A story can’t be told correctly from the eyes of one person. In fact, it takes several different souls to make a story. I always believed I lived in hell but now I know there are things that make my life look peaceful. My horror begins in the Detroit, the year 1963. However, the true story begins long before. I’m going to try my best to tell this story as honest as possible. The story of the greatest people and some of the most frighten. The story of the Freaks of Paradise.
“Harold, your stories are always delightful!” Daisy said in a fit of laughter. She tossed her blonde hair behind her neck and took a sip of wine. The other dinner guest laughed along as the host, Monsieur Harold Buchanan gave a lengthy speech.
“Madame Buchanan, you must delight us with stories of your newborn.” Daisy turned the attention to Audrey Buchanan.
Audrey was beautiful for her old age with long fire hair and deep green eyes. She was never a fan of Daisy but in fear of upsetting her husband, Harold, Audrey felt it rude to turn her down.
“Marie is hardly a newborn. Our little girl turned five yesterday.” Audrey said not wanting to admit that she had hardly bonded with her daughter over the five years.
“Madame, I admire you find the time to raise Marie and oversee your freak show.” Daisy said with a sharp tongue.
“Our domestique, Helene takes excellent care of little Marie.” Audrey tried to hide how annoyed she was with Daisy.
Daisy found herself one of the richest madams in Southern France. The only heir of a wealthy monsieur, Daisy had taken the family money and opened up a small salon. She created her own anti-aging ointment that sold millions around France. Audrey knew Daisy sold the more potent ointments under the table but Daisy refused to sell to Audrey, no matter how much the price offered.
Audrey grew more desperate to stay young with each passing year. Now thirty-eight she saw the way her husband looked at younger women, including Daisy.
How could a man ignore such beauty?
“Wait, you said your domestique, her name is Helene? Oh my, I’ve heard rumors but I never believed Helene Jegado had the nerve to still take up work within France.” Edger, Daisy’s husband said.
“Yes, she is delightful. She helped prepare this very meal.” Audrey said and Daisy dropped her fork with a look of disgust on her face. Audrey took the moment of silence from the shocked guest to take a sip of her red wine.
After a few moments Daisy let out a tiny laugh and the rest of the dinner tabled followed.
“What might be so funny Madame Daisy?” Audrey felt her heart race and wanted to stab Daisy right at the dinner table.
Daisy composed herself and took a large gulp of water.
“Excuse me Madame, I am sure you have heard the talk of Helene Jagedo.” Daisy said.
“Enlighten me.” Audrey suggested.
Daisy ignored the heated glance from Edger, her own husband sitting across from her.
“It’s been all over France! Everywhere Helene serves as domestique people end up dying a mysterious death. It’s actually tragic.” Daisy informed the dinner guest, all their eyes on her.
“Poison. I have heard.” Monsieur Kellerman spoke up.
“Nobody seems to know how she does it so with no proof she can’t be sent to the guillotine.” Daisy said.
“Maybe there is no proof because no such crimes exist. You believe I’d have a murder living in my house? Only imbeciles believe foolish tales.” Audrey spat.
“I won’t take this Edger! It was one thing when she tried to steal my formulas but now you force me to come to this house of devil worship! Now we are expected to eat the food prepared by a murdered!” Daisy cried.
Edger jumped from his seat and slapped Daisy.
“You will have a seat!” He shouted in a calm tone raising his hand a second time.
Daisy took the hint and sat down in fear of her husband.
Tears formed from her eyes but she stopped once Edger gave her another stern look.
“To a fabulous dinner party.” Audrey raised her wine glass with a smirk on her face.
As the dinner came to a close the guest returned to their own homes. Audrey closed the door as the last guest left her home.
Her face turned pure red with anger.
“Helene!” Audrey yelled as she raced up her long flight of stairs.
“I swear I’m going to kill that bitch one day!” She shouted to the air. She arrived at the nursery where Helene, a small elder woman stood singing over a beautiful white baby crib. Audrey walked over to the crib looking down at her peaceful daughter.
“Oh, children are so precious.” She said patting Helene’s back and turned on a nursery tune.
“We have business to attend.” Audrey said and Helene knew she was serious.
“For more than six years, I’ve kept the entertainment of Paradise circus alive and glowing with excitement. The Freaks of Paradise have never been so much in the spotlight! You’d think I’d be a star Helene.” Audrey said with sadness as she and Helene walked down the stairs.
