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Appoinment in Berlin

Chapter 1
May, 1957
Landstuhl Army Medical Center
Frankfurt, Germany


“How are you feeling?”


A nurse came by. “Excuse me,” she said. “It’s time for your medicine.” The young man in the bed, the one who had said, “Better” smiled and straightened up. He had been slouching, but he liked the nurse, so he sat up. She gave him two pills and a glass of water, and as he drank, she silently checked his IV. She hummed faintly as she worked, and paid no attention to the man in the suit, the one who had said, “How are you feeling” and who now sat unsmiling, observing the young man while the nurse completed her tasks.

“Is there anything you need?” the nurse asked, and when the young man replied “No,” left the room as quietly as she had entered, without acknowledging the presence of the man in the suit.

The room was still as death, the only sound the buzzing of a fly fruitlessly attempting to escape through a closed window through which a feeble winter sun gave the pale green hospital walls an unpleasant yellowish tint.

“I don’t think she likes me,” the man in the suit said.

“No, I don’t think she does,” replied the young man.

The two sat in silence for a while longer. The man in the suit periodically jotted something down in a small notebook. The young man slouched down in the bed and closed his eyes.

“Did they beat you?” the man asked.

“Did who beat me?” the young man responded, opening his eyes.

“The guards.”

“You know they did.”

“What did they want to know?”

“The guards? The guards didn’t want to know anything. You’re confusing the guards with the interrogators. The interrogators wanted to know lots of things. The guards were too stupid to want to know anything. They were there just for the beatings.”

“Do you hate them?”

The young man looked puzzled. “No, I don’t hate them. Why should I?”

“Because they hurt you.”

“They were stupid animals, like vicious dogs. I don’t hate them.”

“But these dogs hurt you.”

“I still don’t hate them.”

“Do you forgive them?”

“Of course not. For a psychiatrist, you ask some stupid questions.”

“I’m trying to understand you. You say you don’t hate the men who hurt you, but you do not forgive them either.”

“That’s right.”

The man in the suit looked at the young man for a few moments without speaking. He wrote in his notebook. “Do you want to know what I wrote?” he asked.


Why not?”

“I don’t care.”

“The man in the suit stared silently at the young man for a while before asking, “What would you do if the roles were reversed and you had those men in your power?”

“Which men?”

“The guards.”

“I don’t know.”

“Would you beat them like they beat you?”

“No. I’m not a vicious dog.”

“Still, if they were in your power, you would do something.”

The young man thought this over; then he asked, “Would I have a gun?”


“I would shoot them.”

“But I thought you said that you didn’t hate them?”

“Hate has nothing to do with it. Vicious dogs need to be put down.”

The man in the suit nodded and wrote in his notebook. The young man turned to look at the clock on the table beside the bed. “Almost time,” he said.

“Just one more question, and we’ll be finished for today.” The young man didn’t respond.

“The man you killed in Berlin…any regrets?”

“No, none, but you know all this already.”

“I know what I have been told, but I need to hear it from you. Perhaps tomorrow.”

When the young man failed to respond, the man in the suit got up from his chair, put his notebook in his briefcase, and began walking out of the room.

“Doctor Rosenfeld ?”

“Yes Lucas? The Doctor turned to face the young man, full of anticipation.

“Would you turn out the lights and close the door behind you? I’m tired and would like to sleep now.”

* * * *

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