Well-known as a prominent architect and skillful editor in Leipzig, Germany. Ridicule succumbs Radulf into a trench of repulsion the more peoples' greediness is criticized. Ironically enough his own character is devoid of morals that the paradox isn't enough to curtail his opportunist style. But the further he looks to advance his agenda, the obsession turns hostile and his appetite for lust gives way to a new motive.
Friday, 18 March 1938
I ‘d been working on a custom design for a home these past months, but now that my client’s request was complete, I walked outside and recalled when I was at Bauhaus in 1925.
I was a freshman in the town of Dessau and was looking forward to the seasonal changes October brought to the area. Seventh period had just ended, so I decided to sit under a tree to draw the landscape that was already varying in color. Sometime later, footsteps approached from behind, but I had no interest in looking up from my sketch.
I wasn’t surprised when Gropius sat beside me to see what I was drawing. His gray suit and black shirt outlined his slender body, and his shoes and hair continued to shine despite the fading daylight.
As my image came to life, he advised me that the picture needed more embellishing around the edges. Most students would’ve found this nerve-racking, but the adrenaline from stress motivated me to outdo myself whenever possible.
Deep down, I knew why he came to talk with me, so when he finally said that a student had told him some peculiar things, it was obvious that he wanted to know if they were true. When I said they were, he asked why I did it.
There never could be an explanation for what I did because madness and creativity went hand in hand, so it was impossible for someone of his stature not to empathize with me, no matter what I did since we were artists.
“Be careful, now,” I said. “She’s manipulative.”
“Is there proof?”
“Of course there is.”
“So where is it?”
I put the drawing down and turned to look at Gropius. “Franziska threatened to tell everyone I was a fraud if I broke up with her.”
“And that upset you?”
“I told her to take back what she said, but she wouldn’t, so I did what I had to do to make her wish she had.”
“Your conniving tone isn’t helping.”
A reputation was something a man couldn’t live without, and people often found that threatening. I believed that anyone who constantly questioned themselves in order to please others couldn’t be called a man, because he was nothing more than an empty shell. So I began drawing again.
“Does it bother you that I’ve changed since the interview?”
“That’s a peculiar question.”
“Well, I want to be sure you aren’t having doubts.”
“Radulf, distinction is the reason anyone is here.”
“Does that mean you’ll overlook the prank?”
Gropius disregarded the comment as if he could sense my hostility.
“Making someone feel regret through resentment is foolish.”
“Then why were nude drawings of Franziska hung in the men’s restroom?”
“I wanted everyone to know she was available again.”
He sighed and looked over his shoulder, knowing what he had to do. “Did she say anything else?”
“Yes. She wanted to spread more rumors that you and I were having an affair and that you were secretly drawing my diagrams on your own time.”
“It could’ve been a bluff.”
I threw a degrading look at him as I dropped the pencil in the grass. “Would you take a threat like that lightly?”
“No, but either way, she somehow got under your skin, and you didn’t like that.”
I respected Gropius because he nurtured talent that produced real results. He could’ve used his power any way he wanted, but he chose to befriend people no matter what.
“Gropius, it was a prank, no one got hurt.”
“People have a hard time recuperating from strenuous situations. Particularly from the stunt you pulled today.”
“If I apologize, will you let me off the hook?”
“That’s something the three of us need to discuss.”
I grabbed my pad and jumped to my feet. “I’m ready when you are.”
We approached the white buildings until we moved beneath the glass Bauhaus inscription to enter the building. Every window along the three-storied structure was pristine and open. Even the sunlit foyer still smelled new, and everything inside was perfectly polished.
A group of students were sitting by the red-trimmed stairs when they saw us passing through the empty hallway. My name was mentioned, and their conversation quickly went mute as if one of us had asked them a question. I could then feel their eyes boring into me just as my pulse elevated from the attention.
When we entered the director’s suite, Gropius told the secretary to get Franziska. I was anxious because it was already five in the afternoon, and I had plans to attend a party later that evening. I should’ve been showered by now, but I was stuck meddling with this nonsense.
When I applied to Bauhaus, my work was easily the reason for the admission. The semester hadn’t even started, and already I was being praised for it. Even then I had Gropius in my grasp, but as long as I kept that private, my future would never be jeopardized.
There was a knock at the door, and his secretary slightly pushed her head into the room.
“Ms. Rosenthal is in the lobby, sir.”
“Send her in.”
Gropius removed his jacket before opening the windows. The glass desk was large, and the room was spacious enough for his tidy bookshelves and sketches.
The door opened again to reveal a woman with bobbed black hair that was wavy and full. Her large sky-blue eyes were naïve, and her body was very angular. She refrained from looking at me when she sat in a red chair close to me.
After some time was spent assessing the situation, he indicated the solution.
“Gropius, that isn’t fair,” she implored, “he should be suspended.”
“No, no, we’ll get to that later. But first, is it true you threatened him?”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“I asked you a question, Franziska.”
It seemed that the confession was pure anguish for her. “Yes. I was going to say you were doing his work for him.”
Gropius moved around the desk and sat at its edge. “If someone doesn’t want to be with you romantically, that is no reason to insult them. You should be grateful for that kind of honesty.”
