Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chapter 5: Mourning Becomes Woowa

Diary of Zoya Bupkis

August 30, 1939

While Mr. von Schnitzel and the Professor were playing with the bowl or chalice or whatever it was and the lighter, I thought how wonderful that this thing would be for magic lanterns shows, like when I was child in Hentzov. Of course, the heat ray part of it might singe the screen a bit. While I was trying to work this out, I looked out the window and noticed that more and more soldiers and police cars were arriving at the Museum. They soon began gathering in the large car park behind the Museum. There was Bronislav yelling at them and pointing all around the neighborhood. Then he held up several pictures, one was of Roxy and another was that gollywogged swimsuit picture of me! Will I never live that down? Roxy noticed this and said something about the heat being on but actually I found it a bit chilly in the old mill in which we were hiding.

A group of Walloons then surrounded an old factory just behind the Museum and began kicking in the doors and running in side, yelling “Hut Hut Hut.” Then we could guns shooting and grenades going off, all the while they kept yelling “Hut Hut Hut” which I think is Walloon for “kill” or perhaps “chocolate” or something like that.

Mr. Von Schnitzel suggested that we needed to leave soon or else we would be nabbed since it looked like they were searching the whole neighborhood.

We began arguing about the best way to make our escape.

Skinny Shmengy noticed some children playing just outside of the mill and he suggested we bribe them to distract the soldiers and police so we could sneak out.

This suggestion was so sensible that we could not believe it came from a stupid Leutonian and so ignored it.

Things really got tense when we notice a big brown lorry pull up in the lot and several men in postal uniforms got out and reported to Bronislav.

That was when von Schnitzl pointed to the large water tower on top of the factory which the Walloons were searching. He told Chicolini to go steal a car or lorry and then he told the Professor to point the beam from the bowl or chalice or whatever it was at the water tower. A thin bright red beam flashed out toward one of the tower legs. The leg turned bright red and suddenly it began to buckle, sort of like when Sister Otilia’s wooden leg, the one she got because of her gout, became too infested with termites and she toppled over in the middle of the combined evening vespers and cage match at the Convent. Well the same thing happened to the water tower but the results were almost as dramatic. The whole tower collapsed and a huge cascade of water came down on all of the men gathered in the lot. Bronislav made a particularly dramatic sight since he was standing on some sort of box which was washed away before him and he sort of hovered for a moment before coming down into the great pool of water and began flopping around like a fresh carp when its thrown in the frying pan alive. The postal lorry was knocked over onto its side and all the postmen were washed into the next street over.

While all this was going on and everyone yelling and trying to sort themselves out, we sneaked out of the mill, and ran to a lorry that Chicolini had quietly rolled into the alley behind the mill. We pushed it further down the street until we were sure that no one could hear us and then sped off out of the city.

There were a couple of police autos that were starting to set up roadblocks but Mr. Chicolini was very good at driving around them, through people’s vegetable gardens and clothes lines and cows and the like, and it got to be very fun to see whether he could avoid the next obstacle or not. Usually he did.

Soon we were out into the countryside. Mr. von Schnitzel told us something about a letter of introduction to the Grand Duchess, the King’s sister, who had written some sort of novel that he was hoping to make into a motion picture. He felt that if we could make it to the Grand Duchess, we could possibly find refuge with her.

Now I had once performed, or rather my ballet troupe had performed for the Grand Duchess. She was a very nice elderly woman, dressed in black for her late husband who had suffered a fall down the stairs or inadvertently eaten rat poison or something. But I did remember that she lived nearby, in a small chateau near the Graustark border, just about 20 kilometers to the southwest of Zenda. It was in village called Ktorevitsa.

I began giving directions and we only got lost two or three times.

About midday, we were traveling down one of these roads when we heard a tinkling sound, It was so pretty and reminded me of my childhood, sort of like the man who came around to sell frozen pickled tripe to us in summer. But then I noticed that Fat Shmengy had sat up and was pointed behind us, calling out excitedly, “Chicago Bang Bang! Chicago BANG BANG!” At first I thought it meant he had to use the WC and he had seen a tree that Leutonians favored for that business but then the others began looking back.

Behind was a man on a bicycle. He was round and middle-aged looking in a brown postal uniform with a large satchel on his back. He was ringing the little bell and waiving to us with a big friendly smile on his face. Everyone in the lorry got very quiet and the Shmengys began playing a slow dirge on their instruments.

