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HomeRomance StoriesAs Twilight Tide Draws Nigh....Part 2

As Twilight Tide Draws Nigh....Part 2

A story of love and tragedy in the last days of World War II

Part 2 picks up the story directly ehere Part 1 ended.

Afternoon came and with it a gentle breeze. As they drove, the cloudless sky looked to Josef bluer than he could ever remember seeing it. As their Daimler passed by, the trees that lined the roadway seemed almost to bow to them, each offering its shade and inviting them to stop. The rolling hills too seemed somehow more welcoming while the blooms grew in greater profusion, their colours brighter and more varied. Were they, he wondered, or was it he that had changed?

Sophie too imagined that she was nearing some magical kingdom that she might have read about as a child, a land of peace and tranquility, a place of infinite possibility.

They drove on, past sleepy hamlets where giant walnut trees grew, past picturesque ruins overgrown with thorny blackberry vines and across shallow, swiftly flowing streams whose pebbles could have been gems as precious and rare as Sophie’s amethyst. At length, they reached the top of a rocky hill and looked down upon a tranquil valley that was the indefinable epitome of beauty. Here they stopped to pick poppies, that most delicate and ephemeral of flowers whose petals, like crimson snowflakes, wilt and fall at the merest provocation. High above them an eagle soared. Its wings never seeming to move, it just hung there motionless as if suspended by a gossamer thread. They sat upon the grass and watched it for a long time until it drifted imperceptibly away. By this time the sun was growing cooler as it progressed westward. So, with bunches of poppies in hand, Sophie got back in the car. As Josef sat beside her and reached for the ignition he felt a slight pressure on his shoulder. Turning, he noticed that it was her delicate, long fingered hand, as exquisite as Japanese ivory. As gently as she had placed it there she now took it away and again he saw that glowing smile.

“I’ve had a wonderful time today, Josef. Thank you.”

“No, thank you for your company,” he replied, perhaps a little too formally.

They drove back and after a couple of hours they could see in the distance a tall, drab cylindrical pillar, like a monstrous stalagmite except for the plume of black smoke that issued from its tip. It marked their destination. Sophie looked at it for a long moment. It was a cold reminder that just beyond these idyllic hills there lurked an altogether different and far less tangible reality. Or was it the other way around she asked herself, was she leaving a realm of illusion to reenter one of real menace and dread? Looking at Josef’s handsome brow she saw a bead of perspiration and took out her handkerchief. Reaching over, she gently wiped it off. He smiled and they drove on.

That afternoon became the first of many. Venturing out even when inclement weather threatened, their time together was blissful and after that first afternoon Sophie never again looked at the distant chimney, moreover she noticed that Josef never looked at it either. He simply trusted the road to lead them back, no matter how far into the countryside they had ventured.

In the autumn months that followed they spent more and more time together, in conversation, on long walks, they listened to music and they made love. Love that was at first tentative and awkward, but as their passion grew, desire overwhelmed hesitation and awkwardness disappeared. They became perfectly attuned to the needs of each other’s bodies and soon their nights together became for both a glorious symphony of the flesh. Neither could imagine such bliss without the other and each was a lesser being when they were apart.

Early one morning in Josef’s room, as a cold light began to creep in through the window, he awoke and lay awake for an hour looking at Sophie. Her hair was an ocean of gold, he mused, her skin a silken cloth, softer and finer than that which any loom could hope to weave. Her eyes, closed were like two dark calligraphic strokes, her mouth, a luscious fruit, one taste of which was more addictive than the most insidious drug. He smiled inwardly. She must have looked like this as a baby, he thought. He leant over, buried his face in her hair and inhaled deeply. She had a wonderful wholesome aroma, like the smell of freshly baked bread. So unlike his own which he always considered to be salty and acidic. She awoke and found him gazing into her eyes. She smiled then promptly rolled over away from him.

“Oh, don’t tell me it’s time for me to go. I’m sure Papa can cope on his own this morning.”

“Hush, it’s almost dawn.”

“Hummm…Then kiss me.”

She turned back; they kissed gently and soon made love again. That morning though and for the last few weeks, something had been different, for both of them now increasingly felt a secret foreboding, a growing fear of fate to which they could not admit. So they made love with a wordless abandon and it was in those brief hours together, those selfless hours spent in each other’s arms that they came closest to forgetting their unknown but doubtful future. Love was their nirvana, a realm at once beautiful and empty, dead yet more alive than life itself, a place of paradox that was preferable to logic.

