“Got a light, Freddie?” Will asked. “Bremen should be nearby. I’m thirsty. Need refills.” We trudged for hours through forest. Break time, but our eyes scanned, ever vigilant.
I leaned against a tree. We’d been lost, separated from our platoon. As German speaking Americans, Wilhelm and I, Friedrich, forged ahead. However, it was 1943 and we were in enemy territory. I counted it miraculous that we hadn’t fired a shot on this little jaunt.
“I hope Bremen’s empty. This was my father’s home; cousins live here. Tales of the old country, schnitzels and schnapps.” I extinguished my smoke. “Jesus, I don’t want commendation for exceptional deeds by shooting half my relatives.”
Will grunted and shoved off. I followed, counting to myself in German. Thirty minutes later, he halted, pointing to a clearing. Men, wearing brown robes, moved about. I spied garden tools, but no guns. “Let’s visit these men of God,” he said. “I smell cooking.”
A white haired man greeted us, “Aaah. Americans. Sprechen sie Deutsch?” We nodded. “Welcome to St. Paul’s Monastery. Bremen’s battered, but we stand.”
I removed my helmet and shook hands. He chattered, leading us into a dining room. Bread, potatoes – we ate everything in front of us, while answering questions. Finally, I made a toast, “Danke, Friar. You’ve restored our faith. We believe. This golden nectar, elixir sent by God.” I took another gulp. “I’ll say ten hail Mary’s for more of your brew.”
Will and I had been saved by St.Pauli Girl.