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Historical Fiction Drama Speculative

He placed the shiny black vinyl record on the turntable, like an art dealer would place a valuable fragile object d’art in front of a potential buyer. With equal care like a surgeon making an incision with a tiny scalpel, he carefully placed the stylus at the very edge of the plastic vinyl record, the sudden hiss of the loudspeakers startled the silence, as the stylus connected to the minuscule grove on the edge of the spinning vinyl record.


He sat back in the armchair, equal distance between the two large sentinel speakers guarding the dark emptiness of the room. He relaxed, into a meditative pose folding his arms over his body, closed his eyes in homage to the anticipated entrance of David Bowie’s voice suddenly flowing into the room, filling the void of previous silence, from the high-quality loudspeakers, the lyrics of Glass Spider, from the 1989 Glass Spider Tour flowed into the dimly lit room. He drifted backwards into the year 1989, with the rendition of the track, the soft languid voice of Bowie taking him there with the words.


Up until one century ago there lived,

In the Zehlendorf province of an eastern country

A glass-like spider

Having devoured its prey it would drape the skeletons over its web……..


He felt himself falling, falling, the sound of the music suddenly started to warp, it echoed like in a tunnel, and he was drifting away from the sound, he could no longer feel the supporting arms of the armchair, they disappeared, he was falling downwards, backwards, he remained in a sitting position, but he could not see what was beneath him. He landed like a Mr. Bean character in Friedrichstrasse, unlike Mr. Bean, there was no spotlight from above, from the dark night sky, he landed with a jolt on the crowded busy street, but strangely he continued to hear David Bowie’s voice in the distant night sky. Everybody in the street was listening, their backs turned to face the direction of the music, in the distance the sound of David Bowie’s voice on Friedrichstrasse. No one had noticed his sudden appearance, they were entranced with the high volume of sound coming from behind the Der Mauer, no one, except two dogs.


As he sat on the cold hard pavement, the dogs confidently came up to his eye level, and licked his face. It was a bizarre experience, the distant sound of David Bowie in his ears, the saliva from the two dogs running down his face, but it was their smelly breath that caused him to push away their slobbering welcome.


It was Schatzi and Manfred, that meant Eva wasn’t far away.


He struggled to get to his feet, he felt giddy, but he had to stay alert, the Stasi police would be around, somewhere, it was well past curfew, he needed to move to the rendezvous point. Once the concert finished, he knew the riots would start.


“Come on you two, let’s go, komm, hier!” He grabbed both dogs by the collar and dragged them in the direction of the side street. He was fortunate, the moment he turned into the darker alleyway, the police had pushed their way through the listening crowd, the wall of people eavesdropping on the concert. All the East German police were on full alert that night, there was the normal curfew, but everybody had rebelled, ignored it. The tension in the air was rampant, the concert on the other side of the wall had brought the people out from their houses and apartments to listen. The concert organizers had purposely erected the stage right next to the wall on the west side. It was intentional, and the Stasi police knew it, but they could not control the concert organizers nor the gathered listening crowds. Every day went by nowadays and the tensions increased. The atmosphere was tense like an invisible tripwire, a stumble - a wrong move by the police, and they would have an angry mob to deal with, the redolence of intolerance, rioting, anarchy was ripe in the air.


There were reports coming in from Alexanderplatz, protesters had gathered earlier in the day, and it was impossible to move an aggressive crowd of 70,000 people. The mood had changed now; for years East Berliners wanted to leave for the West, for a better lifestyle, more opportunities, the normal chanting "Wir wollen raus!" ("We want out!"). Today for the first time, the protestors began to chant "Wir bleiben hier!" ("We are staying here!"). The concert had galvanized both sides of the Der Mauer, the crowds cheering and shouting across the wall, Berliners on both sides cheering to be heard together, one voice, not in forced separation. The concert had generated a feeling of connection for both sides of Der Mauer. It was something new for a divided Berlin, for a divided Germany – but it was good news.


The police in the streets, the administrators, the East German government, there was a sea change of attitude, Der Mauer was a scar on the cityscape, it was an insult to all Germans. They can’t continue to take the blame for the war forever. Der Mauer had nothing to do with Germany anyway it was another war, a political war between polar philosophies – the cold war.


The iron curtain was about to move, and Der Mauer to fall forever.


