Friends in Strange Places
Clarence took the lead this time, walking pretty quickly stating the fact that a rifle was being pointed in her direction. "Arrête !" the man repeated, this time much more stern, but Clarence didn't listen. The dogs barking intensified and the chickens began to squawk and run as the man let out a warning shot near her feet, but this did not phase her. Before Volkner knew it, she was speaking so fast he couldn't understand her, or was it the tongue she was speaking in?
He didn't know a single bit in French, and that was what she was speaking in! The man lowered his weapon and took a step out from the door frame to listen what Clarence had to say. Soon, they were conversing back and forth, the man's face was full of suspicion while Clarence's was warming and bright. Volkner just stood there, dumbfounded on what was going on, his blue eyes darting from the nurse to the man and back to the nurse from the man. All this rambling was making his head hurt. Was it like this to Americans who couldn't speak German?
Their little conversation ended with the man laughing shortly before waving the two inside his house. It was an average cabin for France, wooden everything with a bit of a woman's touch here and there. "So, the woman told me you do not understand French, no?" the man asked, his accent stuck with every word. Volkner only nodded, did she tell him that he was German? The French don't exactly like them, so him talking would end their temporary residence.
"Volkner and I are travelers, we met and teamed up once the Nazi forces became overbearing," Clarence smiled, giving Volkner a wild eyed glance before turning back to the man.
"Ah, so you're German?" the man asked, eying the blonde up and down. "From what part?"
"Born and raised in Nürnberg, Bayern."
"So, you were surrounded by the Nazis. What was it like?" The man, who now that Volkner could get a good look at, was much older than the American and he. His once brown hair was graying and his beard was almost completely consumed by old age, but his body was that of a hard working farmer, tanned and built.
"Scary at first, but then it became the way of life. I was born in 1922 so when my parents converted ways, they took us children with them." Volkner looked down at the table, his train of thought drifted back to his parents. They were a lively couple. Living in a large house, mother always playing music and dancing and singing; father was hardly home, but when he was he always would play with us boys while the girls would be with mother. "I am the youngest of five, so by the time I came around it was nothing new. Hitler was rising in ranks and slowly changing the way things were. Father hated it at first, but when he was promoted to some commander under Heinrich Himmler. All the big Nazis were in our home, and we visited Hitler oft, eating dinner and such. I was so young I didn't understand, I just thought it was a great honor."
The Frenchman only nodded, taking everything in, chewing on every word. "So, you are a Nazi?" he asked, almost conversational instead of demanding.
"I was once, but have since then realized the truth behind the term. I no longer answer by that name."
"Is that where you got that scar?" the old man asked, leaning over the table with both hands pressed hard against the surface. Volkner had completely forgotten about it, and touched it. Upon his right cheekbone was a line that was only an inch long. It was surprising Clarence never mentioned it.
"Ja," Volkner gulped. He didn't really want to talk about it, but knew they would pressure him anyways. Why hide anything now?
"They cut ya, didn't they?" Clarence spoke up, looking over at Volkner. There was sympathy in her eyes, but also something else. It might have been distrust, learning how closely associated he was to the higher ranking Nazi members and Hitler himself.
"When I was a child we were with Hitler, Goebbels, and Himmler, along with my family of course. It was some kind of party, everyone was dressed in the latest fashion and Hitler had brought us children suits and dresses tailored to us specifically. My oldest brother, Jan, and I were always the troublemakers of the bunch. We began knocking over glasses and sticking our foots out to trip everyone we saw drunk enough." This made both Clarence and the old Frenchman chuckle, resulting in Volkner letting out a small smile.
"But we did it to the wrong person. Goebbels was drunk beyond comprehension and we thought it would be hilarious to trip one of the most important people there. We succeeded, but without consequences. He took the two of us by the ear and drug us into the library. There he sat us down and began to yell, spitting everywhere in the mean time, and broke a champagne glass, stuck the end into the fireplace where a few hot embers were still burning, and cut the two of us. We have identical scars, and he wanted to be able to remember us as we grew older so he could punish us further, but he forgot all about it the next day." Volkner sighed and popped his knuckles before leaning back against the chair.
