Pavel ASS



The Way Hedgehogs Breed


It was snowing outside. A company of Red Army men marched by. Josef Stalin turned back from the window and asked:
“Comrade Zhukov, haven’t you been killed yet?”
“I haven’t, Comrade Stalin”.
“Then give me a cigarette”.
Zhukov sighed like a lamb, took a pack of Kazbek from his right pocket and extended it to Stalin. Having crumbled a few cigarettes into his pipe, the commander-in-chief musingly lit it with the match struck by Zhukov.
Ten minutes later he asked:
“How are they there in the West front?”
“Fighting”, simply answered Zhukov.
“And how is Comrade Isayev?”
“He has a hard time”, said Zhukov sadly.
“It is good”, Stalin said, “I have a new mission for him…”
It went on snowing outside.


CHAPTER I. An Unexpected Insult

The low smoked ceiling of the rathskeller “Three piglets” was nearly black with soot, the walls were covered with pictures from the famous fairy tale. The food in the rathskeller was not very good, the drinks were even worse, but it did not put off its haunters. What put them off was Standartenführer SS von Stirlitz who had recently fallen into the habit of dropping in to the rathskeller. And now again he was sitting at a distant table that was full of food for seven men and bottles for eight ones. Stirlitz was alone and not waiting for anybody. Occasionally he got bored and then he would take out his Mauser with the inscription “To Isayev for the liberation of the Far East from Dzerzhinskiy” and as a true Voroshilov’s sniper shot the cockroaches hiding in the corners.
“What a mess you made here!!” he shouted “Brothel!”
And indeed the rathskeller looked like a brothel. The floor was spilt with cheap wine, spat and covered with fags. One got an impression that everybody thought it his duty to vomit on the floor or at least spit or spill something. Now and again officers would pass by, stepping at the puddles and swearing. At the next table four SS officers were bawdily sticking to a waitress. She liked it and sniggered silly. A drunk corporal with his face in squid salad was sleeping in the corner. At times he would grumble discontentedly and produce indecent noises. Two front-line soldiers were sipping schnapps at the bar and softly speaking about the developments at the Kursk Arch. A young lieutenant with two suspiciously looking girls was loudly showing off what a brave fellow he was and how neatly he could shoot with a pistol. Stirlitz made a big sip of beer from his stein, piddled a bit in his can of stewed pork [this is the favorite victual of Russian soldiers], and had an intent look around at the surrounding reality of the decaying Germany, occasionally sticking to some protruding details of the nippies scurrying between the tables.
“What rascals these Russians are”, said the young lieutenant quite unexpectedly for everybody. “I would put them and shoot every other”.
Silence fell in the premise. Everybody looked at Stirlitz. Stirlitz stood up, spat out a piece of stewed pork and with a ceremonial step came up to the lieutenant.
“Nazi swine”, he said between his teeth and gave the lieutenant a slap on the face.
“Excuse me, I do not quite understand...” the dumbfounded lieutenant babbled.
Stirlitz lost his temper and seizing a stool rained it down on the unlucky lieutenant’s head. The lieutenant fell down and darkly Stirlitz began to kick him.
“I am Russian intelligence officer Isayev and won’t let a dirty German cur insult me!”
The four SS officers dashed to separate the opponents. Merry Stirlitz was dragged aside from the moaning lieutenant and offered a drink for his Motherland and Stalin so as to calm him down.
“Well,” said Stirlitz calming down a bit. He had a stein of schnapps, the redhead SS soldier readily poured him another, Stirlitz drank it. He lost interest in the lieutenant.
“What a silly thing”, one of the front-line soldiers whispered to the sobbing lieutenant, “to say such things when Stirlitz himself is near. And in such expressions! If I had been him I would have killed you.”
“Stirlitz is a kind soul”, sighed the other front-line soldier, “I remember two days ago everybody was kicking a Japanese spy; so, everybody was beating him with their feet, and Stirlitz was not”.
“The kindest man”, the first soldier confirmed, and they took the lieutenant out to the fresh air.
Stirlitz, putting his arms round the SS officers, was loudly singing “Hitler soldatten”. The drunk corporal raised his head from the salad, looked around the hall with his dull glare and yelled enthusiastically:
“Heil Hitler!”
The hall trembled with the responding roar:
“Sig Heil!”
And Stirlitz was already sleeping. He was dreaming about nightingales, a Russian field and birches. He was dreaming about naked wenches swimming in the lake, and he was peeping at them out of a bush. Now he is sleeping. But exactly in half an hour he will wake up to continue his hard work, essential for Motherland.

