didn’t matter to them that Karl had fought on the western front and his father had died fighting the Russians, all that mattered was that Karl looked like a Jew. Just as his friends had convinced Karl to leave with them and find another bar, more men arrived, this time from a different Freikorps. Karl was soon forgotten as insults were traded between the two groups of men.
Before long, a fist fight broke out between them. Karl and his friends tried to leave through the brawl but then someone produced a pistol and shots were fired. Karl’s friend, Werner, was shot in the arm, but Karl picked him up and, holding his good arm over his shoulder, had managed to get him out of the beer cellar and into a taxi and took him to hospital. This was where he had been and it was Werner’s blood that covered him.
However, Meyer had noted that Karl had a scrape on his chin and bruising around his ribs. His knuckles were also swollen on his right hand.
For a few minutes, Meyer had been left alone with Karl. He mentioned, quietly, what he had noticed. Not the sort of marks you would get escaping from a fight, more like ones which one would get from being actively involved in it.
Karl had nodded and asked Meyer not to mention this to either his mother or his sister as he did not want them to worry. It was a few months before Meyer found out what had actually happened that night.
Meyer had bid them all a good night now that everyone was safely home. He was heartily thanked by all of them, especially Karl, for bringing Klara home that evening. After that, Meyer was welcomed with open arms at the Steinmann household.
Meyer’s eyes flicked open. He had dozed off. He rubbed the misted window with his hand, making his black leather glove shine with condensation. At first, he thought he had missed his stop, as he didn’t recognise the street. Then he saw the fire station and relaxed. There were still a few minutes before he was at his stop.
His hand felt for the present in his pocket. He just wished that he had pictures to put in the locket for her, but no matter, they could get portraits of the babies in the new year.
Meyer carefully made his way down the stairs of the tram, wet from melting snow, and waited for the tram to stop. When it did, he jumped from the tram and started the short walk to his apartment building. The snow was still falling in huge flakes, and he listened to the crump of his feet as he plodded through the snow. The muffled rattle of the tram had gone, and the street was almost soundless except for the call of the newspaper-seller outside his door.
“Chancellor Muller announces budgetary constraints!”
“Merry Christmas, Paul,” greeted Meyer to the paper-seller.
“Ah, Herr Meyer, merry Christmas to you.”
Meyer took one of his papers and dropped a few coins into the seller's hand.
“More good news?” Meyer joked, as he scanned the front page. “Keep the change Paul.”
The newspaper-seller thanked him as Meyer disappeared into his apartment building.
He ran up the steps, pulling his key from his pocket and opened the door to his apartment. It was warm inside, and the smell of baking awakened his hunger. He realised he had not had anything to eat since breakfast.
“Klara?” shouted Meyer.
His wife appeared suddenly from the bedroom, with her finger held against her lips, closing the door behind her.
“Hello, darling, the twins have only just gone to sleep,” she whispered, then took his hand and led him through to the livingroom.
“Frau Fischer will be over at six. I’ll feed the girls before we go out, and we should be okay for at least three hours.” she continued, with a wide smile on her face. “I have looked out a dress for dancing. Where are we going?”
“Ah, well I thought we could go to Clärchens Ballhaus. It is on Auguststrasse and the tram takes us straight to the door. It has great music and a restaurant attached,” he replied.
“Manfred, that sounds delightful. I