Georg finally shares with Maria some of the skeletons in his closet. Publishing the next chapter soon!
Guess who is coming to dinner?
Georg pulled up to the rear of the lodge just in time to catch Maria heading back to the house. “Maria, the pickles have been acquired, well….minus one.” Georg confessed. “Georg, if you keep eating pickles I’m going to start wondering about you!” Maria teased. Georg delivered the key ingredient to the kitchen and quickly ran to catch up with Maria who was heading across the lawn to their house. “Maria, I need to talk with you before our guests from Germany arrive this evening.” Georg said in a serious tone. “What is it?” Maria inquired. “When I was at the store, Mac told me that one of the German guests was inquiring about me. I didn’t think anything of it as we get people asking about us all the time. Mac caught the gentleman’s name. He told me that it was Rolf Gruber.” Maria stopped dead in her tracks. “Rolf? Why would Rolf be coming to the states and why staying at our lodge?” Maria asked with a worried look on her face. “I don’t know, but he obviously wants to talk to us. His whole involvement with the National Democratic Party of Germany has me very worried.” Geog confessed. “What are we going to do Georg?” Maria asked. “I don’t know, but I do know that I will be ready for whatever happens.” Georg said reassuringly.
As they reached the house, Georg went to his study to call his son Friedrich who had moved to Dallas to start his own security company. As he dialed Friedrich’s number he thought of all of the possibilities of why Rolf would travel all of this distance. “Good morning, Sichern Services.” the receptionist answered. “Good morning, this is Georg Von Trapp, is Friedrich available?” Georg inquired. “Oh hello Captain, it’s good to hear your voice.” the receptionist replied. “I’m not a captain any longer, but thank you.” Georg replied. “Yes he is, I will transfer you to him.” she said as she transferred Georg. “Hello, Friedrich Von Trapp.” the voice on the other line answered. “Friedrich, this is dad. Your mother and I are having some rather questionable guests show up tonight and I was wondering if you have any connections in Vermont to be present during their stay.” Georg asked. “Hi dad, I’m sure that I can find someone to be there. We have a pretty good working relationship throughout the country with other security firms. May I ask why the concern over these guests?” Friedrich asked rather puzzled. He had never received this kind of request from his father before. His dad helped him in the early stages of his business, his experience in the Navy, especially with standard operating procedures had helped in starting his own business. He had even named his company Sichern Services which means “secure” in German. “It’s a long story Friedrich, do you remember Rolf Gruber, Leisl’s boyfriend?” “Of course I do. He ratted on us when we were hiding at the Abbey. What a jerk.” Friedrich replied as he remembered that night long ago. “Well, he sent me a letter telling me that our home in Austria was being bequeathed to us in the previous owner’s will.” Georg explained. “Dad, that’s great! Are you and mom moving back to Austria? What a great…..” Friedrich replied until Georg cut him off. “Friedrich, I wish that it was that simple, but we also found out that Rolf is the head of that new NPD movement in Germany. There is also another twist to this, but it’s too long of a story to explain to you right now. I just need to know that you will have someone present at the lodge should things get out of hand. You see, Rolf is one of the guests tonight and the other guest is an old friend of mine Herman Richter.” Georg explained. “Wow, that is odd. I will call someone right away. What time do you want them there?” Friedrich asked. “I would like them there before check-in at 3 PM.” Georg replied. “Sure dad, I’ll make sure they are there way before 3 PM. I’ll be sure to have them meet you so that you can point them out.” Friedrich said reassuringly. “I hope it’s that easy Friedrich. I haven’t seen them for 40 years.” Georg admitted. “I’ll run a check with some friends that I still have in Austria to come up with a photo of each of them and get it sent over the wire. Do you guys have a fax machine yet?” Friedrich asked. “Yes, your mother had one installed earlier this year. Fax over whatever photos you can find Friedrich. Thank you.” Georg said with a sigh of relief. “Sure dad, I’ve got you covered.” Friedrich said as his dad hung up and headed out of the study into his bedroom.
“I need to protect Maria and my guests should anything occur at tonight’s dinner. Georg thought to himself.” He found old photos of his friend Herman in a box that he kept in his closet: pictures and things of his past life in Austria. He thought to himself, “How are Rolf and Herman connected? those two should never have even met, much less travel together.” Maria walked into the bedroom startling Georg. “I’ve been looking for you Georg. Lindsay from the front desk just got word that Rolf has another guest coming with him, a gentleman named Herman Richter. Have you heard of him?” Maria asked. “Why yes I have. It’s a long story. Have a seat, there are a few things you need to know.” Georg said as he went to close the bedroom door.
Miss something? Start at the beginning of the story.
I dream every night. I have multiple dreams per night. Sometimes I feel as though I should have popcorn to enjoy along with my dreams. So, I thought that I would share a few of my dreams. I figure why not, maybe I have all of these dreams for a reason other than my mind never stops, so here goes!
