|by No Way Out|
Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 05 Aug 2017
This is a translation of my German story
Mein Lieutenant. I couldn’t have done it without
the help of TimJase Anders, who is not only a fantastic author, but also a superb translator. Thank you
so much, Timbo! Of course, any errors that remain are my own.
* * * * *
The story takes place in 1985 in Germany. It is part of the series
An overview of the protagonists:
Jesse S. Pierce, 40 years old, emigrated from the US to Germany, paramedic, African American, married Katharina 1 ½ years ago, stepfather of Timo and Florian.
Katharina Borchert, 43 years old, high school teacher, mother of two boys from a previous marriage.
Timo Borchert, 14 years old, 1,60 meters tall, slim, brown wavy hair, green eyes, has a wide range of interests and a sharp mind, needs time to warm to some people and things, is often at odds with himself and with his feelings
Florian Borchert, 12 years old, 1,55 meters tall, lean and athletic, always active blond hair, blue eyes, straightforward and spontaneous – sometimes too spontaneous.
* * * * *
I’m pretty exhausted as I drive home from my late shift. Just before the end we were called to an accident. A ten year old boy on a bike had been hit by a truck, and when we left him at the hospital it wasn’t certain that he’d pull through. With two decades as a paramedic under my belt I’ve become used to a lot of things but things like that still get under my skin, all the more since I have two kids of my own.
My first marriage didn’t really workout. It was a lost cause right from the start, but it took me two years to realize that, and many more until I found the courage to have another go. Then it just happened, and all of a sudden I wasn’t only remarried, but also stepfather of a twelve– and a fourteen-year-old. At first I was scared shitless at the thought of being responsible for two kids, but they quickly captured my heart and now they are my boys.
As I unlock the door, I hear loud voices from the living room, and I can tell that my beloved has
lost her patience.
Oh yes, you will, young man, you can depend on that!
Forget it! I’m not a little kid any more! Why can’t you get that into your birdbrain!
Timo is in the middle of puberty One minute he can be very mature and a really sweet guy and the next moment a snotty, forever grumbling teenager. I take a deep breath before I open the door and throw myself into the fray.
At my arrival they both fall silent for a moment. A short break might not be a bad thing to give
them a chance to cool down. I kiss Katharina.
Hey darling, rough day? I whisper in her ear and
get an angry snort for an answer.
With one step I stand before Timo, put a hand on the back of his neck and plant a big kiss on his
forehead. Of course he feels too old for such display of affection, but he isn’t sure if he is in trouble,
so he submits to it without grumbling. I leave my hand in its place as I ask him.
Did I just hear you
insulting your mother?
I can virtually read from his face how his internal angel and devil are fighting for dominance. Unfortunately,
the voice of reason loses.
Oh come on, be real!, he grizzles.
Mama always tells me, I’m old
enough to take responsibility and to help her around the house, but then she treats me like a baby. It’s
Maybe he’s got a point, but I sure as hell won’t stab Katharina in the back.
Whatever the reason,
that’s no excuse to talk to her like that.
If I had acted up like that, my Mom would have blistered my butt with a brush until I’d bawled my eyes out. I know, those were different times. In North Carolina in the 1950s all my friends got spanked when they misbehaved, that was just the way it was. I can’t say we were happy about it, and I often thought my parents took the easy way out. But now I’m a Dad myself, and I realize it isn’t easy at all.
Timo has been behaving so impudently lately, he is long overdue for a trip over my knee. It’s just that I know how much the two rascals are looking forward to our camping trip during the long weekend around Ascension Day and I’m looking forward to it just as much. The one time I gave Timo a licking, he wouldn’t talk to me for a whole week, and I worry it might ruin the whole brief vacation. This time I’m the coward, so I let him get away with a warning.
I’m going to have a shower now. When I come back, your mother is going to tell me how sincerely
and profusely you’ve apologized to her. And I don’t want to hear you talking to her like that again, or
you’re in for it, is that clear?
Oh my god, I sound exactly like my father!
For a brief moment, resistance flares up in his eyes. He knows he’s lost the battle but he still
itches to keep on fighting, if only to prove that he can’t be broken. I don’t like using my physical advantage
but I want to bring the situation to an end before it escalates. So I step up close to the little rebel
and lean forward a little bit, so that my 1,90 meter height and 90 kilos weight tower over his slight
frame. He holds out for another five seconds, but in the end he averts his eyes, moans like I burdened
him with an inconceivable ordeal and mumbles:
I’m not stupid, you know.
