*Please note that wordpress messes with my indents and I’m too tired to fix them.
February 9th 2010
Triumph des Willens / Triumph of the Will
Gregor Horton wiped grease off his sweat stained brow. He had finished fixing an old, rusty Chevy engine with time to spare, but he had sat under the car relaxing, screwing and unscrewing the same bolt to ensure no one caught wind of his mechanical engineering degree. It made him sick to have to work in such conditions. He had worked in pristine factories designing the newest and greatest engines for car’s, tanks and jeeps, not in old shops, repairing older Chevy’s. He slid out from underneath and took off his gloves, placing them on a tool rack. He pulled off his dirty blue cap, and stood outside to get some fresh air. The cool north wind blew through his slick golden hair. He and his family lived in a small house two miles past the garage, which stood ten miles outside the city. Gregor walked from the spot underneath the great line of oak trees that lined the highway to the point in the road where it curved downwards, spiralling across a cliff face. He could see his cottage from there, which poked it’s serene grey chimney top out of the tree tops. About twenty yards from the house rested an old bronze fountain that rusted green with age. That fountain had been there for quite some time before his family settled in. The salesman didn’t even know who had put the fountain there first, but that the last owners of the land had taken great care of it. As Gregor returned towards the garage, he met up with the owner, Freddy Jones. The sixty year old mechanic spat out some tobacco tar into the trees before Gregor got close enough to talk.
“Taking a break Freddy?” asked Gregor playfully, taking a handful of chew tobacco that Freddy held out to him. He hated chew tobacco but had adopted the habit to fit in.
“That’s right. That dang Chevy engine is giving me trouble. Bailey is hitching a ride out here from his little down, whose name I forget, to come pick it up but I don’t think I’ll finish it in time.” He spat again.
Gregor spat as well, “You could let me take a look at it. You’re not as spry as you used to be, I’m sure. Damn.” Some spit landed on his shoe.
Freddy spat, “Alright, you young buck, I’ll let your youthful forty year old eyes take a look at it.”
Gregor and Freddy laughed, then they both spat. “You can head on home now if you want.” said Freddy
“You sure boss?”
“Yeah, Jon just went into town to pick up a part he ordered and he’s anxious to get working on his racing engine.”
“You got it.”
Gregor got into his old Chevy pickup, whose bright red paint had turned salmon by rust and age. He rumbled down the road, humming the melody to a Ink Spots song. He sorely missed making beautiful new engines. The rattle of his truck and the thought of fixing old Chevy’s from nearby towns made him sigh, and spit out the last of his chew. He rolled up the gravel driveway, which looked like a natural archway because of all the towering and leering oak trees that touched tips overhead. He parked the truck and got out. The took a moment to survey his house. The thick wooden walls that made up the wood cabin facade were gleaming in a new coat of varnish, the roofs new black shingles reflected the sunlight that made it through the canopy overhead, and the signature metal smokestack which protruded from the two story cabin above the canopy expelled smoke cheerily. Their old home had unmatched beauty, whose sprawling landscape and marble facade inspired the envy of many. It had a yard that was big enough to farm in, and a huge professional garage where Gregor would design engines. These days demanded a different life from Gregor, however unfortunate it was for him.
As he climbed his front steps, he heard his wife Maggie singing softly from the kitchen window. He heard her stop and curse in German at the poor quality of the stove. He walked through the front door, and slid his shoes off loudly so Maggie would hear him She came racing around the corner, waving a letter around as frantically as her long curly blonde hair. She embraced Gregor despite his dirty clothes. She removed herself from him quickly, and said in high pitch,
“Jimmy’s sent us a letter!”
Gregor smiled and laughed, joy spread across his face. She began to read,
“Dear Mother and Father, I know that I’m taking a great risk by sending you guys a letter, but I had to let you know what’s going on. School is fantastic. I’ve never seen such a huge group of dedicated people. Of course there are people who don’t care, but I don’t really spend time with them. That official, Billingham, is keeping me well supplied with money. It’s being laundered through some businesses, so no one will be able to trace it to you. Before you become afraid I sent this message through the governor himself, and made sure he didn’t read it. It seems like your large bank account is not only benefiting me though. The governor has been able to get major publicity and even more favour in the county. Keep an eye on him, one day he may not need your money anymore. It must be frustrating not being able to use your own money.