They lay back exhausted and for a time traveled in their imaginations to exotic and bizarrely sensual oriental kingdoms, far from anything that they had ever known, where the only familiar things where themselves. After the fantasy had faded and their laughter had subsided, Josef got up and walked over to his chest of drawers, opened one and began to search through the contents. The noble image of his naked body reminded Sophie of pictures in books on sculpture that he had shown her. The inverted triangle of his back, his legs with their precisely defined musculature and the compact package of his buttocks, which more than hinted at the energy that they contained. Was he not like the Belvedere Apollo? Did he not echo some lost masterpiece by the hand of Polyclitus, who was renowned amongst the Greeks of his own day and was still famous although time had largely consigned his works to oblivion?

“His reputation alone guarantees his immortality,” Josef had said, one afternoon when she had spent a few wonderful hours with him learning about ancient Greek art.

He how turned and walked back to the bed carrying something small. She caressed his physique with her eyes and immediately felt a familiar tingling sensation begin in her feet then travel up her spine eventually saturating her entire body. She threw aside the covers savagely, wriggled and slowly spread her legs. He took in her unbelievably beautiful form and sighed. He sat down next to her and straight away she knew by the expression on his face that he was troubled.

“Sophie, my love, I want you to promise me something.”

“Anything.” She smiled indulgently, secretly hoping that this was some kind of game. But when his look intensified she knew without a doubt that he was serious.

“What is it, Josef?’

“I’m going to entrust this to you.” He opened his palm like a conjuror to show her a small brass box. It looked heavy and she saw that it had a tight fitting lid.

“What is that?” she asked innocently.

“Never mind. I’m going to give this to you for safekeeping. You must promise me never to misplace it and you must swear never to open it and if I ever need it, no matter where I am, you will do your utmost to bring it to me. This is very important to me, Sophie.”

She stared at him for a moment dumbfounded then took a deep breath and said, “Very well, Josef, I promise….and I swear.”

“Good, good.”

She was confused and felt a little hurt by his enigmatic manner but at the same time she was flattered by his demonstration of trust and confidence in her. She took the box. It was indeed heavy for its size. She turned it over, it was unmarked and no sound came from within. He took her head in his hands.

“Promise me again,” he whispered.

“I promise,” she replied almost in tears.

He smiled and kissed her. She felt that she had passed some sort of difficult test and pleased him. She was happy but his suggestion that at some point in the future they would be parted filled the back of her mind again with dread. He lay down next to her and she hugged him. He was once more intoxicated by her scent but this time, faintly, almost imperceptibly, mingled with her sweetness there was a hint of lavender.

* * * * *

Josef was always on the ramp early. None of the guards could ever remember him missing a shift or being late and today was no exception. It was a cold, clear, still day and the guards snapped to attention as soon as he appeared. He took his position at the top of the ramp and looked down at each of them. They liked him, he thought, or at least didn’t dislike him. They always remembered his birthday and smiled before saluting him. Moreover he was young and not a stern disciplinarian like some of the camp’s more senior officers. If it was not for his level of education and impeccable racial background their positions could very well have been reversed.

On this particular day he had been assigned a new man, a private to guard him at the top of the ramp. Manpower must be at a premium, he reflected as he scrutinized the gawky youth whose eyes were fixed on the train tracks down below.

“What is your name, private?”

“Demmler, sir!”

“Have you been a member of the S.S. long, Demmler?” He asked this with a hint of irony, knowing the answer full well.

“ Er, no sir. I joined up last year. It was either here or the Russian front.”

Josef did not reply and the youth shifted uncomfortably in his boots. At that moment the train came into view as it rounded a large clump of trees far to their left.

“Keep your wits about you, Demmler, and above all stay calm.”

“Yes, sir!”

“And not so loud, I’m standing right here.”

“I’m sorry, sir.”

Josef’s attention was drawn back to the train. It was the first transport of the day. Over the years he had become used to the sight and sound of these big locomotives but the spectacle of the hundreds who were soon to disembark - that was always unique.

At the bottom of the ramp a group of guards stood watching the train’s steady approach. As it came alongside the ramp Josef summoned his strongest voice and firmly ordered, “Take your posts!”

