Match Sixteen: Märtyrer:
Ludwig got on the phone in August. He couldn’t get that woman out of his head. Why did she always come to him? Who was that woman in the red coat and why did she want to go to Polanów? The German man looked at the clock as the other line rang.
“Hello, this the genealogy record center. How can I help you today?” another man asked. Ludwig stood as he already knew what he wanted to ask.
“Uh… yes,” he said. “I have a question about a possible missing person.”
“Okay,” the man on the other line said. “What is the name?”
“I don’t have a name.”
“You don’t have a name?”
“No, I don’t.”
“I don’t have that either.”
“What do you have?”
Ludwig looked down at the crumpled up piece of paper in his hand. “Did anyone ever live in 6972 Polanów before the war?”
“Hang on.” His fingers typing away on the keyboard rang loudly in the German man’s ear. “World War II, correct?”
“Thank you, sir.” A pause came before more typing. “I found something. There was a family named Harel. According to these notes, they couple had three daughters and a son.”
“Could you hold on for a second?” Ludwig asked. He reached over and a grabbed a pen and paper. After some quick notes, he turned back to the phone.
“Anything else?” he asked.
“It says that the family has been listed as missing since 1941,” the man on the other said. “Would you like to come and get the rest of the file?”
“You can’t tell me over the phone?” Ludwig asked.
“This whole file would take days to read over the phone. It would all cost 44.91 euros.”
After a four-hour round trip, Ludwig came back home with the file in his hand. He carried it back to his office and cut the threads. The German man let the files neatly spilled out on his desk.
The Harel family owned a bakery in Poland. The mother baked most of the goods; her specialty was fresh breads and cakes. Their bakery was actually pretty success in the 1920′s. The oldest daughter was soon to be married to a nice boy in another neighborhood. The son, the baby of the family, was only ten years old and going to school. The middle daughter was a schoolteacher and was widowed.
Ludwig froze when he saw a picture of the youngest girl of the family.
Lydia was eighteen years old in 1939. The German man looked at her picture for close to a minute. Something about this girl looked so familiar. In this picture, Lydia looked full of life and smiling. The woman he had been seeing looked hollow and frightened. There is no way that she could be alive and look as young as she did today. Maybe she had a granddaughter?
But what happened to the Harel family?
Ludwig turned when he heard a knock on the door.
“Come in, what is it?” he asked. Gilbert opened the door and poked his head inside.
“Ludwig?” he asked. “What are you doing back here? I thought that you would have dinner ready by now.” His younger brother stared at him rather confused at first.
“Huh?” he asked. “Oh! My apologizes. I will get started on that right now.” Gilbert raised his eyebrow.
“What were you doing in here?” he asked. Ludwig looked at the files on his desk.
“Oh, nothing. Just looking for an old friend,” he lied. The German man got up from his desk and headed down to the kitchen. Gilbert kept his eyes downwards.
“It would be better if you would stop looking for your friend right now,” he said in a low voice as his younger brother walked by. Ludwig turned his head. His older brother gave him a Kubrick stare with a coldness in his eyes.
“Stop this search before you make everything worse than it is,” he said. “We do not need to see another hölle again.” Ludwig didn’t know whether to laugh nervously or freak out at Gilbert’s words and tone. Instead, the muscled German slowly backed up and rushed down to the kitchen to make dinner. Gilbert turned and followed close behind.
Meanwhile, Ju looked at her cell phone in Yao Ji Chao Gan. He’s late, she thought. The clan leader looked over at the glass doors. Just like old times.
She looked up when she heard the bell above the door, ringing.
“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Stefan said, rubbing the back of his head with his tongue sticking out.