Chapter 10. The Trade

I sit on the grass and continue eating from my protein bar. Uhm, wait a minute! Did I say ‘luminous cube’ to the American Colonel? How did I know that my steppes belong to a cube? How did I learn to use my mind for calculating imaginary trajectories? What do I know.

Mmm, water is good. Let me sip some. Yes, water! No rain in the cube, no water for me to drink, nothing but this damn wind. And the lawn is always green. I break a blade of grass between my fingers. Crunchy as pasta, dry as paper. Nirvana used to be more appealing. At least I wasn’t alone. I wish to…

“Rolf! My love. Darling Rolf, come to me!”

This is, this is, un- un-unbelievable. Rivkah embraces me, kisses me all over my face. She just popped out of nowhere and now she’s suddenly suffocating me.

Wait! The second my mind wished to think of her, to speak her name. This is Fata Morgana, worse than Nirvana. What is happening to me? Help!?

“Calm down, you pussy. It’s me: your Rivkah. The real one. I still love you, never ceased to. God willing – oh Lord, thank YOU so very much!! – I finally managed to find you. My adorable little man.”

“No, no, Rivkah. I am confused, too confused to understand, too scared to believe what is going on with me. I am at lost. How do I know that you are for real? Tell me.”

“Remember that Zündapp I have given you as a match for your new uniform?”

“Yes. It had a Greek sign written on it, like IX-NIKA. I remember.”

“What did I tell you to speak out loud for the bike to break the speed of light?”

“Hey, hey. You didn’t tell me anything about the speed of light then, just that it would beat the speed of my Messerschmitt.”

“Yeah, it actually phases in multiples of the speed of light. I found out later when learning about theoretical stuff. The words please.”

“Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.”

“The magic words that turned your Zündapp into a transdimensional transporter.” I listen to her and look at her as she deploys her speech on quantum physics, surrounding me in small steps. But, wow, Rivkah is naked. Bare naked. “[…]Undeniably, you’ve arrived safe to Salzburg and had Viktor slingshot you out to Mars… as far as…”

“Rivkah, why do you walk naked? Where is your uniform?”

“Let me finish first! Listen to me very carefully, because if you don’t understand what I’m saying then you’ll believe that I am a phantasm, an illusion to you. And I didn’t quit my Command Center to come here, for you, only to be treated with this kind of utter disrespect.”

I am mute, charmed, enchanted, fascinated, enamored, I don’t even care if she’s a fairy or some sprite (the American guy used this word, right?). I just can’t stop loving this beautiful being. Seventy-seven years, said the Colonel. Let me… One hundred years! Rivkah should be one hundred years old now. She’s looking like thirty. Maybe thirty-five?

When we made love, a week ago (for me), in the vineyards next to Balaton, she was fresh like an apple.

“Rivkah, I need to taste you.” Pulling her arm closer to me, I allow my teeth to bite the skin of her shoulder. My tongue takes me up her neck. It is her! Mein Gott, I’ve got my Rivkah back!!

“Hey, hey, enough, enough. The world you knew does not exist any longer. We hated it and we changed it. For better or for worse, now I can walk naked anywhere I please to. Clothes are optional, like uniforms, and we make use of them only on special occasions, or just to protect ourselves from the elements.”

“The phalansteries you were talking about. This crazy idea of yours about living life in the commune. Uh-huh, remember when you wished us all to get naked and play on the meadow?”

“My stubborn brothers resisted me.”

“But I didn’t.”

“Twas when I first noticed your little dick. Haah, haah.”

“My little?… What are you…”

“Rolf, you need to focus for the moment. We’ll get to this later. Now please tell me that you believe that I am real, the same Rivkah that had you trade your airplane for a motorcycle.”

Focusing is no big deal when everything around you looks crisp, when your girlfriend talks quantum mechanics as she walks around in her birthday suit, when she promises an orgy of nostalgia after reminding you about the kind of transactions she does. “Focus on what exactly, my dear Rivkah?”

“Tell me about my father, Rolf.”

“Oh, Uncle Ritschy. Yes, I met him while hanging out through Nirvana.”

“Nirvana?” She looks confused. I encourage her to focus and believe every word that I’m about to tell her, because it is what I had experienced all these days.

“I was right.”

“Not that I wish to contest your statement, but about what exactly?”

“About sending Papa’s dying body out in a repulsin. Viktor refused to talk about you. He never trusted me. Dunno why.”

“What happened to Uncle Ritschy? Did he die of old age?”

“No, Rolf, Papa has been poisoned. By friends. The official version—theirs—was heart attack. But I knew better. So I stole him from an agonizing death on the hospital bed, flew to the desert, where the repulsins were stocked, and bribed an airman to shoot him out for me.”