As the train stopped the guards in pairs, marched up to the sliding doors on each of the seven cars. Josef could see Captain Eberhardt move to a position at the center of the siding. When the guards were all in position, Eberhardt ordered them to unlock and unbolt the doors then haul them open. For a moment nothing happened, causing Demmler to cast a side-glance at Josef’s impassive face. Then slowly gray, shabby figures began to climb stiffly out of the cars. Each figure looked about at first then up at the sun. It was impossible to tell where they had come from or the ratio of men to women or to distinguish any definite characteristics at all from a distance. From this point of view it was always one homogeneous gray mass that issued from these trains. As the mass began to approach, the guards directed them to the far end of the ramp whilst forming the mostly shambling figures into one line. They then directed the line slowly and steadily up the ramp towards Josef. He watched the process with mild satisfaction. He ran a tight and disciplined shift, no pushing, no yelling, no obscenities and above all calm. Those were his orders and his subordinates knew them. That was the way to efficiency. He made a mental note to have a word with Demmler after the shift rather than risk this raw recruit compromising the smooth running of the disembarkation and selection process.

The line had now reached a point half way up the ramp and it was time for him to do his job. He stepped forward to face a group of several women. All were thin, haggard and tired but the luster had not completely gone from their eyes. Two smiled wanly at him, others thrust out their breasts while some raised their heads and arranged their hair. He had observed these gestures time and time again and usually ignored them. This group all looked middle aged or younger and reasonably fit. He pointed and said, “Right.” And they went past to the right. Next came a group of seven men, all fit and reasonably young also. “Right.” Then a woman in her twenties with a man of sixty or so, father and daughter judging by the resemblance. “Right.” And they passed silently by. There followed a group of five women, all about the same age as him, two of them extraordinarily attractive. Unexpectedly, he felt the impulse to speak. “Are you fit enough to work, ladies?”

All at once they answered, “Yes, yes, certainly sir – We can all work – Most certainly, sir.”

“Very well, please go to the right.”

Their eagerness was engaging and he was about to allow himself a rare smile when he noticed a young woman from a few metres down the line, pushing her way forward, crying and distraught. The woman fought her way up to him cursing at her fellows. Josef took a step back whereupon Demmler lunged forward and struck her in the throat with the butt of his rifle. She fell, arms flailing. Josef turned and glared at the pimply youth.

“Private!” Demmler swallowed hard and twitched. “That was completely unwarranted!”

Seething, he fought to control his anger. A pained and embarrassed expression now settled on Demmler’s unrefined features. “I…I’m sorry sir but I thought…”

“You thought nothing, private! Now help her up.”

Awkwardly the youth helped the woman to her feet, dropping his rifle in the process. It rattled heavily on the concrete as the woman tried to speak.

“A…A… I’ve been sep….separated from my hus..husband. Please help me.”

She coughed violently then in his most benign tone Josef said, “Don’t worry, please go to the right. I’m sure he will be here somewhere. Where you boarded together?” The woman nodded. "Well then, please go to the right.”

Demmler let go of her and she staggered off down the right hand path where a group of women helped her to proceed. Calm soon returned as the selection procedure continued into the morning. Josef dismissed Demmler and confined him to barracks. The man had earned himself a transfer, Josef thought darkly; perhaps he would be more use to the Reich on the Eastern front. He didn’t need a bodyguard in any case. These people had no fight left in them. Their spirit was broken.

Looking down the line, he noted that there were no children, no very elderly and fewer middle aged. The war and the ghettoes must be doing my job for me, he thought.

The beautiful cold, clear morning wore on and just before midday as the last few gray figures shambled past, Josef saw a tall bald man of about fifty, fourth from the end of the line, with eyes downcast. Something about this man seemed familiar. Now the man stood before him and Josef smiled, looking into his desolate cold blue eyes, eyes that had not smiled in years. Gently he asked, “Are you able to work?”

The man looked up and hesitantly said, “No.”

“You look fit enough to me.”

The man looked around grimly then stared at Josef. “No sir, I’m ill. I’m not able to work.”

“What is your name?”

“Klauberg, sir.”

“Simeon Klauberg, the actor?”

“Yes, sir.”

Josef remembered sitting and laughing at this man's antics on several occasions in Vienna when, as a boy, his mother had taken him and his little brother to the cinema. Josef looked him over. It was obvious that he had repeatedly wet himself. Not remarkable considering the long hours spent standing on the transports, but the stains running down his trousers were clearly tinged red and there were red finger marks on his jacket, even one on the yellow star that was sewn onto his breast pocket.

“Are you injured?”

“No sir, it’s my kidneys.”

“I see,” Josef said quietly. “Please proceed to the left, Herr Klauberg.”

