Friday, February 3, 2012

Chapter 7: Disappointing the Fuhrer

Interview with Roxy Smothers, 1973:

I was floored by the explosion of our car but for only a moment. When I came to, Hozzenka was running across the road, pistol in one hand and dynamite stick in the other. In her wake followed a horde of gunsels that would have put George Raft to shame. Some of them ran over to the village tavern and began firing at the SS she-wolves that had come out of the hovercraft. The rest followed Hozzenka who was tearing towards the big tanks that were coming up the road. She had a look of homicidal joy on her face.

We could sure use the help. The three lead tanks were almost into the center of the village and they were wrecking everything in sight. A shell came overhead and hit the tavern, destroying it. A big fireball flew out of it when all the hooch went up and I was sure I could hear Hummingbird’s cry of anguish when this happened.

While all this was going on, up pulls the big taxi we had arrived in. Zoya was behind the wheel and she yelled to me that, with all the tanks and Germans coming, it might be a good idea to leave. For a moment I actually thought she might not be a complete chowderhead. We sheltered behind the big car while we tried to get Chicolini up, knowing he was a far better wheelman than the dimwit ballerina.

Tura was up already but he must have still been suffering from the concussion of the blast since he wasn’t shrieking with terror as he had been for the last twenty minutes. As shots from the she-wolves’ machine guns pinged all around us, I noticed that he was fumbling with one of the grenades. He had somehow accidently pulled the pin and was tossing it between his hands like a hot potato.

“Throw it, you bone-headed chump!” I yelled.

Tura threw the grenade, with his free hand clinched firmly over his eyes. Amazingly, the pineapple hit square in the middle of the pack of she-wolves. This happened about the same time that some of our heroic village militia came back, inspired by Hozzenka’s arrival and hurried along by the brigands’ bayonets.

When they saw the blast knock down several of the she-Nazis, they began cheering Tura, yelling things like, “The Poles are great warriors! God be praised to have such allies!”

Of course, this went right to Tura’s already oversized head and the ham got caught up in the moment in a big way. Seeing all the eager faces around him, he shouted for them to charge. Of course, he was not completely out of his mind and let the rest of them take the lead, saying, “Men, I want you to know that if things get really rough, I’m behind you every step of the way.” The rubes cheered themselves silly over this. They flung themselves forward, Tura “leading” them from a safe distance behind.

At least this should distract the Krauts, I thought, as Zoya, Chicolini, and I jumped into the taxi. Chicolini manned the wheel and I thought we were going to head out of town. But he had a queer look in his eyes and kept muttering something like “vendetta!” and “fascista puttanas!” He drove straight at the line of the remaining SS women. I braced myself as machine gun bullets hit the car. We ploughed into the line and several of the dames flew over the hood.

Chicolini managed to bring the taxi to stop just short of plowing into the hovercraft. That was when I saw that Waggsie had polished off the pug-ugly stormtrooper that was on top of the craft and he was in the process of dropping the big dame onto the pilot and captain. When the big brute hit them, both collapsed and we charged onto the hovercraft.

In the meantime, Tura’s boys had finished off the she-wolves and stormed aboard as well. In a few minutes, we had captured the hovercraft with the militiamen going crazy shouting Tura’s praises.

In the turret above us, Waggsie was blasting away with one of the craft’s machine guns toward the chateau and the SS goons that had gone after the Grand Duchess.

Before any of us could catch our breath, Tura had jumped into the pilot seat and was firing the engines up. In a moment we lifted off, albeit as unsteady as Hummingbird on a bender.

Now I had mentioned what a horrible driver Tura was. Well he was an even worse pilot. He apparently had a role as a pilot once and spent a whole afternoon at the Warsaw Airport doing research for the part. Of course, in his mind this made he the equivalent of Lindbergh. So keep in mind when I say “fly” it really was more of a wobbly, motion-sickness-inducing, fluttering sort of thing.

Probably guessing Tura’s abilities, Waggsie jumped off the hovercraft while we were still only a few feet above the ground and headed towards the fight.

Tura called out to him, “Professor, don’t be a fool. The rest of our friends will find a way out. Remember ‘Discretion is the better part of valor.’”

“Sorry old boy, but never went in much for that discretion thing,” he said and then he was gone into the smoke and fire.

Excerpt from And A One and A Two, My Life Following the Demon Rhythm of the Polka, the unpublished autobiography of Stanislaus Shmengy

Okay, so maybe we not have best plan to fight Fascist baddies. We not expect them have so many walking tanks that can come through swamp. So sue me.

Now one little walker tank comes over and shoots up cabin we hiding in. We shoot back but no such luck, bullets bounce off. Most of guys with me, they, how you say, take powder and run away. I say to self, Stash, you not gonna get out here unless you show much guts and not in puking way. So I sneak out of cabin, just before little walking tank smash it. Then I sneak around back of walking tank and climb up it from behind. So far so good. I knock on lid but driver, he just make with fingers at me. He very much mad I on tank and he can’t shoot me since I standing between guns. He tries shake me off tank. No such luck, I used to breaking wild tusked djikis to use for children amusement rides in village fair back home. So I stay on no problem. Then I start shooting at lid and shooting at driver. Since I am closer now, bullets hit mostly glass in lid. Glass break and driver fall over. This what I like to see. I can now open lid and dump driver out. I get in and am surprised that inside controls not so different from tractor back home. I think Boy if only Yosh here but still I can drive too.

So I make tank to walk and I think I go look for Yosh since last I see he was in church which in now all wrecked. I go toward back of church and what is right in front of me but big walking tank with back towards me. I shoot cannons at it but shells just bounce off. Then I try to ram but I not realize my tank too short so I miss but am now right underneath big walking tank.

Big walking tank now try to turn around to shoot back to me. But it no can turn since it stuck between edge of church and big trees. So big walking tank tries back up but I too quick and back up little tank, keeping little tank’s leg stretched out to trip big tank when it back up. Thump Bang Crash! Big tank fall over like in motioning funny picture, Policemen of Keystone.

All this noise bring other small walking tank over to see what happened. I shoot little walking tank and Boom Boom it go up in much boomings and smokings.

But I forget more regular tanks coming into town. I feel big Thump. I see shell has hit top of legs of my tank. Now my walking tank not walking so much good anymore. Also many more shells of guns coming toward me.

I figure is now good time to amscray which I learn in Chicago is word for getting hell out of place very fastly.

Excerpt from The Sun’s Also Shiny, The Great American Novel, by Ernest Hummingbird:

The writer felt the destruction of the inn before he saw it. He felt the thousand bottles of beautiful amber nectar cease to exist, felt the skill and the love that went into making them slipping from the world, leaving a hole in his soul.

In his mind’s eye he saw every shard of glass glistening like diamonds as they fell to earth; every drop of that life-sustaining liquid soaking into the earth like his life’s blood draining from center of his heart. He had seen the cruelty of man, from the Halyi Gubbi to the Picu Urriellu but this was beyond cruel; it was profligate in its senselessness.

He knew he had to fill the hole in soul with something. Ordinarily it would be alcohol. Now all he had left was fury. So be it. His retribution against the Germans would be perfect.

He left the copse of trees from which he had been killing the Germans one at a time. He needed to kill more of them more quickly. He moved swiftly but silently through the underbrush that paralleled the road. He passed the tanks and half-tracks and trucks until he came to what he was looking for.

It was an open-topped armored vehicle, a tank from which the turret had been removed and replaced by a heavy artillery piece. This would be the instrument of his vengeance. One instrument, anyway. He remembered he had a bandolier filled with grenades and the large bullets for the elephant guns. It also had several bottles. The bottles had been filled with alcohol. But not anymore. That time was over. He had finished them this morning.

He leapt onto the back of the gun track. The two crewmen there were completely surprised. He disposed of them quickly. It was perfect.

He saw a platoon of infantry marching up the road next to his track. They had not noticed him. He threw the bandolier into their midst. They were gone in a flash. Perfect.

The explosion from the bandolier set fire to a nearby halftrack that also exploded. Perfect.

The explosion from the half-track set a nearby truck on fire until it too blew up. Perfect.

Then he went to the controls of the big cannon. He aimed it quickly at the tanks advancing up the road in front of him. He fired the big gun into the rearmost tank. The treads blew off and the crew ran screaming from the vehicle. Perfect.

He fired again and the next tank’s turret exploded. Perfect.

Then he heard a noise behind him. It was a large tank coming up the road, now. It was twice the size of any tank he had ever seen before. Its main gun looked like it came from a battleship. Perfect. He would capture it.

Anything was possible for him today. As the Hindu poem said, he had become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds. Well, at least not a particularly nice guy.

Interview with Roxy Smothers, 1973:

While all of our problems with the she-wolves and hovercraft were going on, von Schnitzel and Fat Shmengy were trying to rescue the Grand Duchess. They had quite handily dispatched the rat butler with a combination of bombast and skillful posterior manipulation.

Now they faced the SS Anenerbe as personified in the nasty but diminutive form of Colonel Schwartz who packed an incredible amount of evil into a travel-sized package. In this he was ably aided by the cruel but credulous Ilsa and the dramatically faceless goon Stalhelm as well as a supporting cast of Russian mystics, Tibetan monks, and Creatures Made Using Secrets That Man Was Not Meant to Know.

Schwartz demanded that von Schnitzel turn over the Cup of the Kurgans. Now even if Eric had wanted to, he simply couldn’t do it since good old Waggsie had knicked the thing, assuming quite rightly that it was best not to be left lying around.

After von Schnitzel’s curt refusal, Swartz sicked the Frankenstein’s monsters on him. Now when angry, von Schnitzel was known to have an incredible capacity at intimidating anyone, be they actors, crew, or studio executives. In this case, it was mindless inhuman constructs, which I guess really isn’t that different from studio executives. Von Schnitzel really worked himself into a lather this time and the poor green flat-heads went running whimpering out of the courtyard.

As he wiped the froth off his lips, he saw that Ilsa had drawn her pistol and was pointing it as his head, “Don’t think your bluster will have any effect on me, Herr Direktor. I am an Aryan woman and not some dumb brute.”

“Wait, repeat that line.”

“What? ‘Don’t think your bluster will have any effect on me, Herr Direktor. I am an Aryan woman and not some dumb brute.’ Why?”

“Say it again, only this time, control the anger more, make it more full of pride.”

Ilsa did so again and von Schnitzel clapped his hands.

“Have you ever done any acting?”

Ilsa blushed and said coyly, “Well, I did have the lead in my local Strength through Joy spring operetta three years in a row.”

“Well, liebshen, how would you like to be a star?”

The SS woman lowered the pistol, obviously star struck, “Really?”

Von Schnitzel responded by shoving his director’s megaphone over her head and giving it a good bash. He grabbed the Grand Duchess’ hand and ran towards the courtyard gates.

Fortunately, this was the point when Waggsie’s burst of machine gun fire tore into Stahlhelm, killing the brute before he could react. Another burst hit the mad Russian priest.

Fat Shmengy, using his ever dexterous buttock muscles had the tractor ready for this moment. It shot forward, knocking down the courtyard wall and running over the monks and one of the Karloffs.

Von Schnitzel and the Grand Duchess followed after the tractor. They were crossing the front lawn only to be confronted by Schwartz and the remaining Frankenstein. The Monster seemed to have gotten over his fear of von Schnitzel and was advancing menacingly.

“Hey Good Looking!” von Schnitzel cried. “Yes you, tall, dark, and bolt-necked. I know you are not such a bad fellow. You just had a few bad breaks, All you really need is your Mommy.”

The confused monster stood there confused and then, with tears in its eyes muttered, “Ja, Ja! Mutti!”

Von Schnitzel then pointed at the Grand Duchess and said, “Well I’ve found your mutti. She is right here.”

Grand Duchess, for the first time a smile crossing her face, crooned, “Oh, you poow deaw, whatevew have they done to you. Mummy wiww make it aww bettew, my wittwe dawwing.”

The green monster collapsed into her arms, tears streaming from both of their eyes.

“How do you do keep doing that!” screamed Schwartz in frustration.

Another burst from Waggsie machine gun made Schwartz realize that his inning was over for now, so he legged it towards some Kraut infantry that was just coming into the village, leaving von Schnitzel go.

Meantime, I could see that the Shmengys had reunited and traded their tractor for our taxi. They picked up von Schnitzel and sped to the road out of town heading east.

The Grand Duchess was also heading out of town. She was perched on the shoulder of her new “baby” as it strode towards the forest, several of the villagers following after her. She had one of her elephant guns in hand and shouting something about “fight on against the dweadful invadews fwom ouw sacwed fowests.”

As Tura began to lift the hovercraft off the ground, I saw that most of the brigands lay dead in the streets. They had suffered heavy losses in an unequal fight against the main German column. So Hozzenka, in a fit of pique, had run up on her own to the advancing tanks with her dynamite. She had blown the tracks off two of the vehicles before they got her. One of the disabled tanks managed to swing its main gun around and fired at her as she sprinted towards another tank. The gun blast hit near enough that she was struck by several bits of shrapnel. The few remaining brigands were dragging her hulking frame down the village street when we spotted her.

Tura sighed, “Oh the tragedy of war, and he began to turn the hovercraft away from the village.

There was a loud click and we turned and saw Zoya was pointing her pistol at Tura.

“Now Mr. Tura, I don’t want to be mean about this but I won’t allow you to leave Hozzenka behind. She saved my life several times and it just wouldn’t be nice to leave her like this. Besides, Mamushka would be very cross and believe me, you don’t want to have my Mamushka cross at you.”

You could see Tura’s mind wrestle with the two threats to his life and limb. Somehow he decided that the Germans were less an immediate threat than a vacuous blonde so he turned the ship back. We left down a rope and soon had the prostrate form of the big ruffian aboard.

That was when we saw the monster tank.

Excerpt from The Sun’s Also Shiny, The Great American Novel, by Ernest Hummingbird:

The big beast turned its massive gun at the gun track and fired, destroying it. The Writer had already leapt off, a dry ironic laugh in his throat at the Germans having to destroy their own vehicles. The big tank rolled forward to clean up the remaining resistance in the village. Several parties of infantrymen were following up, moving past the burning hulks of their panzers.

As the massive tank passed him, the Writer leapt onto its back as easily as if he were riding one of the Sand Worms of Thark, a feat for which he achieved such reknown among the native Hill Martians. Like the Sand Worms, the Germans were completely unaware of his presence. Perfect.

As the great iron war machine rolled into the village, blasting everything in sight, he realized that another figure had joined him. It was the Professor. Plucky fellow. The Writer would have preferred to tackle the great tank by himself, a true contest of soulless machine against the Spirit of Man but he could probably use help steering the thing. The Professor had the Cup of the Kurgans with him, a thing that was ancient when Alexander marched into India. Using the Writer’s cigar, they lit a beam of fiery light that cut the hatches of the tank open. The Writer drew his pistosl, a .45 Colt Automatic given to him by a grateful Colonel whose life he saved on the Isonzo Front and the Tokarev he had taken from Sanchez’ dead fingers after the fight at Caramba. He leapt into the belly of the beast, firing all the while. The six crewmen were dispatched in an instant. Perfect.

Shoving the bodies out of the way, the Professor got behind the steering controls while the Writer went to the great gun. It was belching death to any that were in range. The tanks that the brigand girl had immobilized went up in fiery blasts. The great behemoth then struck into the midst of a crowd of infantry; the Writer recognized the death’s head of the SS on their caps. Perfect.

He saw that the hovercraft his friends had captured was heading eastward. He also saw that the Musicians, both the fat one and the skinny one along with the Angry Director were leaving in the omnibus. He knew they would need his help. He also knew that it was time to leave. He could sense that the troops he fought were just the beginning. There was a whole division behind this initial thrust. He had done enough damage for one day.

His revenge had had been perfect.

Interview with Roxy Smothers, 1973:

As we flew out of town, we saw the big tank coming up the street, Hummingbird operating the turret, blasting away at any German vehicle or troops that came within range of the terrible big gun.

Tura whistled, “Boy, that Hummingbird sure liked his booze.”

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