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The Exercise

The exercise

Short Story rewritten, transcribed and translated by Mudhog ©2002 ©2008

After I left grammar school a time of great upheavals changed nearly everything in my life. I was 23 years already, had no formal profession and was only excelling in my scholarships. Not to mention I had planned otherwise, but you have to take destiny as it unfolds itself. To err is human but to err in specific terms might leave you with inhuman choices.

I was a volunteer in the THW - a special kind of disaster control. I rose up in ranks rather quick. From helper to deputy corpse leader in less than one and a half year is an apt indication. But on the professional side of my education, I was learning Plumber back then … I felt like a complete failure. I didn’t lack the devotion for the job, I just felt unfit, incompetent and … well I drowned my sorrows in booze and in no time instead of workaholic I became alcoholic.

As fast as you might rise, the fall might be even faster and though Germany has some social benefits, that is far from being comforting. Once you fail, you’ll fail forever. But enough of this bitter retrospective.

My pal and back then superior had to plan for our corpse an exercise. We had a tip from an very zealous helper. We had at that time an old mine seeker harbour in our town. That old rat hole was a derelict already when I sprung into existence. There were several swimming pontons in the basin of the harbour. The fell dry at low tide. He told us, it would be fun to place several actors on the platforms and let our people imagine some way to rescue them. Since he was my radio operator I ordered him to keep silence.

We walked there one Saturday morning. Chestwaders were worn, a length of rope carried and just in case a rope ladder. Riding by bike to the harbour we needed only 15 Minutes from our quarters. I was already anxious to see what my operator had spied upon… He told us that they once pulled a boat there over the silt and that it wasn’t deep. My pal noticed that I started to get sweaty. “What’s on your mind?” he asked. “As if you don’t know… The prospect of going into mud is making me horny.” I could trust him, he was more a friend than just a superior. I also told him once that I’m gay. He respected that and I knew that he was trustworthy. “Oh, well… the Mudhog number I see.” “Yeah!”, I smiled, “but I have my doubts about the depth he told us.”