He dodged from side street to side street, the concert had made achieving the rendezvous point that much easier.


He saw her blonde hair, and the tied bob of her hair jutting out, it was easily visible shimmering under the glow of streetlight. She was surrounded by his friends – meena atze - his buddies. His heart jumped at seeing her. Under the glow of the streetlight, he also saw Jurgs and Matts, his friends from childhood. He recognized their dress, uniform of the eighties, with their ripped jeans, and leather bomber jackets, not quite up to the fashion statements of Nina Hagen and Einstürzende Neubauten, but it was a statement of anti-establishment, anti-Stasi, anti-Russen. They had all grown up under the shadow of Der Mauer, the generation that had to make repatriations and forgiveness, feel guilty for the sins of another generation, rinse out the guilt of Hitler for the victors. None of the victors seem to have made the world a better place, he thought.


Meena atze - were in deep conversation, or maybe the music in the distance wafting over the buildings, along with the dust and smoke of listening audiences, but he was only yards away from them, before he broke into their discourse, he spoke.


Juten Tach! Wie geht’s?” (Good day! How are you?).


They collectively jumped, their feelings of vulnerability, being out on the street after curfew, he recognized immediately their reaction. It transformed completely when they all looked and discovered the face behind the voice, beaming smiles, all the faces exploded in recognition and welcome. Eva leaped into the air, closed the distance, and with open outstretched arms landed on his shoulder, her arms securing themselves upon his neck, like a monkey jumping to grab a branch in the canopy of trees, hugging him close, climbing up his body, opening her face to him, her eyes seeking his permission to steal a kiss. He recognized her fragrance, he felt the absence, but the absence was now over.


“It’s been a long time Kuele (buddy).” Jurgs replied and offered his outstretched hand. Jurgs and Matts would have hugged their friend, but Eva had centre stage, it was impossible to get near their friend, without prizing away Eva impersonating an affectionate primate.


“How did you get out!” Matts asked, and then the most important question in all their minds. “Why did you come back – meena atze (my good friend) – you are crazy Kuele!


“One question at a time. Let me put this gorgeous girl down first of all. Did you all miss me?” He enquired.


“Natürlich! (of course) Bist du Irre? (Are you crazy?).” They all said in unison, laughing out the tension.


“I came back to tell you something outrageous. Something that’s going to change our futures - forever!” he said enthusiastically.


Before anybody could respond – he said. “Der Mauer is coming down, starting tonight, meena atze!” His grin was so wide and set, it was unbreakable. He waited for a reaction.


“How do you know who told you?” Matts was dismissive, the first to react to the news.


“Trust me, I know.” He said emphatically.


“What have they been feeding you on the other side, lots of food spiced with fennel?” Matts said, disbelieving.


“Starting tonight, the border is open. That stupid Krenz and his politburo pansies can’t stop it anymore. An announcement will be made in an hour, no papers, let’s go to Bornholmer Strasse crossing, it’s happening NOW!” He wanted to shake them all out of their malaise, history was being made.


“And we will be able to come back without persecution!”


Eva didn’t care about the past, the future, she was in raptures, seeing her man back after all this time, she wasn’t interested in the future, the perfect moment was now.


Jurgen changed the direction of the conversation. “How did you get back?” he said suspiciously.


He looked down at the dogs sitting patiently waiting. Both looking up at the group of four, waiting for the next move. Jurgen already thought he knew.


“You escaped through the tunnels, and you came back through the tunnels. Those dogs know the way, don’t they?” Jurgen’s tone was edgy, knowing. He stuck out his chin in defiance and said.


“Plus, if you think we are all going to go to Bornholmer Strasse crossing NOW without any papers, and after curfew, you are crazier than I gave you credit for, you are insane. You will get us all shot!”

This quietened them all.


“Look Jurgs, I know you narked on me with the Stasi, when I disappeared. I understand, we are all students, trying to create a better future for ourselves, we think we need the support of this puppet administration, which even the Russen have abandoned. I know it is hard on those left behind in this nowhere land, more than those that have escaped. I accept that, Kuele!” He placed a conciliary hand on Jurgen’s shoulder.


Jurgen looked shocked, and then feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and envy were pushing him further away from the island of their enduring friendship out into the ocean, the deep waters of regret.


“I know you have narked on me tonight, so let’s get out of here.” The last words he raised his voice to emphasize the urgency.


