Episode 24: The Sausage Factory
Kodek was sitting at a wooden picnic bench that moved every time Dietrich got up to take a leak, which he wouldn’t have to, Kodek figured, if he hadn’t polished off his first four steins on German lager in under 32 minutes, and if he might’ve been lighter than the two hundred and seventy-two pounds of fat that was likely putting unseen pressure on his bladder. At any rate, up Dietrich went, and push went the bench, but Kodek was so used to it now (fifth time) he nearly automatically reached for his own three-quarters-full stein and lifted it before the jarring/swaying tabletop could slosh the lager over the top of the rim (again) and he put it back down when Dietrich had safely cleared. Dietrich was alright, and he didn’t mean to judge about the man’s weight or ability to suck down lager, especially as Kodek was on his third beer of the afternoon and his umpteenth German sausage. And he was a friend of the Bear of Berlin.
Kodek wasn’t exactly sure why the man had found himself with the nickname Bear of Berlin, he wasn’t particularly hefty – he was big, but more like nightclub-bouncer big, not exactly Grizzly-bear big. He supposed it might have something to do with the rumor that the Bear had been shot fifteen times over the course of his career as a German hitman, as Kodek knew that bears were impervious to bee stings while scooping ill-gotten honey from bees. Yeah, it was likely something like that. Impervious to bullets instead of bee stings. Or rather, bullets affected him about as much as a bees sting to a bear.
He stopped thinking about it when the buxom sausage-slinger came by with another platter of sausages, and Kodek grabbed one almost in automation. What is this – sixteenth? Seventeenth? He decided it was best left unremembered. He was feeling a bloating of the gut, so it was a good thing there was no job scheduled for this evening. He must’ve been concentrating something fierce on the sausage in front o him because when the Bear of Berlin tapped his side with a protruding elbow, Kodek realized he’d been knock off his train of thought (sausages and beer and bullets and bee stings). He looked over to the Bear, seated next to him on his left, then glanced over when the Bear jutted his chin forward.
Oh – Dietrich was on his way back. Just before he sat down, both Kodek and the Bear lifted their steins. Dietrich sat. The table rocked. Everyone else put their beers back down. You could write music to it.
“These sausages come from the best factory in Germany,” the Bear of Berlin spoke. Kodek could see Dietrich nodding quietly in agreement, half of one of the best sausages in Germany already being ground in his teeth and smacking lips.
“You ever see a movie called Prime Cut? Seventies flick with Gene Hackman?”
“Flick?” Bear questioned.
“Film,” Kodek adjusted out of his linguistic slang.
“French Connection?” Bear asked.
Dietrich nodding, again: “Gene Hackman,” and he gave a greasy thumbs-up.
“Yeah, he was in the French Connection, too,” Kodek said.
“Good flick,” Bear agreed. Kodek smiled.
“In Prime Cut, they take one of the gangsters and grind him up into sausages.”
“And then what?” Bear asked. Dietrich was now chewing on the last bite of his sausage and reaching for another one.
“They sent the sausages to his bosses as a warning.”
Bear smiled, and there were flecks of greasy meat stuck in between a couple of his teeth. “No,” he said, “I’ve never seen that flick.”
Four hours and eleven minutes later, they were back at Kodek’s hotel room in Berlin. Well, The Bear of Berlin and Kodek were there, they’d left Dietrich back at the Oktoberfest celebration, he wasn’t part of the business, anyway.
“So what did they tell you?” Bear asked, sitting at the foot of Kodek’s bed and picking up the envelope of pictures and documents that had been sitting where Bear was now, and which Kodek had hiked all the way over from San Francisco three days ago.
Or at least, he thought it was three days ago.
Without waiting for an answer, as he probably wasn’t really going to wait for one anyway, Bear stuck his hand into the manila envelope and pulled up the dossier on Dr. Mindbender.
