Now tightly holding those distinctive gold spear painted railings, Carin keenly observed the bright early morning activity in the open square below. The selected fruits she noticed was being built into pyramid shapes and some apples even were given a discreet spit and polish. The assorted vegetables were also arranged in eye-catching symmetrical shapes. Now placed and seen under coloured canvas stalls, some early morning customers were just arriving to pick and purchase their choice of the displayed wares. One handwritten notice fixed pointedly on one stall holder’s fruit tray politely warned: “Please do not touch me until I am yours.” Carin appreciated its blunt but simple message… but how true she thought!
Carin smiled at the joyous laughter and friendliness of the stallholders. She also heard most of them talking and joking to their customers and to each other as well. They must have known each other for years she surmised. Maybe attended the same schools if at all and worshipped at the same churches and stood happily together at family weddings and grieved at family funerals. They probably had lived here in Bamberg all of their lives and would probably remain until the day they died. And also to these people, death would be no stranger. Had not every family here probably have suffered the loss and pain of a family member sometime in their lives. Being snatched away by a debilitating illness and then finally direct death.
With Nuremberg City seeming to most of these inhabitants in Bamberg rather like a far away planet in the unknown universe. A city that most had never visited or ever would or wanted to. Their daily lives must be so uncomplicated and for a minute she yearned for the simplicity of it all. So fulfilling and uncluttered it seemed.
She then noticed walking across the square with an air of jaunty authority, an erect middle-aged man dressed as a country squire it seemed, with a tilted black bowler hat and a rough briar walking stick. And leading surprisingly before him, two sleek brushed black greyhounds both sporting bright red coats and both pulling eagerly on tight chain leads. It certainly wasn’t that cold and Carin wondered about why they were wearing the expensive top warming coats. But she had once reliably been informed that they were very delicate loving creatures and cruelly used so often financially and abused for a so-called sport played out in of all places in England.
Then a serious voice interrupted her reverie: “Your bath is waiting madam and I have taken the liberty of laying out your night attire should you wish for a short nap afterwards …. will you need any assistance in the bathroom?”
She turned around to see a smiling nurse Stanic waiting for a response: “Thank you, nurse,” she said with annoyance at being interrupted in her reverie: “But I am still able to undress myself thank you very much and I think I can manage to get myself in and out of my bath.” She stated firmly knowing this was not really true. She had recently lost so much strength in her upper torso in the last weeks, that it concerned her very much to be at the mercy of another person to aid her in climbing in and out of the bath water.
“Oh, by the way, nurse …. do you know where my husband is?”
“I believe he has gone in search of the manager. I heard him say something to Col. Kyper on the landing when I last saw him,” she answered immediately.
Carin stood up, stretched her tired arms and then walked unaided into the bedroom to disrobe.
“Shall I perhaps wait madam?” asked the obliging nurse knowing that her assistance would probably be needed later if not sooner.
“If you want to, I suppose,” answered Carin, still unsure about this woman and her motives. It seemed Carin’s usual personal antenna when meeting new people had been sadly lacking concerning this hired nurse. Perhaps possibly due to the last sedative still circulating in her blood system. But more likely down to the horrible images of her beloved
Hermann, then seen in her terrible dream lying deathly still on that army cot, being photographed for whatever reason …. and again why were all the other dead bodies being displayed so crudely with the knotted hanging ropes still placed around their burned necks as if for a grisly effect. With the awful sight also of dried caked blood seen around their mouths and noses. BUT WHY she asked herself for the umpteenth time, what was the purpose? And why no posed pictures of Adolph (Hitler) or Heinrich (Himmler) or Joseph (Goebbles) photographed by these smiling uniformed soldiers seeing the executed faces before them. Now fixed in the grotesque grimace of death.
Carin just really could not comprehend any of it. She still had not fully recovered – or ever would – either from that dreadful dream of the assault as well as that exposed skeleton in that darkened vault somewhere with soldiers speaking and drunkenly laughing in a crude hostile foreign language. But what she had noticed was that the clothing on the skeleton looked rather suspiciously like her own, and the jewellery and rings were certainly hers before they were stolen. It was all a terribly frightening mystery to her. She hoped those night visions would not be repeated again.
But now rather tired she finally and with some difficulty surrendered herself into this soapy, soothing bath.” Ah what bliss,” she said, thinking of how she would remove herself later if indeed she had the strength.
In the other room nurse Stanic half-listened through the half-open door as she overheard the countess lower herself into the water with a deep splash. But let’s see the woman get out of it and unaided she thought rather cynically. Then losing interest she slowly walked over to the open balcony and dreamily stared down at the now busy square, with much activity being performed below her like a well-directed stage play.
She had always adored herself exploring all openly displayed markets. And the bustling stride they offered to its enquiring shoppers. Just strolling through the stalls and looking at what was openly displayed was always a pleasure when she had any spare time. Seeing tropical fruited delicacies for example was always a delight. These being that she had never heard of and dispatched from far off lands, that probably she would certainly never ever visit. All with strange exotic tempting juicy delicacies that she knew less about or had ever sadly sampled.
Pitiful crying caged livestock could sadly be seen and some whimpering pathetically and some even now dead. And all on open display it seemed to passers-by and even little children.
But her green eyes fleetingly passed them with little interest in their suffering herself and callously thinking weren’t we all somehow caged on that painful treadmill that we call life. That we carefully try to somehow juggle like a circus high wire balancing act to just somehow survive daily. She was simply unconcerned for them or their welfare but really only for her own personal survival. She had learned long ago that simply like all other people, you just had to get on with your life as best you could without protest. Perhaps she was overtly just too cynical for her own good and hadn’t her fiance years before sadly informed her about this flaw in her personality before he then finally finished with her and quickly enlisted into the famed French foreign legion of all things.
To be continued…
(C) Copyright G. Patrick Battell
(All Rights Reserved)