WINTER MUSINGS
A "Dr. Strangelove" Ficlet

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is a short ficlet written for the "Dr. Strangelove" fandom, featuring our favorite ex-Nazi scientist & President Merkin Muffley. It is one of two ficlets that I plan on posting for the winter season of 2009, but I'll leave the other one for a surprise for you...a Christmas surprise! ;-) Anyway, I do hope you enjoy this story.

And, now, for a brief copyright-&-disclaimer...

Dr. Strangelove, President Merkin Muffley, & all elements & properties belonging to "Dr. Strangelove" © Stanley Kubrick & Columbia Pictures. I only claim ownership to the story itself, & all original characters contained therein, including (but not limited to) Rachel & Edgar Muffley, as well as Dr. Strangelove's parents.

When you're finished reading the story, feel free to leave a review. I'll take anything from simple comments to constructive criticism, as long as they're not flames or written in a mean, rude, or overly-harsh manner.

And now that my copyright-&-disclaimer is finished, let the fanfiction begin! Happy reading!


The December air was filled with a bitter chill as cold winter winds whirled & whistled through the streets of Washington, D.C. The clouds above the United States' capital city were dark & heavy, no doubt in labor with the snowfall that the weatherman had predicted would arrive on this gloomy winter day. The people that paraded down the sidewalks were bundled up in the warmth of their fur coats & caps, with their woolen scarves fluttering in the breeze, as they hustled & bustled on their way to their various destinations. There was only one man who wasn't dressed appropriately for the weather, & to the people who saw him, it was no surprise that he was shivering & shaking like a jitterbug. A black business suit, a white shirt, a single black glove, & black dress shoes weren't exactly the best cover from the harsh, stinging chill of the air.

Although he was freezing to death, & already beginning to wish that he had spent some of his money on that nice coat he had seen at the store the other day, Dr. Braun Strangelove took comfort in the fact that he would be able to feel some much-needed warmth when he got into the lobby of the White House. President Merkin Muffley had invited the German doctor (who he considered to be a very good friend) over to the "Presidential Palace" to have lunch with him & his family, & Dr. Strangelove was eager to accept the Commander-In-Chief's offer to share a good, hot meal with the Muffleys in their special dining room. The First Lady, Rachel, had promised Dr. Strangelove that she would be sure to serve some of his favorite dishes—sausage & eggs, raspberry strudels, pretzels, & schnitzel, among others—& as he thought about the food he would be eating at the Muffleys' dinner table, he could feel his mouth watering in response to the visions of delicious culinary delights that filled his head; before too long, he became so engrossed in those thoughts, that he forgot all about the cold weather. Strangelove simply couldn't wait to make it to the White House, where he would have a warm fire, good food, & the company of friends to look forward to.

After traveling down a few streets (the last being Pennsylvania Avenue), Dr. Strangelove finally reached the gates of the White House, & with a turn of the wheels of his chair, he began to make his way across the front lawn, & up the access ramp leading onto the front porch. When he got onto the porch, Strangelove started to make his way over to the front door...& then, on a whim, he changed his course a little, stopping in front of one of the windows that showed the main lobby of the White House. A large Christmas tree, not yet decorated, stood in the center of the room, looming over the people around it like a tall tower. Some of the White House servants were busy unpacking boxes of ornaments & decorations, which they would use to trim up the tree later on. And a few feet in front of the tree, Dr. Strangelove could see the Muffley family—the President, his wife, & his 5-year-old son, Edgar [1]—all standing together before him, separated only by the wall & window-pane.

Little Edgar was laughing & giggling as his father playfully chased him around the lobby, while Rachel Muffley watched her "two boys" with an amused smile, her arms folded over her chest. While he watched the Muffleys from behind the window, his gloved right hand gently resting against the glass, Dr. Strangelove couldn't help but stare with his mouth slightly agape, as his brown eyes were fully focused on this family moment that was playing out in front of him like a scene from a movie. The vision of President Muffley joining Edgar in his merry games as they cavorted & capered in the lobby, lit with the warm glow of candles from the hanging chandeliers, evoked in Strangelove's mind a tidal wave of memories that began to rush through his brain, drowning him in a state of nostalgic reverie that lingered for several minutes. Now, Dr. Strangelove was beginning to relive all those moments that he had kept preserved & hidden away in the darkest corners of his mind for the last 4 years, ever since he left Germany... [2]