* * * *

Sophie stared down the long dim corridor. It was silent and empty with a dusty smell that reminded her of moldy paper. The tall soldier that she followed walked briskly forward and increasingly she felt the urge to run away and hide. But where was she to go? It had been very difficult to get here, was she going to throw this chance childishly away? At that moment the soldier stopped and turned. His piercing blue eyes regarded her with barely veiled contempt. Loudly he said, “Number eleven on the left. You’ve got twenty minutes sister. Do you understand?”

She looked down the corridor again and nodded slowly. Her command of English was good but she could not bring herself to speak to these men, these G.I.’s or whatever these Americans called themselves.

“I will come for you in twenty minutes – Ok.”

She nodded again and he turned and left. Alone she walked forward timidly, her slippers making no sound as she advanced. On either side of her stood rows of empty cells, each one seemingly smaller and darker than the one before. Her mind went blank, then she found herself thinking about a pet canary she had once owned as a child and the heavy iron cage an uncle had given her to keep it in. At last she reached call eleven, tears welling in her eyes, and peered in. There, upon a small dented steel bed lay Josef. He was reading a letter and wore an old pair of gray trousers that looked several sizes too big for him with no belt and a shirt that had once been white but was now the colour of old, poor quality paper. He had not shaved in months and his long hair was oily and tousled. He looked the very image of one of his ancient Greeks, she thought fondly; he could have been Trojan Hector or Achilles the son of Peleus. Then she remembered what fate had befallen both of these heroes and quickly put them out of her mind. She stood there instead gripping her handbag, her knuckles white, her throat aching.

“Josef,” she said, almost inaudibly, at last. He leaped up, dropping the letter and grinning broadly through his beard.

“Oh, Sophie, they’ve let you come. I had no idea whether any of my messages would get through to you.”

“Oh, Josef.”

He then noticed the tears in her eyes and his tone changed. “Don’t worry, dearest Sophie, I’m well. They’ve been looking after me. I can’t complain about the hospitality of our American comrades.”

He grinned again and reached out to her through the bars but she stood still, seemingly unable to move.

“Josef, Josef, what will they do to you?”

“I’ve heard rumors that I’m to be sent to Nuremberg but I don’t know why.”

She started sobbing and now walked slowly forward saying, “Oh come here my darling, I’ve missed you so much.”

She pressed herself up against the bars and he did the same. They kissed tenderly and, for an instant forgot the impassable barrier that stood between them. Then, pulling away slightly he said, "No one can say what the future holds for each of us Sophie, my love.”

“For goodness sake Josef, stop philosophizing and listen to me!”

He had never heard her raise her voice before so he stood motionless and looked at her like a chastened schoolboy. She looked down the corridor and when she was sure that no one was coming in a low and urgent voice, she said, “Listen to me Josef, they know all about what went on at the camp. They have seen everything. But, listen to me, you must tell them my love; you must say that you were only following orders, from Himmler, from Eichmann, from all of those miserable bastards. Tell them, Josef, or I don’t know what will happen to us.”

He was silent for a few seconds then as he was about to speak, he noticed that she wore a tight headscarf. Reaching out he touched her cheek. “What’s happened to your hair?”

Annoyed that he had changed the subject she replied sharply, “I’ve had it shaved off – lice.”

Unconvinced by her answer he said, “Take this scarf off please.”

She did so slowly, revealing a freshly shaved scalp dotted with scabs and scratches. His face fell.

“Who did this to you?” he demanded.

“It’s all right, it doesn’t matter, and I’m fine. It’s you we must worry about.”

He drew back and to her chagrin changed the subject again. In a whisper he asked her, “Did you bring that box that I gave you?”

She was about to remind him of their situation again but instead reached into her cardigan, fumbled a little and pulled out a matchbox. He greeted the sight of it with a look of alarm, which she failed to notice. She handed it to him. It was, to all appearances, an ordinary matchbox but far heavier than any matchbox should be. It’s weight instantly relieved him and he opened it slightly, seeing within the now tarnished brass container that he had entrusted to her months before. With a voice full of desperation she pleaded, “Josef, please listen to me.”

“Have you opened it?”

“No, Josef, you made me promise not to, remember?”

The tone of indignation in her voice how made him feel guilty. Driving the point home she added, “I’m as good as my word.”

“I know you are dear one, thank you.”

“I put it in that matchbox in case the Americans searched me. They did, but not very well.”

