When You Get What You Want, You Must Be Ready to Pay the Price

By William Markiewicz

There's a true story about a very young guy who was lucky enough to survive in a Nazi concentration camp. The head Capo was an extremely cruel serial killer. Wake-up calls could be anytime, day or night, and if one of his prisoners didn't get up immediately, the Capo would kill the sleepy prisoner with a powerful fist to the head; sometimes the blow killed instantly and sometimes it took a few minutes.

Once, the previously mentioned young guy was suddenly shaken awake and he saw, hanging over him --- the terrifying face of the killer Capo who said in an almost normal voice: "Wake up, it's Wake up call" Wake up call? asked the guy naively. Yes, wake up call, answered the killer. When the capo was far away the frightened guy dared to look. He saw the killer having a good laugh. The survivor asks himself a rhetorical question: If he now had the opportunity, should he kill a killer who did not kill him when he could have? After all, the capo didn't let him live just so the prisoner might kill him later.

Another true story: In Paris, a few years after the war, an acquaintance met an odd couple: she, young elegant and beautiful and he, a sort of hillbilly. She was an adolescent Jewish survivor from a Nazi concentration camp and he had been an SS man who promised to save her if she would marry him after the War. Now she was his wife and unhappy. As for him, I would not want to be in anybody's shoes who kept his wife by her word.

One old, very "Faustian" Polish story "Pan Twardowski" speaks about one noble who signs a pact for his soul with the devil. When the time came to pay, Pan Twardowski found a way to escape and the devil asked: "And where is the 'nobile verbum? (the noble's word).'" Pan Twardowski gave himself to the devil, and later the song of a woman saved him. The point of our story is that even a debt to the devil has to be honored.

Back to the index of the Vagabond
© Copyright 2011 E-mail to: William Markiewicz