“The world will see the star you are met to be one day Madame.” Helene said.
“No, I’m old Helene. Daisy still refuses to give me her formula.” Audrey cried. They reached a door that led into the basement. Audrey pulled a key from her corset and unlocked the door.
“Madame, are you sure we should go in there? Leroy has been acting up as of late.” Helene warned with fear.
“For a woman who poisoned over twenty people you seem to lack courage.” Audrey gave Helene a dirty look and continued down the basement stairs.
Dark and empty the basement was full of empty dishes and filled with musk and blood smells.
“I told you to clean this room up! We hired you because you are one of us. If you want to keep being one of us do as you are told!” Audrey warned.
“Leroy, are you back here child?” Audrey yelled holding her candle stick into the air.
“Where could he be?” Audrey asked.
She kept holding the candle until a dark, large figure popped from the darkness of the shadows causing her to fall backwards onto the floor.
“Oh, Madame!” Helene tried to help Audrey up but Audrey refused pushing her away. She stood back up feeling dizzy from the fall onto the cold basement floor.
“Mama.” The dark figure called out in a deep voice that sounded as it belonged to a child.
“Yes, it’s Mama.” Audrey rubbed the face of the large child.
He stood seven feet tall and at least three hundred pounds.
“I miss you Mama.” Leroy cried.
Audrey smiled and kissed him on the hand. She looked up at his face and was amazed.
“I see you like the paint I got you.” She rubbed his face filled with different colors of face paint and two brown soul less eyes.
“My boy has talent. He will make an excellent clown for the show, do you agree Helene?” Audrey asked.
“Yes.” Helene whispered.
Audrey looked back at the maid with spiteful eyes.
“I guess the only thing you know about talent is slipping arsenic into unknowing party guests.” Audrey pushed the timid Helene into the basement wall.
“Actually, I just gave some to your husband.” Helene said with more confidence pulling a tiny bottle of arsenic from her robe.
Audrey looked Helene up and down as if seeing a monster for the first time. She relaxed seconds later and let out a loud laugh.
“So? You killed Harold. I was going to kill him in a few weeks anyway. What says stardom more than a grieving window? I can see the newspapers now, the talented Madame Buchanan rises from mourning to give the best performance of her career.” Audrey smiled as she heard cheers in the future.
“Sadly, you won’t be here to see that day.” Audrey warned.
Helene grinned and spoke with more confidence.
“Leroy isn’t as dumb as you believe.” She smiled.
Audrey’s face went into a panic as Leroy grabbed her by the hair.
“Mama been bad! Mama leave me!” Leroy cried.
“This is your judgment Madame. All the innocent people you’ve hurt. This is for your poor son you locked away because he was different. This is for the freaks of paradise!” Helene grabbed Audrey by the ear pulling her onto her knees.
She whispered to the fearful woman, “You’re lucky Madame. You’re about to experience the ultimate paradise. Mort.” Helene opened the vial of arsenic.
“Oh, don’t worry. We’ll take care of Marie.” Helene said.
Audrey screamed and kicked Leroy in the knee causing him to lose grip. She managed to move so fast that Helene could not catch her.
“We can’t let her get away!” Helene cried to Leroy.
Leroy raced over to his toy chest hidden away in a dark corner. He pulled an axe from the chest and chased after his mother.
Helene smiled as if she were a proud mother watching her own child grow up.
Audrey made it back to the nursery where Marie was still sleeping. She felt a large figure enter the room and broke into tears.
“Please, Leroy. I love you. Don’t do this. I’m not a star yet. Let me become a star.” Audrey cried.
Leroy lifted his axe into the air. He swung chopping Audrey with the axe. He kept swinging until Audrey was unrecognizable.
Leroy was covered in blood when he felt a tiny hand on his shoulder.
“It’s over. We did it. We’re free Leroy.” Helene smiled.
The two turned downward toward the crying Marie. Helene lifted the girl from the crib rocking her slowly.
“Let’s go home.” Helene said.
She grabbed Leroy by the hand and the three left the Buchanan’s home as a new family.
“The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine.” James said from Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. The only book he could get his hands on that the Nazis hadn’t burned. Lucky for him the novel had become his favorite. He could tell Otto was bored with the story so he set the novel down.
