Ice cold, p.6

Ice Cold, page 6

 

Ice Cold
 


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  At least, she was glad of it at first, but when he insisted on taking the short cut because she was still so tired from cycling, and he told her how his wife was away all day and spending the night in Munich ‘with her cousin, on account of seeing Mussolini’, she felt he was pestering her a little. He kept coming closer, then he put his arm around her shoulders as if by chance, even his voice suddenly sounded over-familiar. He seemed a little weird to her, a little strange. She was relieved when they reached the road and she could get on her bike at last.

  She let him buy her something to eat in Peissenberg. Why not? That way she could save her two marks. But when he repeated his invitation for her to stay with him overnight, she refused again. Never mind how thoughtful he sounded – ‘But my child, you’re still worn out!’ and ‘I just can’t let you go on in that state, my child!’ All that ‘my child’ business, it got on her nerves. Why didn’t he say straight out what he wanted? She wasn’t a child any more.

  No, she most certainly was not, she had a child of her own; that’s what came of walking out with Heinrich. The little boy was three years old now. Heinrich had been a dead loss. Hadn’t paid a penny of maintenance, didn’t even intend to. But to be honest, he couldn’t have paid anyway. He’d been a layabout, no use to anyone. Always shooting his mouth off, nothing behind his fine talk. The last she’d heard of him, he was in jail. They arrested him for something or other, exactly what she didn’t know, didn’t care either. She found a foster family for the little boy. What would she do with a child when she didn’t even have enough money for herself? She was going to look for a job in Munich. She’d tried that once before, five years ago, she’d spent a couple of weeks there. But times had been much worse then than they were these days. She’d heard it was easier now, and with the reference Dr Kaiser had given her she was sure she’d find a job as a maid in Munich. She was certain she would. She had a nice feeling that everything in her life was about to change for the better.

  She’d thought just now it would be a good idea to find somewhere to sleep. She was tired. Her legs felt so heavy. She’d almost stopped at the last inn she passed to ask for a bed for the night, spending the last of her money on a night’s rest. But then she changed her mind at the last minute and cycled on. She’d get there today, she was sure she would. It wouldn’t be far from Oderling, she’d soon have reached her journey’s end. It wouldn’t be far now.

  My name is Regina Adlhoch, I live in Unterellegg in the Wertach area.

  My late husband was a farmer. I live on the farm with my son – it’s his now – and my daughter-in-law.

  I came here because my daughter Kuni is missing. Kunigunde Adlhoch, that’s her full name.

  Kuni was born on 21 August 1915 in Unterellegg.

  I last saw her on 28 September 1938.

  Up till the beginning of September Kuni was still working for Dr Kaiser in Freiburg. I can’t tell you why she left her job there, I don’t know. She didn’t tell me anything about it. She came out to the farm and stayed three weeks. She slept with me in the little annexe I moved into when my son inherited the farm. I don’t think things were going well for her, because she always came home to me when things weren’t going well.

  After three weeks she said she’d be off again. I didn’t ask her any questions, I didn’t want to. So she set off on 28 September early in the morning on the bike, to go to our relations in Füssen. She slept there on the night of the 28th. The family there told me she got up early on the 29th and set out on the bike again for Munich.

  She said she was going to look for a job in Munich.

  Usually I hear from Kuni every three or four weeks. But it’s nearly three months since she left now, and I haven’t had a word from her. I’m very worried, I’ve always heard from her before. Always.

  The bicycle she had with her – well, she was really taking it to her sister in Munich. That’s what they agreed, but she never turned up there either.

  I was in Munich myself early in October. I went by train. Resi, that’s one of my other daughters, was getting married there. She’s married a really nice man. I’d hoped Kuni would go to Resi’s wedding. She might wander here, there and everywhere in the usual way, but she’d go to see her sister. That’s why I was so surprised that Kuni didn’t turn up for the wedding. It was all agreed.

  It’s not the first time Kuni simply went off. She was in Munich once before, five years ago. She wanted to look for a job there. She didn’t say anything about it that time either, and I didn’t hear anything from her. But she was back home with us again four weeks later. Kuni always came home again after a few weeks.

