Welcome to part 2 of the Berlin to Copenhagen cycling tour. I suggest you review Part 1 at Somewhere in East Germany.
He was hiding in the deep forest behind the gasthaus in Neustrelitz, watching the man sitting on a bench drinking a beer and writing in a small black notebook. Suddenly, a womanâ€™s scream! The man ran back to the ground level room, crashed through the door, then came out laughing. The woman, terrified, ran out after him and hugged him.
[40 years earlier]
â€śAxel, come into the house right now,â€ť shouted the man at his son. â€śYouâ€™re 10 years old, you should know better.â€ť
â€śWhat did I do?â€ť asked the boy.
â€śItâ€™s what you didnâ€™t do. Two whole families were arrested from your school for criticizing our glorious government. Someone else got the credit. You know, as a Stasi agent, I have a monthly quota for arresting subversives. Scheisse, those two families could have gotten me a promotion. I will punish you severely for this. You will kneel on rock salt on the concrete floor for 2 hours. And after that, you will write a 500 word essay on how you would interrogate and torture every member of the two families. You must learn that fear trumps all.â€ť
From his hiding place, Axel venomously watched the scene this couple was making and thought, â€śThey will be next.â€ť
â€śThey must be Canadians, from their weird English accents. The woman sounds French. I followed them all the way from Oranienburg just outside of Berlin, along with a group of other cyclists. Easy prey.â€ť
â€śMein Gott that was fun yesterday, with that young Swiss man and woman. Itâ€™ll be weeks before they find the bodies hidden in that abandoned house deep in the forest. I felt like that witch in Hansel and Gretel; but was so much better than a thumb. These two seem to be heading north, towards Rostock. So I have lots of time.â€ť
This couple was part of a cycling group, who, the next day, made it to the town of Waren, where they were having lunch at a cafe in the Aldtstadt. Axel was lurking at another cafe on the other side of the Platz, concentrating on his victims. Lively accordion music played in the background, setting a very German, back-country atmosphere.
â€śWhat can I get you, sir?â€ť asked the waitress.
â€śEin radler, bitte,â€ť replied Axel.
â€śThey donâ€™t even speak German here anymore,â€ť he thought, â€śDo I look Irish? Damn foreigners are taking over this country.
â€śSo, this group is proving more difficult then I expected. Theyâ€™re all in good shape, strong cyclists and they hang out together. This isnâ€™t going to be easy, but Iâ€™ll just keep following.â€ť
The cyclists left northbound from Waren and stayed a night in GroÎ˛ Breesen, which was a 3 house and 1 hotel town in the the middle of nowhere. The hotel had a large backyard which was set up for relaxing and dining. Scattered throughout the yard were small flower gardens, statues of forest elves and other bucolic wooden artifacts. No music or highway noise here, just the sound of the gentle breeze in the surrounding spruce trees. This was a short day for the group, so getting in early afternoon they congregated in the yard for beer. Yes, this is Germany… they have beer.
Meanwhile, Axel skulked behind a large rock hidden in the spruce trees. His mouth watering… for beer or blood? thinking, â€śI wish I had a gun. But my k-bar is so much more fun. Iâ€™ll get them in Rostock.â€ť
The group got to Rostock where they spent their last night in Germany. The following morning, they arrived at the port on the Ostsee (Baltic sea) to catch the ferry to NykĂ¸bing, Denmark.
Axel sneaked onto the ferry and knowing now that their final destination was Copenhagen, decided to go ahead and let the group catch up to him. This was easy, because he was on an e-bike. He made it to the town of Stege, where he decided to take a rest and plan his assault.
Scoping out the town of Stege, Axel learned that the bike trail enters the town through a narrow arch. Â Adjacent to the arch is a wooded moat, probably left over from Viking times. â€śPerfect,â€ť he thought, â€śI can ambush the Canadian couple right here in the darkness of the arch, then drag and bury the bodies in the moat.â€ť
The bike trail leading into Stege was very scenic, with parks and gardens on either side. A rustic fence made of large dried moss covered branches separated the walkway and bikeway from the greenery and the cemetery. Axel was hidden in the bushes behind a gravestone just off from the fence. The first group of cyclists came through; the Californians and the big Aussie fellow. Shortly after that, the French-Canadians from Chicoutimi, Quebec went through, very quickly.
â€śAh, here they come,â€ť thought Axel, â€śthese are the two Iâ€™ve been waiting for,â€ť as he crouched in the bushes, the blade glistening in the early morning sun.
The woman went through quickly, but the man was distracted by something on the other side of the fence. A flash caught his eye. He wasnâ€™t paying attention to where the trail splits between a pedestrian walkway and the bikeway, separated by an 8 cm curb. His front wheel caught against the curb, causing the bike to lose balance, and crashed, with the man hitting the pavement hard. He lay there motionless, his hands tangled in the front bars and cables, and the bike frame on top of him. There was road rash and blood.
Two men on bikes saw this and came over to help him up. His wife, already in the archway, noticed him missing and turned back. She was terrified seeing him tangled in the frame.
Axel followed the couple as they cycled to the pharmacy in Stege. The man was severely injured and could barley balance the bike as he could not use his left arm. They left the pharmacy for the bus depot right next door, where they paid the driver. The driver loaded the bikes onto the bus, the couple boarded, and they left.
â€śScheisse!â€ť cried out Axel, â€śopportunity lost!â€ť And he hunkered off, eventually back to his dingy lair in Berlin.
The room was dirty, with old newspaper clippings, squeezed out ketchup packets and old take-away curry wurst containers littering the floor. Axel sat facing the wall covered with photos of his father… and banged his head repeatedly against the wall.
The story continues in the photo captions.
[Click on any photo for the slideshow. Please leave comments at the bottom of the page]
April 23, 2021 at 1:19 pm
Len, did you ever see the film “The Lives of Others”? Axel could have been the son of the main character in the film, a Stassi agent.
Great story, and photos. How badly hurt were you in that tumble you took?
April 23, 2021 at 1:54 pm
Hey Len, actually, “The Lives of Others” was my inspiration for this story. That’s a really great film. Funny how things get triggered in the mind.
Hurt? Not too much. Took 3 buses to get to the next hotel, in KĂ¸ge, then went to the hospital, where I had an x-ray, tetanus shot and an interview with a doctor. Hairline fracture in the left arm. We talked more about an old injury that the x-ray saw. All for free. They didn’t even want my insurance info. But needless to say, that was the end of my cycling. But I only missed the last day. Took the train into Copenhagen, which was a great experience all by itself. Chantal cycled in with the group.
April 23, 2021 at 2:08 pm
Len, where you getting your dope? Good stuff.
April 23, 2021 at 3:07 pm
No dope, Bern, just Single Malt. Glad you enjoyed.
Nice compliment from a real writer. Thanks.
April 23, 2021 at 3:28 pm
When does the novel come out?
Cynthia and I want the continuing story of Axel.
George and Cynthia
April 23, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Now I think you got me trapped in the corner, or did I do that to myself? haha, You may have to wait awhile.
May 4, 2021 at 2:22 am
Len, you should be very proud of these journeys…very envious! Hope all is well!
May 4, 2021 at 11:02 am
HI Paul, nice to hear from you. I hope everything is well with you, as well. Keep safe in Farmboy. Don’t be envious, just you travel too, later of course.