[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…Now, being a project of sorts, over the summer holidays, I have pieced together the story from beginning to end, and then revised it. A main thread has evolved. Something to do with murder and Letitia’s unfortunate involvement in it. I have worked on developing some of the other characters. In this episode (14.2), we obtain some character insights with the interaction between Gunter and his mother.]
Change of Plan
Gunter sat bolt upright in his bed. He was determined and focused on what he must do. He tiptoed into his absent brother’s room to “borrow” some of his money, hidden in a jar behind his H.G. Wells collection in the bookshelf. Mrs. C down the hallway, was asleep; he could hear her snoring like a band saw as he passed by her room. He gritted his teeth and hoped that the door would not creak. It did.
With a fist full of dollars, Gunter slipped out of the boarding house and then pelted across the road, the solitary streetlight witness to his race. He paused as he reached the solid wooden doors of the local church. The suburb had paused to sleep at three in the morning, but Gunter’s heart was thumping. He decided that this front entrance was too risky, so edged around the side of the church until he found a side door. Actually, a metal gate.
He fumbled with lock. It was not budging. He groped around in his trouser pocket for old faithful, his mama’s hair pin. Mama’s pin had not let him down yet. With the pin, he poked around the keyhole until the click and the gate sprang open. In the moonlight, another door, challenged him.
Nervously he maneuvered the pin around the wooden door lock and hoped that it wasn’t a deadbolt. As if a mantra for luck, he chanted under his breath, ‘Dumkopf! Open!’ The words made him feel less anxious if nothing else.
The door fell away from him, and he lurched, then tripped, sprawling on the rug covering the jarrah floor. ‘Sheisse!’ he cried. He was sure that he had been found out and that his life was over.
‘I thought you would never make it.’ A woman’s voice floated over his head.
He recognised that voice. ‘Mutti?’
‘Ah, Gans, immer spaet! (Ah, Goose, always late).’
‘What are you doing here?’
A slight woman, aged somewhere in her thirties, flaxen hair tied in a bun, locked eyes with him. ‘To rescue my future grandsons, naturally. Why else would I ask you to come here?’
‘Yes, I know.’ Gunter pulled himself from the floor, dusted himself and sneezed. ‘But, I was expecting someone else…’
‘Have you got the chocolate box? You know, the time travel bon bons? I left it here last time.’
‘Oh, Mutti! Always leaving your stuff wherever you go! We could trace you through time and space the trail of chocolate you leave.’
‘Just as well I did, or I’d be lost forever.’
‘Ja, natuerlich.’ Gunter paced down the hall. ‘Let’s do it!’
‘Hoi, not so fast.’ His mother caught his sleeve. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’
‘Saving the boys.’
‘Aber, I have the matches and the bomb is all set up.’
‘Bomb? What bomb?’
‘The one to blow Boris to little pieces. You know, kaboom.’
‘But, but you can’t just go around killing people. I mean, look what happened to Letitia because of you.’
‘Hmph! What’s she? Your papa’s second child? With that woman? Hmmm? How could he do that to me? Tossing me aside because I’m…I’m…’
‘I’m sorry, Mama, but we thought you were…’
Gunter shrugged. ‘So, then how’s the bomb going to work?’
‘Oh, the bomb will work very well, indeed.’ She grabbed her son’s hand and dragged him out to a courtyard and onto a patch of lawn.
‘But, but, how are we going to save the boys, then? I cannot believe I will be the father of boys.’
‘Simple.’ She struck a match and tossed it onto the porch. The flame flared and then fizzled.
‘Ja! And your point is?’
‘The point is, Gans, that the flame is a signal.’
Gunter stood scratching his head. ‘For what?’
‘Come on.’ His mother sighed and tugged at her son’s shirt. ‘You must get back to the house before they notice you are missing. I think Mrs. C is cooking you Bratwurst and fried onions on her outdoor barbeque.’
Gunter gazed back at the house. The weatherboard with its untamed cottage garden. The driveway, concreted but cracked. He realized that since the flame throwing, the night had morphed into midday. A fine summer’s day. An afternoon southerly breeze cooled the air slightly. The smell of BBQ sausages wafted, making Gunter’s stomach growl.
‘How did that happen?’ Gunter asked.
‘Come,’ Wilhelm Thumm nudged him. ‘You can introduce me to the famous Mrs. C.’
‘How did? Where’s my…?’
‘Don’t ask. By the way, do you have the money?’
Gunter nodded and handed Wilhelm the wad of notes. ‘I don’t see why you need so much.’ He clocked the Aston Martin parked in front of the boarding house. ‘You look like you are…’
‘All for a good cause. Besides, that greedy brother of yours can do with a bit less. So, I hear.’
As they approached the house, a slender blonde leapt from the car, slammed the door and marched down the street, away from the house.
‘Who is that?’ Gunter asked.
‘My wife,’ Wilhelm replied. ‘Remember Frieda?’
‘She has not changed.’ Gunter stared at the gravel on the footpath. ‘She saw me, and she does not like me.’
‘Don’t be so hard on yourself.’
‘She blames me for what happened to Letitia.’
‘She’ll get over it.’ Wilhelm patted his back. ‘You’ll be friends, one day.’
Gunter locked eyes with Wilhelm. ‘Yeah, sure. Pigs fly, as they say here in Australia.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022
Feature Photo: Stain Glass windows, Notre Dame, Paris © L.M. Kling 2014