CHAPTER II. Petty Rogue

There was a safe in Mueller’s office. Mueller stored dossiers for all the staff of the Reich in it. He would often open it, take out a file to add something to it, refresh in memory, just browse or apply. But the latter was a rare occasion since Mueller, as a true collector, did not like to part with the dossiers of his birds. Nearly everybody in the Reich had a safe of dossiers but Mueller’s collection was the largest one, bigger than Kaltenbrunner’s. It was a small and harmless hobby of the Gestapo chief. He had Himmler, Gebbels, Schellenberg, Borman, Stirlitz and even Kaltenbrunner himself in his collection.
Obergruppenfuehrer was sitting at the fire and paging Borman’s dossier. It was one of the thickest dossiers in his safe. Mueller was whistling Mefistofel’s aria from Faust and reading his favorite lines.
Parteigenosse Borman was a petty rogue. When Borman failed to play a dirty trick on anyone he would consider the day lost. If he was able to make mischief he would fall asleep quietly with a good happy smile on his face. Borman’s favorite cur that lived in his office would bite officers’ legs so they had to put on high boots in the Reich. Mueller, who had flat feet, had a lot of trouble. Once he dropped in to Borman’s in sneakers and was fiercely bitten at the left leg. The dog had to be poisoned. Since then he and Borman had been worst enemies.
Borman loved putting thumbtacks on chairs, drawing foul words on officers’ backs with chalk, stretching complex rope systems in dark corridors that would trigger a jug of water on your head if you are lucky or a brick if you are not, should you catch the rope.
Borman particularly loved bathrooms. He had written all kinds of nasty things about the Reich officers on the walls and doors. Sometimes he would draw bawdy pictures from French magazines. Once he put a line under a picture stating that it was Eva Braun. The Fuehrer took great offence and asked nobody else but Borman himself to find out who had done it. For two months everybody was groveling before Borman. To get out of the circle of suspects, Stirlitz even invented a story that suggested it had been done by a Chinese spy. Finally the rap went to admiral Kanaris who made the folly of beating Borman in preference with his new secretary at stake.
Secretaries were another weakness of Borman’s. Now and again he would fire his secretary and hire another, exchange with Himmler, Schellenberg, asked Mueller to give him his secretary but Mueller refused.
Nobody liked Borman in the Reich but everybody was afraid of him. Would you like to see your name on the wall of the bathroom along with the others?
Borman was fat, bald and vindictive.
Mueller closed the folder, patted the blue cover and said, pleased with himself:
“Nice dossier. I wonder what Kaltenbrunner would say about the matter.”
And Borman was at that moment busy. He was scribing on the door of the bathroom the following graffito:
“Stirlitz is a beast and Russian spy”.
Borman made a smacking sound with his lips, pulled the rope and went out. He painstakingly washed his hands and headed for his office feeling accomplished duty. It looked like the day would be successful.
In the office Borman unlocked the seven secret locks of the safe and shoved his head inside. Yesterday he hanged a tablet in the safe which read in Russian, “Rusian spys musnt luk here !!!”. Somebody corrected the mistakes with a red pencil and wrote, “Borman is a fool” in Russian. Borman took a Russian-German dictionary, translated and thought logically:
“Somebody’s corrected mistakes… so, somebody must have been inside the safe… it’s not me… Most likely it is a Russian spy. Do I know any Russian spy?”
Borman started thinking. In half an hour it dawned on him to look for fingerprints. It took him 30 minutes more to find them. The fingerprints were clear and greasy. The Russian spy must have been eating canned pork before tampering with the safe. In fact, the pork can was inside the safe.
“It seems that Stirlitz worked here. I wonder what Kaltenbrunner would say about it.”
Borman sighed. It was not worth it confronting Stirlitz because the guy would always find an excuse and turn the issue against you. Everybody knew that.
