Teaser 254: Heinz, Mathieu and Conrad

The first full day, while Lena was at work, I called Mathieu, my cousin, to discover if and when he would be available. He invited me for supper in the early evening but I declined, explaining I thought I might instead have supper with Heinz and his family, on my dime of course, and have him drive me to Mathieu's place and the three of us could make a short evening of it. I could pick up those items of our mutual family members and spend some time at Lena's using her flat-bed scanner and return them before I leave for Africa. I called Heinz and he readily agreed to my suggestions. As he told me he was happy to see and hear me again. “You have no idea, Herr Hess,” Heinz said over the phone, “what I felt those months you were missing.”

“We're going to discuss my offer for employment, Heinz, but you will have to do one thing for me beginning now.”

“What's that, Herr Hess?”

“You must address me as Al-Barrak.”

Heinz let out a gregarious laugh. “I think I shall enjoy working for Al-Barrak. It is my understanding he possesses the same playfulness and humor of the now deceased Gregory Hess. Or am I mistaken, Al-Barrak?”

“Since you have made me consider I must have a driver on whom I can depend, Heinz, what do you think?”

The supper with Heinz, Hilda and their brood was enjoyable, though the children were disappointed I wore no robe, thus appearing to them like the old man they remembered from earlier, with longer hair, now mostly white, but still tied in the back in a pony tail. The supper was nothing flamboyant, just delicious and charming. Heinz and I drove off after I called Mathieu so he knew when to expect us.

At the doorway when he bid us inside, Mathieu smiled slyly and remarked, “So, I suppose I will have to call you Al-Barrak now, just as you have become, perhaps, the most famous member of our humble family?”

“You may always address me as my cousin, Mathieu, for it is the truth, and truth is what I appreciate above all else.”

I shared with Mathieu the genealogy compiled by my aunt so he would know the names of many of the relatives from the other side of the big pond. Mathieu had also discovered some other items of family interest and gave it all to me in the satchel he had the first time.

We talked with Heinz about the news of the last few months, our personal kind and the world in general. Things were heating up in the Middle East, specifically Israel and the “occupied” territories of primarily Palestinians. I didn't bring it up. Curiously, Heinz did. Heinz looked at me quite severely. “Do you understand, Al-Barrak, that I see far too many parallels with the history of the Nazis and what they, we, my fellow country men and women, did to the Jews all over Europe and what continues to take place, what has taken place for decades in Palestine and what is now Israel? It disturbs me greatly because I have lived with the decades of shame that all of Germany has had to endure for those inexcusable actions and in Palestine, the survivors of the genocidal atrocity and their children are committing the same type of atrocity all over again. Yet, everywhere in the Western world it is accepted. Is it because the victims are Arabs, perhaps those descended from Esau? Does that now make it acceptable? Then, perhaps, it was acceptable what we did to Jews, those descended from Jacob. For isn't this the argument we are pushing here? That it is acceptable when it is performed with a conspicuous respect to genealogy, with a strict adherence to whom one is descended? When I think of things like this I am sickened to be human, Al-Barrak. We are humans in name only for we are still animals!”

Though I spoke in response to Heinz, I looked only to my cousin. “I will assure you of this, Heinz. Should you ever hear me give up, to lose faith in all of you, to condemn all of you, that will be the moment when you better duck and cover, because here comes the wrath of the One! And it will be a terror you can never imagine!”

On the drive back to Lena's my phone rang. On the other end was Conrad. “You are back in Germany?”

“I am. How are you and your wonderful family, young man?”

“We are doing well. We all are quite relieved since your return. I'm sure you can imagine. Mother and Father would like to have you visit before you leave again.” Conrad paused. “I would, too. I...have always...thought very highly of you...Al-Barrak, is it, now?”

“It would please me greatly, Conrad, when you call me Al-Barrak.”

“Well, we all miss you. You know that, don't you?”

“I miss you all, too, and we will all gather together before I leave again. I promise you.”

“Good. I'll look forward to it...Anyway, I was asked by a mutual acquaintance that I must call you and speak with you, since he had heard you were coming to Germany.”

“How is Bruno?”

Conrad laughed heartily. “You are like they say. You already know what others are thinking.”

“It has been quite a while since I saw the mates, Conrad, especially Bruno. I would enjoy catching up with them. What do you suggest?”

“Bruno wanted me to ask you to meet with them at Josef's warehouse. He wanted me to assure you he still has your Fender guitar and amp.”

“What's your schedule tomorrow, Conrad?” I wanted to discuss with Lena what her immediate plans were, try to coordinate everyone, including meeting with Matty, Wilhelm, Anna, and Conrad, and cruising over to Josef's warehouse to meet up with the mates. Conrad promised me he would first discuss with his family their schedule while I would discuss with Lena hers. I wanted Lena to be with me for all of it. I wanted to include her. She only knew about the band second-hand and had seen the videos. She liked the band's sound. Lena enjoyed rock and roll as much as anyone and had, at times, expressed a regret she had not been in my life then. Now that she was firmly entrenched there, I wanted her to experience this, too.

- Just Desserts, Segment Thirty-OneGo Home” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

contact me, as always: schussprose@gmail.com