Saturday, February 2, 2008

In the winter of Garmisch (1970) Partly in German, and English


She stopped the car, her care, on the road, it was full of ice and snow, the road leading into Garmisch that is, Garmisch, Germany; Chris’s right forearm resting on Chick Evens’ arm for a moment; in the distance ascending into the sky were the ski slopes. The wind was whistling around the car windows and the pine trees were swaying, it was a chilly winter’s morning. The mountain pass had to be made by car or bus; no trains could make it through the pass only around the mountain, and within a certain distance of the areas ski resort. She stopped the car, rested the motor, there was a lodge behind them, about a mile back down the road; and just beyond the pass ahead of them was the village (or town-let), called Garmisch, a ski region, a wintry haven for all of Europe; and a simple old tourist village the rest of the year.
Everything was shinny white, in the frosted weathered morning sunbeams; so much so, it was almost blinding you could say; thought Chick Evens staring with his sunglasses on. Chick, he was Chris’ American boyfriend, military boyfriend. Chris looked at him, a brief smile, a comforting intake of air, and drove forward through the pass.
“Is this Garmisch?” asked Chick with a vibrant blow to his diaphragm, trying to absorb its wintry wonderland’s beauty.
“Yes, yes, but it’s not quite the way I remember it to be, it was long ago you know when I was last here.”

They now had driven closer to the village where they both could get a better view of the whole countryside, a breathtaking panorama—; for a moment, a fairytale moment you might say, Chick was taken back, a bit awe struck from its beauty, a young soldier but twenty-two, first European trip; then as they drove a little further they were in the village itself; a little quaint Bavarian Village of the Alps.
“The hotel is farther down,” Chris instructed.
Chick looked over his shoulder, out of the back window, it was a long ride from Augsburg, where he was stationed, and then down to Dieburg, he and Chris had drove, then now up here to Garmisch, and the incline was steep and slippery, he was adjusting.
“Happy to have made it up here in one piece;” he commented.
Chris burped out “We’ll have to cross this small bridge ahead of us,” turn to look at Chick’s expression, then added “…the hotel is right beyond that (pointing straight ahead).” Chick noticed a stream went under the bridge she was pointing at, and all the way (seemingly) through the village up to some farm pastures towards the mountains.
Said Chris hesitantly, but with pride, “This is lovely country in the spring as well as summer: streams and forests all mesh together and give out many shades of green; and as you can see, most of the houses still have that old Bavarian architecture.”
“I see,” said Chick.
“Across the bridge is the hotel,” commented Chris.
“And where exactly is the skiing area?” Although in Chick’s brain, the whole area could have be considered a ski area, for it was all mountainous.
“There, over by the big hill, mountain I mean, you can’t see it fully, got to get a little closer, but it’s over a mile run down those smaller slopes alongside, there are several you know. We’ll be able to see it closer later; the mountains all kind of blend together, as you can see.”

As Chris Steward pulled up to the hotel, Chick Evens cleaned his sunglasses a bit. At times, things were so bright, it was blinding, therefore, he rubbed his eyes, shut them for a moment—to rest them. The snow was heaped up several feet high along side the hotel. Chris parked the car. This was their first trip together; they had only known each other going on a month.
“There’s no bellboy here,” said Chris.
“I see the ski-lift now,” the young man said, tucking in his shirt as he got out of the car, grabbing the two suitcases in the backseat.
“Perhaps we can ski this afternoon,” Chris explained to Chick, walking into the hotel.
“The weather is perfect for it,” it being twenty-five degrees out.
“How many folks are skiing do you think?” he asked, pointing now at the ski lift, way in the distance, or where he thought it should be, although only a configuration a shadow of one was noticeable.
“Perhaps (she paused to look about, think before saying another word)…conceivably about one fourth of the normal folks that would usually come on a holiday or weekend, you know today’s only Thursday, we got a few days before the rush starts.”
“Great, great, I don’t like crowded anyhow.”
“Do you wish to ski as soon as possible?” she asked.
“Depends, ah, depends on what we have to do now I suppose!” he said aloud not realizing he was being overly loud; overcompensating for being tired I’d expect. She did a double-take on him when his voice had exceeded her calm zone.
“Yes, yes, I hear you…!” the young woman said, adding “but we should eat a fine, if not resilient meal first, rest a bit, and go later on towards early afternoon—we’ll be fresher and not so…(she hesitated, lost her thoughts, said), you know, not so loud please.”
“I’ve forgotten I’m hungry, and I didn’t mean to be so sharp, I suppose I’m just ornery from being tired, it does that to me some times,” said Chick.

