Mehdi was at peace. Apart from the little hitch early in the discussion, he handled pretty well. How many skeletons were there in the closet? Where ever I poked, I got blood and tears. Improbable and sad stories. Was I rushing my acquanitece? Was I doing this to feel secure when I clearly was not. These men were products of FarAwayDowns, even if they weren’t born there. Their gloom and doom was forged from every breath they took of that city.
But why were they running? Why was Trauer so fidgety and why did the rest of the gang follow his judgment without question? I felt left out again, only this time I intended to go with the flow. I had to learn to enjoy the situation. This idea was short lived. I was not OK with not-knowing.
Amir was awake, The Russian stood up and peered out of the railings. The rest of the gang was still asleep. It was time for a confrontation, I had to wake up Trauer.
“What is it?” Trauer was startled when I shook his shoulder.
“Why are you so paranoid?” I asked him.
“I’m not usually awakened in my sleep.” he replied.
“I meant us being smuggled out on a truck full of manure when we could have just drove in a car. We could have even stayed at home damn it.” I was a gesture short of yanking him by the collar.
“Control yourself.” he insisted.
“And why did you insist on my coming along? You needed a medic for your rag tag group of commandos? And that story? Do you expect me to believe that there would be parents who didn’t approve of their children getting married, IN GERMANY?” I had honestly never used so many questions in one go.
“Revolutions scare me.” he replied, the rest of the gang was awake by the commotion. “I was born during the cold war. I grew up in some very tough times. That thing about my marriage? She was from the West and I was from the East.”
“East and West what?” I sat back again.
“East and West Berlin. Back then the distinction was real. The reason our parents finally agreed was that there was no wall in between Berlin anymore.”
“You still give a damn about your parents in the West?” I sneered.
“I did. You don’t know what my family went through. My father was a manic-depressive. I think his time with the Gestapo and the SS did that to him. I had to take care for him. His happiness meant something to me. He didn’t know who to hate? He chose the communists over the Allies as his overlords, and that is the way it stayed till the wall broke down. I was a proud communist myself until I met her. I was in the MfS at the time. The KGB later recruited me. I spent some time with the propaganda specialists. The whole world wanted to align with the USSR and they had little knowledge on what really went on behind the Red Curtain. I was in Moscow when I met Iskandar. He was an ex-KGB agent at the time. They were holding him for providing intel and logistics to Dagestani dissidents. I was supposed to break into his head. He had stuff stashed all the way from East Germany to Siberia. The stories of the dissolution of the Soviet Republic had already started. My friends in the KGB were organized into two blocks. One of them was willing to overthrow Gorbachev. The good news was that they got caught. In all the quagmire I managed to get Iskandarov and myself back to Germany. I got married. Much of what we did back then was still required by the new governments. I was wanted by the Germans and the Russians, just for questioning. I was on one of those debriefings when she died in a car accidents. I was distraught. After that I was in the air. I met Sabir in Turkey. He was a student back then in the Turkish Workers and Peasants Socialist Party. Our meeting was arranged through Iskandar. The rest of the story you know.
“I still remember Afghanistan, my cousins being shot at the Wall of Berlin, the hell holes of the KGB and the monsters that populated its ranks. I am afraid of war now, all forms of human conflict send chills down my spine. I have killed and tortured many people. Not in the field, not like a soldier who has nothing personal against the man at the recieving end of the bullet. there was no dignity in the wars I fought. The ends my victims or “assignments” was anything but dignified. We were the factions of Germany that continued the barbaric legacy of our predecesors. When she died I thought it was Karmic Justice. The things I held dear were taken away from me because of what I had done all my adult life. I even spent time in a mental institution for my frequent “dissociative” states. Even today I start having panic attacks whenever I hear loud noises. Sometimes I can’t because my “assignments” haunt me all night. I don’t want to be a part of it. Any of it. I want to go some where there is peace that is the only thing I want at this time.” Trauer finally stopped.
I had goose bumps because 2 of my “friends” were ex-KGB. I was starting to piece together Trauer’s paranoia.
“Doc, look up and listen to me.” he held me by my chin and continued, ” These men follow my whims and put up with my insecurities because that is what they are, MY FRIENDS, MY COMRADES! And I think the same of you.”
There was a morbid silence in the truck. The silence lingered on for the next hour when the truck came to a gradual stop. A stack of fertilizer bags almost fell on Rakh. The Russian began to giggle, followed by Sabir and Amir, I joined in but Trauer kept a solemn face. He looked out of the truck and signaled into the dark with his torch. From the side of the road green flashes of light came as a response and we got off the truck, carefully pushing the bags aside. I was feeling sorry for pulling Rakh into this mess.
“Our ride is here. It’s Cherokee Jeep with custom Left hand steering. We will take turns at driving, and we will follow the Red Route to China.
“Where are we going exactly?” Amir inquired. I was relieved by the fact that I didn’t have to ask the question myself.