Drinking Beer with Hitler
By: Garland Davis
I was told by my doctor that the Parkinson’s meds may cause strange dreams. I tell you, some of the shit I dream. I wonder where it comes from. I dream of smoking cigarettes and I haven’t smoked for the past twenty years. I dream of driving a taxi and trying to talk to the dispatcher to get calls. I dream of the aircraft carrier and trying to find my locker and get into the proper uniform. Or I am looking for a head that isn’t secured because I have to piss. I finally wake up and go piss. But the weirdest dream I have had is drinking beer with Hitler.
He says, gesturing toward my Miller Lite, “How can you drink that weak piss? There is nothing better than a hearty German beer. But then everything German is superior.”
“I think the U.S. military proved you wrong,” I say.
He goes into a tirade screaming in German cursing incompetent German Generals and Soviet peasants. Then he changes back to English and tells me if the Donne wetter German Navy had prevented the resupply of the Kommunistische, Stalingrad and Moscow would have fallen and the Reich would have prevailed throughout the world. He said, “Some ideas are good and never die.”
“I’ll admit that German beer is good, but I prefer American or Japanese beer,” I said.
“Ach, der Japanese. They were a grobe enttauschung, a huge disappointment. They should have pursued the attack on Hawaii. But why waste time on beer and past events when there are more important matters to ponder?’
I looked around the bar. No one seemed to be paying any attention. They didn’t seem surprised that I was drinking beer with Hitler. “What important matters,” I queried der, Fuhrer.
Hitler looked directly at me for the first time. He was wearing the gray uniform of the Wehrmacht. He glared at me over his nose, his toothbrush mustache twitching. His hand trembling slightly from the Parkinson’s disease. Is that why I am dreaming of Hitler? Because I have Parkinson’s disease. I know that he had it. I say had it because I know he is dead and this is but a dream.
“We have a responsibility,” he said, “a responsibility to the future.”
I could see cars passing on the street outside the bar and the people watching a soccer game on TV. I could see, but the only sound I heard was Hitler speaking.
“We all have a part to play in the drama of life,” said Hitler as the bartender placed a fresh beer in front of me, but I don’t recall ordering. The bartender drifted down the bar and back to the TV. “Whatever role one is assigned or chooses to play.” He sipped from his beer. “One’s destiny determines the role he is to play. How the man plays the part, determines what kind of man he is.”
I took a long drink from the glass. Strange, I don’t remember shifting from bottled beer to draft. Doesn’t matter it is still Miller Lite.
“Tell me, what kind of man are you?’ the Nazi leader asked.
“I am a sailor, but I guess it depends on who you ask,” I replied. The bartender, his name tag said Brad, came back to ask, “Another?” He never asked before. Why could I hear him now?
“What’s the story with fucking Hitler here?” I ask Brad.
He glances at Hitler for a minute and says, “He comes in every now and then. Orders a beer, drinks it and leaves.” He took a couple swipes at the bar with a stained towel. “You’re the first person, I’ve ever seen him talk to.” He turned back to the ball game, looks back at me and says, “Doesn’t tip for shit.”
“I can imagine,” I said.
I thought over the hundreds of hours I had spent drinking in bars. They were places where perfect strangers will talk about anything, everything, and nothing. Places where fucking Hitler can accost you about your choice of beer and your manhood and your plans for the future.
“I asked you something,” he said rather firmly as if on the edge of another tirade.
“That’s it,” I slammed my glass down on the bar, silently. I could not hear any noises other than Hitler again. You come in here all decked out in that old Nazi uniform, sounding like Colonel Clink and spouting incomprehensible bullshit.” Hitler stared at me. “The get up looks real and you look and sound like Hitler. What is the freaking point?”
Hitler stared at me. I pushed the bowl of nuts toward him. “Nuts?” I asked.
“Nein,” he said. “My stomach.”
“So what is your reason for this masquerade,” I asked raising my arms as if expecting something.
“My point is, what can you do to improve the future?” he replied.
“How the fuck should I know.”
“Ah, you love that word, Fuck. All you Americans do. It is from the German you know,” he said. “Perhaps you should think about how you can improve the present. One follows the other, you know.”
“That’s some deep shit there,” I said.
“It is also the truth,” replied der, Fuhrer. “You all have the power.” He motioned as seen on the Newsreels when he was giving a speech. “You have a duty. A duty to create a better future by changing the present. You have a duty to make the world a superior place, to banish cowardliness and fear. The human race can do so much more.” He took a long pull on his glass. “We could have done much more…”
I think I asked already, but… what the fuck are you talking about?”
