ย 

๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—จ๐—ป๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ต๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐˜ ๐—ฅ๐—ฎ๐—บ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ถ๐—ป

by Mark Antony Rossi



Two months ago I was staring at the machinery of murder. Taped to large sticks holding leftist protest signs were sawed-off shotguns. These were the supposedly peaceful demonstrators flooding the front entrance of an American air base. A base, I must add, which did not contain short range nuclear missiles.


Those weapons were controlled from US Army installations and deployed in the field to take full advantage of their mobile capability. Mobile missile batteries constantly changed locations, so, in effect, nearly no one could tell you where they were located at any given day. It made these mechanical monsters satellite proofโ€”and spy proof.


I was tasked with intermingling with the young people organizing this protest. I was nearly the same age as they were, listened to the same music, and quite familiar with the literature and philosophy of a movement that claimed environmental goals while in bed with communist agitators who sought violence.


We drank and sang at a local gasthaus which became an ad hoc planning locale to discuss and finalize various social protest engagements. Strangely, after joining in a few outings with this group I noticed the lack of violent language or instruments. It was only when we linked up with another group that the mood shifted and I could see those members were outfitted for a different mission. Flak jackets are not common apparel for general protestors.


I overheard language about hitting the base security guards. I spoke privately with a young lady I became the closest to about this matter. She said I probably misunderstood their vernacular. My German was more formal than most German speakers in the area. We kissed and ended the evening early.


I reported this to the base authorities. It was highly likely that, for sheer numbers, the nonviolent protest group would link up with others who didnโ€™t share their agenda and end up having little control over this other groupโ€™s actions. The next major base demonstration at Ramstein AB was going to include violent elements with an operational task-force to engage the security personnel. Exactly how they would strike was unclear at the time of the report. I would have to stay close to this particular group to learn what they had up their sleeves.


The Ramstein protest was the largest event I had the inside track on planning at our favorite Ramstein Village gasthaus. Other than coordinating the other protest group, which tripled the demonstrators, the meeting didnโ€™t seem any different in tone or tactics... Chant slogans. Make noise. Search for media. Denounce the occupiers. Chant slogans. Make noise.


The only odd thing I noticed was our start time was agreed by both parties. Our end time was different. My group ends and leaves the area hours before the other group. Scenarios raced through my mind as I became more concerned about what the other group planned to do. It had to be outrageously violent.


Months had passed since I first joined up with the protestors. I became friends with many of them and dated another member exclusively. I never felt out of sorts, since this assignment was part of my military service to my country. And itโ€™s not splitting legal hairs to remind myself and others in the future about an American military base having the same status as a diplomatic embassy: it is deemed home soil. Thus an attack on my base is an attack on my country.


But Iโ€™m still human, and deep down I know I am befriending many and sleeping with one under false pretences. I kept reminding myself that none of the group was participating in illegal activities. None were facing charges with the local polizei.


They were dupes for diabolical forces waging war on the American military presence. But Iโ€™m a city kid from Jersey. I donโ€™t live in denial. Iโ€™m tricking the naive to grab the malevolentโ€”thatโ€™s the job.


Late morning we arrived at the gasthaus to meet up with leaders of the other group. They spoke little, but their eyes told me all I needed to know. It was the eyes of finality, like they were planning to carry out acts of bloodshed. The base increased the front entrance guard by a power of ten including parking two armored personnel carriers with double machine gun turrets pointed out towards the road.


The increased security boosted my confidence that the criminality about to take place will be an utter failure. Yet my gut was twisted and I had a hard time feeling we had the upper hand. We drove to the combined groups personnel of nearly three hundred and started marching a quarter mile toward the Ramstein entrance. I didnโ€™t sense anything out of the ordinary about the chants or the noise; however, the signs of the other group seemed larger and were being held by both hands instead of one.


I started moving in closer while chanting the approved slogan when I saw a long black strip on the back of one of the wider signs. I tilted my head and saw another. I moved over and saw a third one. In closer, I saw shotguns duct taped onto the sign sticks. They were going to shoot their way into the base! Perhaps this evil plan had a chance with two guards, but now there were ten. The shotgun sign holders moved next to each other to form a front line as we marched closer and closer to the entrance. I had to do something.


I simply rushed all three, successfully knocking down two to the ground. I grabbed the signs with guns and tossed them toward the security guards to alert them to the presence of weapons. Contrary to Hollywood cluelessness, guns donโ€™t fire if thrown to the ground. The third guy I did not hit to the ground rushed me and took me down. I felt my rib crack again. First in Saudi Arabia now in West Germany. Neither instance worthy of the injury, but I was furious this thug thought he had the advantage. Acting on instinct, I found a broken sign stick and stabbed him in the shoulder. He lunged backward in pain, and as I got up I swept his leg and punched him so hard in the face that my hand broke. This is why they tell you to control your anger while fighting, because you can make safer decisions. I could have crushed his testicles with my boot instead of breaking my hand. Rage is rarely justified. Thankfully, the guards arrested the other two before they caused any damage.


It was immediately apparent to my group what had happened and who I was in relation to the events that took place. I instructed the guards to let them go and only detain members of the violent group. The order did nothing for my standing. The protesters stared at me the same way you stare at dog shit after you step on it in the park. Seems like a gross violation. The girl who I was dating decided to walk over and inspect my injuries. Once content I wasnโ€™t in any danger, she slapped me across the face. Perhaps I am biased in this comment, but I think everyone present in the immediate seven hundred feet area heard the slap. I deserved it. What could I say? She was a good person trying to improve the world. I felt I was in the same category. Too bad I had to wear a mask to get the job done.


Sorry, Inga, my feelings werenโ€™t fake. โœฆ





Mark Antony Rossi is a poet, playwright and host of the literary podcast โ€œStrength To Be Humanโ€: https://strengthtobehuman.podbean.com. His work is forthcoming in Ariel Chart, Bombfire, Earth & Altar, Indian Periodical, and Route 7 Review.



A Speculative fiction ZINE
ย