I just finished my mid-term exams, and am enjoying a trip with my friends. We’re going to go west to New York for a few days, then return. While I’m there I’ll pick up a copy of an engineering magazine for you father, and a recipe book for you mother. I will write again soon. Love, Jimmy” They had migrated into the living room since Maggie had started to laugh. Their hard work had finally began to pay off.
“Oh, darling he sounds so happy!” exclaimed Maggie, her German accent showing through. She flicked dry toenail polish off in disgust. Gregor could see her discontent, even in this moment of happiness. Both sat in silence for a moment, feeling a mixture of anger at living like peasants with their money working away from themselves, and pride at their sons achievments.
Gregor moved towards a wooden shelf which had row upon row of books perched on it. He plucked Intro to Politics off the shelf and flicked it open.
“I am almost jealous of his learning!” replied Gregor excitedly, then looked up at Maggie, saying “Do you remember when I used to be his teacher?” He fingered through the book. He stood up abruptly and starting pacing around the room melodramatically. Maggie laughed. Gregor had a surprisingly good talent for mocking his own teaching mannerisms. “Consider the people under Communism.” he said with a false Irish accent, “They are only happy until the system is held by both official and people. As soon as the government begins to spoil itself the people become angry, and a dictatorship forms.” He stroked his invisible moustache. Maggie rolled on her seat with laughter. Gregor broke from character, and sat down on the sofa. He leaned back, and began to look at the bookshelf. Maggie stood up and walked towards it, still giggling. She ran her hands across the books while looking out the great front window. Mathematics, English, German, Mechanics, Science, Politics, and Geography passed under her fingers. All subjects that Gregor had spent his youth learning about, just has he passed it on to Jimmy. Maggie stood by the window, staring out into the trees. Gregor stood up, to go wrap his hands around her waist. As he passed the books he noticed their age, and recalled the thrill of purchasing new books. He gave a disgruntled sniff at having his money being laundered through the damnable to-be governor, and not a cent for himself to go and buy new books. As he approached Maggie, his dissatisfaction faded when he remember the future he was providing for his son. He wrapped his arms around his wife’s waist, and watched the sun begin to set over the trees.
Gregor slipped quickly into sleep. A dream faded into his mind. There was a mysterious looking man in scruffy looking clothes who appeared at the door, carrying a briefcase. The man unpacked the case, which had a fake passport, birth certificate, an address for a home which had been purchased in the fake name, and a separate bag with 500 thousand dollars.
“I don’t know you, and you don’t know me” the man hissed, as he exited.
Jimmy entered the room, his eighteen year old face shining with happiness. Gregor smiled, and kneeled in front of Jimmy. Gregor explained how these supplies were very hard to get, and had taken years of preparation and bribing a weak-minded politician, but that it meant that Jimmy would be able to go to school like they had always talked about.
Gregor woke up to a dull thudding sound coming from downstairs. He wiped his eyes wearily and looked out the window. The sun began to rise, and a great wall of black clouds approaching from the west. He slipped into pyjamas and slippers, and trod down Jimmy’s favourite staircase where he used to pretend that they were cliffs.
“I hope this isn’t Freddy coming to call me in early…” he thought. He came close to the front door, almost stumbling over his own shoes from the previous night. He shook himself awake, and answered the door. A stubby looking man in a clean black suit with a handle bar moustache that had grey spots all over it stood rigidly in his doorway. Gregor blinked several times in disbelief at him.
“G-governor Billingham… What the heck are you doing here?” asked Gregor, growing more frustrated as the sentence left his mouth.
John Billingham pushed past him, saying, “Let me in. We’ve got to talk business.”
“What do you mean we have to talk business?” asked Gregor, with a hint of incredulity. Billingham walked into the living room, and picked a book off the shelf then removed a handkerchief from his chest pocket which he mopped his sweaty brow with.
“I need more money Gregor.” he said, his voice quavering and his low form shaking nervously, “All the publicity is costing more than I had accounted for…”
Gregor moved around him, and snatched the book from his hand roughly.
“Cost more, hmm? How much more?”
“Well let’s look at what it will do for both of us…”
“For both of us? I figure that I’ve got all I need right now.”
“Yes, that’s of course true. I j-just mean that i-it would be beneficial to you to keep me in office correct?”
“And that’s what the last four hundred thousand dollars that have done. I’ve already bought you. How much more do you need, check that, want?”
“I-It’s true that I am gaining in popularity, but my competitor Mr. McNeal is a crafty little bastard. He’s got all the money from his rich business friends from New York and…”
“All you’ve got behind your sorry ass is me. Why won’t you tell me how much you want?”
