Jet is a delinquent from a wealthy Manhattan family. His favorite teacher at his exclusive school dies and is replaced by a mysterious German man. He tries to find out more about Heinrich while gri...
Jet leaned back on the plush couch, Helen slightly shifted away from him. He scanned the crowded dance floor for Joe and Frances again. No luck, they had disappeared fifteen minutes ago after Helen had given Joe a swift kiss on the cheek for bringing her a soft drink.
He looked around the rest of the warehouse-turned-nightclub in boredom. It was packed with people all lost in jubilant activity. Jet used to love clubbing with his friends, but now it seemed like a waste of time. He turned to Helen again and loudly asked, “Do you want to dance?”
She crinkled her pert nose and shook her head. He rolled his eyes and went back to watching the crowd. This was the fifth time he had tried to make friends with Helen. She wasn’t rude, but she certainly wasn’t interested in him.
Finally he spotted Joe and Frances making out by a pillar. Jet grabbed Helen’s hand and yanked her through the crowd towards the couple. Jet smacked Joe’s elbow. His friend turned and glared at him.
“Time to go!” Jet shouted over the blaring techno music. Joe smirked, glanced at Frances, and nodded. The four of them left the club and piled in Joe’s car, Jet and Helen in the backseat. “Back to my place?”
“You wouldn’t mind, would you?” Joe asked.
“Of course not,” Jet answered knowing what Joe was implying. The Shimamuras were at home as were the Arnouls. Joe wanted some ‘alone time’ with Frances. Jet didn’t mind loaning out his parents’ guestroom for Joe’s occasional ‘slumber parties’ with Frances.
“Hey, Helen, you want to hang out at Jet’s place?” Joe asked. Jet didn’t miss Frances’ glare reflected in the rearview mirror. Jet suppressed his chuckled and looked over at Helen’s troubled face. She looked over at Jet and forced a smile.
“Sure. Why not?” Helen slid over beside Jet and grabbed his arm. She picked up his arm and put it around her shoulder. Frances now looked a little more mollified, but Jet didn’t like being dragged into a cat fight over Joe.
They got to Jet’s place. He put on music and flopped down on the sofa with Helen. Joe and Frances stayed long enough to be polite and then snuck off towards the guestroom. After several long, silent minutes Jet sprang up and went to the wet bar.
“You drink?” he asked Helen.
“Good time to start.” Jet said, fixing two bourbons. He handed her one and sprawled on the carpet at her feet. She looked as if she were about to cry. “Come on. Bottoms up.”
Jet hoped to quickly get her tipsy so she would forget her troubles and loosen up a little. He watched her sip at her drink.
“Everyone says you’re a big drinker.” Helen set aside her drink on an end table.
“I’m just trying to start a conversation,” she huffed.
“Sorry. Usually I talk more.”
“This has been horrible. I really want to go home.”
“Can’t get Joe jealous so you’re going to bug out and try again tomorrow?”
Helen was now glowering at Jet as she stood. “I see why most students at the school can’t stand you.”
Jet rolled over on his back and snickered. “I’m an acquired taste.”
“I thought you were a trouble maker, but I see you’re just plain boring.”
“I’m boring? You’re the one pining over Joe while he’s in there doing the nasty with his girlfriend. You didn’t even really try flirting with me on the car ride home. If you had any spunk in you, you’d be down here on the floor making out with me.”
“Why would I do that?” Her voice was shrill and angry.
“Nothing better to do,” Jet pointed out and set aside his drink. Helen’s scowl melted away to an intense look of concentration. She knelt down beside him and was about to lean over and kiss him. She leaped to her feet and shook her head.
“I just can’t!”
“Fine. I’ll drive you home. Joe’s keys are on the bar.” Jet got up and lead Helen outside. He drove her home. No conversation passed between them except for her directions. Jet pulled the car up to an extremely high building.
“Hey, Helen. You seem like a nice girl so I’ll tell you how it is. Joe and Frances have been together for a long time so you need to find someone else. They really belong together.”
“Like you and a certain teacher?”
