Chapter 38: SCARFACE
As the hours passed, my head started to droop. With very little sleep recently, fatigued by both the duress and lack of strength, my head fell lifeless upon my bent knees. I slipped easily into a deep sleep.
I immediately saw Stefan. He appeared quite real. In my mind, I attempted to tell myself to wake up, that he came for me, but my eyes refused to open. Somehow, I saw a bridge not far off where Stefan lingered on the other side. His face calm and peaceful, he smiled and called my name with his hand extended towards me. I tried to get to him, but my feet wouldn’t move. I glanced down. There was nothing holding them back, but it felt like I was paralyzed. Panicked, I called to him, but he couldn’t hear me. His face crinkled in confusion. Why didn’t he come to me? He turned away, his back facing me now.
“Stefan!” I yelled.
“Stefan!” I cried again. Finally, my legs moved, but the bridge was gone—only a cliff remained. By then I couldn’t stop myself from walking forward.
At the helpless feeling of falling, I shook awake. Reality set in as recognition of my circumstances resurfaced. The room seemed darker than before. I could feel wetness against my thighs and assumed it was from crying in my sleep.
“You know he won’t come for you.”
Instant panic gripped my chest. The very sound of Colonel Anker’s voice generated a tremble in my hands so great I buried them in my lap.
“Stefan’s not coming,” he whispered darkly. I was as frightened now as I was before. I strained my tired eyes to make out his form, but could only see a profile as he hovered in the shadows directly across from me, he must’ve been watching me sleep.
I didn’t respond. I wasn’t even sure I was capable of speech, my throat constricted in fear.
“No words?” the man mocked sarcastically. “You had plenty to say to my colleague.”
Completely awake now, I could see my adversary lean guardedly against the furthest wall. The outline of a glass appeared as he lifted it to his lips. I glanced towards the door. It was cracked slightly open, but I couldn’t see or hear anyone else. The Colonel watched and grinned shrewdly.
“Oh, you think Captain Scharf will come?” He laughed his ugly laugh. “He left . . .” I blinked rapidly as he continued, “. . . and the officers, I dismissed them.” His voice was low. “No one to play innocent for, no one to deceive.” My breathing accelerated, but I concealed it as
best I could as he continued, “. . . It’s just us . . . Adela.”
My name rolled off his tongue in a slippery manner. He must’ve looked at my file to call me by my given name. His movement seemed awkward, but his intent was clear. He was now my greatest fear.
Inhaling deeply, I continued to watch him cautiously. He had to be insane. It was impossible to prevent my eyes from growing wider as he moved from the shadows through the streak of light the parted door provided and directly in front of me. His heavy breathing rivaled my own as he placed the glass on the floor in front of me. The whites of his eyes practically glowed as he glared and pointed to the drink. The contents were only half full, but from my proximity and serving experience, I recognized the distinct smell of vodka.
“Drink!” he demanded.
I didn’t move.
“Drink!” his voice echoed loudly through the empty rooms.
“I . . . I don’t drink,” I stuttered.
His face tightened at my perceived defiance.
I swallowed hard. I made the mistake of turning my head, just as the back of his hand swung, smacking me squarely across the nose. Blood left a splattered trail across my face and the floor. It now matched the walls. The sting was indescribable, and my hands went to my nose. My fingers inched up the bridge and felt a decent sized cut oozing blood. It suddenly occurred to me that this man could kill me. Right here, right now, and nobody would even know. Stefan would not even know.
Tears steadily fell. I sniffled hard to control my breathing. Blood now drizzled down the lines of my mouth and covered my fingers. Anker stood unsympathetically in front of me. My elbows rested on my knees as my arms instinctively covered my face.
“Drink this now!” He bent down, his face inches from mine—the jagged scar visible in the open space between my arms. I closed my eyes tight. Only the stench of sour liquor seeped through. “Now!” he bellowed angrily. His fist grabbed my hair and forced my head toward the glass.
I picked it up awkwardly, my wrists still chained together. The tumbler rattled against my teeth as I placed it to my lips, my hands shaking uncontrollably. I tipped the glass slightly and pretended to drink, but it barely grazed my top lip—I could not allow the alcohol to penetrate my virgin system. It was vital I keep my wits about me.
Satisfied, the Colonel turned his back and stepped out of the room. I struggled to move the glass behind one side of me and pour the liquor on the floor. The fluid seeped into the backside fabric of my dress. I peered at the nearly empty glass. Thoughts started reeling in my head . . . I held a weapon in my hand. If he tried to hurt me again, I could break the glass on his head or face, but if I failed, it would only make him angrier.