Dream Sequence #1 8/6/2019
Sitting in a room of family members and strangers, I’m looking for someone. At first, I don’t know who, then it occurs to me that I am looking for my wife Laurie, but she is here with everyone else. This is rather strange I tell myself. Why would I be looking for her if she is here in the house? Suddenly, it’s as if another dimension is slowly opening up. I see an area in the room where there is an oval area about 3′ tall that is all blurry. I feel drawn to this area. It almost seems like some sort of portal. I want to reach my hand into it. I slowly walk over to this oval entity and dare to reach into it. I sense that another version of my wife is on the other side. It’s at that point that I realize that she IS on the other side, just another version of her. I long to be with her. There is so much I want to say. We were separated years ago, but somehow the relationship ended. I had no way of reaching her, no way of communicating with her. My heart aches as I remember the times that we spent together. The love that I feel for her is tremendous but then the portal disappears. Those around me think that I have lost it. I think that I have lost it. How can I be sad when she is here in the present? How can I long for her in the past as well? The other dimension seems just as real as the area that I am in. It actually feels more real than the present. Which space is a reality? Are both reality and just occupying other dimensions?
I wander around the room and find this blue metallic structure, only about 2′ in diameter. It has the ability to transport me into this alternate reality. I cradle it. I bring it over to where the portal was. I feel the portal reappearing. I hear her voice from the other dimension. I long to tell her that I want to be with her. Suddenly, voices from within the room in which I am standing start asking me questions, drawing me away from this portal. I realize that my children are there within the room. They need me there. My wife in the present is there beside me. I stand there perplexed. Laurie is here with me, not in some other dimension.
What can this mean
I know that many of you have several interpretations of the dream as Daniel did thousands of years ago and I have my own ideas as well. For me, this is what I see. Life has gotten very complicated since we have been married. We are still deeply in love, but work and the pressures of life have taken some of the everyday joy out of our lives. I long to return to a simpler time. We have been talking about downsizing. Downsizing our business, our home, our possessions and not having so many obligations so that we can make the most of each day, not just getting through the day. I don’t want to escape, I want what we once had. It’s not just Laurie who was different, it was me as well. It was a better me.
How to get out of a pickle
“Has anyone seen Georg? We have guests arriving this evening from Germany and they want to be sure that we have Rouladen on the menu and we are short on dill pickles. What is Rouladen without dill pickles?” Maria asked. Kurt, who was responsible for the menu for the lodge looked at Maria and rolled his eyes. “Why can’t we be entertaining some French guests? I spent 3 years in culinary school in France, but all I do is serve Rouladen and Spaetzle.” Kurt complained. “Kurt, we are an Austrian style lodge and we prepare meals that our guests expect from an Austrian lodge; you know that. If you are getting bored with our normal fare, then try and put your own spin on it.” Maria suggested. “Hey, that’s a good idea. I’ll do that!” Kurt replied as he started his team on their respective tasks.
Just then Georg walked in, still deep in thought, but the bustling about in the kitchen quickly brought him back to the present. “Georg, you must go to town and get us more dill pickles for tonight’s dinner. We are almost out.” Maria complained. “Well, I will have to admit that I did help myself to them the other day. I have been having a craving for dill pickles lately.” Georg confessed. Maria looked at him with a twinkle in her eye and said, “My dear Georg, you aren’t even showing!” When Georg caught her joke, he chuckled to himself as he headed for the rear entrance of the kitchen to get in his trusty Willy. Maria always knew how to put him at ease and lighten his mood.
The market was only a 10 minute drive from the lodge. Mac’s Market was their answer to those last minute needs. Georg pulled into the parking lot and hopped out of the Willy. As he opened the door and entered the market, Mac, the owner was talking with a bag boy who was putting a half gallon of ice cream on top of a dozen eggs. “Josh, you can’t put ice cream on top of eggs!” he exclaimed. John looked at Mac puzzled, “But I thought you said to put all of the cold items in one bag.” he replied. “Correct, but unless you want scrambled eggs, the eggs have to be on top.” said Mac as he corrected his bag boy. “Oh hi Georg.” Mac said as Georg headed for the pickle aisle.
