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Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.
Among the Remembered Saints: My Life and Subsequent Death
Pluto Wars

Greg Chandler
"Bee's Tree"
"Local Folk"
"Roland's Feast"
"Pond Story "

Doug Childers
"The Baptism"

Gene Cox
The Sunset Lounge

Clarke Crutchfield
"The Break-In"
"The Canceled Party"
"The Imaginary Bullet"

Jason DeBoer
"The Execution of the Sun"

Deanna Francis Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Dennis Must

Charlie Onion
"Love Among the Jellyfish"
Pluto Wars
"Feast of the Manfestation"

Chris Orlet
"Romantic Comedy"

Daniel Rosenblum
"A Full Donkey"

Deanna Frances Mason
"The Daguerreian Marvel"

Andrew L. Wilson
"Fat Cake and Double Talk"


Among the Remembered Saints:
My Life & Subsequent Death

Reginald Blisterkunst, Ph.D.

Part Eight

Is the fishing good in this lake?

It's a long flight from Harrington air base in England to Norway's Lake Jaevsjo, hours of furtive flight through a bottomless well of darkness, the Black Sea black below you and the sky around you, even in a favorable moon period, little better than the interior of a candle-lit coffin. And no chance to talk over the Liberator's roaring engines, though no one around you, hidden inside snow-white parkas and surrounded by piles of parachutes and skis and packs, feels like talking anyway.

Two months training on the sly in the Scottish Highlands, running and skiing to build the legs up, while all the while our Double worked the crowds admirably, not a single fan noticing the change and the few band members who did being told to shut up, if they wanted to keep playing. Sixty days to build up Heinrich, make him mountain-tough, the best days he'd ever had, thinking, with every step, with every practice shot, of the fascists he would destroy and the shiny, All-American medals he would receive for his efforts. One for the Commie, one for the Nazi, reload, aim, squeeze it, squeeze it, one for the Commie, one for the Nazi...


—Heinrich, wo gehst du?

—Nein, nein, Mutter. Jetzt mussen wir Englisch sprechen.

—Ja ja.


Reload. Like a trombone, really. Keep it clean and its your best friend, though a rifle tends to quell a riot a little quicker. Here's one for you, Adolf. Guten Nacht.

—Good work, Heinrich.

—Thank you, sir.

Crouching for a moment, knocking Scottish dust off his knees, and then joining the others, young and sinewy all of them, a bit homely, I suppose, in that way most people seem to look in lost eras, but still on their faces the eager clean smiles that topple tyrants.

So there it is, dear Heinrich's little dream: shoot a few Nazis, pin a few medals on and take one final, triumphant tour with the Siren before settling into a post-war subdivision, just the two of them, him a humble ex-hero and her a caged Siren, freshly tamed and kneading yeasty dough while little Heinrich Jr. incubates and rises in the warm womb. Get a big car, visit Mother, live the dream.


—Please, mother. When my friends are here, you must never speak German. Not now.

—Ja ja.


Of course, he hadn't discussed his dream with the Siren just yet, but he would soon. Maybe even before he leaves Scotland. She would, he knew, take it all so well. She always did, the lovely bird.


He never gave her direction, never had to. Just let her listen to the radio, pick out a tune she liked and then get the sheet music for the rest of the band. She never showed up for rehearsals, but then again, she didn't need to. It was hard to remember to play, sometimes, watching her on stage. Everyone—even Tex and Bristow—were knocked flat when she sang. And you could see it in the crowds too. Hell, there was a time when Heinrich would have sent a couple band members into the crowds to pick some paralyzed pockets, but that was before they got the Siren. Once she came on board, it was a class act, and there was to be no more trickery. Somehow, the band understood, and they rehearsed diligently and then climbed on stage and gaped with the rest of them as the Siren sang and bewitched the sailors and the soldiers and their envious, mere-mortal dates.

There was nothing better, Heinrich mused, than watching your loved one prove that surely somewhere, beyond the stars, a better world must be.




—Dein Vater ist tod.

