Oh, Helga, why did you leave me? We could have made it work.

Bah! I must stop obsessing. It has been weeks. I will get some fresh air. Perhaps a nice walk will put things in perspec—

Hmm? A ruckus going on near the plane, and with the propellers in motion, too. Someone is pounding the schnitzel out of Franz. I’ve never been particularly fond of the fellow—this pseudointellectual who quotes Nietzsche too often—but I must go to his aid. Also, a beating will soothe me more than any walk. I will take out my frustrations upon this stranger.

Hat … off. Shirt … off.

Down goes Franz. Even with a giant monkey wrench for a weapon, he is still a muschi.

I approach the intruder. He is an American. Stranger still, he is wearing a leather jacket. It must be 120 degrees in the shade. I challenge him with my upturned fists. I shall pound him once for each day, each hour, Helga has been gone.

Wait. He’s pointing at the ground. I must look. A coin, perhaps? Nein! He has kicked me in the crotch, the filthy swine! A literal kick to accompany my Helga’s figurative kick.

No matter. I stand my ground. I show no pain. In fact, I embrace the pain. Yes, physical pain is a welcome relief compared to my emotional pain.

Why, Helga? Why? Is it because I refused to shave my mustache, yet continued to shave my head? You complimented my look when we first met. Called it distinctive. How could you ask me to change?

One punch and the American goes down, yet I feel no better. I am still empty inside. Empty without my dear Hel—

Acht! The bastard has bitten my arm! But I will embrace the pain again. I deserve it for letting her go.

He is avoiding me now, weaving around the plane. Fight, Herr Fedora! I must feel more pain. I punch, punch. If I must beat you senseless to keep you fighting, so be it. Punch. What does not kill you, my American friend, makes you stronger … as long as a woman is not involved. Franz would tell you that, if he were not lying face down in the dirt.

Argh! He’s thrown sand in my eyes! That’s more like it!

Why does he keep looking at the plane? Ah, his woman is locked in the cockpit. I should have locked my love in a cockpit so she never could have escaped.

I see the fräulein knows how to work the onboard gun. She just mowed down a truck full of my countrymen. Isn’t that like a woman? If she is not leaving you, she is mowing you down with a machine gun.

The stranger swings. One, two, three, four straight punches and I do not flinch. Blood is pouring from my nose. Good. It is undoubtedly broken, like my heart.

I punch again, to prod him more than anything else. But he goes down. Get up, coward. I need more pain. I need to hurt.

What’s this? He is looking behind me. Perhaps it is Helga. She has changed her mind and returned to me. Or perhaps it is the plane’s propeller. Yes, of course, it is the propeller. He is ducking down and covering his head. I should duck down myself, but I cannot bring myself to care. She is gone forever and nothing else matters and I don’t wish to be overly philosophical like Franz, but perhaps if you look into the propeller, the propeller also looks into you.