Minggu, 14 Agustus 2011

Munich 1972 Redux





The Buffalo Bar on Sai 3 attracted all types in the late 00s. Bank robbers rubbed elbows with Interpol officers. Mine dynamiters drank toast with environmentalists. Every nation made an appearance thanks to the gracious hospitality of the owners. Drinks were cheap and the girls plentiful.



The Buffalo Bar was a two-minute motorcycle ride from my house on Soi Bongkot. The girls loved my little dog. They let Champoo drink beer. She like Heineken better than Khang. There was no accounting for a Shih Tzu's tastes.



Not all the regulars liked seeing a floppish little dog lounging on the bar. Bruno and Fabo ridiculed Champoo as a girl's dog, but I loved my puppy more than any of the drunken farangs in Pattaya. Two English hooligans called Champoo a rat. I let the air out of the tires of their pick-up. They stormed into the bar accusing me of fucking with their vehicle. The girls stood behind 100% and a middle-aged German took my back. Something about his stocky stature said Polizei.



The hooligans abandoned the confrontation. The girls at the Buffalo were killers with a swung high heel. The thugs promised to catch up with me.



"I'll be here waiting." The Buffalo was my home away from the house I had rented to raise my daughter. I was living there alone since Angie's mom had done a runner. The only women in my life were my girlfriend Mint and Champoo.



I went over to the German to thank him for his support.



"I see you every night with your dog." His English came out of his mouth with hesitation, as if he had learned the language late in life. He introduced himself as Erik. "They were wrong to say such bad things. This is a nice bar. No fighting."



"I like it too." I had a tendency to get mouthy with assholes and Eddy the Thai owner had little patience with trouble-makers. They cost her money. "Can I buy you a drink?"



"Of course, but only if the next drink is on me." The German's unnaturally orange hair reveal repeated personalized failures of correcting his dye mixture.



"Gin-tonic and you?" My hair had suffered a serious whitening after Angie was taken north by her mother and the damage wasn't restricted to my head.



"Same." Erik probably suffered from the same affliction, but as Manny, my old boss at the diamond exchange liked to say, "Better gray than nay."



Even then none of the neo-oldies in the Last Babylon liked to be called 'old'. White hair was a snitch of age, although few of the girls at the Buffalo Bar cared about a man's age as long as he wasn't eking out a living on Social Security.



Girls in Pattaya preferred old guys, because old guys are easier to manage than young bucks, who tend to be heartbreakers. I had never seen the thick-chested leave with a Buffalo girl.



"You have a wife?"



"Back in Germany, but here." His laugh mocked my question. "You had a wife here and she left you."



"How do you know?" His infringement of my privacy caught me off-guard.



"Sorry, but a few of the girls told me." He bent over to scratch Champoo's head. My puppy appreciated the tenderness of a strange hand. She was a real whore that way. "Sorry."



"Nothing to be sorry about. You didn't leave me." We clinked glasses and I asked in German, "Wohin kommst du?"



"Munchen." His singsong Bayerische dialect transported me back to my high school German class, although Bruder Karl's voice was charred by his chain-smoking. "Hve you ever been there?"



"No." Munich conjured up beer hall putsches, mad kings, Oktoberfest, and the 1972 Olympics. Compliments about someone's hometown put them at ease and I said, "Ein schon stadt."



"Du sprichst Deutsche?" His voice trembled with incredulity.



"Jawohl." My German wasn't as good as his English.



"Du kommst von Amerika?" My country was well-known for speaking tongues and not foreign languages.



"Ja." My Boston accent played havoc with my annunciation. "New England."



"And you learned German?" He was amazed at this linguistic skill as the Thais were gobstruck by my caveman Thai.



"Naturlich. Ich hatte Deutsche in hoch schule relearnt." Brother Karl had spent three years forcefeeding German into my brain. "Some of it actually took root. The old Bavarian brother told me, "Du sprechst wie einer schiesskopf."



I wasn't a shithead, only a terrible student. I failed German 3 times. Brother Karl didn't hold a grudge. He sent me a Christmas card for several years after my graduation from high school.