“How did you know what to do if Viktor never whispered a word to you?”

“If Viktor didn’t, someone else did. So I had a hunch. Turns out that I was right. Again.”

“Rivkah, if you wish to see your Papa, to talk to him, maybe I could help you. Let’s jump together in this repulsin, bring it up to resonance and, hopefully, it will take us back to the inner core of the Moon.”

“The Nirvana you were talking about? Let’s keep this for later. I might have a plan about it.”

“Isn’t my plan brilliant?”

“Not even good enough to consider. Us jumping together between those irons? This sounds like pure madness, my dear Rolf.”

She likes to tease me. To be more precise, feeling her hands pulling my trousers down, I remember that teasing is what she loves best. This woman, it seems, has been built to master men. Good for her. And for me!

My dick has still to harden. Nevertheless, I can already sense her lips sucking and her tongue slapping on it. So much for teasing. Why can’t I always be right?

“Rolf?”

“Yes, dear.”

“You taste exactly like I’ve left you seventy-seven years ago. You are amazing! Oh, lovely scent, how much I missed you all these years.”

“Rivkah darling, if I may. Think that it’s no big deal if I taste like last week, because for me it was last week, remember? Oh, and I had no chance to wash myself in the while. Oh, again, and for about five days of this ‘week’ of mine, my clock was not even ticking. By the way, I am curious to ask about your age. How old are you, Rivkah?”

“I am one hundred years old.”

“And yet you look like a thirty-something.”

“Really? Thought I look like a forty-something. But if you say so…”

“Doesn’t matter. How comes? What is your magic? I have told you everything about mine. Would you please be so kind to share your experiences with me?”

After two more vivid suctions, she swings from her knees to sitting her very cute ass on the grass, pulling me down next to her with an impish gesture.

“I’ll sum it up short, because I really, really, really need you inside me. But you’ve got the right to hear my life, exactly the same way I had the right to hear your last week.”

“Yeah, sure, make it short. Trade a jet plane for a bike, tell seventy-seven years in the same time I’ve told you about a week. Sounds exactly fair.”

She smiles discretely as her pointer wants to seal my lips with a gentle touch. “Now listen carefully, my dear Rolf. I took off in your plane without a problem; I landed it in Tunis where I handed the bombs to the Brits; then I boarded a ship home, to New York, to tell Papa everything. You know, I haven’t eaten anything for two days because I didn’t want to forget your taste.”

“Ah, this is so sweet. I love you.”

“Me too. Don’t interrupt! Before the end of the war, it became clear to Papa that our country has been sold to the Soviets and…”

“Who sold it? The Americans?”

“Please don’t ask questions. Just listen. Please.” Her hand brings a relative comfort to my body, unlike her words that harrow my spirit.

“Both Hungary and Austria fell under Soviet occupation. Ten years later, Austria declared neutrality and was freed of foreign troops.”

“Neutrality from what?”

“From the two opposing blocks of the Cold War.”

“What cold war?” She plays the history teacher on me. I remain silent. The Conferences of Yalta and Potsdam. The Truman Doctrine, the Cold War, the Berlin Blockade. The Korean War. The Suez Crisis and the Hungarian Revolution. The Berlin Wall and the Cuban Crisis. The Spring of Prague and the Vietnam War. The Soviet-Afghan War and the Solidarity Movement in Poland. The Velvet Revolutions in Central Europe with the exception of the bloody Revolution in Rumania. The Communist coup in Moscow and the final dissolution of the Soviet Union.

“Uncle Ritschy didn’t live to see the day when the last Soviet soldier left Hungary. I can imagine…”

“No, Rolf, you can’t. All that he asked for was a neutral Hungary, just like Austria. He lobbied and sponsored. He intervened and subverted. He promised and threatened. He never gave up!”

“A blessed man, your Papa. I hope that you’ll…”

“Everything at its own pace, Rolf. Please allow me to reach a conclusion. Will you?”

I nod in agreement.

“I married Alain Johannson, a French pilot. We fought our share of lost wars, growing old together. Alain is a wonderful man.”

“Children?”

“I am barren, Rolf. Don’t you know that?”

“Hoped that science and medicine… Dunno. Not even adopted?”

“In a way. I offered him the idea of a ménage which he reluctantly accepted. His other woman gave him a son, Guy. I love him like my own.”

“So you eventually grew old, like normal people do?”

“We did, peacefully, avoiding society and its inescapable madness.”

“And? And then…”

“Then what?”

“Look, Rivkah, stop teasing me and tell me how did you manage to gain your youth back?”

