Listen to The Written Word
WORK IN PROGRESS
I had four days off after three twelve-hour days of sitting up in the attic of a deserted former Gestapo building. I had arrived for my shift, said goodnight to my shift relief and friend Duane, and began my work-night routine. I first put down a warm grease-stained paper bag filled with a Wiener Schnitzel smothered in sautéed onions and gravy and a side order of hand-cut, crispy crunchy pom frites. To wash it all down I pulled out the pièce de résistance, a chilled extra-large brown bottle of Villingen’s local beer which I put on the old scarred wooden tabletop, also known as my ‘desk’ since directly across from where I sat was a single-sideband radio. I popped the white ceramic stopper, pushed it forward, and took a long thirst-quenching drink of golden bubbly liquid, “Ahhh…” the obligatory belch and the SSB radio came to life.
When I get off at 6 PM Jonesy will be waiting with my VW and a bottle of Four Roses, and it’s off to Paris for a few wild days. Or, at least that was our intent. And, being young and spunky we went for it, with gusto!
A light-misty rain was falling, and while waiting for Jonesy I leaned against the arched entrance door, shielded myself from the drizzle, and lit a Marlboro. Our plan scrambled together just hours before, was to leave immediately for Paris then drive all night with me doing the driving and Jonesy the navigating. Our ‘well thought out itinerary had us arriving bright and early the next morning to begin our hunt for a small Parisian district named Pigalle. Jonesy told me we’d definitely “find some action in what he called pig alley,” and even though I wasn’t sure how things worked there, ‘action’ sounded like a good idea, and got my juices flowing, and my depraved young dude mind working.
I heard a distinct VW sound coming my way, snapped my head up, and Jonesy was waving from behind the wheel of my newly polished grey 63′ Volkswagen.
I had picked the VW up in Stuttgart three months ago and then explored the Bavarian forest, driven in an eye blink through Lichtenstein, crossed the Alps, and checked out Northern Italy in this little wonder. I glanced over at Jonesy and excitedly looked forward to driving my pride and joy on our first ever visit to France.
Jonesy held the folded map up in one hand and the Four Roses extra-large size jug in the other, and his dark face lit up with the happiest bright-eyed smile I think I’ve ever seen. “Well Jonesy, we’re off! But before we hit the road,” I pointed at the bottle in Jonesy’s hand.
“Right on man, let’s do it!” Jonesy took a swig, then handed me the bottle, I pulled one back and we studied the map, accidentally christening it with a dollop of whiskey, and charted our course.
We began our journey in the medieval walled village of Villingen deep in the heart of Southern Germany’s Black Forest, and on the map it looked like a fast shot on fast roads due west directly into France and then around what looked like low lying hills, straight on to gay Paree. Looks are sometimes deceiving, and if I’d known how deceiving, I may have called the whole thing off. But ignorance is bliss, so I revved up the thirteen-hundred cc Beatle, glided into first, and we were off, slipping and skidding down the glistening cobblestone.
Four stone arches at each compass point carry daily traffic into and out of the walled town and as we slipped and slid our way through the western arch I felt a sudden joy. We were out. We were free!. We were on our way to Paris!
Jonesy and I passed the bottle back and forth, didn’t talk too much, and got into the rhythm of the road as the orange sky faded into a star-filled moonless night and the pine trees were silhouetted against the stars that seemed to grow brighter as we climbed higher into the rolling French woods <<<NEEDS MAJOR WORK! The road followed a stream winding first right then turning sharp left then … It kept up like that for at least thirty minutes until we made another right and spotted two dim street lamps up ahead on the right side of the street and an orange-yellow construction light on a stripped saw horse blinked brightly across the street. “Yoh Davey man.” Jonesy pointed to a squat double width telephone booth-like structure on the sidewalk directly behind the yellow blinker. It had “Polizei 49” printed boldly across its glass curb-facing side. I thought this was our salvation; We could ask for directions from the person in the booth and I quickly turned the wheel and headed directly across the deserted street towards the lit booth and when I stopped at the side of the glass and aluminum police booth, my heart sunk when I read a handwritten note taped to the window: “Stunden, 9.00 bis 22.00 Uhr.” That was it, no one would be here until 9AM and there wasn’t even a phone number, but that wouldn’t have done us any good since I didn’t see a phone booth and we only had Dollars and Marks and no Francs in our pockets.
A half dream-world where my consciousness is focused down the high beams and my subconscious is where coherent thoughts float to the surface and …”Jonesy, where the hell are we?” I almost slammed into the low rock wall on the left side of the road that was following the curves and twists of the winding stream. That really shook me, my heart was racing and my hands, the left one on the wheel and the right on the shift round pool ball that I grasped in my right .. and the winding stream; side of the car. I was worried and pissed at the same time, actually mostly worried and to be honest, a little scared as we drove deeper and deeper into the “Swartzwald.” Southern Germany’s Black Forest.