Every weekend there was a box of expensive cigarettes on his desk; Royal Palms, or something in a language he didn’t understand. Each delicately wrapped stick contained the finest, most succulent tobacco leaves imported from North America. The filter paper was cream-coloured and soft between his lips, on the edge of his tongue.
He imagined Oskar hand-picking the cigarettes, going through the most expensive boxes, sampling hundreds of marks’ worth of merchandise. These were special, chosen exclusively for Goeth, and tailored to suit him when they were smoked.
The box would appear (Lisiek’s doing) on Saturday afternoons while Amon was riding, or doing what deeds he saw fit in the attempts to “prune the camp”. He always shot a Jew Saturday morning, as a perverse act of penitence. In a way, the Palms were also penitence, but they were not offered to Heaven. Neither act was perpetrated for the sake of the Soul, but rather for the peace of the mind.
It was always wrapped so perfectly, so carefully that any carnal knowledge (so to speak) of the fags inside was impossible to keep secret. In other words, only one person- Amon- could open the box without being shot for it.
The Untersturmführer promised himself that he would do just that if anyone but Oskar and he touched the cigarettes. It was petty, yes, but then again every man has his price; and that price in and of itself is priceless.
Amon was smoking one of the fags from the box, taking the dry smoke into his mouth, onto his tongue, then exhaled through his nose. Rich, deep smoke drifted before his eyes for a moment, like cognac slowly slipping down his throat.
Cognac and cigarettes was Oskar to him. Oskar was embodied by standing on the balcony in the cold of night, sweating from alcohol and smoke, gazing catatonically at the sky. They sat for hours sometimes, mostly listening to the radio (often a classical station from Austria, home to both men), occasionally mentioning a small word on a fleeting thought. Oskar (when he talked) liked to talk about grand things, like music or the philosophies of life; things no one could really define or completely grasp. Amon listened through a drunken haze, half-watching the Herr Direktor move as he spoke and half-thinking about grabbing the gesticulating wrists and breaking them. It tickled his spine to think about hurting Oskar Schindler; beneath the fact that it would stroke his ego to fell such a powerful man, it also gave Goeth a sexual rush, as though he were absorbing the very power he’d be taking away.
Goeth scribbled vehemently on the margin of his paper. It was frustrating to carry on like this. He thought too often and too long on Oskar Schindler, and he drank too much. Oskar bought him cigarettes for a reason.
Amon was caught in this cycle of intoxication and lust.
He drank more because he slept with Oskar, who gave him nice things and warmed his bed; he slept with Oskar because he drank, because his heart pumped gallons of liquor through his veins every night. And he drank because of Oskar.
He once tried to blame his momentarily-heavy conscience on Oskar, indirectly Oskar, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
He was not weak.
He knew Oskar did not have that hold on him, and that he didn’t love him. How could he love the man who possessed all he could ever want, and who laid it down for Jews? Amon bit his lips between puffs. He was not blind, or stupid to Oskar’s little games. For Oskar Schindler, money as an excuse could only stretch so far.
Was that what led Schindler to Goeth, he wondered silently. He did not know he was being used. He pushed the thought from his mind. Sure, in the beginning, before the two men got to know each other, all Schindler wanted were the means to his end. His ends were, of course, his Emailware workers; his means, Amon scoffed, were not so simple, nor were they customary.
Amon had opened his hand to Oskar after a few drinks and some chit-chat. Palm-up, cocksure, the Commandant assumed Schindler knew what to place in his hand, and he assumed it was a large sum.
Schindler placed his own hand in Goeth’s palm, then slipped away to the door.
“Your maid, Helen, she will not bother us, will she?”
Amon struggled to look at the tall Czech leaning against the door. He struggled to shake his head, cocking it instead. With business-like elegance, the seduction began. It didn’t take long, Goeth begrudgingly admitted; Oskar sat on the arm of Amon’s chair, sipping his cognac while stroking the Commandant’s lap.
Even now, the thought of Oskar’s liquor-tinged breath on his face stirred his pulse. The sudden thought of Oskar’s breath elsewhere…
Amon shot up from his desk and crossed the room to the balcony. The bitter air was welcome on his face, storming into his nostrils, through his eyelids; most soothingly, he found it defeated his arousal almost instantaneously. How could he get so sick from this infatuation with Oskar Schindler?
It was power… power and nothing more. Goeth growled in his throat; he fingered the pistol at his hip as he surveyed the camp below. His balls ached as he spotted a young woman drop a hammer, then collapse in an attempt to pick it up. God, if only he had his rifle, he could relieve his itch. To see blood on the cold, hard dirt would make him forget all about his other needs. As if God heard his prayers, an SS man ran over to harass the woman, all but shooting her.
Amon sucked the fag he was given, just as Schindler had, and a pool of red flowed over the ground.