Das ist Berlin by Joseph Morgado

June 28, 2012 Comments Off on Das ist Berlin by Joseph Morgado

In the morning, I left the hotel and went to the park, the one close to the Reichstag. I sat alone on a bench to watch the squirrels and wait for the café to open. I’d been sitting there for only a little while when I saw a glint of silver in the shrub next to the bench. I reached in, ruffled around, and pulled it out. It had been burned, and the metal body twisted out of shape. There were teeth marks, some very deep. The engraving was worn but still readable:

To my darling. Happy Birthday. All my love, Eva.

I imagined him sitting on this bench of mine, just relaxing on a spring morning like this. Maybe he’d begin with his scales first, then move on to some simple songs. He might improvise and make up some melodies. He’d play what he heard the old man whistle when he walked by with a loaf of bread under his arm.

He would not have tried Wagner. Too demanding, too sacred. It wouldn’t have been right. But some simple blues? Sure. It was what the instrument was made for. Then a shuffle, a steam-train whistle, a bird. Maybe even a klezmer—a guilty indulgence—when no one was within earshot.

He’d read the engraving, stare at it, run a fingertip over the freshly carved grooves, and think about how it took him two tries to blow out all the candles on the cake. He’d smile as he remembered the look on Eva’s face when he’d opened the package and played that first note.

I don’t know what he would have called it, the word for it in German. What’s the equivalent—is there one? Maybe it’s just harmonica.

When I stood up to go to the café, I decided not to keep it. I threw its charred shell back into the shrub, just like the Russian soldier had done before me so long ago.

© 2012 Joseph Morgado

Joseph Morgado lives in rural Cornwall in the United Kingdom. His work has appeared in various places, including the KGB Bar Literary Magazine, Shock Totem, and Space Squid.

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