She laughed with disbelief. “Is that what he told you? Because if he did, he’s lying.”
“Is there something either of you hasn’t mentioned?” Gropius shouted.
“I told you everything.”
“Gropius, he threatened me before I said anything to him. I didn’t start anything.”
He grew vexed while rubbing the sides of his head.
“Neither of you is more innocent than the other, so stop trying to outdo one another.”
“But he had no right to put those nasty pictures of me in the restroom.”
“He didn’t. However, you are just as guilty, Franziska.”
“If that’s how you want to play it, fine. I’m going to tell my father about this, dammit! And he’ll have no problem ruining you, Gropius.”
He leaned forward with a sinister smile. “I’m sure he would love to know how you were planning to tell everyone that Radulf and I were having some sort of an absurd love affair. Is that also true?”
She looked down at the floor. “Yes.”
Gropius paused to take a deep breath. “How do you expect sympathy from anyone if that was your motive?”
“This is pointless,” she said slowly. “I give up.”
“Because he’s already bribed you.”
“Franziska! Why make another accusation like that? We’re here to find resolutions, not more strife.”
She leaned back with a dry smile. “You know it’s true.”
“Jealousy might make people say outlandish things, but your attitude today is unacceptable, Ms. Rosenthal.”
“Jealous of what?” She turned to me. “That?”
“Enough. Start an argument, and you’ll be suspended for three weeks, which is something no one at this school can afford.”
Gropius might’ve had a sexual attraction toward me, but that didn’t matter because intelligence could overshadow any circumstance, no matter the hurdle that came my way.
“Was I called here to be told that? Or is there something worth discussing?” she quickly replied.
“Before we continue, Radulf cannot communicate with you for the duration of the semester. If he does, he will be expelled. However, the same applies to you.”
She looked defeated. But even I couldn’t have argued with him.
“Fine,” she said, “I agree.”
After I apologized, she stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind her. One could hear the secretary asking if she was okay, but Franziska yelled at her to stay quiet.
Gropius glared at me as if he had done me a favor for reasons he didn’t understand, but in the end, he was responsible for today’s agreement. The room quickly grew silent again, and not knowing what else to say, I quietly left the office.
There was the illusion that people were staring at me as I crossed the lawn to the dorms. I was numb with everything we had discussed, and I really didn’t feel anything as I entered the room. When Emeric saw me, he asked where I had been because he was about to leave for the party. When I asked how Franziska found out about the pictures so quickly, he lit a cigarette and poured us some gin.
“I was in interior design when Gottfried told me he just masturbated to one of Franziska’s pictures in the stalls. I didn’t believe him, so I had to check for myself.”
“Did you like them?”
“Yes, but when I came back, Izaak must’ve overheard us whispering about them because as soon as I sat down, he took the hall pass. You know how they’re good friends, so I was nervous when he left, but what could I do since she was seated at the other end of the classroom?”
“I take it he was the one who told her, then?”
“No. When Izaak came back, he asked Professor Moholy-Nagy into the hall. A minute later, Franziska was asked to step out into the hall.”
“I bet everyone knew something bad had happened?”
“No one really knew what was going on until she ran out of the restroom, screaming as if someone were stabbing her. All the classrooms poured into the hall in time to catch a glimpse of her ripping the portraits apart.”
I savored the gin against my lips. “And?”
“She ran to Gropius’ office.”
“I thought that’s how it happened.”
Emeric brought the glass forward. “Didn’t you hear the screaming?”
“I’m on the third floor during last period, so that would’ve been impossible.”
Emeric then speculated that everyone would forget the incident by next year, so I had nothing to worry about. Tired from the meeting, I told him to wait while I quickly showered.
After I got dressed, we walked down the hall to Erdmann’s dorm. Voices could be heard from inside the room. When we opened the door, everyone became silent, and the only sound was the jazz straining from the gramophone.
I thought someone was going to ask me to leave, but when Erdmann offered me a drink, everyone began talking again as if I wasn’t in the room.
As the night progressed, I finally got the opportunity to speak with Odelia, who was in my third-period class. She had fair skin, green eyes, and blond hair. We hardly got the time in getting to know one another because she was always busy, but that didn’t mean we hadn’t noticed one another during class. When I asked if she wanted to take a walk, she smiled and said, “Sure.”
As we walked outside, she asked the inevitable. “What happened between you and Franziska?”
I chuckled under my breath. “She thought I was paying too much attention to my studies, so she threatened to ruin me if I didn’t compromise more of my time for her.”
“I can see that.”
“Of course,” Odelia replied, laughing. “I went to high school with her.”
“Then you’re not annoyed by what I did.”
“Everyone thought she was really weird back in the day, and the two times she had boyfriends, she lied about everything they did once they broke up. She’s always been desperate for attention for whatever reason no one can figure out because she’s so introverted.”
“You knew we had been talking these past months. The least you could’ve done was warn me about her.”
“I could’ve, but you eventually figured it out.”
We slowly moved off the trail, where the brush became thicker.
“Even though I didn’t see the pictures. I knew they were exquisite.”