Jet’s eyes narrowed. “What?” he asked in a low voice.
She smirked and unhooked her seatbelt. “Some of the girls told me how you’re the one pining over that dead teacher, Miss Cathy. They say you were really screwing her. That’s why you won’t ask girls out, isn’t it?”
“Get out of this car, you dirty bitch!”
Helen jumped out of the car and slammed the door. Jet stomped the gas and peeled away from the curb. He knew a few of the catty girls with crushes on him had talked like that behind his back when Cathy was alive. Helen was the first one with enough temerity to say it to his face.
It wasn’t long before he pulled up to the building and parked. He leaned his forehead against the steering wheel and took several deep breaths. A small part of what Helen had said was true. Jet had a crush on Cathy back when he was fifteen, but that quickly faded because of his greater need for mentor. He also started noticing boys just as much as girls around the same time.
Jet knew by his seventeenth birthday it was always the forbidden or dangerous that attracted him rather than the safe or normal. He always wanted what he wasn’t supposed to have and it kept him in a perpetual state of frustration.
As he walked towards the security door a chill ran through him. Jet paused and looked around. His rage at Helen was dispelled by the sensation of being watched. He shrugged it off and made his way up to his parents’ penthouse.
He turned off the lights and left Joe’s keys where he had found them. He knew Joe and Frances would leave before he would wake up. He stumbled to his bedroom and shut his door. He rapidly stripped down to his tee-shirt and boxers and turned off the light.
He settled under a thick blanket, but found his mind was too agitated to drift off. There was part of him that had hoped to get some physical gratification. Watching scantily clad people grinding together was what prompted Jet to invite Helen to make out. Even after that fight he was still left lustful.
There was a rustling sound coming from the foot of his bed; he jolted up right. A creeping cold traveled up his legs while his mattress slightly sunk.
“Joe? Frances?” He whispered, feeling aggravation run through him. “Cut it out. You two aren’t funny.”
Something moved towards him. Drowsiness rolled over him like wave. His skin turned frosty as he laid on his back.
‘Benimm dich,’ hummed lightly in his ears. ‘Beruhigt dich... Beruhigt dich... Beruhigt dich...’
“What? Behave? Calm down? What’s happening to me?” Jet murmured as something climbed beside him.
Movement was elusive and clumsy; his mind grew numb as his unsatisfied desires rose. An odor of cigarettes and earth filled his awareness. He felt a masculine arm slide around his waist, striking a thrill.
Logical train of thought left him when he felt someone nuzzle his neck. For half a second there was a sense of panic, not knowing who this was. The shadowy form shifted and pinned him against the mattress. Jet moved his hands to the shoulders, this person was definitely a man.
A sharp pain in his throat forced a gasped from Jet. A rush of euphoria came over him. Jet wrapped his arms around the man’s shoulders; he ground his hips upwards.
“Please... more...” he gasped out as a blissful tingle invaded the right side of throat.
“Crap!” Jet swore, jolting upright. The late morning light flooded his room. He grabbed his bedside clock and slammed it back down. He threw off his covers and realized, chagrined, that he had found sexual release somehow last night.
Jet paused and tried to clearly remember everything. He remembered dropping Helen off and coming back home. After he climbed into bed, he couldn’t recall anything except falling asleep. He got out of bed and went to get cleaned up.
He started at the large yellowish bruise on his neck when he looked in the mirror. He touched it softly. There was no pain, but it was cool and not hot like a normal bruise. He looked at his right wrist that had healed after a day. He started wondering if he was sick somehow because he looked pale and unrested.
It wasn’t until he went to the kitchen that his wild dream from last night came back in bits and pieces. He shook off his foggy recollection and looked through the cabinets, but amazingly enough, he had no appetite. He stumbled back to his bedroom and decided to concentrate on Pyunma Dwambee’s make up essay on the Sonderkommandos. For that, he needed to go to the library.
Jet wandered through the stacks, only giving attention to the numbers on the spines of the books. He searched and cursed the dewy decimal system.
