Ice cold, p.9

Ice Cold, page 9

 

Ice Cold
 


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  The cyclists, the family – the mother, father and child – someone must hear her. Oh, surely they must hear her.

  The man won’t let her go. She feels his body lying on hers.

  Feels it heavy as a hundredweight. Can’t push him away. Can’t shake him off. Can’t move. Can’t move any more.

  Bastard, bastard, bastard!

  He has something in his hand. A piece of fabric. She recognizes it.

  It’s the white fabric of her knickers.

  That bastard has taken her knickers off.

  He holds the fabric, he stuffs it far into her mouth with his hands.

  She can’t defend herself any more. She just lies there, unable to fight back. He stuffs the knickers deep between her jaws. The screaming dies away.

  She wants to retch. Feels the pain in her jaws. Realizes she can’t breathe any more. Desperately, she tries to get some air. Air, air! There’s less and less of it. She is fighting desperately for air. Air!

  She can’t scream. Can’t scream. Can’t breathe. Nothing. No air. None.

  Thursday and Friday

  The driver comes into Soller’s at eight-thirty. Half an hour before they arranged to meet. He’s keen to see the girl again. Hasn’t been able to settle to anything all day. If he began work on something he stopped again and put it off until later. Just after six he sets off from home. He goes all the way to Soller’s in the valley on foot. He doesn’t take the tram, doesn’t want to be even earlier.

  Once he’s reached the inn he soon finds her. She’s sitting at the same table again. They’re all there, just like the day before, Hans sitting between Kathie and Mitzi. Even the blond man is in the same place, as if they had never left Soller’s at all.

  He’s still in the doorway of the bar at Soller’s when she sees him. She jumps up at once and goes over to him.

  ‘Hello, why are you so early? I wasn’t expecting you yet. Come and join us.’ She doesn’t let him get a word in edgeways. She looks radiant, her eyes shining with delight. He feels her take his hand. Her hand is soft and warm in his. The driver hesitates just for a moment, slightly withdraws his hand, but then he lets her lead him over to the others at the table. He sits down beside her.

  Once again she talks to him all evening. The words spill out of her. She went to the Wiesn again today. Has he ever been out there himself? She rode on the roller coaster. It was lovely, she screamed out loud because you get such a funny feeling inside you when the car goes rushing down. Such a tingling feeling, she can hardly describe it. And then she went on the swingboats too. ‘I swung and swung. I swung right up to the sky. A little higher, I thought, and I’ll be flying into the clouds like a bird, I felt so light. Of course I know that wouldn’t happen, but when you swing up so high you feel you don’t weigh anything, you really think for a moment, just for the fraction of a second, just for the blink of an eyelid, that you could fly. It makes you feel so good!’

  She gets quite heated with all this talking. Her cheeks are red, and her eyes are shining more than ever. She’d been on the swingboats before, at a fair when she went on a pilgrimage with her godmother. As a little girl. She tells the driver about it.

  She and her mother had gone to see her godmother. She wasn’t yet ten. And then they went on from where her godmother lived to Eichelberg. ‘That’s quite a long way. We started early in the morning while it was still dark. We walked to the church through the night, and when we got there it was still dark.’ They’d gone into the church with all the other pilgrims. Out of the dark night right into the church, which was brightly lit with candles. It looked as if heaven had opened. As if they were in Paradise itself, she tells him, it was all so bright. And then, after the church service, they went to the fair. She was allowed to ride the chairoplane and go on the swingboats. And then there were the stalls. She went from stall to stall with her auntie, she never tired of looking at them. She couldn’t decide which had been the best part of that day, the candles in church or the fair.

  While she talks and talks, the driver keeps looking at the girl. He likes her more and more with every word she speaks. Her rounded face, her voice, he likes everything about her. He sits there looking at her. He sits there without a word, never taking his eyes off her. Just listening to the sound of her voice. So soft and warm. He looks into her face, into her eyes, would like to touch her, feel her warm body, wants to feel her very close to him. He is slightly afraid she might be able to read his thoughts in his eyes, and yet he wants that more than anything. Late in the evening they set out from the inn. It must be after midnight when Kathie goes home across the Viktualienmarkt with the driver, as she did on Wednesday. They walk the same way as yesterday. Only this time he puts his arm around her waist right at the start. And they kiss for longer when they say goodnight. They agree to meet at midday tomorrow. On the Reichenbach Bridge, by the news stand.

