a chance meeting with Adolf
Sat down next to a guy at the bar who looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t quite place the face. After ordering a beer I introduced myself and ask him if we’d ever met.
“Nope. But I get that a lot” he said in a thick German accent.
“I’m Lance” I said, extending a hand.
“Adolf” he replied.
“Wow… that’s a name you don’t hear much these days.”
He laughed and said “Yeah, that Hitler fella ruined it right?” Except the last word came out as reich.
I suddenly realized where I knew the guy from. He looked just like Adolf Hitler, except without the mustache and sporting a short sleeved shirt and khakis instead of the epochal field grey uniform of the German army.
“You know…” I said as I struggled to find the right way to say it, “You bear an uncanny resemblance to Hitler. If you had the mustache.” I didn’t want to insult him, but the closer I looked the more it appeared he was a dead ringer for the man.
“I get that a lot” he said. After taking another swig of his beer he asked me “Do you want to know a secret?”
Always game for a good secret I smiled and nodded my head in the affirmative.
“I am Adolph Hitler. Not an ancestor or a wannabe, but the real McCoy. Der echte artikel. The actual Adolf Hitler. I realize that would make me 131 years old, but I have another secret that explains it.”
Instantly the conversation got awkward. I enjoy talking to a mentally deranged person as much as the next guy, particularly after a few beers, but not being much of a fan of Hitler’s work I started to feel uncomfortable.
“Let me ask you a question before I tell you what that other secret is” Adolf continued. “If you had a time machine, what would be the first thing you’d do?” A small smile crept across his face.
“Well, let me see…” I began, “Probably go back in time and kill you.”
“Bingo” he said and took a long swig of his beer.
Hearing someone who thought he was Adolf Hitler say the word “Bingo” will forever haunt me.
I stood up to leave. “Listen Adolf, it’s been fun and all but I got somewhere else to be.”
He put his hand on my shoulder and pleaded with me to hear him out. So I did.
“Have you ever seen the movie Back to the Future? With Michael J. Fox?”
An odd start if he was looking to clear things up.
“Of course” I replied, “Everyone has.”
“How come nobody ever asked Dr. Emmet Brown and Marty McFly why they didn’t go back in time and kill me?” He looked at me as if I should be completely flummoxed by the question.
“Maybe because it was a comedy…?” I offered up with no hint of flummoxedness.
“My point is, everyone’s first thought when they get a time machine is coming back and killing me. Flattering if you think about it. To be the guy everybody wants to go back and kill. Number one. Nummer eins. The GOAT bad guy. The question you have to ask yourself is ‘Do you really think nobody tried?’”
He finished his beer and waved the bartender over to get another while I wrestled with this concept. Eventually I shrugged my shoulders to let him know I was stumped.
“Here’s the thing” he said with a conspiratorial wink, “They did. Three of them over the years. The thing they never appreciate is how hard it is to actually kill somebody. Two of them chickened out because they came back when I was still young and they just couldn’t bring themselves to pull the trigger. I guess I was pretty adorable as a tyke. Fotzen. The third tried his best, but as a scientist his assassination skills were pretty poor. By the time I was Chancellor of Germany I had three time machines in my possession.”
“I have to admit, that’s quite a story” was all I could get out.
“Every word of it’s true. Unlike the Back to the Future movie though, there wasn’t a dial where I could set any date I liked and go there. I could only figure out how to return to the date it had come from. Which, and you want to talk crazy, was October 15, 2015. The same date as in the movie.” He paused and then seemed to launch into his best Christopher Lloyd impression. “It could mean that that point in time inherently contains some sort of cosmic significance. Almost as if it were the temporal junction point for the entire space-time continuum. On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence.” He sat back beaming. “That’s a quote from the movie. Dass Lloyd ein pip ist.”
It took a few minutes for everything to sink in. You don’t know the meaning of the word disheveled until you’ve witnessed the leader of the Third Reich do his Doc Brown impression. “So you’re saying you’ve been here in America for almost five years now?”
“Ja. One minute I’m sitting in my Fuhrerbunker with the Allies closing in and the next I’m sitting in a secret laboratory in Columbus, Ohio. Really strange ja?”
“So why are you telling me this?” I felt compelled to ask.
“Why not? Nobody would ever believe you even if you went to the authorities and, to be quite honest with you, what’s the fun of being Adolf Hitler in 2020 if you can’t tell someone?”
We sat quietly for a few minutes. “Disappointed I don’t have horns or breathe fire?” he asked.
I thought it over and then said “What is it they say about the banality of evil?”
For a weird few seconds I realized I actually believed he was the Adolf Hitler and suddenly understood what he’d been saying about how difficult it is to bring yourself to kill someone.
He could tell I was wrestling with this unusual predicament. He sighed, said “Take your time” and turned his attention to the television above the bar showing Sportscenter.
“Can you believe Tom Brady went to the Buccaneers? Who saw that coming? Und sie nennen sich Patrioten” said Adolf.
“Yeah… unbelievable” I finally replied.
“I wonder if Robert Kraft has any regrets” he said almost to himself.
“Don’t we all?” is all I could say.
A few hours later I left the bar without killing Adolf Hitler.