It was obvious that she was telling the truth and he cursed himself for having doubted her. He took the brass container out of the matchbox, popping the latter into his pocket. He stepped up to the bars holding the box so that she could see it. She was intrigued in spite of the increasing turmoil in her mind. He clicked a tiny button and the lid of the box sprang open. There, upon a lining of purple velvet, Sophie saw a coiled strand of golden hair – her hair. She smiled. “Josef, you sentimental old fool.”

A warm feeling filled her as he beamed a smile back and said, “It’s just as well I kept this one, as all the rest are gone.”

She wanted to kiss him but more urgent matters called. “Josef,” she said bleakly, “The Americans have a file on you.”

He shut the box and looked at her in the eye. “A file?”

“Yes, my love. Before they let me see you they showed it to me. It was full of photographs of terrible, horrible things. I know what went on at the camp but you…. you were only following orders...you were only a…”

“Do you believe that I did those things to those people in the photographs?”

She began to cry. “I….I know that you are a good man.”

Despite her tears he now regarded her coldly and said, “I did do those things, Sophie, and much more that you can’t imagine.”

“No, no my love, it was not your fault. You were following orders. You must tell them that.”

“You’re right, I can tell them that and it would be the truth.”

Her face brightened a little before he added, “But there are others, Sophie, who were following orders from me and I guarantee you that right now they are telling their interrogators exactly that. I regret what I did but nothing I can say now will change it. And, I’m certainly not going to deny anything.”

She began to cry again and he stroked her cheek.

“But can’t you see, you were a government functionary. What you were doing was legal. The government are to blame, not you. Those experiments and the killings were fully sanctioned by your superiors. I just can’t understand your attitude.”

He sighed deeply and raised a conciliatory hand to wipe away her tears. Quietly he said, "Torture, slavery and murder are wrong, Sophie, irrespective of whether a government makes them legal.”

“But I know that you are a good and kind man.”

“How sweet of you to think so my love, but to the world I am a criminal and a monster.”

“Oh, Josef, damn you. How can you be so calm about this?”

He stepped back and after a moment gently replied, “Our good Americans have given me much time to think.”

He smiled sadly only to be answered by fresh tears from her. He then pressed up against the bars and they kissed. As they did so, warm salty tears trickled down his nose and into his mouth. As he began to enjoy the sensation, Sophie pulled away and in a breathless whisper said, “Josef, I’m pregnant.”

He was stunned but made an effort to hide his surprise by kissing her forehead tenderly and whispering, “That’s wonderful.”

A warm sensation began to fill him, he heard her inhale as if she was about to speak but she gasped instead. The tall, stern eyed G.I. was approaching. Urgently they kissed again, desperately squeezing each other through the narrow bars. Now the soldier was upon them.

“I’ll come again as soon as they’ll let me. I promise. They have to let me see you again. I’ll beg them to show you mercy, my love. You’ll see, everything will be all right!”

He let her go, his fingers catching a last fleeting sensation of smooth skin. The soldier had taken her by the shoulder and was leading her rapidly back down the gloomy corridor. Josef struggled to catch a last glimpse and saw that she too was looking back. Then she was gone.

A moment later he heard the clang of a heavy iron door and as its echo died away he stepped back from the bars. As he did so he realized that he was grasping the brass box tightly in his right hand. He dropped it into one of his pockets where it hit something with a metallic note. Investigating he found, apart from the empty matchbox, a fifty Reichspfennig coin. He examined it closely; 1935, the year he had joined the S.S. Eleven years ago.

He could remember shaking Himmler’s clammy, bony hand, putting on his smart gray uniform with its black rank patches for the first time, and the respect that it had earned him and the fear that it had produced in people. How his world had changed since then! He turned away from the bars and saw the letter on the floor. It had a gray footprint on it – his own.

He picked it up and tried dusting it off without success, vaguely remembering having once read that in India it was considered very bad luck to place writing or a book on the floor and ever worse to put your foot on it. He set the letter down on the bed, sat next to it and stared out through the bars.

He had been awake for two hours he estimated so his guards would soon be bringing breakfast. He didn’t have much time. Suddenly an image entered his mind. It was of himself and a child, a little boy looking up at him with bright, pleading eyes. It could have been the face of a thousand children, a face that he used to see on the ramp, an anonymous and desolate face, beyond sorrow, beyond suffering, beyond fear, beyond hope. A face that he sent to the left, left, left, left, left, left, left, always and forever left unto oblivion.