"Did he do that to your eye as well?" the man asked, taking his seat. Clarence had a confused look on her face and scooted her chair closer, looking into Volkner's eye. There, his right pupil was deformed. It dropped, the black spilling into the iris. Volkner only nodded.
"Don't squirm when someone has hot glass," he laughed softly. It was so long ago, but after that he hated Goebbels. His brother and he would always go after him in any way. Sneak into the kitchen and spit in his food, or put a bugger in his drink when he's not looking. It was always something for revenge.
The Frenchman let out a long sigh before getting up and walking to the two, placing a hand on their shoulders, "You're just a bunch of children. Do you care to stay and eat? I don't have much, but if there's anything to help I'll be willing."
"Oh thank you so much mister," Clarence started, standing up and shaking his hand. Her accent had a strange twang when she said mister, it was cute in a way. Volkner looked up and stood, towering over the two by many inches, and shook the man's hand as well. "If you need any help with cooking I'll be the one to ask, I'm pretty sure the German over there doesn't know how to cook," Clarence mumbled to the Frenchman, who then let out a laugh.
"German's don't know what good food is, it's all meat and potatoes over there," he joked before laughing some more. "Oh, and by the way, my name is Amou Romaine, yell if you need anything," he introduced himself before leaving to gather things for dinner.
"I like him," Clarence admitted with a smile, "he's probably the nicest man we'll meet on our journey." She wasn't wrong there, most people aren't so kind to strangers, let alone a German.
"Let's just hope we can trust him," Volkner sighed as he stood from the chair with a groan, and made his way outside. It had felt like he was cramped in the cabin for hours, but by the way the sky looked, it could have been no longer than an hour and a half. Everything made Volkner feel cramped, even the vast fields that surrounded him. They had walked for miles this day next to an ocean, in pastures, and up to this man's doorstep, but there was still some burden that would not lift from his shoulders.
The air was sticky and humid, and inside the cabin wasn't much better. Volkner sat at the table as Amou and Clarence served all types of things. Pork, vegetables, and potatoes were what Volkner could identify, but everything smelt so good he wouldn't care what was in it. He hadn't had a proper meal in so long it twisted his stomach in knots thinking about it.
"I know it's not much, but you two must be hungry. Don't laugh at my cooking though, my wife passed just last year and I've been having to fend for myself," Amou laughed as he handed each a plate and set a pitcher of water on the table before sitting down. Volkner was about to tuck in, but the man bowed his head and began speaking French once more. Clarence followed, her lips synchronizing with his. Volkner just looked confused before looking down at his lap, fiddling with his thumbs as the man went on. When the old man raised his head, he grinned and announced, "Let's eat!"
When everyone was in bed, Volkner exited the house and sat on the ground. The mutt that was barking at him just a few hours ago was now in his lap snoring. As Volkner pet the dog, all he could do was sigh. These people knew the things he had done, who he had killed, and yet they accept him anyways. Was this some kind of redemption? God I hope so, the German thought to himself, and that is what caught him off guard. Over the past few days he had been using English so much that here and there his thoughts would be in English. It wasn't a bad thing, it just made him feel weird. There was no way he could lose himself, not with the mission they had laid ahead.
"Why are you outside?" a tired voice called out into the night. It was Clarence as she stepped out of the house wrapped in a blanket. The dog didn't move an inch as the dark haired woman took her seat next to him in the grass, but he did let out a small growl when she went to pet him.
"Thinking, that's all," Volkner replied, keeping his gaze fixed on a lone chicken who was out for a midnight snack.
"About what?" Clarence asked, her voice soft and angelic. It was nice to see her like this, down to earth and not so demanding.
"Everything, we can't stay here another night. We shouldn't of even stayed as long as we have, that's just more time we're wasting. We need to reach Germany."
Clarence only laughed, "Take it day by day, there's no need in rushin' all the time. You have to heal first, I can already tell this has taken a toll on you. You ache and groan like an old man every time you stand, and your bandages probably need to be changed. We can't have you dying from some infection."
Volkner only shook his head, "You can check them in the morning before we leave. I don't feel like moving." That is when Clarence gripped his shoulder affectionately before standing up to go back into the house.
"Goodnight," her voice rang behind him before the sound of the door closing.
"Gute Nacht," he sighed before looking down at the dog, petting it's short hair.