  I’m afraid I have to say she’s rather flighty. But she has a good heart, even if she never stays anywhere long. However, she’s never been away from home so long before without me hearing anything from her.

  I’m so worried about the child, that’s why I came, I want to report her missing. So that you’ll look for her and maybe, God willing, you’ll find her.

  Interrogation of Josef Kalteis, continued

  – The day Mussolini came to Munich I was out at the Kiefern inn in Obermenzing, killing a pig.

  – That’s right, I helped with the pig-killing. I’ve often been over there to help out before.

  – You want to know what I did there? Oh, I can tell you that all right, I can tell you all the details.

  – The butcher as kills the pigs in Obermenzing, he always asks if I can come and lend a hand. I like it. When you’re taking a sow to be slaughtered she knows what’s up, I can tell you. That’s when they start screaming. They start screaming out loud the moment you fetch ’em out of the sty.

  – You need a couple of men to hold that sow or she’ll make off. You have to brace yourself against her. So as she won’t make off. You have to brace your whole weight against her, good and hard.

  – You feel the sow twisting and turning, trying to get away. You hear the fear in her grunting, the fear of death. You see her rolling her eyes in terror. She’s so scared, that sow, she foams at the mouth.

  – You tie the back leg with a rope. You put it round the leg and tie it tight, or she’ll break free. Then along comes the butcher, brings his hatchet down on her head.

  – With the handle, I mean, not the blade. That’s how he does it! Boing!

  (Kalteis swings his arm back and shows those present how the butcher hits the pig.)

  – Boing! Mostly he has to hit her twice. First time around the sow is just left dizzy, half-stunned. Second time her feet go from under her. Crash!

  – You feel the sow collapsing, you feel her knees give way. Then the butcher slits the sow’s throat with his knife.

  – Through the vein right here. Then you catch the blood in a basin. It’s got to be stirred to keep it from clotting, see? You stir it for five minutes or so till it’s cooling down.

  – That’s the part I like best, stirring the blood. That’s my job! I really like it.

  – Next you have to scald the sow with hot water so as to shave the bristles off better. You shave the bristles off of the rind, you want that sow good and clean.

  – Everyone has to lend a hand there. You need hot water and pitch, then the bristles come off easier. You put the sow in a trough, it’s a wooden trough, pour the pitch over her and the hot water. It has to be almost boiling when you scald her. If you don’t have no pitch and hot water, well, it’s a pig of a job, you might say. Can’t be done, I’ve tried, you can only scrape a little bit of skin clear with a knife. Can’t do no more nor that.

  – Then you lift the sow out of the trough. A sow like that, she’ll weigh nigh on three hundredweight. You put the carcase on a ladder and rub the back and the sides down with a chain. Chains is the best way to get the bristles out. And what won’t come out you scrape off with the knife.

  – Then you hang the sow up. By her back legs, head down. Like she’s hanging on the gallows. You stick the knife in and cut the sow apart from top to bottom.

  (Kalteis shows those pre
sent how it is done.)

  – Then all the innards drop out. You have to be careful not to slit the gut or the shit will all fall out. A filthy mess that makes.

  – After that you wash out the gut, you’ll be needing it later for sausage-skins. I mean, you stuff the sausage-meat into it. I don’t like washing out the gut half so much. I’d rather stir the blood or help with cutting up the sow.

  – When she’s cleaned out you chop her apart down the middle with the hatchet. And then you cut up the halves.

  – For the hams you put the knife in on the inside. Here, this is where the knife goes in.

  (Pointing to his thigh, Kalteis shows those present where and how he uses the knife in butchering a pig.)

  – Right here, this here is where the knife goes in. Stick it in further down and you’ll miss the joint. You can’t get the ham off whole, not without you find the joint. You have to cut all the way round once. It’s not as tricky as it looks, not if you know the right place. That way you soon have a ham, but you have to find the right spot. The sinews aren’t no problem, you’ve cut ’em through already.

  – But it gets tricky if you don’t go for the right place, on account of you can’t cut through the bone. If you’ve cut all around it first, the ham turns on its joint easily.

