Silesian Station (2008)

Free Silesian Station (2008) by David Downing

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Authors: David Downing
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but he - it's a boy, of course - reminds her so much of her dead husband that she runs away. I'm left with the baby, which isn't very convenient.' She paused to take a lick of ice cream. 'I already have a baby of my own, and I'm looking after my father, who's been crippled in the war. I'm a nurse at the local hospital - it's set in Wedding by the way - working split shifts. Since my husband can't find a job, he's supposed to look after things at home, but he's not happy about looking after one baby, let alone two. He gets drunk and tells me I have to choose between him and my sister's baby. I throw him out and struggle on. Only trouble is, the boys fight all the time.' She took another lick and smiled. 'At this point the writer wants one of those through-the-years-type collages of them fighting with each other - you know what I mean? - the problem is, they always end up using children of different ages who look nothing like each other.'
    In the distance a military band started up, and promptly fell silent again. They waited in vain for a resumption.
    'Where was I?' Effi asked. 'Oh yes. We've reached 1932. The boys are strapping lads who still can't stand each other. Enter the hero. Several young SA men are brought into the hospital after a street-fight with the Reds. One of them's in really bad shape, and he eventually dies, but not until I've been through my whole Angel of Mercy routine. The squad leader who keeps visiting them can't help but notice how wonderful I am, and of course I can't help but notice how stern and fatherly he is. I ask him over for dinner. He gets on like a house on fire with my father and, much more importantly, takes the two boys to task for fighting all the time. After a couple of visits he has them eating out of his hand. Cue wedding bells and the boys go off to join the Hitler Youth together. It ends with another collage - the two of them hiking in the mountains together, helping an old lady across the road, collecting for Winter Relief, etc etc. My husband and I stand at our front door, new children liberally scattered around our feet, and watch the two of them go smiling off to war. The End.'
    'Incredible.'
    'Ridiculous, but it's a living.'
    'Where it's being shot.'
    'Out at the Schillerpark Studio. I don't think they'll do any location shooting.'
    'How long?'
    'Three weeks, I think. You don't have to work today?'
    'No.'
    'And you're not going anywhere in the next few days?' she asked, betraying only the slightest hint of anxiety.
    'Nowhere.' Prague could wait.
    'You know, I feel hungry. After I've rung Zarah and had a bath let's go and have a nice lunch.'
    'What are you going to tell her?' Russell asked.
    'What do you mean?'
    Russell told her what he'd said to Zarah on Monday. 'It's better for every-one if she believes it was all a mistake,' he added.
    'Yes, I see that,' Effi said, 'it'll feel strange, though, lying to her. But of course you're right.'
    They drove back to the flat. Russell read through some of the script while Effi talked to her sister and bathed. She shut the bathroom door, which was unusual, but he knew that remarking upon the fact would be unwise. She also pulled the bedroom door to when she went to dress. 'Let's go to that bistro in Grunewald,' she said on emerging. 'Celebrate our new jobs.'
    Once they were seated in the restaurant she insisted on a blow-by-blow account of his trip to America, filling any space in his narrative with questions.
    'You're useless,' she said, after failing to elicit a satisfactory description of the World's Fair. 'I shall have to ask Paul. I bet he remembers everything.'
    'Probably.'
    'And you got the American passport?' she asked.
    'I did.' This didn't seem the right moment to mention the other side of the bargain - that he was now working for American intelligence. A picture of the sunny briefing room in Manhattan crossed his mind, the gaunt-faced Murchison dragging on his umpteenth Lucky Strike of the day. Over there it had all felt a little

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