Okay, you may think I’ve gone round the bend on this one, but I’ve decided to bring you an interview you won’t see anywhere else–an exclusive session with Max Volcker, the main character and hero of my World War II spy thriller serial The Armored Satchel. Yes, it is true that Max is a fictional character (although his story is inspired by true events), but when I saw an author do something similar recently I decided I had to try it, if only to give a little more depth to the character in my own mind. Keep in mind, I am questioning from 2013, and Max is answering from 1944, so there will necessarily be some disconnect there.
I’ll try not to give away any spoilers for the story to come. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Allied spy, LGBT trailblazer and homesick Brooklynite, Max Heinz Volcker.
Max, thank you for cutting time out of your busy schedule of jumping out of airplanes, stealing code machines and trying to assassinate Adolf Hitler to speak to us.
Don’t mention it. What do you want to know?
Well, for starters–and particularly for those who may not have read your story–can you tell us a little about your background and how you came to be a spy for the Allies?
Well, for starters, I’m an American. Let’s get that straight. I was born in Kaiserslautern but my family came to New York when I was seven. I barely remember Germany. I grew up in Brooklyn, speaking English, playing baseball and doing all the stuff American kids do. Then after the United States got into the war [in December 1941] we, my family I mean, we were detained as enemy aliens. My father ran a hardware store. This scumbag who wanted to get my hands on his store made up a story about my dad being some kind of intelligence agent. The FBI deported us, and we were all sent back to Germany. It was so [expletive deleted] unfair. My dad, none of us in my family were Nazis. We all hate the Nazis.
What happened after you got back to Germany?
I got put into the Wehrmacht, the German Army. Like, the same day, I mean, the day our ship docked. I was scared [expletive deleted]-less that they were going to send me to the Russian Front. But instead they put me in a service battalion. It’s punishment for most people, or for guys who are retarded or slow or something. They knew I’d lived in America and they thought I was sort of a traitor even though they couldn’t prove anything. So I spent about a year and a half washing dishes, shining shoes and that sort of crap. For, you know, German officers.
I hated being in the German army. I hated it because I was helping them fight my country, America. I wanted to do something to help America win the war. For a long time I thought about trying to kill one of the commanders I worked for. I had access to their food and dishes, so I could have poisoned one of them. But I thought they’d just shoot me, and they’d replace the commander. It wasn’t worth it. Then I got the briefcase [the armored satchel].
Why do you hate the Nazis so much?
Because they’re trying to destroy my [expletive deleted]-ing country! Hitler hates America worst of all. You know he’s trying to develop a bomber that can reach the United States? What do you think the first target is going to be? New York. He could be dropping bombs on my neighborhood next month. We’ve got to take the bastard out.
Aside from being anti-German, what are your–
Um, you should say anti-Nazi. I’m anti-Nazi, not anti-German. There are a lot of really good Germans. Almost all of them are loyal, like my father.
Okay. Aside from being anti-Nazi, what are your politics? Are you for Roosevelt or Dewey [in the 1944 Presidential election]?
I’m not political. I don’t care whether they elect Roosevelt or Dewey or Mickey Mouse. I did see Dewey in person once, though. That doesn’t mean I would vote for him. I’m not a citizen yet so I can’t vote anyway.
What were your favorite things to do in Brooklyn?
Besides spending time with my boyfriend, I love going to Dodgers games. I’d see every one I could possibly see. The last summer before we got deported  I was going to the ballpark three or four times a week. I have a favorite seat at Ebbits Field. I carved my initials, MHV, under it. I bet you can still see them.
I like movies too. I love going to the movies. The Republic serials, those are great. G-Men Versus the Black Dragon was running at the time we got deported. Chapter eight was the last one I saw. When the war’s over I want to finish it.
You went to Brooklyn Tech, didn’t you? What kind of student were you?
Not so good. At the time I left I think I had about a C average. I was flunking a couple of classes, mostly math, which I hate. And I’d already been held back a grade. In my sophomore year I got in trouble. They punished me by holding me back.
OK. Let’s get a little personal. When did you first know you were gay?
Pretty much always. When I was about 10 I noticed I liked seeing cute guys with their shirts off, and none of the other boys I hung around with did. At least they didn’t talk about it. When I was a little older I used to hang out at places where guys would take their shirts off, like the Coney Island boardwalk in the summer. That was about the first time I realized it was different than most people. I shut up about it quick. I got teased a lot at school, not because of that, but sometimes guys would call me “queer” just as an insult. I mean, I don’t think they knew I really was queer. They made fun of me mostly because of my ears. [Note: even the Nazis refer to Max as “Dumbo”]. But it sort of hurt, you know.
How did you meet your boyfriend, Jose?
That is a little too personal. I don’t want to talk about that.
Okay. What are you going to do when the war is over?
I’m bringing my family back to Brooklyn. We’re going to get my dad’s hardware store back. And we will all become American citizens. That’s the most important thing, that we all become citizens. I’m not going to let this stupid [expletive deleted] happen to my family again. Then when my family is safe I’m going to spend as much time with Jose as possible. I promised him I would come back to him when the war’s over, and I will, no matter how many people I have to kill to do it.
So you’re not doing doing all the things you’re doing to be some kind of “hero?”
What’s a “hero”? The difference between “hero” and “zero” is one letter. I don’t think about that crap. I think about what I’ve got to do and who’s counting on me to do it.
What’s the most important thing a person needs to be a good spy?
The ability to see down the road.
The road, you know, the ability to see the effect that certain things are going to have. I mean, if you present one set of papers to somebody, you have to think about who they’re going to call and what they’re going to say. Then you have to think about how someone else will react to that call, and so forth. I’ve been tripped up a couple of times by things I missed by not thinking ahead.
Do you think that someday gays will be able to get married, legally?
Married? I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I never even thought about that. I don’t want to “marry” anyone. I just want to help the Allies win, become an American citizen, help my family and go back to Brooklyn with Jose. Then I want everybody to leave me alone. That’s the whole reason I’m fighting this war, right there. I know a bunch of American boys are dying on the beaches of Normandy right now. I can’t do that, but I can do what I’m doing. That’s got to be good enough. If you don’t agree, sorry bub, that’s the way it is.
Thanks for your time, Max. Good luck.
Okay, so maybe I’ve gone off the deep end… but I hope you enjoyed the interview. Please, if you like The Armored Satchel, keep reading and VOTE! Thanks for the support of all the fans out there.