Self-Portrait As Mars

Gottfried Steinwhik loved his country. That’s why he joined. He saw that she was under attack from the deadliest form of human bacteria and it scared him. Because he didn’t want to lose her. Everything he was he was because of Germany. The problem, however, is that Gottfried’s fundamental nature did not lend itself to being part of a group. So from the very outset he was alienated from the other men in his regiment. Another problem he had was that he did not know how to communicate if he was not communicating with a woman. In his daily life Gottfried had always been the one giving orders, so to find himself in a position where he was the one taking orders made him very uncomfortable, and most likely exacerbated his reticence. But he did what he was told. No one can say that Gottfried didn’t jump right in and do his job. His job was to be a good soldier, and that’s what he was. No one bothered him and he bothered no one. He fought hard and only spoke occasionally, leading his fellow soldiers to believe that he did not care for them and was only fighting for himself. Towards the end of the war, though, when it appeared that he was going to survive, Gottfried started to feel guilty that he had not made any lasting relationships with his fellow soldiers. Death was abundant. Even the horses could sense the end. Buildings had burst open and cities had crumbled. These are usually the very circumstances under which men, despite their differences in class or religion, come together and make bonds which last a lifetime. Not Gottfried. He remained untethered, without any connection to those he fought alongside with, and it engendered in him a strong sense of remorse, which he vowed he would one day rectify given half a chance. As soon as Gottfried returned home he slipped back into his role as one of the most feared and powerful pimps in the city. The women who worked for him had waited, which alternately delighted Gottfried and filled him with disgust. And so he decided to alter his business plan. No longer would he deal in the procurement of women. Instead, he slowly and methodically built up a rather large stable of young men who were eager to work and provide their services to the shell-shocked and sex-starved denizens of the dark and decadent burg of Berlin. His demeanor, which was naturally taciturn to begin with, had been forged through battle into a pitch black mask of harshness. The boys were so frightened of Gottfried that they anticipated his every whim and soon he was making more money than he had before World War I, enough to buy off the already corrupt authorities and leave him to flourish in peace. It was no different once the Fuhrer came to power, as those closest to him availed themselves of Gottfried’s services on an almost weekly basis. A paranoid lot, they did not question Gottfried’s patriotism, and as soon as war broke out in 1939 Gottfried confirmed his loyalties by signing up for duty. It was with great humility that he accepted his own regiment of young men and lead them into battle. Were it not for the weakened resolve of his fellow Germans the war surely would have been won, and perhaps Gottfried would not have ended up bleeding to death in the Ardennes Forest, surrounded by his men, who, despite Gottfried’s exquisite conditioning and command, still did not understand that despite the circumstances, one must always look their best and affect the countenance of the indifferent. As Gottfried clutched his gut all he could focus on were the unholy amount of untucked shirts, dirty shoes and furrowed brows within his purview. Most unattractive, to say the least.

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