Out of the darkness, the blast of the whistle came from nowhere.


“Run!” He shouted.


********


He slammed the apartment door behind him, and immediately squatted down, his knees creaked under the strain, to unleash the dogs. Both dogs waited patiently for the leads to be unbuckled, and then waddled along the corridor to hustle some treats from Eva.


“Hey darling is the football on yet, Union must win tonight, or we are in trouble.” He calls out, taking off his coat.


“Your dad called, the dogs ran off again, did you see them?” Eva shouts back.


“It’s OK I found them in the park. They are with me; Frau Gottschild lent me some leads – they were wandering around like strays as normal. Can you text him on WhatsApp?” he replies.


“Sure. I’m not cooking, I ordered Uber eats, is that OK?” Eva asks.


“No problem. Good idea. First, get the match on, change the channel from that stupid TLC, the match should be on Sky Sports - Main Event.” 

February 04, 2024 11:53

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18 comments

The Truth
07:00 Feb 26, 2024

The level of talent in this writing is humbling. I like the international component. This whole story is masterful.

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John Rutherford
07:18 Feb 26, 2024

Wow. Thanks for a brilliant compliment. Thank you.

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John Rutherford
07:44 Feb 16, 2024

It's part of chapter in a book, so it has been adapted. I would like to think it is the MC remembering backwards.

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HC Edwards
20:28 Feb 15, 2024

I love the point of view in this historical moment. Too many younger people these days have no idea about the Berlin Wall or what it represented…question though, is this a memory of the main character or is it the dad’s memory? I was thinking that listening to the record took him back to the memory and the present is the life they are living now. But I’m guessing its vague for the specific reason that I’m asking…

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Michał Przywara
21:45 Feb 14, 2024

Time travel through music is fitting, especially for an event as big as the wall coming down. For people on the outside it was just that - an event you read about in the paper. But the people who were there, they were real people with real hopes, dreams, and lives, and this story explores that a bit. “Jurgen looked shocked, and then feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and envy were pushing him further away from the island of their enduring friendship out into the ocean, the deep waters of regret.” - great passage, and I like the addition of ...

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John Rutherford
22:33 Feb 14, 2024

This is huge significant moment for the unification of Germany. It was a bit of farce in the end. But the shouting crowd changed from years of "we want out" to "we want to stay", this is hugely significant and meaningful, relevant for Berliners. This is a key message in the story, and it is fact.

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John Rutherford
22:34 Feb 14, 2024

Thanks for your comments.

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John Rutherford
05:49 Feb 09, 2024

The Scorpions. I had to look it up.

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Kevin Marlow
01:01 Feb 09, 2024

I follow the Moskva Down to Gorky Park Listening to the wind of change An August summer night Soldiers passing by Listening to the wind of change The world is closing in And did you ever think? That we could be so close? Like brothers The future's in the air I can feel it everywhere Blowing with the wind of change

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Trudy Jas
20:35 Feb 05, 2024

After so many year of fear, retaliation, oppression. it's difficult to believe in freedom.. Very well done Vielen Dank.

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John Rutherford
07:04 Feb 06, 2024

Thank you

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Charlee Sage
18:51 Feb 08, 2024

This is so true! Such a good read!

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John Rutherford
06:58 Feb 05, 2024

Thanks Mary. How's the progress on your book?

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Mary Bendickson
23:39 Feb 04, 2024

Ashamed I know so few facts about the history of how this came about even though I lived through the time frame. You certainly made it come alive. Well done.

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John Rutherford
18:34 Feb 04, 2024

Thanks

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Christy Morgan
17:48 Feb 04, 2024

This info will date me, John, but the Berlin Wall fell on my 16th birthday. Your story took me back to that time, as I pondered through some of those memories. I recall being ecstatic at the developments and watching all of the news coverage. I'll have to go back and listen to some David Bowie - it's been a while. Thanks for sharing -- enjoyed the story. Well written, descriptive without feeling forced and relatable to the human experience!

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John Rutherford
15:51 Feb 04, 2024

Thank you. I try to stay authentic. Bowie and the Berlin connection over time is interesting.

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Helen A Smith
15:42 Feb 04, 2024

Interesting and current take on the prompt, even though it’s based on a past event. Sadly, seems a long time ago. Also, a fan of David Bowie, though more his later music. A gripping read.

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