Mr. Chicolini at first seemed not to notice the postman so the bicycle began to close in on us. When we called for Mr. Chicolini to hurry up, he seemed nearly paralyzed by fear when he saw the postman. Even when he belatedly sped the lorry up, the bicycle stayed close behind, the postman barely breathing hard to go as fast as us.

Mr. von Schnitzel then said that there was no use in trying to run from him and so we pulled over.

Like all the postmen we had met, this one seemed very kindly and spoke in a soft voice, “Well, at last I’ve found you. We have been looking for you for some time. Inspector Bogush will be ever so glad to see you. Now please get down from there and I will signal for other transportation.”

Everyone except me and the Professor and Chicolini got out of the lorry. Then Mr. Tura and Mr. von Schnitzel began to do such a strange thing, that I burst out laughing. They began to slap each other’s hands and alternated this with claps, all the while calling out a nonsense rhyme, something like “patty-cake.”

The postman got a suspicious look on his face but stared in fascination at the two. Then suddenly, they both turned and tried to hit the postman. Mr. Tura missed and struck his hand against the side of the lorry. Mr. Tura then ran off shrieking and cringed behind tree. Mr. von Schnitzel struck the postman hard but this barely seemed to hurt the man.

Suddenly everyone was hitting at the postmen, from the front, side and rear. All of these the postman managed to avoid, moving just like Bluebird in the Third Act of Sleeping Beauty. Finally Fat Schmangy tried to jump on the postman. The postman dodged this as well but the thought of what nearly happened to him, the effect of all that Leutonian falling on him, must have shaken his nerves for there was a look of fear and confusion on his face. That was when Roxy hit him. Then I hit him. He began to retreat from us towards the woods when Fat Shmengy, who hadn’t - or couldn’t - get up from his fall, rolled along and struck him right at the knees. The postman crumpled down and Fat Shmengy continued to roll over him, just like a big steam roller. The postman was very still after that but the creases in his uniform seemed much sharper.

The Professor checked the postman’s heartbeat and said he was still alive only unconscious and somewhat flat.

Von Schnitzel quickly gathered up the postman’s identification badge and his postal satchel. It had a small submachine gun in it, a lot of letters, and a big pork sandwich, which Fat Shmengy immediately gobbled up in one bite. We gathered this up and moved the postman and his bicycle into the woods and then quickly drove off.

I realized that the satchel had real letters in them and so I insisted, since I was still a Government Official, I was now responsible for delivering them. Everyone was very cross at me for this but since I was the only one who knew where Ktorevitsa was, they had to listen to me. It was a wonderful feeling, having everyone to listen to me for a change, even if it meant Roxy said to me a lot of short words with lots of “K” sounds in them at me.

Just after we finished delivering the last letter, we began to hear the sound of tingling bells behind us. They were the same bicycle bells as before but sounded far more urgent. When we looked behind us, there were two postmen on bicycles. They were younger than most of the postmen we had seen and were big in a muscular unShmengy way and had very unpleasant looks on their faces. They also had big guns strapped to their backs.

Mr. Chicolini noticed them as soon as the rest of us did and sped up. The lorry leapt forward but the postmen just began peddling faster. They gained on us.

Then we approached an intersection with a road coming from our left. As we approached we could hear the sound of bicycle bells tinkling from that road and as we neared the intersection, we saw two more postmen, just like the two following us, approaching. They looked very cross too.

The Professor and von Schnitzel fumbled with the old bowl or chalice or whatever it was and Bronislav’s lighter. Soon a beam was coming from the top of the bowl. Von Schnitzel grabbed at the bowl or chalice or whatever it was and flashed the beam onto the wheels of the two oncoming bicycles. The tires made loud popping noises and the two postmen tumbled over the tops of their bicycles, collapsing into the road.

The Professor said that he never guessed Mr. von Schnitzel’s aim could be so good, for the director was very ham-handed most of the time. That was when Mr. von Schnitzel trained the beam from the old bowl or chalice or whatever it was around the woods beside us and at a tree overhanging the road behind. The woods immediately burst into flames and the large tree collapsed into the road. The two postmen who had been following us slammed into the tree and flew into a crumpled heap beyond it.

“Terror gives me strength,” Mr. von Schnitzel explained.

