Guided by the stars there was only one
Road to follow…The voice of a mysterious
Messenger whispered, ‘The bravest can
Walk alone…For in the end you are always
1557 Nuremberg, Germany
That year was to be a turning point
In several secret ways for a handful to
Inspire another and another and so on.
For months an unlikely friendship had
Transformed two lives, one courageous and
Bold, and one shy; the strong and the broken,
Pairs best suited for each other it seems. Two
Rural village farm boys sought change. Heinztel,
The popular handsome young man seeking a
Bigger life…and his quiet friend Jon who he
Wanted to shape and impress. But Jon was
Reluctant, held back by a strict upbringing.
‘You’ve been nagging me for months about the
City,’ Jon only told him. ‘I keep telling you I have
A bad feeling about it. That story about Peter—’
‘That was Peter,’ Heinztel would only say,
‘That’s not you or me. You have to chase
Something, you have to—to live. I am going to
Make you my personal project, wait and see.
I am going to show you the world! And how
Great it is! Come with me, I just know it will
Be even greater then…’
‘But I told you—’ Jon tried to say.
‘Yeah yeah I know you feel things,’
Heinztel told him. ‘But you can’t feel
And predict everything, you think too much.
I can’t live that way. Look at me, we have
Fun, right? You have to let go once in a
While and make things happen.’
He was right about that, Jon couldn’t
Argue. For the first time someone had
Made him really laugh and have fun,
That was true. And he did want to change
And become better. It took a while, but
Eventually Jon agreed….mostly because
Of that desperate sense of losing a friend,
Of Heinztel leaving and him being alone;
That was more motivating than anything
That summer, once the cooler spring snows
And rains had passed and the weather was
Warm enough…the feeling was strong enough
To compel both the chance to breakaway.
And one night beneath a full moon they
Secretly left their family’s homes and began
The journey by foot to Nuremberg.
Dressed in their modest country clothes
They travelled hunting paths through woods
Crude dirt roads made by wagons for ages.
They camped in fields by streams, a huge
Adventure for small village boys. The first
Night alone was ambitious and wild, an
Exhilaration filled them that only grew by
The hour. Suddenly chasing a dream seemed
Huge and promising. But the best part was
The company…that was priceless. Heinztel
Was so determined, he had an endless fuel
To make Jon laugh, and that made things
‘You look better all the time.’ Heinz said
With a bigger smile, proud of his influence
On his friend. Unlike the other boys he knew,
Which competed on everything without end;
That had grown so tiring and irritating real
Fast. ‘You really do. I bet one day you make
‘I doubt that.’ Jon laughed really hard.
‘Right now, I’m just grateful…and scared.’
‘I know.’ Heinz told him as they lay on
Their blankets by the fire one night.
‘Believe it or not, I am too. But it will
Get easier, I know it will…it has too.’
“You do make me believe in things.’
Jon grinned looking at the stars.
Heinztel only watched his friend with
Fascination. ‘You have to tell me more
About your dreams some time. I like
Your stories. Where do you get them
From…Who tells them to you?’
‘You wouldn’t believe me if I told
You.’ Jon only said.
‘No, I would.’ Heinz simply replied.
He held his words and thoughts
More often now and just watched Jon
Watch the stars. There was more
Going on then either of them knew.
A star streaked slowly across the sky,
And Heinztel pointed to it quickly. ‘Hey,
Look at that!’ Then another moved
Above slowly after that. ‘Did you see
Jon only quietly nodded and watched.
Something was going on up there…
He knew that much. Beyond words,
Beyond faith…or maybe some fantastic
Mixture of both. Then in his dreams
That night there were whispers…as if
He were over-hearing the conversations
Of people that he could not see; yet
Mysteriously familiar. A man’s voice
Said…’There are things you can not
Undo for a journey that has to be taken.’
The words were haunting and never
Left his mind…When he heard them
It was dawn when the two of them
Reached the outskirts of the city…
They had arrived earlier than expected,
A pleasant surprise. They were so
Overjoyed that they set up a small
Breakfast near a river with a bridge,
Then decided to wash up fast to start
The day. Heinztel pulled off his shirt,
Then yanked off Jon’s and playfully
Shoved him in the river laughing.
‘Lord Dear God, I could freeze to death!’
Jon yelled at the icy water. ‘I pray I
Am clean now, it’s too cold!’