I was still staring at the glass when he returned with not only another glass, but a partially-full decanter. He filled my tumbler once more and then gulped his down in three swallows. Once finished, he set it down next to mine.
The repulsion in Scarface’s eyes amplified as he commanded me a second time to drink. Once again, I pretended to obey. This time he watched.
By the time he realized my pretense, it was too late. Anker’s face turned a deep, unearthly red. The lines around his mouth expanded as his teeth clenched with fury, and even though there was no smoke, it was as close to a volcanic eruption I would ever witness.
One hand slapped the glass out of my fingers, shattering it against the wall. Simultaneously, his other hand reached for my braid and yanked me roughly forward, flat to the floor. The movement happened swiftly enough that I couldn’t catch myself. And my face slid painfully across the cement floor. I felt a shard of glass tear through my abdominal flesh as the weight of my body smashed the second tumbler.
When I finally realized what had happened, I started to scream. There had to be someone nearby who would hear my cries and come to my rescue, but nobody came. Anker shouted unrecognizable words while his hands lunged for me, though I could barely see through the tears. His grip was tight and painful as I felt my body lifted off the floor. He threw my back against the nearest wall. Something cracked, I gasped unsuccessfully for air.
In a matter of seconds, he grabbed my legs and dragged me back to the center of the room. Instantly, Anker’s body pressed on top of me, his weight pushing me heavily into the floor. I felt myself cough and choke but despite my desperation, air refused to enter my lungs. I was suffocating. The serrated piece of glass lodged deeper into my skin. A sticky wetness seeped freely between us, but nothing seemed to distract him. He grabbed the chain that held my hands together to stop my thrashing arms and easily held them tightly with one hand. His other hand ripped the top of my dress down the middle. The buttons clinked as they hit the hard floor, my chest exposed.
The Colonel froze long enough for me to wiggle a knee free from underneath. I shoved it up with just enough force to connect between his legs. Groaning, he rolled stiffly to my side as I gasped for much needed oxygen, but his paralysis was short. I had very little time to act. My screams could have awakened the dead, had there been anyone to receive them. The Colonel quickly straddled me once again.
In an effort to silence me, he pressed his hand tightly over my mouth. I bit his finger firmly, until I tasted his blood on my lips. The Colonel’s cries shrieked nearly as loud as my own, but he wasn’t finished. Instead, he doubled up his fist and swung wide right, connecting squarely with my cheekbone. My face went numb. I kicked hard, my legs flailing wildly about, but this only seemed to thrust his adrenaline. His knees pressed heavily, forcing a gap, then drove my legs apart. His fingers dug sharply into my wrists to restrain me harder.
With his free hand, I could see him trying to undo his pants. I mustered all the strength I had left for a piercing scream. He pulled his loose belt out to the side and whipped me twice in the face with the buckle. I recoiled in unbearable pain, gasping desperately as blood and sweat rolled down my face to my neck and chest. Something hard and forceful then connected with my stomach. I curled in agony as Anker grabbed another fistful of material and shredded what was left of the front of my dress, completely exposing me.
I was utterly defeated. This man was a soldier and an experienced fighter with a fiery rage. I was losing, and he would kill me. My body fell limp. I could no longer see, my arms and legs slumped lifeless. There was no fight left in me.
At the moment of my submission, a door suddenly slammed. Anker’s weight was unexpectedly lifted. Indistinguishable words filled with hate proceeded horrendous groans and cries. Frightened, I pulled my body tightly into a ball. A loud crash vibrated too close to me. Painful sounds mimicked kicks or a series of blows.
“Please, please don’t hurt me,” I mumbled. Afraid I was next, I remained still. My eyes squeezed shut as I braced for more pain. Unearthly moans echoed. I wasn’t sure if it came from me or someone else. A familiar hand touched my face.
“You are safe now,” whispered Stefan, his face next to mine.
I sobbed as I pulled my arms tightly into my torso, the throbbing was excruciating. Stefan removed his shirt and laid it over my naked body, caressing my hair gently.
“I’m so sorry, Ella,” Stefan’s voice cracked with torment. He held me close as more loud noises filled the room. I reached out for Stefan’s arms as they were yanked from my grip. The cuffs once more tore my already raw flesh.
Stefan was instantly seized.