That won’t do, buster, and you know it.
What was that?
Finally his survival instincts kick in, and he gives a proper answer without the flippant undertone.
Yes, I understand.
All right then. Phew, the weekend is saved!
* * * * *
When Florian wakes us up far too early, Katharina just turns around and goes back to sleep. I had suggested that the whole family should go on the trip, but she convinced me that a three-males-only weekend would be a great idea. She was going to spend the weekend at the Baltic Sea with a friend. I’m not sure if she pulled a fast one on me, but even if she’s used the men-only excursion only to get rid of the kids for a few days, she may be right. It’s a great opportunity for us guys to spend some bonding time together.
Timo and Florian have already made breakfast and their luggage is waiting in the hall. Their high spirits are contagious, and their behavior during the ride is exemplary. Exhilarated I sing along with the radio and when my rascals complain about the caterwauling, I sing even louder.
As we get out of the car, we are being watched by curious campers. The owners of the caravan to our left and the ones with the big family tent at the back of our lot put their heads together and whisper. I get some suspicious glances, the kind I know so well. In Germany you don’t meet that many black people and, what’s more, I show up with two fair-skinned kids, and without a wife. Timo notices it, too, and I know how sensitive he is to that kind of behavior. Last week he almost started a fight with some youths who were making fun of me. Although I am touched by his protective instinct, I don’t think it would be a great start for our weekend to let him call the other campers racists. So I decide to take preemptive measures.
Come on, let’s go and meet our neighbors. With the boys in tow, I approach the two families
and introduce us.
Hello, I’m Jesse Pierce, and these are my sons, Timo and Florian. As they hear
my fluent German with only a slight American accent, they relax a bit, and after some smalltalk I have
hopefully convinced them that I’m not planning to sell drugs to their children.
As soon as we’ve unloaded the car and set up our two tents, Florian disappears to explore the grounds. Timo stays and asks me lots of questions about how to pick a good spot for the tent, when to use the squared tent pegs instead of the round ones, how to build a shelter in the woods and a hundred other things. Everything I tell him, he absorbs like a sponge. Soon we are sitting at the table with some rope, and I teach him how to tie different knots.
Soon enough Florian comes running.
There’s a huge lake. Can we go swimming, Dad? He dances
on the spot while impatiently waiting for my answer. I realize that this little bundle of energy needs
exercise after the long ride in the car.
Okay, champ, go get your swimming trunks.
Discreetly I glance at my eldest. As a teenager, it is beneath his dignity to display rapturous enthusiasm
like his little brother, but I know he is a water rat. I keep tying my knot and ask casually:
M-hm is the only sound he makes, but once we are in the water, he forgets about being cool
and screeches with delight as we romp around, wrestle and splash each other with water.
The water is still quite cold at the end of May, but the sky is cloudless and the sun is warm, so we stay at the lake all afternoon. It doesn’t take the kids long to make friends with other teenagers. Timo usually needs some time to open up, so I’m glad for him, but I’m almost a bit jealous when the boys play Frisbee no longer with me but with their new friends and then lie on their towels at some distance to talk about stuff that is none of any adults’ business.
In the evening Timo tries to convince me that on a proper camping trip we have to catch fish with home made spears and roast them over the fire. Eventually he settles for the campfire we build in the concrete-walled fireplace, and grilling the sausages and eating the potato-salad we brought from home. After dinner, I introduce my sons to a piece of American culture: we roast marshmallows and enjoy terribly sweet s’mores.
* * * * *
Daaad, you’ve got to come real quick!
I feel like I’d just fallen asleep a few minutes ago. Is it morning already? No, it’s not the sun dazzling me, it’s a flashlight. Florian’s face behind it, his eyes are open wide. He’s scared. Something has happened!
Adrenalin pumps through my veins. I sit up with a start.
What’s wrong, Florian? I ask, trying
to sound calm, while getting out of the sleeping bag and slipping on a pair of Bermuda shorts, a sweat
shirt and sneakers.
Rouven crashed on a rock and fell into the lake, and Timo jumped after him with Saskia.
Oh shit! Okay, don’t panic.
Where are they, exactly?
On the right side of the lake, just behind the fence.