  *

  He sees her beside the news stand long before he gets there. Kathie in her green coat, unbuttoned, with her blue dress and the patent leather belt under it. Her blue hat on her head. It sits perkily on her head, more like a cap. A light breeze keeps blowing its pale ribbons into her face. She stands there by herself, waiting for him.

  He stops, looks at her from a distance before she sees him, hesitates before going right up to her. Kathie puts her arms around him, holds him close and kisses him on the mouth. Soft, warm lips on his mouth.

  ‘Come on, we’re going out to my little property. I have a log cabin out in Waldperlach. Come with me,’ he tells her. Kathie looks at him and nods. He takes her hand in his. Hand in hand, they go to the tram stop. They ride out to Giesing station, and then go on by train towards Neubiberg. In the train she tells him she hadn’t been waiting for him long. Only five minutes, no more. She didn’t get up until eleven this morning. Not that she slept until then, but she got up late. She’d had such a good time with Hans and Mitzi. Hans had teased her, and she teased him back. He demanded a kiss as a forfeit, otherwise he said he’d pull the covers of the bed off her. Mitzi just stood there laughing.

  They spend all afternoon in the log cabin, the driver and Kathie. They sit on the veranda in the sun. He puts his arm round her and kisses her. She teases him, asks if he takes her for just another of those girls – the girls who’ll always go up to the bedrooms at Soller’s with the gentlemen. ‘Because I’m not like that.’

  No, he doesn’t take her for one of those girls at all, what makes her think so? Although he doesn’t understand why she isn’t staying with her relations. Her relations in Munich that she told him about at the start. Wouldn’t it have been easier for her to stay there, instead of with Mitzi and Hans?

  She just looks into his eyes and doesn’t answer. He strokes her face, tenderly kisses her mouth, her throat, the back of her neck.

  ‘Well, I’m not one of that sort, don’t you worry. I’ve never been up to one of the bedrooms at Soller’s with anyone, I’ve never slept with anyone.’ She’s still a virgin, she tells him as she walks to the log cabin with him. He doesn’t believe a word of it, but that doesn’t matter to him.

  Neither of them has said a word. They are quite calm as they undress inside the log cabin. He hangs his jacket over the back of the chair, takes off the rest of his clothes, folds them carefully and puts them down beside the jacket. She undresses too, slips quickly into the bed standing in the corner of the room. She feels the smooth, starched linen on her bare skin. Waits there, ready for him, as he lies down in the bed beside her. He lies very close. She feels his breath on her skin. Feels his hands on her body. The little light falling in through the small window of the room gives her skin a pale glow. He strokes her face with his hand, he caresses her body. Takes a deep breath. Closes his eyes, concentrates entirely on what he feels, what he smells. On her body, on the smell of her.

  She lies there perfectly still.

  Lies still as he strokes her breasts, her back, her legs.

  Lies still as he kisses her. On the mouth, on the throat, on the
breasts. The firm white breasts of a young girl.

  Lies still as he rolls on top of her, feeling her warm body under him.

  Lies still as he caresses her down there with his hand, as he kisses her.

  Lies still as he touches her with his fingers, gently spreads her legs with his hand.

  Lies still as he comes inside her. Feeling every part of her warm, moist body now.

  She keeps still the whole time.

  It is this stillness that will linger in his memory later.

  After he has made love to her he gets off the bed. Gets dressed the way he undressed, without a word. His trousers, his shirt, his socks, his shoes.

  Goes out into the garden. Goes out without turning to look at her, out to do some work there.

  She, Kathie, stays lying in the bed.

