CURVE BALL

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Chapter Sixty-Three

Pytor’s sessions with Captain Heigel melted one into the other. He remembered each began civilly. Once in addition to a cigarette he was given coffee. Heigel stared at him as he took a sip.

“Good café’” he asked.

Pytor nodded.

“So Dr. tell me about your wife?”

“Why? She’s a good woman, Captain. She keeps the house clean.”

“Do you have children?”

He hesitated. Where was Heigel going with this question? He answered,

“Yes, I have a little boy.”

“A boy. How nice.” Heigel played with his pen while gazing at the ceiling.

“Does your wife know she sleeps with a murderer?”

Pytor put the cup down. “Herr Captain, it was not me who destroyed the cabaret. I’ve told you that.”

“You did. You also told us the Polish foreign office sent you.”

“That is correct.”

“We checked with your Government. They don’t know a thing. They said they never heard of you.”

“What a surprise.”

His response was not to the Captain’s taste. Pytor was beaten until he almost past out.

Another time, perhaps the last, Pytor was brought in for questioning. Heigel dressed in his black uniform did not offer a cigarette or anything else. He looked up from the open file on his desk and leaned forward. The tirade of questions began, but they were the same.

“Who were you with?” The Captain asked. His face was flush.

“A girl.”

“What is her name?”

“I don’t know.”

Heigel rose from his desk and barked the next question.

“Where did you get the material for a bomb? Who helped you?”

“Please dear God I’ve told you I had no bomb.”

Heigel grabbed a wooden club from behind his desk. With a swing he knocked Pytor out of the chair. He lay on the floor and drew his knees into his stomach. His arms cradled his head for protection. He heard Heigel breathing heavily. “For the last time who helped you?”

“Please Herr captain, please… “It was Himmler. He…”

He peeked through his fingers and saw Heigel swing the club over his head.

“You said Himmler, helped you?”

He didn’t know what else to say. This was his end. He waited for the blow Seconds ticked by. “Yes, Himmler ordered the destruction,” he finally said.

Heigel put the club down. “Get up Dr. Sit.” He pointed to the chair.

Pytor had to grab onto the captain’s desk in order to stand.

“How was it that you came to know the Reichfuhrer.”

“I was there when he ordered the cabaret to be destroyed.”

Heigel picked up his pen and scribbled a note. “That will be all.”

As he was led away, he saw Heigel look up from his desk. He wore a smile and Pytor’s file was closed.

The courtroom filled with people. Pytor took a quick glance behind him and saw reporters with their cameras.

“You, Juden scheisse (Jew shit) turn around. Let the German public see…”

He heard a ripple of laughter as he tried to ignore their presence.

“The German people want to get a look at you.”

He didn’t move. Someone grabbed his shoulder and shook him. A man’s voice whispered in his ear, “Juden schvine, Jew pig. How dare you…?”

Pytor turned. “How dare I what?” Flash bulbs went off until the guard came over.

“Enough this is still a court room not a cabaret. Sit down.” He then stood a few meters from Pytor.

“The judge will be out soon. You are to stand and answer his questions with a ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir’. Do you understand?”

Pytor nodded.

A stocky man dressed in a rumpled dark suit holding papers walked toward Pytor. The man said something to the guard that made both laugh.

“You,” he said, “I am your lawyer. The name is Otto Brach.”

Pytor stared at him. “When did I hire you?” He asked.

“Funny. The German legal system allows everyone to be represented. I’m the lucky one who has been assigned your case.”

“I see. What am I charged with?”

Brach flipped the papers he held. “Ach, here it is. You are charged with Rassenschande, race defilement.”

“What?”

“Yah, you are accused of being a Jew and having sexual intercourse with a female of the Aryan race.”

“Preposterous, I am Polish, and did no such thing.” He must have raised his voice. The reporters edged closer to him.

“Not so loud. Brach moved closer. “We already know you are a Jew, whether you look like one or not.”

Pytor gulped. What could he argue? “Sexual intercourse?” was all he could say.

Brach put a pair of bifocals on his nose and read further. He placed a finger on a page and read. “Uh-huh, oh my.” He looked up at his client, then continued reading.

“What does it say?” Pytor asked.

“You know what you had done.” Brach smirked. “You are quite a Casanova. One was not enough but you had two at a time. Well the memories will keep you warm at night.”

“What are you talking about? I didn’t have sex with anyone.”

There was a loud knock. Pytor and his lawyer looked up. The judge dressed in a crimson robe with black trim limped across the platform to his seat. He appeared to be in his late 50’s. His face was round and reddish in color, as if he was perpetually angry or drunk. He was completely bald. “Prisoner stand,” he said.

Pytor rose so did his attorney, Brach.

“Who are you? Sir?” The judge asked the lawyer.

“Otto Brach, I will be representing the prisoner.”

The judge looked down at some papers and then nodded. “Very good. You are entering a plea of guilty? Yah?”

Brach glanced at Pytor, “Yes…”

“What are you saying?” Pytor said. “No I’m not guilty of anything.”

Laughter rippled through the courtroom.

The judge’s face reddened. “A Jew not guilty of anything? Now there’s a concept at odds with history. You people have plagued society for ages. Germany is learning how to deal with your kind. Do not talk unless I address you. Understood.”

Pytor fought back the urge to speak. His palms were sweaty and his shoulder twitched.

“Herr Brach, do you wish a hearing?”

Again he gave a quick look at his client. “Yes.”

“Very well.” The judge turned his attention to another man dressed in a black suit who was seated across the aisle from Brach.

“Herr Schmidt, will the prosecution be ready this afternoon?”

“We are ready now.”

“Good. We will have our hearing at 2 p.m. Remove the prisoner.” He banged his gavel.

The courtroom’s decorum dissolved into a babble of voices. Flashbulbs went off as Pytor was taken away. The guard opened the door that led to the cells. Pytor looked back and saw Brach talking to the prosecutor. His lawyer had his hand on the prosecutor’s shoulder. Both were laughing. The door closed to a chorus of Juden Schvein, Jew pig.

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