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Train to Munich
The Spy in Carriage Number Three
Was she really in her 30s? They told me she was, but I’d peg her for late 20's. Her cheeks were smooth and milky white, and I could see no lines under her eyes. She wore tight light brown corduroy pants, and a rather snug mauve sweater. She had black boots on with rather thick large heels. I’d call the color of her thick long hair, a “dark rust,” which seemed to me a nice companion to dark blue eyes. She applied lipstick as she stared out the window. She hadn’t bothered to acknowledge my presence as she entered the compartment. It was certainly dark enough in there, and neither of us had bothered to slip on a light.
“Care for a cigarette,” I asked her in German. “Nichts zu danken,” she murmured in her native tongue, wistfully, still staring out the window. I lit one myself, took a drag, remembering how much I loathed German tobacco. But it was all we gens could get, now that the Wehrmacht had so graciously moved in. You see, the party was over. Toute le monde thinks we’re cowards, though; for we hardly lifted a finger when the tanks came in. They just don’t understand us. We were there at the Sommes, at Verdun, not them. We know all too well the futility of war - it’s destruction, chaos, and then black singed nothing. We learned. This time, we would give the Germans a much better taste of war. By sleeping with them, so to say, nous les baiserions.
My companion was not onto this game plan, of course. Her role was to take what I would give her. As the train sped towards Munich, I wondered how many more times I could manage this. Sure, each time they peeled back the canvas from the frame of the painting, as the technicians in Berlin would pour over the encrypted characters with their magnifying glasses, key information lay therein. Bridges, roads, times, destinations. And all true! At least, for now. That’s why they trusted me, an art dealer from Versailles. That’s why she trusted me.
But it was too late for her anyway. You see, I was becoming protected. This time, she would ultimately make the untrue seem true, as only a woman can, when she needs to, when she wanted to. Because she’ll fool herself if that’s what it takes. As they say, second nature. She would not show it now, though, not at this time, not while the moon had barely risen. She’d just stare out the window, her face expressionless, her lips moist with fresh lipstick, her eyes opaque. I inhaled, trying to remember the aroma of French tobacco.
© Brad Kurlancheek April 2005
The information of course was a well laid plan, a subterfuge of time and space, eventually to culminate in heavy losses. Meanwhile I was safe, and as Madelaine rose to unlock her suitcase lying on the upper bunk, my hands would be free. They would begin at the smooth surface forming the rounded contour of her hips, and work their way up the small of her waist and then beyond. Then our breath would become one. It was to be a long night. The canvas lay safe, next to her suitcase. War, for a brief interlude, would not enter this compartment, not for now, not during these dark hours of deception.