Part Two

The Devil

Day and Night One

 

 

Klaus barely noticed the snow-laden landscape unfold beneath him as the airliner descended over Locarno, Switzerland.  He continued to make small-talk with the man next to him, an Italian on a business trip.  Klaus told him he was a bookkeeper on holiday.  Nothing too interesting.  He didn't want to talk about himself too much.  Messer Molinaro was quite happy to chatter away about his wife, his kids, his work.  Klaus was glad for the distraction.

But now the plane ride was over and Klaus was going to have to be alone with himself.  In the past, he was often alone and relished it, but now there were things about himself he didn't want to be alone with.  But better to live alone in Hell than drag everyone else along with him.

He picked up a rental car and followed his godmother's map up the snakey Alpine roads to the cabin.  He stopped on the way up at a little store to buy food and an oil lamp.  He arrived at the little cabin in the late afternoon.  From the outside it appeared small and simple and Klaus liked that.  Inside, it was just like his dream.

 "Okay," he told himself, "not to worry.  Little cabins all look alike."

The door he'd come in was on the south wall, flanked by a square window on either side.  The only other window was on the east wall, next to the bare feather bed.  The north wall had a door which led to a very rustic bathroom.  The fireplace stood on the west wall.  Besides the bed, the only furniture in the place was a stand of drawers beneath one of the south windows, a bedside table, and empty set of bookshelves, a table and chairs, and an unplugged mini-refrigerator.  There was a thick coat of dust on everything but it was obvious that someone, sometime, had used the cabin.  There were ashes in the fireplace and the electricity worked.  He supposed he could have called ahead and had someone clean up the place (and remind him to bring sheets!) but he didn't want anyone to know where he was.  Even his loyal butler knew only that he was off to Switzerland.

 He put his suitcase on the bed and opened the top drawer of the bureau.  Chief wanted him to seek psychological counseling.  As far as everyone was concerned, Klaus' nervous breakdown had been a result of overwork and stress.  Everyone except Dorian and Christine.  He didn't know what they knew, but they had more insight than anyone else.  But the psychic couldn't tell.  She was in a coma.  Dorian had been calling for days.  That was why Klaus had to leave.  It was bad enough to have his servants witness his descent into madness.  He didn't want Dorian to see it too.  Dorian... Dorian would want to take care of him.  To make him talk about it.  Klaus couldn't bear that.  Klaus was supposed to be the strong one.  Iron Klaus.

He caught himself staring into the empty drawer.  Shaking his head briskly, he turned and began filling the drawers.

But sunset, he had plugged in and stocked the mini-refrigerator, started a fire, and cleaned up the place. Since he had no bedsheets or blankets, he moved the mattress over to the fireplace and moved the table and chairs over to the east side of the room.  There.  Now it wasn't at all like the dream. He lay down on the musty mattress and lit a cigarette.  The rafters looked sturdy enough.  He simply could not worry about it.  He knew the dream had been merely allegorical.  All of them had.  Now that the past was revealed, his present dreams were not so subtle anymore.  They were nightmarish replays of the whole incident, sometimes with subtle changes.  He wished he could forget again.

As it grew later, Klaus put on his warm wool coat and lay down to sleep.  He dreamed it again, except this time he could feel the demon leaving him as he beat himself with the riding crop.  It burned, clawing its way out of his anus.  It hurt like when Father Haffemann raped him.  The demon emerged, red and fat and obscene, with eyes of fire.  Little Klaus jumped up and tried to run away, but the priest grabbed him.

"Kill the devil!" Father Haffemann said. "Kill it!"

"You kill it!" cried Klaus.  "You kill it!"

The demon slinked over, smiling a sleazy, lecherous grin. Klaus struggled but Father Haffemann held him fast.  The demon looked up at Klaus with wide blinking eyes, flashed a grin, then with a quick bob of its head, bit off Klaus' penis.  It didn't hurt.  It didn't have any feeling at all, but Klaus screamed in horror.

Then Klaus was on the desk again, feeling the priest on him, in him.  Possessed.  Father Haffemann was possessed.  At that final moment, when he heard the disgusting grunting sounds, he felt the demon shoot out of the priest and back into him.

"Better build a tower," said Saint Pelagia.  "Keep that devil inside."

"But he has my penis!"  the child exclaimed, mortified.

"You don't want it, do you?" she replied.  "It's bad.  You want to be good, don't you?"

"Yes."

"Then build a tower."

Klaus built a cabin.  It was a small, simple cabin with carved windowsills and mantle.  But the rafters weren't too good.

Eroica's picture was missing.  That made him angry.  After all, the picture was his.

 

Klaus woke up when he stood.  Disoriented, he stumbled towards the nightstand, looking for Eroica's picture.  There were only his radio and empty coffee cup.  Where was it?  It should be there, he thought.

A priest moved in the corner of the room.  Klaus gasped and backed away.  The priest grew larger.  He suddenly realized the priest was just his shadow.  He wept in relief.  Crying was something he'd never done since childhood but lately it seemed it was all he'd been doing.  It scared him.  The worst was over. Why couldn't he get over it?

He sat down at the table and collected himself.  Oh, why? There was no one here to hear him scream.  Yes.  He could scream if he liked.  Scream and cry and vomit and whip himself.

He didn't do any of those things.  He had a cigarette.

"Don't have a fit, have a ci-ga-rit!" he said aloud. The rhyme was a bit strained for, but he amused himself.  "Do not scream, have some nicotine."  He giggled.

"Wait, stop," he scolded himself.  "You are not going to slip up again.  You have to get better or NATO is not going to let you come back."

"Why," he answered himself, "they don't mind madmen.  They use Eroica all the time!"  He laughed out loud, then remembered  the missing picture.  He got up and began to search the floor behind the nightstand, in case the non-existent picture had fallen there.  He looked under the bedframe.  No sign of curly blond hair.  He was furious.  Dorian was his.  Someone had just come in and taken him with no respect for Klaus' ownership. He shouldn't have left him alone for so long.  It wasn't safe here.  Maybe the devil got him and ate him.

Klaus leapt to his feet.  Oh, God!  The burning!  He clamped his hands over his ass and backed over to a wall. He waited anxiously.  Now that the tower was gone, the devil was free to come out and eat him up.  It had already eaten off his penis.  That was why he was impotent.  Now it was eating at his brain and he was going mad.  Just as well he was alone.  The butler had seen him during one of these fits and those wide frightened eyes had shamed Klaus.

He felt the devil trying to come out.  He squeezed his buttocks tight and began to pray aloud.  He hadn't been mad before.  When the tower crumbled, he'd only been scared and distraught.  Now he was going mad.

 "I cannot be going mad," he whispered aloud in the middle of his prayer.  "I know it's happening, so I cannot be going mad.

The pain began to subside.  Still, he did not move until it was completely gone.  Only then did he stumble back to the mattress and fall onto it.

The fire had died to embers, but the cabin was still bright from the moonlight and the reflective snow.  He hoped Eroica was safe, wherever he was.

He took off his coat and lay it over himself.

 

"London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.

"Build it up with iron bars, iron bars, Iron Klaus,
Build it up with Iron Klaus, my fair lady.

"Iron Klaus will bend and break, bend and break, bend and break,
Iron Klaus will bend and break, my fair lady."

 

He eventually fell asleep and did not dream.

 

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