[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.
This episode, (14.4) around the time-honoured tradition of the Aussie barbeque Gunter learns of a change of plan and having to travel with people he doesn’t particularly like…]
BBQ time with Mrs. C
Out in the backyard Mrs. C tended the sizzling Bratwurst sausages. She wore a smug expression, as well as her pink floral apron. To Gunter’s mind, except for extra lines on her face, and her leaner build, she reminded him of one of the women folk in the Schwabian village he had come from. He mused whether she was some sort of Melbourne descendant of such a woman.
‘Ah, there you are! I was wondering where you got to.’ Mrs. C wiped her hands on her apron. ‘I hope you haven’t been gallivanting around town with some girl. You know I don’t like it when you do that.’
‘No, Mrs. C.’
Gunter loped up to Mrs. C and gave her a hug and then kissed her on the cheek. ‘You are the only one for me, Mrs. C.’
‘Flattery will get you nowhere.’
‘Mmm, the wursts look delicious; just like the ones we have in Bavaria.’ Gunter reached for one dark golden sausage. ‘I just can’t resist.’
Mrs. C slapped his hand. ‘Not until you wash your hands and set the table.’
Wilhelm strode out from the back verandah with the tossed green salad. As Mrs. C stared at him, her eyes narrowed, Gunter gestured and said, ‘Oh, Mrs. C this is my um, friend, from Tasmania, Wilhelm Thumm.’
Mrs. C placed her hands on her hips. ‘Oh, so this is who you’ve been gallivanting around town with. Hmmm?’
‘Yes, Mrs. C.’ Gunter grinned. ‘I’ve been showing him this fair city before he heads off to Canberra, was it?’
‘Adelaide, actually,’ Wilhelm cleared his throat. ‘Change of plans, mate. I thought we might take the Great Ocean Road, I mean coast and all that. Sailing in my sailboat, the fair ship, Minna, I mean. We could stay in Port Fairy along the way.’
Wilhelm nodded. ‘Oh, didn’t I make that clear? You’re coming with us. Boss’s orders. Anyway, you’ll enjoy the company; your dear mutti, my son Johnny and my wife…’
‘What? But I…’
‘Not negotiable, Gunter.’
‘Not going to happen, M-mate. Your wife, Frieda and I do not get along.’ Gunter shoved his hands in his trouser pockets and marched into the kitchen. There between the bright yellow painted cupboards, he paced. ‘No, I have to stay here. Letitia, she’s…’
‘Aber, mein Gans, Boris is there.’ His mother stood by the lace-topped table. ‘We need you in Adelaide where Boris is.’
‘No!’ Gunter raced out of the kitchen, pushing his mutti aside in his escape to the outdoors. Reaching the barbeque, he picked off a sausage and bit into it.
His mother followed, rubbing her shoulder. ‘Sorry about Gunter, Ethel. He just has these urges to eat Bratwurst sausages. It’s like he hasn’t had a decent fatty meal in centuries.’
‘No worries, Ella, dear. So glad you brought the sausages. Such a lovely idea.’
Gunter glanced from Mrs. C to his mutti.
Mrs. C dipped her head and then raised it. ‘Oh, Gunter, didn’t you know; your mother and I have been friends for, what, centuries. Haven’t we dear?’
Wilhelm glanced at his watch and then looked with raised eyebrows at Mrs. C.
‘What’s happening? Are we waiting?’ Mrs. C asked.
Wilhelm checked his Rolex watch. ‘Just a few more minutes. Maybe she’ll come to her senses and join us.’
Gunter snorted. ‘I do not think so. She will not come while I am here.’
‘Oh, Gans, do not be so hard on yourself. Why would Frieda miss meeting her mother after so many years?’ his mama said.
‘Frieda…that woman, hates me. Is not that obvious?’
‘But why?’ Mrs. C asked. ‘She hardly knows you.’
‘She knows that I worked for Boris; she blames me for all that has happened to her.’
‘How can she, son?’ his mutti said. ‘You weren’t there when she was kidnapped.’
Gunter wiped his face, with eyes glazed and red he looked at his mother. ‘But I was. Boris…he made me…and she remembers. I am sure.’ He breathed out, and trembling, looked away. ‘It is not just what happened to Letitia.’
‘Oh, Gans, do not let that cockroach spoil our sausages.’ His mother stood up. ‘Come, let us eat, drink and enjoy what Mrs. C has prepared. We will put a plate aside for Frieda when she returns to join us.’
Once Mutti had served the rest of the family in a more civilized fashion, and their host had given thanks to God for the meal, the four sat at the timber outdoor setting and ate their Bratwurst, bread and salad with a glass of Claret from the Barossa Valley.
‘We will be going to Adelaide,’ his mother said. ‘And we will be getting those precious boys back to their mother and at the right time. No matter what it takes, we will do this.’
‘I thought the IGSF were going to do that,’ Gunter said.
‘Pff! The IGSF, they are hopeless,’ his mother said.
‘Wouldn’t know how to organize a chicken meat raffle,’ Mrs. C added.
Mutti placed her hand on Gunter’s. ‘We will give the whole plan an element of surprise.’
‘Like you will put a bomb under the kidnappers, Mutti?’
‘Better than that.’ Mrs. C leaned back in her deck chair. ‘We have some resources. Let’s just say, from a recent war or two.’
Gunter sucked air between his teeth. ‘I’m not sure about this.’
‘It’ll be fine, you’ll see,’ Wilhelm said. ‘I dare say, we’ll fill in a few gaps. We’ll make sure the job gets done. Right, ladies?’
Both women exchanged glances, smiled, and nodded.
‘After all,’ Wilhelm chuckled, ‘that’s why we needed your brother Johann’s hard-earned cash.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2022
Feature photo: Real Aussie men do the BBQ © L.M. Kling 2015