Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Don't write about bombed cities

Was gonna write two short stories, one taking place first in a bombed city and the other one even more depressing. I got turned on by bombing while watching The Book Thief, finding something perversely catharsic in the way that movie ends. The way it was portrayed wasn't, of course, how things get bombed. Nor is it, in retrospect, something to be perversely attracted to. Not even if you are an immune time traveler and tend to gloat about your own temporal immortality. I got punished for thinking it cool. I always do. In nightmares.
       In the story, Paper and Cole sit and smoke, camping romantically on the brim of the Dresden basin, enjoying the show of falling bombs. These characters are nuts as it it, it would just be something they do. But of course that wasn't how the bombing of Dresden went down. There wasn't just one dump of explosives, it was in waves, over three days, the second wave hitting - purposefully - when the rescue teams were helping the damaged of the first one. And it wasn't just the bombs. Bombs are easy. Anyone can drop a bomb, you can drop a big stone for all it cares what building it hits. It was the incendiary sticks, also. Fire. The apeshit that engulfed the city in the form of forced fire was so great the atmosphere actually thought there was a storm. And fire leaves nobody bruised. People in shelters, in hospitals, people running, hiding in water. Everything died. Charred, suffocated corpses of the unfortunate souls in shelters were even photographed, you can see them on Wiki. 
       Half an hour into the research, I was all too well aware that these are not the things one wants to play tourist at. I don't even think I would ever dare go to Dresden city, as lovely as it now may be. There are simply too many screams resonating in the stone, too much horror in a collective memory. There were lots of bombed towns and bridges and train stations and whatnot, even mine. The English bombed pretty much everything they could find on a map during 2.0. But that was just lots of rubble. In Dresden, the Allies went "thorough". I don't know why anyone would want to do that. But I suppose that ugly war got so far in the end, killing endless civilians was the only way. Or something. I dunno. Instead of a chillaxed short story with a few bombs in it, I got a whole evening of disheartened weeping and a shitty nightmare session. Most of the night I was up, awake, kissing General's elbow and arm. He kept waking up, angry with me, angry I fuck around with information I fail to process. To pay him back, I secretly ordered Rommel's fun book on taking over the Kobarid mountain in his, the General's name. This way he'll get a package to his office and will have to pay for it, without knowing it's a book. I'm sneaky that way. I'm only allowed to buy one book a month. He's my sponsor to a life-long addiction. Bills first. Then books. Sounds reasonable? It’s why I invent sideways.