Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Even Death Passage

MIKE HEARD VOICES in the other room. He rubbed his eyes. What time was it? He looked at the clock. 9:15AM. It couldn’t be right. He found his watch. Same time. He sat on the edge of the bed and massaged his legs, bringing them back to life. He put on his glasses and stumbled out of the room. As he turned the corner at the end of the hall, he stopped suddenly and began quietly retracing his steps to his room, closing the door.

A moment later, the pastor knocked. “Herr Loesch?”

“Come in, Pastor,” Mike answered.

“Sorry about the surprise.” The pastor grinned. “The ladies called this morning, asking if you’d found your friends. When I told them no, they insisted on coming over to prepare a proper breakfast.”

“There’s no mirror in here, but I’m pretty sure I’d like to wash up before I say hello,” Mike said with the first traces of a smile on his face.

“Not a bad idea,” the pastor laughed, looking at Mike’s frazzled hair. “I’ll be in the kitchen. There’s quite the spread in there. They’ll be offended if you don’t have some of it all.”

“Trust me, your ladies are no different than mine,” Mike assured him, the smile gaining ground.
“I have a few belt notches worth of proof if you need it. Did Agent Schultz call?”

“No. I called him, though. Nothing new. They said there was no reason for us to come down yet, so I figured I’d let you sleep. We can head down after you eat if you’d like.”

“Sounds good,” Mike answered as he grabbed the towel the pastor had hung on the door for him the night before. He snuck down to the bathroom and hurriedly showered. He sniffed his shirt before pulling it on. His other clothes were in the car. He’d have to live with a little ripeness. The pastor had offered him a change of clothes, but Mike preferred his own dirty clothes to another’s clean attire.

“Ach, Pastor Loesch,” the ladies called as he walked into the kitchen, faces filled with maternal concern. “Hier, hier, sitzen Sie, bitte,” one of them said, pulling out a chair. “Kaffee?” another asked, holding the coffee pitcher next to her face as she hobbled over toward the table.

“Ja, bitte,” Mike answered, still somewhat groggily. “Danke.”

Another held a cup of sugar in front of him. He reached toward the spoon. She was quicker to the draw and shovelled a heep into his cup.

“Milch?” another asked as she poured it into his cup.

“Danke.” He grinned and nodded.

“Und für Pastor,” the coffee lady said dutifully, warming up his cup.

“The ladies offered to come to the station with us,” the pastor explained to Mike, “but I told them we should be fine without them. It was pretty crowded there as it was, wasn’t it, Pastor Loesch?”

“Ja, das is wahr, aber danke,” Mike said, bobbing his head in agreement as he worked through the German in his head. Being sure to take a little of everything, Mike filled his plate. The ladies watched with rapt attention as he took each bite, occasionally whispering to one another, speculating about what he had particularly enjoyed or not liked so much, making secret plans for supper, should he be back with them again.

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