Roland (draft)

ROLAND

The Nazi occupation of Norway lasted five years almost to the day, from April 1940 to May 1945. In the spring of 1940, Germany had overwhelmed Norwegian military forces, which there were few of, and taken over the entire region, including Scandanavia. It is said that they beat the British by only a week or two, as Great Britain had plans to invade as well.

Roland Uhlrichson was born in Murmansk, Norway in May 1946, one year from the departure of German forces from the country.  A post-war Norway was shaking off the German dust, rebuilding their country and optimistic about the future. After half a decade of life oppressed, they could finally enjoy full normalcy once again.

Roland's father was killed around the time he was born and his mother was left to raise him alone.

His mother didn't care much for him. Roland would recall the strange way she would sometimes peer at him; eyes slightly closed, mouth pursed, neck tight, almost a suspicion in her pale blue unblinking eyes. She didn't blink much.

Roland left home as soon as he could at 14. As a teen, Roland got a job in a steel factory, moving pallets of steel rods from one end of the factory to other. He was rather shy, but soon made friends with a slightly older co-worker named Falco. Falco took an instant shine to young Roland and upon hearing of his lodgings at the local bunkhouse, arranged for Roland to get a room of his own in an apartment building near the factory.

Roland and Falco spent much of their time together, working, cooking meals and drinking at the local restaurant.  Soon enough Roland had a solid father figure in his life, even though Falco was only 2 years older than him.

As Falco was half-Austrian, the other workers associated him with still fresh Germanic memories. At the factory, a majority didn't like him and would frequently try to provoke him into leaving. But Falco would always have a courteous word at hand to diffuse the situation. He had, as they say, a silver tongue. Also his uncle, a fierce and proud Norwegian, was foreman of the smelter and would pummel any man who dared to even step on Falco's toe.

On Falco's 19th birthday, his uncle got him an old Thompson gun. When Falco first held the gun, he swore he could feel it vibrate and hum in his hands. Falco and Roland spent hours breaking down the components and inspecting every piece in awe.

After considerable inspection, they took the gun to the nearby woods after work and set up a wooden pallet against a tree.

Falco loaded the cartridge, turning the gun in his hands and cradling the shiny wooden stock. He looked at Roland, smiled and raised the gun confidently.

The initial blast almost lifted Falco off his feet and the barrel curved upwards, missing the pallet completely and hitting the higher part of the tree, flicking leaves and small branches downward to the ground.

Falco's eyes bulging, face red, looked again at Roland.

“Did you feel it?”, he said.

“What? Oh, yes. I felt you looked like a fool firing that gun, Falco.”

“No, the surge of power! But is that so? A fool, eh?”

“Yes. You yourself would be laughing had you seen it.”

“Well then, strong Roland, you try the mighty Thompson and then we shall see who the fool really is.”

He gingerly handed the gun to Roland. He moved over to where Falco had been standing, put once foot in front of the other, bent his knees and spread his legs slightly.

He hefted the gun up, balancing the weight and squinting down the barrel.

He exhaled slowly and squeezed the trigger. The kick almost tore his arm out of socket but he held firm and kept his stance. The pallet exploded as Roland started to fall backwards, again the screaming gun rapidly pointing skyward, ripping bullets through the top of the tree.

Roland collapsed backwards onto the ground, stunned.

Falco ran to him, laughing and fell beside him.

As they looked at the sky:

“Did you feel it now?” Falco said.

“Yes, I felt it. The power.”

to be continued...

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