(Written in 1978)
A large Russian man came to me. He gave me a hug. Told me. “We will drink together. We drink my country drink, we will drink to your country.” He ordered a double shot of vodka for the both of us. He raised the glass high and yelled loudly. “To peace, to beautiful woman, to Russian, to the USA.” We touched glasses and we drank the vodka.
I looked into the eyes of the man. He spoke with energy and of life. He was supposed to be my enemy. I ordered another double shot of vodka. I toast “To long life, to love, to the end of war.” We touched glasses and drank the vodka.
He put his arm around me. Spoke quietly. “Someday we will learn, learn we are all the same. We want a little love, some land and family. That is what most men desire.”
My German friend joined us. He asked if I was alright? The Russian smiled and told the barkeep three double shots of vodka please in perfect German. We sat together at the back of the Guesthaus singing songs of our native countries. Just three men trying to find a moment of laughter and peace.
The Russian man had a wallet filled with pictures. He had a story for every picture. We listened and drank German beers. My German friend ordered some whiskey. We toasted and begin to sing. “If I was the king of the forest. I would allow the land to be free of hate. Woman to be many and easy. War to be a forgotten myth.”
We are drunk now. The Russian man took my hand and told me. “I’m a Soldier. I may have to kill you one day in battle. Kill you for my great country.” I raised a fresh drink. I smiled and told him. “To life. to death, to hell with those foolish government. We need to be just men.”
My German friend told us. “We are led by rich men who profit in death. We must knock down the wall of hate. Be better then our father hate. Need to stop wars so the children can live with no fear and hate always near. We are all flesh and bones. Can be killed by a gun of knife with ease. I hope we fight for good reason and purpose?”
I ordered more vodka. We drank the double shot down quickly. I told my two Soldier friends. “I believe only sin that can’t be forgotten is teaching the children our fears and hate. Destroying innocent minds and hearts to be raised in a world filled with chaos and war.”
We sang a Martin Luther song. We are joined by more young Germans. “We will overcome, we will overcome someday. Deep in my heart. I do believe. We will overcome someday.” We were three drunk men. Three different lives, not so different. We wanted a moment of peace. The Russian man bought the last round. We are joined by three pretty German girls.
He toasted” To peace, to luck and to the end of war and violence.” Then in a quiet voice he told us. ” We need all people to demand the wars to end. Before it is too late. Before we kill all that is beautiful and good.”
We left the Guesthaus. Three men with three young woman sitting on the park bench by the nearby small Germany lake. We shared some bottles of good German wine. We sat in silence till the morning sun begin to appear.
The Russian reached over taking the German friend and my hand. “Life is to be lived. We must dance and sing and wait for the Devil to finish us off.” He took one of the pretty German girls and started to dance with her by the lake. Me and the German friend do the same. Three couples dancing, drinking and not afraid to be alive.
Best days in a life are simple and easy. Back in the Spring of 1978. Youth was my wealth and all dreams were in reach. I remember this good day. Three men tried to understand life and didn’t allow the hate or fear to block that we were “Just men.”