“Hey Mac, how are things in grocery land?” he asked. He knew that Mac would always have a witty comeback. “Eggscelent!” Mac replied with a grin. Georg rolled his eyes. “Hey, I hear that you are having some special guests this evening Georg.” “Not really, just some guests from Germany. You know, they want a taste of home while in the states. How did you know anyway?” Georg inquired. “Well, one of the guests was in here yesterday asking questions about you.” Mac said while making sure his bag boy was paying attention to his bagging etiquette. “Really? Well they are probably just interested to know if Maria and I are still alive and kicking.” Georg said. “True, but this guy didn’t seem to be the tourist type. He was asking me if I knew anything about you before you came to Vermont, you know, right before the war. He also seemed a little out of place, like he had just gotten off the boat if you know what I mean.” Mac said while Georg found his prized bottles of dill pickles. “No, I don’t know what you mean Mac. Like I said, I’m sure he’s just one of many of those that want a chance to meet us.” “Ok, you’re probably right Georg, but I did catch his name when I took his credit card and ran it through the credit card imprinter. I have it in my office. Maybe you know him.” Mac said while heading to his office. Georg headed to the cash register to pay for his chief ingredient of the infamous Rouladen dish. As Mac returned from his office he said, “It says right here, ‘Rolf Gruber, have you ever heard of him?” Georg dropped the bottle of pickles that he was holding onto the belt of the checkout aisle, almost breaking it. “Did you say Rolf Gruber?” Georg asked. “Yes, why?” Mac inquired. “How old would you say that this Rolf Gruber is?” Georg inquired. “Oh, I would say about 55 or so. Why, do you know this guy? ” Mac asked while watching Georg stand there frozen. “Yes, you can say that I do. I just wasn’t expecting to hear this while on my pickle run.” Georg said while collecting his change and heading out the door. “See you Georg.” Mac said while Georg walked slowly to the Willy. “This can’t be happening. Why would Rolf come all the way here? I am not feeling very good about this sudden burst of popularity. Entertaining fans from America is one thing, but to be the point of interest from Germans and these Germans in particular isn’t giving me a good feeling. He grabbed one of the bottles of pickles and opened it, just to sample one to make sure that they were ok. He took a bite of one of the crisp pickles and smiled as he remembered Maria’s teasing about his recent craving. “This is one pickle that I’m not sure how to get out of.” he said to himself while heading back to the lodge. Shaking his head, he tossed the rest of the pickle from the Willy out into the trees as he headed up the hill to the lodge.
A walk in time
It was time for my morning stroll. Maria had already begun her day by going to the lodge, making sure that the kids were running it in strict Von Trapp style, but with the friendliness of a small Austrian town. I, on the other hand, enjoyed these morning walks, not precisely a Wanderung or hike as you might call it, they just cleared my head for the day. For forty years, I had been able to forget about my former life in Austria, not that it was all that bad. I had lots of wonderful memories; it was just the ending that soured it. My Austria had changed so much from when I was a boy. My parents would take us to the coast, to watch the ships and feel the cool breeze off of the sea, before Austria lost its coastline.
We enjoyed many beautiful summers there by the sea. My wife and I had a wonderful life before her death. I wasn’t always so stern. Life had toughened me up. The loss of my wife’s inheritance by me trying to help a banking friend and then having to find a governess to raise our seven children was a lot to handle. Pushing away the emotions of it all just seemed easier to do, rather than deal with the disappointments that life had handed to me.
There was a part of me that I hadn’t shared with my family, at least not my children. I had always hoped that I would take that secret with me to my grave. The family thought I had stayed with the Navy, and they were right, they just didn’t know what I was actually doing with the Navy. I had to find a way to support them. Maria and I added three more to our brood, for a total of 10 children. It took a lot of Schnitzels to keep them full! I knew that there were those who didn’t want me to leave Austria. I had secrets that they did not want me to share with others in the world, but I had to leave that life behind. Opening a lodge in Vermont and getting into the hospitality business was a far cry from my vocation in Osterreich. The lure of being handed our old home on a silver platter from the previous owners was very tempting. I had always wanted to visit, but to be able to live there was more than I could have ever hoped for.
Somehow, I wish I could travel back in time and change some of the decisions that I had made, but that wasn’t possible. As soon as that mental statement left my mind, I was instantly reminded of why Herman Richter and I were working on Xerum 525. It was Hitler’s fascination with things that were not quite reality. Die Glocke was basically a cyclotron, a way to make enriched Uranium 233. I did not want to be part of that research, but I didn’t have much of a choice at the time. Everything that I had knowledge of, I had kept to myself. I didn’t even know that Herman was still alive. The number of coincidences was now becoming evident that they were not coincidences at all. Someone wanted me back in Austria, but who?
You can’t unring a bell
“Let me know what you find out Larz,” Brigitta shouted from the top of the stairs as I headed out to the car. “You know, I will,” Larz replied as he closed the door and almost tripped over their golden retriever Max who wanted to play. “Sorry, Max, not today. I have some investigating to do.” Larz settled into his trusty Mercedes that had seen a good amount of miles. “This just doesn’t make sense. Why would the embassy and Rolf both contact us within two days of each other? Rolf had to know that Georg would find out about his involvement with the NPD.”
The traffic was heavy this morning on I-89, heading to Burlington. The leaf peepers as we called them, were out in force, trying to experience the beautiful colors of the changing leaves in New England. I had to admit that the brush strokes that God used to paint the forests with, crimson red, golden orange, and bright yellow hues were pretty breathtaking, even if I had seen it every year for the past 40 years.
