Die Ballade der Freunde Lederbengel Tom und Handschellen Jig · Novel · 160 pages
Text in German
Paperback · ISBN 978-3-8423-5787-7 · € 9,80 · E-Book · ISBN 978-3-7431-9963-7 · € 6,49
Books on Demand, Norderstedt, 2016
The ballad of the friends
Leather Freak Tom & Handcuff Jig
This short novel was initially published in 31 weekly sequels on an internet forum under the working title Trapped Freak (Freak in der Falle). It can be charming for an author to push ahead a story from chapter to chapter without knowing, how his heroes will overcome their difficulties, and how they will get along with the characters surrounding them. With each successive chapter, the edit-button of the previous one disappeared from the forum. Contradictions in the plot, once edited, gave the imagination hard nuts to crack.
Examples of such ruthless updating are well-known from the period of German Romanticism. In the romance novel Godwi oder Das Steinerne Bild der Mutter, Clemens Brentano sends the first-person narrator to the protagonist to clear up inconsistencies in his life. Brentano himself denominated this opus Ein verwilderter Roman (A Ragged Novel), which invited the reviewers to the most controversial acceptance. Friedrich Schlegel wrote in the copy, dedicated him by the author: “A hundred strokes on the ass, that is what I would sincerely grudge you.“
Whether the readers of the forum would have wished me something similar, having had to follow a long and complicated novel for six months, is beyond my knowledge.
This story is especially directed
to those who in the fifties have been on the threshold to puberty. And of course as well to all who are inquisitive to know something about the spirit of the peaceful two decades after the
ravaging World Wars I and II. Children are ever unconscious of the paradise in which they play. Only retrospection – after having advanced in years – enables a half reliable estimation, which may
turn out greatly different due to individual experiences. Those times had been marked by an enormous detachment and autonomy of the kids. In behalf of the parents existed lose control based on
the expectation, children and teens would act and move under the conditions of rationality and ethics. Trespasses were punished by slaps in the face or spanking the buttocks, both in school and
At first glance, the schoolboys
Tom and Jig appear to be as opposite as two thirteen-year-old boys can be: athletic / weak, self-confident / sceptical, top in sports / last in gymnastics, technically interested / a voracious
book-reading rascal / a role model. They don’t speak with each other and studiously shun themselves. Until one day they are the only pupils, who correctly write down a dictation which
interrogates the tricky use of [German] ss and ß. Topic in the dictation
is a scouting game between two groups of boy scouts. The group that tracks down, overpowers and captures the most prisoners wins the game.
Tom, the son of a furrier, owns a lot of straps cut from leather scraps. Through his uncle, a
military police officer, he has access to handcuffs. He knows how to trap someone on a tree very easily. Does Jig know that too? If so, probably not from his own experience, but from books with
adventure stories. Cunningly, Tom takes the initiative. He suggests to Jig: "Be in the forest at three. If you have enough courage to be alone with me there. And if you come, you'll have to stay
Jig, who as each boy in his form admires Tom, follows this unexpected invitation with flying colours. Tom takes him prisoner and offers him to become his fellow, if he is willing to pass a test of courage. The boys quickly find out, that they have the same strange desires. So they slide in a close friendship. Which continues, when Tom quits at once school and begins an apprenticeship in his father’s workshop.
Later, they go their separate ways. Far from home, they live in different countries. Tom little by little renounces the thread woven into their friendship, which for Jig has become one of the red threads in his life. One day he exuberantly chains himself to a tree in the Sierra de Ávila. Very rashly – because suddenly the keys are out of reach. As he sits there helplessly, the events he shared with Tom replay before him like a film. It gradually dawns on him that, through his bottomless recklessness, he has obviously condemned himself to perishing in the wilderness.
I am sorry to say that the novel of Tom and Jig and my other writings are available only in German.