“How could you not love Frankenstein?” James asked.
“We live in a not happy time. Why spend time reading a not happy novel.” Otto answered climbing into James’s lap.
“This isn’t a sad story.” James said.
“Everybody dies except the writers of the letters.” Otto said.
“But the meaning is what matters. Life was created and redeemed within one story.” James explained wrapping his arms around Otto.
“If I ever write a novel it will be a happy one.” Otto said.
“Will I be in it?” James asked.
“Of course, I need a Jew. Something has to piss off the Nazis.” Otto joked. James looked around the dusty attic with one small window hardly allowing sunlight. Then he looked at Otto’s beautiful bright eyes that made his heart melt.
“How long do you believe we can last here?” Otto asked his lover as the two laid next to each other.
“As long as God protects us. Otto, you don’t have to stay here with me. Hitler loves your bright blue eyes and blond hair.” James playfully tickled Otto climbing in between his legs.
“You can have a life outside of this attic. Find a nice blue eyes blond girl and make blue eyes blonde babies.” James joked.
“Nowhere would feel right without you.” Otto said kissing James gently on the forehead. James held Otto’s hands down onto the bed.
“Otto, you are under arrest.” He joked in a seductive way.
Otto grinned and tried to break free from James and his strong grip.
“Where is my crime?” Otto gave into the role play.
“You have fallen in love with a Jew. That makes you a traitor and a homosexual.” James said and added, “That is why Germany is in such a bad state.”
Otto laughed but at the same time he felt the word “traitor” a bit harsh.
“There must be something I can do to escape charges.” Otto tried to sound seductive but felt awkward.
“Oh, there might be.” James kissed Otto and Otto quickly knocked James off of him. He climbed on top pinning James to the bed.
“Looks like you got overpowered by a Jew lover.” Otto joked.
“Allow me to show you how a real Jew does it.” James laughed and broke free of Otto picking him up and throwing him onto his shoulders.
“Put me down!” Otto cried and laughed as James spun him around the attic. He felt the stall air on his face as the warm sun grew hotter. They both landed backwards onto the bed entangled in each other.
“Sing me a song?” James asked.
Otto grinned and rubbed his fingers alongside his hairy chest and began singing a soft tune. As he sang James whistled along with the words and ran his fingers in and out of Otto’s blond hair.
“Every time I feel scared, I remember why I stay here with you. I’m here because I’m crazy in love with you.” James said and climbed back on top of Otto. He kissed him and when he pulled away his tears fell onto Otto’s face. Otto lightly brushed the tears from James’s eyes.
“I should go get us some food.” Otto changed the subject and gently pushed James off of him. Otto could leave the attic every few days to buy food from a tiny shop down the road. None of the Nazis suspected him…because he was one of them.
He had also come from an infamous family that was known for their support for Hitler. Otto had even ate dinner with Hitler more than once. He hated that man and the way he smelt of death.
He also hated him because he took away the only person Otto loved before James. His own brother.
After his brother’s death Otto joined the Nazi movement at the age of nineteen, only one year ago. Two months after joining he saved a refugee. A Jew named James. Otto refused to believe in Hitler’s cause or the “perfect” race. Still, he had never expected to fall in love with a Jew.
“You need to drink something. You’re looking pale.” Otto told James the night he had saved him from the Nazis.
“Why are you helping me?” James asked scared and weak.
“This world is full of horrible people. I don’t wish to be another.” Otto said handing James his water container.
“Do you have family?” Otto asked.
“Yes. I did. The Nazis took them seven months ago. I have no idea what became of them.” James said.
“I’m sorry.” Otto said knowing his family were likely killed in the gas chambers. He watched James finish his water and he closed his eyes. He quickly opened them in fear.
“If you need to sleep, it’s safe here.” Otto said.
James nodded his head leaning against the wall falling asleep within seconds. Otto couldn’t help but notice his beautiful lips and curly brown hair. He moved closer to James, resting his head on the Jew’s shoulder and he closed his eyes falling asleep as well.
Otto got dressed into his Nazi uniform. He hated himself for having to wear something that was a symbol for hatred and murder.
In a strange way Otto understand his fellow Nazi. These men were like him, just doing whatever it took to survive Germany.
“Remember, only buy enough food for one person. Otherwise, somebody might catch onto us.” James warned.
