PART TWO: I recovered from my shock at hearing a scrabbling sound and turning to see a set of baleful, malignant eyes peering at me from beneath a wild mass of ferns, and stepped forward for a closer look. The eyes didn’t turn or move, but stayed in the same position for several seconds. I heard the others questioning my frozen, shocked state, and quickly pointed out that there was something moving around under the ferns.
Adelhard stepped forward and boldly walked into the ferns. He yanked some of them up, reached in and quickly grabbed at what appeared to be a small, furry animal. Suddenly, the forest rang with laughter as he waved a moldering teddy bear around. It’s gleaming eyes were wet from the recent rains.
“Teddybär!” He yelled. “I am sure that some little boy or girl is missing a little friend!” Adelhard roared, causing everyone but me to break out in laughter.
I just broke out in “embarassed as hell”.
“Perhaps we should alert the Polezi, so the ‘lost bear alert’ can be cancelled!” was Tarant’s contribution. What a fool I felt when I realized that the objects weren’t malignant, baleful eyes, but basic glass teddy bear eyes!
“But that doesn’t explain the sounds that I heard! There was something scrabbling around in there! Maybe it was a rabbit.” I said, trying to recover some of my pride by offering some reasonable explanation. But it was too late.
“It’s the Häschen Beast! Aiiiee!” Barbara Doggins, the programming brains behind our automated inventory systems, contributed that bit of high humor. This jocularity continued as we walked for another hour. It was the kind of silliness that dies down a bit, then keeps starting up as someone adds another input until everyone is exhausted.
“We disturbed his final rest! Now we’re cursed!” Jakob, the warehouse supervisor. Jakob used very basic, East German humor that took a little getting used to. He grew up in Berlin, on the wrong side of the wall.
“I can’t ‘bear’ to leave it behind. It needs a proper burial” Adelhard wailed.
“You could bare yourself, you gorgeous boy! Here! Let me help you with your hosen…” This came, as expected, from Debby Franks, our outrageous buyer. Debby was wearing leather shorts and a low cut blouse. She had her hair in black, with hot pink tips that day.
We were ridiculous until Adelhard pointed at some kind of lodge. In this setting, about two miles into the seemingly endless forest, the lodge immediately reminded us of just about every Grimm Brothers story that we could think of.
“This Hütte is a special place for hunting parties. The men come here to hunt for the Elwetritsch, a kind of bird that is then roasted over an open fire! It’s a very special kind of party…”
“Uh oh, mate. Is this the place? It’s time that I heard about your Elwetritsch hunts. Go ahead, tell the others!” Tarant seemed to know something that we didn’t. What were these two up to?
“Well, we will carry out our plan here. We will invite our former boss to participate in an Elwetritsch hunt! He will believe that he’s a special guest of the ‘Real Germans’ that he was always mouthing off about, as if the rest of us are not ‘Real Germans’. We will tell him that the Elwetritsch is a delicious bird that we hunt, then roast and serve at a dinner party!”.
“I think that when he comes back from our hunting party, he’ll change his mind about coming back to Germany at all, that’s for true!” Jakob snorted.
“Mist ja, Snap!” That was Liesl, our resident wannabe “heep hope” girl. She was the cutest little thing who had a gift for finding and mangling the latest hip hop jargon. Liesl would go after the impossible-to-get inventory like a ferret, never letting go until the item was actually in the warehouse. Then she would go to the warehouse just to look at her trophy.
“Well, as long as only his pride and his feelings get hurt”, I cautioned.
“Pranks like this can wind up becoming tragic, so let’s not whack the guy physically.” Liesl said.
“Whack? Oh, frère ! We have the German Soprano girl, here. Come here, girl, I’ll teach you to sing so high…” This was Francois. He fancied Liesl and never failed to use every opportunity to get in her little pants. Francois was from New Orleans, USA, not France.
“THAT’S…” Shaw began to say
“…Sexuahlll hahrahhssment!” Everyone else finished. Shaw was British, and a real piece of work. As our personnel expert, he was obsessed with sexual harassment as the scourge of the workplace. We had harassed each other a few times, to our mutual delight. Shaw had mad skills in the bedroom. He had one trick involving a banana…
“That’s enough!” I yelled. “Let’s hear about this Elwetritsch hunt! Out with it, Adelard!”
“Well…” Adlelard loved that expression. “We begin with the “Fänger”. He carries a sack and a big flashlight out into the forest and waits. Then, about five “Treiber” go out to round the Elwetritsch up and herd them toward the “Fänger”. “The Elwetritsch are attracted by the flashlight, you see. When the birds get close enough, the “Fänger” catches them in the sack!”
“So we’re Treibers?” someone asked. “Who’s the Fänger? someone else asked.
Adelard paused, both from hunger and for the pure theatre of it all, and demanded that we break out our lunch before he continued, much to everyone’s combined joy and dismay. The lunch consisted of the most excellent German meats and cheeses, little fat rolls baked fresh that morning. For dessert, we had Kuchen with cream and strawberries. We drank deutscher Sekt, the German champagne.
Adelard continued his description of the hunt. “Well…everyone but the Fänger sneaks back here to the lodge where we party and eat. The Fänger stays out there until he figures it all out and comes back to the lodge to find out what’s going on!”
Everyone burst into outraged laughter. “Party foul”, someone yelled. “Harsh!”, another choked, passing a huge blunt around.
So that is when we decided to invite our nemisis to Germany, under the pretense that only he could resolve a certain complicated issue. Then, we would treat him to a wonderful and rare evening of hunting for the elusive and delicious Elwetritsch.
But Adelard had that look in his eyes again. I knew at that point, that there would be a need to keep this “hunting party” in check, in case the prank went too far. These people had suffered indignities under my predecessor for a long time. It would be stupid to let them have a free hand at this type of pranking in an isolated forest.
I decided to have a talk with our security chief, as soon as he sobered up. The man was high as a kite. My instincts turned out to be dead on, even though they couldn’t save anyone. Our security chief and I at least saved the corporation from a huge lawsuit; and the rest of us from prison.
What happened during the Elwetritsch hunt was something that no polizei, no court, and no outsider would believe. Strangely, everyone seemed to understand that we had to lie about what happened at the Elwetritsch hunting party.
To Be Continued…