We arrived the area and weren’t stopped by anybody. Our uniforms would have discouraged them anyway. We looked into the basin… It was low tide and there were three pontons. The next was about 14 yards from the slope. I climbed down, Lueder followed me. I tied Rope since I felt the one responsible for this exercise. I took a step into the silt and sank up to my knee. “Okay… If it won’t get any deeper it suits me fine.” Lueder said. “Hmmm, then our folk would have a lot of cleaning to do.”, I added. I took some more steps and I sank up to my thigh. Lueder tried to follow, only to get a cramp in his leg after the third step. Cursing and Swearing is one of his favoured pastimes. I noted several new words to my vocabulary… No one is so imaginative in making ruckus than Lueder. I went further an was only eight yards from the nearest platform. But that last step did spell disaster of the messy kind. Not for me, that’s for sure… But first things, first. That step made me give out a loud “Oups”… “What’s up!”, yelled Lueder pained. Looked… wondered… looked again and started to laugh heartily. “Lueder, do something. I’ve no ground under my feet.”, I called. “Yeah, I have a cramp in my leg… and you told me very often how you like your mud baths. So relax, everything is fine.”, he answered. “Yeah… Look if you don’t help me I will be more than messy.” “I would help you… But I can’t even make a step forward.” Meanwhile the silt started to enter the chest waders. I dared to go horizontal, since I’ve been already messy within my Waders. But I was stuck tight. I was also aroused. “God damn Jürgen, for those cramps I’ll make you pay…” Lueder lamented. “I am first… I will throw him headfirst in here…”, I yelled. “Yeah, I’m the one with pain… You’re just messy… that’s fine, at least for you… you old Warthog.”, Lueder replied. I grumbled, mumbling something like “asshole” under breath. “I’ve heard that!”, came the reply from Lueder. “Would you please pull the line Lueder, I’m stuck and still I’m sinking. We’re making to much commotion down here.” I felt that Lueder indeed tightened the rope and I started to pull too… “Hey, would you please stop pulling me into that mess.” He exclaimed. “Bah, such an Elephant as you wouldn’t be moved by an light weighted ‘Warthog’…”, was my answer. “Are you referring to my tender constitution? Well, those 258 pounds are all well earned. A steady diet of beer and beef is required. Lest I will fall apart like a winter tree.” “You know Lueder, I don’t exactly know what I like so much about you. Maybe it is just that only the dogs wanted to play with you, because they thought you were a nice piece of ham…” “Pfff. If I let you stick in there you wouldn’t be missed by judgement day. You’re just a bag of bones. No wonder you aren’t sinking as fast as I would. You’re a Joseph of the Plank for the needy.” “Yeah, would your weighty excellence please be so kind and hold that line tight. I’m still stuck in here.” “Nice to hear. Well! That suits me fine.“ He said and sat down.” “Lueder?!? Lueder! What are you doing. You’re best friend ’s in trouble and you start to take a nap?” “Nope, just trying go get this cramp out of my leg… Damn it!” I sighted and tried to get my legs free. No avail, there was a support missing. Since I managed to turn around for that short instance of support I had leaned on my arms and could crawl in stable position. But my uniform was already a mess. “You know,” I started, “those tourists are sure dumb asses, paying so much money for mud baths and heated peat. They should just go in here… Pigs paradise.” Lueder laughed, “Yeah, ye’re right at that. But my leg is still in pain. I would pull as soon as I could use my leg again. So don’t worry.” “Never mind. I think I knew what I had to expect. Didn’t you?” “I’ve thought so!”, replied Lueder. “How tight are you stuck?” “Don’t know. It’s just that I’m stuck with both legs in here and if I’m struggling to much I risk to sink deeper. Now I’m stable.” “Hmmm.” Lueder rose and tried to get to me, but as he already rightfully noted. He was to heavy for the silt. He sank tight deep into the mud where I sank only knee deep. “Impossible” he said. “I wouldn’t even get to you.” “You don’t need to. Just keep the rope tight or get the rope ladder.” He tried but again a cramp striked. “Hell!” he yelled, now I can’t move and I am also sinking slowly. “You’re just a yard away from the slope, Lueder. Try to get there and fix the rope somewhere. I just need a stable point to pull myself out of this mess.” Lueder fought a couple of minutes with the mud and his pain and managed to tighten the rope at a landing stage. It was hard to get out. The mud gave me only under great resistance free, inch for inch I got out. As my legs were free, I crawled back to solid ground on all fours. I didn’t dare to risk that once again. Exhausted I sat on some stones at the slope. “Darn, I’m all wet and all messy.” “I know what you’re talking about.” Lueder said. I looked up to see, that he had also his share of mud on waders and uniform. We laughed both. “We both have an axe to split with Jürgen.” Lueder said. “You know I’m just now brooding over his punishment.”, I replied. “Wouldn’t it be better to ponder about this with a glass of cold beer?”, Lueder asked. “Sure! But.” I looked at Lueder and then at me. He smiled. “Never mind.”

On our way to the “Tangente” a pub in our hometown we had a couple of people who looked at us like Martian green men… In the pub there fell a deadly silence as we entered. The landlady, a good acquaintance of Lueder smiled and asked what we wanted to have. No word of “You’re messy.” or “Please go out.” We got our beer and even had good Smalltalk there. The patrons were old fisherman and sailors, we wouldn’t have to explain why we looked as we looked. They even related several good old sentimental stories of the old days, when fishing was still a means to life. We drank several glasses, and filled up enough we returned to quarters. Changing clothes and showering. Jürgens punishment was as good as it could be. We both laughed tears afterwards… and Jürgen had tears in his eyes because of the 8 dozen Onions he had to peel and cut… I’ve committed him for kitchen the day we made the exercise. It went very good and no one got messed up over terms.

---END---Notes: Once again a non - fictional story. As unlikely as it sounds. Every account in this story - up to minute details is as it happened. Lueder is still a good friend of mine, he isn’t gay, at least not as far as I know. Jürgen still is radio operator. We have a good story to tell, and if we meet, the saying goes… “Do you still remember the day you turned pig?” We both do! I’m no longer active member of the THW - though I’m reserve with semi-active status. Lueder and I both quit active-service as the changes in organisation became to drastic. During that time I went as firefighter.

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