Here is a short story I wrote quite awhile ago that I thought I would share and maybe get some feedback on. Enjoy.
A Question of Ethics
Stanley bounded up the steps leading to the little stucco house and rang the bell. It was only
a few moments before he heard the familiar shuffle of feet and a muffled voice saying “I’m coming.” The door opened to reveal an elderly gentleman in his 80‘s. He was about 5’7 with short white hair and piercing blue eyes. He was of German descent so he spoke with an accent that took Stanley a few weeks to get used to.
“Please, come in, Stanley. I’ve been vaiting for you. Oh I have much to tell you.” The old man said as he ushered the younger man in.
Stanley was a 23 year old college student who acted more grown up than what he was. He didn’t enjoy the party life his roommates had so he opted to volunteer in a program where he was matched up with an elderly person, and then he would visit him once or twice a month. He felt lucky to be matched up with Gregor. When he first started out a year ago, he only visited once every 2 or 3 weeks but their friendship grew quickly and soon Stanley was visiting every week. He enjoyed listening to Gregor’s stories of his home in Germany. They shared a lot about each other over the past year. Stanley was there for Gregor when one of his dear friends had passed away and Gregor had been there when Stanley and his girlfriend of 4 years had broken up.
“Hello, Gregor, how are you doing today?” He asked as they walked to the small library where they usually sat and had tea. Sometimes they would play chess or listen to his phonograph records that he still had or look at his photo albums.
“Oh, I am fine. Sit, sit, I vill get the tea ready.” His excitement was overwhelming. Stanley had not seen him this way before. He sat down and listened to Gregor bang around in the kitchen as he set the kettle on the stove.
“Do you want me to help you?” He called out to him.
“No, just stay there, I am quite alright. I will only be a minute.” Was the reply.
Stanley noticed a small red leather book sitting next to Gregor’s chair. It was the one that he had seen Gregor writing in and reading from time to time. He always carried it with him. Stanley looked toward the kitchen as curiosity got the better of him. He quietly got up, and casually began to leaf through the pages. It was a bit disappointing for everything was written in German. There were a few equations that Stanley didn’t understand. He closed the book and sat down. His excitement deflated. There was a clinking of dishes as Gregor appeared holding two steaming mugs.
“Here you go, I hope I made it the vay you like it.” The old man smiled at him then sat down.
Stanley returned the smile as he took the cup. “Ok, so, what is all the excitement about?” He asked, forgetting all about the book.
Gregor sat for a moment just looking at him. It made Stanley a little nervous. “Well?” he asked breaking the silence.
“I never told you this but I am a doctor.” He started.
Stanley looked surprised. “Oh, well, ok, that’s interesting but why all the seriousness about that?”
Gregor studied him briefly before continuing, “Vhat I am going to tell you may shock you, but I ask that you please do not interrupt until I am completely finished.”
Stanley nodded “ok, go on.”
“Vhen I was a young man of 17 or so, a new power vas coming in to play. A man named Adolf Hitler had become our leader. Shortly aftervards there was an arson attack on the Reichstag Building in Berlin. It vas believed that the communists were plotting against the German government. Oh, it was all very terrifying at the time. There were mass arrests of communists including all the parliamentary delegates. Hitler had no choice but to take control. Once the Enabling Act passed, Hitler became the dictator of Germany. He started to make alliances vith surrounding countries vhich eventually led to the attack on Poland in 1939. I am sure you have studied all this in your history books, right, Stanley?”
“Yes, I have but what has this got to do with….”
“Let me continue.” Gregor interrupted. “I became fascinated vith the var stories I heard. So vhen I became 18, I joined the military. I vas a bright man and had already had some studies in the medical field so I became a member of the elite SS group. I studied hard, showed my allegiance and was rewarded vith an opportunity to study under the great Dr. Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. He did many experiments involving genetics. He would try to change eye color and study the genetic relationship of twins. I myself never did the hands on but took notes. Yes, it vas horrible to vetch but it vas science. A few months before Auschwitz vas abandoned, Dr, Mengele gave me loads of files to deliver to Dr. Otmar Von Verschuer of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. It was there that I was relieved of duty, given a
passport with a new name, a plane ticket to the United States and this book.” Gregor explained as he reached out for the little leather book.
