We went back to our apartment that evening, and we talked about Bill’s offer. We sat down in the kitchen.
Erwin asked, “What do you think?”
It took me a few seconds to frame my thoughts, “Here, in East Germany, if you are heard talking about ‘escape,’ the authorities will beat you and send you to Siberia, which is almost the same as a death sentence. At any rate, your life is over!”
Hans said, “If you are caught trying to escape, the result is the same!”
Martin asked, “If only one of us were actually able to escape, the rest of us would face the same treatment!”
George mused, “If we were all to help Bill, I wonder if the authorities would investigate my girlfriend, and if they did, I wonder if they would send her to Siberia?”
That put George’s request to take his girl friend with him in a different light.
Hans said, “When the five of us first got together, we were friends, and we five decided to work together. Sonja wasn’t with us, Irene wasn’t with us, Julia wasn’t with us, and neither was Hilda.” Those were the names of George’s past girlfriends, and Ava was his current girlfriend.
Martin nodded, “Yeah, and we five worked at hard labor bricking buildings in this insane city, and we made a name for ourselves in East Germany and also in West Germany. No girls helped us. It was our work only!” He was kind of adamant in his statement.
I Said, “I understand how you feel, George. I had a girlfriend at Insel Ruegen, But I didn’t ask to bring her with us when we set out to make a living. I didn’t think it was the thing to do!” I looked at Erwin. I said, “We haven’t heard from you, yet.”
Erwin shook his head, “I don’t want any of us to be unhappy. As a matter of fact, I want all of us to be happy.” He looked directly at George. “George, I want you to be as happy as we will be when Bill gets us across the line to the West.” Still directing his total attention to George, he asked, “If Bill is unable able to accommodate Hilda, what will make you happy with your situation?” He paused.
George quickly raised a finger to point out something.
Erwin hushed him by saying., “Don’t give me a quick answer. I want an answer to my question from your head and from your heart. In other words, I want an answer that you can live with heart and soul. “What will make you happy with your situation? “
George’s mouth fell open. He just sat there looking at Erwin. The room was silent. A look of anguish crossed his face. When he spoke, his voice was almost hoarse, “There’s so much ...