[Inside the hotel] “Guten Morgan,” a voice said behind a counter, noticing Chick as an American he changed his language to English: “My name is Koln, do…” before he could finish his statement Chris interrupted.
“I am Chris Steward; you should have our reservation here?”
“A moment…bitte…please (he corrected himself back to English),” Koln said as he thumbed through some reservation cards: ‘hmmm,’ came from his mouth.
“Ya... (a pause) Ms Chris R Steward…, and…dd, of-course—your guest…” (He said with a reluctant voice, or so it seemed).
“Yes, that’s me,” replied Chris.
“Room seven, second floor, I see you’ll be here just three days; fine, it’s good skiing weather,” he smiled and gave her the key, trying to readjust his earlier tentative sneer.
“Danke,” said Chris as they left the counter area, heading toward the main lobby, down the hall, Chick asked: “What is the ‘R’ for?”
“I told you I was a German-Jew, it’s my father’s last name, Rosenbourm, is that a problem?” she said with a higher defensive voice.
“No, no-oo… (a pause) not at all; what’s a Jew got to do with anything anyhow? I mean, I’m Russian-Irishman, American—big deal.”
She didn’t look his way, just asserted herself forward as she found the room and opened the door, smiled at Chick as she laid her suitcase on the bed, as if to say, the adventure of the weekend is about to start, let’s not draw back from each other.

[The Ski Lift] “We must have climbed a mile?“ said Chris, stopping to rest by a farmyard fence; two cows came up to the wooden fence, with two big bells tied around their necks, Chris was leaning against the fence.
“How charming,” commented Chick, satirically? He walked up the path a little further, toward the farmyard; two little boys came running down the path towards him, and two cows followed along side them, along the other side of the fence. It was as if one boy ran after the other, and the cows just followed. They were twins, blond haired twins of about four to six years old.
“Guten Morgen” said one of the two blond haired boys, the one by the name of Cody.
Said Chris with a perfect pitch to her voice, as if it was a soft flute playing (wanting to know where is the ski lift): “Wo ist…der skilift?”
Said Cody with an impetuous smile, “Es ist…gehen Sie… geradeaus… (go straight ahead).”
Chris looked straight in back of her, where the boy was pointing: ah, she could see it now.
“Gandige Fraun…” said the boy, “wie heissen sie?”
“Chris,” she said, was her name, to the boy. And she explained that Chick was her American Military friend.
“Ja…” said the boy with a bright smile again.

Then with slow and broken English, the boy named Shawn, commented,
“He’s…my cow sir, isn’t…he big?” Chick looked at them, “H...mmm, they are big and healthy looking cows are they not?” Possibly it was a statement-question, but the boys both looked up and understood most of what was said; then they looked at each other, and were indifferent to it, as if they were holding back a laugh.
Both boys now looking at Chick, Cody said in English, “My name is Cody, and he’s my brother Shawn, we live there (pointing to the house up the path).”
Chris thanked the boys in German, saying: “Danke,” as the two boys stooped under the fence and ran towards the cows at which time the cows started to run, and then all of a sudden the cows stopped turned to them (the cows, stopping and turning about) the boys jump back and laughed.
Said Chris to Chick, “They are quite interested in Americans I think, they took a shine to you Chick,” Chick didn’t say a word, nothing; it was more of a statement he thought, than a question.
“Nice boys, cute blond hair, just like little Germans. Anyhow, do you mean we got to walk all that way over there, I mean we’ve been walking for two hours, I think, or is it three [?]” He looked at Chris, she didn’t say an utterance, I suppose nothing to say, then finished his thoughts, “It’s just a little ways now.”
Having said that, they started to transverse over to the area the boys had pointed towards. Then Chris got thinking: perhaps she was a tinge cold hearted, she should ask how he is doing, and asked, “How are you doing Chick?”
“I suppose all right, I’m a bit fatigued, I mean, I mean, I only rested, not slept but an hour at the hotel. And this long walk, and the long ride up here, don’t you German-Jews ever get tired?” She smiled; not saying a word, figuring it was a rhetorical question at best.
Chick, at the present, took off his jacket, he had a sweater under that, and a wool-shirt to boot, and a cotton undershirt under all that, and as a result, he was starting to overheat.
Now, noticing Chick quite exhausted, Chris (shaking her head) stopped, said with a humbling voice, “You can wait here, I’ll go check and see if we can ski.”
Chick [brooding] “O—No—no, I came all this way here, walked all this distance, no need to stop and rest a few hundred yards from the site now.”
It was more like a quarter mile, but the mannish part of him—the Id was the driving force, although not destructive at this point, and it was a little ego involved, that is, which got its demand from the Id, I suppose, thus, he felt in control; in any case, he—the mannish part of him was not going to allow the female species to have the upper hand.

