“Oh and don’t forget to collect your elephant” she added as an afterthought.
“Oh it’s alright nurse, you don’t have to remind me” answered Karen perhaps rather curtly, who she just noticed had quietly settled up their refreshment bill when it had earlier been presented to them by the smiling young waiter.
She did wonder then what warning had been threatened by the nurse earlier to that rude oaf. And she certainly was very impressed by what she had witnessed and how it had been handled so quickly by her. This nurse certainly would be an important future asset to the party she realised, if and when any crisis arose as it well might in the uncertain political years ahead for Germany.
Then as Karen collected her heavy purse from the table she noticed lying on the freshly mowed grass, a small distinctive object with a splash of gold etched onto its clear face. And upon picking it up she noticed that it was surprisingly, an old-fashioned beer bottle opener, with a popular depiction of that world-famous icon, the much-loved iconic Berlin gate.
The popular much loved “Bertie” the famed Berlin bear was also etched in gold onto the object. Karen lifted it, examined it closely, and decided she would keep it and present it to her father when she returned to their Munich home.
Her dear papa would probably place it securely into his vast collection of unusual German antique relics she suspected.
Then they walked back to their nearby hotel chatting rather aimlessly about life in general.
Then both noticed with some annoyance that yet again even more boisterous football louts had emerged from a side street who now seemed to be even worse for wear through probably too much alcohol consumption. They started their tirade following the two women and shouting out crude personal remarks and with some shouting and indulging in foolish and annoying horseplay with each other.
Karen watched with some concern. But surprisingly this time after seeing the nurse again they all quietly walked away into the distance after a few words of warning from their scowling leader.
“Do you care for the game of soccer nurse?” Karen enquired with a half smile as they continued walking.
“Not really, I think it’s all vastly overrated but probably here to stay it seems …. unfortunately” she laughed.
“Oh, but Walter loves the game when Bayern Munchen especially his team are playing at home. But what I want to know is when” she winked conspiratorially saying quietly: “Will there ever be a ladies’ soccer team in the league?”… she laughed
“Well, I certainly hope so because I might be perhaps the first soccer coach or the team goalkeeper. Now the goalkeeper does seem to me always to be a very important player in this game …. or so I’m told?” laughed Karen.
On the way back to the hotel Karen collected, as promised from the obliging glass shop owner, that prized unusually sculptured elephant that had earlier so surprisingly captured her attention. The waiting courteous, obliging shop owner had surprisingly wrapped it very carefully in expensive silver paper for some reason and it was now ready for her to collect when she arrived, saying then rather emotionally as he carefully handed it over the shop counter to a pleased Karen: “Look after her” he said with genuine concern, “she’s always been very special to me. And I doubt I shall ever create another of that kind again in the future”.
He then added confidently with sadness tinging his faltering voice: “My health dear ladies has not been too good recently. And I’m also in the process of sadly selling this business that has been.” He paused then added quietly: “My daily happy life for many years.”
“Sadly I never married because that opportunity never presented itself to me. So I have no son or daughter to pass this inheritance on to. But perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. They would have preferred perhaps to follow their destinies”. He sighed, shaking his mottled, bald head at this sudden declaration.
At the end of the day’s trading, he had lowered the blind sadly for a final time. Then placed a handwritten notice on the inside of the door. It proclaimed:
CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
THANK YOU FOR YOUR CUSTOM
The nurse had however noticed, in the man’s shop, a slight tremor in his hands. She had seen this affliction many times before in the various hospital wards in the past where she had then been employed. And also in many secluded hospice homes.
He then surprisingly shook both women’s outstretched hands with moist eyes. And very gently murmuring a few words of farewell he bid them goodbye. Then he accompanied them to the shop door wishing them a safe journey home. That final handshake and the man’s sad demeanour was an incident Karen sadly remembered years later. Whenever she carefully removed that prized carved elephant down from its glass shelf to yet again admire and dust it remembering of course the history it held that memory for her had become more infrequent as time passed.
When she became a mother unexpectedly a few years later, that prized elephant would then sadly become frequently absent from Karen’s always enquiring mind as she concentrated on the advent of the perilous years ahead of demanding motherhood.
Outside on a now clear day, Karen suddenly hailed a passing vacant taxi. The old toothless driver, as instructed, just minutes later delivered them both safely to their destination. And with her clutched prized possession, both women alighted to be greeted by the splendid imposing flag draped over the hotel’s front entrance.
Both women were welcomed with a stiff smart salute, as always expected from the cheerful armed war veteran commissionaire. His uniformed chest as always, was ablaze with hard-won decorated war medals. And as fate would have it, just then Walter had arrived minutes before with Doctor Nagel, standing rather uncomfortably beside him.
The doctor now looked around, perhaps wondering just what she was doing here. And just what she was getting herself into and would there be any easy escape for her in the future?
“Darling!” Karen called out as she this time quickly paid the driver the outstanding cab fare.
The couple then both embraced each other in the ornate hotel foyer, almost as if they hadn’t seen each other for months instead of just hours it seemed to nurse Hoffman rather cynically as she watched this display of open emotion. She was now clutching that heavy-wrapped elephant that had been quickly passed to her by Karen.
Karen then turned and smiled at the doctor at the same time mouthing a silent “hello” to her, which was returned immediately with a discreet nod and a fixed smile from an annoyed Doctor Nagel, and still really not wanting to be here.
The nurse wished all a pleasant good day. Then paused and uttered a few hushed words to the listening doctor, and then she silently departed into the now-busy hotel lobby. Walter then politely introduced his wife to a waiting doctor Nagel.
Karen always observant, noticed that the woman was of average height. With a clear skin except for some faint freckles randomly scattered across her face. And also clustered around her fine cheekbones. But unnoticed by anyone. Unless the morning sunlight cast a few selected golden rays upon her profile in its warm bathing light. Perhaps centuries ago Karen wondered rather mischievously if some stray genetic Gaelic genes had covertly entered her past lineage either welcomed or unwelcomed. And with her lustrous carefully pinned-up auburn hair. With a classical nose and cupid lips, it offered to any interested observer a hint perhaps or presence of a previous minor royal eastern European nobility, now long defunct of course. This inherent natural authority the doctor displayed would have certainly needed to possess to function in the traditional mostly privileged usual male dominated hospital wards of any busy Berlin hospital.
She would have perhaps served her required training and later internship in these distinguished hospitals. Her striking appearance then would certainly have drawn an unwelcomed daily menu of crude jokes and whispered innuendos from some of her smirking male colleagues that Karen had rightly suspected.
To be continued…
© G. Patrick Battell
(All Rights Reserved)