“I want you fully grasp the situation before you make any conclusions…”
“Don’t manipulate me you worm!”
“Two hundred thousand!” exclaimed Billingham
“Two hundred thousand?!” screamed Gregor.
“Well you don’t even use the money do you? It’s just sitting there and you’ve got plenty of it…”
“I will never let you access that money again.” said Gregor resoloutely, and began to walk to the door. “Now get the fuck out of my house.”
Billingham’s face flashed red with anger and he shook a stubby finger under Gregor’s nose.
“Your son better not get too comfy then. I’ll have my last penny spent finding him and proving you’re both criminals and…”
Gregor smacked Billingham over the head with the book, whose binding broke, sending pages across the floor and a few down Billingham’s jacket who stumbled backwards and fell onto the ground. Gregor grabbed the man’s jacket which immediately began to crease. Gregor’s worried face looked into Billingham’s rage filled face.
“You’ll have your damn money.” He released Billingham who bounced his head against the ground when Gregor let go. He got up slowly and awkwardly, then dusted himself off and headed for the door. He left as suddenly as he came.
* * *
If you’re reading this letter then you’ve found it safely hidden in the last package I will send through Billingham. I’ve done as you suggested in your previous letter. I’ve distanced myself him, not letting him see me, know what I am up to, or find out what my fake identity is.
Gregor read this over breakfast three days later, while watching his wife bustle about making coffee. She seemed panicked, but determined to work it off. “I hope Jimmy isn’t worrying about me.” He thought, and said out loud. Maggie turned around, and replied “I also hope that. I am stressed.” She had said it in a very think German accent, the kind she would use when trying to seduce Gregor. She sallied closer and began to rub his shoulders, then kiss his neck. While they made love he would wonder if his son had made love to a woman yet, and whether he would ever know about it. This depressed him, and caused him to be very quiet once they had finished.
The next morning he received a package in the mail from New York. Inside was a muffler tip made of chrome that had been pre-paid. Gregor hadn’t order anything like this, especially not from New York. He automatically assumed that Jimmy had sent it to him. Maggie climbed down the stairs, completely naked. Her golden locks draped around her shoulders and swept close to her round breasts. Her hips swayed while she walked, the curve of her buttocks looked slim and sensual. All of her basked in the bright morning sun, shining off her inviting milky white skin. Gregor ripped off the packaging frantically, searching through it for a hidden letter. Maggie knelt next to him, her right breast squeezing into his arm.
“Who is that from?” she asked playfully.
“Jimmy… There has got to be a note somewhere!” he replied through gritted teeth.
He flipped the invoice around in his hands, then started to scan the pages. Written at the bottom of the second page in small German it said, “Father. Money is all gone, even mine. I’m hiding from Billingham. I love you.”
Gregor fell back, his head resting against Maggie’s lower stomach. His head reeled. “All my work is being undone!” he thought “How is this even possible? He stole everything that I have set up for my son!” this part he yelled aloud, pushing up to a standing position, not noticing his hand placement on Maggie’s pelvis. He hurriedly ripped his coat from the hanger, and searched around for his shoes.
“Where are you going?!” Maggie asked frantically, pulling on a coat to cover herself.
“Billingham took all of our money. He siphoned all the money for Jimmy. I’ll kill that fat American bastard. Without that money, Jimmy won’t be able to finish his schooling and all of our hard work and sacrifice will go to waste!”
“Honey no!” exclaimed Maggie, “I… I don’t understand what’s really going on but you can’t go off killing someone. We worked so hard just to give Jimmy this opportunity, we’ve been hiding and not enjoying our money…”
“Don’t you think I know that?” Gregor flung his hands out in a desperate gesture, “Don’t you think I’ve been thinking about how amazing it must be for Jimmy to be experiencing the world without having to hide from his past? Don’t you think that I’ve been suffering? Don’t you think that I’d be willing to sacrifice everything so he can have this opportunity?”
Maggie stood silent for moment, then kissed him gently on the cheek. “We both love our son. Go to see Billingham, but… don’t kill anyone. We have enough blood on our hands.” They stood solemnly for some time. Gregor and Maggie looked into each others eyes and they had a quiet moment of remorse for their past lives. Gregor took a deep breath, and exited the house.
Gregor noticed the bumping and chugging of his rusty truck progressively less and less, the closer he got to the campaign office. He couldn’t miss it, seeing as every second billboard had his name plastered on it, as well as his address and slogan. The fat bastard with his thumb up saying ” Come together for the good of our families. – Vote Billingham for Governor” His own money hard at work.