He saw himself as a young child again, the little boy that had grown up in that comfortable, two-story house on Berlin's Ebertstrasse. It was not yet Christmas, but the Merkwürkdigliebes' living room had already been decorated, & the evergreen tree was all set up (complete with ornaments). A roaring fire was blazing in the hearth, filling the sitting area with comforting warmth & light, & little Braun's mother (now off for the holidays) was relaxing in her favorite armchair, doing some knitting to pass the time until Papa Almerich came home from Christmas-shopping. Braun was perfectly content to while away the hours by playing with his favorite toys, reading a couple of books, working on some inventions (& the occasional bit of poetry) [3], & plinking out a few tunes on the old piano in the family parlor. Then, just when Braun finished playing one of his favorite pieces from Wagner, he heard the front door open, & came rushing into the living room to greet his father with a big hug, followed by a kiss on the cheek. Braun's father scooped the little boy up into his arms, & returned the hug, before setting him back down on the floor, & after he had gone to another room to put away the groceries he had bought, he came back to join his wife & son in some festive fun & games. Braun & his parents cavorted & capered in much the same way that President Muffley & Edgar were doing right now, partaking in their family playtime with great pleasure & enthusiasm...

Oh, how Dr. Strangelove missed those days of his youth! How much he wanted to go back to those happy times—before all the Nazism, before all the death & destruction & decay, before his paralysis & alien hand syndrome, before everything that took place after that warm summer in 1933...the summer that marked the end of a most wonderful era in his life. [4] Now, there was nothing wonderful for Strangelove to go back to, except in childhood memories & nightly dreams, & even with the friendship of the Muffley family (& of his neighbors & acquaintances), the doctor still felt very lonely in Washington, D.C. Due to safety issues, he could not continue to keep correspondence with his friends & family in Germany, for fear that any remaining Nazis (or military or government officials on either side of the world) would stumble upon those letters & telephone calls, trace them back to their original source, & bring injury or harm to Dr. Strangelove or his associates (either out of revenge or retribution)...so he was completely cut off from contact with the people he loved. Strangelove could never call or write to his parents or pals, nor they, he, & every day, his heart ached with the pain of wondering how much his Mutter & Vater missed their dear son...

No doubt, Klara & Almerich Merkwürkdigliebe were worrying about the fate of little Braun, & were hoping & praying that he had found safe harbor on American shores. But after all this time, shouldn't his parents have received word from someone that he was all right? Had they any knowledge of all the things that had happened to him in the past 4 years? Was there anybody in Berlin at all who knew what became of Braun Merkwürkdigliebe? If so, Dr. Strangelove had no way to find out who those people were, much less to establish contact with them. All he could do was hope that someone out there knew where he was, & that that person might tell his family & friends of his whereabouts & well-being. Perhaps, there was a chance that, someday, Strangelove would be able to reunite with his parents & freunde again...but in the meantime, he would only be able to interact with them in those visions of long ago. Not wanting to watch the Muffleys any longer (as doing so only made the memories in his mind more painful for him to bear), Dr. Strangelove turned away from the window, & stared out with a wistful gaze at the front lawn of the White House, which was now covered with a gentle layer of the soft snow that was falling from the skies, floating down like the tears that silently streaked down Strangelove's face...

Unbeknownst to Dr. Strangelove, President Muffley—who had just placed Edgar down on the floor, after scooping him up into his arms for a hug & a kiss—had turned to see his scientific advisor resting on the front porch, the back of his wheelchair turned to him. After telling Rachel & Edgar that he would be back in a short while, President Muffley opened the door, & made his way outside to join Dr. Strangelove on the veranda; in his rush to see the gut Doktor, he had forgotten to put on some decent winter clothing, but as he didn't plan to stay out for more than a few minutes, he felt that he could make an effort to brave the cold wind & the sharp sting of the chilly air. And so, with his characteristic outgoing demeanor, President Muffley strolled over to Dr. Strangelove, & stopped to stand at his side, smiling cheerfully as he greeted his German friend: "Hello, Dr. Strangelove, so glad to see you today! I suppose you're ready for that big lunch we talked about?" No response from the doctor. Feeling confused as to why he wasn't receiving any feedback, President Muffley took a closer look at Strangelove, glancing over him with a puzzled gaze as he asked, "Doctor, is something wrong?"