Otto smiled and nodded his head. He kissed James and opened the small attic door crawling back into the cold of Germany.
Winter was upon them as Otto walked the snowy German streets. Other Nazis walked together while several homeless people sat on the ground begging for food and money. Otto pulled two euros from his pocket and handed it to a young child.
The child smiled and Otto watched him from the streets toward the local soup kitchen. Otto made it to the tiny shop filled with food that did not require much cooking.
“Otto, how are you my son?” Claus, the store owner asked.
“The same.” Otto said and grabbed a carton of milk.
“These damn Nazis.” Claus winked at Otto.
Claus was seventy-two and had one eye missing. He refused to wear a patch so instead he had just one empty eye socket. He was a good German man and used his basement to hide many Jews over the last few years.
After grabbing a few items Otto sat them on the counter top as Claus added them up.
“How is that bad leg doing?” Claus asked.
Otto looked at Claus and his one eye. He knew “bad leg” was code for James. Otto had told Claus about James because he needed Claus to bring them food the first week they hid out in the attic.
“It’s doing well.” Otto said.
Claus nodded. The two knew not to dwell on the topic in case a Nazi was listening.
“There you go.” Claus bagged the items and handed them to Otto.
Otto paid and left the shop feeling uneasy as if something bad was coming down the line. He made it back to James who was sitting on the bed in a day dream.
“If we could leave now and go anywhere where would you want to go?” James asked.
“America.” Otto answered not having to think. He had seen pictures of the freedom country and always dreamed of arriving by boat to see the Lady Liberty.
“Come here.” James pulled Otto to the single attic window. He opened the window and smashed his head together with Otto.
“You see those two stars that stand by themselves?” James asked pointing at the two large stars.
“That’s me and you. No matter what happens those stars always burn bright. Just like our love.” James said.
Otto looked over at his lover and he never felt more in love with a man. Otto kissed James pulling him back on the bed. He slowly let James pull his Nazi uniform from his body. The light shinned perfectly on Otto’s smooth body as he only wore a tight pair of white underwear.
“I love you.” Otto said once James stopped kissing his body.
“I love you.” James said and the two stayed infused in each other the rest of the night.
“Otto wake up!” James shouted Otto from his sleep.
Otto jumped naked out of the bed pulling his underwear back on.
“What is it?” Otto asked as he joined James by the attic window.
Below Nazis marched while several of the homeless screamed in panic.
“They are rounding up the refuges! They set the buildings on fire to smoke them out!” Otto said as he quickly got dressed in his Nazi uniform.
“What are you doing?” James asked.
“I have to do something! I can’t let all of those people die!” Otto said.
“If you go down there they could kill you!” James said with anger.
“I took a risk saving you. Let me do the same for others!” Otto kissed James hugging him tightly before he raced from the attic.
Many buildings on the street were set on fire while the streets themselves were filled with terror and blood. Otto walked like a Nazi trying to not be disgusted by the gore around him.
“Tell us where you hid the Jews!” A Nazi yelled at a man on his knees. Otto froze when he noticed the man only had one eye ball.
“I don’t know.” Claus cried with a bloody nose. The Nazi hit him several times causing the blood to fall onto the white snow.
“One final chance!” The Nazi yelled.
This time he pointed his pistol directly into Claus’s forehead.
Otto put his game face on, he knew he had to protect Claus.
“We need him alive! He has useful information!” Otto explained to the Nazi.
“Fine, you deal with the freak!” The Nazi spit onto Claus and walked toward a group of others. Otto pretended to arrest Claus and escorted him down the road.
“Claus, what happened?” Otto asked.
“I was woken up in the middle of the raid. I hid as many in my wine cellar as I could. Some still were captured. Otto you have to take care of the bad leg!” Claus cried.
Otto turned and saw the building next to the attic was now burning closer to the attic.
“Go into you shop, lock all the doors and stay hidden! You’re lucky they didn't burn this place to the ground!” Otto ordered and Claus ran into his dark building
Otto wanted to run to James badly but needed to protect his cover.
Several cries sound as Otto looked back and saw a Jew dead on the winter snow. Others cried out names Otto didn’t want to know.
He picked up his pace finally making it back to the tiny attic. James was staring out the window with tears and fear in his own eyes.
“We have to get you out of here!” Otto cried.
He began packing what little the two had into a small suitcase.