"Ein Grosse bier bitte!"
"Another round, Frauline."
"Waitress O Waitress, Come sit on my face, Eatin' ain't cheatin', It ain't no disgrace."
"Shit, I think I'm gonna hurl..."
"Sheeeatt, we gonna get Terry laid tonight."
"C'mon, Terry, show us how you gonna use that tongue!"
"He's twenty-one tonight and we gonna get him laid. We need a volunteer."
Terry was blushing and in the darkened disco and as black as he was, it had to be some blush for me to be able to tell. The waitress was looking right at him during the little scene our buddies were making. Terry glanced at the waitress watching him and then looked at me embarrassment written on his face. I just rolled my eyes. What do you expect on a Friday night with a bunch of airmen on the town? The waitress brought more beers and cleared off the empties. I glanced her way and she caught my eye. I tried to apologize with my eyes. She turned away so I had no idea if she understood.
The guys had talked Terry into going to town to celebrate his birthday. He had begged me to go along to help him stay out of trouble. We had known each other since Tech school and had our share of misadventures together. Like the first time we drank Flaming Hurricanes at the Airmen's Club and wound up passed out half way back to the barracks and roused in the morning by the Air Police. We had been tight as brothers since the time in Tech school when we had gone to a skating rink and two teenyboppers had picked us up. They were going to give us a ride back to base in a beat up Rambler. Instead, they took us to a teen parking place overlooking the town. They both wanted to do Terry because they had never had a black man before. I was feeling like a third wheel until the first girl wore out poor Terry and the other girl was willing to settle for a white boy. I'd thanked Terry many times since then for being black. It had become a standing joke between us. This night I could tell Terry wanted someone else along who might maintain a modicum of common sense and maybe keep him out of trouble, so I said ok.
We'd hit a disco that catered to German teenagers and not much older US servicemen. Within a half-hour the rest of the guys were bombed. The German beers were half liter each and had alcohol content between 6 and 12 percent. Down four of those like they were Coors or Millers and you'd be shit faced. Andy took off holding his hand over his mouth and I knew he was going to be praying at the Porcelain Goddess.
After sufficient alcohol consumption, somebody had come up with the idea of getting Terry laid for his birthday. Terry was terminally shy because of a stuttering problem and in their drunken condition they thought, if you could call it that, getting him laid at the local brothel was just a great idea.
"Mi-i-k-k-e, lee-eet's get ou-ou-outta here," Terry said. I looked at the guys. They were going strong now. I shook my head at him. There was no way they would let him go now. Too much alcohol in the blood for any rational resolution.
I shook my head, "You're on your own."
Terry stood and tried to make a break for the door. Joe noticed. "Hey, guys. Terry's heading for the Annabella Haus. Let's go get him laid." They piled out after him. I could see that they caught up with him at the door. His last look was a pained expression as two guys linked arms with him and started singing as they headed for the brothel. I thought about going along to try to help out but decided Terry was in no danger, other than getting his crank greased, and I really didn't want to go. The Annabella Haus was a Gasthaus on the ground floor and a brothel upstairs. It was a normal Gasthaus except for the porno movies playing to encourage the customers to use the upstairs facilities. Like the rest of the civilized world brothels in Germany are legal. I think it was Saint Augustine who said, close the brothels and you'll destroy everything with lust. The Germans understood that. I stayed behind. The guys didn't even notice I stayed behind.
The waitress came up to start clearing the table. "Are they coming back?"
"No, they're gone." I said, Thank God, under my breath.
"How come you did not go with them?"
"I didn't want to. Uh, you saw what they were like." I said with a tone of apology.
"Oh that is ok. Many men come in after working all week. I understand. It is the beer. Please, it does not bother me." She started clearing the bottles and glasses.
"Thank you for understanding. But we are guests in your country. I would hope we could act better."
She looked at me and the indifferent expression disappeared replaced by one of interest. "Yes, that is true. A guest should act well." She stopped cleaning for a second. "How come you did not go with your friends. They are going to the Annabella Haus, no?"
I blushed at little. "Yes. That is why I did not go with them."
"You do not like German girls?" The slight blush turned into a full scale burning my cheeks blush. "I am sorry. You are blushing. It is cute you blush."
Jesus, what do you say to that? "Yes, I like German girls. But I want a girl to like me before we..." My voice trailed off.
She picked up the last glass. "I understand. You stay long tonight?"
I glanced around. The dance floor was full of German girls ignoring the Americans trying to dance with them. I didn't see much reason to stay. "I was going to finish my beer."
"Good. You stay." And she was off. I sipped my beer and watched the scene. I am usually proud to be an American. But on a night like this watching the parade of idiots on alcohol I was a little sad to have to be associated with them.
I was on the last sip of my beer when the waitress showed up with a full one. She set it down in front of me. "I'm sorry," I said. "I didn't order a beer."
"It is from me. Please, Prosit, enjoy." She was off again. What the heck? I looked at the beer. Unless I wanted to get a real buzz going I was going to have to either leave the beer or take my time drinking it. I was curious though. Why had she bought me a beer? It was hard to read her. An American woman would have smiled or said something if she had any intentions, if you know what I mean. But Germans almost never smile. They wonder if Americans aren't congenital idiots because they walk around smiling so much.
I sat and watched the scene for a while sipping the beer. I was about half way through when the waitress came and sat at the table. I glanced at my watch. It was midnight. "Hello. Are you on break?'
"No, I am finished for tonight. I will go to my flat."