Yeah, of course. Behind the fence that’s supposed to keep people out, so they don’t climb around
on the steep and ragged cliff. Especially in the dark. As I crawl out of the tent, I see Rebecca,
Saskia’s sister. Apparently she has come with Florian to get help.
Do you know where Rouven’s lot is?
Then wake up his parents and get them to come to the lake.
I turn to Florian and give him the car keys.
I need the first aid kit, the blanket and the tow
Without waiting for an answer I sprint towards the lake. As soon as I reach the fence, I call Timo’s name.
We are here, he answers immediately. I point the flashlight at the water surface and I can
discern three heads. Timo and Saskia are keeping Rouven’s head above water. His eyes are closed. It looks
like they managed to tow him to a spot where the rocks are not as steep, but couldn’t hoist him up onto
I climb over the fence, balance my way across the rocks to the bank, kneel down and pull the boy
up towards me. He is unconscious and bleeds from a wound on his brow, but breathing and pulse are okay.
I can take a moment to fish the other two out of the water. Their soaked clothes hang heavily on their
bodies. They seem to have only taken off their shoes and jackets before jumping into the water. I check
them out quickly. I don’t need another patient right now, so I try to make sure their minds can handle
the situation. I have often enough seen uninjured people wandering off the site of an accident in a trance-like
state and do something silly.
Are you two okay? Any injuries, dizziness, nausea? I ask and get
short but clear answers from both of them, so I hand the flashlight over to Timo and take care of Rouven.
After I get him to vomit up a gush of water, he coughs and opens his eyes. I just hope he hasn’t been under water for too long. In the meantime Florian has turned up with the things from the car. While I wrap Rouven in the blanket and put a pressure bandage on his head, I ask him his birthday, and if he knows what day of the week it is. He is weak and shivers from the cold, but he can answer my questions.
Only after I’ve taken care of him, I allow myself to breathe more easily. Instantly the realization of what could have happened to the four kids hits home and I have horror visions of my children lying lifeless on the bottom of the lake or tumbling down five meters onto the rocks. As if to make sure that my sons are still in one piece, I pull them into a hug and hold them tight. I look over their heads and see that the two sisters also embrace and comfort each other. I speak calmly to the five misadventurers and let them tell me what happened, while we wait for Rouven’s parents.
They don’t even try to talk their way out of it. Timo and Rouven had planned to sneak out at night to meet with the two girls. When Florian got wind of it, he demanded to come, too, under the threat of blowing the whistle. When the five of them came to the lake, they got the idea to climb to the top of the cliff. On the way up Rouven slipped, bumped his head on a rock and fell into the lake. Without a moment’s hesitation Timo sent his brother and Saskia to get help, while he and Rebecca jumped into the water to save their friend from drowning.
As I remember how much Timo hates being thought of as a coward, I shoot him a sharp glance.
tell me you didn’t climb up there, because the others egged you on and you wanted to prove your courage.
He shakes his head glumly.
It was my idea. I thought it would be romantic to look at the stars
from up there.
Despite the tense situation I have to repress a smile. My big guy may be shy, but I suspect that this ever-so-sensitive boy will soon win the hearts of girls far easier than the rowdies who try to impress them with bragging and cockiness.
Soon after, Rouven’s parents arrive, as well as Saskia and Rebecca’s. I have my hands full to calm them down. I explain to them that Rouven’s injury isn’t serious, but they must take him to the hospital, so his wound can be stitched up, and because he might have concussion and slight hypothermia. The one thing I keep from them is the possibility of brain damage due to lack of oxygen supply. I don’t think it’s likely, and I’ll leave that to the doctors,
By the time Rouven and his parents are on their way to the hospital and the other children have taken
a hot shower and put on dry clothes, it’s almost one a.m. That’s not how I had pictured our vacation,
and now that I don’t have to worry about the boys any more, I’m getting really peeved. Everything was
going just fine, and now the brats fuck up big time! When they try to apologize, I refuse to listen.
I bark, more brusquely than intended.
We’ll discuss it in the morning. Now off to bed with you!
I’m too worked up to sleep, so I get myself a can of coke, sit in a folding chair in front of the tents and try to straighten out the chaos in my mind. What the hell am I going to do with these two?
* * * * *
Despite the strenuous night we all wake up early. The kids look tired, and they worry about what’s going to happen to them, so they just shove a few spoonfuls of cornflakes into their mouths and leave the bowls half full on the table. I’m not hungry, either and have just a mug of coffee. Okay, Captain Pierce, time to get i