  Only later does he come back into the log cabin, where she is sitting on the chair at the kitchen table. She has put her blue dress on again, and the black patent leather belt over it. He notices how high she wears the belt, almost below her breasts. His wallet is lying on the table in front of her. She has taken it out of his jacket pocket without asking him. She is holding the photographs he carries around in his wallet, just sitting there looking at the pictures. Letting photo after photo slip through her hands. As he sees her sitting there holding his photographs displeasure rises in him, anger. He doesn’t want this. He doesn’t want her looking at his pictures. Doesn’t want to let her into his life. He goes over to her, takes the pictures from her hand. It’s a rough gesture, he almost snatches them away from her. He feels uncertain, he doesn’t feel good. Aren’t they his pictures, isn’t it his life? She has no place in it. He doesn’t want that, he never will.

  He quickly puts the photos back in his wallet. Hears her asking if she can have one of them to keep, as a memento. He doesn’t know if he says no or just shakes his head, but he hastily puts the pictures back where they belong, in his wallet, and puts the wallet back in his jacket.

  But Kathie has kept one of the pictures after all, the one with the church of St Corbinian in the background. She let it fall into her lap, and then slipped it into her handbag. He never noticed.

  At six they catch the train back to Munich. She talks to him, acts as if the incident with the photos had never happened. He tries to ignore it too. So they sit there in the train, each of them trying to get across the wall that’s suddenly risen between them by talking. The pauses in their conversation get longer. Sometimes they sit there without saying a word. They simply sit there.

  They go back from Giesing Station by tram to the Church of the Holy Ghost, where they say goodbye. The driver gives her a quick kiss on the cheek. She doesn’t want to let him go, asks if he won’t come back to Soller’s with her. It’s still early in the evening.

  No, not today, tomorrow, yes, they’d meet again tomorrow. He’d come to Soller’s then. She must wait for him there. Does she like going to the cinema? Well then, they could go to the cinema. Has she seen that film, one of the new talkies? What was the title again? ‘In A Little Cake-Shop’, she says at once, Mitzi kept singing that song. Yes, they could go and see that film.

  ‘Won’t you change your mind and come to Soller’s with me? We could have something to eat there. I haven’t eaten yet today,’ she says to the driver again. ‘Not today, I’m afraid,’ he says, but he presses a mark into her hand to pay for a meal as he says goodbye. She watches him go, sees him walk down the street in his plus-fours with his flat cap on his head. She turns twice to look at him again. Waves to him before she goes on in the direction of Soller’s in the valley. He has turned to look back at her as well, stands there, waiting until she is out of sight. Only then does he go on. He goes from the Church of the Holy Ghost into Theatinerstrasse. There he stops outside a shop and waits. Until a young woman comes out of the shop. His wife. He hugs her and asks what kind of a day she’s had at work. She takes his arm, and they go back to the apartment they share arm in arm.

  Marlis

  Marlis Gürster, née Neumüller, reported missing on 30 May 1934. The young woman, aged 26, left her husband’s hairdressing salon around ten that Wednesday morning to go for a bicycle ride to Starnberg. She was last seen by passers-by riding her bicycle in the Starnberg direction.

  The missing woman is described as follows: about 1 metre 63 centimetres tall, round face, high forehead, small mouth, all her own teeth, stocky figure, black hair, bobbed hairstyle. She was wearing a blue and white dirndl dress at the time of her disappearance, white socks and white shoes. It is not known whether the missing woman had a coat or a jacket with her.

  She was riding a Viktoria lady’s bicycle.

  She also had a black and white striped beach-robe with her, a red bathing suit and a small bag with her needlework in it.

  According to a statement made by her husband, the missing woman planned to be back in her parents’ apartment by seven in the evening at the latest. But when he did not find her there, and she did not come home all evening, he reported her missing.

  Distinguishing marks: none. The missing woman was wearing a wedding ring with the date 7.5.34 inside it, a gold bracelet and a gold-coloured lady’s wristwatch.

  Please report any useful information to Munich Police, Missing Persons Department, telephone 4321, extension 316.

