Oktoberfest at Dachau
    David Erlewine
You got off a train and are now on a bus to Dachau. When you fidget, Jen taps your knee so you stop. A group of high school boys erupts in laughter. You glance at the back of the bus to make sure it's not at you.

You glance at the Oktoberfest stein that rolls into your foot. You think she'll see it and tease you again for being surprised the word had no "c" in it.

You nod when one of the boys picks it up, mumbles sorry and then stumbles back to the laughter. You realize that if you were alone you might lean over to the nervous girl behind you and ask if she's Jewish.

You hear a man in a camel coat two seats up saying to no one in particular, "These tourists, crossing it off their to-do list like it's Oktoberfest." After the concentration camp you're going directly to Oktoberfest with Jen.

You consider going to Yom Kippur services next year, taking Jen since she said she'd be happy to accompany you and the only certainty in her life is that she doesn't want Southern Baptist children.

You realize you haven't been alone in 19 months.

You nod when Jen says she knows this is a big deal to you and is willing to spend more time at it than planned, even if Tracy and Kevin have trouble holding seats for the two of you at Oktoberfest.

You get off when the bus driver tells you to but feel strange because here is a German ordering a Jew out with all the others at the entrance to the camp.

You look and look for the tiny door and then point out the eye-level "Arbeit macht frei."

You whisper into her beautiful and slightly wrinkled face, "Work will set you free."

You do not tell her Bogosian's description in "Talk Radio" made the sign much bigger in your mind, hanging above the guard tower, visible for miles.

You shake your head when she doesn't stare at "Arbeit macht frei" long enough. You eventually catch up to her though you wish she would have waited.

You stop at a photo, realizing it represents the reason you insisted on squeezing this in before Oktoberfest.

You do not punch a boy behind you who whispers, "That's fake," because at his age you might have said that.

You won't be nudged when Jen nudges you to keep moving. You shrug when she comes back and says, "You're still looking at that?"

You do not take your eyes off the man's face when she comes back again and tells you you're blocking the view of others and a woman just said she was going to complain to security.

You don't nod when she says, "Baby, I know you're upset but Tracy's my best friend and this is her honeymoon."

You tell her to go on ahead; you'll join them at Oktoberfest.

You know her cell phone is dead and you've never owned one and besides there could be 30,000 people or 100,000, depending on who you believe, and today is the last day of Tracy's honeymoon and you agreed to all meet up when Jen planned this trip more than a month ago.

You imagine yourself as the man in the picture.

You walk with her to the bus and help her on. You wonder whether that morning you intentionally put all her luggage into bus locker #58 and all yours into #59.

You watch her sit down.

You evolve from gentleman to doorman as you let an elderly couple board.

You reach into your pocket and examine the key to locker #59.

You wave at her and then make your way back to the picture.

David Erlewine David Erlewine has received first, second and third prizes for his short stories and has also been published in or accepted for publishing in The 13th Warrior Review, Parting Gifts (3 stories), C/Oasis, Thought Magazine, EWGPresents (2 stories), SNReview, The Unknown Writer, Fiction Funhouse, Surgery of Modern Warfare, PBW, Twenty Four Hours and The Ohio Wesleyan Literary Magazine. He is presently writing short stories and a novel. He lives in Austin, Texas and can be reached at derlew1@yahoo.com


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