Saturday, July 8, 2017

Chapter Five - Endris Krogull becomes Didier Gabin

Don't forget to use the Book Chapter Directory on the right to read the Chapters in sequence. 
The following events are all true. Names and location have been changed.

Part One: Love in a Harsh Landscape
Chapter Five - Endris Krogull becomes Didier Gabin
1850 France

“Your name?”
“Endris Krogull member of the Prussian Garde Mobile”
“Very well, ticket please.”
“It is in my bag, one moment please. Here it is…”
“Ah, good.”

Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke had ordered the troops to a location that Endris had no intention of visiting. He had faced his enemy, and lost. As a result of the French-Prussian War, concentrated Prussian forces were gathered in the provinces of Lorraine and Alsace. A mass exodus had occurred out of Paris as about 200,000 middle-class people went to live in the countryside. Endris did not know the destination, but he knew that he needed to remain in Paris to begin his assimilation with the culture and people. Krogull had done his time in with the Prussian people, it was time to move on.

Walking down the sun filled pathway to the nunnery, Rosine de Fleur smiled to herself as she collected small flowers and placed them in the woven basket that she carried. She tucked them under the red fabric that lined the basket, hiding them from view. She wasn’t allowed to pick flowers, Mother Superior said that all life whether small or seemingly insignificant, had value and should be allowed to grow unfettered. Rosine agreed to a degree, but she also loved to press them in her secret book, she had at least forty pressed flowers now and knew each one by heart. Rosine lived in the Love of the Mother convent just outside of Paris, the last old-fashioned stop before meeting the modern Paris that everyone loved to hate. She watched with interest as a train passed her by, windows rolled down as young army men hung from the windows smoking and talking. Wolf whistles filled the air. Prussians. She spat on the ground and crossed her heart with the sign of the Christ. Men were dirty. Prussians were the worst of the lot.

Endris shut his eyes and pretended to sleep. He did not sleep very often, but for subtlety sake he pretended when he could. He focused on relaxing first his shoulders, then his hands. Portraying the soft, sagging posture of a sleeping army man. His ears were alert though, he could hear the captain talking in the next carriage, the sound every so often of papers being shuffled. He listened further, he could hear the men whispering about 5 cars down the train. Mutiny. How surprising for members of the Garde Mobile. They were a notorious lot. Mutiny was the order of the day it seemed. For any reason. He was keen to be gone from the nonsense and politicized thought processes of these men. He had other things to do now.
The train picked up speed and, as the sunlight faded, the sound of chatting and laughing, the smells of cigarettes and cigars burning ceased. The gentle rocking of the train lulling any and all to sleep. It had been a tumultuous and hard few years, so many lost, many were missing home. Wanting to return to the way it had been before 1870.

As the few remaining noises stilled, Endris stealthily rose to his feet. His shoes removed and stored in his rucksack, he made no noise at all. He slid the door aside, slowly and purposefully so that the wooden runner wouldn’t squeal as it moved. He shifted like a shadow out into the passageway. Suddenly he slammed himself backwards into a small alcove as a man shuffled past, yawning and placing his hat on his head. Endris waited until the man had passed and then slipped out again into the passageway.
Hey! You!”
Time to act. No time to think.
Endris moved as fast as light, grabbing the man by the back of his head and slamming his face into the copper window arch. His other hand moved like a scythe to cover, clamp and block the man’s mouth and nose. The lure was inescapable. The pulsating beating heart so close to his own… Unconscious, the man did not fight, did not feel himself being smothered. After a few minutes, Endris quickly moved the lifeless body to an empty carriage and arranged him as if he was sleeping. It was time to go. Now. Someone would have heard something.

