In High school Curt had taken German in order to talk with his aging great grand parents. Which worked out fine for the last few years of their lives. His great grandmother would often be speaking in English and then slip into German not realizing it. She had lived an incredible life. Coming over to America as a young teenager, arriving at Ellis Island, none of her family that was already here had come to meet her. Speaking very little English at the time she didn’t know what to do or where to go. As luck would have it, the Kennedy family were there that day looking to hire people to work at their estate. So she was hired and worked for a dozen years as an upstairs maid at the Kennedy mansion. Eating and sleeping on the property she never left and had nothing to spend her money on since her needs were being met. Eventually she wrote her brothers. When they found out she had saved up a good amount of money, they came out and got her. They took her money and married her off. Curt’s great grandfather then moved her out west and opened a saloon. So she had gone from being a young immigrant, to working for the Kennedy’s, to working in a saloon out west. She had a wicked sense of humor and stories galore. As a young teenager Curt would sit and play cards with her. She would always win because but it didn’t matter to Curt. He was just there to listen to her stories and laugh at her jokes. But when she passed away, he had no reason to speak German anymore.
Working in an area with a heavy Mexican immigrant population, he quickly realized that it might have been more useful to have studied Spanish.
Coming across a Mexican man that was wanted for murder, Curt pulled his gun and said “Halt.” The man just smiled and started to go for his weapon.
“Stop. Don’t move. Freeze,” Curt kept trying but the man just pretended he didn’t understand and kept going, smiling.
Then Curt remembered one day in high school, a couple of his friends were running down the hall pointing their fingers at each other and saying ‘kataploon’ as they pretended to shoot at each other. He had asked one of them what it meant and they had answered it means ‘bang-bang’ in Spanish.
So now when he really needed it, the word came back to him and he looked at the man and said, “Stop or Kataploon!”
The Mexican man got a puzzled look on his face, stopped and said in perfect English, “What’s Kataploon?”
“It’s bang bang in Spanish,” explained Curt.
“No it’s not!” Declared the Mexican man.
“Well, how do you say bang bang in Spanish,” asked Curt.
“Bang bang,” said the man, a bit exasperated at how stupid the officer was.
“Oh,” said Curt. “By the way, since we now both know you speak English, I’m going to shoot your ass if you don’t put your hands up.”
The man complied and was arrested without incident. He probably couldn’t wait to tell the story to others about what an idiot Curt was.
Want more stories like this check out the book The Chief Is Missing which is available in audio for those of us that don’t have time to sit down and read. Narrated by Dan Levy.
Another Book by J A Sliger is Code Name Artist. It’s a World War Two drama based on a man that fought the Nazi’s from inside the German Secret Service The Abwehr.