“How is that possible? You’ve never seen any of my portraits before.”
“She showed me the one you gave her two weeks ago.”
“But you just said you weren’t close friends with her.”
“I was the acquaintance she wanted to make jealous.”
“Ah, that makes sense. So you didn’t find the joke offensive?”
“No one did. She overreacted, as usual.”
As we wandered further into a small thickness of brush, her eyes soon flashed with desire before her lips pressed against me. I could feel her hands unzipping my pants so that she could take me into her mouth while I massaged her vagina beneath her argyle skirt. I turned her around to taste her juices as she moaned into the night. When she was ready, I opened her blouse and pushed her tits against the tree, placing myself inside her. We silkily moved against one another until I felt myself climaxing. When I was ready to blow, she turned around so she could swallow my semen.
When we came back to the party, everyone looked at us like we were crazy. The cigarette smoke was thick, and the room was warm compared to the cool night. I had several more drinks from that point on until the girls were ready to move back to the women’s dormitory. After the party, Emeric and I went back to our room.
Once the door was closed, he turned the metal lamp on before throwing a look at me.
“You’re moving too fast, Radulf, I don’t like this.”
“In what way.”
“Gropius is letting you slide with this one because you’re his little protégé. Push too far, and he might not be able to save you next time.”
“If I’m not concerned, neither should you.”
“If people start thinking negatively about you, you’re going to have a much bigger problem on your hands. Your mischief will ruin you—no matter the kind of work you’re creating here.”
“No one has ever turned against me, Emeric. And to be sure it stays that way, I must inflict fear into peoples’ minds whenever they hear my name.”
“That won’t last forever.”
“Well, you know what, that’s expected because nothing ever does.”
Emeric quieted down. “It was only a suggestion.”
I took off my socks and removed my belt.
“Good. I was beginning to think you were getting mad at me.”
“It was brilliant what you did today—but if you come across as insensitive too quickly, it’s going to rub people the wrong way.”
The idea of being expelled frightened me because without this place, there would be no future. I knew Gropius couldn’t protect me entirely, so in order to appease the masses these next few days, I went ahead and offered the façade-of-apology to keep myself safe from expulsion.
Later that week, Franziska found out Odelia and I were beginning to get closer. She tried to communicate, thinking I’d forgotten about the agreement between the three of us, but I wasn’t quick to report the breach because I didn’t want to cause problems so soon after the meeting.
But when notes found their way under my door several nights in a row, I took them to Gropius.
A week later, I wasn’t entirely sure what he had told her to correct the issue but her behavior became even more erratic as the days went on.
From that point, every time she saw me in the hallway, she lifted her skirt, and paraded her shaved vagina as if it were a trophy. She didn’t care that other students were seeing this because she just fluttered her tongue out at anyone who looked at her with disgust.
A few days later, I was in sixth period when Professor Oskar Schlemmer asked why she wasn’t taking notes. After the class turned in unison to look at her, she snarled for everyone to turn around and mind their fucking business.
Schlemmer quickly opened the door and asked if she wanted a drink of water as he took a kerchief to pat the sweat forming along his temples. He must’ve been bewildered in how to handle the situation because there was a moment when all he did was stare at her until he turned around to write on the board again. Another ten minutes or so had passed when Franziska turned around to stare at me as if she were on drugs. Some of classmates gasped, while others screamed when she jumped in the air to tackle me, pushing me to the floor.
We scuffled briefly until several students pinned her against the wall out of fear that I was going to hit her. She yelled that she was going to kill me and that I wasn’t going to get away with having made a fool of her as the doorway grew packed with curious faces from the other classrooms excited to catch a glimpse of the drama.
It wasn’t long after that when Gropius came in yelling for everyone to get back to work. He quickly took Franziska under his arm when Schlemmer was called to follow them. Everyone in the room continued laughing and whistling about the incident even as Gropius came back to ask one of the students to escort her to his office where they would wait until he returned.
It wasn’t long after that when I was called into the hallway where Gropius apologized and said he should’ve expelled her when the notes started making their way under my door, but he didn’t think she was capable of this. I told him not to worry and that we could talk about the matter later in the day.
Once she was expelled, it proved that I was right and that her motives were juvenile from the very beginning. As her parents took her away later that evening, others began saying that some of her friends had tried convincing her to drop her obsessions about me, but she remained demented in achieving her revenge no matter how long it took for her to get it.
Gropius later confessed that her anxiety had manifested from the rigorous curriculum and hoped others wouldn’t crack like she had in the future. But it was easy to reassure him that Franziska was just a bad apple.
As I walked back to the dorm, it was frustrating to think people were incapable of salvaging their lives from destruction, no matter how much they wanted to make that happen.
This was strange because the task only called for a little bit of effort, yet some people just couldn’t function whenever they were faced with simple adversities, but in the end, it all came down to substandard parenting exercised during their childhood that gave them such incompetence.
It eventually showed in peoples’ character as they matured, but had Franziska believed in herself at some point in her life, she would’ve never allowed her frustration to consume her like they had.
Once she had been escorted off the school grounds, I celebrated her misfortune on the rooftop with a drink under an overcast sky that was slowly drifting overhead.