  I last saw my wife Marlis on 30 May 1934. She came to the hairdressing salon around ten that morning. My salon is at Number 11 Schleissheimerstrasse, Munich. Her parents’ apartment is quite close, only a few streets away. We don’t have an apartment of our own yet, so we’re living at her parents’ place for now, in her old room. Only for the time being, because we’re going to move into our own first apartment on 1 July. My wife and I are really looking forward to it – I’d say she looks forward to it even more than me. I don’t mind living with my parents-in-law, I’ve always got on very well with them, specially my mother-in-law. But then I’ll admit I’m out at the salon most of the day. When I get home we eat with my in-laws, and sometimes we all listen to the radio after supper, but not very often, and then I go to our room. Marlis has been at home all day since we married. The situation was a bit more difficult for her. She wanted to get away from home, have our own apartment. ‘Old and young don’t belong under the same roof,’ that’s what my grandmother always said. Marlis quarrels with her parents quite often, usually over little things. And more with her father than her mother. ‘He still treats me like a child,’ she’s said to me.

  Marlis can be very stubborn sometimes. When she thinks she’s in the right of it she doesn’t mince her words, that’s why there are arguments between father and daughter. My wife’s inherited her obstinacy from her father. I think it’s to do with his job. My father-in-law was a police detective superintendent until he retired. I get on well with him because I like peace and quiet, so I just take care not to annoy him. But I think I have an easier time with him than Marlis, I’m only his son-in-law.

  On Wednesday Marlis arrived in the salon around ten. Since giving up work herself she often visits me there in the morning. She used to be an office assistant in Dr Semmelmann’s law firm until we married. She liked working in the office there, but she gave up her job a few weeks ago. We’re planning to run the Schleissheimerstrasse salon together. A hairdressing salon of my own, that’s always been my dream, and Marlis thinks the same. We only recently took the business over, and in a few weeks’ time, after we’ve moved house, my wife is going to come and work with me there. That’s why she left her office job.

  When she arrived at the salon on Wednesday she was a little cross. She’d been arguing with her father again. She told me it had been about which of them hadn’t switched off the cellar light. One of those little things that they quarrel over. Marlis often forgets to switch off the light in the cellar when she goes down there to fetch something, and they usually quarrel over that. I must admit I wasn’t really listening to her. My thoughts were elsewhere, and to be honest I get tired of all those arguments. It’s childish if you
ask me, like two little kids fighting over a toy in the sandbox. But my wife sometimes takes these quarrels very much to heart. I advised her not to get into them in the first place, but as I said, she has a mind of her own.

  This little bit of trouble was the reason why Marlis planned to cycle to Starnberg that morning, too. ‘I feel so cross, I want to be out of doors for a while!’ she told me. I didn’t particularly like to think of her cycling to Starnberg on her own. I’d have preferred her to stay in the city. I tried to get her to change her mind. We could go out there on Saturday afternoon, I said, or Sunday when we have the whole day to ourselves. Just the two of us, and wouldn’t it be nicer to go to Starnberg together? But my wife has her own ideas, and I couldn’t persuade her otherwise.

  ‘I can look after myself, silly, I’m a grown woman. Don’t you get like my father – I’m warning you!’ she said, laughing, and she kissed me on the forehead. In the doorway she turned again and said, ‘Oh, I’ll be so glad when we’re in our own apartment at last.’ She was going to meet me at the salon about seven. ‘And if the weather is still as fine as this we could go to a beer-garden this evening, what do you think?’ I went out of the door with her, she gave me another goodbye kiss, got on her bicycle and rode away.

  So seven o’clock came, and I waited, but she didn’t come. I stayed in the salon twenty minutes longer than usual on purpose. I mean, we’d agreed that she’d come there to meet me. So then, about twenty to eight, I was back at her parents’ apartment. I’d hoped she’d be there and had simply decided not to come to the salon. But she wasn’t. When she still wasn’t home by ten, we didn’t know what to do. My in-laws and I were very worried. We were afraid something might have happened to her. I went to the police station with my father-in-law to report her missing. My mother-in-law stayed at home, hoping Marlis would come back after all.

 
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