"Well, thanks you for the beer. I think I will head home to."
"Do you live at the airbase?" she asked.
"How will you get there? The buses no longer run after 11."
"Oh. I forgot about that. I rode with my friends. I guess I'll have to walk to the base."
"That is 30 kilometers. You can stay here. The disco will remain open until 5. The buses run again at 7 in the morning," she suggested.
I forgot that the disco would be open that late. Most Americans would find it hard to believe but German teenagers usually stay out all night on the weekends. I used to say the drinking age in Germany was tall enough to get the money on the bar. Maybe not quite true but not much different either.
I'd still have to kill a couple hours after having been awake all night. 30 kilometers is quite a hike. Great choices. "Maybe I'll go sleep in the park," I laughed.
"No. You should not do this. Please. If you do not mind this, you could sleep in my flat. I have a, what do you say, divan."
"Yes, zo. A couch you could sleep on."
I tried to read her face. What was she offering? It appeared to be just a friendly offer. I didn't think she was 'inviting me back to her place.' "That would be very nice."
She stood, "Let us go." I followed her out of the disco. It was June and unseasonably warm for Germany. It had been close to 76 today and was still in the sixties this late. We walked down the street and turned off the main drag at the next block. She wasn't walking very fast.
"I think I should introduce myself. You are being very kind to me. My name is Mike."
She put out her hand. "My name is Gisela." I took her hand and she gave me a real handshake. No limp wrist for a German girl. I took the opportunity to look her over. A cute face with piercing blue eyes surrounded by blazing blode hair. Nice build, kind of lanky. Red mini-skirt and a yellow top. In fact, if it weren't for the accent she would be like the girl next door in any city in America.
"You are how old?" she asked.
"Twenty Three. Und du?"
She laughed at my German. "I am two year younger."
"And you work at the disco all the time?"
"No. I work only three nights. I go to the Universitat. The Government pays for the school and my books and they give me some money. But it is all for the rent and some food. If I want to go out with my friends or buy new clothes I need money. Zo I work for that. Three nights is not zo bad."
"When I go back I will use the GI bill and finish my college. I ran out of money so I joined the Air Force to get the money."
She looked puzzled. "The Government does not give you money?"
"No. Most people don't get money."
"In Germany, everyone who is accepted at Universitat is paid to finish. I could not attend if this was not zo. I think this is better."
"You may be right. It would be better for me," I said laughing. "Many things in Germany are done better than in America. But we do some things better as well."
"Zo, you think we Germans do some things better?" I shook my head. "Ach, this is good. Zo many Americans I meet say that everything in America is better. But this cannot be true."
"No. America certainly isn't perfect. I have seen many things that would be good if America was the same. We have much we could teach each other."
"I would like to learn from you," she said looking at me. I looked at her again trying to discern if there was anything behind that statement. I know if an American girl said that it would have been a double entende. But I didn't know Germans well enough. "It is good that you like your country but also my country. The world is becoming small. Soon Europe will be a country. We study this. America is our biggest business, how to say..."
"Yes, is zo, partner. Some day, you and I might be partners. Even in different countries."
"Yes, I know. It is why I volunteered to come to Germany."
She stopped. "Here is my flat. Please, I must ask that you do not say anything until we are in my flat. The lady who lives here, she is very, uhm"
"Nosy?" I asked.
"How is that?"
"Always trying to know your business."
"Ach yes, nosy. Yes, she is nosy. I like this word. Please, walk very quiet until we are in the flat." Luckily, I was wearing my running shoes. She unlocked the door and we went up the stairs. And up, and up. The landlady had converted her attic into a student loft. So we were on what would have been the fourth floor. I looked around. There was a small kitchen with a small table. There was a small bathroom. And that was it. No bedroom that I could see. I got a funny feeling in my stomach. If I was sleeping in this room, she had to be as well. There was an old TV against the wall, lots of books, an old upholstered chair and the sofa.
"I must ask please do not make too much noise. The woman, she lives right below." I sat in the chair and pulled off my shoes. Gisela smiled. "That is good. Would you like something to drink?"
"Sure, I'll have whatever you're having."
She went into the kitchen and I heard a glass clink. In a few seconds she returned with two small glasses. "Jagermeister," she said as she handed me one. "Good for the bed."
I held up the glass, "Prosit," and took a sip. It burned until it hit my stomach and then the burn slowly changed into a warm glow. She held up her glass and downed it. Not to be out done, I downed mine and turned to hide my face while setting the glass down. It didn't bring tears to my eyes luckily. I turned back. "Where will I sleep?"
She mimicked the double motion of the sofa bed folding out, "Here."
"And you?" I asked.
"Here." She must have seen the surprise on my face. "It is ok?"
"Well, yes. I am just surprised."
"You said you liked German girls, but you wanted them to like you also. I also feel this way. I like you. It is good the things you say about our two countries. I can tell you have a good mind. You are serious about things that are important. But you also laugh. I like this. Zo many people I know do not laugh. I liked walking with you. You made me feel happy. It is ok you stay here with me?"
"It is very ok." I smiled and she returned my smile at first shyly and then radiantly her face lighting up from the inside.
"Here. Let us open the bed." I jumped up to help her. She put her finger to her lips, "Quiet." We unfolded the bed being very careful when the legs came down. As the end legs came down I pretended to be straining with all my might to hold them up. She laughed at my antics. She grabbed a couple pillows from a closet and put them on the bed.