Writing exercise: 2 perspectives from the same scene.
Seventy-three years had passed since Iris had last seen the Grosser Mercedes 770 W 150. Powered by a 230-horsepower engine it could easily reach speeds up to 145km. Its black, exterior reflected an unyielding and unforgiving way of life, one of power, corruption and greed. Four sturdy and finely polished tires supported the massive automobile or Todesmaschine (German for death machine). The oval lights that rested on either side of the colossal hood, like calculating eyes, fixated their sights on anyone deemed unworthy. Cautiously, Iris brushed her old and haggard fingers along the expensive leather seats, counting the rows of stitches as she did in her youth, proving to herself that this car was genuine. From its bucket seats, swastika flags and the unchanged pungent odor of cigars, it was exactly as she remembered it from 1942.
A group of children ran past, one a little boy playing with his mother’s necklace. The ginger women shouted for him to stop messing about and tipped her hat to Iris, apologetically for any disruptions. More passed as they observed Iris’ many donated cars, but ignorantly moved to the showy 64 Aston Martin down the hall. No one truly knew of its history, what the car had seen or the dark deeds of its owner, though the two shared a past. It had been living at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa since 1970, but this was the first time she could bring herself to face it again.
Shouting returned to Iris’ memory. The faces she watched pass, shifted into those she once knew. Her father’s rough Swiss accent echoed in her head, hollering for her to climb out from the car before the owner discovered her. He was a tall man with a slender figure. She remembered his oil-stained overalls along with the battered and dingy wrench he’d always carry. As the Fuehrer’s personal mechanic, efficiency literally meant life or death at Hitler’s Berghof home.
“They say the old thing’s cursed,” said a blond man with a compelling German accent. He had a thin face, though it was his straight soldier like posture that drew her to attention. She took in his words and after surviving several wars, Iris didn’t believe in curses, nor did she believe in superstition. For only people could be so cruel, not the inanimate objects they try to pin the blame upon.
“My appearance has dwindled over the years,” he confessed. “But you are exactly as I remember. Your obstinate expression is unmistakable.”
Her father’s shouting returned, as the illusion of his instructive finger vigorously shook in front of her face. The silhouette of this man shifted and revealed him as the boy she once knew, standing in the background of the old garage where her father used to work. No more then eight years old, he was wearing a small spider like swastika around his arm. Her father grabbed Iris from the car, spanking her as he removed her from the garage, but the boy had already seen and his expression radiated with disgust as his intent for mayhem heightened.
His voice drew her back to the present, “Life has shown you kindness,” he stated. “The wife of a wealthy car manufacture.”
Seventy-three years of bitterness consumed her as she pulled up her sleeves to take a swing at him, though several patrons abruptly turned their gaze and circled her like vultures.
“Life has not shown me the same courtesy,” he snapped, as he took old of her fragile wrist. “You see, after the war, my family was ostracized, cast out, left with nothing, while little mice like you scampered your way to America, were you luckily found your fortune!”
“Life has not been kind to me,” Iris thought. Nor had luck had anything to do with her fortune. Wealth was earned. Her chronic aches and pains acted as testaments of her uphill struggle to obtain what she had acquired. An old Luger P08 pistol hung out of his pocket and she heard the distant echo of a thunderous bang as she tried to force the painful memory away.
One of the vultures circling approached and handed her a phone. He instructed her to transfer funds from her personal account to anther located in Hungary. If she refused, both the innocent patrons as well as the cars, the only thing she had left of her husband, would be lost. Without hesitation or much thought, Iris’ stubborn roots took over. She dropped the device and crushed it with her cane; drawing the attention of the mother she had interacted with earlier.
The Luger was lifted, aimed and fired, taking the life the innocent woman whose only crime was apologizing for her disruptive son. The blood spattered backwards as her body collapsed beside the boy. Iris stood horrified as many began to run.
He sighed as he spoke, wiping the pistol with a red handkerchief. “It would be a pity for the boy to join his dear mummy.”
Iris could hear the little boy crying as guilt consumed her. The echoes of her own young screams retuned, her father’s pleading expression and then the crack of the gunshot that removed him from her life forever. The blond boy’s laughter radiated in both her past and present as innocent lives ended due to her actions.
Her hand found it’s way into her pocket and gripped her father’s wrench, something she’d always carried since his murder. She reacted without control, plunging the dulled claw into his neck. It took all her strength to force it through his flesh and she didn’t stop until she felt his life leave his body. Shouts came from the doors as he collapsed into the back seat of the Mercedes.
Shaking, Iris turned to see the small boy lying beside his mother, her necklace still grasped firmly in his tiny hands. She saw herself in him, as she too had lain beside her father so many years ago.