Dr. Strangelove let out a heavy sigh, then gently shook his head, & spoke to his leader for the first time: "Nein. Nothing is wrong, President Muffley." His voice came out as a quiet whisper, & (although it was hard for one to tell without listening very carefully) it was slightly cracked with emotion.

"Are you certain about that, Doctor?" President Muffley asked with a dubious look on his face, & his hands on his hips. "Judging from your behavior, it doesn't really seem like nothing is wrong..."

"And how can you tell?" Dr. Strangelove asked President Muffley, looking up at him with a slight tilt of his head.

"Well...you didn't even bother to say 'hello' back to me!" President Muffley answered with a hearty laugh, as he playfully patted Dr. Strangelove on his left shoulder, before tousling his curly light-brown hair in a gesture of brotherly affection. "Although," Muffley mused (mostly to himself) as he took his hand off of Strangelove's hair, "I have to admit, that was rather unusual. Normally, you'd be quick to return someone's greeting...well, depending on your mood, I guess. There are those times when you don't really talk to anybody, & just stay in some quiet little corner, minding your own business...Maybe, this is just one of those times, I guess." As President Muffley brought his hand back down to rest at his side, his fingers inadvertently brushed against the black fabric of Dr. Strangelove's jacket-sleeve, & then, when he finally noticed that Strangelove wasn't wearing any winter clothing, his face instantly sported a mask of concern. "Doctor," he blurted in surprise, "you're not wearing a proper coat...or a scarf...or another mitten for your left hand!"

"Well, neither are you, President Muffley," Dr. Strangelove retorted matter-of-factly.

That remark didn't bring President Muffley out of his state of shock, however, & the Commander-In-Chief found himself stammering & stuttering like an inarticulate motor-mouth as he tried to speak to Dr. Strangelove...but, eventually, after some effort, he managed to untie his tongue & stop blathering incoherently, then spouted out in absolute astonishment, "You came all the way to the White House...from your house...without being appropriately dressed...for the weather?! Doctor, this is so...so unlike you!"

Dr. Strangelove looked at President Muffley with a look of slight embarrassment on his face, & he lowered his brown eyes in a downcast gaze to the ground as he wrung his hands together shamefully, & said, "I would have worn more suitable clothing, President Muffley, but the couple of winter outfits I brought over from Germany were stolen when I was living in New York City, [5] & in spending most of my wages on other things, I don't have enough money left over to buy a coat."

"But, Doctor," President Muffley ejaculated in utter bewilderment, "you receive a paycheck of $2,000 a week! It can't take that much money to pay for groceries, utilities, & other necessities! Not to mention your bills & taxes!"

"But you must also consider the very huge portion of money I spend on laboratory equipment, scientific instruments, mechanical parts, & the various other tools of my trade," Dr. Strangelove said. "After all, how can I commit myself to my hobbies—& my livelihood—if I don't purchase any stock to work with?"

Now realizing that he had forgotten about those particular details, a chastened President Muffley cast a bashful gaze off to the side, as he muttered with a sheepish grin, "Oh, right...Of course." Then, he looked at Dr. Strangelove again—this time, with a more serious expression—& continued, "But, surely, you can save just a little bit of your money to buy some new winter clothing? It doesn't have to be real expensive stuff; just go down to Macy's, &..."

"Pray forgive the interruption, President Muffley," Dr. Strangelove piped in hesitantly, "but I have something to tell you...if you'd care to listen."

"Yes, Doctor," President Muffley replied warmly, nodding his head in affirmation. "By all means, do tell me whatever it is that's on your mind. I'm more than willing to hear about it."

With a heavy sigh, Dr. Strangelove looked up at President Muffley with a wistful look in his eyes, & began: "The other day, I was at a department store in the shopping center, looking for some outfits to add to my wardrobe. While I was browsing through one of the sections, I happened to find this...this wonderful coat that was on display, & I thought about buying it...I really, really wanted to buy it! And I almost did...but...then..." Strangelove's voice trailed off for a moment, & he let out another sigh, as his expression became pained—as if he was reluctant to go any further—but, then, with that same look of emotional agony on his face, he continued, "I changed my mind at the last second."

