The teddy bear was Hitler. Josh knew that for a fact. Why else would Josh be holding the gun at the bear’s head?
Josh didn’t know how Hitler had got into his run-down house. He couldn’t have snuck over with Josh’s niece and all her other stuffed animals — her mother didn’t let the girl visit anymore since Josh lost those damned pills he was supposed to take. When Josh found the bear sitting on a kitchen chair and listening to the radio that morning, the first thing he did was run to his bedroom and get his gun.
“You get on out of here!” he shouted at the teddy bear who was Hitler. “We don’t want you here!”
“Irrelevant,” the bear replied. “I will do what needs to be done, and you cannot hinder me now. I have your medicine.”
Josh screamed, for even though he knew he was facing Hitler, it still startled him to hear a stuffed bear speak. He emptied his gun at the dictator.
“That was pointless,” the bear observed. The chair had lost its back, the table and refrigerator had new bullet holes, and the vociferous radio talk-show host had suddenly fallen silent, but Hitler sat tranquil and unscathed.
Josh ran back to his bedroom for more ammunition. When he returned to the kitchen, he heard the approaching sirens in the distance.
“I believe your neighbors called the police,” the bear said. “They’re going to take you away, and my plan will proceed. Soon I will have everyone’s medicine, and you will all be locked up!”
“It’s you they’ll take away, you murdering Nazi!” Josh cried. He seized Hitler by the throat and stormed out onto the shaggy front lawn, his gun held at the bear’s head.
When the police arrived in three cruisers, they saw a disheveled young man standing in the yard, holding a gun and a white teddy bear in front of him. The bear appeared to have a mustache drawn on its face with a heavy black marker.
Josh watched six policemen exit their vehicles crouching low with their guns drawn and aimed at him.
“Drop your weapon!” a dark, burly officer shouted at Josh.
“No,” said Josh, “it’s Hitler! He’s stealing all the medicine!”
“Drop your weapon now!” the officer screamed.
“God damn,” another officer groaned.
“No!” Josh said. “It’s Hitler! I’ll kill him!”
“Wait, hang on,” called the other officer, the one who had groaned, young and blond. “What’s your name, man? I’m Kurt.”
“Well, Josh, you know you can’t kill Hitler with guns. People tried. They tried blowing him up. Nothing worked.”
“You just watch me,” Josh said.
“No, Josh, don’t do it! Let us take care of him! But you have to drop your gun now, Josh. I don’t want you to die, Josh. You can’t fight him if you’re dead!”
Josh considered a moment and then dropped his gun and the bear on the grass. He was immediately pinned to the ground and handcuffed.
While his face was pressed into the grass, Josh listened to the policemen praising their colleague. “Great job, Kurt! That was beautiful!”
Later, sitting in the back of a police cruiser, Josh watched the young officer Kurt approach the teddy bear who was Hitler. He saw the policeman hold Hitler up to his face and whisper in his ear before reverently slipping the bear into an evidence bag. Kurt paused to give Josh an ugly smirk before proceeding to his own car. All of the cop’s sweet-talking, Josh realized, had not been for his benefit, but was just to protect the Fuhrer from catching a bullet by accident.
A tear rolled down Josh’s cheek. Hitler’s plan was proceeding after all, for now. But Josh wasn’t dead yet. If only he could get some medicine, somehow he would continue the fight.
Carl Steiger is a career bureaucrat who is sometimes fortunate enough to find fulfillment on his own time.