“Some alien device. Can’t go into much detail. Anyway, I still don’t understand the magic of it. Does it really matter?”

“Of course it matters. When hearing the Colonel talking about 2021, I had a nervous breakdown. Thought you were dead. Gone. I lost my hope in seeing you again. The bitterest moments of my life… It, it matters to me, Rivkah. It matters, oh yes.”

“Okay, my little sentimental carrot. Make love to me. Here and now!”

When Rivkah calls, I jump. When she asks, I deliver. When she needs, I offer. But this time, for a reason that I still have to understand, I stand up like a stupid man, looking at her naked body that she claims is a hundred years old, but what I see seems like thirty-something, and I do nothing but looking. She kisses me and I allow her the initiative. She takes off my tunic and I don’t resist. She strips me of my uniform and I begin to feel free. Whispering Lili Marlene to my ear, she gently dances me around this patch of dry grass.

Outside the barracks, by the corner light
I’ll always stand and wait for you at night
We will create a world for two
I’ll wait for you the whole night through
For you, Lili Marlene
For you, Lili Marlene

She guides my arms down to her waist, I feel her palms stroking my back. I bury my face into her hair, kissing her neck. Few scents invade my senses. I try to find the fragrance that I know, that I have lost that night of September 24th, 1944. I can’t exactly rediscover it. And I won’t give up. Kissing her again, behind the ear, on the other side of her neck, behind her other ear, I guess… I wish… I…

“Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind,” whispers her again.

“Which flowers? There are no flowers here.” I hurry to respond.

It is rhetorical, I suppose. Her whisper sounds like talking but it is in fact a new song. A sad song. I listen to it for the first time in my life.

Where have all the flowers gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the flowers gone,
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone,
Young girls picked them every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the young girls gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the young girls gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the young girls gone,
gone to young men every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the young men gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the young men gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the young men gone,
gone to soldiers every one,
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the soldiers gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the soldiers gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the soldiers gone,
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Where have all the graveyards gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the graveyards gone,
Long time ago,
Where have all the graveyards gone,
Gone to flowers every one
When will they ever learn
When will they ever learn

Swaying slightly on my feet, I cry. Told her that I had a nervous breakdown, told her that I missed her. For how long exactly? One week? She is singing me her seventy-seven years of tragedy, of desperation, of grief and tears for our decimated generation.

“A guy, Peter Seeger, wrote these lyrics. He has been inspired by a Russian song, older than our war. We were not the only generation to be sacrificed, my dear Rolf.”

Rivkah tightens her fists behind my neck, stares me cold in the eyes and speaks – “Are you ready? Take me now!” – before jumping her legs around my waist, the way she did with her arms around my neck.

We kiss and make love. She takes everything from me, every inch of my skin, every bite of my lips, every drop of my essence, nothing escapes her appetite and nothing keeps me from welcoming her.

We sleep then. Alas we did not fall asleep, because we sleep standing, like horses. No idea why.

When she wakes me up, or out, I hear her sweet voice saying that “Rolf, you must get ready for our new trade.”

“What trade?” I don’t understand her words.

“I am going to take your repulsin and you are going to take my pen.”

Astonished, I ask, “what pen?!”

“This one!” She bends, showing me her lovely little ass, to grab something from the grass. “This is my teleportation pen, darling.”

“You had me trade my Messerschmitt jet plane for a motorbike.”

“A Zündapp!”

“Indeed, a Zündapp.” I consent, only to be cut short by a seller’s smile.

“Equipped with faster than light technology.”

“Nevertheless a bike. And now you wish me to trade my repulsin for a pen.”

“A teleportation pen. So tiny, I admit, yet way more advanced than your bulky repulsin. Look! When you’ll click on its tip, it will magically take you back to Earth. To an undisclosed location.”

“And… and… what about you? Aren’t you coming with me? Don’t you wish we stay together? After all these years… for you. I mean… I don’t understand.”

“Rolf! I have a mission.”

“Another one? But what about us? What about our romance? What about our declarations of love? What about our lives? What about our dreams?” I feel like my nerves are breaking down. What is she doing to me?

“There will be a time, times, and an half before all our missions shall be finished.”

“Time is an illusion, Rivkah. There is no time but in our imagination.”

“Then you’ll have to live on our dreams, to imagine and to hope, until this illusion will be over. Do this…”

“…For you. I know. I’ll do this for you. No questions asked. I understand now.”

“You’ll be surprised to hear the answers even before considering asking a question. Now go, click on this pen.” She wraps my palm around this apparently fragile rod of metal. “I love you, Rolf. Never forget that I love you.” Kissing my lips one last time, she presses the button. Click.