Walter was late again. His friend had already left by the time he arrived at Fritz’s house. And all because two neighbors could not decide who owned the apples from the tree that bordered their properties. It took Walter and his police partner Schlosser two hours to settle the dispute by extending the property line vertically, which put them well into overtime.
The concert was supposed to begin at eight o’clock. Walter rode his secondhand bicycle into the parking lot of the Enlisted Club, where his dynamo-powered light reflected off the chrome bumpers of the Chevrolets and Fords of the Americans. After backpedaling to brake and locking the front to the bike rack at the far end of the club, Walter bent and removed the cycle clips from his trousers. He brushed his pant legs until he was satisfied that they were not dusty anymore. Walter wanted to look his best just in case he met a girl tonight.
He whistled “All Shook Up” as he strolled toward the brightly lit entrance of the club. He walked by a group of GIs lingering under the red canopy, smoking and laughing with their friends, and opened the double door. Inside, he drew in the chatter of the boisterous crowd as if it was fresh air.
Ah, Saturday night! The long work week was over and he could finally enjoy himself like every other youth in the village. He made his way to the bar, where he paused to scan the crowd. As he had feared, he did not detect one empty chair.
The German emcee stepped to the microphone and spread his right arm to take in the stage. “Meine Damen und Herren! Ladies and gentlemen! Let’s welcome The Trotters, fresh from America, for their first concert at Lauterbach Air Base.”
Whistles pierced the smoke-filled club, causing Walter to erupt in appreciative laughter. He lifted his hands into the air and clapped until it hurt. The master of ceremonies stepped back while the maroon velvet curtain slowly revealed the band. Walter craned his neck to view the musicians. The four male singers wore matching white jackets that glittered silvery in the dimmed light, accentuating their ebony skin.
The oldest of the three bartenders, dressed in a white shirt and a thin tie, placed a cardboard coaster in front of Walter. “Good evening, Herr Hofmann,” he said. “What can I bring you?”
“I’ll have a Parkbräu.” Walter began to sway his upper body to the tune of “She’s All Yours.” After the applause faded away, he gazed across the room again, searching for acquaintances. Where might his friends be? Perhaps he would have better luck waiting for them to step up to the bar instead of trying to find them in the crowd. He put his bottle on the counter and rested his shoulders against the bar. A young German woman sat on the barstool closest to him. Her curly brown hair framed an oval face with lively, amber-colored eyes. Walter cleared his throat and stood up erect. It was now or never.
He leaned toward the young woman and said, “Good evening. It’s a nice crowd tonight, isn’t it?”
She gave him an indifferent look and sat flatly, “Yes, it is.”
Her mouth formed a wide smile as she waved at someone behind him. He glanced over his shoulder to see a GI in civilian clothes approach her.
“Hello,” the American said, taking her hands in his. She rose to dance with him and Walter plunked down on the vacant barstool. He smacked his fist on the counter. Was he never going to find a girl? Just what did this lanky fellow, with his crew cut and clean-shaven face, have that he did not? Other than dollars, a car, and all the latest rock ‘n’ roll records, of course.
I may not be as handsome as those fellows, but I am blond and tall like all the men in my family, Walter thought. I have a good job. I even went to dance school before entering the police academy. What else do I have to do?
Walter sighed and took a sip of beer. Almost all the German girls in the club were in the company of a GI. He would not find a dance partner tonight. That much was certain. It would require a miracle to even talk to a female besides the waitress.
“Good evening, Walter,” said a voice by his side as a heavy hand clapped his back. Walter jerked around and smiled. The hand belonged to Fritz’s father.
“How’s that job of yours coming along?” Herr Müller asked.
“It’s going very well, thank you. I just got off from work.” Walter was surprised to see a Manhattan in Herr Müller’s hand. Was this the same man who years ago had denounced any other drink than wine? Apparently, not even middle-aged Germans were immune to the craze of all things American.
“Are you glad to be back home?” Herr Müller interrupted his thoughts. “How long did you work in Mainz? Was it two years, or was it three?”
“It’s been two years. I’m happy to be home again so I can spend time with my friends. Is Fritz here yet? No one answered the doorbell at your house.” Walter did not want to spend the entire evening alone, and males outnumbered females about ten to one.
“He should be here already. Haven’t you seen him yet?”Fünfziger Jahre, Historisch, Kalter Krieg, Krimi, Musik, Pfalz, Polizei, regional