By John McLennon

Monika entered Carnal Love, one of Berlin’s basement nightclubs. The men all wore uniforms of the lowest rank, common soldaten on leave, fresh out of training before the Reich shoved them into Russia’s frigid meat grinder. Scanning the crowd, she settled on one whose face still expressed the confidence of youth, his courage yet unchewed by the horrors of war.

As she stood just inside the door, he had already locked his eyes on her. He sat on a stool at the bar, his face flushed from the bottle of vodka in his hand.

She walked through the crowd with hips swaying, directly to him while the band played oom-pah. The Nazis had outlawed Jazz.

He took a quick swig from the bottle and slid off the stool.

She placed her hand on his chest, bit her lower lip and tilted her head to the side. Looking up at him, she said, “Was geht.”

“Hey, you’re really adorable,” he said. His eyes flashed between her smile and cleavage.
Monika climbed onto his barstool and crossed her legs. She ordered a schnapps then turned to the boy and said, “Are you a virgin?”
“No!  No, I’m not.”

Monika uncrossed her legs and whispered into his ear, “I’m a virgin too.”

Monika smiled. He was in enemy territory and didn’t know the terrain.
“We could do this together,” she said.
“Do you want to dance?” he said.
“No, get away from me.”

He stepped back; his mouth opened.

“I mean, come here,” she grabbed his tunic and pulled him closer. “Wait, that’s too close. I need room to breathe.”

She pushed a lock of hair out of her eyes and smiled so innocently it would have melted the most seasoned man of the world. The bartender delivered her Schnapps. Monika dipped her finger into the syrupy liquid then sucked it off while looking the boy in the eyes. She scratched her head and said, “What are you saving it for?”

He looked around the club as though searching for reinforcements then back at Monika, “Do you want to go to a hotel?”

Monika adopted an oppressed expression and exhaled in frustration, “Oh, I don’t know. I can’t do this. I’m not feeling so well tonight.”

The boy put his hand on her arm, “No, everything will be fine, really.”
“Don’t touch me,” she said, pushing his hand away. You think I’m a dog you can pet?”
The boy stepped back.
“Oh, don’t go away. Was it something I said?  God, you’re so moody.”  Monika climbed off her stool and moved closer to him. “Kiss me,” she said.
“Kiss me.” 

He did.

Monika put her arms around him and pressed her body into him.

“That was nice,” she said, and gently pushed him back. “I haven’t been getting enough sleep.”  She clasped her hands as though in prayer and placed them beside her cheek, to signify sleep. “It’s the bombing.” 
“Yeah, I know what it’s like,” he said.

Monika affected a look of aggravation, “Are you talking to my breasts?”

The boy blushed, “I’m sorry. Really I’m sorry.”  He looked into her eyes and blinked several times.

She bit her lower lip and raised her eyes to the ceiling as though in deep thought. She turned to show the boy her backside.

“Do you like my ass?” she said, wiggling her bottom.
The boy took a slug from his bottle, “Yeah,” he said.

“I know I’m a bad girl, just an old alley cat.”  She squinched her nose and scratched it with her finger.
“No, you’re not,” he said. “You’re an angel, the nicest girl I’ve ever met. You’re the most beautiful girl in the world.”
“I like to look pretty all the time but,” she pouted, “I don’t feel pretty tonight. My hair’s a mess. Why don’t you come closer?  Why are you so standoffish?”

He moved closer. “I think your hair is beautiful,” he said.

Monika smiled at his comment then stretched her arms over her head and yawned, causing her breasts to rise inches from the boy’s nose. His eyes widened.

In a voice tinkling as softly as crystal, she said, “Do you like my blouse?  It’s silk and wonderfully soft. Here feel it?”

Monika took the boy’s hand and kissed his palm. It smelled of carbolic soap. She pressed his hand against her breast. He closed his fingers.

“Ok, that’s enough,” she said. Monika pushed his hand away.

She whispered in his ear, “I have a new bra. It’s so pretty; it’s a crime to keep it hidden. Would you like to see it?”

His eyes widened while he fingered the idea, and took another swig from the bottle, “Ah, yeah.”
Monika looked around to see if anyone was watching. She unbuttoned the top two buttons of her blouse. She pressed her lips together in a coy smile and studied his face to see his reaction. His hand moved up to touch her. She slapped it away.