—Said Chris to the husky, beer bellied man in the green ski-lift hut, sitting down operating some gears, occasionally looking through a window in front of him, and Chris to his side, “Wo kann ich eine fahrkarte kaufen? (Where can I buy a ticket?)”
“…Heir!” said the burly German, watching several ski-lifts going higher and higher up the mountain, threw the sparse wooded area. “Zwei…” (he said, implying she needed two tickets, as he looked, or tried to look, deep into her bottomless and blue beautiful eyes; Chick catching his gaze, the German paying Chick no heed.
Chris responded in German: “Bitte…” (please).

Chris was catching her breath, said to Chick in a low tone, “Three Marks for a ride, three each, that’s close to a dollar!”
“Swell,” said Chick [suddenly], “let’s go for a ride.”
“Guten Tag,” said the man—he now pointed to the ski-lift they were to go on.
Chick saying in English, as if to impress Chris in the fact he understood a little German, and very little, “And good day to your sir…!”
“Are you able to ski?” asked Chris, realizing how exhausted she was, and he seemed even more so.
“We shall see once we get to the top.”
I think he was thinking if she would, he could, but if she gave a little hint she was tired—well, I suppose he could go along with anything to get a long rest back at the hotel; anyhow, that was his answer.
He sat back tight against the ski lift as it ascended up the mountain; Chris by his side, the seat was made of wood, the rest was made out of steel. It was all painted green, like the woods around them; under him were some twenty-feet of air, and accumulating more the higher up, they went of course. Chick gripped his hands tightly onto the sidebars of the lift attached to the seat. Being somewhat fatigued, his eyes started to close. Chris noticed that; she nudged him to wakeup: reinforcing the fact he needed to hang onto the side of the seat’s side-bar.
“To ski down this mile run is nothing,” said Chris, “if you are not tired that is; but if you are—tired like me or more so, you—you could possibly break a leg.”
She was a much better skier than he, and Chick knew it, and so hearing that, he took in a deep breath of air and thought on what she had just said a moment ago. On the other hand, Chris knew that men seldom listened to women when they sounded competitive, or she felt they could outdo them, so she added:
“I’m more tired than I had previously thought,” and although she was tired, she could have skied a few hours more without much effort. But for the most part, this was the best she could do with a warning for him, in allowing an escape path for his ego; thus, let him do as he pleased with this kindest escape clause, so, she had done her best to create.
“Yes, yes, I understand,” he said with eyelids half open.
“Yes, I see you do,” commented Chris. At the same time Chick started tapping with his fingers on the steel bar next to him.
Said he, “How do I determine if I’m too tired or not, or how have you determined you might be…?”
Chris [interrupting] “You are not deaf, are you?”
“No,” said Chick wiping his brow.
“Well, I’m telling—trying to tell you we both are—tired, but if you’re not going to listen we’ll both break a leg together— so go ahead, I’ll risk it also, otherwise we can turn about and go back to the hotel; I mean we got three, or is it, two days [?] anyhow, we got more than enough time to go skiing, it’s no big deal, as far as I feel, we do not have to push ourselves beyond what we know is not safe”; having said that, they both got off at the next stop and jumped on the returning ski lift and back to the hotel, not even stopping to warm-up.