"Well, was it because the price was a bit too much for you?" President Muffley asked. "Or was the coat not in your size? Or, maybe, you took a look at it, & decided that it just didn't look good on you...?"

"Nein," Dr. Strangelove answered, shaking his head. "I couldn't bring myself to buy it, because..." At this point, tears started to fill his eyes again, & began falling down his face. "Oh, forgive me, President Muffley!" Strangelove quickly reached for the handkerchief that he kept tucked away in his jacket-breast pocket, then brought the silk square of linen up to dab it across his moist face, as he whimpered in a breaking voice, "The coat I saw at the store...was just like the coat mein Mutter loved to wear in the wintertime! It had the same faux rabbit fur...the same group of four black buttons on the left side...the same fuzzy collar & cuffs...& it even had the same..."—he sniffled & sobbed a bit—"...black satin lining!" Unable to contain his sadness anymore, Dr. Strangelove burst into a torrent of hysterical tears, & as he tried vainly to stop himself from crying, he wiped vigorously at his eyes & face with his handkerchief, occasionally blowing his nose with it. "Ach, Gott, mein Mutter! Mein liebe Mutter..."

As he watched Dr. Strangelove, his dear friend, crying & moaning in absolute misery, President Muffley became stricken with great concern for the poor fellow. "Oh, my goodness," Muffley said sympathetically as he tried to comfort Dr. Strangelove as best as he possibly could, "I'm so sorry about your mother, Doctor..."

"No, she's not dead," Dr. Strangelove corrected President Muffley, his voice still broken with distress. "But I haven't talked to her in 4 years..." Strangelove continued sniffling & sobbing, but, gradually, his tears began to dry up once more, & as he continued applying the handkerchief to his face, he told Muffley, "You & I both know that I've forced myself to go into hiding. In the eyes of the world, Braun Merkwürkdigliebe no longer exists. There is only Dr. Strangelove...& he doesn't know of anyone in Germany who is connected to him. There is no one there that he can talk to, no one he can call or write letters to, without risking the safety of himself...or his loved ones."

"Doctor," President Muffley said gently as he stared at the dejected-looking German with kindly bluish-gray eyes, "it's been quite a while since the end of the war. By now, most of the Nazis—well, the bad ones, anyway—have already been killed or put in jail, so they're not going to come after you or your family. We'll make sure of it."

"But won't I be deported back to Germany?" Dr. Strangelove asked worriedly. "If they accuse me of any war crimes, I will surely be put to death!"

"You didn't take part in any atrocities, right?" President Muffley replied, hoping to encourage Dr. Strangelove with a smile.

"I helped to invent weapons for the Nazis!" Dr. Strangelove exclaimed, with a grieved expression appearing on his face. "To me, that's no less terrible than committing a mass extermination!"

"But you didn't actually use those weapons yourself," President Muffley tried to persuade Dr. Strangelove. "And it's not as though you really wanted to make them; you just did it, because you were following the orders you were given. Isn't that right, Doctor?"

Dr. Strangelove thought about it for a moment, then nodded his head a little, & as his once-sad countenance began to soften a little, he slowly answered, "Ja...Th-that would be correct, President Muffley..."

"What's more, in your years of service to the government, you have proven yourself to be a righteous man, an upstanding citizen, an honorable philanthropist, & an important member of our society," President Muffley assured Dr. Strangelove, his face beaming with confidence. "And as far as I can tell, I have yet to find a reason why you should not continue to remain in the country."

Now, Dr. Strangelove was beginning to feel a bit better. He dabbed at his eyes once or twice more, then tucked his used handkerchief back into his jacket-breast pocket, before starting to form a smile at President Muffley, as he asked hopefully, "You really mean that, President Muffley?"

"After being your friend & associate for 4 years," President Muffley replied warmly, "I could never bring myself to tell you anything that I knew wasn't true!" With that, the Commander-In-Chief leaned forward to give Dr. Strangelove a friendly hug, & the doctor was more-than-happy to return the gentle gesture of affection. "There's no need to worry, Dr. Strangelove," Muffley told his comrade as he gingerly parted from the embrace, & gave him a comforting pat on the shoulder. "You're in good hands here, & nothing bad shall happen to you, should you decide to establish contact with your family & friends in Berlin. [6] And in the unlikely event that you should ever feel threatened, just tell me, & I'll take care of the situation personally; you won't have to fret or fuss about a thing!"