Rosine entered the Convent through the vegetable garden door, a heavy dark wooden door – worn smooth from years of hands opening and closing it. The smell of cooking food welcomed her inside.
“Did you get the letter?” Cook lurched over to her, her one shorter leg making her walk like a hurdy gurdy sounds.
“Yes, I did. Here we go. And this for you…” a small green apple. Cook chuckled and took the apple. Placing it in her apron with a smile on her face. “Funny girl”
In her room, beautiful sweet Rosine prepared for bed, plaiting her thick luscious hair, washing her face, hands and feet. A knock sounded at the door. Father Aubin. Her stomach sank. The thrill of fear crept up her neck, like the cool breeze in the morning under her skirt.
“Are you busy? May I enter?”
He asked as if she had any say. Tears formed in her eyes. The day had been a lovely one. Ruined now.
He entered, making the sign of the Christ in front of a portrait of the Virgin Mary. He looked around for a shawl, and then draped it over the portrait. What Maria didn’t see, she wouldn’t know about.
Aubin moved furtively towards Rosine, catching her up in his hands.
“Have you been a good girl today?” he whimpered. A pale sheen of sweat had already formed on his top lip. Anticipation.
“Yes, Father Aubin. I have.” Eyes squeezed shut, Rosine fought the urge to vomit as she felt his cool clammy hand slide beneath the hem of her robe and slide up the soft skin of her inner thigh. Without thinking, she grabbed his hand to stop its progress, a mistake. The sting of the slap across her face shocked and appalled her. Reeling, she gasped and held her cheek, eyes wide.
“Now, that was a naughty thing to do Rosine.” His hand started moving again, this time he was not gentle. This time, he hurt her.

Feeling the cold wind on his face, Endris slid open the door and swung outside the train. Shutting the door behind him he clung close to the wooden siding, watching the eerie moonlit shapes of trees and fields flying by. He saw dark shapes, houses ahead, and made his jump. He landed with a rough roll. Winding himself and feeling the impact on his side and his hip. He lay still for a while in case any of the guards on the train had watched him jump. A still, hidden target is harder to hit than a revealed and running one. Once the sound of the train faded away, Endris slowly crawled a little further into the field before crouching and then standing. He would have to be very careful, people were scared and armed. He would need to pass as a Frenchman in order to survive this transition period.

The doors of the small Inn opened and a young man walked inside. Dressed comfortably and obviously a middle class worker, he stood at the door until the Innkeeper happened by.
“Oh my goodness you have frightened me Sir!”
“I apologise, Sir, that was not my intent! I have found myself here at this time and am in need of a place to rest and eat until tomorrow. Are you able to accommodate me?”
“Yes, yes, of course. We have rooms upstairs, they have not been cleaned but I’m sure we can make you quite comfortable. Celeste!”
A middle-aged woman scurried in, her red hair pushed under the frills of a white cap. She then continued her scurry upstairs, off to clean and prepare a room for the young Sir.
“Pardon my bad manners, Sir. But what is your name?”
Endris took a breath and smiled, masking his Prussian accent completely, “Didier, Didier Gabin, from Paris.”

Sunrise turned Rosine’s room into a pink tinted wonderland. The red curtains filtering the golden light, making the air rich and colourful. Her eyes moved as they followed the swirling dust motes careening through the air. The shawl was still over the portrait of the Virgin Mary. In his horror and haste to leave last night, he had forgotten that part of his ritual. She stirred in the bed, mouth down turned as she felt the tenderness there, and the pain that he had inflicted with his old hands. Why he needed to touch her like that, in that way, made no sense. There was no joy in the act, just anger - and longing - she supposed. It would be a week at least before he visited again. Until then she knew he would be filled with self-loathing and internal flagellation's. It made no sense.

She rose and dressed, washing herself carefully, wincing at the sharp pains. She tied her hair, walked downstairs and out of the door. She had her usual errands to run, post to collect, but first… she wanted to collect some flowers.

She walked along the tracks into town, and when she reached the Inn she popped inside to ask after the Innkeepers wife. In the main foyer seated by the fire place, was a man unlike any other she had ever seen. Her breath became shallow, her eyes hooded… he was beautiful. His hair fell in waves, cut short at the back and sides, his nose was straight and proud, his lips carved perfectly as if from marble. His hands were broad and strong. He wore comfortable clothing – not a farmer or a business man it seemed. He turned his head to look at her – and the air sizzled between them. She couldn’t lower her eyes if she tried. He rose and walked slowly towards her, like a hunter to his prey. There was something about his eyes that she just couldn’t explain. They drew her in, the smell of him, like honey and saffron – teased her senses and made her want to immerse herself in him.
“Good morning”
His lips twitched into a half smile, her pulse leapt in her chest and he could see a small vein pulsing near her collar bone. He could feel her arousal – and he was interested. Very interested.
“My name is Didier Gabin, and you are?...”
“Rosine de Fleur”

Further down the track, as the sun rose over the moving train, cries of fear and outrage split the morning. The discovery of the dead man. His jugular torn, his body completely leeched of blood.