CURVE BALL

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Chapter Forty-Nine

The stench of stale beer, cigarettes, and something undefined hit Pytor. The hostess was a woman well passed her prime, dressed to show what she once had.

“Velcome,” she said, a table or a booth in the private section?”

He turned to Ana and glanced back at the door they just entered.

“How private is the booth?” He asked.

“Very.”

“Good, then a booth.” Ana nodded.

“10 Reichmarks.”

“What?”

The hostess nodded toward the door. “30 und you will enjoy your pleasures in peace.”

Ana reached into her purse and paid. The hostess took out a small flashlight and led them up two flights of stairs. “You are booth 47. Hans and Frieda will take care of you. If you like there are showers at the end of the hall. Zey are not private.” She pulled back the curtain and motioned for them to enter. She shined her light at a wall. “There are hooks to hang your clothes or whatever you’d like. Enjoy. The show starts in a few minutes. Pull this cord and you’ll be able to see the stage.”

The booth had two small tables with lantern-like lights and a dark colored very large curved couch. He stepped in and felt something sticky on the sole of his shoe. He hesitated but Ana gently pushed him forward.

The hostess left and pulled the curtain closed.

“We have no choice,” Ana whispered, “It is too dangerous outside.”

He moved toward the end of the couch and used his fingers to brush his seat.

“You look like a blind man,” she said with a nervous laugh. “What’s the difference… sit.

He sat at the edge of the couch. “God knows what went on in here.”

“Oh, I think He knows. Pytor I have no intention of doing any of that, but we might as well be comfortable.”

He glanced at her. His shoulders relaxed. He reached into his pocket for cigarettes. “You want?”

She nodded.

This time his lighter worked. He lit hers then his. “It’s funny,” he said, “I’ve never looked at another woman. My wife and I are happy together. We have a son. I got on a train this morning and met Katalyna. She is or was … I don’t know. My wife is a good person simple in her wants, content. But Katalyna, my God even my students are nothing like her.” The tip of his cigarette glowed as he inhaled his smoke. “And now…you. In a place…” he looked around. “Crazy, the world is mad.”

“We must keep our sanity,” she said, “or we’ll be swept up and drowned.” She moved a little closer to him, but left a few meters of space.

“Shall I pull the cord for the show?” He asked.

She smiled but before she answered, the curtain to the booth was pulled back. Two people stood in the entranceway. One was male who was tall and muscular and wore only an open shirt that went below his waist and sandals. The woman had shoulder length hair and was dressed the same.

“Guten Abend, (Good Evening), my name is Frieda and this is Hans.” She looked at Ana. “Now, who wants to enjoy whom?” Frieda stepped toward her.

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