Upon hearing this, Dr. Strangelove's smile began to widen even more, & tears started falling from his eyes again; this time, however, they were tears of joy. "You mean I can talk to my loved ones again? I-I-I can talk to Mutter, & Vater, & Bertha, & Frau Schubert, & all my other friends & family members? [7] And I can call them, & write letters to them, & send them gifts & cards, & be able to hear back from them...without having to live in fear of any harm?" When President Muffley nodded in affirmation, Dr. Strangelove gave him another big hug, as he shouted joyfully, "Oh, danke schön, President Muffley! I don't know how I will be able to repay you for your act of kindness to me!"

"Don't mention it, Dr. Strangelove," President Muffley said good-naturedly. "It's my pleasure."

With that, Dr. Strangelove wiped away the last of his happy tears with his gloved hand, then turned away from President Muffley to look out at the beautiful snowscape that lay sprawled out in front of the White House. The winter winds were no longer quite as cold, & they blew ever-so-gently around Dr. Strangelove & President Muffley as they stood together on the veranda, watching the snow quietly falling from the lightly-cloudy skies. The scenery was so tranquil, so placid & peaceful, & the President & his associate could have spent days out on that porch, watching the beauty of nature unfolding before their very eyes...

Unfortunately, it only took about 5 minutes, before both men started shivering like crazy. "I think it's time that we went inside," President Muffley told Dr. Strangelove, "before we catch our death!" With that, President Muffley went over to open the front door for Strangelove, & after the latter had wheeled his way into the White House lobby to greet the First Lady & her son, President Muffley followed him inside, letting the door gently close behind him. After Dr. Strangelove had been welcomed into the Executive Mansion, he retired with the President, his family, & their servants to the Family Dining Room, where they could all sit down & share a warm, delicious meal with one another, talking over various topics & enjoying their time together on that chilly December day.

Then, after a few hours, the grandfather clock on the side of the Family Dining Room struck 3:00 PM, & after thanking the First Family & their servants for being such gracious hosts to him, Dr. Strangelove bid "auf wiedersehen" to his friends, & left the White House to begin making his way back home (but not without wearing the great black coat that one of President Muffley's servants had kindly lent him). As he leisurely wheeled his way down the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue, Strangelove began to feel much warmer & more comfortable now, & it wasn't just due to the coat; already, the winter wind was starting to feel less harsh against his skin, & the world around him seemed to be filled with calmness & loveliness. Maybe, it was just the holiday atmosphere, or maybe, it was the emotional boost to his spirits that he had been given by President Muffley & his family...Or it could have been both. All Dr. Strangelove knew was that he was going to make a quick stop at the department store on the way home, so he could finally buy that lovely faux-fur coat he had found (if it was still there)...& when he finally made it to his house, he planned to fix himself a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows, which would be sure to warm his bones as he curled up comfortably under the covers of his bed, where he would begin writing several letters to all the people in Germany who loved & missed him. Of course, the first two letters would go out to the pair of people who Dr. Strangelove loved & missed most of all—his dear Mutter und Vater.

THE END


[1] The events of this fanfic are set in December of 1949, about 2-&-3/4 years before the date I believe the movie takes place.

[2] According to my fanfiction timeline, Dr. Strangelove fled from Germany & arrived in America in the summer of 1945.

[3] If you haven't read all my Dr. Strangelove poems by now, well...let's just say that I've discovered a new hobby for the gut Doktor. :-)

[4] This ties in to my fanfic, "The Memoirs Of Dr. Strangelove", but I don't want to spoil anything major for you, so I won't give any details away.

[5] Before he moved to Washington, D.C., Dr. Strangelove spent a few months living in Manhattan, & one day, after taking a few hours to run some personal errands, he came back to discover that his apartment had been ransacked & robbed.

[6] And we can't forget the power of diplomatic immunity, either. ;-)

[7] Bertha was one of Dr. Strangelove's closest female friends during his childhood; she was also a Jew, & during World War II, she was shipped off to the Dachau concentration camp, but despite the odds, she managed to survive, & was one of the people to be saved when the camp was finally liberated on April 29, 1945. Frau Adelheide Schubert was Dr. Strangelove's childhood governess, & she remained a dear friend of his into adulthood.