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With this chapter, Petersholme and young Barry are separated for much of the rest of the story. The American remaining in London as a student at LSE and Petersholme to serve his King by attending an agricultural convention while keeping his ears open for any conversation about rockets. The story will be told in rotation from one to the other side of the channel. The atmosphere of the story darkens considerably with his Lordship's arrival in Berlin.
The copyright to Flight belongs to me. It cannot be reprinted in any medium without my express permission. If you're under 16-18 yos, you shouldn't be reading stories from the Nifty archives -- however, this story will not lead you into orgasmic prurience (mum and dad can read it over your shoulder, in other words). If you enjoy reading stories stored at Nifty and are delirious that they are free, donate a couple of bucks to Nifty so that those stories will remain free to you.
The next day, I had managed not to think too deeply about what Barry had become to me until I embarked my train in LeHavre and was comfortably alone in my carriage compartment. Watching the port city give way to the rolling French countryside reminded me that Barry Alexander was in London and growing further away from me with each click of the iron wheels of the carriage. It was already mid-afternoon and I was scheduled to arrive in Berlin in the middle of the next morning.
Barry Alexander. Young, handsome, and loving. He would do anything for me -- because he was in love me. He would apparently forgive anything I did for the same reason. Did I, however, love him?
I smiled to myself at the question. Of course, I loved the damned Yankee. I would do most things for him.
Most things. I realised that those were the operative words. I certainly didn't see myself attending Ascot with young Barry on my arm, introducing him to King George as my lover. Of course, there was always the need to be circumspect. I doubted that he would introduce me to President Roosevelt were we in a similar situation in the States. Still, though, circumspection set aside, my level of commitment to Barry Alexander became foremost in my thoughts as my train sped north through the French countryside into the gathering night.
I had taken everything the American had been willing to give during the night just past. But I had gone further and given myself to him, doing so willingly. Not once in twenty-six years of life had I thought to do such a thing with another man or boy. Before the American had entered my life, I saw buggering a willing lad as simple, unpretentious, and uncomplicated sex. As I did sucking. Something the lad in enough need did with my phallus for our mutual pleasure.
It had been Molloy who set the sexual tone for me almost thirteen years ago while we were still at Rugby. We were to spend the Spring holiday at his father's estate and he had acted a bit strange our last day at school and on the train across country. That night in his rooms he stammered out that he wished to try it. With me.
It did not take much to convince me.
We continued our relief of each other through our years at Rugby -- quietly, of course, and no-one was the wiser for it. We carried our continuing companionship to Oxford and eventually expanded our circle of friends to include the German Janus von Kys and, later, Alan Dudding.
Not one of my three friends had suggested I increase my involvement in our relief of each other. They serviced each other but were satisfied with my one contribution to our fun. I, too, had become quite comfortable with it.
Barry Alexander, however, had entered my private life and proceeded to disrupt every habit that had gone into making it.
I had come to love the lad enough to break through the barriers both my habits and those of my friends had erected around me over the years. I loved him enough to accept that I was homosexual myself and to understand that was it not a sickness, regardless of what the law and doctors stated. I loved him enough to share my body with him as he did with me. But did I love him enough to commit myself exclusively to him?
The blackness of night spread across the interior of France as I grappled with who I was and how I was to handle this new knowledge of myself. I slipped into a troubled sleep.
I woke sometime later in the night to find a man standing inside the opened door of my compartment. "Papieren!" he demanded loudly in German as I gazed in shock at the pistol at the waist of his uniform jacket.
Numbly, I reached for my jacket lying on the seat across from me and wondered how I had slept through the stop-over in Paris. I pulled my papers out and handed them to the German border guard.
The frown left his face immediately when he saw the Seal of Great Britain on the front of my passport. "Engländer, ja?" he asked pleasantly.
I nodded and watched as he opened the passport and inspected it.
The guard clicked his heels together and his right arm jabbed the air between us. "Heil Hitler!" Stiffly, he handed me back my passport. "Herr Baron Petersholme," he said in German, "welcome to the Fatherland."
I watched as he left my compartment. He bowed his head as he pulled the door to.
I was not bothered the rest of the night as my train moved deeper into the eyrie of the German eagle. I could not get back to sleep, however. My thoughts were far darker than when I had attempted to understand my relationship with young Barry.
* * *
I washed as best I could with the carriage swaying under me as it wound its way slowly through the outlying sections of the German capital city.
"Meine Damen und Herren!" the conductor called over and over from the corridor as he moved from carriage to carriage. "We are arriving in Berlin, the Capital of the thousand year Reich. Heil Hitler!"
I heard a chorus of Heil Hitlers' answer the conductor as he moved along the hallway. Mine was not one of them. My mood continued to darken as we wove our way through the city the Hohenzollerns built while they were but the lowly Margraven of Brandenburg. We finally pulled into Berlin's giant Bahnhof.
I left my compartment and started to get off into a cool September morning. Beyond the scaffolding and canopies, the sun had risen in a clear pale blue sky, bathing Berlin in a warm glow. I smiled until I noticed the men running to the carriages along the platform across from me.