Dust mystified the air as the screeching tires tore through the ground like a wild animal. A heavy stream of bullets pelted the slick silver steal of the 64 Aston Martin DB5 as it swerved along the cliff side, bypassing every single assailant in sight. Andre stopped the car and opened the passenger door for his ginger partner who’d been kidnapped. She quickly leapt in, buckled up and they were off in the opposite direction of the danger. He shifted gears and played with the breaks as they swerved in and out of sharp turns.
“They want the necklace,” she said as she held up a long strand of purls.
As the road uncoiled, Andre pressed the pedal to the floor, allowing the car to reach a speed of 160km.
“Andre!” shouted his mother.
Andre stumbled backwards, colliding into a group of students. They giggled and pointed as he quickly whipped the imprint of his face off the 64 Aston Martin on display. The room was filled with people for the museum car show and of course, Andre had to stumble into the kids who had spent the past week picking on him in class. His mother grabbed hold of his arm, hollering at him to stop daydreaming and messing about. This made his classmates laugh harder as they passed into the other room. Andre kicked at one of the tires and ran to the other side of the car to be alone. Taking notice of their mockery, his mother tipped her hat to an elderly woman with an obstinate expression and appeared behind her son. She knelt down and brushed the dirt from his clothes and whipped the tears from his eyes as he fiddled with her necklace. The family had recently moved, making Andre the new kid and making friends was not his greatest attribute.
“You need to pay closer attention,” his mother said. “Your head’s in the clouds more often than your feet are on the ground.”
“I don’t mean to,” said Andre as he wiped his nose on his sleeve. “It just happens.”
“Where do you go,” she asked with a smile.
“Everywhere,” he grinned.
She nodded with a wide grin as she brushed his hair out of his face. “Perhaps maybe one day you’ll be a writer, or maybe one of those film directors we saw on TV the other night. You’ve certainly got the imagination for it.”
Andre peered down at his dingy old shoes. At the young age of nine, he had a great deal of time to determine what he wanted to do in life, but his mother always gave him insightful pointers and advise. As a single parent, she had to take on the role of both mother and father, which she was quite remarkable at. She was a kind woman, someone able to act as a friend as well as a parent.
“You’ll keep that safe right,” she asked as she glanced down at the necklace.
Slipping back into his imagination, Andre was suddenly standing in the dessert next to the Aston Martin again, nodding and taking the necklace from the ginger’s hand.
“If they get it… if they see it…” she said with uncertainty.
“I’ll keep it safe,” he said as he saw his mother once more in the show room.
Taking hold of his small hand, she guided him towards a frightening old Mercedes with massive tires larger than his own body. It was a spooky old thing, solid black steal doors, with two oval lights that reminded him of eyes. He glared back at the hood, trying to face his fears, but when he over heard a man with a thick German accent mentioning that the car was cursed, he backed away and hid behind his mother. He watched from a distance as the old woman with the cane grew frightened the more he spoke. Andre had heard about curses in play that his old school preformed, but had never encountered one personally.
Drifting away again, he saw the old woman desperately trying to fight her way free. “Help,” she cried. “Oh someone please help me before it gets me!”
The blond man was now wearing a magician’s hat, as several other men in hoods and dark cloaks gathered around the old woman. They were standing on a stage, as lights flickered in different directions like flashes of lightening. Quickly, Andre and his lovely ginger assistant rushed forward, a black and white wand grasped tightly between his fingers. Well equipped, he knew several spells thanks to Harry Potter.
“Let her go!” he shouted as he aimed the wand.
One of the men handed the old woman an iPhone and ordered her to transfer money to an account in Hungary. Andre had head of that country last year in Mrs. Lally’s Geography class.
“Don’t give it to him!” Andre shouted.
The old woman dropped the phone and smashed it with her cane triumphantly, but the blond man seemed more irritated. The daydream changed when he removed an old fashioned gun from his pocket and pointed it in the direction of his ginger assistant. Suddenly, Andre felt a pang in his stomach as the shattering sound echoed through the room and would forever reverberate in his mind.
His partner, ginger assistant and mother was not center stage. A spotlight shinned down on her as she collapsed to the ground beside him. Slowly, the light faded and dwindled away as she lay motionless on the showroom floor. People were screaming and running to the exits, but Andre remained where he stood. He saw the old woman pushing a dingy wrench into the murderers throat, a sight he could not look away from. The mans body tipped over into the old haunted car as Andre fell to his knees and set his head down next to his mothers. There would be no more daydreams, not without her.
The old woman turned with a heart broken expression, as Andre peered back at her, clenching his mothers necklace in his palm.