Chapter 4: (v.2) Chapter 4

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 305

[December 13, 1963]

[Evening train between Wiesbaden and Munich, W. Germany]

 

Toward the end of their meal, the conversation between Molly and Brad turned to their backgrounds, families, and plans, both immediate and distant.

Molly enjoyed watching Brad as he described Montana as wide-open spaces to the east and mountainous to the west. “There are many peaks well over thirteen thousand feet.”

“How tall in meters?”

“Almost four thousand.”

“Do people live there?”

He shrugged. “Some do. There are spots listed as primitive areas where nothing motorized is allowed.”

“So they use horses?”

“Yeah. Lots of pack trails. Tending to flatlanders is big business.”

She chuckled. “I’m afraid I’d be a flatlander, then.”

He makes Montana sound wonderful. I’d like to visit sometime.

He took a sip of coffee and returned the cup to the saucer. “Tell me about Montreal. I’ve never been there.”

“Biggest city in Quebec. Originally settled by the French. We kept the language. Frankfurt reminds me of it. Especially the tiny streets and the stone buildings.”

“Do you live in the city itself?”

“No. We’re in the suburbs. Did you know Montreal is actually on an island like Manhattan?”

“Really? I had no idea.”

She nodded. “Yes. We live several kilometers north of the river, in the Laval district. My school was not too far away.”

He grinned. “And you skied there every day during winter.”

Molly laughed. “No, silly. We don’t ski all the time.”

The waiter approached and stopped near Brad’s elbow. “Will you desire dessert, mein Herr?”

“What’s available?”

“My personal favorite is the Kirsch-Torte.”

“We’ll both have it.”

The man made a notation on his pad. “Very good.” He departed.

Molly observed their exchange thoughtfully.

He has such confidence. His manners are impeccably old-world. He’d be handy to have around since he speaks German so well. I can’t just come out and ask him—or can I?

“Did you order dessert? I heard the word torte.”

He grinned. “Cherry torte. The waiter recommended it.”

She giggled. “He should know.”

Their server returned and set two square plates in front of them. “Enjoy.”

The first forkful melted on her tongue. “Oh, this is tasty!”

Brad topped her wineglass and refilled his. “It goes better if you take a sip of wine occasionally.”

She took another bite, then brought her glass to her lips and drank. “Mmm.”

When the dishes were empty, their server appeared once more. “More coffee, sir?”

Brad glanced around. People were filling the diner with more waiting. “Nein, Danke.” The waiter nodded, laid the bill face down on the cloth, and moved along the car to take another order.

When Brad reached into his jacket for his wallet, Molly said, “Please. Let me pay my half.”

“Nonsense. This is my treat.”

“No. I insist I pay my share.”

He nodded and showed her the total. “As you wish.”

They laid equal amounts next to the bill.

“Before we leave, would you mind writing down what we had for dinner? It’ll help me remember the name.”

He produced a pen and wrote several lines on a paper napkin. “There you go.”

When she reached for it, their fingers touched. A near-electric charge jolted her. She gazed directly into his eyes and realized they were hazel, with flecks of something darker. Crinkles formed at the corners as if he’d spent time looking into bright sunlight. She folded the note for her pocket.

My pulse is running wild.

* * *

His reaction to the touch of Molly’s finger surprised Brad. He followed every move as she tucked the napkin into her pocket. She evaded his eyes as she stood. He gestured for her to precede him between the tables to the rear of the diner.

They passed their waiter and Brad nodded. “Guten Abend.”

“Guten Abend, mein Herr.”

When they stepped on the plate between cars, the train went through several turnouts. The car ahead shifted. Molly lost her balance and leaned backward directly into Brad’s arms. He braced himself against the partition and clasped her to his chest. Her hair brushed his nose.

She smells of strawberries.

Molly faced him and smiled. “You can let go. The car isn’t shaking anymore.”

Then it must be me. Why am I so nervous?

He released her. “Oh, sure. Sorry.”

They continued along the train and arrived at their car. Molly’s door came first. She opened it and turned to him. “It’s been a wonderful evening, Brad. Thank you for your company.”

He took her hand and bowed over it, brushing his lips across the back, European-style. “It was my pleasure.”

Reluctantly, Brad released her hand.

Think, dammit! How to keep the evening going?

“I have a touch of brandy left. Would you like some?”

She looked doubtful. “That… wouldn’t be a good idea. It’s late.”

Rats! “If you need anything, I’m—”

Molly chuckled and pointed to the compartment wall. “Right through that connecting door. I’ll keep it in mind.”

I think she’s on to me.

“Good night.”

Bonne nuit.

She closed the door.

After Brad heard Molly’s lock click, he entered his compartment, closed and locked the door, and flopped onto the bench seat. He sat and stared out the window at lights flashing past in the gathering darkness of evening.

He sighed. Isn’t this a kick in the head?

His eyes fell on the backpack. Rising to his feet, he pulled a half-liter bottle of brandy out and stepped to the sink for a glass. He poured a finger of the amber liquid, then toasted his image in the mirror.

Here’s to you, smooth talker. One run, no hits and plenty of errors.

He drank. After pouring another dollop, he flipped off the light, and regained his seat.

Several minutes later, he became aware of an insistent tapping. His first thought was vibrations from the rails, but realized it was coming from the separating partition.

“Brad?”

He rose, stepped to the door, and flipped the latch.

Molly fell through it into his arms—again. “Whoops! Sorry.”

“I’m not.”

She looked past his shoulder. “I had my light off, too. Thinking.”