Borman sighed again and took pastor Schlag’s dossier from the safe. He had been spying on pastor Schlag for a long time with interest. This man had a broad network of female agents. The pastor was chasing all kinds of women, both old and young as well as beautiful and homely along with married and single ones. And women liked him too which made Borman wonder and even annoyed him since women did not like him.
“Why should one man want so many women? I could understand it if they were secretaries, especially mine… But he is certainly working for some intelligence service. It is most likely not ours, therefore a foreign one”, Borman raised a finger, “We had better feel him…”
And Borman called Eismann and give him instructions.
A violent kick on the door blew it open and sulky and sleepy Stirlitz entered the office.
“Borman! Give me a cigarette!”
“Stirlitz has run out of cigarettes”, Borman thought while stretching his cigarette-case with the Fuehrer’s profile to Stirlitz. “So, he must have been smoking a lot. One smokes a lot when thinking a lot. Stirlitz does not think for nothing. So, he must be up to something”.
And Borman looked at Stirlitz’s honest eyes.
“How is it going?”
“I am right as usual!”, Borman cheered. “He is certainly up to something! I ought to feel him”.
“Some coffee?”
“No”, Stirlitz winced. “I would do with beer.”
Borman pressed a button and a secretary came in whom Stirlitz had not seen before.
“A new one?”
“Yes”, Borman boasted.
“Looks nice”, complimented Stirlitz.
“I like her too”, flattered Borman said. “Darling, please get us some beer”.
“Yes, sir”.
The secretary brought some beer and stood there waiting for further orders.
“You can go”, Borman waved his hand.
The secretary walked out, showing disappointment with her thigh movements. Stirlitz took his eyes off the door and took the stein.
“Get seated”, Borman offered, pushing a chair.
Stirlitz routinely brushed off the thumbtacks and sat down.
“He noticed that”, Borman thought with venom, “You cannot get Stirlitz with thumbtacks. One can feel the hand of Moscow here.”
Stirlitz’s eyes got warmer.
“Nice beer”, he said.
“He’s talking through a hole in his head. He wants to take me on. No brother Isayev, I am not the one. Well… what if I play a trick? What if I hint to him very subtly that Eva Braun is interested in him?”
“Stirlitz!” Borman shouted, “Eva Braun is interested in you!”
Stirlitz choked. He had met Eva Braun just once, actually at a party at the Fuehrer’s. Stirlitz held a high opinion about hiself manhood but this idea had never crossed his mind.
“Eva Braun may become a valuable agent. I must enquire at the Center”, he thought.
Stirlitz got up and used a curtain to blow his nose.
“Will he buy it or not?” Borman thought.
Stirlitz looked out through the window.
“Man, this babe got back!” he said excitedly. “Borman, you must see it.”
Borman took Zeiss glasses from his table and went up to Stirlitz. They were silent for a minute. During this time Borman realized that Stirlitz had been able to distract him and Stirlitz thought over Borman’s words.
“He is trying to lead me by the nose”, Borman thought and cleverly changed the subject, “Stirlitz, listen, you have broad connections. Could you get me a small clever dog with sharp teeth?”
“I could.”
“This one could do a lot”, Borman thought.
Stirlitz often promised something to Borman as well as the others but would never do anything.
“I had better run.”
Stirlitz asked Borman for a couple more cigarettes, automatically got a folder off the table under his armpit and headed for the exit.
Borman rushed to his desk and jerked out the upper drawer. A rope rose ten centimeters from the floor at the door. Stirlitz dexterously jumped it over, said goodbye and disappeared behind the door.
“Professional!” Borman moaned.
Stirlitz was indeed a professional. He did not start browsing the stolen dossier right in the corridor as an English or Paraguay spy would, but chose the most secluded place in the Reich.
When Stirlitz had entered the bathroom he found a fresh graffito there which read: “Stirlitz is a beast and Russian spy”. Stirlitz painstakingly struck out the word ‘spy’ and wrote ‘intelligence officer’ and added below, “Borman is a beast as well”.
And then he paged through pastor Schlag’s dossier. A vague plan was fermenting in his head.

Did you like it? You could read the remaining chapters at the authors’ site, but it is in Russian, so it will probably be of no use to you. Still, if you think it worthy, let me know if I should translate the entire novel and it might appear here soon.

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