The Great Divide

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
flipped the page of his newly found book. Most of the pages had been scorched from the fire, and the print was all but impossible to read. He continued to flip the pages one by one a disappointed look painted across his face. “Give it up Russell there’s nothing left, you’re lucky just to be alive.” Adrian meekly approached Russell and put his hand on his shoulder. “There has to be a way. Why would god just leave us here to die?’ Adrian just shook his head and walked across the room scanning the floorboards for traces of food. The year was 1943, and hope in Poland was seemingly lost forever. Russell and Adrian Kowalski were just two of the thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing underground from the Nazi tyranny. They, like all other escapees, would set towards Denmark, and cross the bay to Sweden where their journey to America could begin. This trek across the Baltic Sea was called The Great Divide.

Adrian was awoken by Russell’s gentle nudge. “We gotta get goin” He enthused as Adrian yawned and stretched to his feet. Wiping the crust from his eyes, Adrian noticed the small charred book cradled in Russell’s arms. “Why are you still carrying that thing Russell?” Russell looked down and blushed. “When we get to America, I am going to be a famous author, and I am going to tell everyone in that country that the man who wrote this book was my inspiration.” Adrian squinted his eyes and stared hard at the remains of the old book. “A Scrap of Time” by Stanislaw Wygodzki. He gave a quick “humph” and walked out the front door. It was about mid-day, with a clear sky and a gentle breeze coming from the distance. If one ignored the dilapidated houses and the carnage of the city behind, you could actually say the polish countryside was quite beautiful. Adrian was so busy admiring “the art of the SS” he almost forgot about the map he had found inside the cabin. He quickly withdrew the piece of crumpled parchment and summoned Russell over with a quick snap. “Russell, look at this.” Russell Peered into the sheet with wandering eyes. “Were so close, were only about 10 miles from the border. We can actually make it. We can do it Russell.” Russell nearly leaped in excitement, clearly offending Adrian. “Sorry Addi you know how I am.” Adrian nodded, and nudged Russell in a forward direction, as seamless thoughts drifted through his mind. Poland wasn’t the problem; it was Denmark that sent his mind crying for help. How the hell was he going to sneak in and out of Denmark unnoticed? He dragged his feet slowly as he walked.

“Dammit.” Adrian muttered under his breath. He had known crossing the border would have been difficult, But this many soldiers? There had to be another way in. Adrian pulled Russell down beside him and gathered his thoughts. “Think Adrian think.” He had clearly worked himself into a panic. They were done for, he had nowhere to turn, he couldn’t run, he couldn’t hide for much longer. They were both goners. “What about the supply cars? Russell perked his finger out and pointed at two large ATV’s being loaded with equipment. “How do we get in Russell?” He was clearly frustrated. His mind began to wonder relentlessly once again. Just before he knew he would scream, Russell suddenly got up and started making his way for the armored vans. Adrian dove for his leg but fell flat on his face. He scurried to his feet and ran after his young friend. It was then he had realized the loading area was deserted. He quickly caught up to Russell. “You could have warned me.” Russell smiled and folded his hands together to step Adrian onto the van. Adrian took the hint, and returned the favor, pulling Russell up with him. They both made there way to the back of the van. They were surrounded by Nazi uniforms and emblems. A shipment of clothing? Adrian thought dramatically to himself, and glanced at Russell, he knew what to do. They both quickly disrobed, placing their garments in shards inside the boxes around them, and then themselves tucked away in one of the huge crates. Tightly packed like sardines, Russell and Adrian fell into an unforgiving sleep, full of bumps and nightmares about the very uniforms they were wearing.

