Victory

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April 17, 2017 by The Citron Review

by Rob Hill

 

The Actor climbed the dizzying stairs, like ascending into a nautilus shell, to the top of the Victory Column. It was early in the morning and he had the platform mostly to himself. From behind a chipped gold rail he looked out over the grey sprawl of Berlin. The Fernsehturm rose above the hub, an onion speared on a knitting needle. He saw the neoclassical columns of the Brandenburg Gate topped by its oxidized chariot. The bulge of the Reichstag dome like some sort of glass spacecraft or postmodern bra cup. The Spree winding along like crinkly paper under a skyline of construction cranes. Above his head loomed bronze Victoria with her eagle helmet, laurel wreath, and staff.

The Actor had come to Berlin alone. Not by design. His second ticket had gone to waste. He felt she owed him a refund, but knew he never would collect. He was a concealer of wounds. His emotions had calcified over the years. He should be grateful she wasn’t there to spoil his Berlin morning. He told himself this.

A young couple reached the top of the stairs, scarcely out of breath, and gazed out at the city in awe. The boy was lanky and wore a denim jacket and spiky hair. The girl was very small with unruly russet hair that hung over one gamine eye. The Actor resented them for intruding on his space. They spoke excitedly in French, pointing out places below where they had been or planned to go.

Spotting the Actor, the boy held out his phone and asked if he would take their picture. The Actor shrugged and took the camera, which was encased in zebraskin. The couple posed beside the railing, arms entangled, grinning as if trouble was a myth. The impaled onion was visible over the girl’s shoulder. The Actor studied them through the phone’s display. They’re in love, he thought. They glow like a goddamn campfire.

With a snap of his wrist he chucked the zebraskin phone over the railing, sending it whirling into open space. The couple’s grins dissolved into stark horror. The drop was some sixty meters to the red granite base below. The boy jerked forward as though he intended to dive over the rail after it. He might have if the girl hadn’t clung to his arm.

The Actor started down the winding stairs, abandoning the couple to their disbelief. Anger hadn’t had time to burst free from its recesses. During his descent he savored the hollow feeling that swelled inside him like a poisoned gas. Such delicious ruin.

Rob Hill was born in Flint, Michigan, of all places, and currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared recently in Armchair/Shotgun, Akashic Books, Eunoia Review, Scrutiny, Polychrome Ink, and the ubiquitous elsewhere. He occasionally posts rags and bones at hellospider.wordpress.com.

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