Ray Bradbury

Darling Adolf

They were waiting for him to come out. He was sitting inside the little Bavarian cafe with a view of the mountains, drinking beer, and he had been in there since noon and it was now two-thirty, a long lunch, and much beer, and they could see by the way he held his head and laughed and lifted one more stein with the suds fluffing in the spring breeze that he was in a grand humour now, and at the table with him the two other men were doing their best to keep up, but bad fallen long behind.

On occasion their voices drifted on the wind, and then the small crowd waiting out in the parking lot leaned to hear. What was he saying? and now what?

«He just said the shooting was going well.»

«What, where?!»

«Fool. The film, the film is shooting well.»

«Is that the director sitting with him?»

«Yes. And the other unhappy one is the producer.»

«He doesn't look like a producer.»

«No wonder! He's had his nose changed.»

«And him, doesn't he look real?»

«To the hair and the teeth.»

And again everyone leaned to look in at the three men, at the man who didn't look like a producer, at the sheepish director who kept glancing out at the crowd and slouching down with his head between his shoulders, shutting his eyes, and the man between them, the man in the uniform with the swastika on his arm, and the fine military cap put on the table beside the almost-untouched food, for he was talking, no, making a speech.

«That's the Fuhrer, all right!»

«God in heaven, it's as if no time had passed. I don't believe this is 1973. Suddenly it's 1934 again, when first I saw him.»


«The Nuremberg Rally, the stadium, that was the autumn, yes, and I was thirteen and part of the Youth and one hundred thousand soldiers and young men in that big place that late afternoon before the torches were lit. So many bands, so many flags, so much heartbeat, yes, I tell you, I could hear one hundred thousand hearts banging away, we were all so in love, he had come down out of the clouds. The gods had sent him, we knew, and the time of waiting was over, from here on we could act, there was nothing he couldn't help us to do.»

«I wonder how that actor in there feels, playing him?»

«Sh, he hears you. Look, he waves. Wave back.»

«Shut up,» said someone else. «They're talking again. I want to hear ?»

The crowd shut up. The men and women leaned into the soft spring wind. The voices drifted from the cafe table.

Beer was being poured by a maiden waitress with flushed cheeks and eyes as bright as fire.

«More beer!» said the man with the toothbrush mustache and the hair combed forward on the left side of his brow.

«No, thanks,» said the director.

«No, no,» said the producer.

«More beer. It's a splendid day,» said Adolf. «A toast to the film, to us, to me. Drink!»

The other two men put their hands on their glasses of beer.

«To the film,» said the producer.

«To darling Adolf.» The director's voice was flat.

The man in the uniform stiffened.

«I do not look upon myself ?» he hesitated, «upon him as darling.»

«He was darling, all right, and you're a doll.» The director gulped his drink. «Does anyone mind if I get drunk?»

«To be drunk is not permitted,» said Der Fuhrer.

«Where does it say that in the script?»

The producer kicked the director under the table.

«How many more weeks' work do you figure we have?» asked the producer, with great politeness.

«I figure we should finish the film,» said the director, taking huge swigs, «around about the death of Hindenburg, or the Hindenburg gasbag going down in flames at Lakehurst, New Jersey, whichever comes first.»

Adolf Hitler bent to his plate and began to eat rapidly, snapping at his meat and potatoes in silence.

The producer sighed heavily. The director, nudged by this, calmed the waters. «Another three weeks should see the masterwork in the can, and us sailing home on the Titanic, there to collide with the Jewish critics and go down bravely singing „Deutschland Uber Alles.“»

Suddenly all three were voracious and snapping and biting and chewing their food, and the spring breeze blew softly, and the crowd waited outside.

At last, Der Fuhrer stopped, had another sip of beer, and lay back in his chair, touching his mustache with his little finger.

«Nothing can provoke me on a day like this. The rushes last night were so beautiful. The casting for this film, ah! I find Goring to be incredible. Goebbels? Perfection!» Sunlight dazzled out of Der Fuhrer's face. «So. So, I was thinking just last night, here I am in Bavaria, me, a pure Aryan ?»

Both men flinched slightly, and waited.

«— making a film,» Hitler went on, laughing softly, «with a Jew from New York and a Jew from Hollywood. So amusing.»

«I am not amused,» said the director, lightly.

The producer shot him a glance which said: me film is not finished yet. Careful.

«And I was thinking, wouldn't it be fun…» Here Der Fuhrer stopped to take a big drink, «…to have another… ah… Nuremberg Rally?»

«You mean for the film, of course?»

The director stared at Hitler. Hitler examined the texture of the suds in his beer.

«My God,» said the producer, «do you know how much it would cost to reproduce the Nuremberg Rally? How much did it cost Hitler for me original, Marc?»

He blinked at his director, who said, «A bundle. But he had a lot of free extras, of course.»

«Of course! The Army, the Hitler Youth.»

«Yes, yes,» said Hitler. «But think of the publicity, all over the world? Let us go to Nuremberg, eh, and film my plane, eh, and me coming down out of the clouds? I heard those people out there, just now: Nuremberg and plane and torches. They remember. I remember. I held a torch in that stadium. My God, it was beautiful. And now, now I am exactly the age Hitler was when he was at his prime.»

«He was never at his prime,» said the director. «Unless you mean bung-meat.»

Hitler put down his glass. His cheeks grew very red. Then he forced a smile to widen his lips and change the colour of his face.

«That is a joke, of course.»

«A joke,» said the producer, playing ventriloquist to his friend.

«I was thinking,» Hitler went on, his eyes on the clouds again, seeing it all, back in another year. «If we shot it next month, with the. weather good. Think of all the tourists who Would come to watch the filming!»

«Yeah. Bormann might even come back from Argentina.»

The producer shot his director another glare.

Hitler cleared his throat and forced the words out: «As for expense, if you took one small ad, one mind you! in the Nuremberg papers one week before, why, you would have an army of people there as extras at fifty cents a day, no, a quarter, no, free!»

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