Adrian opened his eyes in a hurry. They had stopped, but they were still in the box. Adrian looked around sleepily. His eyes opened wide, Russell was not there. He was nowhere inside the box, which at that point he had noticed was pried open. “God you sleep forever.” The voice frightened Adrian and he jumped hitting his head on the box roof. “Agh, dammit.” Russell laughed. “Did I scare you?” Adrian’s face was red with embarrassment. “Startled is all.” Russell gave a look of disbelief as he slowly lifted his friend from the crate. “Where are we?” Adrian prosed inquisitively. “Welcome to Denmark good sir.” Russell laughed, so did Adrian. “And look what I found while you were hibernating in there.” He handed Adrian a small yellow map. “Check out where we are.” Adrian read the red X marking there position. “Holy crap were only like 2 miles away!” Russell smiled. “I’m guessing one of the soldiers dropped it, speaking of which, we should get going, they could be back at any moment. Take this.” He handed him a small pistol. “Caliber 9, just in case.” You really know what you’re doing here don’t you Russell?” “Hey I read books, I learn things, unlike you captain muscle.” Adrian laughed, and for the first time on this trip, was genuinely pleased he had brought his little brother along. “Hello there?” The voice caught both men by surprise. They both froze up, stiff as boards. Adrian turned slowly to see a captain of the SS, in full uniform, standing before them. Russell quickly saluted the man, “Good day sir” he yelled, in exceptionally well read German. “Yes yes good day indeed, tell me soldier, why are you not at your posts?” The captain glared at Adrian, who just stood dumbfounded. “I am sorry sir, I am afraid this is our post, sir.” The captain looked at him questioningly. “And what about you young man? Is this your post?” Adrian’s throat dried up. He began to work up a panic, soon he would start to sweat, then he would start to shake, they were dead. “Umm sir I am sorry but my dear friend here is deaf and dumb,
He cannot hear or speak a word.” Russell was avoiding his polish accent masterfully. The captain hummed. “Come with me gentlemen.” The captain turned and walked out of the hanger, the boys followed. When they reached the outside, Adrian’s eyes widened. They were on the sea bank. You could see Sweden across the Baltic Sea, they were there! They were in a Nazi war camp, impersonating Nazi officers. The officer stopped about 20 feet from the waters edge. “Gentlemen are you familiar with the term, “The Great Divide?” Adrian knew what came next. He knew it was now or never. He withdrew his Walther from its holster and shot the officer right between the eyes. The man dropped instantly. The commotion sent hoards of men dressed in uniforms scurrying out of there bunkers, but the two men had already lept into the nearest ferry and taken off, it seems the captain hadn’t thought this one through. Adrian took another shot, and another and another, progressively dropping soldier after soldier. (He was well trained in marksmanship; he was, after all, a gunsmith.) Russell got the engine started, and the large boat steadily moved away from the German harbor. “You did it Adrian!” Russell exclaimed as moved to where Adrian was now lying. “No…” Russell’s glee soon turned into a deep fear. Adrian had been shot. Russell, in a panic, quickly searched for gauze and wrap as he pressured the wound. He repeatedly shouted “don’t leave me Adrian, don’t you leave me.” Tears had begun to soak his face. Adrian grabbed his brother’s hand and held it softly. “We did it Russell, WE did it.” His face was pale; the wound in his chest was bleeding profusely. “No brother you can’t leave me you can’t, I can’t do it without you brother please don’t leave me.” Tears flooded young Russell’s cheeks. He was sobbing uncontrollably. “I won’t ever leave you little brother. You’re going to be a famous author right? Write a book about me. Tell everyone about your boneheaded brother.” Adrian coughed; His lungs were quickly filling with blood. “I’ll tell them about my brave brother. America will know of my valiant brother. Please don’t leave me; I’m not ready for that story brother!” Adrian began to weez. “I made it to Sweden brother. Somehow I knew this would be my stop. You have to live for the both of us now Russell. You have to live, you have to be free, like men are s’pose to be.” Russell coughed up blood. “Don’t forget who you are Russell, don’t forget where you come from, and don’t forget our journey together.”

Adrian Kowalski’s final words were unclear, and Russell was sobbing to hard to hear much of Adrian’s final breath, but one thing about the two brothers was clear, They truly had done the impossible, they had crossed that Great Divide, and the story of there journey would indeed be told. It had been 6 months since the death of his older brother, and his haunting dieing words still flooded Russell’s mind. He was living for the both of them, with a conviction to powerful, God himself couldn’t stop him, and somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean, with the mass of North America before him, Russell Kowalski was crossing another crevice between worlds and another plight to his freedom. For the first time since the death of his beloved brother, Russell was crossing his own Great Divide.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback