Goodbye Bomb Header

   I always mixed explosives naked.

   Some of it was a big "Fuck You" to fascist morality. But it also reminded me that I wasn't safe. I was entirely exposed, and if I slipped up, my blouse and pants weren't going to protect me.

   Heike would watch me, if she was home. It made it slow going, since she couldn't resist teasing me about it.

   "Getting into it, are you?" She would be behind me, or off to one side, on the bed. Usually, she was naked too, playing with herself, or just looking inviting.

   I'd make some obscene gesture or another as best I could while still stirring -- bombs are like risotto, you have to keep them moving -- I'd flip her the finger or else wiggle my ass at her or blow her a raspberry. Just as she could do anything she wanted to herself (and would; sometimes she'd give me her slick fingers to lick clean before I could touch her), anything I thought I could manage, I could get away with. Neither of us was going to risk rough-housing or even really serious arguing while I worked on a bomb.

   Preparing the goodbye bomb was easier, since I didn't actually have to mix up the chemicals, just build a detonator and fuse. Once upon a time I'd started writing a guide to Free Love and Bombmaking, saying that the two weren't as far apart as you might think. You have to mix everything in the right order, take enough time to be sure that it had set, keep it cool because otherwise it'll blow up too soon, and you have to be very sure of the quality of your ingredients. Using sodium carbonate when you thought you were using sodium nitrate was a sure way to end up in prison if you were lucky, hospital or the morgue if you weren't.

   Heike and I had used the wrong ingredient in Klaus, but we weren't in either the prison or the morgue yet. As I worked on the fuse, I heard Heike moan behind me. I took a few deep breaths and tried to concentrate on the wiring.

   When you stake someone out, watch them for a long time, you have to either love them, or hate them. Hating them is harder to do well, because you want to kill them too soon. When you love them, it's always easier to switch over to saying they betrayed you. Like Klaus betrayed us when he went to the police, abandoning us while we were planning a job.

   The only way I could tell it was late in the morning was that the grey sky outside was lighter. We were in a transient hotel outside Leverkusen, and the night before the three of us had tried to see the stars from the balcony. Every time our eyes had almost grown used to the dark, one of Bayer's factories would send a gout of flaming gas into the sky, and the stars would disappear again.

   I didn't worry at first when I rolled over and didn't feel Klaus or Heike -- they often slept together on the other bed. When the light began to filter in, that was different.

   I always kept my alarm set for 5:45. Unlike the other two, I wasn't a night owl. It came in handy, from time to time, when we were doing surveillance. I could do the early-morning shifts better than either of them.

   But I knew I'd set the alarm the night before. Which meant someone must have turned it off. Which we didn't do.

   I rolled off the bed; the same impulse might have led someone else to sit straight up, but I was more afraid of being shot at. Once I untangled myself from the covers, I looked at the other bed, where Heike lay sound asleep. Klaus was gone.

   "Heike! Wake up!" While she got up, I searched the room, looking for things he might have taken as evidence -- guns, papers, the chemicals for our bombs. First, the guns. I ran my hand underneath the dresser, where we'd taped them out of sight. Nothing but the feel of cheap unfinished particleboard.

   "What's going on?"

   Cursing, I checked under the sink. "Klaus is gone. He's taken the fucking guns and left the chemicals. We need to pack." By the time I'd gotten to the word "left," Heike had grabbed her duffel and started to cram clothes into it. The only reason he'd have done this was to turn us in -- if he was afraid for us, he would've taken the bomb stuff as well. And he wasn't going to go knock off a bank by himself.

   I finished packing while Heike got dressed, and did a quick inventory of whatever we had left. Guns: gone. We'd ditch the chemicals; we could always get more. The son of a bitch had taken his share of our money, but he hadn't found Heike's, inside the lining of her jacket, or mine.

   Once we were both dressed, looking like college students who hadn't gotten enough sleep, we headed for the back door. We weren't going to check out. With any luck, the cops would spend so much time searching the room and quizzing the desk clerk that we could make a clean getaway.

   The car was gone, of course. Klaus wouldn't leave that behind for us, not if he was going to head back to his father, and to the police. So, the only question was, where would he go first? If he had gone home, we had at least a couple of hours; we were close to Solingen, but not less than an hour's drive with traffic. After that, I could just see it -- they'd spend at least an hour on tears and forgiveness, at the return of the prodigal son, no longer a terrorist. That would give us enough time to get to the train station and out of town. If he'd gone straight to the cops, they would've arrested us in the hotel room.

   To the train it was, then. The only question was where, and we discussed it in hushed tones as we entered the station, trying to maintain our student's disguise. Should we head north, towards Hamburg and a boat trip out of the country? South towards France, or perhaps back to Berlin?

   "We should stay close," she finally said. "They won't expect that."

   I nodded, looking over her shoulder at a businessman who seemed to be too interested in what we were saying. "Fine. Koeln?"

   She saw the direction of my glance, and flashed the businessman a flirtatious little smile before returning her attention, and her flirting look, to me. "Sure. And it's cheap."

   I had my own reasons for making my suggestion, and they had nothing to do with avoiding being caught. That was just a nice side benefit.

   Three nervous hours later, we sat in the back corner of a streetside cafe, two blocks from the Koeln Cathedral, drinking dunkel beer and figuring out what to do next.

   "Mallorca," Heike said, and mimed spinning a cocktail umbrella over her drink. "We've got to get out of sight."

   "What? And let that bastard Klaus drive us off? Fuck that." I saw her wince as I said it. Klaus had always been closer to her, emotionally as well as physically. "No. We've got to hit him."

   She raised her eyes from the glass, and waited for me to say more. We'd often agreed that if our cell ever needed to shoot someone, just walk up and kill them, it would have to be Heike. Klaus wouldn't be able to do it; he'd have some philosophical or psychological crisis a block away, drop the gun in a trash can and walk off. And it wasn't my way of doing things. I could sneak up on my opponents, hit them when they had no idea what was coming, but I wasn't the sort to pull the trigger on someone staring at me.

   Now Heike was asking me, challenging me, to pull the trigger.

   I could have given her all sorts of political reasons why we had to do this: the need to dispense with conventional views of loyalty to family and loved ones, to strike where it hurt most. That was right out of Ulrike Meinhoff's manifesto on the Urban Guerilla, after all. I could have told her it was because the bastard had betrayed not just us, but the movement.

   Instead, I looked down at my beer. "Because otherwise, we'll never be able to do this again. We'll always be worried that there'll be another someone like Klaus. Another person who could take it all away from us." And I reached out my hand to her.

   She didn't move, leaving my hand alone in front of her. "I'm not sure I can kill him. I'm not sure I want to try."

   This didn't surprise me. I'd been expecting as much, thinking about it all the way up here on the train. "Then we don't hit him. What about his father? It's not as if we haven't heard enough about him, over the years. And it would shut Klaus up."

   This was the first time we'd discussed something like this, just the two of us. It was the first time we'd been really alone since our college days, before we took direct action; there had always been someone else, whether after we'd hooked up with the Socialist Patient's Collective, or on our own with Klaus.

   Her hands stayed wrapped around her beer glass, leaving mine untouched. "I'm still not sure. But we can start."

   I wanted to chew her out; the planning and setup were the dangerous parts. That's when we'd most likely get caught by someone recognizing us, or calling the cops on us while we watched the target. If we started, we might as well go the whole way.

   But Heike had never been one to stop, once we'd started. I remembered once holding her for what seemed like half an hour in a hotel bathroom. We'd been watching the little strip to see if it turned colors. Because she hadn't told Klaus to stop, once. It hadn't changed, and the experience hadn't changed her.

   "All right. I'll ask you one more time, before we do it."

   She put her hand over mine, her other hand playing with the thin rigid coaster. "You know we're crazy to even think about it."

   I laughed. "We're crazy" had always been something forbidden with the SPK - what you get when your terrorist cell grew out of a psychiatric clinic's patient's collective. "I know. But not as crazy as the rest of the world."

   Some people bring flowers to their girlfriend to ignite their passion and bring new fire to their relationship. I brought home Semtex.

   "Where did you find it?" Heike had a big smile on her face, looking at the plastic bags full of explosive.

   "Bought it from Jose, the Basque. Seems the heat was on him, and he wanted it gone. Met in the Nekkermann parking lot, no problems." I wanted to reassure her. The thing with Klaus had hit her a lot harder than it had me.

   As she hefted one bag, I could see her smile turn wicked. "It'll be the biggest we've ever done, won't it? The goodbye bomb?"

   With my own wicked smile, I silently agreed with her. I took the bags over to the dresser, setting them carefully inside. There wasn't time, right then, to strip and start to build the bomb. That was for later.

   We had set up our base in a small hotel outside Solingen, the sort that catered to low-rent businessmen who came to the Ruhr for several weeks at a time. It was perfect for us; the hosts expected people to stay for a while, didn't really pay much attention to comings and goings, and didn't want trouble.

   Aside from the occasional lewd comment from some drunk electronics salesman from Taipei or coal mine representative from Silesia, the other guests left us alone. We could focus on the mission.

   Klaus' father, Thorwald Heinrichs, worked for the KGF machining works, though saying "worked for" dignifies it. He was their Chief Financial Officer. The closest he had ever come to working a hydraulic press was standing near one carefully turned off for photographs for the company brochure. Every day, he would leave home, and drive to the works. He'd taken to traveling with security -- many executives had after the Rote Armee Fraktion got to Schleyer, and some of the other groups had made their own snatches or hits. It had become a status symbol, like having a company car used to be. But his security wasn't as professional as at some of the bigger firms. Often he drove the same route for days in a row, which no real pros would do. His guards would show up and wait outside, honking their horns irritably like a mother kept waiting for a slow school-bound child. This was security through intimidation, and Heike and I didn't scare. Instead, we watched.

   I kept my hair and clothes boyish. A bit of "love in the park" as a cover was always a good one, since the police mostly just chuckled at us if we blushed, or if Heike had to pull herself back together. Usually, they didn't even notice I wasn't a boy. She made sure to give them a good look, so they'd go away happy. And if they were staring at her tits, they weren't staring at mine, or at our faces.

   It worked especially well when we staked out Klaus' father. He lived in a nice part of Solingen, but near enough to the university that our randy students impression always seemed to work. And a couple in love can sit and stare off into the distance for hours without anyone really noticing, whether on a park bench, or the front seat of a car. We'd rented a car for the job. Buses and trains wouldn't work for our getaway if we were successful, and if something went wrong we'd have a much better chance escaping with a car than counting on luck and the train again.

   It was hard, though, not to get too involved in each other. It's one thing to make your making out look good (and to enjoy yourself) by sliding a hand underneath your girlfriend's shirt, another still to do it so intently that you miss the convoy of three Mercedes sedans pulling into the garage at his building. That would have been inexcusable. We were there to watch. We could fuck in the hotel.

   That said, it was very tempting, and very easy, just to slide a hand underneath her ass as we sat there, slowly working her pants down to her thighs. If she was wearing a long shirt, no one could be sure unless they took a very close look in the car. There were ways of discouraging that, from simply glowering to waving a fist. I can think of many worse ways to spend an afternoon than fingering your lover while you watch out for your target. Whenever she started to get dry, but still wanted more, I'd just slide my hand out, dab a bit of lubricant on it, and plunge back in. Sometimes, she'd do the same for me, but it was harder -- the steering wheel got in the way, making it hard on her wrist.

   It was a real test, when she was close to coming. I wanted to look over at her, to see her leaning back against the seat, arching her back if I was touching her from in front, or head down against the dash if I had slid my hand down the back of her pants. But I couldn't look, or else I'd risk letting Herr Heinrich's car go by. I could listen to her breathing change, I could feel her shiver, feel her clamp down on my finger, but I couldn't look. I couldn't even close my eyes and remember.

   The one thing we were afraid of was that Klaus himself might see us from the window of his father's car. He might see through our disguises, and he'd always taken a voyeuristic pleasure in hearing about what we did with each other on stakeouts, say, for a bank job. We never brought him along, because three would be suspicious. Even so, from time to time he'd get an eyeful, if he'd been staking out a different angle.

   Every morning we checked the newspapers, to see if there were reports about him. So far, there had been nothing, but that did not mean we were safe. The police could be keeping it quiet in the hopes of surprising us, or Klaus' father might be keeping it quiet, to spare himself (and Klaus) the embarrassment of public recognition.

   We didn't let that stop us, though. Not from staking out his father's house, or enjoying ourselves while we did.

   She finally agreed while looking at the sun, so I couldn't read her expression. It was just one of those things she did, to keep her own air of mystery about her. She was the femme fatale, I was the hard-boiled bomb-throwing fanatic.

   We were leaning against a guardrail, on the descent into the Rhine valley from Langenfeld, with the sun shining in her face. It was a public place, but no-one stops except to look at the scenery, and not many people would recognize us after passing by at a hundred kilometers an hour.


   I sighed in exasperation. "I've told you a dozen times."

   "Tell me once more."

   "Because you...because we don't want to kill him. But we have to scare him." Scare the man who'd carry illegal pamphlets into a police station for kicks, when we first met him. Before he realized quite how serious this was. "And besides, you remember the litany he reeled off to us. All his father's offenses, like it was the catechism. He'd be on our list eventually even if it weren't for what Klaus did."

   I looked at her to answer. Two or three cars whizzed by as I waited. The wind from their passing blew Heike's hair, making her look even more like the star of our own private film.

   "Let's do it." Before I could say anything, she stalked off towards the car.

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