“About what?”

“This.” She gazed upward, hesitated, then pressed her lips to his. “Shocked?”

“To my toes.” He kissed her back.

Molly murmured into his ear. “It feels so nice to be kissed by someone who means it.”

“Mmm?”

“It’s a long story. I’ll only say my last romance didn’t work out so well and leave it there.” She licked her lips. “Brandy. You have any more?”

“Sure. Get your glass.”

Molly stepped into her compartment and returned.

Brad uncapped the bottle, noting it was nearing empty, and poured for both. Need more.

They settled onto the bench seat and sipped.

Molly kicked off her shoes, stretched her nylon-clad legs in front of her, and pointed her toes outward. “Ahh. This is the way to travel. Not cramped in a coach seat, but with plenty of room.” She faced Brad. “I shouldn’t be drinking any more after the wine, but this brandy is tasty. What’s it called?”

He held the bottle so she could read the label. “Asbach-Uralt. It’s German. I bought it as I was leaving the airport.” He chuckled. “I’ve been nipping on it all afternoon.”

“I’ll add it to my list of liquor I like.” She held out her glass. “A tiny bit more, please.”

He poured her a quarter-inch.

Molly relaxed against the seatback and closed her eyes. “What time do we arrive in Munich? I don’t remember.”

Brad pulled a timetable from his jacket and found their train. “We stop for an hour in Würzberg and ninety minutes in Nürnberg. Our arrival time in Munich is… twenty-three thirty-seven. It’s eighteen forty-five so we should be arriving in Würzberg soon.”

Molly grimaced. “Ugh. I can never get used to European time. I always have to stop and do the math.”

“Six forty-five. Just subtract twelve hours from any time over twelve hundred.”

“Still a pain.”

He chuckled to himself as Molly curled into one side of the bench seat and turned to face him with her legs drawn up under her. With her eyes half-closed she swayed to the movement of the train and stared out the window behind him. In the darkness, the blue emergency and night light cast a delicate halo on her golden hair.

Damn! I’d better watch my step. I haven’t been near a woman in a long time.

* * *

Molly accepted the last of the brandy. Its warmth made her skin tingle. She sensed Brad was interested in her. He’d said little about his previous girlfriend. Only that it had barely begun.

Now she regarded him through half-closed eyes. Yes. I could fall in love with this man.

She dozed in the compartment’s warmth, listening to the pleasant sound of his voice. Their conversation, never greatly animated, slowed even more, with longer pauses between sentences. She felt her chin droop and her eyelids become heavy.

Rap! Rap! “Schaffner!” the conductor called through the door. “Tickets, Bitte.

The knock startled Molly into wakefulness. Brad hopped up and glanced at Molly. She shrugged and smiled. He opened the door. The conductor noted the open connecting door as Brad handed him his ticket. He peered past Brad’s shoulder, spotted Molly, raised his eyebrows, and nodded to her.

“Brad, would you hand me my purse? It’s on the seat in my compartment.”

He did so. She slipped her ticket out and gave it to the conductor who applied a punch and returned it.

The conductor gave a short bow and eased the door shut with a click.

When Brad turned to Molly, she’d stretched full length on the seat. “Too bad, pardner. You got up and I jumped your claim.”

He grinned. “You’ve had too much to drink. I should get you back into your room.”

She held her arms out. “Carry me.”

Chuckling, he kneeled in front of the seat, slid one arm under her knees, and the other behind her back. “Just relax now.”

As he raised her, Molly’s eyes closed, and a soft buzz came from her throat. Too much to drink for sure.

After he lifted her to his chest, she came awake and threw her arms around his neck, snuggling her head onto his shoulder.

Her words were barely audible. “Je t’aime, mon amour.”

Brad’s limited French translated what she’d said. She loves me? Gotta be the alcohol. Then again, what if she means it?

Brad carefully maneuvered her into her compartment and cast around for a place to put her. He pushed her suitcase aside with his knee and laid her flat on the seat. As he did, she clutched him even tighter and murmured more French into his chest.

“What?”

“Hmm? Doesn’t matter,” she said dreamily.

Brad knelt at her side, her arms still around his shoulders. He brushed his hand across her forehead to move a lock of hair from her eyes.

“Molly, I should get the hell out of here before I do something stupid. There is nothing I’d rather do now than stay here with you, but we’ve both had too much to drink.”

“So… kay, ummm, soooo sleeeepy…” Another soft snore.

* * *

Brad spotted a thin coverlet, flapped it open, and spread it over her sleeping form.

He placed a final kiss on her lips, which brought a smile to her face, but not wakefulness. Then he tiptoed out of her compartment and back to his. After watching for a moment to make sure she wouldn’t fall out of the seat, he eased the connecting door closed.

Seated in his compartment, Brad argued with himself during the hour the train sat in Würzberg. They had finished the last of the brandy, so he switched to his bottle of mineral water. He was sober now, especially after what she’d said as he knelt next to her. Perhaps she won’t remember.

He fervently hoped she would.

I could help her while she traveled around Germany. What if she’s meeting someone? That’s not so great. She wouldn’t want to travel with me if she already has plans.

Brad’s internal good news-bad news soliloquy continued as the train moved once more. The racket of the couplers clanking into tension brought a noise from Molly’s room. Brad opened the door and peeked at her. She didn’t seem disturbed and remained snoring lightly.

Great! She’ll be rested and I’ll be full of self-doubts.

 


Submitted: October 12, 2018

© Copyright 2022 B Douglas Slack. All rights reserved.

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