Young men, barely more than boys, all in feldgrau dress Wehrmacht uniforms carried their duffel bags and jostled with each other in a hurried but friendly effort to find their assigned cars. They were like young men anywhere -- quick with a flash of humour, yet determined to appear mature. Also, like young men anywhere, they were happy to be away from the watchful eyes of their parents, to again have the limited freedom and camaraderie that peacetime army life provided.
There were hundreds, perhaps even a thousand of them, moving along the platform and I found myself studying their train. I realised with a start just how long the thing was -- at least fifty cars -- and immediately began calculating the number of men it would take to fill it. I came up with two thousand men or more.
I frowned. A troop train heading east and carrying thousands of men? Several battalions -- perhaps even a division?
Hitler had been making noises about the Bolshie, but he had done that since his election as Chancellor five years earlier. It wasn't Stalin these lads would be going after. Poland and the now truncated Czechoslovakian Republic stood between Germany and the Soviet Union.
Where could so many young German soldiers be going?
The world was at peace -- at least, Europe was. The Japanese were still swallowing Manchuria in Asia, of course and the Italians were trying hard not to lose their war against nearly naked, spear-wielding Africans; but neither of those threaten the Empire. Besides, those desert nomads probably needed a bit of order in their lives to become prosperous and enjoy civilisation.
I had never seen an actual troop train before. British soldiers I had seen home on leave from their posts rode civilian trains. Individual subjects of the Crown, as their civilian companions were.
Older men appeared shortly at each carriage and called their wards into formation. Stragglers broke into trots to reach their companies. The jostling and humour were instantly gone and I was watching an army preparing itself to leave home and take up positions it would need to go to war.
From the corner of my eye I saw two men in civilian clothes step from a carriage further up the platform and turned to watch them and what they might be up to. They seemed completely out of place as they made their way through company after company of the Wehrmacht.
Behind them, companies quietly filed in their respective carriages. The men converged on a rosy-cheeked lad in the middle of the ranks of his company. His companions remained at attention, pretending to ignore what was about amongst them. The boy tried to maintain his stance but it was obvious that he was watching the two men come closer to him.
He gave up trying to keep formation and turned to gauge the men's movement towards him. He dropped his duffel bag and broke ranks, zigzagging between his companions until he was past the formation. He began to run then, towards the open station on the other side of me.
"Halt!" one of the civilians bellowed as he pushed through the last file of young men.
The boy ran towards me, his face red, the collar of his dress tunic tight against the straining muscles in his neck. I saw nothing but abject fear in his face as he neared me.
A shot rang out and, in surprise, I looked back along the platform to see the other civilian holding a pistol straight out from his chest, his other hand supporting his shooting arm. Only then did I realise the man was firing a weapon in my direction. Another shot rang out as I jumped back into the entrance to the carriage I had just left.
The boy was even with me and he grabbed his thigh, his face showing pain as he tossed forward and began to slide along the platform. Blood quickly began to spread across the back of his uniform trousers.
I started to step onto the platform, fully intending to help the young soldier stop his bleeding. A hand gripped my shoulder and I turned in surprise.
"No, Engländer," the conductor told me in German, shaking his head. "They are Gestapo. Let them take him away and pretend you have seen nothing."
The boy looked up at me. His hand reached out to me. "Please help me," he cried as the first Gestapo agent reached him.
Motionless, I watched in shock as the two agents picked the lad up by his arms and began to drag him to the lounge of the Bahnhof. I shuddered as a uniformed policeman at the entrance doors stepped aside, saying nothing, as the men pulled the youth into the building.
No effort was made to attend to the soldier's wound. No word of explanation was spoken.
"Welcome to the new Germany," the conductor whispered at my ear, released me, and quickly returned to the depths of the carriage.
I hailed a cab in front of the Bahnhof and was driven to the Metropole Hotel without incident. Every lamp post along our route had the ubiquitous swastika flag hanging from it. Red, white, and black bunting was everywhere. As if it were Coronation Day in London. Only, people hurried to where they were going instead of enjoying a beautiful autumn day, stealing apprehensive glances at my cab and anyone who approached them.
I registered with the hotel and was quickly shown my room on the second floor. The porter drew me a bath; however, he seemed more than slightly hesitant to take the five pound note I offered him as a gratuity. I gave him the few Reichsmarks I had left from the small exchange permitted at the station and resolved to find a bank as soon as I had washed and shaved.
From the bank, I strolled back along the broad avenue towards my hotel and was amazed again at how clean the city was and thought ruefully of how much grime London had managed to collect over the centuries. And of how little interest there was in keeping it clean. The people I passed seemed well-fed and comfortably dressed; and they all seemed to be employed. But I witnessed only hurried, suspicious glances at myself and at their countrymen.
I passed a small park that, in London, would have been a haven where elderly men would congregate. It was deserted even of office workers taking their lunch in the warmth of a sunny day in mid-September.
I realised as I approached the hotel that its every flag pole held a Nazi party banner swirling lazily in the slight breeze. I was shaking my head at this petty posturing as I entered the lobby of the Metropole in the wake of what I was soon to learn was the German contingent to our agricultural conference.
