Thursday, February 5, 2009

DBTL 12B: Białystok - Reel Two

Play it Again, Shlomo

Białystok, Belarus Devo, Polish Commonwealth
23 April 1944

"If she can stand it, I can," said Hermann Göring. "Play it!"

"Yes, Boss," said Shlomo Kaminski unhappily. He began tapping out the song, and in his mind Göring could hear his ex-wife Ingrid singing the lyrics in English.

Come and sit by my side, if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the cowboy who loved you so true

There was a knock at the door. Shlomo made his way through the darkness of the empty bar and unlocked it. It was Ingrid.

"Hermann," she said, "I have to talk to you."

Through the haze of alcoholic melancholy Göring looked up at her. "Oh. I saved my first drink to have with you. Here." He pushed the shot glass of Jack Daniels across the table.

"No," said Ingrid. "No, Hermann, not tonight."

"Especially tonight," insisted Göring.

"Hermann," said Ingrid, "I need your help."

"You mean you need my help getting Raoul Wallenberg out of Poland," Göring stated.

"The authorities have impounded my aircraft," she said. "I was hoping--"

"What? That I would loan you one of my experimental jet aircraft?"

"That you would know of some way for us to leave Białystok," she said.

"There is," Göring said. "It's called a train. One leaves for Warsaw every morning at 8:22."

"Oh, Hermann, you know that Raoul can't take a train! The police will arrest him as soon as he walks into the terminal."

"Then I suggest you pack yourselves a picnic lunch and go for a long walk, because that is the only way your friend Wallenberg can leave Białystok."

Ingrid's next comment was, perhaps fortunately, interrupted by the bar's front door being kicked in. From out of the night strode in Leonard Kosnowski and his gang of Naso thugs, still wearing their Party uniforms of brown shirts, black shorts, and red-and-white thunderbolt armbands.

"Hello," said Kosnowski's henchman, Andrzej Squigman.

"Looks like Fatty's having a party," Kosnowski observed. "And we happen to be wearing our Party uniforms, so we've decided to join in."

"I want to smash up the Jew's piano," said Squigman.

Shlomo stood up to face Squigman. "You and what army, punk?"

"Later, Squigi. First things first," said Kosnowski. "It's time for you to make a financial contribution to the National Socialists, Fatty. Where do you keep the cash?"

"It's in my office, behind the bar," said Göring expressionlessly.

As Kosnowski passed the table with Göring and Ingrid, he gave her a lascivious grin. Squigman was biting the palm of his hand in anticipation.

The door to Göring's office swung open before Kosnowski could kick it in, and the Naso found himself face-to-face with Captain Lavrenti Romanov, Białystok's Prefect of Police. Kosnowski's grin was replaced by stupifaction, an expression which came naturally to him.

As Kosnowski backed away from the office door, Romanov emerged with two of his men.

"Lavi, glad you could make it," said Göring. "I'd like to press charges against Leni and Squigi here. Vandalism, robbery, that sort of thing."

Romanov glared at Göring and the Nasos impartially. "I'd be happy to, Hermann." He motioned for his men to take the Nasos into custody.

When they were all gone, Ingrid said, "Romanov was waiting to arrest me, wasn't he?"

Göring nodded. "Nothing bad would have come of it. He would have kept you down at the Palace of Justice for a day or two, asked you some polite questions about Wallenberg's whereabouts. You would have refused to tell him, of course, and so he would have put you on a train to Danzig and shipped you back to Sweden."

"And you would have stood aside and let him," Ingrid said sadly.

Göring shrugged. "I stick my neck out for nobody."

"So it seems," came a voice from above them. Göring spun about and looked up at the top of the staircase leading to his apartment.

It was Raoul Wallenberg.

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