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About the author:
Charles Frankhauser enjoys writing fiction to entertain readers. His works include many locales and often the works are based on experiences that he encountered in his travels.
What inspired you to write your book?
I visited Hamburg, Germany and walked-down a street described in the novella.
Here is a short sample from the book:
CHAPTER 3–TEAM TRAINING
Years ago when I first entered the Academy, I talked with some classmates who were familiar with bar-hopping, known as travelling from one drinking establishment to another as they consumed large quantities of liquid refreshments. I was curious to experience what it was like inside a seedy bar, so they agreed to take me along with them for an evening on the town. I was impressed by the organizational efficiency of the staff and the business-like atmosphere maintained in various drinking establishments. We received a warm reception at the front door of each establishment.
I watched couples dancing, drinking, kissing, and walking hand-in-hand down a hallway as they disappeared from sight behind closed doors. Couples returned to the bar where I was standing, and more couples started dancing, drinking, kissing, and disappearing down dark hallways. The couples appeared to be having a wonderful time. A table in the center of the room was often arranged with platters of cheese, dishes of nuts, plates of cold cut meats, hot rolls, and several different desserts. Everyone was welcome to help themselves to plates of food. Nobody in the place seemed homesick to me at the time.
Pub-crawling is great because of the jovial atmosphere and free food, but people around me are too free with spending their money.
The doormen greeted customers. The doormen told me that I was a guest and they acted glad to see me. At one establishment I was ushered out the front door onto the sidewalk in less than two minutes after I mentioned that someone in the bar next door had stolen my wallet with all my money in it. I didn’t see my classmates for the remainder of the evening. I walked back to the Academy alone in an extremely homesick and deeply depressed state of mind.
I never thought of myself as being a guest because in a business environment a person usually pays someone something for what they get. And, to my way of thinking, a guest is given things for free, so why was I greeted as a guest? Just because I didn’t have any money, a doorman threw me out onto the sidewalk. That’s no way to treat a guest.
Another of my classmates mentioned that he had worked as a bartender before becoming a student in the Academy. We talked about the business aspects of running a bar. I learned that advertising plays an important part in most successful business operations.
A bartender has skills similar to a car salesperson. They both are adept at selling. Bartenders are interested in providing liquid refreshments in exchange for money. Some bars have dance floors where customers can enjoy the company of other dancers. Often the more liquid refreshments customers consume, the more time they spend dancing, and the better they get to know one another. Friendships blossom and all kinds of things can result, some good and some not so good.
The Admiral assigned Heidi to my team. She must be a great dancer. I hope she’s not a great drinker. I’ll need her technical knowledge. The submission of a half-ass plan to the Admiral will damage the hell out of my career. Heidi is my ticket to writing a plan that the Admiral will approve. The Admiral obviously has wonderful people-matching skills to assign the three of us to work on this problem.
I can observe changes in mental states caused by dancing, and I can apply those findings in determining the validity of the homesickness cure. People visit bars when they get homesick. I wonder if dancing while discussing food will cure homesickness? That’s the nexus of our study.
I’ve discovered a goldmine of experience in Heidi just waiting to be tapped. What better place is there to learn about dancing than in a bar that has free food?
In the infantry a leader orders a soldier to walk in front of everyone else; it’s called being on point. Everyone follows the guy into “the jaws of battle.” I put Heidi on point to improve our chance of submitting a plan acceptable to the Admiral. Heidi agreed to arrange a visit for our team to a bar for educational purposes where I could formulate a test plan for the elimination of homesickness aboard U-boats and other naval vessels.
I asked Gunter to get us three round-trip tickets for a journey to Hamburg by train. We arrived in Hamburg, and Heidi recommended a cheap hotel where we spent the night.
Our business day started after breakfast. I had never been to the high crime area section of the city. The seaport attracted the worst sort of folks into the area near the docks. Heidi hailed a taxi to take us into a rough looking neighborhood. When we got out of the taxi, our uniforms provided some level of protection from thugs, but my two attractive associates caused us to get some quizzical stares from passersby on the sidewalk.
It was early in the morning when I noticed some unusual activities inside the storefront windows. Beautiful women were climbing into the windows from inside the storefronts. The women sat in chairs; they struck different poses with their bodies to attract the attention of a group of sailors walking ahead of us. I looked into the windows as we walked past the storefronts. Some of the women smiled at me as I walked along. Some of them waved to me, and I returned their waves. Heidi jabbed her elbow into my side. I stopped returning the friendly waves.
The women were beautiful. I admired their smiles. Good dental care was evident among most of them. Several young women pointed directly at me while making a “come-here” motion toward the door of their storefront. They were all wearing fashionable clothing. One of the women turned her back toward me. She flipped the hem at the back of her dress to, I guess, shake-off some lint. Heidi gave me another sharp elbow in my ribs.
I noticed a group of sailors walking on the other side of the street. They were receiving the same warm greetings from inside the storefronts. Heidi didn’t show the respect that a senior officer deserves by the manner that she yanked me along on the sidewalk.
We stopped in front of a storefront with a sign painted on the glass that read: “Dance Studio.” Below the “Dance Studio” portion of the sign were the words, “One Mark-A-Dance.”
One of the women sitting inside the window jumped-out of her chair and disappeared behind a curtain hanging at the back of the window. Heidi whispered in my ear, “They know we’re here.” Before we reached the doorway, a woman old enough to he Heidi’s mother flung open the door and rushed toward us. The woman looked like an older version of Heidi. In fact she was Heidi’s mom.
