The Steel Spirit is a platform for artwork submissions by Military, First Responder and Hospital Practitioners. They are always looking for new and emerging artists with and without experience, from every background and every age. For more information or if you would like to be involved, please visit: www.thesteelspirit.ca
Featured artist Brian Lintner, born in Toronto, is the son of Irish and German immigrants. He is a veteran who served the Canadian Armed Forces for twenty-two years as a Military Policeman. He has been a contributor to the Steel Spirit since 2017. Below is a painting and a piece of history from Brian titled “Orange”. To see more of Brian’s art visit www.zendenart.ca.
By Brian Lintner
Nighttime. It was chaos: an organized chaos of hay trucks, tractors pulling carts, jalopies. Any motorized vehicle would suffice. They were staged and staggered for evacuation— knowledge of air raid sirens will do that. The Axis bombed the Allies and the Allies bombed the Axis. That is how it worked. There is no friend in purposeful death and destruction, just moral degradation. Morality in war. Sheesh!
Dietmar was six years old when his mother, Hedwig, piled him and his younger sisters, Inge at four years of age, and baby Gerlinda, aged two, onto the back of the hay truck. Priority was afforded to children and the broken-down defenceless, crammed shoulder to shoulder with just space enough to breathe. There were occasional shouts, muted sobs. Hands and arms reached through the slatted wooden boards for one last touch. With the diesel cough of an engine and the vibrating jolt of grinding into gear, slowly the truck began its blackout, potholed journey into the matte of inky black. And the distance between Hedwig’s and Dietmar’s touch grew. Hedwig, able-bodied and not broken, was denied passage on that truck. Dietmar cried. Hedwig wept. The girls knew nothing. Hedwig called out, “Wherever they take you, wait there. Look after your sisters, I will find you!”
The anesthetic of darkness and fear was interrupted only by the rolling thunder and flashes of evil only a ridgeline away.
Adolph, a common name for his time, was a corner-store owner who provided for Hedwig and their three children. His shelves relied on an unpredictable supply chain. Gradually, his small business could not survive with intermittent deliveries, and the tax of reparations. With his future uncertain and a family to care for, Adolph volunteered for military service under the populist leader who shared, coincidentally, the same first name.
Patriotic, fit, and proud, Adolph was deployed to the Eastern Front, about eight hundred kilometers south of Moscow, probably near the five-street village of Oktyabrskaya Gotnya. Adolph’s last known general whereabouts was in a bunker. No survivors. No remains. He is probably still there. According to history, he could be categorized as a fascist invader. According to Hedwig, Dietmar, and the girls, he was a soldier.
Prior to Adolph’s last deployment, he was home on leave and, in hushed tones with Hedwig, he conveyed that populism yielded to tyranny. The end was eventual. He urged Hedwig to “take the children, escape to the West!” Hedwig never saw Adolph again.
The spasmodic hay truck that carried Dietmar and the girls stopped at nautical dawn beside a Bahnhof (or train station). The Bahnhof was open to the elements. The single ceiling light hid the shadows and revealed pastel, cerulean-blue walls and pillars. As the three siblings got off the hay truck, the corner with wooden benches was the least breezy place, and that is where they waited. The din of people moving about existed, not with the rush of commuters, but the daze of the commuted. Morning turned to afternoon, evening, then night.
Baby Gerlinda cried. She was soiled, uncomfortable. They were all thirsty, hungry. Dietmar, remembering Hedwig’s instructions, knew to provide for his sisters. Throughout that Bahnhof and beyond, he scavenged and begged, and a stranger produced an orange. In that hungry isolated circumstance, someone did a moral right.
Dietmar returned to his sisters and peeled the orange with the greatest of care so as not to damage the rich flesh beneath. Done, he split the orange boats into thirds. He gave one third of the boats to Inge, and one third to Gerlinda. Then, he took his third and split it further, giving some to Gerlinda. When later asked, Dietmar explained why he split his third: “Gerlinda was the thirstiest.” It was that simple.
That night, they doze-slept on the benches in the corner, holding each other for warmth and comfort, waiting.
Throughout that day and night, Hedwig learned where her children were and found a way of her own to that Bahnhof. She found Dietmar, Inge and Gerlinda in that least breezy corner of the Bahnhof. She took them into her arms, never again letting go. Then they escaped to the West.
My “Orange” painting.
Dietmar was my father.
I do not know where the Bahnhof was. I do not know if it was large or small. I do not know if there were hills, trees, or a stream nearby. My “Orange” painting was created from a sketch tutorial about single point perspective, with the focal point being the horizon. I traversed that sketch to acrylic. On the left side of the painting is a bench with three children sitting on it, ostensibly waiting. On the bench and at the feet of where the children sit, there remains the peels of the orange.
My father passed away last year – assisted dying. My brother and I helped ease him out of this existence. I painted “Orange” with a heavy heart and the knowledge that if my father ever saw it, he would castigate me for structural and perhaps geographic inaccuracies. The story, however, remains the same.
He was a remarkable man.