I instantly espied Janus von Kys standing in the centre of the lobby, removing his gloves. I had not seen him in nearly six years, not since he left Oxford with his degree the year before me. My old friend, however, was the type of man whom, once known, one recognised anywhere.
He was over six feet and willowy when he returned to Germany -- tall, fair-skinned, blond, blue-eyed, slim. His black Waffen-SS uniform accentuated the body I had come to know nearly as well as I had Max Molloy's. The silver oak branch of his rank on one side of his closed collar and the stark black of the other side showed his patrician neck to good effect. I was surprised I was developing an erection just gazing at the man.
He turned at that moment and his brows furrowed as he saw me and sorted through his memories as he sought to place me. "Petersholme!" he called as recognition settled over him.
"Von Kys, I thought it was you, old lad," I answered and took a step towards him, happy to see him again.
"Halt!" a young man growled and stepped between us, his face blank as he opened the holster of his service revolver.
I halted and Janus stepped up to the young soldier and put his hand on his shoulder. "He is a good friend, Corporal," he told the man in German. The soldier came to immediate attention, his hand falling away from his pistol and its fingers cupping the hem of his uniform jacket.
I stared at Janus von Kys in surprise, wondering what position he could possibly hold that would have him protected by armed guards. Not even King George would expect such protection. I waited for my friend from university to make the next move.
"Petersholme," he said, stepping around the guard and coming towards me. "It's so good to see you again."
"And you as well, von Kys." I noticed his military contingent had all turned to watch us. Whatever Janus had done with himself since leaving Oxford University, it had made him quite important in the new Germany. "Are you and your lads...?" I indicated the uniformed men standing near us in the lobby of the Metropole. "Are you here for the agricultural conference?"
His face grew into a smile, his blue eyes twinkling. "Are you here for that too?"
"If you'll remember, I do have an estate, old lad -- an agricultural implements factory as well -- now that father's passed. It helps keep the ledgers in the black to stay abreast of the latest advances, you know." I smiled pulling forth Molloy's gambit. "And I have heard that Germany has developed a strain of cattle that nearly doubles milk output."
Von Kys' adjutant registered their party while we caught ourselves up on the highlights of each other's doings the past six years. I walked him to the lifts as the Waffen-SS group followed the porter.
"Will you join us?" he asked as he took my hand and began to shake it.
"I thought I'd take lunch in the dining room. And you chaps need to settle in." I smiled. "Perhaps in an hour or two?"
"Of course." He nodded and turned to the young soldier who had nearly pulled his pistol on me. "Corporal, when the Baron Petersholme arrives on our floor, show him to my rooms," he told him. Turning back to me, he said: "We have the top floor. Just come up when you're finished; this soldier of the Reich will escort you to me."
I took a leisurely lunch, keeping to simple fare. The weinerschnitzel was superb as befitted a five-star hotel. And I permitted my mind to wander at will.
This new Germany was proving to be a surprise, one I was suspicious of. It was clean. Its people were employed. They were well-fed and well-dressed. That much seemed true enough. The Times' German correspondent had reported that accurately, but his glowing reports of the Third Reich had left out the people's fear. I had seen no joy but had noticed more than the normal hesitancy and suspicion one expected in a city of any advanced society where one rarely knew one's neighbour.
There was that poor lad at the station as well. No Briton, regardless of his class, would have been treated as he had been. I had seen real fear when he broke ranks and tried to run. I had seen total disregard for human life when he was shot down on a public platform.
What had the conductor called the men who had shot him and hauled him away? Gestapo. I wondered at a police force that carried weapons and used them so carelessly. I doubted a society where no-one, not even a uniformed officer of the law, felt they could ask for an explanation for such cavalier behaviour.
Britain was hungry, almost a quarter of its population was out of work. Our cities could not afford the labour to keep the streets clean, even with men willing to work. Far too many of our small businesses had died in the Depression that had held the civilised world in its maw for nine long years. But I would never see there the fear I had seen today. And I would never see the total disregard for law and civilised behaviour towards even the lowliest tramp that I had seen at the railway station.
Was this the future for Britain as it was the present of Germany?
I hoped not.
And Janus. I knew enough about Nazi Germany to recognise the black uniform with the twin silver lightning bolts as Waffen-SS, not regular army. He was in the Party's own military arm -- the super-elite. The Aryan übermensch in person. I guessed all the embroidery meant he was an officer, a high-ranking officer with the entourage and protection he had with him in the lobby when I came upon him.
He had been a fun chap at university. It had been he who taught me to fly an aeroplane in the warm autumn that began my second year at Oxford. He had treated far too often when Molloy, he, and I went pub-crawling through those lazy afternoons. And, when the first tramps appeared in the village of Oxford, he had started to feed them until they became too numerous for even his generous German soul.
Could that lad become this man have countenanced what I had seen at the central railway station only that morning? Could he justify to himself the fear I had sensed on the streets of Berlin between the bank and my hotel? I hoped not and I was unsure of how to learn where my school chum's thoughts were on the subject.