That was in Braunschweig, after he'd just started school, and one night he'd been told and then next day he was being led into the front room, with his father laid out before him under a white cloth and his hands clutched like bird's claws around a Bible. Then came the trip to Amerika and the time without language. Teased by the other kids, indifferent to his lessons, he had finally found his voice again in the unlikely form of a second-hand trombone, bought by his mother from an emphysema-ridden oom-pa-pa player related to her, somehow, through a distant cousin. She'd wanted him to play with German bands, wearing lederhosen and playing to the sounds of stomping shoes and clanking beersteins, but he stayed in his room instead and listened again and again to a 78 of Kid Ory playing Come Back, Sweet Papa. Johnny Dodds squeaking up and down the register and Satchmo taking over and Ory sliding playfully at the ends of the lines and finally, after they all came together like a cat fight, playing different rhythms like they were inside different songs, behind it all slid the Kid, laughing at them all. Of course, back then, lying in the darkened Chicago tenement with his ear pressed up against the speaker, he'd never thought such an instrument could actually lead a band. He only thought, as he listened, about how music could strip away one identity and lend you another. So he found another German boy, a clarinet player, and then a Polish kid with a trumpet and another German kid with a sagging drum set and bang—the American Boys' Jazz Band. Modest regional success, following the dance-steps of the Paul Whiteman Band up and down the Midwest, shifting their sounds as the sounds changed around them and then hitting a stride with swing, pulling in a New York street tough for the drums (the German kid having dutifully followed Herr Papa into the slaughterhouses) and a few sidemen, and then, in a Chicago dive, Heinrich invited a pretty girl to sing a number on stage with Tex, and the Siren was born. In no time, Heinrich found himself at the head of a sixteen-piece band whose record sales rivaled even the great Glenn. Then came the war with his ex-Vaterland (mixing memory and humiliation) and the Army band, with its promise of an olive-drab world and a career plummet until one night after a performance, from the darkened wings, stepped a lone figure whose metals gleamed like strips of cold metal fire.


—How much you hate them Krauts, Brother Müller?

—More than I can tell you, Sergeant, says our Heinrich, unconsciously laying on the American twang a bit thick.

—Good. Very good. Want to kill a few, don't you?


—Can't do that with an Army band.

—No, you can't.

—Why don't you come to my office tonight? The General would like to have a word with you.


Later, hidden away in the camp and secretly writing the Siren at night: I shouldn't be writing this; the sergeant would have my ass (his term, not mine, dear), but I want you to know what I'm doing every moment, etc. And all the while, our Heinrich turning into a man of steel, the muscles like lead lumps and his lungs able to hold oceans of air.

And thus, finally, through the black night, flies the transformed Heinrich, grim-jawed and full of patriotic hatred for the blood-kin Nazis he will soon kill, if the plane only makes it across the Sea. It's an uncertain proposition, as it turns out, for four of the eight planes sent thus will not land successfully on the frozen Lake Jaevsjo and half the men will not exchange secret passwords with their Norwegian counterparts—


Q: Is the fishing good in this lake?

A: Yes, particularly in winter.


Will our man Heinrich mouth those words?

Well, certainly, in a sense...Yes, of course.

For he is muttering them, grim-jawed, throughout the flight. But will he utter them on the frozen lake, at the moment of ascension?

Who is to say? Fate leads or drags men, will-nilly, on. Perhaps Heinrich's plane will explode in a great fireball just as the bonfire signal is lit below, with a tall figure waiting beside it (Yes, particularly in winter. Yes, particularly in winter.) thus leaving poor Heinrich, mid-muttering-sentence, in two words,


no more.


Or then again, perhaps Heinrich will ski safely to the bombing site, help blow up a crucial bridge and return home to fame and fortune as a bono-fide war hero and husband to a beautiful Siren. But really now, if that had happened, would you have looked so confused when you first read his name here?

