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I Am Sorry Paul!

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I just created an account on this wiki. I am calling myself Maik-Maier and I am from what is now the Federal Republic of Germany, so my English may be a bit crude. I am sorry that I can’t tell you my story as I would in my mother tongue.

But I just have to say, I am so glad that I found this website! A place full of stories as unlikely and unpleasant as mine is. I am glad to finally have found a place where I may speak freely and where people will believe me. It’s probably best to start at the beginning. Ich erzaele euch alles von Anfang an. I hate TV. It is repulsive!

Well, I was born in the year 1981 in Leipzig, when the city was still part of communist Eastern Germany. Even so I was only a child, I remember many things from back then. I remember how grey the city looked, how dull. I remember the hard work. I was clumsy and did cry often, so naturally I was not very popular with the other kids in my group. But I remember having a friend, Paul. He talked with me after lights-out and sometimes he helped me with the chores. Of course we had school too. But for us that made no big difference. We were taught by the same men who also oversaw our work. The lessons where very strict and we had to memorize countless facts about socialism, about our Vaterland and about uniforms and ranks of the NATO countries. There was a huge painting of Erich Honecker in our classroom. He looked how I imagined a granddaddy would look like. On his lips he had a gentle smile. I guess he must have been a nice man.

I can’t remember having any toy back then. We would watch TV only once a week and to sit in front of the big, black and white screen was no reward. They forced us to do it. The room with the benches was always locked and there was a teacher standing behind us. He had a stick, so none of us dared to look away from the screen. I learned to read only much later, but the teacher would always read out the title card in a rather harsh voice: “Ohne Fleiss kein Preiss” It was a puppet show with big foamy puppets that clearly had people under it. Their plastic eyes would role mechanically in their sockets and were terrifying big. When talking after the lights-out, we only called them the “Unblinking”. They never talked. Instead they communicated with gestures. “Every child in the world can understand this”, a teacher would tell us once. There was a red puppet, a black puppet and a purple one, but they did not seem to differ much in regard to character.

The plot mostly consisted of the puppets explaining a certain chore, how to dig over a garden patch, how to sweep a room or how to bear a bucket with coal properly, that kind of stuff. The puppets would dig and sweep and bear with their stiff, unnatural movements. Together with them, there were always some real children who tried to do the same work but failed. They would drop the bucked or their spade would not penetrate the soil deep enough. When this happened- and it always happened at some point, the puppets would shake their heads and role there big, plasticy eyes. Then they would proceed to beat the children with tools and there foamy fists, until the kids lay curled up on the stage floor, crying and bleeding. None of this was real of course. It was acting and probably some kind of animation. I was told that by a teacher, when I asked him rather uneasy. Herr Walther was a teacher you could trust. He was no less strict than the other teachers of course. In fact he could get very angry if someone said something stupid. But you always sensed that he wanted the best for us. He once gave Paul half a Banana as a present! He also forbade us strictly to stray to certain shacks behind our dorm and to my know knowledge, every boy obeyed this order.

It must have been some time before my eighth birthday, when I got hold of a bar of chocolate. “Milka”, said the label in nice, white letters on purple ground. I rather don’t won’t to describe, how I got this treasure. Shameful enough, I did not share it with Paul. Instead I hid it behind a big tube in our dorm toilet. Then Paul found it anyway. There were things you could not hide for long in these days. We fought about the chocolate. I smashed a heavy metal bucket against his head and he broke one of my fingers. Soon Paul hold the crumbled remains of the chocolate in his hand, he was stronger than me and more cunning. I ran away in tears but as soon as I had left the toilet shack, I saw one of the teachers entering from the other side. “Unerhoert!” I heard him shouting from inside. So I knew Paul did have had no time to hide the chocolate. He was dragged outside and of course I knew I would never see my friend again.

I was wrong! I did see him again. In black-and-white as part of the wicked puppet show on TV. We sat in the logged room and watched, as the black puppet tore Paul’s ear off for not nailing a shoe rack together fast enough. The teachers kept quiet and of course we were afraid of even breathing to loudly.

Later that day Herr Schneider asked me in private, if I knew where Paul did have the chocolate from. I started to cry, which seemingly was answer enough for Herrn Schneider. While sadly shaking his head, he told me, he would have no choice but to “set me on the list for the next month.” Those things where never explained to us in detail, but I could guess, what he meant. I would not sleep for the next days, not a second, as I remember it. When I was lying awake in the dark dorm room, without having anybody to even whisper to about my fears, I would bite in my pillow, again and again. I would not dare to cry out aloud.

These sleepless nights must have been at the end of October. For at the start of November 1989 our Anstalt was closed down. They did hurriedly hand us over to foster parents and nobody would tell me anything about the whereabouts of the other children. So we lost side of each other almost immediately.

But well, what can I say? Growing up in Leipzig directly after the unification was breathtaking. Day and night I tried out all this marvelous new things. It was all new, it was all there. You can’t imagine. I really think you can’t! Now I am a grown man. I live in a colorful City. Many people come to visit us, even from the USA. Leipzig ist immer eine Reise wert! I don’t want to be burdened down by my past, that’s what I said to myself so often. I want to live. I even bought me a TV set. These multi-colored, gay TV shows of today are awesome. I love Star Trek and 7th Heaven the most! And we also have local TV. In Germany every Bundesland has its own Station.

But during a gardening show on Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk I noticed a mistake. There was a hole in the charming floral back drop. A door had been left open on the set. For a moment, just for a moment I saw him standing there. Paul stood in this dimly lit door, until a hand pulled him back swiftly. It has been twenty years now, but I will never forget his face. The host of the show continued to talk about Daffodils, while it all became clear to me.

They still have Paul after all those years! These bastards! They are all still in charge and they are everywhere. I can now see them! I see the vicious, black notebook in the hand of the traffic policeman. I see the self-assured smirk on the face of the railway clerk, when I have to step in front of his booth to buy a ticket. They won’t get me tough! I am buying my tickets at the ticket machine now and in my pocket I have a gun. They try to trick me of course. They sent me a neat letter to politely inform me, someone would have to come into my flat to check the electricity meter. But they will be surprised, when they try!

Hol’s der Teufel, this post turned out to be much longer than I planned. I guess it all just carried me away. Well, thanks for reading it anyway. Somehow it’s a relief to share this with you guys.

One last thing, just to be safe, if someone should contact you, one of them I mean. I think we agree that everything I just told you was mere fiction, nothing more.

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