“There it is!” He reached for a copy of Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli. He started flipping though it and reading snippets.
“Not a pleasant book to read.”
Jet swirled around and was surprised to look into Mr. Heinrich’s bright, blue eyes. He shut the book and waved a hand at it.
“For Mr. Dwambee’s class. I was slacking off so he was nice enough to let me write an essay to make up some points on my last test. It’s on the Sonderkommandos. I guess you know about them since you know this book?”
Jet watched Mr. Heinrich’s expression go grave. He turned his head and leaned against the bookshelf, crossing his arms. “I’m familiar with the topic.”
“So what are you doing at the library on a Saturday?” Jet asked, breaking the awkward feeling.
“Research. Ironically, on a similar topic as you.”
“But you’re a language teacher.”
“I have a personal interest in Auschwitz.”
“Oh... I see. A history buff. I guess you get along great with Mr. Dwambee.”
“That’s right.” He nodded and turned towards the bookshelves. “That’s quite a bruise on your neck.”
“You know. I asked that new girl, Helen, out last night. Things got pretty hot. She’s a real animal,” Jet said, smirking at the double meaning in his words. He stopped cold when Heinrich turned around with a smug expression.
Jet didn’t like that know-it-all tone in Mr. Heinrich’s voice or the slight chuckle. He felt his face get hot so he turned back to the bookshelves himself.
“You had better try to eat something. You look rather pale and tired.” The German man turned and walked towards the exit. Jet watched him leave with gritted teeth. That man was starting to get under his skin.
Jet settled on the couch in his parents’ entertainment parlor with one of the books from the library. It was a random research book with specific first hand accounts from Holocaust survivors.
He scanned until he ran across the name ‘Heinrich Stoller.’ He backed up to the top of the page and started to read with a furrowed brow.
The only confirmed record of a non-Jewish Sonderkommando was of an SS soldier by the name of Captain Heinrich Stoller. It was found that the man had falsified records to protect his Jewish wife, Hilda. The couple was betrayed by Stoller’s commander, General Issimo, and his agent only known as Scar.
At Auschwitz he was assigned Sonderkommando duty by Captain Van Bogart. Van Bogart was a mentor and close colleague of Stoller’s. He sought to punish Stoller for his attempt to protect his wife. Since Hilda Stoller was pregnant, she was instantly sent to the gas chambers by Van Bogart. According to records, Heinrich Stoller was sent to the gas chamber six months later after serving as a Sonderkommando. [photo not given]
Jet set aside the book and sighed. It was a horrible story that brought his emotions crashing. He stood up and walked back to his bedroom. He figured he had better just get the essay done rather than read any more of these accounts.
“Thank you, Mr. Link. I’ll grade it tonight and adjust your grade accordingly,” Mr. Dwambee said, tucking away Jet’s essay in his briefcase.
“I appreciate it. You know I ran into Mr. Heinrich at the library while doing research. He said he’s interested in history.”
“Who? Albert Heinrich? I had no idea.”
“You know we have first names.”
“So you haven’t talked history with him?”
“No, not at all. He’s a very polite man, but very quiet. He values his privacy a great deal.”
“I mean... you guys don’t talk at lunch?”
“Hun? Now that you said that... you know... he’s never eaten lunch with us. He usually smokes cigarettes and reads in the basement lounge.”
“Well... I better get to his class.” Jet turned and caught up with Frances and Joe at the door of the foreign language classroom.
“Jet! Did you hear what Helen said about you at lunch?” Frances said. Her eyes were wide with worry.
“I could care less what she has to say.”
“She’s started a rumor that you and Miss Cathy.”
“I know! She’s full of shit!”
“I was just letting you know!” Frances snapped.
“Yeah, Jet. What did you do to upset Helen any way?” Joe interrupted. Both Jet and Frances glared at Joe as the door to the classroom opened.
“When you three are finished screaming at one another, I would like you to join us,” Mr. Heinrich said, giving the three of them a wry expression. Jet followed his instructor into the classroom with Joe and Frances.