Of course, that was just the British codename for Dr. Fraurenspeigel, a name only a handful of his international colleagues could rightfully pronounce. Dr. M, as he was also now known by, had just recently discovered the metaphysical (key part being physical) connection between the linear placement of time and the inner dimension known as ——-
Which had also been discovered, possibly –likely– simultaneously, by Larry “The Brain” back in the United States in 1997 (NOW).
And now Kodek was here with instructions to do away with Dr. M. Instructions presumably passed down from The Corporation, but probably forged and drawn up by The Brain himself, the megalomaniac that he was.
Something clicked in Kodek’s brain, and he suddenly wondered why he’d had to fly to Berlin from San Francisco. In fact, what the fuck was he doing in San Francisco at all? He frowned, and the only image that he could recall was —–
“—–?” Bear interrupted his meditative musings.
“Sorry?” Kodek shook his head, as if trying to snap out of a daydream. “What was that?”
If the Bear of Berlin was annoyed with Kodek for making him repeat himself, he didn’t show it – much.
“I said, you know that your hit on Dr. M. is not going to be possible, right?”
“No,” Kedek said coolly, “I wasn’t aware of that.”
“That’s okay,” Bear said, that’s why I’m here.”
“I was told you were here to liaison the mission.”
“Maybe. Maybe that’s what we wanted your people to know.”
“Yes. Your bosses. Mr. Morimoto and his lawyer, from The Corporation.”
Ah, Kodek thought, so the instructions were legit, after all.
“But of course, that’s not going to happen now,” Bear continued.
“Oh,” Kodek offered, “I wasn’t aware of that.” His mind was drifting again.
“Speaking… how would you say… globally, it will be much better to reverse the orders.”
“Reverse the orders?” Kodek repeated like a parrot.
“Sorry, maybe my English isn’t correct… You’re, um, supposed to go back to the United States and kill The Brain.”
Now Kodek was listening with cocked eyebrow. “On whose orders?”
“Your orders,” Bear said with an utter lack of facetiousness. Kodek knew it too, which made him smile just a little.
“No, I mean who gave the change in orders? Who reversed the orders?” he clarified.
“Oh. Your people.”
“Your people, my people, what does it mater? You and me, we’re the same. We’re just… what would you call it… blue-collar?”
Kodek nodded, “That’s what I would call it, alright.”
Bear nodded, too. “It’s not really up to us, is it? They–” he twirled a hand in the air “–do their business, and in their business they need bad things done. You and me, we do them. Then the next day, business changes, and things go on.”
“Bad things,” Kodek muttered.
“Yes.” Kodek looked around the room. “How are those sausages treating you?”
Bear smiled again, and it was dark in the room, but Kodek could imagine bits of torn meat in his teeth. “Good,” he said.
“Want to go down to the bar and get a few more beers, then?
“Yah, good,” Bear said, and they left the room.
Down the hallway as they walked, the Bear of Berlin shocked Kodek by saying: “When you go back, you’ll go back to the job at the newspaper, right?”
Kodek felt like he hadn’t thought about his day job in months. In actual fact, he probably hadn’t been to the office in at least a week and a half. Maybe more. He couldn’t remember.
“Um, I might not be employed there anymore,” he told the Bear.
They reached the elevators and Bear his the DOWN button which lit up orange, and they waited.
“Yes, you still work there,” he told Kodek, “It’s no problem.”
“Right. You’ll be working there for a while. It’s good.”
“Good?” Kodek was starting to sound like a parrot to his own ears again.
“Sorry, my English again,” Bear apologized. “It’s…” choosing the word thoughtfully, he finished, “important.”
The elevator doors slid open and swallowed the two men. They turned around and Bear hit the button for the lobby.
In the elevator, on the way down to where the main bar was located, Kodek tried really hard to think about why it might be important for him to stay at a job that he had initially sought out on his own away from The Corporation and the German business. But almost instantly, his thoughts, and his curiosity, began to drift back to San Francisco.