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 Category:  Mystery and Crime Fiction
  Posted: September 22, 2019      Views: 198
Chapters:
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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
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Chapter 24 of the book What The Blind Girl Saw
Hope Road
"What The Blind Girl Saw #24" by Sally Law



~**~
France countryside on the road between Colmar and the Dupree farm. May 22, 1944~

For one so young, Andre Dupree was not only resourceful, but had a keen mind for mechanics--just like his father. The abandoned truck was his first mechanical accomplishment, and he was never more thankful for the beastly old thing than today.

Driving back from Colmar towards the cave, Andre was aware of his precarious situation. Maman was safe for now, resting next to him, but feverish.

Jeanne-Louise had been admitted to St. Paul's Hospital in Colmar, and appeared to be in good hands.

Compounding his concerns, was Jewess, Hava von Gil. She had remained behind at the cave with little Andre, and he would be the one to tell her of David's death at the hands of the German soldiers. Every time he tried to form the words in his mind, he broke down.

Danger was all around, especially on the roadways.

Some French citizens had fallen under the spell of Jew hatred, and were involved in their arrests and deportations. These misguided souls were aligned with the Vichy militia and the Gestapo, and were complicit in their actions and support of the enemies of France.

Concerned for his family's safety and Jewish friends hidden away in the cave, Andre focused his attention on the most pressing matters.

"First things first," his instructor father used to say. As soon as Andre heard his father's voice in his head, he knew just what to do.

In the moment, a stop at the farm to pick up lubricant for the gearshift, food, and medical supplies seemed essential to their survival. He also thought the outer pasture would be a good place to bury David. It was dangerous to be traveling the roadways with a dead body. What if German soldiers pulled him over, and the truck, searched?

The sun was bowing westward, lighting a path as Andre headed east towards the farm. He was traveling slow, but steady, in first gear.

As the sun disappeared, the more Maman trembled with chills. Andre removed his outer shirt and gently laid it across her. She slipped into a deep sleep, buried underneath her thick mane of brunette hair.

A disturbing rumble reminded him he hadn't eaten since yesterday. Possibly, there were some remaining cans of food stored at the farm, shelved in the root cellar?

He motored on into the approaching night.

As Andre neared the farm, an eerie light caught his eye. Pulling into the shadows, he cut the engine. Maman was still sound asleep on the front seat.

He slipped quietly to their property, curiously following a flickering light.

German soldiers were walking and standing about--at least five, maybe more. He wasn't certain. A campfire was burning; and -- drinking, laughing, and talking -- they were casting things into the fire to keep it going.

Dark vapors escaped the fire and swirled into the air above them. Andre drew closer, but remained hidden in the trees. He squinted and looked again to make sure his tired eyes weren't playing tricks on him.

He could scarcely take in the sight. The soldiers were burning books--his family's precious library of books.

Tiptoeing his way to the barn, he peeked through a knothole in the barn door. Not a soul. Everyone must be at the book-burning party.

Andre moved in silence, carefully lifting the oil can, and left the same way he came. He found a few peaches on the ground and scooped them into his pockets, hurrying to get away from the terrible scene.

All was quiet and undisturbed back at the truck.

He continued in caution as he pushed the truck away from earshot and gave the gears a quick lubrication; then he cranked the engine.

However, heading back to the cave via the farm route was out of the question. He returned by a different road--one less traveled, and not at all familiar.

Maman slept soundly through the entire ordeal.

**************

Colmar, France. May 23, 1944~

"Oh, if we could only see past the storms of life and into the days ahead. I suppose that's the definition of hope," said Marie Segal to her sister, Carina.

"Don't worry, I will take care of this beautiful child as if she were my own."

"Thank you, it may be several days before I return. Do you need my ration cards for food?" asked Marie.

"Only if it has your name on it. We are twins after all. No one would know the difference."

"Take them, please." Marie handed over a month's worth of food ration cards that had been assigned to her. "I will be eating at St. Paul's with Francois. Once I go through the hospital door, I'm quarantined."

"Very well. Now, say your goodbyes and be off. Francois is waiting."

Marie Segal kissed the head of Jeanne-Louise. She grabbed her pocketbook and pulled out a silver locket, arranging it lovingly on Jeanne-Louise's neck. Turning to leave, she hurried from her sister's home with misting eyes.

***************

King interrupted court, which was a first for the Honorable Judge, Preston Hawthorn. He bolted from the courtroom door with Jackson in tow as soon as he was alerted. I heard him galloping through the vestibule with Jackson running behind, shouting my name.

