Doors of Deception
[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia… In this episode (10.2) Letitia discusses family matters while Gunter comes to terms with his embarrassing discovery about Jemima…]
Turkish Coffee Time
They found a café still open and churning out Turkish coffees in tiny golden cups.
The aroma lingered in the air surrounding the café, the same one in which Letitia had partaken of vanilla slice and coffee eight maybe nine hours earlier. The same dark eyed woman black hair rolled up in a bun, stared at her. The vendor kept her surveillance as Gunter organised the drinks while Letitia waited at the table that had crammed itself against the wall.
‘Trev won’t trouble us here, Lettie.’ Gunter set down the miniature cups on the laminated table that had the distinct smell of disinfectant.
‘I’m sure that he will be too busy dancing his way to fame and fortune.’
‘He’ll get sick of that.’ Gunter dismissed her suggestion with the wave of one hand. ‘Always does. Same every week. Then he comes looking for me. Every week! I cannot get rid of him.’ He leaned back on the wooden chair, crossed his lanky legs, and continued, ‘When I need a break, I come here.’ He indicated a subtle thumb towards the proprietor. ‘Trev’s afraid of her. Thinks she’s the FBI. No kidding! He’s paranoid.’ Gunter chuckled and then confided, ‘I take Jemima here.’ More sniggers. ‘It’s the only way we get privacy.’
‘Oh, I see.’ Letitia shifted uncomfortably in her seat and glanced briefly at the Greek lady busily polishing the benches. The languid staring from her was beginning to make sense. ‘She’s a bit old for you, though. I mean Jemima – why’s she interested in you, pet?’ Jemima, after all, was still her daughter and she had trouble reconciling that in another time and world, Gunter and Minna were a constant item.
Gunter locked eyes with Letitia. ‘We’re just friends. I did not know she was my niece and involved with the IGSF. She never…’
‘Is that why you reacted, like you…’
Gunter bent his head and nodded.
‘She found you, then. And you know she will go to Papa and…’
‘I must admit, I suspected, but hoped…I mean, she talked about finding her father.’ He grabbed Letitia’s arm and met her eyes. ‘Look, don’t tell them. I want to be left alone. Find my own way.’
‘But why, Gunter? We’re family.’
‘You can’t begin to understand.’ Gunter looked away and sipped some coffee. ‘I’ll always be the lesser. The black sheep. And now that Johann has…’
‘Johann? Your older brother?’
Gunter stared into his coffee cup. ‘Yes.’
‘But why? What’s so bad that…?’
‘You don’t understand. I’ve done some things I’m not proud of.’
‘What have you done, Gunter? Don’t you think I don’t know what Boris is like? What has he got over you? What has he asked you to do?’ Letitia searched for his evading gaze. ‘Nothing is too bad that you have to sell your soul to that creep.’
‘Just last night, I saw her. Jemima. She comes and goes a bit. I never know when I am going to see her.’ Gunter’s gaze wandered out into the street. The atmosphere was still bustling and electric as summer nights in Melbourne usually are. ‘You don’t have an address for her?’ His voice sounded concerned, with a thin reedy tenor to it.
‘No, she went away and never really gave one, I’m afraid.’ Letitia continued this line of enquiry without further mention of Boris. No need to trigger Gunter. Trigger, there’s that word again. ‘Say, does she still carry around that little black treasure box?’ The transportation device materialised in Letitia’s mind. She remembered that black box. Remembered distinctly what the box could do. Hot beads of sweat rolled slowly down from her temples and over her cheeks.
Gunter peered at her. ‘Are you alright?’
She fanned her face with a menu. ‘Yeah! Not used to the Melbourne heat. It’s getting to me.’
‘But, Sydney is hotter and more humid. Remember? We used to sleep out in the back yard on our foam mattresses. I remember Papa used to snore so loud that it would keep us awake.’
‘Yep, those were the days! Wouldn’t dream about doing that now.’ Letitia forgetting what era she was in. All time, all years were embraced by the immediacy of “now”.
‘Ja, must not do that these days. Not in Melbourne. There was that serial killer in Perth.’ All that remained in Gunter’s cup was a pug of silty coffee grounds. ‘The night caller. Other end of the country, but it could happen here.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature photo: Coffee anyone? Turkish or otherwise. (The tea set is St Kilda Fine China made in the 1960’s). © L.M. Kling 2021