Heidi and her mom hugged and kissed. Heidi introduced Greta and me to her mom. We walked into the Dance Studio and four women rushed toward us. We all started hugging one another as if we were long-lost friends. The fact that I was in uniform didn’t stop one of the ladies from planting a juicy kiss on my lips.
Or perhaps I got the kiss because I was wearing my uniform? I’ll never know, but I wasn’t sorry about the warm welcome because the young woman who kissed me was beautiful. I sat down and everyone started talking at the same time.
Why does a love seat have seats facing in different directions? I’ll ask Heidi sometime when everyone isn’t talking.
Heidi mentioned meeting the Admiral at a party. She explained to her mom the purpose of our visit to Hamburg in complete detail, including the fact that the test plan was classified at the secret level. Heidi’s mom expressed her doubts that dancing while discussing food would have any effect on producing a cure for homesickness in the fleet.
We stayed in Hamburg for a week while I underwent dance training under the tutelage of Heidi. Bruno was the Doorman of the Dance Studio, and I was his understudy. I watched couples drinking together at the bar. I watched couples performing dances that I couldn’t name. I watched couples eating free food from the bar. I watched couples disappear down a dark hallway.
Heidi taught me some wonderful moves to incorporate into my Box Step routine; she acted as if it was a boring experience for her, but that certainly was not the case for me. Learning social skills was important for my leadership role in the Navy. She made it a point not to talk about food while we danced because we were in public working on a classified military project.
The management of a business requires numerous skills that involve working with employees, pleasing customers, avoiding tax collectors, and just too many other skills to list. In my case, learning to be a Doorman seemed only to require the ability of knowing when a fight was about to erupt, and how to slowly extricate one of the employees from a dangerous situation without anyone getting hurt. I also learned that marketing, wearing appropriate work clothes, and having a good benefit package all have to be taken into account when operating a business.
Heidi suggested we leave our uniforms back at the hotel so that we could walk to work without drawing attention to ourselves as naval officers. Bruno took me to a second-hand clothing store to buy some used clothing for my apprenticeship as a Doorman.
Plaid pants with red dots on them gave me a jaunty look. An open shirt allowed me to display a chain hanging around my neck. Bruno taught me to work in providing security for our people. Most sailors were stronger than I was, so Bruno’s help was needed to eject them from the establishment as a result of rowdy behavior on their part.
The advertising portion of my job was creative. I imagine that Bruno might have made a successful career for himself in the circus. Bruno had a wonderful personality. He smiled as he evicted deadbeats from the establishment for rude behavior. “Happiness,” he told me, “is infectious.” He said, “Without the joy of fighting, many tasks in life can easily become drudgery.” Bruno was a strong guy with a big belly. His laugh was infectious often making me want to laugh, even when I didn’t know what he was laughing about. He had me laughing most of the time that we worked together. Everyone working in the Dance Studio appeared to be happy when Bruno was around.
I enjoyed listening to Bruno’s pitch when he stood outside on the sidewalk. “Come on inside young men. You can dance for one mark a dance as long as you don’t run out of marks. Free bar food and private dance lessons are available as well.”
Heidi’s mom was a beautiful woman. She had a solid look to her with a no nonsense attitude just like her daughter. Except for Heidi, we all called her “Frau.” In English, her name would translate to “Mrs.”
No mention was made of money for my education. Heidi convinced her mom that my dancing lessons were a form of patriotism in the national interest of the Fatherland. I mentioned the subject of money, but charging me a fee to learn how to dance was out of the question.
Bruno and I took turns manning the doorway. I hoped that none of my old shipmates would walk past while I was on duty dressed in a jaunty manner, somewhat like a barker in the circus. I kept thinking about what I would say to them if it happened. The best thing that I came-up with was to put a finger to my lips and whisper, “military undercover operation.” I knew that some of them would probably hurt themselves laughing, and I hoped that they would hurt themselves.
Damn, why did I get into this mess?
I sat around in the front room during my time-off from being a Doorman. It was during one of those times that I heard Frau give Greta some advice about matching-up a customer with an appropriate dancing instructor. “Know the skills of your people,” was the bottom line of her advice on the subject. Evidently, some of the employees were more skilled at teaching some dances than they were at teaching other dances.
Customer satisfaction led to repeat business and repeat business leads to an improved bottom line on an income statement, allowing for better food, improved living conditions, and opportunities for group vacations. Having the services of a medical professional readily available was a necessity when it came to ensuring the safety of employees teaching the Tango, but medical fees work against your bottom line.
I realized that it was unlikely for Frau to be able to impart her business related knowledge gained from years of experience to my team members, but I respected the determination and patience evident in Frau’s attitude.
One lesson on customer assessment was of particular interest. I knew that privacy was respected in regard to asking names. The privacy of a customer had to be respected if any hope for a return visit was going to be a possibility.
Knowledge can be obtained from a client’s appearance, and that knowledge can telegraph the likelihood for that person to become a great dancer. Some people can’t move their bodies in time with the music, but people who can’t dance often have extensive knowledge in relation to cooking. People who love to cook often love to talk about food. People who love to dance often can keep time with the music. My ticket to a promotion from the Admiral is to prove the theory that dancing while talking about food will actually be of some value to accomplish whatever the Admiral thinks his old buddy knows about a cure for homesickness and depression.