I finally reached the city and headed into the parking garage to find my designated parking space. Parking garages were essential in the city during the cold Vermont winters. As I got out of the car, I noticed that my boss Bob Adler was just pulling into his parking space, a couple of spaces down from me as well. As I headed to the elevator, he called out to me, “Hey Larz, glad we arrived at the same time, I wanted to chat with you a bit about this whole property settlement with your father in laws old home in Austria. I have been thinking about this whole thing over the weekend and did a little digging. You know that Austria lost their coastline after World War 1 and the captain wasn’t needed to sail a sub with their being no need for a Navy. “I know, he has told us that he missed being on a submarine, that he had always been fascinated with them,” Larz replied. “Right, but did he ever tell you what he did after that?” Adler said with a slight grin. “No, he said that his first wife died shortly after that and that the family had to sing to help earn money after the Austrian bank went belly up with most of his deceased wife’s inheritance,” Larz responded. “Have you ever heard of Die Glocke?” Adler asked. “No I haven’t, and my German isn’t too good. It sounds like The Clock. Am I close?” I said. “You are close, but don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either. It’s like Glockenspiel, you know, a bell. It means The Bell.” Adler admitted. “Great, now that we have had our German lesson for the day and we are almost at our floor, what does all of this mean Bob?” I inquired. “Well, your father in law had a background in physics and was offered a chance to help a young physicist, Herman Richter develops Xerum 525, a code name for something called red mercury. Georg had no idea what it was for or why he just knew that he needed income for his family. Of course, this was before the war. Scientists are always looking to advance their fields of study. Georg agreed, and he and his fellow physicist made a good amount of progress developing the stuff. Supposedly the substance allowed for some pretty far out claims. Even though Germany which needed naval commanders told Georg that they wanted him to command a U boat, my friend within the intelligence community said that the Nazi’s probably wanted to commandeer him to work with the rest of the scientists that were coerced to work on Hitler’s secret projects.” Adler said as the elevator doors opened up. “I’ll get with you later in the day to tell you what their old home in Austria has to do with all of this,” he said as he walked down the hall to his office.
I couldn’t believe that he was just going to leave me there wondering. What the heck was Die Glocke, and what did it have to do with inheriting a house? I walked into my office just as the phone began to ring. It was Brigitta. “Hi Larz, I just got off the phone with my dad. He said that he had just been contacted by an old friend, Herman Richter. Does that name ring a bell?” she asked. I stared at the phone speechless.
Something doesn’t make sense
The news that I wanted to share seemed not worth sharing,
now that the bombshell had been dropped about Rolf and this new movement that was gaining ground in Germany. How could I take my family back to Austria when this type of evil was starting to rear its ugly head? How could I even bring it up?
“Father?” Briggita asked, “What did you and mother want to share with us?” Maria glanced over at me with that “Now what are we going to do?” look. I looked back at her, not sure how to reply. “I received a letter the other day from none other than Rolf. As you know, I have not communicated with him since that last night in the Abbey. In the letter, he said that our old home had fallen into disrepair and that the owners wanted to leave it to us in their will. I also received a phone call from the U.S. Ambassador to Austria asking if I would be returning to Austria as the owners of our old home had willed the home to us after their passing. This confirmed what Rolf had written in his letter. Your mother and I wanted to come to meet with all of you to ask if you would be interested in returning, if not just to visit, our old home in Austria, but what Brigitta and Larz just shared puts a whole different tone on this opportunity. Something is not making sense. It seems too much of a coincidence that Rolf and Mr. Grunwald from the Embassy would contact me almost at the same time.”
Everyone looked at me in disbelief while I explained the events of the last couple of days. “Dad, that is fantastic. We have to go back!” Gretl exclaimed. “How many people just leave you a house? I would love to go back. The issues in Germany are not in Austria……” “Don’t ever say that!” I shouted, “Don’t even think that.” You know what that kind of thinking did to Austria. We never thought that it would come to us, then friends and neighbors jumped on the bandwagon thinking that Anschluss would be a good thing for Austria.
The one thing that history teaches us is that man does not learn by his past mistakes.” Gretl looked back knowing that she had hit a nerve as Kristen shrank back in her seat, hating these conversations that she had hoped would never return. “I think that we should investigate why the U.S. Ambassador is involved as well as let me do some research when I return to work on Monday,” Larz said. “Sometimes when something seems too good to be true, many times it is. I’m hoping that these are just coincidences. I would also like to see what Rolf Gruber has been doing all of these years and why he felt the need to write to you knowing that you would have found out about our old home anyway through the normal channels.”
Maria spoke up, “I’m just glad that Liesl isn’t here to experience this, God rest her soul. She would have been heartbroken once again. I for one do not want to expose our children and families to any sort of danger again. Once was enough.”
