Albin and Brigitte Allmendinger lived in the Black Forest in Switzerland. He was very handsome for an older man, and his wife lovely with her blond braided hair on top of her head. They were a happy couple.
The Black Forest was famed for its lush dark and dense green woodland, the cattle grazing, and orchards filled with fruit. The granite and Sandstone Mountains loomed high. The forested slopes and shady valleys were of great beauty. They lived in a lovely chalet, living the perfect life. Albin and Brigitte were makers of cuckoo clocks, which were sold worldwide. Their creativity made cuckoo clocks of great beauty and filled with details. They were a proud couple.
They had two sons and a daughter; the two sons were called Abel and Abelard. Their daughter’s name was Germania. Abelard and Abel were carrying on tradition, making cuckoo clocks too. They also lived in the Black forest, close to their beloved parents. The two sons were attentive and caring. Every Sunday they went to their parent’s chalet for dinner and brought their two children, Adalz and Adalicia, five and six, adorable little girls with blond hair and perfect manners. They gathered in the kitchen around the big old oak table, made from the forest wood. Albin had made the great table with scroll legs and oval top. It had six carved chairs. Abe could also do carpentry as well as his passion, cuckoo clocks.
They sat talking and piled the pepperoni sausage and Brigitte’s famous potato salad onto their plates, quenching their thirst with lager and wheat beer. The little ones fussed a little over their food, but with a stern look from their father ate their sausage in silence. Albin had taught Abel and Abelard to eat what they were given, as food was a precious commodity that could not go to waste. They listened to their Grandfather who was wise. His word was as solid as the kitchen oak table. The children finished all on their plates excited about eating gooseberry pudding.
Albin and Brigitte both talked at the same time, anxious for their sons to hear the news they had to tell.
“Now.” Said Albin, hushing his wife up, She sat with her hands neatly placed on her apron, and she would keep quiet until Albin said what he had to say.
“We are going to America!” He said with fake gusto.
“Germania and Anthony are about to have a baby, and we want to be there for the birth, just as we were there for your children.”
“How will you manage in America, it is not what you are used to?” Said Abel, worry lay on his face, he put down his spoon from the shiny delicious pudding.
“Mother you don’t speak English and Dad you only speak a little. And Anthony doesn’t speak German. Don’t go.” Said Abelard pushing the heavy chair away from the table, it made a squeaking noise on the checkered floor as he rose and put his hands on his mother’s shoulders.
“You belong here with us. What if something happens to you?”
“What could happen? We’ll be staying with them, Anthony and Germania have lived there for five years, and they do all right.” Said their mother.
“When are you going Dad?” Asked Abelard.
“Next week.” He said firmly. “Now let’s put an end to this conversation, and have another beer.” He poured more beer into their steins, the foam bubbled over, and he licked it up.
“I propose a toast for Mom and Dad, and wish them a safe and happy trip.” Said Abel.
They cheered each other, the potent brew slowly mellowed them out, and they were able to talk about the trip without fear. They helped clean the dishes, as good children would do.
They kissed their grandchildren goodbye, promising to bring them some mementos from America.
“Do you need a ride to the airport? Said Abel.
‘We’ll drive down to the valley, and leave our car. Then take a shuttle bus to Swiss Air. If we give you the keys will you bring the car back here?”
“Sure Mother.” They said in unison. Hugs and kisses were given all around. They wished them a great trip out of harm’s way, took the two little girl’s hands and left.
They over packed their bags, not knowing what they needed. Albin had bought a 100,000 volt Tazer, and hid it in his sock. He had heard so many bad things about America, the guns, the gangs and violence. The Tazer gave him some peace of mind; Brigette would have a fit if she knew about it. She didn’t watch the news, the way Albin did.
They were 35,000 feet above the earth, clouds looked like cotton balls. They were munching on peanuts and drinking white wine. They didn’t like the close quarters; they shuffled their feet around anxious for the hours to pass.
They arrived at Kennedy Airport and lined up for customs. The customs agent asked why they were in The United States, and in his simple English
Albin said “Daughter have a baby.” The agent hearing their German accent soured up. He wondered why the man did not have a crew cut. He gave them his special brand of attitude. He searched Albin and Brigitte. Albin was told to take his shoes off. He took them off carefully, not moving, the agent suspicious of the elderly couple held a tazer pointed at Albin’s neck. He broke into a sweat.
“Why are you nervous?” Said the agent.
“You do me sweat.” Brigette looked at Albin for an answer. He just shook his head and shushed her. The agent opened their passports, and suddenly smiled seeing that they were Swiss. He waved them on; Albin was relieved and put his arm over Brigitte’s shoulder.
There was their lovely daughter Germania big as a roundhouse and her husband Anthony, as handsome as a movie star, with his arm around her. Germania ran toward her parents with hugs and kisses and Albin shook Anthony’s hand. They sat in the back of the big car slowly easing into a traffic jam. They drove to Queens passing over the Queensborough Bridge to a neighborhood with very tall tress and small box houses, all much alike, cozy looking, with neat little yards. They had talked little in the car as they ingested the sights and sounds of this big land.