Excerpt from The Sun’s Also Shiny, The Great American Novel, by Ernest Hummingbird:

The truck drove on into the waning day, one of the last days of peace that the continent would know. Ironically, the day was perfect. The lengthening shadows of the beautiful setting sun was merely a metaphor of foreboding for the coming darkness that the Nazi armies were about to bring to Europe.

They had escaped from the secret policemen by following the Writer’s plan which was perfect, of course. Realizing that the truck was too familiar now, the Writer suggested they exchange it for the next convenient vehicle they came across.

When they passed a small omnibus, Chicolini forced it off to the side of the road. Fortunately, there were no passengers and the driver gladly ran off when the Director waived the postal bag at him. Another of the Writer’s plan that was perfect.

A short time later, they arrived at the village. It was small but orderly with a fine whitewashed church and stone tavern. It was a rich village.

The chateau was on a hill at the end of the long single street. It was not large but had the dignity that age and being a true home sometimes gives to such places.

The Writer suggested they get the lay of the land before approaching the Grand Duchess. Of course, the others agreed. They went into the tavern. It was called The Six-legged Toad. It was crowded; a gypsy troupe had arrived earlier that day and was trying to entertain the crowd. The villagers seemed more concerned with the radio that was broadcasting the latest news of the coming war.

The crowd got quiet when the Writer and his friends entered. The Writer went behind the bar and began mixing drinks. He mixed them Manhattans for everyone and, even though he had to use pickle brine instead of sweet red vermouth, they were perfect.

With the first taste of the drinks, the villagers treated them like lost relatives. They told the Writer of their lives in the village, their hopes for a good harvest, and their fear of the war that seemed now bound to come. They told him of their love of the Grand Duchess who was like a grandmother to them and how they would all die to protect her. It was a good village. Not particularly smart but good.

A serving girl, a pretty young blonde, seemed particularly interested in the Fat Musician. She hung on his arm and kept rubbing his vast belly, saying, “So fat, must be rich man. You would make any wife happy!”

The Fat Musician gurgled a bit and moaned, “Chicaaagoo Baanng Baang.”

Chicolini fit in as well. He looked at one of the pretty dancing girls and ordered a bottle of wine and a dozen oysters. He took her by the arm and led her towards the back door. Her partner, another dark eyed beauty grasped his other arm.

“Make-a dat another a bottle of wine and two-a dozen oysters.”

Then he noticed the old gypsy fortuneteller coming toward them.

“Make-a dat two more bottles of wine and three-a dozen oysters.”

Suddenly, the radio behind the bar crackled to life with an emergency broadcast.

“This is Radio Strelzov. The Prime Minister today rejected the ultimatum presented by Germany, Graustark, and Sylvania, stating, ‘While this government strenuously condemns any act committed against the law of nations, the demand presented in this ultimatum would destroy the sovereignty of this nation and make us slaves to the fascist governments. To this we can never accede.’

“The governments of Great Britain and France have today reaffirmed the guarantees given earlier this month to both Poland and Ruritania in the event of an attack by an unfriendly power.

“In related news, the Minister of War again denied that the Royal Regalia were stolen by German agents. He noted that they had been removed to a safe location during the present emergency….”

A bearded man in dark clothes stood up and said, “Things sound bad my people. We should pray.”

They all began crossing themselves and followed him to the church.

Excerpt from And A One and A Two, My Life Following the Demon Rhythm of the Polka, the unpublished autobiography of Stanislaus Shmengy

Now as many school child know, official faith of Ruritania is Greco-Roman Catholic Church, only church in world in communion with both Rome and Constantinople, excepting that neither Pope or Patriarch is willing to admit it. Our faith is old and full of much holiness with big willingess to fight for faith since have done so many time especially against filthy heathen Turk.

Now big part of demonstration of faith of willingness to fight for faith is done by wrestling. Every service one man chosen to demonstrate faith. So we know when Bobo Mrko the village priest - “Bobo” is Ruritanian for “uncle” which is what all priest are called - says for everyone to go to pray, I think this good way for us to ingratitude us with villagers since I know wrestling will start service.
In Leutonia, this wrestling is done against bog boar and Yosh was best bog boar wrestler in whole province. So when Bobo Mrko calls out that winner of two throws out of three get two years off time in Purgatory, Yosh strip off shirt and I find big vat of axle grease, very big vat. I also find several brush and cover Yosh torso with grease.