“I agree Maria,” Georg said, “but something has been calling me back to that night in the Abbey and I can’t quite put my finger on why. In Rolf’s letter, he said that Leisl had contacted him right before we went on stage for the concert and that he wanted to help us escape and now you tell me that Rolf is one of the masterminds of this new movement. Something does not make sense Larz, something is missing.” “I agree with you, Georg. There are just too many coincidences. Does anyone else know about this?” Larz asked. “Only your mother and the rest of you here,” I replied. “Let’s keep this to ourselves while I do some investigating. In the meantime, let’s eat dinner. Brigitta has worked hard to fix us one of our favorite Austrian meals.” Larz said with pride. “Maria, let’s have some music. We don’t want your accordion to go to waste!” I said as the younger children came in from playing football in the yard. “Oh no, not accordion music!” one of the grandkids complained. Almost on cue, everyone let out a laugh just in time to break the tension in the room.
It was 1972, I lived in Nansemond County, recently annexed by Suffolk VA and I was bored. Living in the country there wasn’t a whole lot to do other than build tree houses, forts and ride our bikes. Halloween was just around the corner and I had trick or treat, ghost stories and pranks on my mind. I was too old to trick or treat so I had to think of something else to do for the season. Billy was my comrade in “crime”, not the illegal kind of crime, the bored country kids kind of crime. What could I do this Halloween season that would scare someone, but not harm them, at least not physically.
With Halloween around the corner, what night could I pull off such a prank? I thought to myself, tonight is Saturday night and my parents typically go out on their date night every Saturday. To be quite honest, this is the night when most of my escapades were launched. The two cats were away and I was the mouse that wanted to play. As I sat around that Saturday morning with my buddy Billy, I asked him “What can we do tonight that will scare someone?” We were sitting on the couch in my den and as he looked into space, his eyes fell upon these two ancient looking candle holders with rope handles. They looked like something from medieval times.
Billy asked me, “What are those hanging on the wall? They look kind of creepy.” “Oh, those are portable candle sconces. You stick a big ole’ candle on the nail and you can carry them around.” I replied. Billy got this mischevious look in his eyes. They are pretty creepy and there are two, one for you and one for me.” I looked back at Billy and the wheels of a prank started to spin. “You know, if we put a large sheet over our heads, lit the candles and walked around, it would look pretty scary, but who could we scare?” Billy continued while grinning, “Your little brother, do you think that we could scare him?” “Probably, but we would need to do more than just wear a sheet and carry these creepy candle lanterns around.” I answered. “How about if we had scary music and turned the lights out in the house.” I added. “That could be scary but how would you pull it off?” Billy asked. My mind started to ponder of all the different ways I could turn this night into a spooky experience.
After Billy headed home, I started to think about what tools and other resources were at hand. I would want spooky music, no lights in the house, two sheets for ghosts and the candle sconces that hung on the family room wall. I had just started to experiment with home electricity and knew enough to know that our fuse panel had a bunch of glass screw in fuses that controlled different parts of the house. If lights were on in the house and you simply unscrewed a fuse, then the lights in that section of the house would go out. Seemed simple enough. Now, how to create creepy music. Back in the 70’s, you didn’t download creepy music from your computer because the personal PC hadn’t really been introduced in every home. I did possess an album from ‘Iron Butterfly’. There was a popular song called ‘Inagodadavida’ which if played at speed 16, would sound very scary.
My parents stereo system was in the living room and it had a turntable with speed 16. I would keep that circuit turned off until the opportune time and then turn that fuse on, turning on the turntable and stereo to play the song at the preselected speed 16. I drew out a map of the different circuits of the house after testing what each glass fuse controlled. I would slowly turn off the circuits in the house one by one, starting with the lights in the furthest part of the house and one by one, the house would begin to get darker.
The next hurdle was going to be, how to keep my brother in the house when all of this spookiness started to happen. I had an idea. I could take the front doorknob and turn it around so that the keyed part was inside the house and the inside portion was outside, once the door was closed, he would be locked in.
My brother and I were not known for spending a lot of time together back then, so how was I going to get him out of the house so that Billy and another friend of mine could get dressed up in the sheets, light the candles and then start down the stairs from the 2nd floor acting as ghosts? My brother Drew had wanted to go on my adventures, but rarely did I let him. I would tell him that we were going to take a dozen eggs and go egg a few houses after our parents left for their date night. “Hey Drew, how about coming with me tonight to egg some houses?” Mom had just come back from the market and had a fresh dozen of eggs. “Sure, that would be great!” he replied. “Ok, when it gets dark we will head on out and cook up some fun.” I said with a grin on my face.