“Don’t touch me. What are you staring at?” she said teasingly. “Are you happy now?”  She winked at him and buttoned her blouse.
“You’re beautiful,” he said.
“Aw, thank you,” she smiled.
“You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. I’m in love with you. I could promise you the world.”
“You could promise, but could you deliver?”
He smiled and asked to see her bra again. Monika covered her mouth with her hand and laughed. She pointed her finger at him, “You’re a bad boy.” 

She put her forefinger on her mouth as if in meditation, and said, “Hmm, perhaps you could move in with me, I have an apartment.”
The boy’s face brightened, “Wow! that would be great!”  Then he turned glum, “but I’m shipping out tomorrow.”
“Oh well, it was only an idea.”  Monika fussed with her hair. “You probably have smelly feet anyway.”
“No, my feet don’t smell!”
“I was only joking,” she said, putting her hand on his chest.
“Maybe when I come back from the war.”
“I don’t think so. By that time, I’ll have another man.”

The boy grimaced. “Listen, I’ll remember you forever. I’ll write you a letter every day. If you wait for me, I’ll love you more than heaven and earth.”
“I don’t think so. I can’t wait that long. It’s nothing personal. You understand, don’t you?”
The boy looked like he was about to cry. “But I love you.”
“Is that true, that you love me?” she said, pressing herself into his arms. She looked up into his face. “You wouldn’t lie to me?”
“No, it’s true. I love you. I love you.”  He kissed her on the lips. “Can I see your breasts again?”
“You keep asking that, and I can’t do it.”

She took his hand and tried to pull him away from the bar. He resisted long enough to grab his bottle. She dragged the hulking boy forward, like a miner pulling a mule up a hill.

At the ladies’ water closet, Monika threw the door open and attempted to pull him in, but the boy’s hand slipped out of hers like an escaping fish.

He stopped at the threshold as though peering off the edge of the Earth. Monika went back for him, laughing at his modesty. She grabbed his tunic and yanked him into the bathroom, slamming the door behind them.

Monika threw her arms around the boy and kissed him on the lips. He pushed her back and took a swig from his bottle. She took the bottle away from him and placed it on the floor. She pulled him towards her for another kiss, this time jamming her tongue down his throat while walking him backward until he struck the wall.

Unable to breathe, he put his hand on her soft front and pushed her back. Again, she walked him against the wall and pressed her thighs into him.

She was all mouth, like a nest of baby birds. Holding her lip-lock, she reached down with one hand to unbutton his fly.

He swatted her hand away. Struggling for breath, he broke free of the kiss. She grabbed him around the waist with one arm and again attempted to unbutton his trousers. The boy pushed her back, shouting, “Settle down, settle down!”

“What’s wrong?” she said before attempting to resume the kiss. She laughed, nervously then clamped her teeth on his lower lip.

He put his hand on her forehead and pushed, breaking her hold.
“Don’t you want to play? she said.
He shouted, “Settle down!”

Monika shoved him violently with both hands. He hit the wall and banged his head. He put his hand to his injury and tried to say something. She slapped him across the face, cutting his cheek with her ring. He looked at the blood in his hand. She smacked him again. The crack of the slap echoed off the porcelain walls. He cried out and put his hand to his violated cheek.

Monika grabbed his ears and pulled him into another kiss. The boy resisted. She kicked him in the shin, then grabbed him by the shoulders and kneed him in the groin. He made a grunting noise and fell to the floor.

She stepped around him, searching for vulnerabilities. He lay on the floor coughing and blubbering with his knees pulled up into the fetal position. She kicked him with the pointed toe of her shoe. He shrieked. When he reached down to cover his backside, she kicked him in the face, striking his eye. He screamed and then cried like a child.

Monika looked down at him with contempt. She lifted his vodka off the floor, took a swig, then smashed the bottle against the wall. She stomped out of the lady’s room, slamming the door behind her.

She returned. Taking a lipstick from her purse, she scribbled in large letters on the mirror, “Fuck You.”  She stepped back to admire her work, then signed “Monika.”

“Yeah, that’s it,” she said.

About the Author:

John McLennon spent most of his life in the U.S. Army.  After retiring, he earned a BA in Literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio and taught English to high school students.  His work has been published in The Brisilia Review, Calliope, Ariel Chart, and other literary journals.