"But your accent is not so bad."



"Viele danke. I'd bet the remaining limit on my crept cards that I was the only student from that school speaking German. "I also lived in Hamburg for six months."



"The Beatles at the Star Club." The city was most famous for an unknown British rock band's two year stint in the clubs of St. Pauli. "And the Reeperbahn."



"That's not my thing."



The red-light district was dominated by the pimps of the GmBH gang. Its enforcer had been Nigger Kali, a black pimp in a very tough town.



"I managed a nightclub in Eppendorfer Weg."



Bsirs was far from the Eros Center. Nigger Kali used the Clockwork Orange-inspired nightclub as a front for laundering money from his whorehouses. Erik didn't need to know the details, since he dressed a little too straight for Pattaya. Most of the farang residents were in one way or the the scum of the Earth and I liked them for that lack of quality. We were running out of places to be ourselves.



"What was your job in Munich?" My hunch based on his overt neatness wasn't that he was a man of the cloth.



"I was a policeman for Bavaria." Erik stated his profession with pride.



"Polizei." I was familiar with Hamburg's Landeskriminalamt. The state criminal police were investigating Nigger Kali's activities. Two officers interrogated me at my Mittelweg apartment. I told them nothing as would any fan of the Bowery Boys.





The German was about my age. He would have been in prime the half-year that I lived in Hamburg. Nigger Kali was a known criminal throughout the BDR. Keeping the black zuhalter's name out of a conversation was always advisable. "How many years you serve the State?"



"From 1970 to 2001."



"41 years. How old are you?"



"60." Champoo lifted her ears in disbelief and Erik ordered another round. The gin-tonics went down smooth. The lesbian bartender poured measured shots. Champoo laid her shaggy head on the counter. She was over her limit.



"You look good for your age." He had me by five years. "You must have started during the Baader Meinhof campaign."



"They bombed Munich's Investigation Bureau in May of 1972."



American hippies admired their revolutionary zeal.



"Actually they called themselves the Red Army Faction. Munich did not support them like the rest of Germany. Maybe we are too Catholic."



"You must have been at the Munich Olympics."



"I was with the rifle team." Erik whispered in a conspiratorial tone. "our squad later became later became Bavaria's anti-terrorist squad. I was stationed outside the village and atop the airport terminal."



"How did it go so bad at the airport?" I had seen the news report at the time. The recent movie MUNICH suggested a mismanaged rescue attempt.



"The Black September leader went to the plane and found it empty. They realized the airport was a trap. They ran back to the helicopters. Our snipers couldn't make a killing shot in the bad light." Erik was talking about his unit.



"I was with the rifle team." Erik whispered in a conspiratorial tone. "our squad later became later became Bavaria's anti-terrorist squad. I was stationed outside the village and atop the airport terminal."



"How did it go so bad at the airport? The Palestinians had the hostages, the planes were ready to go. Everyone died. Why?"



Erik signaled for two more gin-tonics. The end of his tale deserved doubles



"The Black September leader went to the plane and found it empty. They realized the airport was a trap. They ran back to the helicopters. Our snipers couldn't make a killing shot in the bad light." Erik was talking about his unit. His hands were shaking from the memory of that September night, but the retired policeman was too far along to stop the telling. He petted the sleeping Champoo. ""We weren't trained for a situation like that. My rifle was for target shooting, not an assault on terrorists. They had machine guns and grenades. We should have done things differently, but orders are orders."

His story was ended there and he drained his glass in one go. He looked at me with trust and I nodded acceptance of his condition. Names changed to safeguard Champoo's protector.



Gai came over to sit with us. The statuesque bargirl was a Thai version of Jayne Mansfield. Se nuzzled Erik like a cat after a place to live. Her main geek Fabo would have been angry to see the betrayal of his affection, however the Belgium was on a oil-exploration ship off the coast of Angola.



I could keep a secret, but I never saw Erik leave with Gai. The Buffalo Bar's # 1 earner was a star at keeping secrets. that way. I had never seen her leave with him, but she hadn't any problem with old guys either. Not as long as they had all their hair.

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