It seemed like forever for my parents to leave that night. Billy and his buddy Jimmy were down the street waiting for Drew and me to leave the house. Finally, my parents headed out the door. “We are off, behave yourselves and we will be home later.” they said as they left for the evening. The great Halloween caper had begun. “Ok, let’s get our ammo and head on out.” I told Drew. “Why do you want me to go with you? You never take me with you on these escapades?” Drew asked suspiciously. “I don’t know, I just thought it would be fun.” I replied, only not telling him which part of the evening’s events were going to be fun in my mind. Now that it was dark, we headed out. We walked around with 3 eggs in each coat pocket, 6 for Drew and 6 for me. We finally found some homes that looked like the owners were out for the evening. “Watch what I do.” I told Drew. I took an egg and hurled it across the yard. Splat, it hit the target, the front door and the yolk dripped down to the threshold as planned. “See, it’s that easy.” I told my brother. He chose a brick ranch a few doors down, unoccupied for the evening. He wound up like a pitcher on his mound and decided to hit the side of a large brick house. It found it’s target and made a cracking noise as the egg yolk found it’s way deep into the brick and mortar. “That’s not going to be easy to clean.” he said, very proud of
his first egging. “You’re right, we will have to see what it looks like in the daytime.” I grinned. After a few more houses and only 2 eggs left, I told him that we should probably save a couple of eggs for breakfast the next morning or we would have to explain what had become of a brand new dozen eggs.
It was time for the Halloween prank to begin. “Boy, that was fun!” my brother exclaimed. “Yeah, that was pretty fun.” I said as we got closer to our house. I noticed that all of the lights in the house were on. I had already put the record on the turntable, set it to speed 16 and had the stereo turned on. I had turned that circuit off so that when I turned it on, the music would begin. Right after my parents left, I had turned the doorknob around backwards so that it would do what I had intended it to do. I just hoped that Billy and Jimmy were in place. Finally, we reached the front door. I had left the door slightly open so that it would not lock. I opened the front door and pushed my brother into the house. I slammed the door so that it would lock. My brother looked at me wondering what was going on. I ran to the back of the house and opened the fuse panel. Based on my paper layout, I started to unscrew the glass fuses, from the furthest part of the house to the closest one where he was located. It slowly started to get dark, one room at a time. I turned on the fuse that controlled the turntable. ‘Inagodadavida’ started to play on speed 16, very slowly and boy did it sound creepy. Finally the last light in the house was turned off. Billy and Jimmy came walking downstairs in their white sheets. The candles were eerily glowing in the rope handled sconces that they carried beside them. They tried their best to sound like ghosts as they moaned while the flames of the candle reflected off of the stairwell walls as they descended. I was the one controlling the fuse panel, so I wasn’t able to see Drew’s reaction. Billy told me that Drew appeared very startled, but not really
scared. He took a piece of driftwood that was on the coffee table and started swinging it at Billy, not knowing who was under that sheet. Quickly Billy realized that Drew wasn’t going to start whimpering like a baby, but ready to fight his way out of this bad dream. In the tussle, the candle wax dripped from the sconce onto my parent’s new carpet. I ran around the front of the house and saw the commotion so I went back to the garage and turned all of the circuits back on to end the dream sequence.
When I entered the front door, Drew said, “You didn’t scare me a bit. I knew something was up when you wanted me to go egg houses with you. Also, when you pushed me into the house, I knew something was up. What kind of music was that? It was kinda’ scary and where did you get those candle holders?” “That was Iron Butterfly’s ‘Inagodadavida’. Wasn’t it creepy? I put it on speed 16.” I said very proudly. “Those candle sconces were the ones hanging next to the fireplace in the den.” I added. Suddenly I noticed something shiny on the stair carpet. It was wax from one of the candles that had spilled. “Aww man, I’m going to get murdered. Look at the wax on mom and dad’s new carpet!” I said as the reality of it all started to lower the satisfaction of our caper. Drew just stood there and howled, laughing. “You are going to be in deep water and you deserve it! Pretending to take me on an outing and then trying to scare me like that.” I knew that he was right. I did deserve it.
I told Billy and Jimmy thanks for taking part, told them goodbye and found a knife and a brush trying to get every bit of wax out of that carpet. Drew went off to watch TV or play his guitar. I don’t remember which. I spent the rest of the evening taking the sheets, throwing them in the wash, hanging the sconces back up, along with the new burn marks that candles had made on them. Do you know how hard it is to get wax out of carpet? When you don’t have Google around to ask what is the best method, you just pick at it until it looks ok. That took me forever.
The evening finally passed, we headed to bed, my parents got home and I made some sort of deal with Drew to not tell my folks what had happened. He had thrown a number of eggs at neighbors homes and he was not free of guilt. I’m sure I used that in my defense. I’m sure my parents saw the remaining wax on the steps, but I probably pleaded ignorance. Too many years have passed since I pulled off that prank, but to this day I still feel bad about trying to scare my brother and taking him out to egg houses on false pretenses. Yep, I could be quite an ass to my little brother, but as time passed we became closer. We both have businesses of our own, great kids and many fond memories of Nansemond County and all of the things we did.
