by Tim Lieder

It's never a good idea to question the fate of brunettes in Nazi Germany.

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Everything is dark. No music. No sets. No props. Just a dark screen. A small horn starts playing a tinny little number. Some drunk who's been passing out on stage for the last fifteen years finally stumbled on a movie score job. He's trying to overcompensate with "soulful" riffs.

When the title sequence comes, you don't know the names. You never met anyone on the screen. You recognize one actor only because you watch too many television movies after midnight. The man next to you starts talking to his girlfriend; you hate him.

The screen pans to the dance number with a pool—a beautiful pool—a shimmering pool. Blue ceramic tiles. The dancers are wearing white one-piece bathing suits. Their blonde hair bounces to the beat. Track shot around them to Nazi SS officers smoking long cigarettes. Close up on a small man with a strawberry shaped birthmark on his cheek, wearing an SS uniform. He holds a Luger to his knee. Another long tracking shot moves again around the dancers and the pool. Finally the camera stops at one particularly doe-eyed girl. She's the only brunette.

The camera stays on her. She wears a jet black cocktail dress and ostrich hat. Her cigarette is smoldering. Mis en scene on the Nazi. He's put on a trenchcoat and a hat. He's still smoking. He has a nasty scar running down the left side of his face. It's one of the most attractive scars in the history of knife fights. He's staring at her.

The dance number strays from the sensual into the overblown and settles on the irritating. Legs kick up. Hands twist in the air. Silliness settles in. The smoking Nazi cries. You think he should wait until the gangsters beat him and kill his girlfriend to get so mopey. The music sucks.

The song ends and the guy starts talking to the camera. He's not voiceover. He's actually talking to the camera. He's breaking that fourth wall which seems cool, then stupid, then overdone, then old fashioned and finally retro. He's retro-speaking to the camera; he has a sordid story. Some greaseball killed his partner last night and his dog has cancer. He's got a pile of bills. He needs something but he's not sure what. The head bugs are moving in. He's investigating an accidental death. Families don't pay you unless you prove murder.

It goes on.

A detective book spawned his speech. You wonder if the screenwriter ever sneezed in the general direction of a detective or even read Raymond Chandler. Who killed the limo driver?

Turns out he's talking to a woman, an old woman, a woman who just wanted to see if she could pick him up because she looks like someone's grandmother. Only a matter of time before she's just THE OLD WOMAN AT THE BAR who makes out with strangers because they are too drunk to push her away.

The woman is sitting at a table across from him. We're in a seedy bar. No pool. No synchronized swimmers. The woman wears her hair up. Wrinkles under her eyes. The man wears his uniform proudly and without shame. The woman wears a peasant's wool dress. She smiles weakly. She even laughs when his voice pitches up as if he's telling a joke.

Cut. Her naked body falls on the bed and she's under him fucking for all she's worth. The keys lie on the floor next to the ashtray. She's moaning and crying and trying to make sense of the cracks in the ceiling. He's pumping her and humping her and slapping her face. His hands go around her throat. He wants to see her tongue roll out. He wants to feel the muscles in her legs spasm. He reads a small fragment of eternity. When she rolls over and gets on top he yawns. His wiry little body disgusts her. He lies down and she stoops above him. The Jews and the Gypsies are waiting outside.

You wonder what happened to the brunette, but it's never a good idea to question the fate of brunettes in Nazi Germany.

After she rolls over and they both look at the ceiling she says something in Latin. He doesn't understand. She explains that it means something dire. Catullus or Petronius wrote it. He tries to argue that those writers weren't dire, but she's telling a story about how she once had money before the world collapsed into madness.

She was engaged. The fathers arranged it but her fiance was a beautiful man; even more wealthy than her Aunt Ingrid. His father hosted the engagement party in the most beautiful hotel. They dined on crystal and ate from bone china. Nightingales sang on the balcony.

The camera widens to her naked body. The SS detective is naked near her. He's breathing slowly and stroking her yellow hair.

The party went well, she said, until her fiance's father brought out the Blue Flame diamond ring. He couldn't just put it on her finger, even though the legend figured into the ceremony. She didn't understand it, but a demon was trapped in the stone. She didn't really know how that was possible but her fiance wanted to see the demon. She fled in terror.

The SS detective lies back and dies. She kisses him and as his lips sink into his bone. For she is Lilith the destroyer, Molech the child devourer, Samantha, the girl across the street with all the short term visitors, never leaves the house. She eats his fingers, and then his hands. She gnaws on his arm. She's trying to gobble him before the rigor mortis changes. She likes them flaccid.

* * *

The movie ends with her wiping her mouth. As the credits roll you openly weep. Then you feel her hand on your neck and you want to tell her everything. The demon in the diamond is in your pocket. The white flowers are on the patio. Your skin is a lamp.




Copyright © 2009 Tim Lieder

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Tim Lieder has been published in Everyday Fiction and A Fly in Amber.

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