—When they got back to the hotel, they sat at a table, the bar area was behind them with stools and a few guests lounging about, but practically the whole place was empty—for the most part, perhaps four or five other people were present. They stayed for a few hours talking and drinking. A man and his ten year old boy were both playing violins with German, Bavarian traditional festive cloths on.
As the waiter came up to take their order Chris quickly took charge to arrange, “Ich moechte zwei Stueck Brot, ein Kruegel Bier, und ein Glas Wein…danke.”

Chris had two glasses of Mosel Wine, and Chick some dark beer, while the father and son team played away: a most handsome pair, if not down right touching thought Chris.
It was going on 10:00 PM, when the hotel waiter asked if they wanted a last drink before they closed up.
“Nein,” said Chris, politely, rubbing her arms together as the waiter looked at her mysteriously, “Kahlt,” (cold) she told him, as he walked away with a flat shape to his face—with no smile. When they got back to their rooms, as Chick undressed, he felt stiff and cramped, it had been a long drawn out day—to say the least. Halfway through the undressing, ready to jump under the cool linens, he told himself it was a worthwhile day, a great day, and he was happy he had come at her request. Chris wanted it to be just such a day, very much so, and noticed him content as he pushed his youthful and muscular body quickly under the heavy quilt.
In point of fact, she was not feeling well, her head felt light, as she had a sensation sharply move through it, the temple area and frontal lobe to be exact, even a numbing of her teeth surfaced slowly, agonized her, along with a jagged feeling in her spine, then came an explosion with wreckage within her cerebellum. She had these signs and symptoms before and never told anyone outside of the doctor at the clinic, and a girlfriend who worked with her at the restaurant, and I suppose G√ľnter knew something about it; I mean the surface information, not the underlining facts, the symptoms themselves: thus he referred to them as headaches, as she did. The doctor had ruled out such things as viruses, direct damaged, destroyed nerve tissue, or infectious diseases of the brain. But there was no denial of a general personality deterioration because of it; for some folks would agree she was more unmannerly, and tactless, and at times more unconcerned with her appearance than a year earlier.

She noticed his trousers and shirt lay on the floor. She sat on the edge of the bed, tried to smile as not to spoil the day, which had now of course, turned into the evening.
“Something wrong?” he asked.
“Nein…no, I mean, I don’t remember…lieben…I mean Chick,” came out of her mouth, as if it was automatic. She added, “I wonder if they have a tower around… hier…I mean here?” She seemed to be drifting off, Chick notice, drifting into some dissociate zone… thinking in English and German at the same time. Dieburg, had an old tower, where they had visited a day, it was an eleventh century tower, and there were towers of some sorts in Augsburg, so this is what went through Chick’s mind.
“A tower,” said Chick [inquisitively], “what for, what kind of tower?” his eyebrows up in confusion, his eyelids closing out of fatigue.
“Pay no attention to me darling, you look absolutely dead, please go to sleep, I’ll stay up awhile.”
Intracranial pressure increased her headache almost bringing her to the point of vomiting; she was a bit confused, if not with a little memory loss. She picked up his cloths, found a proper place for them; everything was in slow motion for her now. Then she went to look out the window slightly depressed. The view was not great, not as great as in Dieburg she thought, or Augsburg, as at her apartment looking out her window; this view was of the back of the hotel. Chick was falling fast to sleep, but he had a few peculiar thoughts going on about Chris in his head, she seemed odd this evening, he deliberated, but it was soon forgotten as he fell into a deeper sleep.

Notes on the Sketch: Originally the introductory chapter in the book “Cold Kindness,” (2005) modified for this book, “The Meatpackers Boy,” 2008, as an end, and additional sketch chapter; the actual event of going to Garmisch took place in 1975, not 1970, and was not with the woman of Augsburg, Chris, rather with a woman from Dieburg, as indicated in the book, “Cold Kindness.” This chapter was originally called, “Winter in Garmisch,” (1959); Cody and Shawn, are the names of the author’s kids, and were present on this trip, in 1975, they were three years old, blond haired Germans; as he uses their names in the story. Thus, the story is based on mostly true events.

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