I’m sorry bro’. You know that I love you, but I know you weren’t so sure when we were growing up.
This can’t be happening
I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to put my thoughts together so that when the family was gathered, I would sound confident and in charge as usual. The problem was that I was not feeling confident and in charge. This was an unexpected call with many questions, and I didn’t have answers at this point. This was going to be more of a discussion with the family to find out how they felt about going back to Austria if only to visit our old home. “Maria, how does this look?” as I modeled my outfit, crisply ironed, complete with my Edelweiss Miesbacher Jacket.
“Georg, you look wonderful, a perfect outfit for this evening,” Maria said as she finished buttoning up her Austrian Dirndl dress. As I was admiring how beautiful she still looked in her Dirndl, I replied “Maria, you haven’t changed a bit. You wearing that takes me back to earlier times when the children were so young.” We hadn’t worn these outfits in quite a while.
We used to wear them quite frequently when we met guests at the lodge, but now we rarely brought them out of mothballs. We both felt that tonight was an appropriate time to wear them. Neither of us had spoken much about the letter and phone call, but we must have both been feeling the same way to wear our traditional Austrian outfits to Brigitta’s house.
“Do you think that your mom and dad have a clue as to what we want to speak with them about?” Larz asked Brigitta. “No, and I don’t think that the rest of the family has any clue either.” Brigitta replied. “I think that we should have talked to them about this earlier Larz. It’s just not right to have kept this from them since you found out, and to tell them at dinner.” “You know why I couldn’t talk to your mother and father about this, especially your father and the way that he feels about this whole thing.” Larz retorted defensively. “I know, I’m just not sure how it is going to all go down tonight. I pray that everyone keeps a level head.” Brigitta said trying to deescalate the conversation. “Well, once it is out in the open, we can at least discuss it. I am going to go downstairs and finish getting dinner ready for the family.” Brigitta said as she left the room.
“Kurt, do you know why Brigitta invited all of us over for dinner?” Kristen asked. “No, I really don’t. She sounded excited and nervous at the same time when she invited us over. I’m sure it’s nothing. They probably have a ski trip planned and want us all to go with them.” Kurt replied, trying to hold back an uneasy feeling about it all. The last thing he wanted to do was to get Kristen nervous about the evening. She was wonderful with the family except when the times that father became irritated over something that struck a nerve. Typically that nerve had to do with any conversation regarding the politics that led up to the second World War. I had made the mistake of reminding Georg that Adolf Hitler had been born in Linz Austria, something I dared not repeat. “Whatever it is, I’m glad they are feeding us!” I said as my stomach started growling.
Georg grabbed his jacket as he headed for the green Willy.
Maria followed Georg as she found an unknowing employee to carry her accordion for music that she hoped she could enjoy that evening. As they headed to Brigitta’s home, they both said, almost at the same time, “I think we should take the family back to Austria, if nothing else, just to visit our old home.” “Georg, I was hoping that you were going to share that news this evening. I can barely stand the excitement!” Maria exclaimed.
The trip to Brigitta’s seemed like it took an eternity, even though they only lived 4 miles away. As we finally pulled into the driveway, I noticed that the rest of the family had already arrived. A few of the older kids were out on the front lawn throwing a football. “Hi opa, hi oma. You two look wonderful in those outfits!” Karl said as he threw the ball to Walter. “Danke Schoen Karl. Wie gehts?” I asked knowing that at least he understood a few German phrases. “Danke gut,” Karl replied knowing that I would be proud to hear him respond in my native tongue.
As I entered the house with Maria and her accordion toting “servant” close behind, I noticed that all of my children and their spouses were sitting in the large living room. It appeared that Larz had been busy scrounging around for extra chairs so that everyone could have a seat. Strange, as I figured that everyone would be in the kitchen drinking a nice glass of Gewurztraminer along with Brigitta’s signature Bavaria Blue Cheese Mousse with Gooseberry Chutney. This concerned me a bit as this put a different tenor in the evening.
“Now that father and mother are here, I figured that it would be best to let you know why we invited all of you this evening.” Brigitta began. Curious looks arose from the family with every cilia in their ears on end to finally find out what the big mystery was. Before Brigitta could finish, I jumped in, not wanting to downplay what had happened only a day or two before. “Your mother and I also have news to share as well, but Brigitta, continue.” Larz jumped in and picked up where Brigitta had left off. “As you are all well aware, my connections within international banking allows me to catch wind of anything that might affect the markets. Knowing our ties to Austria, my boss came to see me on Friday. Typically he is pretty upbeat, but this day he had a concerned look on his face as he shut the door to my office. He told me to have a seat and that he had heard from his Austrian counterpart in Vienna that there was a small grassroots movement that was beginning to gain traction within the alpine town of Berchtesgaden in Germany. “What kind of movement Larz?” I asked, almost afraid to hear the answer. “They are calling themselves the NPD or National Democratic Party of Germany.