But somehow he knew this child’s face. It was Sophie’s face and his own face – the face of their son. Then the little boy’s expression changed, from one of entreaty to a look of bitter accusation. He shuddered and took the brass box out of his pocket. He opened it and looked at the little coil of Sophie’s hair. He smiled and carefully took it out placing it on the letter. Next and with some difficulty, he tore the purple lining out of the box. There beneath it, held firmly in place, were two tiny black glass tubes. With the nail of an index finger he carefully pried them out and cradled them in his palm. He then replaced the torn velvet and the coil of Sophie’s hair and put the box back into his pocket. He opened his palm. The little glass cylinders were no thicker than the lead of an artist’s pencil and as he looked at their black luster he felt strangely comforted. A moment later he heard the muffled crash of a heavy iron door from somewhere. It was a common sound in this place but this time it sounded a warning. He placed both of the little tubes in his mouth as though they were aspirin. His mouth began to fill with saliva and then hesitation gripped him. His mind went blank. What was he to do? Then he heard the distant voice of a child call – Papa. And he bit down hard on both the cylinders.

The glass broke easily but he felt nothing, then he swallowed. A tremendous burning sensation instantly overwhelmed his senses. So great was its intensity that he fell back hitting his head on the wall behind the bed. As the tide of pain in his throat and chest rose rapidly he tried to open his mouth but only succeeded in biting his tongue, or so it seemed. Then he thought he could feel his hands and knees trembling and a great weakness in his legs, followed by a strange warmth. Next he felt his joints move of their own accord then tighten like a vice. This was followed by visions of distorted faces belonging to men with blue eyes dressed in dark green. These men, he couldn’t tell how many of them there were, now yelled at him with unintelligible words, pulling his clothes and shaking his shoulders. At last he tried to tell them to leave him alone but they were gone, vanished as suddenly as they had appeared and with them the great burning was gone also.

Now, dimly, as if by the first rays of dawn, he saw a tree and recognized it. It was followed by another, different but also familiar. Then the faint outlines of a garden appeared. He was confused, but then it came, mildly at first but quickly growing richer - the scent of lavender and with it understanding.

* * * * *

Private Grant and Private Jones looked down at the twisted body of their prisoner. Twenty minutes earlier they had brought his breakfast only to find him shaking, convulsing and bleeding from the mouth. Not having any medical training, they at first suspected epilepsy but upon checking the man’s pulse and finding it very weak they ruled this out. Now he was dead. They pried his mouth open but could see nothing for all the brood from the severe wound on his tongue. Then they thought to search the body and upon discovering the brass box, the fate of their charge became clear.

“Shit, the goddam son of a bitch has taken something,” said Grant, fingering the torn velvet inside the box and causing the only other contents to fall unnoticed to the floor.

“Yup, it sure as hell seems that way.”

“What are we going to tell the Major? The shit’s gonna hit the fan when he finds out about this.”

“How the hell should I know what we’re going to tell him?”

“But where did he get it from? He was thoroughly searched when they brought him in weeks ago.”

“Wait a minute. It must have been that broad. Yeah, his girlfriend, she was here a little while ago. I brought her in.”

“Wasn’t she searched at the gate?”

“Yeah, but they must have missed this.”

“Who’s on duty down there today anyway?”

“Robinson and Lowensteen.”

“Well let them take the rap for this.”

Silently they stared at the half opened eyes, at the spots of blood that speckled the old shirt, like fallen poppy petals. Jones again searched for a pulse, then the two attempted to straighten out the contorted limbs. Failing, they stood back.

“Has he crapped his pants?”

“No, only pissed ‘em. I’ve heard it happens. It’s a side affect of the cyanide or whatever the hell it is they use”

“Well, you can bet that if the Russkies had caught him he would have been fried a long time ago. Have you seen his file?”

“Yeah.”

Jones then picked up the coin, inspected it briefly and pocketed it. Meanwhile Grant was squinting at the letter, running his eyes over the feeble, spidery hand in which it was written.

“What does it say?”

Mein geliebter sohn…” offered Grant.

“What the hell does that mean?”

“It’s Kraut.”

“I know it’s Kraut goddammit but what does it mean?”

My beloved son, I think it’s a letter from his mother.”

Jones shook his head then spat on the floor,

“Even this goddam Nazi asshole was some old lady’s son.”

“Forget it. Let’s get him cleaned up before the Major gets here.”

Grant threw the letter onto the dusty floor where it landed on top of a tiny coil of gold.

Peter Karargiris April 10 th 2001



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Copyright © Copyright, Peter Karargiris.

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