Unfortunately, custom is different in Zenda Province, they being hoity-toity and stuck-up. So they no wrestle boar, only each other. And they don’t grease up before wrestle either! So they all look at Yosh very strange when he come forward. But Bobo Mrko say we all God’s Children and they must accept strange Leutonian ways, now matter how barbaric or ignoramousious. He call out for challenger and tiny old man come up.

I laugh and say, “Dadu, are you sure you want wrestle Yosh. He squash you like beet weevil.”

Old Dadu just grumble, “Stupid Leutonian are you! Kick your fat brother’s dupka I will,“ and he strip off shirt too.

They gather in front of church. When Bobo Mrko give word to start, Old Dadu run up and kick Yosh in throat. Yosh gurgle and fall down.

“One fall to Dadu Yoda!” says Bobo Mrko.

Yosh get up and get in position. When Old Dadu run at him again, he ready. He grab Old Dadu in arms in big hug of bear. But I guess I put too much grease on him since old Dadu get squirted out of his arm like he watermelon seed getting spit out. Old Dadu fly way up and over roofs of village. Over forest and into swamp.
“One fall to the Fat Leutonian!” says Bobo Mrko.

I think fight over since old Dadu now miles away. But suddenly, we hear big rumbling and see old Dadu running up path from swamp. When he about a yebach pitch length away, he yell and come leaping at Yosh, strike him in belly and Yosh fall down and make big hole in the ground.

“Second fall to Dadu Yoda! Two years off Purgatory!” cries Bob Mrko and everyone cheer. Even Yosh and I figuring that Old Dadu closer to Purgatory than Yosh so is OK.

All our foreign friends watch, looking confus-ed and much shaking of heads. When they see old Dadu beat Yosh, Professor ask, “Are all the old men in Ruritania so….”

“Psychotic? Yes,” answers Roxy the movie star.

Then we hear shots coming from Grand Duchess House so we all run there quick.

Interview with Roxy Smothers, 1973:

Well, when we heard the gunshots coming from the chateau, we all took off at a run. Except Fat Shmengy who was struggling to get out of the small hole he created when the old man blasted him into the ground - they had to bring out the village tractor to do that.

As we ran, Hummingbird began, “That sounds like a.416 Rigby, the gun I used when…

“I know, I know, it’s the gun you first used to hunt elephants in Alabama because there the Tuscaloosa.” He wasn’t happy about my comment but then his “deep introspection” was beginning to wear on me.

When we made it to the gates of the Chateau, we could still hear the occasional shot but otherwise nothing seemed stirring. Von Schnitzel knocked on the door and a thin middle-aged servant answered the door.

“We are here to see the Grand Duchess. I have a letter of introduction,” said von Schnitzel waiving the letter he had received in response to his offer to make a film out of the Grand Duchess tedious, probably non-existent book.

“Please do come in and I shall inform Her Royal Highness.”

I spoke up, “Excuse me, eh ….”

“Mousevarmr, ma’am. My name is Mousevarmr.”

“Well, Mousevarmr, we couldn’t help but hear the gunfire. What is going on?”

“Her Royal Highness does not like servants to do jobs that she feels she can handle herself, as you Americans say, she is a real do-it-yourselfer.”

“So what home improvement project is she working on?” I asked.

“Removing some of the bats in the attic.”

“With an elephant gun?”

“At her age, with her eyesight, she says it is the most effective method.” He said with a straight face.

He took us to a large reception hall that was filled with a vast assortment of dead stuffed animals. Now when I had previously lived in Ruritania, I had never met the old gal. She was something of a recluse after the death of her husband. He was some sort of count or baron from Sylvania and turned out to be a dreadful beast. Within a year he was found dead under mysterious circumstances. There was mumbling of a cover up and she was whisked off for a safari to Africa that lasted about five years. There has been bad blood and a couple of wars between Ruritania and Sylvania ever since.

When the old bird finally made an appearance, my jaw nearly dropped to the floor for the Grand Duchess was the spitting image of Queen Victoria, down to the widow’s gown and veil and the disapproving look. Apparently, she thought old Vicky was the absolute end-all in fashion.

“Weww? What can I do fow you, Heww von Schnitzew?” She asked.

“Good lord, she really is King Ruprikt’s sister,” I mumbled.

Unfortunately, her hearing was excellent. She turned her disapproving look on me and asked sarcastically, “And who might this chawming cweatuwe be?”

“I’m an American movie actress, Roxy Smothers.”