‘Ah, it’s good for you!’ Heinztel cried
With joy. ‘It makes you feel alive!’
‘I do feel alive now.’ Jon laughed.
‘See, it’s good to be alive!’ Heinz
Said raising his arms to cheer. ‘This is
A great start…to be cold and alive!’
Some passersby stopped to gawk at
Them, but Heinztel just grinned and
Stood and flexed and enjoyed it…while
Jon stepped back more timidly to the
Side; he was still so shy. This made
Heinztel laugh even harder, he had
Some secret understanding about this,
How people liked to watch but wouldn’t
Admit it. ‘You really are too funny, you
Make me laugh.’ He simply grinned and
They got dressed and took their few
Belongings in bundles over their
Shoulders and then made their way
Towards the city. It was an eyeful for
Them both…. Unlike the village they knew
Of rural farms spread far apart of
Modest construction crafted by hard-
Working hands, the city was a dense
Cluster of homes built very closely
Together full of shops and street
Merchants and peddlers. The people
Were polite but seemed distracted by
Whatever tasks their minds were set
On. And here the people were so
Different than they had ever seen before.
There were all kinds, very diverse in size
And shape and even skin color sometimes
As well. And they wore all manner of
Clothes here! From practical and simple,
Like their own…to much more color and
Ornate and refined, in styles they had
Never seen before. This was a place of
Diversity and variety, and the fashion
Made that very clear.
The homes and buildings varied also
With architecture made so well they
Seemed ageless, made by hard labor
And brilliant minds. And this showed
Even in the carriages and wagons of
How people travelled. The design of the
Wheel was changing, this was a place
Where things changed—progress.
Heinztel marveled at everything. But for
Jon it was so impressive It was
overwhelming. His eyes took in
everything and beyond. But what
struck him first was this small flock
of birds they passed as they entered
the denser city streets. It was some kind
of small dove, like he had seen in
the meadows back home. They were
everywhere parading and strutting about.
The flock that caught his eye were chasing
This one little bird slightly different
Looking then the rest then the rest. They
Chased it and dove at it, flapped their
Wings and pecked at it to get it away from
The rest, ganging up on it viciously…
Until they pecked at it to death. It was
Awful to see amid this grand first
Sight of the city, a powerful first
Moving along the boys continued to
Take it all in, Nuremberg. For Heinztel
It was big and bold, opportunity. But
For Jon it became clear the city was
More about the people than anything
The city was a place to get as far away
From nature as possible. A habitat to
Focus on the human plight, to build
Upon industry and civilization. A place
Where beautiful things were collected,
Worn…boxed, contained and put on
Display—presented for use, indulgence
And entertainment. It seemed mostly
For the wealthy and less for the
Commoner. A majority gathered here
For this, the labor to meet the demand
Or create it. There was a great deal
Of variety, but the theme was more
The rich got richer here, but all were
Patrons of some kind. The best being
For the elite of its society. Everyone
Was striving to be the best or have
The most, to be recognized. An endless
Cycle became clear, yes, the city life
Made a very powerful impression.
The two friends did their share of gawking
With lots of enthusiastic
Grins. ‘Look at this! Look at that!’ They
Said to each other about everything. It
Was hard not to be distracted.
By noon they sat by a street peddler,
Indulging themselves with what few
Coins they had on some city delicacies…
Pastries of course! The food set out
Here was even was even more tempting
Than anything else! So, they bought and
Ate the finest cake they had ever seen
Before in their life and ate like it was
The meal of their lives.
After lunch, Heinztel became more
Serious…He was older, so he had to
Be more determined. And they did have
To consider where to start and what
They would do that night and so on
After that. ‘Excuse me, sir,’ Heinztel
Asked the peddler, ‘Is there a place here
Where people perform and entertain?
I have heard of these places.’
‘You mean a theater?’ The old man
Answered as he giggled watching
Them finish their cake. ‘Oh yes,
You can find one up the street and
To the right if you walk a while.
You will find all kinds of things there
To entertain you.’
Jon noticed that the man’s giggling
Seemed oddly mixed. ‘Should we go
There so fast?’ He asked Heinz.
‘Yes, why not?’ Heinz said to him as
He stood tall and proud fearlessly.
‘Come on now, think big.’
Jon nodded and reluctantly gave in.
Heinz had inspired him this far,
He couldn’t stop now.