Gregor rounded on the governors headquarters at around seven thirty pm. He stepped from his truck, and made for the door. He stopped abruptly and turned back. He reached into the cab of the truck and pulled out a tire iron, which he tucked inside his jacket. He looked around nervously, and he walked inside the building. The room had emptied out save for Billingham himself and two younger women who fawned over him. Billingham’s face spelled terror, but became hidden quickly with a insincere smile.
“Ladies, I think we’ll have to resume speaking another time. This gentleman needs to hear how I’ll improve the lives of everyone in the state!” The girls giggled and left the building with hands trailing on his arms. Billingham smiled at them as they left.
“Let’s talk in my office.” said Billingham, sourly.
They walked in together, Billingham first. As he spun around to speak to Gregor the tire iron flew at his head. He attempted to dodge but it smacked him in the forehead large end first, a sickening crunch filled the air, then the iron ricocheted off and stuck into the drywall. Gregor grabbed his collar and punched him with such force that he spun atop his desk, scattering badges and pamphlets across the floor.
“You bastard!” screamed Gregor, as he picked up a chair.
Billingham rolled off the table in time for the chair to bounce off the desk where he had been and into the wall. He crawled out from underneath and laughed through bloody teeth. Gregor rounded the desk and stuck his foot straight in Billingham’s face. The governor continued to laugh. He struck again, and again, and with each blow the governor seemed to laugh more manically. Once the governor’s nose broke and sprayed blood like fountain, he stopped.
“You’ve got nothing on me anymore Gregor!” said the governor, manically “You can’t hold anything over my head!”
Gregor walked across the room, and began to pace. The governor got up, and held himself up against the desk. “You can’t do anything to me now Gregor. I’ve got all of your money, your wife’s money, and your sons money. All of your dirty Nazi money. I bet knowing how to engines for the nazi war machine seems all that useful now does it?”
“Watch your damn mouth Billingham.” sneered Gregor “It’s that Nazi money that’s got you where you are now.” The governor laughed.
“I’ll go public!” screamed Gregor, which seemed to make the man cringe
“Like hell you will. You’ll get the electric chair.”
“And I’ll take you with me. Aiding an ex-Nazi…”
“Once a Nazi always a Nazi…”
“Accepting bribes, smuggling Nazi’s to American soil, forging identities…”
“Yeah. It sure is a damn shame your boy is so smart Gregor. I would have found out who he was. Ahaa! That’s it. That’s why you’re here. Your son doesn’t have a damn penny to his name, does he? If you don’t get the money back from me he’ll probably rot out in the street! Become a homeless
A vision of Jimmy as a homeless boy on the streets of New York flashed in Gregors mind. Gregor threw another book which landed straight in the centre of the governors chest and he coughed roughly. Gregor ran up to the short man and rammed him against the wall, holding his throat. The governor gurgled visible, spittle flying onto Gregor’s strong hands. He pulled the tire iron out of the wall, the blood that had been flowing from the governors nose now spilled across Gregors hands.
“You… you…” He paused for a moment, and thought of his wife and all of the time he had spent raising Jimmy.
“I’ll admit to it.” Gregor stated.
“I’ll admit to being a Nazi. You can claim that it was your private guys who brought me in. We can destroy the evidence of where all your funding came from, they’ll never bring it back to me. You can get all the fame for capturing a Nazi, and that’ll secure your victory more than my money…” The governor coughed roughly, and wiped blood away from his mouth.
“What’s the hell? “cried the governor, “You were just about to murder my ass! What do you want?” Gregor dropped to his knees. All the information on how to build tank engines, and car engines, his wife’s breasts or politics slipped from his mind as tears rolled down his rough face. “Give my son a future. Give him that money back. He’ll move it around and you’ll never find him or look for him ever again.” The governor became taken aback, but revelled in the shame of this broken man. He contemplated Gregor for a moment. His hand ran through his greasy hair.
“You’ve got a deal.”
* * * * *
The trial had finished. The sentence was death. The governor was elected. Those who heard of the proceedings were not surprised. Maggie walked free, shipped back to Germany for illegal immigration. Jimmy disappeared, new name, new school, just to be safe.
As they strapped electrodes to his body. He shook visibly at the thought of his own flesh being electrocuted to the point of turning black and burned, and eventually becoming completely brain dead, even before his internal organs would fry. He focused on his wife and his son, as the whirring sound of charging electricity mounted.