Harold shuffled his feet to the edge of the hot tub.  He grasped the railing and took a few careful steps into the bubbling water. “Ahh,” Harold sighed once he settled into the warmth and found a place to sit at the tub’s edge. The steamy mist surrounded him, and he closed his eyes for a few seconds.

It felt so good. The jet bubbles rhythmically massaged Harold’s stiff back and sore hip. He opened his eyes and stared into the frothy waters, drifting into a relaxing bliss, letting go of everything: thoughts, worries, and time.

After ten minutes, a man about Harold’s age joined him in the whirlpool. He smiled with gold-filled teeth and said in a thick European accent, “Sure feels nice to be in here today.”

Harold looked up, shielding his eyes from the bright sun that bounced off the gleaming waters. He had heard that voice before, somewhere in his distant past. The more Harold thought, the more he remembered. It was the gruff voice of a man from the country where he spent his formative years, a time he wanted to forget.

The man tried to engage him in conversation, but Harold was fixated on the bubbling waters, as the steam rose toward the Eucalyptus trees overhead. Soon, there appeared to be a face forming on the surface of the water. Harold blinked his eyes a couple of time, but the face did not disappear.

It was the image of a man that Harold thought he had locked up in a secret vault. The image of the man terrified Harold. It kept floating around the hot tub, and he assumed that no one else could see it because he was the only person who was terrified.

“It’s such a beautiful day?” the stranger said, trying his best to be friendly. “Do you have any plans?

Harold was startled out of his reverie but had enough awareness to answer the man. “I have an appointment with the back doctor,” Harold said. “But I don’t feel like going.”

Harold’s mind wandered, and he began to think of the night of the broken glass, the glass of broken house windows and stores that shattered his childhood in the middle of the night. Hundreds of innocent people were pulled out of their homes and beaten in the streets solely because they were Jewish. He heard German shepherds barking and men wearing shiny black boots firing guns. He saw stormtroopers beating people with clubs and stomping helpless women and children on the ground.

“It’s my back,” Harold said. “I’ve had so many surgeries. None of them seem to help.”

“Surgeries never seem to do me any good, either,” said the man. “I know, I’ve had two, and I still get the worst pain. The only thing that helps is sitting in this YMCA whirlpool.”

Harold looked into the water again and saw another face. It was his image as a young boy; a pale and delicate child scared of getting tortured by the Nazis. The defenseless boy was crying and then forced to board an empty train car, along with hordes of other people packed into the train like cattle. He saw the little boy starving, shivering in the night with nothing but the bodies of strangers to keep him warm. Harold watched the boy being shot behind a wire fence, bullets from several German soldiers filling his chest until he suffocated, and then the image slowly evaporated from the misty whirlpool.

“My mind must be playing tricks on me,” Harold mumbled. “I can’t be seeing this.”

“What’s that you say?” asked the man. But Harold didn’t answer. He stared at the water that gradually changed from translucent to the color of blood. Harold trembled in fear.

“Himmler’s water,” was his first thought.

“Are you okay?” the man asked. “Do you need any help?”

Harold looked in the water and saw an image of himself wavering in the bloody pool. He appeared very old, gray, and gaunt, far worse than he imagined himself to be. He always thought of himself as a youthful man, but never someone bald, frail, and old. He wondered why he didn’t die years ago in Dachau with his mom and dad in the fields behind the sleeping quarters. He saw his parents’ bullet-strewn bodies dumped into a smoldering death pit with the thousands of other grimy and naked holocaust victims.

“I think I better make it to my appointment,” Harold said and extended his thin, veiny arm for the railing, slowly rising with a painful twinge in his back.

“Excuse me,” said the man with the accent, “but I noticed the numbers on your arm. Were you in Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald?”

Harold, stunned by the man’s impertinence, took an awkward step, slipped, and hit his head on the railing.

“Let me help you!” cried the man, jumping from the water.

“No!” shouted Harold. “You’re Himmler! Himmler! Himmler!”

Several of the swimmers came out of the adjacent pool and tried to calm Harrold, who by then was crying and distraught. He sat on the wet tiles that surrounded the hot tub, as frightened as if he were back at the concentration camp.

“Help me!” he cried. “Don’t let him touch me!”

Harold curled up in a ball as if he were prepared to be beaten.

“It’s alright,” a woman said, putting a towel over Harold’s shivering body. “No one is going to harm you.”

The man with the haunting accent slowly got out of the pool and approached Harold calmly. “My friend,” he said, “I am not Himmler. Although I’ve had the misfortunate of meeting that devil when I was a prisoner.”

The man raised his frail arm, showing Harold six numbers tattooed in faded blue ink on his forearm.

Harold stared at the numbers as if transfixed by them. Images of the man who tattooed his arm came into mind. He felt frightened, yet relieved that the old man he thought as Himmler was like him, a victim and a Jew. Harold took a deep breath into his wheezy lungs, rubbed the water from his blurry eyes, and said, “You’re one of us, then?”

The man nodded and began to sob. They both cried and held each other for a few minutes.

“My good friend,” he said, “our ancestors may have perished, but the Nazi soul will suffer in the bowels of hell forever. Do not feel, for a second, that justice will not be served to those who harmed us.”

Harold was helped to his feet by a couple of kind people in wet bathing suits. Once he steadied himself, he replied to the old man with a smile, “Perhaps I’ve stayed in the hot tub too long.”