“Weww, Woxy, you don’t mind if I caww you Woxy, do you? You know Woxy, it’s not powite to mumbwe in a big woom wike this. Some peopwe, not me of couwse, might have a pwobwem heawing. But I’m suwe someone wike you isn’t used to being in a pwace wike this, yes?”

Looking around at the hall filled with stuffed dead animals, I had to agree, “I can safely say, I’ve never been in a place so grandiose, so De Mille.”

Immediately I could see that she like most Radziwill was dumber than a stump for she seemed to think I gave her a compliment. Then it slowly dawned on her that might have at one point been related but I didn’t hazard to clarify, not knowing how she felt about Broni.

Von Schnitzel interrupted while there was still a smile on her face. He went into a big spiel about how he was so moved by the Grand Duchess’ manuscript, he knew he had to make a film of it, to teach the world the tragic love story of Barbara Radziwill and King Sigismund of Poland. He hoped she would agree to give him the right to make this epic, a tribute to the Radziwill family.

You could see how she loved to be buttered up like that and Eric had her eating out of his hand in a few minutes.

Oh, pwease, we awe now awtists togethew, call me by my Chwistian name, Woowa.”
“Of course…Woowa.

No, not Woowa, Woowa.

“Of course…um….Laura.”

No, no, not Waura, Woowa!” She was beginning to lose her patience with us when Tura interrupted.

“Have no fear, madame. The leading roles are in the best of hands. Roxy will be playing Barbara Radziwill.”

“Excewwent, she’s pwacticawee a Wadziwiww hewsewf.”

“Only by contamination,” I muttered.

“Who wiww be pwaying King Sigismund?”

This was the in that Tura was waiting for, he loved advertising himself, “Why that great Polish actor, Janusz Tura!”

“I’m sowwy, who?”

“Well, perhaps in this part of the world, news of high culture may be lacking…”

“No, I fowwow aww of the theatwe and opewa news in Euwope and I can assuwe you that
I have nevew heawd of him. But I am suwe with such a fine diwectrow as Heww von Schnitzew, he’ww be fine, whoevew the heww he is.”

Unfortunately, at this point she noticed the Shmengys at the back of the hall, with Fatty still shirtless and oozing axle grease and mud.

“Good Word, awe those Weutonians? You can smeww a Weutonian fwom five weagues away! I nevew undewstood why we’ve kept that wwetched pwovince! The west of you awe wewcome to stay hewe but I must insist that they stay eswewhewe.”

Mousevarmr suggested that they could stay in the stall used for keeping the milk minks but she would have none of that since the Shmengy’s presence would make the brefnish go off. They finally agreed that they could stay in one of the villager’s barns nearby. None of the rest of us had any objection to this arrangement.

Surprisingly, neither did the Shmengys.

“Hey, Duchess Lady, if there is no krapluga on floor, is better than home!”
“Chicago Bang Bang!”

Mousevarmr showed us to our rooms, which were large and extensively, if eccentrically furnished, with statutes of bog spirits and stuffed vultures. Just before retiring, Mousevarmr provided von Schnitzel with a document that the Grand Duchess had prepared for him, a Mandat. This was an official document issued by a member of the royal family for everyone in the kingdom to provide whatever the bearer requested. It bore her signature, “Rula Radziwill, Grand Duchess of Zenda.”

“Well, one mystery solved.”

“One final thing, Herr Direktor” Mousvarmr added. “Since the Grand Duchess feels her time on this earth may be limited, she requests that you begin filming as soon as possible. To that end she places this palace and all her estate at your disposal. Also, when she received your letter she took a fancy into supporting film-making so she has several 35mm Debrie Parvo cameras with sound system and several hundred miles of 35mm film.”

Never before and never after did I see von Schnitzel cry but there he was in the hall of that palace balling like a baby.

Finally, he squeaked out, “We start shooting tomorrow!”

“Tomorrow?” I cried, “We don’t have a script!”

“We will tomorrow! Mousvarmr, please take Mr. Hummingbird his typewriter and a case of Scotch and then lock him in his room. Don’t let him out until we have a script or he is dead. Either way, we win.”

I dreamt that night about vultures and greased whales but it was otherwise a restful night.

Mousvarmr, who seemed to be the only servant in the whole place, came and woke us for breakfast. There was pleasant smell of frying potato klopkies but when we reached the breakfast table, there was Fat Shmengy with several dozen empty plates in front of him.

