My Uncle Rocky brought them home from the war
in his duffle bag after fighting in Europe and then in the Pacific
and a 6-month stay in Tokyo as a staff sergeant in the Quartermaster’s Corps;
so you can imagine how rank they smelled when we first took them out.
After airing them out on the clothesline
we put them to work on a secret project formulating
a new type of facial expression to indicate surprise,
but they never really made that much progress.
They weren’t the highest quality of captured German scientist.
The best one’s had gone to Los Alamos or were somewhere inside of Russia already.
But we’d have been happy with a Luger, so getting a bunch of real,
authentic captured German scientists was all icing on the victory cake for us.
Of course we beat them regularly. Duh.
We’d whack them with a broomstick on the backs of their thighs.
We’d say “This is for Dresden!” And when the English-speaking one
would protest, “But the Allies fire-bombed Dresden,”
we’d hit them twice as hard and say,
“This is for Dresden not burning faster!”
“This is for Weinerschnitzel, which you make sounds so enticing and exotic,
with your fancy German, but is actually nothing more than a breaded veal cutlet!”
That winter we had a bunch of freak snowstorms
and put them to work shoveling our driveway.
Our neighbors didn’t believe they were our cousins from Italy.
The lab coats and the manacles gave them away.
Soon word got out that we had captured German scientists and everyone
in the neighborhood showed up to beat them. So we ended up converting our basement
into a bar with a two-drink minimum that later won a Best of Philly award for
“Best Place to Work Out Unresolved Angst Over WWII – South Jersey.”
But it wasn’t all beatings
We did let them play ping-pong
We also waxed them once a week and allowed them
to rub each other with skin moisturizer.
Over time, their skin became extremely soft.
We’d encourage their research by telling them
how soft their skin was between beatings.
Then we would beat them some more.
Eventually, they all died of pneumonia or they all drank bleach at the same time,
I don’t know. After a while the whole thing had become rather tedious.
So we just put them out on the curb one Sunday night and some trash-picker
in a red pickup truck came and took what was left of them away.
After they died, I went through their things
and found pictures of their children and wives,
and I had to pause long and hard staring at them
with a lump in my throat, and finally I just shook my head.
Their children and wives were so hideously ugly! Unbelievably repulsive!
And I realized that lump in my throat was an oyster cracker that
hadn’t gone down right, so I washed it down with cooking sherry
we used for our Friday night snapper soup special and toasted their memory.
“To the spoils of war!”