Doors of Deception
Black Hole Bag of Time
[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 (10.3) Letitia tries to get to the bottom of Gunter’s baggage …]
‘Hmm!’ Letitia persevered on the box track. That this was what Jemima used to transport them back in time. ‘That black box was precious to her. It’s very valuable. Did you ever happen to see it?’
Gunter shook his head. ‘Nein! She had this big black bag though. I used to call it the black hole. She was always losing things in it. Yet, she always had everything — everything she needed. It is amazing what she had in that bag.’ He gave a short snort of amusement. ‘I half expected her to pull out a kitchen sink. I mean she had everything!’ He looked directly at Letitia. ‘Hey, where is your bag? Don’t women always have a bag with them?’
‘Yeah, usually. I travel light.’ Letitia was rather pleased with herself for the clever play of words. ‘Anyway, mine got stolen after I got off the boat.’
‘Oh, that is a shame. Were you on a boat? You get around!’
‘Oh, just a bit of Tassie actually. That’s where I disappeared to if you have been wondering. Top Secret IGSF Mission business. Then after completing the mission, I stayed with her name which I won’t mention and husband. They’re the ones who have sent me on this mission to Adelaide.’ Letitia leant forward and whispered, ‘I have to pretend to be Maggie, Tail’s wife, can you believe it?’
‘That won’t work.’
‘How so? I thought I could say I’m Maggie in disguise.’
Letitia reclined on her seat. ‘How do you know it won’t?’
‘I just know.’ Gunter puffed out his chest. ‘Besides, I saw Maggie this morning. Dressed like a Hippie. And Bo…’
Letitia grinned and bobbed her head. ‘I see. And you were saying?’
‘Nothing,’ Gunter flushed, ‘it is nothing. I am making it up. Like you make up time travel backwards.’
‘No, I don’t think so, love. Is this a trap, my brother?’
Gunter looked away. Mute. Caught in his own trap of pride.
‘Is Boris going to walk into this café and abduct me?’
Gunter wrung his hands.
‘Or is he hiding outside, waiting to catch me?’ Letitia slapped the table making Gunter jump. ‘Come on! I know he’s around. I can smell him. And I know you are working for him. You reek of him, brother!’
‘No, you are wrong,’ Gunter whimpered.
‘O-o-oh, I do hope I am,’ Letitia said while glancing at the darked bun-haired woman who glared at them in a “I’m-about-to-close-shop” fashion. ‘I hope, for your sake, Jemima’s safe. Or you and that bleeding Boris will pay!’
‘See what I mean? Nobody understands me.’ Gunter looked up. ‘I can’t just—can’t just…you would not understand. Nobody gets it.’
‘Get it? Understand? I get and understand only too well. Two bomb blasts well. Exile in another universe well. Over twenty-five years well. I’ve seen my friends suffer.’ Letitia served her half-brother a withering look. ‘Do you think what happened in the last war was a Sunday School picnic? What happened to my friend, Frieda? Hmmm?’
‘You have no idea!’ Gunter ground his teeth before continuing. ‘That woman—that girl who waltzed into our lives, our family, like it was hers, which it was not. Nothing happened to her. Not compared to my mother.’
Now, we’re getting somewhere, Letitia thought. ‘Your mother? What did Boris do to your mother? Tell me. I’m listening.’
Gunter waved the air between them. ‘It’s complicated.’
‘Let’s just say, she is who I owe my debt to.’ He laughed, a bitter kind of laugh. ‘And Frieda? She has no idea who she is married to.’
‘Now, you have my full attention. I always thought Wilhelm was a little strange.’ She reached over again and took hold of his hand. ‘I’m sorry for my outburst. Look, if you can keep me from, you know, the cockroach, I think I can help you. And I get the feeling that Jemima is already doing just that too.’
Gunter and Letitia thanked the vendor before stepping out onto the steaming pavement. Gunter hung back from a passing Friday night crowd. He seemed uncertain which way to go. He looked at Letitia for inspiration. ‘So, where’s your hotel? I’ll give you a lift.’
‘Hotel? My bag was stolen. I have no money. I have no hotel. I have no place to stay, actually.’
‘You are homeless, then.’
‘That’s convenient,’ Gunter remarked. He looked about him as if Letitia were a stray in search of a home. He then dug his hands in his pockets and scuffed the pavement with his shoe.
‘I’m sorry. Have I put you out?’ Letitia said.
Gunter began to stride towards the highway away from the beach. ‘This way, I have an idea.’ Half-turning, he said, ‘You sure you don’t know where your daughter lives?’
‘Nah. ‘fraid not,’ Letitia answered while breaking into a jog to keep up with Gunter’s accelerating pace.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Old Baggage © L.M. Kling 2021
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