“But why do I have to be the Nazi?” Niles Gule complained as Denise Deems smoothed the gray Wehrmacht uniform over his shoulders and shoved a replica 1945 pistol into his hand. The short woman couldn’t reach the top of the vampire’s head to add the Schirmmutze cap, so she ordered him to put it on.
Niles’ co-worker Jonas Williams tested the fit of his American bomber jacket. “Because no one’s going to believe I’m a Nazi.” He pointed to his dark hair and eyes. “As for Cooksey!” He snorted.
Walter Cooksey, his partner on the Baltimore police force, glared. Where Williams was a soaring six-foot-three, Cooksey topped out at five-five and was as round as he was tall. Cooksey was also dark complexioned with a balding patch of steel gray hair. Niles was a six-four Nordic god. As he considered his appearance in the full-length mirror, he decided he did make a convincing Nazi.
“For the record I fought with the Allies,” he murmured in Williams’ ear. Denise didn’t know she had a full-blooded one-hundred-fifty-seven-year-old vampire in her sales tent and he didn’t want her to find out. Most people freaked when they learned he drank blood for a living.
Williams half turned. “Seriously? In what capacity?”
Niles vacillated. The war had erupted when he was a young eighty-three years old. Although he hadn’t been drafted, as a patriotic American he’d done his part for the war effort. After a crash course in German, Niles stole onto the continent and sabotaged several industrial installations without his cherished US ever knowing. A secretive smile creased his pale lips when he considered Allied victories that might not have happened but for him.
Williams looked like he wanted to dig behind that smile but thought better of it.
“You look perfect,” Denise commented, adjusting Niles’ captain’s cap. “Bring it back in the condition you borrowed it!”
The lady was a property mistress who found props for Hollywood movie producers. As a sideline, she joined World War II reenactments like the one that afternoon. Her tent in the vendors’ area sold anything a re-enactor could want, boots, packs, helmets, even replica edible rations. She would join the mock battles if she could slip away from her customers.
“Why are we dressed in period costume?” Niles asked. He absolutely hated the Nazi uniform. As he’d once hated the Nazis.
“We’re security,” Williams insisted. He puffed out his chest, proud to be an American bomber pilot. “Gotta look the part.”
When she noticed Niles’ annoyed look, Denise pointed to the far side of the airport where the Germans were staging. “Look on the bright side. The Germans bring really good beer!”
Niles’ spirits instantly perked up. “Well, why didn’t you say so?” He straightened his shoulders and strode onto the field with Williams and Cooksey following behind.
The Mid-Atlantic Air Museum reenactment was being held at the Reading PA airport. Hundreds of WWII enthusiasts blanketed the field to view vintage aircraft, jeeps, tanks, hospitals and tents. Re-enactors portrayed generals, and enlisted men, pilots and army nurses. Talks were given on field medicine and the proper breakdown and cleaning of a period firearm.
As Niles moved through the crowds, earning himself nods of approval from many who appreciated his pressed German uniform, jack boots and cap, he felt as if he was returning to those darker days. He’d not relished the war years. They remained a dark stain on his memory and he resented that he was garbed as the enemy regardless of how well he fit the uniform.
When he arrived at the German encampment, its general studied him with surprise.
“You’re new,” he commented.
Niles shrugged. “I’m security.”
The man frowned. “I didn’t think security was in costume.”
Niles followed his gaze. Near a food tent, two men in modern clothing wore black jackets with the word “security” emblazoned across their backs. Niles felt his blood boil. Williams! He should have known. Seething, Niles plotted how to get revenge on his scheming prankster co-workers. When the Germans charged, he would be aiming for those two jokers.
Rather than cause a scene, Niles decided to play along. Not that he was happy about being fooled. He tromped towards a group of men in Wehrmacht uniforms, thinking to blend in. One of them held the leash of a huge, beautiful German shepherd. The animal studied him with its mesmerizing blue eyes, sniffed, realized this was no human, and began to growl. Its owner tugged on the leash to quiet it, but it growled louder.
Niles wasn’t in the mood. He stared the dog in the eye then bared his fangs. That snapped it. The dog barked violently then leaped. It took its owner by surprise. The leash went flying, as did the dog, followed by Niles when it collided with him. Niles fell with a startled cry and tried to beat the animal off with his hands. It grabbed hold of his leg and jerked its head back and forth. Niles heard the fabric of his trousers ripping.
The owner scrambled to grab the leash. While he pulled one way, Niles crawled the other, half dragging the dog behind him. Finally, with a vicious tug, Niles freed himself, leaving a large hunk of his pant leg in the dog’s mouth.
“Jeez, I’m sorry!” the owner exclaimed. “I don’t know what came over him.”
“I do,” Niles grumbled. “He doesn’t like Nazis.”
Niles scrambled to his feet and marched for Denise Deems’ tent. He intended to change back into American wear and no one was going to stop him.
Until he came face to face with Denise.
“You ruined those trousers!” she exclaimed upon sight of him. His snowy behind gleamed through the massive hole in his pants.
Niles threw his hands in the air. “It happened. I’m sorry!”
“You were only gone five minutes!” the woman exclaimed. She planted her hands on her hips and considered him. “You’re going to pay for them.”
Niles slapped his pockets but his wallet was still in his regular clothes. “Let me find some money,” he muttered.
Denise’s eyes lit up. “No! I have a better idea.” She thrust several bottles of vintage sodas at him. “Go sell something. You’re a walking advertisement for my booth.”
“I am?” Niles was affronted.
“Oh yeah!” Denise nodded fervently. “I’ve got the little pin-up girls working the men of the crowd.” She grinned at Niles. “You can work the ladies! They’re gonna eat you up.”
Niles blinked at her. That, he thought, would be a first.
© 2016 Newmin
Niles comments: No, I’m not a fan of the Nazis and I resent that I happen to look like one. I did fight for the American war effort, but that’s a story for another day. Remind me to tell my biographer about those dark days some time. He can post the stories here. In the meantime, the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum does hold its reenactment days. They are a lot of fun when you aren’t being eaten alive by German shepherds. Check it out.