Author Topic: The Man of Sorrows 3 (Revised)  (Read 1228 times)

Offline SteveJ

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The Man of Sorrows 3 (Revised)
« on: May 18, 2008, 02:53:41 PM »
The Man of Sorrows



Part 3 (Revised)

  A day later, I walked the busy street outside the famous  Hauptstadt Hotel.
I braced myself for what was to come; the notorious Rebekka Vel awaited me. I knew her history,
she knew nothing of me. I had the advantage over her, which Rebekka probably expected, as men
had always had the best of her.

  She had positioned herself in a majestic red leather chair, anticipating my
arrival. It was a seductive pose, her long fingers lightly tapping the armrests, her legs crossed jauntily,
a pose remembered from the days when she could have any man she wanted; but those days were long gone.

  She was dressed in a rather mannish black suit, which looked strange and ill-fitting
on a sixty-year old woman, but she didn't care what others thought of her, she never had...

  Rebekka Vel had started dancing nude in nightclubs at the age of 16. Her show, if
one can dignify it with that description, was bizarre even by the decadent standards
of Berlin in the Twenties. She had an appetite for sex and death, and expressed her
obsession with a repertoire which included 'The Corpse Unveiled', in which Rebekka,
supposedly dead, rose from an ornate coffin and slowly unwrapped her shroud, to
reveal her pale white body to a spellbound audience.

 But in Berlin in those times, there were other thrills to be had, from the twelve year-old
prostitutes who could be ordered by telephone, to the transient charms of cocaine and
opium, so after they had used her, Rebekka's admirers and clients moved on.
Her only currency was her beauty, and she spent it wildly, bedding actors and directors
in order to get movie work.

 She was a poor actress, just a pretty face with no talent, unlike her sister Katharina,
the film star I had come here to talk about. But Rebekka desired only to talk about
herself, and me, and us...

  "You have a rather bland face, Paul Jaeger. I like that...it means that I can't divine your motives.
One gets so bored with obvious men. But you are a mystery to me; reveal yourself."

  "I wanted to ask you about your sister, Miss Vel, I'd like to know if..."

  "She's dead."

  The carelessness of her statement took me aback. I hesitated slightly, and out of nowhere
came the question I really wanted to ask:

  "Miss Vel, did you know Klaus Reinhardt?"

  "Oh, he's alive - The Devil never dies, Mr Jaeger. They murdered him many times,
 of course, but..."

  She was obviously slightly insane. Still, I stepped into her fantasy, and strode on.

  "Do you know where he is? Have you seen him?"

  "Three years ago. I saw him in this very room. He was about twenty years old."

  "But he'd around sixty now, Rebekka...Miss Vel."

  "No, not Reinhardt, he's not an old corpse like me, Paul - he has a new skin now..."

 Hours passed, and Rebekka became more and more drunk, until finally we were asked to leave.
I accompanied her, and we strolled arm-in-arm back to her own hotel which was, shall we say,
a little less impressive than the Hauptstadt. Drug users, in various poses of lethargy, decorated
the walls and floor as we passed by. I'd heard all I wanted to from Rebekka, but she had seduced
me with a promise - a journal she had taken from the set of Weber's 'masterpiece' 'Kaspar Hauser'.

 Finally installed in her cheap and dirty room, Rebekka relaxed. Indeed, she relaxed a little too much
for my comfort. She began by placing an extremely dusty old 78 on her gramophone, and proceeded to
undress slowly, humming the ancient song loudly. Her jacket fell to the floor, and she started to unbutton
the male shirt she wore. This was embarrassing...

  "Rebekka, I..."

  "What's the matter with you, Paul, why are you always so serious? Have some fun!"

  "I will, I promise. But what about the journal?"

  "Oh, that can wait until we're spent."

  "What do you mean 'spent'?"

  "You can act innocent all you like with me, boy, but I know what you really desire..."

  Rebekka slowly twirled in time to the ancient music. And for a brief moment, I saw her younger self,
vivacious and beguiling, I saw how she had charmed so many men into bed. For an instant, I was
attracted, then repelled. But, too late to move away, she held me, and we danced in broken, halting steps.

  The odour of alcohol, cigarettes, and, well, imminent decay made me pull away from her, but she pulled me
back into her arms once more.

  "Don't you like me?"

  She spoke like a child, suddenly, I could almost hear the crack in her voice, and I expected her to break down
in tears. And of course, I heard for myself the rejection she must have suffered all these years, now her looks
had withered and her body a mockery of what it once was. But I had no time for sympathy:

  "The journal you promised me...then I'll be on my way."

  "You mean 'Then I'll leave you alone', don't you? And I will be alone."

  Rebekka made once last attempt to seduce me, and once again I found her lips next to mine.
But I had misunderstood...

  "Say you want me - say it!".

  The singer wailed on, her words floated around us: 'Veronika, der Lenz Ist da', but it's spell was wasted on me -
there would be no sordid romance tonight. Her hands moved to scratch my face, and I turned my head away.

  "You remind me of him, you know. He was heartless too..."

  Rebekka moved swiftly, and grabbed a knife from her jacket. I was dazed momentarily, and did not resist when
she gathered me to her yet again. Her eyes widened, and I found out what she had perhaps desired all along:

  "Kill me, please, end my life!" Rebekka whispered. "Please!"

  The blade sliced the air, and I gripped Rebekka's hand. her body was pressed tight to mine, there was no escape
for either of us. I felt warm blood flow along my fingers.

 Veronika, der Lenz Ist da...

  Half an hour later, I left Rebekka's room, holding the journal in my hands.
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