He smiled at his image in the mirror. The face was broad and the deep set small dark eyes gazed back with coldness - this of course was in contrast to the wolfish grin. The fairly large nose had clearly been broken at least a couple of times, and the mouth was wide with thin lips, and a square jaw. His crew cut reinforced the brutish impression his face and tall muscular body gave. Boris Kirillovich Volosatov whistled as he shaved off the beard that had grown during his voyage from Petrograd to Hamburg. He loved his foreign assignments and the constant changes of surroundings. It made his practice of non attachment much easier, maybe too easy. He decided it would not be a problem, in time he would be stuck at some position in Russia. The days on the freighter had been quite boring with the exceptions of the conversations he had had with Mikhail Borodin 1 who had been fascinating. Apparently he was bound for China as soon as they were done in Hamburg. Maybe he will team up with Propykin in Shanghai, Volosatov thought with a pang of envy, and laughed as soon as he was struck by the feeling. Envy was for the sleeping mass of mankind to take seriously. Still, one could learn much from an experienced operative like Borodin, and he wouldn’t have minded doing just that.
His thoughts returned to last night as the freighter, now named ‘Loke’ and under Swedish colors, had slowly made its way into Kiel’s huge harbor. The scene had been lovely - lights from the city and the dark silhouettes of the warehouses. The docks and the black water, it all gave him goose bumps. He had taken a deep breath, enjoyed the sense of danger and felt a deep awe of life. The tired port officials either had been bribed or were loyal communists so the unloading went under way without problems. They were all tense however - the German authorities might have gained knowledge of the illegal cargo from their numerous sources - and he had nervously fingered the safety of his pistol before he commanded himself to relax and accept the tension in his body. The crates contained arms, mainly rifles and revolvers and ammunition, for the German proletariat. The quality was questionable since most was worn and poorly maintained weapons used in the Great War and the subsequent Russian civil war. The cargo was loaded onto trucks and were then driven to a railroad yard outside the port city were it would be transferred onto a train bound for Hamburg. Borodin continued on to Hamburg on business unknown to Volosatov, who had been ushered to a safe house in central Kiel. The apartment was sparsely furbished but the pantry was well stocked with foodstuffs. He made himself a sandwich and drank a beer before going to sleep on the bed covers, not bothering to undress.
He had awoken at just before ten and got up, removed his clothes and started with a short workout and then a cold shower to dispel the tiredness and to become fully alert. He had gone on to some do refreshing asanas 2 and meditation. Volosatov’s mind returned to the present, to his image in the mirror and the razor gliding across his left check, making a scratching sound as it cut the stubbles. I have done it again he thought. Despite all his training and his rigorous mental and physical exercises he had disappeared into the land of fantasy and memories. His eyes focused on the razor he held in his right hand and then he punished himself by making a short cut in his left palm. He licked the tiny wound and fully took in the pain and the taste of blood. The door to the apartment was opened and people entered, he quickly moved over to his black leather jacket lying on a chair and got his pistol. “Hallo Genosse! 3” someone cheerfully shouted from the kitchen. Volosatov kept the weapon lowered and moved slowly through the bedroom and when he reached the living room he saw three Germans in simple clothes sitting down around the table. He recognized one of them from last night, it was the man who brought him here; his name was Stefan Kräft. He smiled and lay the pistol on the coffee table and joined them in the kitchen. “So, Comrades, will you show me the town today?” Volosatov spoke German fluently – his mother was a Volga German who had fallen for his Russian father’s charms.
“No Comrade, we brought you some fresh food for today,” Kräft motioned to the bag on the kitchen table; the others opened beer bottles and passed them around, “you can stay here for the three days until the freighter leaves.” Volosatov gulped down some excellent German pilsner, “nah, that’s not what I had in mind at all. What are you guys doing today?”
Kräft gaped alarmed, “We are responsible for you as long as you are here. We cannot risk…”
“You can come with us if you want.” One of the others grinned.
“No he cannot!” Kräft protested.
“Sure I can. What’s your name?”
The man smiled but shot a nervous glance at Kräft, “Peter Raabe.”
“Comrade Raabe, where are we going?”
“Well, we’ll join the demonstration at one a clock and then afterwards we’ll go to ‘our’ Pub and have a pint or two afterwards.”
“Good man. Sounds fun. What are we demonstrating against or for?”
Raabe cleared his throat, “we’re, um, protesting against the government, the capitalists, the the, the church and the…landowners?”
Kräft scowled, “And work for all, education, social justice, salaries we can live on – the inflation is killing us.”
“Outstanding! It’s been a long time since I demonstrated. I might be a little rusty. Can I hold a placard?”
“If, if you like.” Kräft was clearly not happy with where the conversation was going.
“Just let me finish up in the bathroom and we’ll go.” Volosatov drained the beer and he heard Kräft argue with the others as he returned to the mirror. He laughed. A demonstration, a fucking demonstration - it was hilarious and a great opportunity to beat some stupid ugly brown shirt senseless. He felt eager to experience the mass of people again, all of them asleep, how they came together as one huge powerful beast that was so dangerous and yet so easy to manipulate. Havel’s words came back to him “In order to see clearly, you cannot see through labels, you cannot see through words. People believe in things and these beliefs color their perception of reality. It makes everything into a delusion - an illusion. Nonsense and ideals are what they believe in. They're basically fodder - fodder for the great machine. They're being ground up. It doesn't bother them because they're not capable of much more.” Sadness came over Volosatov and he concentrated on the sensation of the movements of his body as he finished shaving and got fully dressed.
