The last train to Zürich

“But it’s a real Scarampella, I played Dvorak’s cello concerto with Toscanini once”.

Jozef thumbed his moth-eaten hat, humbling himself for the meaty pawnbroker. If he closed his eyes he could still see the audience applauding

“I don’t give damn mister, for me it doesn’t matter if it’s accordion or cello, I’ll give you hundred Marks”.

Grinning he knew there was a buyer waiting who would pay a hundred times more. He followed Jozef’s gaze through the window and studied the streets glistening with broken glass.

“If you hurry you can still make it to Zürich. You’re not German anymore” .

Picture prompt is mine this week

Picture prompt is mine this week

I love the extra challenge of writing to my own picture, I actually find it more challenging because I know the place. I think we need reminding of what can come next. The past is not now, but hatred can be the same. For a historical reference read more here.

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields select a picture every week and challenge us to write a hundred words of fiction for it. This is what I came up with.

November 16, 2016

92 responses to “The last train to Zürich

  1. As Lynn says, there was much profit to be made from a dreadful situation, and no limit to the number of people willing to try. Good one, Bjorn, and a nice photo too.

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  3. “Meaty pawnbroker” – brought a fierce picture to mind. Thanks for the prompt. There’s no limit to the story ideas it inspires. I opted for a little honesty in a tender, and potentially pivotal, moment between “sisters”.

  4. What a gorgeous photo! (I see bubbles, though. You know, the kind little kids blow.) I really like the poem/story too … especially your hint with the broken glass. Also the line about the humbling and the hat.

    Despite the heavy tone, I smiled over the “I don’t give a damn, Mister” line. 🙂

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  6. Such a story reminds us of the evil which sadly can surface anywhere.
    I loved the picture but November won out

  7. Such a horrible time and brought to life with your short story. The greed of people during trying times sickens me.

  8. Love the fact that there is more to this than someone just down on their luck needing money. It’s not just about someone trying to earn a small amount of money from something worth so much more. It’s about a time and place in history where some people themselves were deemed less valuable, as such their possessions were there for the taking, at any price.

  9. It’s a beautiful photo, and a moving story you wrote to go with it. I found it interesting that you think it’s more challenging to write to your own photo. I’ve only done that twice, but I felt it was easier because I knew so much about what was outside the picture’s scope — it gave me more inspiration to work with.

  10. People who take advantage of others shall have their day—in Hell. How they can sleep at night is beyond me.

    Enjoyed the photo. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  11. So tragic. I think of all those talented musicians snuffed out by such a monstrous act of evil, often by people who loved music themselves, as long as they perceived the ethnic background of the composer as fitting with their ideology. Your story is beautifully written and brings tears to my eyes.

      • So much cruelty in this world, in which the perpetrators are often likened to animals. But they are less than animals, because they should know better and attempt to justify their behaviour. I don’t know how survivors of horrors ever forgive the perpetrators, but they do sometimes. The two sides of humanity, I guess.

  12. Nice photo and even nicer story, Bjorn. Got some complications in there worth the read. You’re really going up with some stuff these days, man. Keep it coming!

    Five out of five Toscanninis.

  13. I expected Rochelle to reference this sad history, this week, given the anniversary. Instead, you blindsided me with your beautiful story, and subtlety. The “meaty pawnbroker” gave me a chill, even before your final punch. Incredible photo, Björn, and moving story to go with it. Thanks!

      • Ha! I do the opposite. I try not to read ANY of the stories, before I write mine, so I’ll follow my own muse. That said, I did expect Rochelle would go in that direction; I didn’t expect you to. You did it a wonderful honor, B.

  14. I too love the image of the “meaty pawnbroker” and Jozef thumbing his moth-eaten hat. The cruelty in this story is sad and incomprehensible.

  15. Oh, Bjorn, we both went to the dark, Nazi side of this story (an extra challenge for you, as you said.) The strange thing is, I’ve always thought
    Kristallnacht is such a beautiful word. How can it portray such cruelty? Well captured.

  16. So poignant for the anniversary of Kristallnacht. And darkly illustrative of the fact that nothing, no matter how beautiful or precious, is safe from the appalling cruelties we’re capable of inflicting on each other. (Love the photograph – the globes of light that look like bubbles, the cello, the colours….)

  17. You caught the desperation, humility, fear perfectly, but what is the most chilling and sickening here is the malicious glee of the ‘victors’. As we can see elsewhere these days…

  18. Thanks for the great picture making so many stories possible, Bjorn. Thanks for the link. Such a sad story. There’s still profit being made from people’s misfortune. Human nature hasn’t changed. There are always human vultures. Good writing. —- Suzanne

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