Berlin, September, 2019
He sat on the floor of his flat, wondering what went wrong in Denmark. His head felt like there were bombs going off. His wall looked like Lakeshore Boulevard after a parade, with scraps of paper, newspaper clippings and a crumpled, hand written letter. He took the letter from the wall and read it again, for the thousandth time.
My Dear son Axel, I know I treated you very rough as a child. But I wanted to prepare you for an uncertain future. As you know, I am a well-placed Stasi agent, with access to much privileged information. Thereâs a man, whoâs a sociopath, much like you and I. Heâs been a rising star in the KGB, and will no doubt, eventually take over the USSR. His name is Vladimir Putin and I want you to follow him, as he will change the world.
Amidst the eerie night noise in the rough district of Kreuzberg he pondered his failings and his bloody murders while sipping from a large glass of J&B Scotch. How many men from his Incel group had he slaughtered? Gazing into his glass, he reflected on an adventure of an earlier time.
11 years earlier, GyĆr, Hungary
I was visiting this beautiful city for their famous PĂĄlinka Festival and hoping to find some vulnerable, tourist prey. My favourite pĂĄlinka is made from plums and I prefer the 80% alcohol variety. This is what I was tasting at a festival kiosk while watching the energetic PĂĄlinka Festival dancers. Then I saw them. A man and woman having dinner at one of the restaurant patios. They looked quite unsuspecting so I wandered over to get a closer look. Leaning against the manâs chair was a bicycle pannier with a small Canadian flag crest.
âAxel,â I thought, âThis is going to be easy and fun.â
Walking hand in hand, they meandered through the narrow, dark streets of old GyĆr. It was easy to keep hidden in the many shadows and alleys. They arrived at and entered the monastery, where I knew the monks were renting out rooms, like an old, spooky hotel.
I returned later that night, wearing a dark, coarse woollen monkâs robe, my face buried deeply in the hood. My trusty stiletto was hidden inside the sleeve. As I entered the monastery, there were a group of monks who looked like they were partying. One of them said to me,
âHey brother, care for some of our home-made pĂĄlinka? Made from plums grown on our private orchard.â
âNein Bruder, I have to keep a clear head. I have work to do tonight.â
These old monasteries donât have locks on the doors. I can imagine why not, and I knew the room where this couple is staying because I saw the man doing mountain poses earlier in the window. I got to the room and with my blade held firmly between my teeth, I gently turned the doorknob.
âThis is going to be quick,â I thought.
Suddenly, a boisterous noise arose through the hallway. The group of monks, very drunk now, were singing and laughing, as they staggered through, bumping into the walls of the narrow corridor. I quickly turned away from them, hiding the stiletto and wiping the saliva dripping from my mouth. As they wobbled by I got a whiff of the sweet, fruity smell of pĂĄlinka.
âCan I have a sip now, Bruder?â I asked, as I grabbed the bottle and quickly walked away. Theyâve had enough anyway. They started to chase me, screaming for their pĂĄlinka, but just tripped over each other and fell, in a 3 stoogeâs kind of way.
âShise,â I exclaimed out loud, on the street, âIâll get them tomorrow.â And I just drank the sweet and potent nectar.
The next morning, I arrived at the monastery just as the couple were leaving on their bikes. I had to think fast if I was going to follow. I needed a bike. There was an old man cycling very slowly. It was easy to push him off the bike and punching him in the face, he landed on the cobblestone road out cold. I quickly removed the large plastic bag full of empty wine bottles and hurled it on him. He can keep them.
âScrew you, old man,â I hollered out loud, âMan, this is going to be a great day.â
I was aware of an old, abandoned, soviet-era manufacturing installation a few kilometres down the road. It was fenced up with barbed wire, but was not guarded and easily accessible by bike. I know the Canadian man is a photography enthusiast, so he wonât be able to resist this urbex opportunity. Theyâll be going into the abandoned compound for sure. This is my kind of place. Toxic waste and evil shit everywhere. Perfect place to butcher and bury.
I followed them from quite a distance, but then they went through a forest area. From the way they were arguing, I could see that they were lost, so I just got off the bike and waited, as I know they would make a complete circle. And sure enough, 20 minutes later, they came around and saw me standing with my bike. I pointed to the direction of Budapest radweg, toward the soviet complex, and started following them again. After a short distance, they stopped and looking back at me, the man pulled out what looked like a euro.
âI think he helps travellers find their way,â I heard him say to his wife, âI want to give him a euro. He looks like he needs it.â
âNo way, look how dirty and wicked he looks. I donât think you should go back. He looks dangerous and heâs been following us. Letâs leave right now and keep your Swiss Army knife handy for protection?â
Back on the radweg to Budapest, the trail ran along the Danube for awhile, then went inland, where the 2 travellers were obviously enjoying the beautiful scenery, often stopping to get photos. I stayed well back and out of sight. Then, they encountered the soviet complex. The woman was resisting, but he finally got his way and they entered through a large hole in the chain link fence.
Stalking them, I watched through broken and murky windows as they picked their way through the decrepit warehouse. This would be the best place to make my move, but as I stepped down hard on the pedal, the bike came to an abrupt halt, almost throwing me over the bars. Putting my feet to the ground, my legs sunk into a vile, filthy sludge. I eventually pulled myself out of this toxic soup, left the warehouse and got back onto the radweg, but they were long gone.
Thinking I could easily catch up, I accelerated, only to confront a couple of cops on horses. They stopped me and asked about the green slime on my legs but then just left, wishing me a good day. Abandoning my hunt, I thought,
âGood day indeed!â
See also we were cycling in hungary
[Click on any photo for the slideshow. Please leave comments at the bottom of the page]
April 21, 2022 at 3:18 pm
Beautiful idea, Len. Taking out Putin before he rules Russia. Is this your tribute to
April 21, 2022 at 4:08 pm
I had to google Inglorious Basterds as I had no idea who they were. But to answer your question, Bern, no, not a tribute, just a short story based on fact and some photos. Not travelling to Europe these days, so I have to re-live my travels here.
April 21, 2022 at 4:54 pm
Thanks Len. I enjoyed the imagery and your photos. Enjoy the good weather. It is coming soon.
April 21, 2022 at 7:49 pm
Take care Don
April 21, 2022 at 6:58 pm
You are going to have to publish a book of short stories. What an imagination!
April 21, 2022 at 7:49 pm
Thanks Len. I don’t need a book. I have a blog!
April 22, 2022 at 3:37 pm
Great photos Len. Vienna and Budapest are on our A list of trips to take, but who knows when that will be… You make me want to hop on a plane and go.
April 22, 2022 at 3:41 pm
Yes, I want to go again too, especially Vienna. One of my favourite places. When we were in Budapest, they were still re-building from the soviet era. It’s probably really nice now.