  – Yes, sure it’s hard work, you work up a good sweat, but once you know how to do the job, it’s dead easy.

  Monday

  When Kathie gets up and goes into the kitchen at nine in the morning on Monday, old Frau Bösl is standing at the stove, and Anna is sitting at the table in her mother’s kitchen. It looks as if she’s been waiting for Kathie.

  Kathie sits down at the table with her. ‘Well, so madam’s out of bed at last, is she?’ says Anna to Kathie. ‘We weren’t all that late at Soller’s!’ Laughing and winking at her. ‘Or was it such hard work necking with that blond fellow?’

  Old Frau Bösl pushes the mug of malted coffee and a piece of bread across the table to Kathie. ‘Here you are, have something to eat and drink.’ As she pushes the mug over, coffee slops out on the oilcloth cover. Kathie takes the bread and crumbles it into the mug. She watches the bits of bread slowly soaking up the hot liquid. Then she fishes them out with the spoon Frau Bösl put ready for her, piece by piece. Anna sits opposite the whole time, watching Kathie have her breakfast.

  ‘Going to be much longer? I don’t have for ever, you know.’ Anna’s on the dole, has to go to the office to fetch her thirty marks, and she has something to discuss with Kathie too. Anna is in a hurry, they start out directly after breakfast. Kathie just has time to get her coat and her bag.

  On the way Anna tells Kathie she’ll have to find somewhere else to sleep. Her mother doesn’t want her sleeping in the apartment any more, the lodger Fräulein Stegmeier comes back today, and she pays well for her room. Anna’s mother needs the money, her widow’s pension is small because her father paid for hardly any insurance stamps, and she can’t pay her rent with just the tiny pension and what she earns as a washerwoman.

  Kathie goes along beside Anna, can hardly keep up with her. Doesn’t know what to do, where to go. She can’t sleep at Frau Lederer’s, she wouldn’t want to. Anyway, Maria was there, and now there wasn’t room for her at old Frau Bösl’s either. She’d said all along she couldn’t stay more than two nights, but where was Kathie to go now? She wants to ask Anna, ‘How about your place?’ But as if Anna could read her thoughts, she answers Kathie without being asked.

  ‘You can’t sleep with me, I’m sleeping on the sofa at Mitzi’s anyway because I don’t have a place of my own, not since Lukas chucked me out, that’s my fiancé, the bastard. Mitzi’s all right, her fiancé, the one in Gelsenkirchen, he pays for the apartment. You could do with luck like that, right? One fellow to pay for your place and keep you, another to suit your fancy. That’d be just the thing! You can always go to the hostel, the Marienherberge. Do you have two marks?’

  Kathie, walking along beside Anna in silence, nods. Yes, she has two marks.

  ‘Then you’ll have a place to sleep, and if you don’t like it there, well, you’re a nice clean girl, look for a fellow of your own. That blond guy, he seemed taken with you. Then you’d have a place to sleep until you find something better. Hey, don’t look like that, only joking!’

  They go to the Marienherberge in Goethestrasse together, and Kathie registers at the hostel. She is told to come back in the evening and she’ll be given a bed. But not too late, she’ll have to be there around seven or eight in the evening at the latest, if she wants a good place. She’ll get a hot breakfast next day too, but then she must leave the hostel. No one’s allowed there during the day.

  Suppose she finds somewhere else to sleep after all, Kathie asks the hostel manager, then what?

  ‘If you don’t turn up, then you forfeit your money. We don’t refund it. And don’t forget you’ll have to be here by ten, or all the beds will be gone.’

  Kathie takes the two marks out of her purse and puts them on the table. She has to sign in the register beside her name and then she can go. She walks around the city with Anna for a bit, until Anna leaves her, saying she has things to do. She doesn’t tell Kathie what they are, and Kathie doesn’t ask.

  So Kathie goes on strolling through Munich on her own. Seeing the city, looking in the shop windows, just wandering aimlessly around the streets. At some point that day she finds herself in Heysestrasse outside the Hofmann family’s shop. How she came to be in Heysestrasse she doesn’t know, she was just walking nowhere in particular. She hesitates for a while, wondering whether to go in or not. But it can’t hurt. So in she goes.

