The food queue.

The problem was they were always hungry. Hyper-Inflation was ridiculous and the republic responded by printing more money. Political unrest was everywhere; this was the days when Hitler had grown in popularity. You had to grin and bear it. Except on this day, the day of her audition for another an up-market cabaret.

Calliope was a young girl who danced in the cabaret. She wore a bright shiny costume of red and yellow patches and white stockings. She had red hair. She lived in Berlin a long time ago. Her local area on the outskirts of the city was a run-down medieval looking slum area. She lived in a cheap apartment block and her best friend Candice, an unemployed singer whose dream it was to go to live in Hollywood, lived below her, on the 2nd floor.

She had nothing to eat. She was thin and weak and dancing took up all her energy. Her wages were very poor but she was young and ambitious. She went down the winding staircase and knocked on Candice’s big wooden door. Candice came out after a while and after exchanging kindness’s they began to talk about going to the bakery. The queues were always lengthy and the loaves of bread expensive, nearly 200 trillion marks, people were carrying their money around in wheel barrows. But it was worth a try.

They walked down the cold cobbled streets to Karl’s bakery with the blackletter, hand-painted lettering above the window and the red swastika banner hanging by the door.


“They are saying that the new chancellor is going to change things Cally”. Calliope was not listening. “Let’s hope the queue isn’t too bad today, Candy”. “Have you got any money” –“Ha, I burnt the last of it, last night to keep warm”. “My neighbour was taken away last night, bag of bones she was”. Cally, give us a twirl” Cally smiled and twirled gracefully around slightly losing balance. “Mind yourself, girl” Candice looked sad, she knew how desperate Calliope was.

At the bakery they found a long-ragged queue as expected. Many old people, many mothers with babies, their hungry children too tired to cry. One woman fainted. She crashed onto the cobblestones from hunger and was left there lying on the street. Two mothers driven crazy by crying, hungry children began to fight, tearing each other’s hair out. Also, in the queue was a party spy, Klara, queueing for food but also on the lookout for undesirables. She noticed the two women at the end of the queue caliopes shiny costume under her old overcoat, she felt jealous. A young boy jumped in front of her. She gave him a kick. “No, you don’t, get off you brat”. One old man, a Jew, was leaning forward onto the shoulders of the one in front. “Poor old guy, what chance has he got” whispered one middle aged woman. “He’s not long on this earth,” said another.

Karl came out. He had thick curly hair and a blond moustache which usually made the girls giggle. But not today. His long-drawn face said it all.

“That’s it I’m afraid. There’s no more bread. Go home now, try tomorrow”, there were moans from the crowd, a woman who had lost her baby to malnutrition cursed out loud.  

The crowd haggard and downtrodden began to disperse, but one woman in a black velvet cap stayed behind. Candice noticed this and watched her.

“What’s she doing” “Who?” “Her, – the little madame”

Karl took her inside and through the window Candice could see Karl give her a loaf of bread from under the shelf. “Right, we’re square now, Klara”, “We’re Square now”. Then she hurried out with the loaf hidden under her coat. Candice’s face went red. “That’s her, that tell-tale, that Arschloch, special attention for her, humph, – because of her snooping for ‘em, verdamt party’”. They both decided to confront the baker. “Away with you” he said. There’s nothing left”. They were angry. Watching a little way of from the street corner was Klara, she saw that she had been rumbled and had to do something about it.

She went down the street to the police office, a little bare room in the side of a house. There inside was Adolph, sitting in his black uniform, grim and unsmiling. She told him about the two gypsies causing an affray at the bakery. “They’re tramps I tell you, they have no respect”.  Adolph knew his duty. He put on his police tunic and buckled on his gun belt, put on his shiny helmet and locked the door, and then strode stiffly down to the bakery, his hard heel echoing on the cobblestones.

There was Candice now sitting on the curb distressed and Calliope standing hand on hips. Calliope picked up a stone and threw it at Karl. It missed him and broke the bakery window. Karl grabbed her by the arm and cursed her. Adolph running towards them called out, “Halt. Stop there, I warn you”. Calliope seeing him coming towards them shook herself free and ran as fast as she could down the street. Adolph took out his police pistol and shot her dead. Candice in shocked silence crept away and escaped.

7 thoughts on “The food queue.

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