to Hans.

"It’s a great thing that you do here, Herr Professor. Maybe it’s vaults like these and people like you, who may re-ignite in our youth what Börner had and we lack." Abdul said and moved to the armor, looked at it and said: "Sometimes I wonder what he would do in our times. Whom would he fight?"

"This depends a great deal on who is the Napoleon of our time." Hans said.

"Good question, Herr Professor. Unfortunately, too difficult to answer without referring to conspiracy theories. We don’t know who is causing the mess, we only see the symptoms." Abdul said and felt it was time to start pitching his idea to Hans.

"What do you mean by symptoms?"

"For example the crimes perpetrated by the immigrants. Every day they kill our men and rape our women. I’m talking only about officially confirmed crimes, the reality is probably worse. And what does our society do? Not enough in my opinion." Abdul said.

Hans nodded.

"Fortunately, there is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make Düsselstein safe again." Abdul said.

"Fritz told me about it." Hans said.

"What do you think about it?"

"Well, it’s a two-sided sword." Hans said and rubbed his chin. "I certainly want to make our country safer, but…"

"But what?" Abdul said.

"What resources do you need from our fraternity to do this? Fritz didn’t tell me the numbers."

"I suggest we start small. We’ll need a van, like those the police uses. Two to five people who can deal with criminals. Firearms, of course. We’ll also need an airplane that can fly from Düsselstein to the Middle East. Without much noise, that is."

"That’s quite a wish list, Dr. Al-Khamid."

"I know. These are the costs of patriotism."

Hans looked at Fritz.

"What do you say, Fritz?" Hans said.

"Do we have an alternative? I mean, you can’t walk on the streets any more without some migrant attacking you. What they do with the girls in the swimming pools…" Fritz said. "The point is: Whatever the government is doing doesn’t work. They haven’t tried what we wanna do, which means it could work."

"The logic behind your conclusion is questionable, but I understand what you mean." Hans said. He pressed his lips and they moved. Sometimes he lower lip pushed the upper one, sometimes vice-versa like Christian-democractic and socialist parties in a coalition.

"What are your objections, Herr Professor?" Abdul said.

"Most of what you want is easily obtainable. Many of our members work in the Ministry of Interior, so a van and couple of guards should be no problem. We also have weapons, right in this vault." Hans said.

"Heck, even the airplane is doable. I know a general at the Air Force. He’ll probably find a way to borrow it for the purposes of… what was the name of your organization again?"

"Meidling Liberation Army." Abdul said.

"Right, right." Hans said.

"If you have everything we want, why do you hesitate?"

"The people is the problem."

"What people?"

"Our members. They aren’t fighters."

"Pardon?" Abdul said and raised his eyebrows.

"Look, what you want to do isn’t strictly illegal. But it’s also not something the, ahem, civilized society will approve of. If the wrong persons get to know that our members were involved in this, they could lose their jobs, or be refused advancement."


"Dr. Al-Khamid, you speak German very well, and obviously you are a great connoisseur of our culture. That’s great. But you don’t see that the modern Düsselstenian is very risk-averse, to put it mildly. He can talk a lot about Frederick Börner, and admire his bravery on the battlefield. But he never will risk his own life voluntarily. Hollywood tells us not to be a hero, and our own cowardice agrees. We don’t hide it, we just use a different name for it — Konzilianz."

"How does that relate to our business?"

"Our members can give you access to what you need, but will they? Will they risk their very real, very comfortable life for an ephemeral ideal of patriotism? I mean, when they come here and participate in Mensur sword fights they risk very little. A little cut on the cheek in the worst case. Like this." He pointed to the scar on his face.

"If they help with your plan, that’s very different. Just look at what the elites did with Sarazzin." Hans said and raised his index finger. "He lost his job at the German Federal Bank for just criticizing the official ideology. Criticizing! He did nothing, but talk. Just imagine what they will to those who act!"

"Now listen, Hans. I admit the price is high. You are right — we may all lose everything. Myself included. But there are two things you need to be aware of."


"First, neither I, nor you will get killed even if we are busted. Sarazzin is still alive." Abdul said. "That’s the first thing."

"And the second?"

"There is a certain thing that most people, including you, crave for. A drive so fundamental to a man’s nature, it’s almost animalistic. Deeper than lust, more inebriant than the biggest orgasm." Abdul said. He got himself so excied that he started to walk around. "Both of you, Hans and Fritz, have this urge, otherwise you wouldn’t spend this lovely evening in a dark vault. You know what urge I mean?"

Hans looked at Abdul, but said nothing.

"Power?" Fritz said.

"Not really. I meant something different. But you are right — if we implement my plan, we have a chance of becoming powerful. One day the state will be us. Good thinking, Fritz." Abdul said.

"Do you have any ideas, Herr Professor?"

Hans shook his head.

"It’s idealistic love. To love is to give the object of your love what she needs most. What do women want most? Safety. You can give it to them by helping us make solve the refugee problem. Just imagine what would you’d feel like, if you could satisfy most important needs of thousands, maybe millions of women. Picture it — you walk down the street and all women are safe. Because of you. They may or may not know it, but you know. You protect them by working with the Meidling Liberation Army. It’s like a never-ending orgasm." Abdul raised his hands and Fritz thought he looked like a politician now. "By working with us you will be able to express your love to thousands of women, like Casanova. What could be better?"

Hans thought about the Edelweiss flower again. In ancient times it was a symbol of love. His love ended many years ago, when Margot, his fiancée said he had to decide between her and the fraternity. Apart from love, Edelweiss was used to exorcise ghosts.

"Could this Muslim Edelweiss drive out the ghost of multiculturalism?" Hans wondered before he agreed to help Abdul and Fritz.

Chapter 7

Abdul and his grandfather were sitting in a Lebanese deli in the Reinprechtsdorfer Strasse 48. Abdul’s grandfather was an official at the Düsselsteinian headquarters of the United Nations. This allowed him to visit his grandson frequently. The café was close to the bus station and from the window Abdul saw pupils of the nearby IT college storming the bus.

"I never understood, how the Turks can drink tea from such little glasses. But it sure looks nice. Nice place down here." Abdul’s grandfather said.

Abdul listened to his relative and noticed he found a regular Turkish deli "nice". It was tidy, but pretty average by Düsselsteinian standards. However, for a person, who spent most of his life in the Palestinian autonomy, even this regular diner seemed luxurious.

"Did you talk with your friends in the government about my idea?"

The relative rolled his eyes.

"Abdul, I like that you don't forget about your motherland after so many years. But you haven't been there, you don't know what it's like there." He took another sip. "You are out of touch with reality."

Abdul knew his relative enough to understand that if he started to justify, he would lose this fight of good spirits right at the beginning.

"You haven't answered my question. Did you talk with the government?"

"Abdul, you know that I lost many of my children... even grandchildren in that war. You are one of my hopes. You've got a job here, you've got future. Why not use it? Why not live a happy life?" The grandfather said. "Is it because of a woman? Can't you find one here? Then, it's no problem, you can get plenty of them in Palestine. Many girls will be happy to move with you to Düsselstein."

"It's not about marriage, grandpa. You're right, I have the luxury of not being killed by the Israelis. Why not use it? Why not live a happy life by implementing my mission?"

"You think your mission is put explosives on your stomach and walk to the American embassy?"

"No, not at all. Right now, we have the opportunity to change history forever. Without bloodshed, and in such way that everyone will be happy."

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