“My uniform disturbs you, does it not?” the Nazi asked.
“What gave you that idea?” as I glared at him. “But…yeah.”
“Are you tainted with Jewish blood?”
“Jesus Christ,” I said. I’m Scots-Irish with a touch of Cherokee Indian and probably some other stuff. But if you believe the scriptures we are all descended from the Jews.” Brad wandered up and asked if I wanted another. Hitler’s glass always seemed full, although I hadn’t seen Brad serve him one. “Why not,” I said. I turned back to Hitler and said, “So what are you getting at?”
“So, you are a Druid and a Celt mixed with a savage,” he sneered. “And some other stuff. America is a mongrelized melting pot.” He got a pensive look in his eyes. “I used to hold forth on this subject at length.”
“Yeah. Sociopathic dictators do tend to drone on at times.”
He slammed his hand on the bar and glared at me as I took a long pull on my fresh draft.
“You do not understand,” he snapped. The winners write history. But, many winners’ victories are temporary. The true final victory is the power of an idea to organize the present to change the future.”
“You give me a headache,” I said, motioning to Brad for a fresh draft. Hitler’s stein was still full. “I am about tired of this shit.”
“You become tired when confronted with your duty and responsibility?” Hitler said motioning as if emphasizing a point
“The only responsibility I have is to drink this beer and return to the ship at anchor in the bay.” I almost yelled. As before, no one was paying any attention to me and the man in the German uniform.
You have a responsibility to yourself. To challenge yourself to achieve the most and best of the future. His fingers caress the twin lightning bolts embossed on the cuff links. “You must see beyond the lie that is draped over the truth of an idea.”
“Tell me what is this idea that is so truthful.”
“Obedience. The power of obedience,” he told me. “The obedience to be driven and clean the present of those things holding back the future. You must find the means to cast off the chains of the anchor holding you back. You must live as a man among other men.”
“Obedience,” I said. “Sounds like some TV holy roller preacher prompting the masses for repentance and donations. Does it come with cattle prod or a whip?”
Hitler smiled, a widening smile as if he had won a game. “You make jokes, but you do love being commanded. Your lifestyle requires that you be commanded and obey.” You love someone commanding you.”
“No, you’re wrong,” I said.
“Of course, I am,” says the Kraut. “You think for yourself and would never simply do what you are told.”
“Fuck you, man.”
“Are you man enough to face the challenge?” asked Hitler.
“Fuck you, man,” as I stood. “I’ve finished with this bullshit. You ought to be locked up for wearing that costume. And talking that shit pushes the boundaries of free speech. It just ain’t cool.”
“What isn’t cool?” he asked. “My ‘costume’ or my speech.”
“Fuck you, man! Drop the act!” I could hear the silence of the bar and the other patrons around me. I looked around. No one was paying any attention to us. “What kind of head case goes out dressed like that and grooming himself like Hitler. You should be fucking committed!”
“I am committed. To an idea.” He focused on my face. “Are you committed to anything other than drinking watered beer?”
“Drop the fucking act,” I yelled.
“I am not acting. Are you?”
I clenched my fists, considering taking a swing at him when I noticed the butt of a Lugar type pistol in an oiled leather holster at his waist.
“Which of us is acting,” the Nazi asked. He stood posed like a statue from a horror gallery of last century.
“Perhaps that I am truly a servant to an idea, rather than the freak you believe me to be.” He took a drink from his beer. ‘If that is true, why am I here drinking this piss water beer in this dump with you? And why am I even trying to talk with you?”
“Who are you?” I asked with a queasy squirming in my stomach.
“I wander through these times,” he said looking into the back bar mirror. “When I look into my reflection, I see a man out of place waiting for the right to return”
“The right time for Hitler to return?”
He gave me a pitying look. “I am already here. The time is waiting for rebirth. Perhaps with another face. Patiently waiting.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Perhaps not. But you understand enough history to know that an idea doesn’t die until the last believer in it dies,” He replied.
He drew his right hand over the holstered Lugar, reached into his pocket and pulled out a bill and coins, laid them on the bar. He stood for a minute facing me.
“The time may come sooner than you think,” and with that, he turned and went out the door.
Slowly the sounds of the bar returned. Brad drifted along the bar and palmed the money Hitler had left behind. “What did I tell you?” he said. “No fucking tip.”
And Then I awakened!