Steve Saulsbury

All the Movies Are Silent: Scenes from Berghof

In the home movies left behind, she perches on a low wall, dressed as gaily as a chocolate box madchen in the best Tyrolean outfit, a checkered dress with fluffy white sleeves. Black coffee in a cup, with the saucer, nearly pushed to the ground as she stretches. Like a cat.

Her face is pleasant, plain. A bubbly flapjack. Mouth now open, a ladle full of glee, like a surprised child. Her pale hand shoots out. She might be saying, give me that!

Her blood cells have increased in the thin air, beating red. Vibrant as a vine, heavy with ripe strawberries.

In a new scene, she glows, doing a casual handstand. Then she drops into a wrestler’s bridge, muscles steaming. Smooth as butter. Her bathing suit reveals an athlete. Effortlessly, she poses on one leg. The other is raised, hand to big toe. All parts stacked, as solid as his fortress.

In winter, she ice skates. Gliding toward the camera on one sharp blade, her back leg extended. Her Doramad grin, she knows the tricks: Wet Your Teeth Before You Smile.

But the patio and surrounding areas were the stage, the backdrop the Alps.

The garden is lush, but washed out on film, vegetables lost in the glare. She and her husband are vegetarian. Among the stalks, she chases a puppy. A few dogs roam the property.

She learned photography before the war. The lens is her pleasure, whether posing or focusing. She used expensive film at Berghof, and captured what she wanted, historic or mundane. Goebbels sneaking a cigarette. A white rabbit in her embrace, their noses crinkling.

Ticking images, of interest mostly only to her.

Until later. 

The mood on the patio varies, depending on who is there. The somber men, stiff in dark attire, are careful around her husband. A diplomat salutes. The bodyguard plays to the camera.

The women are more animated. Her sister and others smile, whisked away in a champagne fizz. They sit on the low wall, eyes to the sky, movie stars.

Perhaps it is the altitude. She is breezy, exquisite. Unfairly described as a bimbo. Opinions waffle, however. Some will question her complicity.

Then a scene, where she stretches too far, leather shoe a toe too much. The coffee crashes on the flagstone, cup cracking like an egg. The German Shepherd flinches.

Her husband scolds her playfully, a syrupy grin. His normal speaking voice, only recorded a few times, unheard. All the movies are silent.

The puddled brown spreads.

The camera glances away.

© Steve Saulsbury

Steve Saulsbury writes from Maryland’s Eastern Shore. His work has appeared in Mudroom Magazine, Thimble Lit, Cat and Mouse Press, The Yard and Press 53. In addition to writing, he enjoys visiting with his grandson, and music.

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