They followed the peddler’s
Instructions and came upon a district
That was rather…even more eye-
Opening than the rest of the city.
There was even more diversity here
In the people, dressed in ways that
Were unimaginable to small village
Boys. There were men and women
Brightly dressed and painted, adorned
With jewels…showing themselves
Off like they had no shame. Some
Were half-dressed, and some were so
Covered that it made no sense at all.
There was absolutely no reason to it.
It was all color, parade, show it…
Speak it, I’m here…SEE me, HEAR me.
They held little back.
This took Heinztel a bit by surprise, his
Bravery was matched by characters
They were not intimidated by anything.
If you were to say or do something,
Then it better be worth-while.
And here there were women and men
That hung about on everyone.
Desires too were unleashed…to what
As they wandered about with a slowly
Shrinking enthusiasm, a mildly
Handsome olive-skinned man whop
Appeared about 30, spotted the two boys
And came up top them fast. “Ah, you
Two are new here…It’s quite clear.”
He smiled so slyly with an intense
Presence that it engulfed them. “What
Are your interests? Are you here
For the Arts? The pleasure? Or
Some work of some kind?
I have a keen eye for things,
And waste no time…If there is
Something I see…Well,” The
Man said holding his hand to his
Chest of a bright scarlet shirt
Opened wide and down, “I believe
In wasting no time.”
Heinz grinned, such friendly people!
“yes sir, I wish to be a great
Performer one day in the city. How
Do men go about this?”
The man beamed wide, all smiles and
Cheer. “A performer! Oh, how wonderful!
You know I spot talent fast…and
I could do so much for two boys like
You…SO MUCH! And I wouldn’t
Waste your time at all. I am
Marcel, and everyone knows me here.
I am the fairest, the kindest and
The most trusted man in the city!”
“If not the most hungry.” A
Brightly painted beautiful blond girl
Cried out from behind him, dressed
Like a gypsy girl showing herself
Brazen yet with charm.
“I’m Heinztel,” Heinz said as he
Patted his friend beside him closely,
“And this is Jon, he is an artist!”
“An artist, you say!” Marcel grinned,
“How perfect! You know I manage a
Lot in the district and we are always
In need of a young…handsome artist.
They make business so much better
For us all. Yes, I could do A LOT
For you, a lot for both of you!
We are friends, let’s be friends! Let’s
Help each other out, okay?”
“That sounds great!” Heinz grinned as
He turned to Jon’ “You see, I told you
It wouldn’t be so bad.”
Jon looked at his friend, then
Marcel…then the sights about
Them. The characters, the clothes,
The colors…The NOISE. His
Suspicions had to grow, but he had
Never been around such loud, friendly,
Direct people before. He nodded
For his friend, but kept silent for
“You will find you meet all sorts of
People here!” Marcel told them as he
Outstretched his arms to embrace them.
“Come with me, I will protect you.”
Coiling words that would haunt Jon,
But Heinztel embraced everything very
Quickly. Marcel introduced the boys
Around to his most proud friends and
Associatively, vehemently establishing their
Presence and his possession of them.
He took them in for supper that night
And lavished them with attention and
Treats that put the boys in awe…a
Careful seduction of the senses and
Trust. What small village boys could
Resist that. Then he set them up
In a cottage beside his, he kept them
Very close…to watch them, to win
Them over…to shape them.
Marcel accustomed them to city life
For weeks making them comfortable
To settle them in. He trained Heinz
To prepare him for theatre shows, a
Handsome young man, or girl, could
Win favor fast. And urged Jon to
Draw, and then paint…to get to know the
Boys as much as possible.
Heinztel was ambitious, eager to rise fast…
He was easy to read. But his quiet
Friend Jon was quiet and much more
Difficult to trust, but kindness motivated
Marcel with charm. The boy had talent,
As good as any he had seen…and he used
“Your work is beautiful,” Marcel would
Say. “I could do a lot with this…
But you must be careful in business,
Do not draw this or that…do it this
Way…People want beauty they can
Obtain and possess, they do not want
Something that makes them feel bad.”
He would laugh and instruct carefully.
“It’s bad for business to make people
Feel bad or think too much. So only
Draw nice things, scenery, flowers…
Be careful how you draw people.”
Familiar words to Jon, careful…only
Nice things…Not too much of this or
In time, he set Jon’s work up to sell, then
Found he had requests for portraits…
The wealthy and successful did love
Their portraits…the first selfie!