* * *
The air was quite cold and the sky was overcast with a gray cloud cover that delivered the occasional drizzle. Despite the melancholic weather they kept their spirits high with songs, and chanting political slogan as they marched from the southern suburbs toward the ‘Kieler Rathaus.’ 4 Volosatov had a great time among his fellow German Comrades and chatted with housewives and factory workers while Kräft and his men anxiously kept up with him. There was something reminiscent of Petrograd 1918 in the air, but naturally the determined desperation was missing. Things were not that bad. Not yet anyway. As they entered the city centre, detachments of uniformed police officers appeared; some only standing in formation in streets they passed while one detachment moved up and marched behind them, keeping a respectful distance, this was a legal demonstration after all. To Volosatov’s disappointment, the police effectively kept them apart from any larger group of reactionaries and fascists. At the square, local communist leaders held speeches that were uninspiring and boring – Volosatov used the time to do some Pranayama 5. It took awhile for him to notice the last speaker’s superior oratory skill, fully concentrated on his breathing as he was. He asked Kräft who was speaking and was told that it was Ernst Thälmann, a rising star in the Hamburg section of the KPD 6. It was a rousing attack on international capitalism and Germany’s feeble government. Afterwards, the crowd broke up and he immediately went to work on a group of pretty seamsters, using tricks and charm he convinced the young girls to accompany him and his guardians to their favorite hangout. During the walk, he focused on Lisl, a short red haired girl with a hungry mouth.
The Pub was a worn and dreary place decorated with red banners with political slogans and the photos of the local football team. The beer was excellent however, but Volosatov kept his body’s enthusiasm for it in a tight leash and only drank as much as necessary to fit in the group. He and Lisl soon sat down together at a small table and his jokes and interest in her made her happier than she had been for a long time. This exotic foreign man really got her and he did not spend the time talking about himself. Later, they snuck out together, avoiding Kräft and the others, but drawing some lewd comments from other men who knew Lisl and her friends. Outside the pub, they decided to go to his place, since she shared a room with three of her friends. They walked along empty streets under the moon and the stars and only their voices and her cute laughter broke the silence. They reached the tram stop and joined the young woman with a small child who waited there. Volosatov held Lisl and they kissed and she embraced him and their tongues wrestled lustfully. They lost time enjoying each other.
“What the hell? Look lads, a commie pig and his little whore.” There was laughter and he looked up to see four brown shirts approaching. Volosatov cursed, he had forgotten to remove the red handkerchief he had tied around his left arm. Lisl was terrified and he moved between her and the approaching fascists. He was calm, the slight intoxication should not be a problem but four against one was dangerous if they knew how to fight. “If you leave her with us, we might consider letting you go.” Their faces were flushed and their eyes dull by too much beer. “No way, this one is mine.” Another blurted. Volosatov had no interest in delaying and simply kicked the man closest to him in the face, taking him by complete surprise, in mid-sentence – he had started to explain all the pain Volosatov and Lisl would experience by their hands. The impact sent the man backwards, falling down on the cobble. Two of the others moved to outflank him on both sides while the third standing raised his hands in a boxer pose and approached. The thugs were moving too slowly and he quickly moved to the left, struck the off balanced man right in the throat and he fell over his closest friend. With all but one of the brown shirts standing at them moment, Volosatov pushed his advantage by executing what Lisl could only classify as a ‘flying kick’, which struck the German in the chest. He lost his breath, but managed to stay on his feet. The men were no fools, instead of making a new attempt they simply fled into the night, leaving their gasping and near unconscious friend. Volosatov walked over to Lisl, “Are you alright?!” She looked at him with newfound respect, “where have you learned how to move like that? I have never seen anything like it.” They were interrupted by an approaching tram’s horn. The brown shirt struggled feebly to get up – he was lying on the tram tracks. Volosatov considered his options for a second and then went over and dragged the man to safety. The tram reached them and stopped. They got on and he paid for them both as well as the young woman. She mumbled thanks and led the child to the seat furthest from him. Lisl watched the SA-man sit up as the tram moved on. The magic of the evening had been dispelled by the attack so when they finally arrived to the apartment they just had some tea and then went to bed. Volosatov immediately fell asleep. Lisl was surprised at his ability to relax after such an ordeal. She lay listening to his breathing while she replayed the scene in her head, again and again. It took her quite awhile to drift off to sleep.
The sun’s warm rays woke them up. He got up and opened the window to let in some fresh air. Lisl tried to talk about last night but he kissed her and drew her close to him. She protested feebly but was soon distracted by his caresses. The love making was like nothing she had experience before. Granted she had only been with two men before but this man seemed to know more about her body than she did and had control over his own body. He gave her, her first orgasm using his tongue and then went on the give her several more in the more traditional manner. Amazingly enough, and a bit insulting to her she had to admit, he did not allow himself to climax at all. She felt drained and tired after their marathon, but very very relaxed, in a way that was new to her. He then made them breakfast and they ate like two hungry wolves, barely saying a word to each other. She then took a shower while he sat in the window and looked out over Kiel’s rooftops. It looked as if he was lost in thoughts. This was far from the truth. He was integrating energy from them both, which was coursing through his body. When done, he enjoyed a pleasant buzz in his gut and images of great golden copulations in deep elder forests filled his mind.
1 Mikhail Markovich Borodin - Soviet arms dealer and Comintern agent
2 Body positions in Yoga
3 Genosse – Comrade in German
4 Kiel City Hall
5 A Yogic breathing exercise which supposedly vitalizes the ‘energy’ flows in the body.
6 Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands - The Communist Party of Germany