“No!” I cried out, stretching for him but finding only empty handfuls of air. Forcing one eye open, the other swollen shut, I watched as soldiers filled the small room. Chaos was everywhere—men shouted and hollered instructions, and then I saw him . . . the Colonel. He lay crumpled in a heap on the floor nearby, broken glass scattered in a puddle of blood beneath him. He didn’t move. Stefan was held at gunpoint.
I struggled to keep myself covered in my attempt to sit upright.
“Ella, stay put,” Stefan pleaded under strain. “Someone get a doctor!”
“Please, please release him.” New tears flowed as I sought to reach the closest polizei officer present.
“Be quiet and don’t move!” My arm was pushed aside. Despite my appearance, he gave me no immediate sympathy. That is, until Captain Scharf arrived. He scanned around to me, Colonel Anker, and then Stefan and back to me.
“Stefan!” he yelled angrily, “what were you thinking?” Scharf immediately went to my side. “You should have waited for me!”
“She would be dead if I had waited. Look at her. Let me go to her. She needs help!” The sounds that followed indicated he continued to fight his restraints. I tried hard to make sense of their conversation . . . Stefan came with Scharf?
Captain Scharf ordered a towel to be moistened and a blanket to be delivered to him immediately. “Keys!” he demanded of the closest soldier and then pointed to Stefan, “Get him out of here!”
“No!” I lunged, desperate to not be shut down again.
Scharf, who only moments ago seemed to make my apparent connection with Stefan, held me back surprisingly gently. He unlocked the handcuffs and then whispered, “Procedure.” He then motioned once again for them to leave.
His touch was mild as he placed the blanket around me and handed me the moistened towel. My sight was blurred, but I held Stefan’s gaze until the moment he disappeared. My body ached immensely, but the agony of my heart outweighed any physical pain I endured.
The Captain then called for another soldier, “Retrieve Dr. Tischer at once.”
I was sure it was to see scarface, but the Captain moved aside and led the doctor directly to me. Anker must be dead. The doctor examined my wounds, none of which were life threatening, possible broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder. The pain was agonizing as he maneuvered it back into place. He carefully cleaned the cuts and bruises on my face, wrists, and body with alcohol. Fortunately, they were mostly superficial. Only my nose and the front part of my hip needed stitches.
He handed me a small towel filled with ice then took out his sewing kit. It would have hurt if the rest of my body didn’t already throb in agony, but it was quick. Once finished, he went over to the Colonel. The doctor’s face confirmed what we all assumed. Captain Scharf motioned for the soldiers to cover Anker with a blanket then led me to the door.
“These men will take you home, Fräulein.”
“Please,” I pleaded, “Please let me explain.” My fingers squeezed his hand desperately as the soldiers nudged me forward and towards the door. Captain Scharf simply nodded for them to proceed.
“Later. We will speak later,” he said as they led me slowly down the steps. I could barely walk. The path to their car, one of several military vehicles parked in front of the building, was slow and tedious. There were no words, not even a sound as they drove me to the address I provided. It was my home.
I collapsed before reaching the door. One of the men carried me the rest of the way. The moment we entered the apartment, Mama G ran to me. She’d been beside herself when I hadn’t come home for, what I learned was, several nights and kept a constant watch.
I was a horrible sight, covered in dry blood, and the swelling and discoloration had already begun on my face and body.
“What happened?” she asked the men, but the only response they gave was that I had already been attended to by a doctor. She turned to me and repeated her question. I mumbled incoherently as Mama directed them to my bed, thanked them for their assistance and excused them to leave. At some point, I lost consciousness . . . Mama’s gentle touch brought me back.
As soon as I recalled the earlier events, the tears were unstoppable. I was nearly raped and killed, but all I could think about was Stefan . . . his touch ripped from me, and his face . . . the gaze he had before he disappeared around the corner, it was as if he was the one who caused harm. I could barely stomach the thought. Stefan saved my life!
Mama’s soothing hands placed clean linen over me before she began to administer. “Hush, Ella, calm yourself.” The warm wash cloth pressed carefully across my wounds. The way Mama cringed as she wiped the dried blood, seemed as though it hurt her nearly as much as me.
“The broken bones can take months, but the other scars—“ Mama hesitated then brushed my hair back softly, “—they may take longer,” and kissed my forehead.
She stayed with me until I fell asleep then returned each time I awoke screaming. The image of the Colonel’s evil face laughing at me, the crude scar, his determination to crush me, all of this kept rising from the darkness and pierced any chance I had at peace. He had nearly taken everything from me, including Stefan. Even though he could no longer harm me physically, he taunted me from the grave . . . I could not get the tormenting images out of my head.