So over the river and through the etc. they fly, the engines droning and the hooded figures around our Heinrich like monkish mendicants, each one sealed within parkas that yield nothing but the mumbling catechism (Is the fishing good in this lake? Is the fishing good in this lake?), though that figure on the end there, the one with even his parka snout tilted from the others—who's that one, eh? I say, DOLLY the camera in for a TIGHT SHOT, will you, Karl? I want the audience to know something's awry, here. There we go. Well-done, Karl. And now let's insert an EXT. SHOT of the plane silhouetted against a few clouds—dddrrrrooooooonne—and back to a TIGHT SHOT of the pilot (blond hair peeking out of the leather-brimmed hat, sheepskin collar lifted up to his ears; frowning and showing us with a grimace how tough such night flights into enemy territory are). Co-pilot points down at a spit of land, pilot nods and turns the wheel a bit, pointing the nose up the crease of a river that will lead them, yes, you guessed it, dear reader, to Lake Jaevsjo and, somewhere along its banks, our bonfire-lit contact (Yes, particularly in winter, yes, particularly in winter).

Meanwhile, in the back, our parachuting heroes are jostled a bit by the descent. Some of them turn towards the tiny windows and peer down; others merely check their harnesses and brace themselves for the plummet. And there, on the end—DOLLY up again, will you, Karl?—yes, our mystery parka snout sits unmoved.


It's a rough descent, once the fire signal is lit, the plane circling low enough for the fire-lit figure to hear its chugging, pre-historic drone and see each of the figures step up to the door and without a thought drop into the void beneath them. There they go: one, two, three. And more. The plane circling and from it falling the black figures like bees burnt from a hive, falling, falling and then: puff. The parachutes explode upwards, the men beneath plummeting for a moment and then leaping upwards with a jerk into the unexpected apron and floating hither and thither over the ice-solid lake, their skis dangling over their heads like musket barrels.

Plop! Plop! they land, ice-ankled and not a few broken-legged, and then a mad scramble into the skis and pump-pumping to the glowing snow over the ridge. But my, look at that one go there. I say, old man, in a hurry, what? But wait—isn't that the parka-snouted mystery man? Linger on his back there, will you, Karl? We'll have Korngold bring the score up a bit here.

In the meanwhile, our Heinrich is pumping away like a love-stricken rabbit, one-two, one-two, stroke slide, stroke slide, toward the glowing snow (the light, perhaps, that illuminates all? casts the flickering shadows of this fallen world for us to study like gypsy tea leaves? that, in short, shows us all our fate?), thoughts of Nazis, Mutter and the Siren merging now in a single mouthful—Jetz mussen wir Englisch sprechen. Good work, Heinrich. Dein Vater ist tod. Ja ja. How much you hate them Krauts, Brother Müller? Want to kill a few, don't you? Yes, particularly in winter. Can't do that with an Army band. Ja ja.


Heinrich reaches the fire before the others, but as he skis to the top of the ridge and descends, he is confused by the scene: he and the contact are not alone. A prone figure, tall and Norwegian, is stretched out before the fire, bleeding quietly into the orange flames. Heinrich slows, surveying, and then drifts the final feet to the standing Parka-Snouted Figure. For a moment, the two men stand, staring, and then the parka snout of the man standing opposite Heinrich is snatched back to reveal Heinrich's spitting image, throwing back an evil grimace like a Carnival mirror. Heinrich, skis still poised, stares, lost to time and space, and then sputters his last, breathless line.

Heinrich: Is the fishing good in this lake?

Parka-Snouted Figure: How the fuck should I know?

And with that, the Parka-Snouted Figure raises a large gun and pierces Heinrich's puffy parka with a single, heart-seeking bullet. Moments later, as Heinrich falls to his knees—crying, gasping, dying—the Parka-Snouted Figure casually skis back over the hills and disappears.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12



About the Author

The late Reginald Blisterkunst was a college professor whose areas of expertise were Milton and the Metaphysical Poets. Among the Remembered Saints was his first novel. He also co-wrote Pluto Wars with Charlie Onion, a frequent WAG contributor.


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