Instead of giving his attention to what Mr. Heinrich said, he watched him. The hand gestures were very quick and elegant. He hadn’t noticed before, but Heinrich gripped the chalk between his middled and index finger. He started to wonder if he had a deformed right hand.
“Jet! Come on.”
Jet looked around and realized everyone had left the classroom except Joe and Frances. He snatched his books up and started to followed them, yet keeping his eyes fixed on Heinrich who stood wiping the blackboard clean.
“Just a minute,” he called to Joe and Frances. He went over to the German man and whispered in soft German, “Mr. Heinrich? What was your wife’s name?”
He looked at Jet and gave him a lop-sided smile. “Hilda.”
Jet dropped the books off at the circulation desk and jogged towards the staircase in the middle of the library. He quickly made his way through the stacks to the section on German history. He grabbed three random books about SS soldiers and ran back down to the circulation desk.
There was sense of forboding as he made his way back home. He didn’t dare crack the books until he had gulped a bourbon and made a second drink to sip while he looked through the books.
The first book listed no ‘Stoller,’ ‘Van Bogart,’ or ‘Issimo.’ He tossed it aside and flipped to the index of the second book. It listed ‘Stoller, Cpt. Heinrich, pages 145-156.’ His hands began to shake as he turned to page 145.
Born October 10, 1913 in Berlin, Germany, Heinrich Albert Stoller was a brilliant cryptologist that worked for the SS. His father was killed in 1918, therefore, he was raised by his mother who was a seamstress. His paternal grandparents funded his college education which started in 1931. His studies consisted of Linguistics, Philosophy, and Logic.
During his studies he met and courted Hilda Sulzbach. Sulzbach, two years younger than Stoller, came from Austria and was studying music. She was an aspiring concert violinist. Some say her fame and popularity is what eventually doomed the couple. The couple was married May 13, 1937. Sulzbach was of Jewish decent. However, it wasn’t commonly known until after her arrest in April of 1944.
It was in July of 1937 when Stoller joined the SS and trained for the next six months. During that time his wife’s popularity started to rise. The couple was young, attractive, talented, and well-educated. Soon, Stoller’s outstanding qualities caught the attention of Captain Van Bogart. He took Stoller as his personal assistant.
Jet swigged the rest of his bourbon and turn to page 155. He took a deep breath and started reading again.
In the Summer of 1943 the couple moved back to Berlin. It is rumored that General Issimo, Stoller’s new superior, made advanced towards Stoller’s wife at this point. She spurned Issimo with the utmost aplomb and told her husband. Stoller, who had just been promoted to Captain, had a volatile confrontation with his commander. In retaliation, the man publicly revealed Hilda Sulzbach Stoller’s Jewish heritage.
The couple was arrested and transported to Auschwitz. They arrived at the camp on April 21, 1944 where Van Bogart had been stationed three years earlier. Van Bogart treated Stoller’s secret about his wife’s heritage as a betrayal to the Nazi party and sought to make an example of the man. Hilda Stoller was sent immediately to the gas chamber. She was six months pregnant at the time.
Van Bogart then assigned Stoller to the most odious duties at the concentration camp, Sonderkommando. This was unusual on two accounts. Stoller was a the only non-Jewish man to serve as a Sonderkommando and he was the only man to serve as a Sonderkommando that was there as a political prisoner rather than for racial reasons. He was forced to serve for the longest recorded time, eight months. He was sent to the gas chamber on December 21, 1944, which was a month before the liberation.
Jet's hand shook as he turned the page to 156. A large black and white photo with three smaller photos were reprinted. Jet’s mouth went dry when he saw his German instructor, Albert Heinrich, dressed in an SS uniform. He stood behind a smiling woman with bobbed hair and intelligent eyes. The photo was labeled Captain Heinrich Albert Stoller with wife Hilda Sulzbach Stoller, taken New Year’s Eve 1943.
Jet closed the book and tried to make sense of what he had just seen. There was nothing reasonable he could come up with except that the man who was his new instructor shouldn’t be alive.
To be continued.