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Short Story

Come With Me

Here is another story I wrote as a sample for my students.  This one began with a black and white photo of Richard Burton from the movie The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.  The other pictures I added from around the web.

Come With Me

“I don’t know who I am.”  It was a difficult thing to admit and in the East German Halls of Justice no less.  His companion, Hanna Kruger, hurriedly put her arm in his and hustled him out of the main hall.

“You told me your name was Becker.”  They sat on a bench outside the Office of the Deputy Minister for Transportation.

Touching the bandage on is right temple, “A lie.  I couldn’t very well approach a woman on the streets of Berlin for help and say ‘Help me.  I’ve lost my mind.’  That really wouldn’t do.”

“You have no idea who you are?” Hanna knew the power of the Stazi, the security services of East Germany.  Just associating with ‘questionable’ persons was an offense and not reporting suspicious activity and people was very illegal.  Yet Becker, or whatever his name was, had been kind to her.  And in East Germany kindness was in short supply.  No doubt rationed like everything else.

“I came to in an alley off Huberstrasse-”

“That’s near the wall.”  The wall that cleaves the great wounded city of Berlin in half.  Half communist, half free.

“Yes.  I have an id card that says my name is Kaspar Becker.”  He handed her his wallet, a tattered tan leather bifold.

“How do you know that isn’t your name.”  The id card looked right.  Issued December 9, 1954, good until 1956.  Stamped by the proper bureaus and even a stamp denoting a trip to Austria during the summer of 1955.

“I look at the photograph in there, and I hear a different name in my head.”

“What name?”

“James Hall.”  With a start Hanna tried to rise, but he pulled her back to the bench.  Beneath her brunette tresses, Hanna’s eyes whirled around the room.  Anyone passing by could be Stazi.  She imagined herself in prison for the next decade, the shame of her parents.

“They pulled the body of James Hall out of the river near Stralau this morning.”

“Yes, I know.”  He relaxed his grip on her arm.  “I look rather good for a dead man, don’t you think?”

“This is not a thing to make jokes over.”

“Oh, why not?  It’s all so absurd.  What am I?  A spy?  I’m no diplomat… I recall that much.  I’ve got to get to the West.”

“You are going to get me killed!” Hanna’s voice was a raspy whisper.

“No, I’m going to go now.  I’ve got to find a way to West Germany.  That’s the only thing that makes sense.”  James rose.  Hanna trembled and sank into the corner of the bench.

“You’re mad.”

“Hanna, look at me.”  He reached down and brushed away her dark hair.  She couldn’t hold back the tears of fear anymore.

“You’re mad.”

“No.  I’m getting out,” James paused and extended his open hand, “Komm mit mir.

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About Rob Sterner

English teacher, Film buff, Filmmaker, Writer, Musician, Photographer, Runner, Taoist, Thinker, List maker...

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