How the Illuminati Planned the May Day Parade
I’m standing on the fringe of the procession watching as some of the police escorting the participants from the front & rear begin to fall back along the sides in order to kettle them in, which is the way they’ve come to express that – although the permitted destination has not been reached – they feel it best if the march come to a premature end.
This only makes for a rowdier group, altho’ I’m pretty sure the ground troops wouldn’t have it any other way. There’d have to be more than a few truncheon-cracked skulls and turned over cars in Berlin on the 1st for the press to report anything other than a “relatively peaceful day of demonstrations” on the 2nd.
I hear a voice over my right shoulder say, “I’ll give you ten euros to throw a bottle into that crowd there.” I recognize the voice immediately and almost as immediately it occurs to me that offering cash to people for whatever absurdity was this guy’s schtick. I try to turn to sneak a peek without acknowledging his presence, but catch him seeing that I see him. “Hey, man! Fancy meeting you here,” he says, as if the previous bit had indeed been a bit. “I didn’t get your name.”
I made something up, can’t remember what, but I swear to god he said his name was Joe. Then he asks, seriously, how much it would take me to throw something, and what I’d be willing to throw. I tell him that if he buys me two falafels I’ll throw one at him.
A few years ago not far from this spot, a cop in black lefty garb was video ID’d throwing a rock into a store window. They said he was acting alone. I say, he was acting in the interests of the org, whether it was his own idea or not. That is part of the uniform, and the uniform is part of the oath, which I’m sure he took seriously, even if he wasn’t wearing the uniform when he was acting alone to stir shit up.
So “Joe” tells me he wouldn’t mind me throwing something at him as long as he’s standing over by the pigs when I do it. I tell him that if that’s what he really wanted, he’d hafta make it more than worth my while… in advance, and start to squeeze my way around the crowd.
I’d met Joe before I knew him as Joe a couple of weeks earlier at a VolxKüche. When I go to a VoKü, it’s usually on my own. My interest is primarily to get a cheap home-cooked meal, support of ancillary causes a built-in bonus.
The gatherings consist typically of several similarly-slanted, anti-fa minded, loosely knit small groups hanging out over dinner and beer. While the coordinators and attendees are an open and friendly group, they tend to leave loners to their de-vices, and I always thought I understood why until I met Joe before I knew him as Joe. Then I really thought I understood why.
Now I really think I really understand why.
One day a few years ago, I’m sitting on my own eating some kind of vegan goulash when he asks if the seat next to me is free. It was. He sat. I was worried immediately because I didn’t want to make chitchat, and if anyone at a VolxKüche is going to make chitchat, it’s someone who is alone. Someone other than me.
“You wanna make some cash?” he asks me. An odd icebreaker. I couldn’t help but think of Otto’s response to Bud in the latter’s introductory scene in Repo Man, which was ‘Fuck you, queer’. I had no other answer handy, but didn’t say that. I just kept eating and pretended like I hadn’t heard.
He continues: “I don’t know my way around ‘the scene’ [emphasis mine] and could use a guide.”
I was probably the wrong tree and told him so. He asks me how often I come to this place. Now that’s an opening line. I told him that, too, and thought that he should have started with that and worked his way to the “money talks” bit later. He says he didn’t mean any offense and apologizes if he came off as the ugly American.
He asks me where I’m from. I really just wanna tell him to leave me alone, but say that I’m from here. He says from my accent he would’ve guessed the midwestern US. Now I’m not just annoyed, but suspiciously annoyed. I’d’ve hoped my monosyllabism might’ve rendered dialect detection unlikely.
He goes on to tell me that where he’s staying has neither a kitchen nor a fridge, and that he’s looking to find at least one VoKü a day to keep himself fed on a budget.
The words “fed” and “budget” said so close to one another like that ring in my ears and swell in my head until I’ve got an ice-cream headache.
If I’m willing to help him out and show him around, he’ll make it worth my while, he says. This is the only one I come to, I tell him. I clean my plate and leave with a “Later”.
“Um. Sure. See ya.” I hope not, I think.
As more of the flak-vests & shields come running up the street to help force the kettle back in the other direction, Joe shrugs, following me in one of those walk & talks that you could swear is staged. He tells me that he thinks he probably doesn’t have the resources to make it worth my while, if he understands my meaning, but knows somebody who would and that, if I’m interested, he might have some other “stuff” for me to do.
Now I’m strapped for cash, so I reemphasize the “in advance” part of the equation and hope that that’ll be that. Instead, he calls my bluff and asks how he can get in touch. I tell him I don’t do electronic communication. He says that’s smart.
What a fucking piece of work. Him, I mean. Enough about me later.
So I’m thinking, if this guy wants to play spy, I can play spy vs. spy. Using the Method would be easy, as “Joe” is persistent enough to keep me wondering if he might be a real spook. But up to this point, everything is sort of meta-jokey.
D’y’ever get caught in a role-play with someone and you wish they would just stop already?
Then I do what I guess is the fateful thing; I agree to a time & place. The fact that I made it somewhere I don’t normally go (I don’t ever go, actually) was enough to make me feel like I wasn’t making a mistake. The last thing I wanted was for some creep to know where to find me. He already knew my most local VoKü. That was enough already.
I was surprised to find myself surprised as I arrived to find him together with someone else. Maybe it wasn’t surprise, and I just didn’t want to admit it to myself. The best way to describe Joe’s companion would be “more serious than Joe”.
They’re each drinking a Berliner Weisse, I go to the counter and order a coffee and join them at… I gotta laugh… the table in the back corner. Joe introduces me to, I kid you not, Charlie. Before I could laugh at his name he calls me by my own. Says he knows who I am and thought it best to get that out in the open so I know that he’s serious. I feel an ice-cream ache coming on. At this point Joe starts in with how he’s just like me, an informant. I tell him in no uncertain terms that I’m nothing of the sort, and that even if I was, I got nothing to inform.
Charlie doesn’t seem to like Joe much. The way his eyes drifted in his direction when he mentioned wanting to be taken seriously, to how he cringed at Joe’s attempt at trying to relate to me.
No sooner than I pick up on this, I suspect that’s part of the act. Like Mutt & Jeff meets Lenny & George. On Red Bull. And I cling to the hope that these are just two clowns with no connections to anyone who would be trying to recruit snitches, and then I hear myself think, “What’s the difference?”
Charlie says, actually it’s important that in the beginning I don’t have anything to inform so as not to arouse suspicion. He says he’s not out to turn me, but wants me to infiltrate those who would commit crimes against the government, is how I think he put it, and that he already knows that I’m not involved with anyone like that.
I can’t help myself. I ask him if he’s basically saying that it’s easier to infiltrate underground organizations than to blackmail people into ratting out their friends, and he says that it depends on the situation, but for the target he has in mind, they don’t have anything on anyone inside, so it’s best to get someone locally who already has a legit cover story rather than use one of their own.
I ask him why on earth he thinks he can trust me. He says it’s his job to make those judgments and that he’s good at his job. Then he tells Joe to take care of the bill at the counter and affects another one of those “Joe’s a dipshit” looks as he’s going away. He hands me a hundred and tells me to cancel the automatic transfer of my rent, as it will be taken care of until I “decide otherwise” and that I should expect an email with details in due time.
Now I’ve got serious brain freeze – and one more question that I manage to ask before it’s clear he’s got no time left for me today. I ask Charlie if I can know who this target is first, and he replies, “What I said about trust before… well, nobody can trust anybody at first, which is why you can’t know their identity yet. That’s the unfortunate downside to this racket. The upside is that everybody can be compromised and that that is the only basis for trust. That, at least, you have in common with our Joe. Hell, I’m compromised, but I don’t mind. I like what I do anyway.”
I say I don’t want the job. He says to give him back the hundred and forget we ever met. Then, against the will of my throbbing pineal gland, one more one more question emerges. I ask if I can think it over. He says, “What do you think the hundred and your first couple months rent are for?”
And holy shit if he wasn’t not lying. Just to be sure, I called property management just long enough after I canceled the transfer to see if the next month had been paid. It had. Then I realize that I’m in an uncomfortable position. I want to ask who & where it was transfered from, but feel like I’d need an explanation and don’t want to draw any more attention than I might have already. What was I gonna do – call every month to make sure the rent went through? Is this part of the process of being compromised?
Of course it is.
I do call the building manager one more time to find my rent paid again, but before yet another Joe & Charlie-free month elapses, I get the following email (redactions mine):
Go to the …………. this Friday night. Ask for ……. Talk to him about …….. as it relates to your feelings on the matter.
I recommend you start drinking. More later.
So I go there and meet …… and talk to him about the things we have in common and the conversation leads seamlessly enough into the topic of the situation and politics in question. Guess who shows up? My “good buddy Joe”. Funny thing is, I’m more concerned about this dickhead cramping my style with a cool new acquaintance – that my cool new acquaintance would think I’d have anything to do with someone like Joe – than I am about my cover being blown. Or the extent to which I am worried about that is only insofar as it’d be vis a vis this dick. Fortunately, …… has somewhere else to be and takes his leave, but not before we agree to hang out and do some like-minded exploration of the initially related interest. I say ‘later’ to Joe and get outta there.
I meet with my new acquaintance a few times, and things are going well enough, but then I start to get the feeling that he is one of them. Or maybe I hope so, because the other vibe I’m getting is that he is on to me. Not sure which is worse.
You see, it’s become clear to me that this “group” isn’t up to anything even remotely illegal according to official statutes. And …… has wicked tales to tell about how some mysterious someones have tried to encourage them to change that.
So if it turns out that I am now in contact with somebody else on the inside of this little spiel, I can only reckon that I am further in over my head than I imagined. Either …… is the next step in my being vetted for action, or he’s the object of my (or jesus, Joe’s) entrapment/framing.
(To think that it actually occurred to me that I’d be better at this than Joe. How much of an effect Charlie’s little anti-Joe mugging has to do with that?)
Meanwhile, the rent is still getting paid and I’m thinking more & more, that at some point, I’m gonna have to tell somebody about all this. But who?
I guess that’s what this is, isn’t it?
In case you don’t know already, the above tale is based on things referred to as a truth you can trust without ever having to know about any of it. And, of course, it’s all fiction. But at the end of the day, who & what the fuck are you gonna believe?