Characters: Hauptmann Dietrich, Hauptmann Arnulf Rosenthal, Fraulein Janine, and Doctor Grubelmeyer
Author's Note: "Romantisch" is not a category I readily post stories for, but one of my friends really encouraged me to post it. It's a mixture of romance and drama as well as some dark comedy. Most of the inspiration came from watching "Bert Rigby You're a Fool" which reminded me of all the musicals I grew up on. I've been wanting to write something romantic for some time now and after listening to Rudi Schurike's "Komm Zurück" over and over I had to respond to it.
Summary: With the summer of 1942 proving to be as hot as it is deadly, Dietrich clings to memories of happier times in order to sustain himself through the agonizing flight back to the hospital.
With silence reigning in the cockpit and worry preying upon Arnulf's thoughts like a ravenous wolf, the flight seemed endless. Counting off the minutes was all that Arnulf could to do keep his mind from faltering and falling into despair, but not even that lasted long. Time and time again he had flown the ambulance in and out of battlefields with many soldiers who had "simple" injuries, but by the time they arrived at the hospital, the soldier had passed away due to complications.
"Bitte, Hans… mein bruder, talk to me again, bitte!"
Looking out the window and down ahead of him, Arnulf spotted the city and took in a joyful breath. He quickly said, "Hans, we've made it! You can sing if you want! I do know the words, all of them, unlike you… and if I might say so, you need all the practice you can get if you wish to impress Fraulein Janine with your voice!"
His chuckle deteriorated into a sob that he had to quickly stifle. Though he knew he could land this Fieseler Storch blindfolded, all his concentration needed to be on procedures. He pushed down on the stick and dropped his aircraft to a more reasonable altitude. Looking at his gauges and then again at the approaching runway, Arnulf confirmed the distance before lowering the flaps on his wings. The effect was immediate and the Storch slowed in speed. A few seconds later, the tires touched the hard soil, rolled several metres, then came to a complete stop.
Arnulf had barely shut the engine down when he opened the door to his cockpit and pushed his seat forward. Eagerly he leaned over Dietrich and removed the cloth from his face. There was a troubling absence of sweat on Dietrich's brow, but Arnulf tried not to let this bother him. His eyes caught sight of a fresh stain of blood that had stretched up from Dietrich's left side.
"Hans," Arnulf whimpered as his throat went dry. Panic seized him and he pulled himself out of the cockpit and screamed, "Ich brauche einen Artz! Schnell!"
Arnulf swung back into the aircraft and placed his hand on Dietrich's forehead. "Please hang on!" He bowed his head and swallowed back his anger. Those medics, why had they lied to him and told him that Dietrich was going to be all right? Why weren't there any medics on the ground waiting for his arrival here? Did they already know not to expect a live patient?
"Einen Artz!" Arnulf shouted again, this time leaping out of the aircraft and nearly colliding with one of the nurses that had accompanied the doctor. Anger swirled in Arnulf's mind as he shouted at the doctor, "This is Hauptmann Hans Dietrich! I thought you were notified that I was flying him in!"
The doctor barely looked at him as he brushed past him to the fuselage. Arnulf helped him swing the large panel upwards. "This is war, Captain! There are other battles being fought and other soldiers getting shot out there than just his unit!"
Arnulf stifled his remark with a hard swallow. He hadn't been gone that long; forty minutes at the most with other doctors and nurses to help care for the wounded! Why couldn't they have set someone aside for this?
"Look Captain, he may be your friend but we've got to treat him like any other person! If you want to help, take hold of that side of the litter and help get him inside!"
To this Arnulf offered no reply. He simply took hold of the feet end of the litter and helped bring it out of the Storch. If anyone knew about the countless casualties being brought in by way of truck, car, or plane, it was him. This wasn't just anyone however, it was his best friend. Arnulf blinked against his tears and wrestled with his emotions that wanted to cry out.
His thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a hoarse chuckle, "I knew it wasn't an allergy."
Arnulf glanced down and saw Dietrich looking at him through barely open eyelids. Relief spilled into a choked laugh. He shook his head, smiling fondly at him. "You guessed it, it's not an allergy, it's the dust."
Dietrich laughed weakly, "I'm grateful for your concern, my friend."
"Gern geschehen," replied Arnulf, though he didn't smile and his words felt hollow. His thoughts couldn't be distracted from the amount of blood that covered Dietrich. Nothing could be said that would convince Arnulf that his friend would be all right. It was all too bleak.
Once inside, the doctor directed the litter to an open table. No sooner had they set Dietrich down when the doctor looked at the nurse and said, "Fraulein Janine you may leave."
The young nurse was holding onto Dietrich's hand looked at the doctor and nodded her head reluctantly.
"Jawohl, Herr Grubelmeyer," she replied in a resigned but understanding voice.
"And take Herr Rosenthal with you," said the doctor, not even looking at Arnulf.
Janine's eyes met Arnulf's. Quiet fear lurked there, begging for reassurance, but Arnulf could offer none. He simply dropped his head and sighed.
Whilst Doctor Grubelmeyer sought a different aid, Janine pushed back Dietrich's fringe and kissed him between his eyebrows.
"I will see you soon, mein Schatz," she whispered as she softly caressed his cheek.
Though he was fading once more, Dietrich smiled and turned his face into the gentle touch. He took in a breath and opened his mouth to speak, but only a sigh escaped him. Janine froze, gazing at him with fear. Arnulf came to her side and placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Komm, there is nothing more we can do for him. We've got to let the doctor work on him without us being here. We're a hindrance."
"Ich weiß," replied Janine as she traced Dietrich's eyebrow with her thumb. She then placed a tender kiss to the side of his nose. "Traum schön."