CURVE BALL

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Chapter Six

“What has happened to Poland? In the two years since our first President, Jozef Pilsudski’s death Germany nibbles at Danzig, and the Russians bare their claws. It is Poland’s unfortunate geographical luck…” the aide to Foreign Minister Beck put his china cup down haphazardly and missed the saucer. He was short, stocky, built like a bulldog, but his fingers were slender. He eyed Pytor Rakowski with his dark almost beady looking eyes. “What should we do?”

“Well, Pan, Mr. eh…” Rakowski cleared his throat.

“Kuda, Rudolph, is my name. I apologize if I hadn’t introduced myself. You were saying?”

Rakowski hadn’t touched his coffee. He imagined if he reached for the cup, the liquid would spill from his shaking fingers. Instead, he gripped the gold armrest of the chair, and sunk into the floral upholstered chair. “I am a professor of music by training. I know little of foreign policy. But in music there are rules, and when the rules are not followed, there is no music.”

Kuda reached over and picked up his cup. “I must confess this is from Vienna, Delicious. The Austrians know about coffee. But you haven’t touched yours. Would you like tea instead?”

“No, no this is fine.”

“Ach, I am a bad host. You must be waiting for cake or chocolates. I will ring for them.”

“Really, don’t bother. I’m just, well, wondering why I’m here.”

“Nothing to worry about. I’ll ring for some sweets--- goes with the coffee.”

Kuda pressed a button on the floor. In seconds there was a knock on the door. A man dressed in a formal frock coat entered.

Kuda spoke to him in German. “Please serve the black forest sacher torte and cookies.”

The man nodded and left.

While Kuda ordered, Rakowski took-in his surroundings. The room was large with historical murals of the battle of Vienna painted on the high vaulted ceiling. They sat on Louis XIV chairs on either side of a roaring fireplace. Side tables with black lacquer tops were beside them. A wood carved coffee table rested on an intricate oriental rug. A leather couch was behind the table several feet from the fire.

“Where were we?” Kuda asked. “Music, politics, and rules, correct?”

“More or less,” Rakowski said.

Kuda leaned forward. “Now my dear professor, in music and politics what group of people seemed always to break the rules?”

Rakowski pressed the arm of the chair. “I don’t know?”

“Come, come, you’ve studied. Your reputation is superb. You think that American …Gershwin with his Rhapsody in…in…”

“Blue.”

“What?” Kuda asked his face reddened.

Rhapsody in Blue. It’s the name of the piece.”

Kuda smiled after a second or two. “Yes of course. What would you call that piece? Classical like Chopin, or some sort of noise that hurts your head?”

“Well, Pan Kuda, musically speaking, Gershwin is considered a great…”

“No you miss the point, Dr. Rakowski. That Jew didn’t abide by the rules. He invented new ones. That’s what I’m saying. Unlike everyone else the Jews change the rules when they don’t like them. Or they invent new ones.”

A side door opened and the same man, reappeared with a silver tray ladened with cakes and sweets. He placed them on the table, and bowed slightly. “Will there be anything else?” he asked.

Kuda waved his hand a signal for him to leave. “The help should not be seen or heard.” He reached for the German black forest cake and took a forkful in his mouth. “The Nazi’s aren’t all bad, you know…delicious.” “They’ve cleaned up their country and made it strong. To tell you the truth…off the record of course, it wouldn’t be a terrible thing if Poland did the same.”

God in heaven, Rakowski had to remain polite. He reached for a chocolate cookie.

“See Professor, the pastry is irresistible. It is flown in from Berlin.”

Rakowski took a bite. “Yah, I agree.”

“Good.” Kuda leaned forward and put his hand on Rakowski’s knee. The Foreign Minister has invited you to go to Berlin and attend a conference.”

“What kind of conference?”

“Oh, Doktor, there will be lots of your kind there.”

Rakowski gripped his chair, but managed to smile. “What do you mean?”

“Professors, thinkers, people from commerce.”

“To discuss what?”

“The Jewish Problem.”

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