At once it became clear, Jon had
Better depict patrons as fantastic as
Possible. As one notable man of the
District told him fiercely, “Make me
Look like a fiend and I will have
Your fingers broken boy!
The public made a powerful impression
Fast. Patrons came in for artwork
And it became quickly stressful and
Demanding. The women wanted to
Be princesses and posed like one, and
When successful declared, “Oh you
Have captured me so well,
That’s me! You’re in love with me, you see
But when Jon tried to say you asked
Me to do this, they became insulted
And indignant and called him a brat.
And there were some men like this too,
Who loved having their portraits made…
Flamboyant men of the district…He
Was trying to make them smile and
Cheer them up, please them with a
Good job…but they mistook it for
Infatuation and love. And when he
Tried to explain the reaction never
Went well. Aristocrats, businessmen,
Ladies, it varied…with portraits
Many had different intentions.
This confused Marcel at first, but
Intrigued him as well. He and Jon
Learned fast, as did some higher
Eyes and ears…what hid beneath
The masks. The requests would come
In for portraits and frequently the
Reactions were the same, not all
But a lot. The safest things to do
In art proved to be scenic, livestock,
Flowers and food…things like that.
Portraits could be dangerous to do in
Those days for an artist.
“Patrons have certain tastes.” He told
Jon quietly. “I have learned that over
The years. You would do well to be
Very careful in speaking. But if you
Want favor, or to survive…Nod a lot…
But be as ignorant as possible, or
One day, your life will end very
Jon nodded to Marcel, he was
Trained to obey. But he always
Watched and listened carefully. At
Night he would retreat to peaceful
Quiet – away from people. Only
Heinz and a few friends in the
District did he put faith in talking
To. Trust was still a hard thing to
Come by for him, good trust takes
Time. Fortunately, the ones who cared
Gave sensible advice when needed,
But the best ones gave comfort with
Heinz and Jon still always kept close
As friends and confidants, that didn’t
Change. For ages it had been that way…
A friendship about growing, exploring
And learning things; for Jon anyway.
Heinz would always say, “I love this
Life…no pressure, no expectations
With marriage. I can take my
Time and become what I want.”
He was so happy. And for Jon
It was a time of liberation as well
As happiness and laughter he never
But the days were long with work,
And the endless demands of the
Public. The city was sure full of
Stories and needs, constant characters
And the ever clear reality of status.
On one weekend, late in the summer
The boys went out like they had
Before, to play and swim in the
River. It was something they had done on a
Regular basis for exercise, to stay fit
As Heinz insisted. It was important
To Heinz, his appearance. And he had
Instilled this in Jon as well. “Trust me
On this.” Heinz always said, “It will
Help you in life in many ways to
Do this. It’s important.”
And Heinz enjoyed the attention they
Brought to the river, people would
Stop to watch and stare at the
Young people in the river. He would
Show a bit, harmlessly, half
Dressed…in the hopes of winning
Favorable attention with his work.
But for Jon, it was just play.
When the river began to clear of
Children and others at play…less
People watched. Only a few girls and
A collection of men, very well dressed,
Remained to watch Heinz and Jon.
Then one of the men came down,
As the others remained above watching.
They dismissed the girls to leave the
Area bare and quiet. This man,
Unknown to them was in fact a
Notable businessman and aristocrat
Of the district; a very private man.
“Heinztel? That is you boy, yes?”
The tall silver haired man dressed
In regal black garments asked as
He stood proud by the river’s edge.
“Yes, Sir!” Heinz answered coming over
To the shore. “Can I help you?”
“We’re having a private party tonight,”
The man said, “And my friends and
I would like some special guests.
Would you attend?”
“Well, yes.” Heinz agreed, assuming it
Was good for work, to make contacts.
“Good.” The man looked at Jon with
Keen interest. “Who is your friend? I
Have not seen him before.”
“This is Jon.” Heinz smiled eagerly.
“He will come too if you like.”
“Yes, I would like that very much.”
The man grinned at the boys.
Jon said nothing. Heinz led the
Decisions and he allowed it. But
The feeling stirring inside his gut
Was uncertain…For some reason
He sensed a dark turn was coming.
He couldn’t quite understand why
But a shadow was there. Yes, the
City and all of its inhabitants made
A powerful impression all the time.