“We are here.” Said Anthony, parking in front of a row house. He took their luggage and led them in. Tired as they might be, they admired the antique furniture, particularly Ablin’s and Brigette’s Cuckoo clock above the mantel.
“You like?” He said.
“Yes it is of great craftsmanship and detail.” Germania translated.
Later that night in a four-poster bed they murmured in soft tones, about Anthony and Germania and the forthcoming birth of their new grandchild. “We’ll have a good time here and we’ll watch the birth. They pecked a kiss and promptly fell asleep.
The next day refreshed, Anthony took them around the diverse neighborhood. There were varied shops and restaurants of many kinds, Chinese, Columbian, Indian and Haitian and many more. Germania stayed home as her feet were swollen. During the next few days Anthony took Albin to Yankee Stadium where he politely ate his first hot dog.
Not like great German sausages, Albin thought.
That night they feasted on caesar salad, prime rib, and baked potatoes. They drank a potent dark stout from Anthony’s prized steins. As they drank they laughed and patted each other’s backs. The women talked baby talk. Germania shifted uneasily, holding her belly.
“Are you alright?” said Brigitte, worried.
“I think so, the baby is moving around a lot.”
The following day the men went to a driving range and took their manly aggression out on the golf balls. They were tired. Anthony took Albin home. They ate a magnificent meal of sauerbraten and egg noodles, which Brigitte had lovingly prepared. Again the men drank the dark German beer, and laughed till they almost cried. The men fell into a drunken sleep, their wives leading them up to bed. They lay snoring with their shoes on. Germania was too uncomfortable to bend forward and take off Anthony’s shoes. She lay in bed and fell asleep. A few hours later, after her frequent night trips to the bathroom, her water broke.
“Wake up Anthony I am going to have the baby!” Anthony continued to snore. She shook him. Unable to wake him, she knocked on Bridgitte’s door.
“Come in,” Bridgitte” said. Germania went in. Albin was passed out in his clothes.
“My water broke and I have labor pains, help me NOW.”
The two women hurriedly dressed, and Germania drove to the hospital. She was promptly put in a hospital room, and the nurses fussed around her, taking her vitals. They put her legs in stirrups and checked her dilation. The doctor arrived looking disheveled but in charge, he was used to waking up promptly when called. He checked her as she screamed and writhed around in pain.
“You are about to have the baby. PUSH!” he yelled.
“Push hard now. I see the babies head.”
She pushed with all her might. The baby was born and placed on her chest. “It’s a girl!’ Brigitte cried. “Mother, call Anthony.”
Anthony woke up suddenly when he heard his phone ring.
“We are at the hospital,” Brigitte said.
“Get your ass down here now. You promised to be there when Germania had the baby, but you got drunk and you missed the birth.” Without asking if it was a boy or girl, he drove like a maniac to the hospital. He felt so sad that he missed the birth. He felt that he had let her down.
Germania scowled at Anthony.
“Why wouldn’t you wake up, you drunk!” she yelled.
“I am so sorry. Is it a boy or girl?” he asked.
“A girl. We will name her Amy, as we said. Isn’t she beautiful?” she said, handing the baby to him.
“Yes, Amy you are.” He put his arms around her neck and kissed her lips. She suddenly forgave him; after all, Anthony had been entertaining her father, making him feel at home.
“It’s alright Anthony. I understand you were making my dad happy.”
Brigitte was in the hospital for three days and came home with the tiny baby nestled in her arms. There were balloons everywhere.
The following days were haphazard as Brigitte got into the schedule of feeding and bathing the baby and changing diapers. It had been a week since Amy was born and Albin asked Germania, in his broken English, if he could take the baby to the convenience store to get milk eggs and butter. Brigitte was going to make a strudel.
Albin grabbed a basket and got the items for the recipe. He loved strudel and was looking forward to it. He whistled as he walked to the register, holding Amy tight. Suddenly a man who was at the register pointed a gun at the cashier.
“Give me the money in the register,” he screamed. The robber was Asian, dressed in jeans and a “hoody” pulled down over his face. The cashier was scared out of his mind; his hand trembled as he emptied the till into a plastic bag.
“Hurry up or I’ll kill you!” The robber leaned over the counter and pressed the gun on the cashier’s forehead.
“Hurry up, you mother fucker!” He grabbed the bag of money. Then yelled at the cashier to open the safe. The cashier took his cell phone out, hid it under the counter and dialed 911 when the robber turned his head and looked at Albin, pointing the gun at him, then the baby.
“Hurry up, open the safe.” He pulled the cashier by the collar with Albin and the baby and led them to the back of the store. The cashier didn’t know the combination to the safe.
“I don’t know how to open it.”
“Yes you do! Open it!” He shrieked.
He fired a shot at the cashier, but it recoiled off the ice-cream freezer, hitting Amy in the head. Albin screamed and fell with Amy bleeding from her head. Her eyes rolled back. She was dead. Her tiny body went limp. He cradled her and sobbed.
“Oh no!” screamed the robber.
“I didn’t want to shoot the baby, I didn’t really.”
The cops arrived with guns ready to get the robber. When he saw them he put the gun to his head and blew his brains out.
Amy was dead, limp in his arms. What would Albin tell her mother? Oh my God, why did I come to this country?