The Grand Duchess was not pleased when she was told she would have to wait until Mousevarmr could get additional potatoes from the next village. “What tewwibwe times these awe! No bweakfast, wumows of waw, and I hewe thewe is even a showtage of oyestews!”

There was still plenty of coffee and so we went to work. There were some old royal dress outfits, both male and female, in the palace that did the trick for wardrobe and the script that a bleary-eyed and hiccupping Humminbird handed to us was actually quite good. We even managed to pry Chicolini away from his gypsies to do the camera work.

After a full morning we heard the sound of a large car coming up the drive-way to the Chateau.

I was shocked to see it was Bronislav’s limousine with that rat Raoul behind the wheel.

He strode confidently into the hall where we were filming, that damned cigarette still clutched in his slimy fingers.

“Miss Roxy, what a pleasant surprise! I had no idea you were here.”

“If not what brings you here, you malignant excuse for a cabbie.”

“Oh ho, still fiery as always. No, Roxy, not for you. The Prince knows that war now is inevitable, he’s given up looking for you. He sent me to fetch his great aunt out of the way of potential capture or worse, she being so close to the border. I am to take her back to Strelzov personally.”

Although this made sense, I couldn’t figure out why a louse like Raoul would stick his neck out even if ordered by Broni. Hummingbird must have felt the same way. The writer had appeared from his room bearing a large glass of the hair of the dog. He immediately interrupted and offered Raoul a drink.

“I am sorry but I do not drink alcohol.”

Hummingbird, his mixology kit already in full display, stood uncomprehending at the driver’s words. The perfect martini in his hands began to shake violently as his whole world view suddenly shifted. Fortunately, Chicolini came to the rescue, sprinting out of nowhere to down the drink.

By this time, the Grand Duchess had arrived. She was adamant that she would not leave her home or her people just because of the inconvenience of a war.

Raoul, his shifty eyes showing the calculations going on in his brain, shifted his tactics. He offered to take us to the capital, assuring us that Broni no longer had any intention of betraying us to the fascists; he was too busy preparing for the war.

“Scram, bus driver,” I finally told him and the little rat climbed into the big limo and drove off.

Then I realized that he was headed out of town on the road leading not to Strelzov but to the Graustark border.

“That stinkin’ son of a sea cook! He’s off to rat us out to the Krauts.”

We talked a bit about what to do but couldn’t come to any conclusion.
Instead, for lack of anything better to do, we went back to filming and put in one of the best day’s work I’ve ever had. Tura was actually pretty good. Even von Schnitzel didn’t scream as much as usual.

I had a rough night, tossing and turning and then being awaken early by Mousevarmr. He told me that there was grievous news and that the Grand Duchess had ordered all of her people to assemble in the Chateau forecourt.

After dressing, I went down and there was a huge crowd of villager gathered in front of the Chateau.

Bobo Mrko and another man in rich traditional dress, some village official no doubt, escorted the Grand Duchess to a small platform set before the villagers.

The priest spoke first, “We have received reports that, at five o’clock this morning, Germany has attacked Poland and a fierce battle is now raging along that nation’s borders. Our Minister of War has declared a full mobilization of all reserves in preparation for an attack against us. He believes that we shall be attacked next.”

“My peopwe, hawd times awe coming. We must giwd ouw woins for battwe. I caww now fow the mobiwization of aww abwe bodied men in my domain to dwive off these nefawious wuffians!”

There was a big cheer from the crowd and everyone calling out loyalty to the Crown and death to the invaders. Dear Lord, how were these rubes going to stop Hitler’s panzers; they were doomed.

“Feaw not, my woyaw peopwe, we have the assistance of wegulaw twoops to twain you in defeating the enemy.

Suddenly, two figures appeared in rough approximations of Ruritanian army uniforms. One was thin and one was very fat.

“Hey, Duchess Lady sign our ticket! We no get shot!” Skinny Shmengy crowed as he waived his Tommie gun over his head.

“Chicago Bang Bang!” said Fat Shmengy patting the stock of his anti-tank rifle.

“And we even have with us, a fowmew high govewnment official, a wesewve officew in the awmy to wead you.”

I felt my stomach churn when I saw the thin, lithe figure approach the platform, an oversized officers uniform nearly drowning her small dancer’s figure.

It was Zoya.

Then I heard the sound of an engine droning overhead. I looked up and far above us in the dawn sky was a reconnaissance plane. On its wings were large black crosses.

No comments: