The cigarette among men

Markus haggberg now and then hans received a slap in the face from his father. This did not happen very often, but whenever it did, the bub was prepared for something, but was able to explain it to himself. Anyway, he always got a smack when he was caught smoking by his father.

Once he told me that he never really knew whether he got it because he had smoked or because he loved to be caught smoking. But smoking in the hand, smoking in the children’s room or behind the barn in the garden had its consequences, and this rule of the game was clear. The boy did not reproach his father, and for the father, too, the matter had always been settled after a slap in the face. "At supper we were already doing mischief together again", hans once explained to me. Then father and son conspired against the mother and took her to the grain. For the son it guaranteed impunity and for the father a brightening of married life. It was april 1945 and hans had just turned 13. He was much too young to smoke, but not too young to dream of being a man. It was the last days of the war, and lichtenfels had been spared. Once there was supposed to be a crash along the tracks at this time, but otherwise the american appeared largely peaceful.

Hans tried his first bits of english, and even though he didn’t like losing the war, he looked forward to the arrival of the tanks and jeeps. Boys just. He went to grammar school, was happy about the fact that more and more classes were cancelled, smoked a cigarette now and then, and got fired from time to time. One day his father asked him if he would go with him to the itzgrund and visit some relatives. They made sandwiches, laced up their hiking boots and went off. On the way they talked about all sorts of things, about the political situation and what was going to happen in the future. And they found time to laugh together.

But suddenly they hoard a plane in the distance. The engine roar was familiar to them, and they knew that it could now become dangerous. The low-flying plane had noticed the two people from lichtenfels and came rushing over. He set his sights on father and son and fired mercilessly with the machine gun. Father and son ran across open country, sometimes zigzagging, with heavy caliber bullets striking beside them. With a lot of luck, the two from lichtenfels reached safe cover behind a rock. Shaken, they fell and took a deep breath. The low-flying plane flew on and disappeared.

It took time for father and son to come to terms, and during that time they did not speak. Father and son looked at each other. The father reached into his jacket with his hand, took out his cigarettes and handed one of them to his son. The boy grabbed the gun, silent but laughing. The father also laughed and lit first his son’s cigarette and then his own. Nothing was said, everything was said, and heinz knew that his father now regarded him as an adult.

The father took a deep breath, and his son did the same. Then the two men got up, sang the same song and went off to visit their relatives. So heinz always told me. He is also no longer alive.