It sounds nice and civil doesn’t it? My boss told me that they have been described as a neo-Nazi organization. and is referred to as the most significant neo-Nazi party to emerge after 1945.” My heart sank as my mind went back to 1937 and the rumors of what was happening in Germany started to fill the minds of fellow Austrians, thinking that being annexed by Germany was a good thing. “This can’t be happening! Surely both Germany and Austria will not put up with such a felonious group!” I shouted. “There is more.” Brigitta spoke up. “Larz has just found out that this whole movement has supposedly been spearheaded by someone that we know, or at least knew.” “Who is it, Brigitta?” Georg demanded.
His name is ……..Rolf, Rolf Gruber.”
I sank back in my chair. The dreams that I had been having had now just become a living nightmare.
Who is coming to dinner?
Saturday morning I arose as usual. Maria was already checking in with our manager to be sure that our guests at the lodge were being attended to in the manner in which we wanted them to; Austrian charm and the efficiency of an Austrian Navy.
Getting out of bed was getting harder to do as the years passed. I wanted to blame it on old battle injuries, but to be honest, it was just the years catching up with me. This realization caused me to reminisce about an earlier time when I had more energy, and our family was much younger. Suddenly I remembered the events of the day before, the letter from Rolf and the phone call from the Embassy. This caused a jolt of energy to race through my body as the grogginess of a good night’s rest was suddenly displaced with questions, and I remembered the ambassador’s question, “Mr. Von Trapp, the Austrian government, wants to know if you will be moving back to Austria. ” Just when I thought that the rest of my life was well planned, no more surprises. I wanted to push the question out of my mind, but I had a decision to make.
The requirements of the will had to be finalized. Either we were going to accept their offer or let the state take over our former home. This was not just a decision for me; this was going to have to be a family decision. We were expected to go to Brigitta’s tonight. Maybe we could get the rest of the family to show up, and I could talk to everyone at once. I found Maria in our home office, a small room that we had converted into an office away from the lodge. She had just hung up the phone with our lodge manager Bruce while I approached her, bending down to gently kiss her cheek. She still had more energy than I ever did. “Maria, I know that we are going to Brigitta’s tonight. Do you think that we could get the rest of the family to show up? I want to talk to them about the letter and phone call that I received. This is a matter that we need to talk to the rest of the family about.” I explained. “I can call the rest of the family and see if they are available. Everyone is so busy. I will let them know that we have something to discuss.” she replied. “Ok, let me know who can go. In the meantime, I want to spend some time going over the ramifications of even thinking about this.” as I headed to get a cup of coffee in the kitchen.
“Kurt, this is mom. Brigitta has asked us over for dinner tonight, and I was wondering if you and Stephanie were available to…..” I was interrupted by “Mom, Brigitta has already asked us to come over, last week as a matter of fact and we plan on being there.”
Kurt stated. “Oh, ok we look forward to seeing you tonight,” I said as I hung up the phone. Strange, I wonder why Brigitta had already asked Kurt and Stephanie. My next call was to Gretl. “I called her number but only received her answering machine. “Gretl, this is mom. Your dad and I were wondering if you and Brandon were available to come over.” Before I could hang up, Gretl picked up the phone. “Hi mother, sorry I was just getting ready to go to the market to pick up some things for tonight. We are going to Brigitta’s, and I promised to bring something.” “You were invited too?” I asked astonished. “Yes, she said that she and Larz had something that they wanted to talk with us about. From what she said, she said that she was going to try and get everyone to be there.” My head started to spin. Georg wanted the family together so that he could speak with them about the letter, the will and the phone call from the Austrian Embassy and here was Brigitta wanting everyone to come together so that she could talk to us about something she and Larz had been thinking about. Could it be the same thing? She couldn’t be pregnant; she was way past childbearing age and happy that their children were out on their own. “Um, ok then I guess we will see you tonight. At this point, I stopped making phone calls. It seemed as if everyone was going to be there. I got up from the chair and walked into the study with a very puzzled look on my face. Georg looked up from the desk where he was busy writing on a piece of graph paper. He continued to use graph paper to write everything on from his days at the Academy in Austria. “Maria, now it seems that you have seen a ghost. What is it?” “All of the children have already been invited to Brigitta’s tonight. It seems that you will have your audience.” Maria replied slowly and cautiously. We both looked at each other asking ourselves the exact same questions I’m sure. This was becoming more and more confusing.
“I wonder if Brigitta received the same letter that we did? Can it be possible that Rolf has kept in touch with them all of these years? They couldn’t possibly keep that secret from me!” I said in my authoritarian and patriarchal tone. What I didn’t know was that tonight would hold even more surprises than the day before.