Stanley held out his hand to take it but Gregor continued to hold it. He paused a moment, studying Stanley’s face. It was blank. Stanley had been listening intently. He really didn’t
know how to take any of this. At first it seemed like just another ordinary memory of his past but then the mention of the Nazi SS and Auschwitz turned it all into a horrible dream. He sat looking at this tired old man as he had described his involvement with the
Medical experiments. The shock had worn away and now he just sat very still listening. That was all he could do.
“Are you ok, Stanley?”
“Yes, I am fine. I’m…..just trying to process this all....really.” Stanley sat back in his chair and took a sip of his tea trying to appear casual.
Gregor offered him a smile before starting in again. “I vas instructed to meet a man in New Jersey. From there I was taken to Princeton and I attended the University there. My studies vere in the molecular biology field. It vasn’t until late that I found out that Dr Mengele had been vatching me and recognized my interest and talent for the subject. He had arranged all this for me. I started out learning all I could about biotechnology vhich has been around since the 19th century. The Germans used it for brewing. My interest then turned to genetic engineering and vell…..let me just say, I excelled in that area. I found it fascinating vhat you can do with a person‘s DNA.”
Stanley put his empty teacup down and just looked at the old man. All the articles he had read about the war and the pictures he had seen depicting the Holocaust came into his head. Here was a dear friend who participated in something so horrible. He didn’t quite know what to say. Gregor once again gave him an encouraging smile and waited for him to speak. All He could do was give a quick smile back and a little nod of acknowledgement.
After a moment Stanley asked, “Did you murder anyone personally?”
Gregor’s eyes got big, “No, Stanley, I did vhat I vas ordered to do. I only took notes. I don‘t vant you to dwell on the past. I admit they were horrible crimes but ve did learn a lot about different chemicals and how they affected the human body.”
Stanley nodded once again but he wasn’t very satisfied with the answer. Then he asked, “Why did you tell me this now? What is so important about me knowing this?”
Quickly the excitement returned into the old man’s eyes. He jumped up. “I have something for you. You have been such a dear friend to me these past 2 years. You are like the son I never had. Come vit me, Stanley. ”
“Oh, Gregor…..really…you didn’t have to get me anything.“ Stanley protested.
“No, I had to do this for you, knowing how you felt about her.“
The two men headed towards the door which led to the basement.
“What “her”, Gregor? What do you mean by “her”?” Stanley asked as they began the
descent downstairs. There was a small hint of panic in his voice as he was trying to make some kind of connection between what was said to him earlier to the events now.
“Oh I hope you vill enjoy this. Remember a few months back, you told me that the voman you loved had left you?” Gregor stopped at the bottom of the stairs. Stanley stopped quickly.
“Yes.” He replied slowly “Why?” He could feel a small spark of dread slowly spreading through his body.
Gregor flicked on a light. The room lit up quickly and it made Stanley jump. He hadn’t realized he was tense.
“You vere so sad. I hated seeing you that vay. Vhat did you call her? Oh yes, she vas your angel, right?
Once again he asked, “Gregor, what has she got to do with this? I don’t understand.”
Gregor gave his arm a pat. “You vill, my friend, you vill. Come on.” He then led the way through the main room to a small wooden door on the back wall. He pulled a key from his pocket and unlocked it. He paused a moment, turned to Stanley and said, “I vant you to remember, I did this for you. I vant nothing more than for you to be happy.”
This made Stanley even more nervous. The dread he had started to feel once again came back, stronger than before. He didn’t want to go into the room. He wanted to leave. But he couldn’t. His curiosity pushed him on.
Gregor had opened the door and was inside the darkened room. The only light that shown was from the other room so they both stood there several minutes waiting for their eyes to adjust.
“Gregor,” Stanley whispered, “I really have to be going.”
Gregor grabbed his arm, “No vait, please. I really need to show you this and…..” His voice trailed off as the slight movement from the darkened corner drew their attention. Stanley started to tremble slightly. He could only make out a form so far.
“That’s it, my dear, come out, come over here.” Gregor spoke softly to the form. He held out his hands. Out of the shadows came a petite woman with long brown hair and the
brightest blue eyes. Her skin was whiter than the long gown she wore.
Stanley let out a gasp. He shook his head as if he were in a dream. It was Lydia. His beautiful angel whom he had lost. She smiled as she saw him and tears began to well up in her eyes as she continued towards them.
It was only when the light fell on her fully that Stanley was able to make the horrifying connection. For there, stretched out a bit behind her, were a set of large white wings.