For All Nails #57C: Accident
by Johnny Pez
Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
28 June 1974
William Frederick Karl Ferdinand Hohenzollern, King of Prussia and Emperor of Germany, had what he regarded as an ideal relationship with Chancellor Adolph Markstein: William avoided Markstein as much as he possibly could, and Markstein avoided William as much as he possibly could. Consequently, William had had few occasions to visit the Chancellery in Berlin. As he was driven up the wide, tree-lined expanse of the Wilhelmstrasse (one of many streets in Berlin named after an ancestor of his) in his black Daimler with the tinted windows, William could relax and take in the sights, much as any other tourist might.
As is often the case with those who are born to power (whether nominal or genuine), William had a certain amount of contempt for those men like Markstein who actively sought power. Even though Markstein was arguably the most powerful man in the world, William dismissed him as a grasping politician, of no more intrinsic worth than any other sordid tradesman.
By contrast, William had a great deal of respect for his cousin Frederick. Being King of the Poles was a much more demanding job than being Emperor of Germany, and Freddi had always given it his best effort. William didn't envy Freddi his position, trapped between the fractious Poles and the devious Markstein, but you had to admire a proper sense of noblesse oblige, and there was nobody in Europe more nobly obliging than Freddi Hohenzollern.
That was why William was making this rare trip to the Chancellery. Freddi had decided that he wanted the Poles to have free elections, and he was here in Berlin to try to talk Markstein into it. A meeting with Markstein took a lot out of a man (as William knew only too well), and since Freddi didn't have a ghost of a chance of getting Markstein's approval for his request, this particular meeting was likely to be a bugger, as the English put it. Freddi would need someplace quiet to relax and unwind, and William had volunteered the use of his hunting lodge in Silesia. William had taken care to have the Daimler's bar fully stocked, which would also help Freddi to relax and unwind.
William's musings on his cousin's ordeal were interrupted when he saw a man hurry out of the well-known Kaiserhof Hotel and, looking everywhere but ahead of him, walk straight into the path of the Daimler. The driver was unable to stop in time, and William felt a shudder run through the locomobile.
It was with a sense of foreboding that the Emperor emerged from his vehicle and joined the crowd that was beginning to form around the unfortunate casualty. Since the end of the Global War, there had been a small but vocal movement in Germany to abolish the Empire and all titles of nobility and establish a republic. Whenever a scandal enveloped a member of the Imperial Family, the republican movement became even more vocal, and slightly larger. William had no wish to contribute to their growth, but news that the Emperor himself had run down a pedestrian was bound to look bad. Everyone knew that stories of aristocrats running down commoners had been common in France before the Revolution.
One look was enough to tell William that the fellow was done for. He knew in a vague sort of way that people who were involved in traffic accidents were supposed to remain on the scene until the police arrived to take their statements, so he supposed that Freddi would have to wait awhile for his ride. An attaché case that the unfortunate man had been carrying lay open in the street three or four meters away. Looking inside, William was surprised to see that it held the disassembled components of a Mauser SLG 66 rifle. It was certainly an odd choice of travel gear, and William found himself wondering just who he had run over.
(Forward to FAN #58: The Sweet Six.)
(Forward to 28 June 1974: A State of Shock.)
(Return to For All Nails.)