"I'm in here," I called.

The sound of the crowd echoing through the halls reminded me of the running of the bulls at Pamplona. They arrived in a noisy throng, Detective Mike Lembowsky pushing them back at the ladies' washroom.

"King! Secure the assailant," I commanded. My dog had him pinned in seconds.

"Thank you, King," said the Detective. "I'll take it from here."

"Release him, King," I said, with a snap of my fingers. King hesitated, which was not like him. "King, obey," I said. He barked three times, which was code for "I recognize the man."

I kept King's bombshell piece of information to myself for the time being.

"Heel, boy," I said.

My attacker moaned and groaned as Detective Lembowsky cuffed him while reading his rights.

Jackson swarmed me with hugs, and helped me to the parlor. "Oh, honey--I can't believe this! Let's get you checked out."

Sergeant Dina Ray was there, and offered me a seat on the couch.

After King was no longer needed, he drew to my side and nuzzled me. "Good boy, King . . . such a good dog."

I wanted to pet him so badly, but waited for a forensic technician. I had plenty of my attacker's DNA lodged under my fingernails.

Sergeant Ray sat down next to me and made a startling comment that jolted me further. "Sally, your assailant is wearing a security guard's uniform."

"About that, where is Detective Mike?" I asked.

"He's working his way towards you with a DNA kit." No sooner than Sergeant Ray spoke, I felt him scoot in next to me, shooing everyone else away. "Let me have your hands, please, and a little sample. It will only take a minute," said Detective Lembowsky. "After this, if you are feeling up to it, I'll need to take your statement."

"Only if you promise lunch, and request Prosecutor Owens to please continue with the re-enactment this afternoon," I begged.

"Done," he said. "But, a check-up first, ma'am. The EMT's are next in line."

***************

Attorneys Clayborne Moore and Ashley Bishop were thankful for King's interruption, which cut short the re-enactment of the murder and allowed for a long lunch recess.

"Ash, let's go. You and I are going to pay Philippe Savard a much-needed visit. After this morning, perhaps our client may be persuaded to change his plea."

"I'm with you, Boss."

"This is the Titanic, and you and I are not going down with the ship."


***************

Strasbourg, France, near the cave hideout. May 23, 1944~

It was a beautifully designed day according to the new milkman. The Tuesday morning route through the countryside of France was war-torn, but still retained some of its natural beauty. The bluebells and buttercups sprinkled the hilly terrain, and Leo Fermier was singing.

It was mid-morning when he sighted them. A beautiful young woman carrying a little boy in one arm and a suitcase in the other. Even from a distance, the young man was smitten.

She waved as if she were hailing a taxi; and Leo became so flustered, he almost upended the milk truck. He screeched to a stop, causing the brakes to fume.

"Bonjour," she said with a perfect accent. "I'm in need of assistance. May we have a ride to the next town?"

Lightning struck Leo Fermier, robbing him of coherent speech.

"I would be most appreciative and will pay you, kind sir," said Hava, patiently.

Leo finally snapped out of his stupor. "Please, let me help you with your suitcase. My name is Leo . . . Leo Fermier."

"Thank you, Mr. Fermier. You are very kind."

"What a handsome little boy. A picture of your husband, no?"

"Actually, my husband had dark brown eyes and hair. We often wondered about our son and how he came to be."

Did she just say--my husband had? Leo was suddenly filled with hope and tried to remain calm in his reply.

"I am sorry, is your husband . . . ?"

"It's new for me, as I have been married since I was seventeen--that is--until just recently. I am in mourning, you see." Hava teared as she tried to relay some details, but not too much. "The war . . . we have lost so many, have we not?"

Leo reached for his handkerchief, trying not to drive over the cliffs. "Here, please keep it, I have several more."

Leo flashed upon his own great sorrow for a moment. "I am deeply sorry. I have recently lost my father. This was his business and dairy delivery route. I am trying to make ends meet, and carry on to help my mother and large family."

"Now, I'm sorry," said Hava. "I know exactly how you feel."

The clanking sound of milk bottles continued as they traveled down the bumpy road headed east.

"Where is your next stop?" Hava was hoping to be headed more westward, towards her relatives in Hungary.

"Colmar. I have a hospital delivery today. St. Paul's Hospital. Do you know it?"

To be continued . . . .

Recognized

The book continues with What The Blind Girl Saw #25. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes

To continue to chapter 25 of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


Go to chapter one.

If you missed the beginning of "What the Blind Girl Saw", click here.


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