  Inside the shop everything still looks just the way she remembers it. Frau Hofmann is standing behind the counter as she always did, and Kathie goes straight up to her. ‘I’m Kathie, Frau Hertl’s daughter from Wolnzach,’ she introduces herself. For a moment Frau Hofmann looks blank, then she remembers Kathie. ‘Oh, my God, so it is! Kathie who likes the red cotton reels so much. Why, you’re a big girl now, Kathie.’

  Oh yes, the letter, the letter Kathie wrote, she did get it, but they don’t have a job here, she’s sorry. Times are so bad, you have to think whether you can hire any help at all. But she’s been asking around, and the lawyer whose lady wife is such a good customer of theirs, that family is looking for a maid, a kitchen maid, and it would be a good place for Kathie.

  Kathie lets Frau Hofmann write down the address on a piece of paper, and promises to go and introduce herself to the lawyer and his lady wife right away. But even as she puts the scrap of paper in her pocket she knows she won’t. She isn’t planning to be a kitchen maid. She could have gone into service back home in Wolnzach. But she doesn’t let Frau Hofmann know what she’s thinking. She smiles and thanks her for her help, and says of course she’ll go and see the lawyer.

  And how are things at home in Wolnzach? Frau Hofmann asks. Her mother was still going around the villages with her wares, says Kathie, and her father, oh, well, he was getting grumpier and grumpier. He wanted her, Kathie, out of the house. That’s why she’s come to the big city, that’s why she’s here in Munich. She’d hoped it would be easier to find a place here than at home in the village.

  She’d met ever such a nice girl who came to the country for the hop-picking last autumn, she says, and now she was staying with her here in Munich. She has a lovely, bright apartment, says Kathie, and she, Kathie, likes it there a lot. She doesn’t want to go back home any more. Back to her strict father and her mother. She thanks Frau Hofmann again for being so helpful. Then Kathie goes away, with the piece of paper in her pocket.

  She crumples it up before she’s turned the next corner. It’s a lovely sunny day in Munich. The air is still warm, almost like spring. She sits on a park bench in the English Garden, and the sun warms her. The crumpled scrap of paper is in her coat pocket. She sits there watching the people strolling past. It’s not long before a couple of fellows sit down on the bench beside her. She laughs and jokes with them. One
of them tells her he has a motorbike, he could take her out into the country on it if she likes. Kathie is enthusiastic, of course she’d like that. They decide to make a date, he writes his name and address down on a piece of paper for her so that she won’t forget him. And she doesn’t put this note in her coat pocket with the other one. She puts it in her little black bag instead.

  In the evening she goes to Soller’s in the valley. The blond man is there again. So is Anna. She lets the blond man buy her a meal, and they go to one of the rooms for hire at Soller’s to sleep.

  Herta

  Johann Würth, that’s my name. I work driving a truck for the firm of Friedrich Fischer. It’ll be about eight years I’ve been working for Fischer’s. I collect the milk from the dairy farms.

  Same route every day. Around three in the afternoon I drive away from the station where they load the milk. I drive out along Landsbergerstrasse to Pasing. Then it’s on to Freiham, Germering, Gilching, Argelsried and so to Wessling. I stop for a break in Wessling. I’ve done half my round when I get to Wessling, and I stop to eat a snack there. My wife packs me up a sausage sandwich, and I have tea or coffee in my thermos flask too. And about eight I drive the same way back to Munich. But not until I’ve loaded up the milk.

  Well, not exactly the same route every day, but almost. Because on the way back from Wessling by way of Gilching I use the state highway. The stretch from Wessling to Munich. By this time I’ve been to almost all the dairy farms, and on the way back I just have to stop in Germering. Then I turn off the state highway again at Unterpfaffenhofen, and from there I go along the old road to Germering. That’s right on the road. I load up the milk there, and by the time I go on it’s nine o’clock. I do that route every day, the same round, day after day.

 
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