Running from Conflict

November 6, 2013
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It all started on the night… The night that I will remember for the rest of my life. It went like this.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
“Go away! You’ll never take my family away from me!” I yelled.
Continuous banging spread from the front door all throughout the house. I knew I had to get the door, for I did not want the noise to wake up my younger siblings.
My heart was racing like those crazy airplanes that the armies use now-a-days. Again that knock came.
I slowly grabbed the cool doorknob, opening the door. The freezing December air came through the door causing icy shivers to run down my spine.
My body was slightly shivering now. I pulled open the door to fix my curiosity for who was behind it.
To my surprise, it wasn’t one of those filthy, heartless Nazis. It was an old friend…
“Jack!” I cried with joy and shock. “What are you doing here? How have you been?”
“It’s been a long time huh, Ruben?” Jack replied.
“Yeah, it’s been too long…”
Jack and I have been friends for many years. I still remember the times as a young boy when I would go over to Jack’s house to play. Those were the good ol’ days.
“Why are you here, Jack?” I asked.
“There have been terrible events occurring all over Germany. The Nazis are snatching Jews out from their homes by the handful.” Jack responded. “I just knew that I had to do something… That’s why I’m here. I came to save you!”
“Just me?! What about my family?” I questioned.
“No time for that! We must leave now!” Jack explained. “They might capture you and take me in as well. Please say your goodbyes because we really must be on our way.”
So, I did as Jack had said without any question. I turned to my parents and right as my body started rotating, I felt the tears already building up. I have lived with them all of my life. That’s 23 years! I just didn’t know how I would live without having them by my side…
“GO,” they said. “We have lived our lives already! Now go! We will do all that we can to keep your siblings safe.”
I hugged them like it was the last time. And it was…
The last thing that I remember saying to them was, “Take care you guys! I love you! Make sure you say bye to Alvin, Ernest, and Margret when they wake. Tell them I love them too!”
Then Jack grabbed my arm and we left. I wasn’t even able to get a last glimpse of the people that meant the most to me.
We swiftly went to Jack’s house were he would hide me in his basement. It was about 3 am when we arrived at Jack’s house. There, I was introduced to Michelle, Jack’s wife.
Even though I knew I would have a safer life here, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had left behind. My parents. My sister and my two brothers. They all meant so much to me. But this wasn’t the first time something bad happened in my life. Depression and misfortune have been occurring very often. I would compare it to the waves on a beach, always coming and going. First, Hitler targeted Jews and started blaming everything wrong in Germany on us. Then
vandalism started showing up in my parents’ workshop. People would throw rocks, shattering our windows. They even spray painted the doors and walls of the building. To top it all off, this happened.

I would have to live in Jack’s basement for the next few weeks. Isolated. Dark. Cold. A perfect addition to my miserable life. The December climate made the basement feel like a freezer. I would never leave the basement either. The only time I would see Jack or Michelle would be when they would come down to serve me meals. Other than that I was alone.

Being isolated for so long has caused me to have these dreams. They were always dark, like nightmares. Most of them were about Adolf Hitler. He was always giving those evil speeches that were brainwashing the minds of Germany. I would come up to the podium where he talked and punch him straight in the face. We would fight over and over, in front of all those people. These dreams were one of the few things that entertained me down there.

After a few weeks, Jack came down all of a sudden, without food in his hands. I knew something was wrong. He told me that, somehow they guys at his work found out about this whole operation of keeping me in the basement. He became cautious and paranoid every time someone who looked suspicious walked down the sidewalk of our neighborhood. He always thought Nazi soldiers would come up to us and take us away.

Jack never liked the Nazi party, but always kept that to himself. How could a German survive when he didn’t like the Nazi party?

Then, I had a crazy idea of running away to Spain. I told Jack and, of course, he thought I was crazy. But we had no other choice. My plan behind running away was that Jack’s imaginary brother, Philip, just caught a deadly disease and Jack had to go and check up on him. I would just have to ride along. Jack was skeptic at first, but since all the rumors were roaming all over his workplace, he thought it might be a smart idea to run away before they catch us.

So we sprang into action and packed our bags and got ready to move out to Spain. But right as we opened the door to leave, there was someone behind the door. Jack’s manager from work. I ran into the basement very quickly and hid. I was overhearing their conversation.

“Good afternoon, Mr. VanGuten,” Jack said shocked.

“Hello, Jack. How are you?” asked Mr. VanGuten

“Fine, Mr. VanGuten. What makes you come to my house on this fine afternoon?”

“There are rumors around the factory saying that you have been hiding Jews at your house. Is this true?”

“Of course not! I am a proud Nazi and would never help those horrible people,” said Jack. “They ruined everything for Germany. Heil Hitler!”

“Just wondering, Jack. I don’t want to lose such a good worker. I also heard you are on your way to Spain. My prayers are for your brother. Please, have a good day.”

“Thank you, Mr. VanGuten.”

Jack waited till he left and turned the corner to continue with our plan. He called me up and said the plan was still on. We gathered our stuff and left to the train stop.

This is where it gets interesting. Supposedly, Jack’s neighbor reported seeing a suspicious figure leaving with Jack and Michelle. They were so worried that they called the authorities. The rumors were true and Jack was hiding a Jew.

In a few hours, we were in France. We were going to transfer trains. Jack and Michelle decided to buy a few more snacks for the upcoming trip. Then out of nowhere, Nazis from Germany start trying to arrest them. I’m guessing they were following us all this time. Jack tried fighting back, but then… BANG! BANG! BANG! They shot him.

Luckily, they didn’t notice me. I was wearing such a large coat and covered my face with a local France newspaper. I continued pretending like an innocent bystander till the Nazis left.

Once they did, I gathered my things like nothing even happened. But I knew exactly what just happened…

On the train, I didn’t say one word. I didn’t even eat. I just thought.

I miss my old life, I thought. My parents. My siblings. My friends. The good ol’ days.

Once I got to Spain, I located James, Jack’s friend. James was the person we were supposes to stay with. When I found him, I told him all about what had happen. Because I was such good friends with Jack, he let me stay at his house for free.

Months have past. I have got a job and everything was “normal.” James and I became good friends, and I even got my own apartment.

I’ll never forget about what Jack did for me. He was a true friend.

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