Sail on, Captain! *

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

He is traveling. There is someone with him. A girl appears, Who is she?

37.  Sail On, Captain!

 

As they stepped on to the boat, the girl smiled. She, however, did not say or do anything.

“Just a simple friendly smile,” he thought to himself. “It doesn’t mean a darned thing!”

“Are you sure these things are safe?” asked the middle-aged lady who was walking ahead of him, before she sat down. “This thing is so narrow! It feels like it is going to turn over any minute!”

“Safe or not safe, Mother,” he answered with a smile, “We decided to ride this thing for the heck of it. Even if it turns over for some reason, it’ll be fun.”

“Don’t be silly,” Mother said with a frown, “What kind of fun is this, drowning in dirty water!”

“You don’t need to worry, Madam,” said the girl sitting in front of her, wearing a friendly smile. “It won’t turn over. They do this tens of times a day. There are so many of them, too. None of them have ever ‘turned over’!” She ended her avowal with a short giggling.

“What is she saying?” the lady called “Mother” asked looking at the young man, “I didn’t hear her properly!”

“Yes, Madam!” the young man answered with a smirk, looking at the girl sitting before them. “She just said that…everything is safe and cool, and you don’t need to worry about a darned thing!”

The girl began to laugh. 

“Do you happen to know…this girl, Herman?” Mother asked with a smirk.

“No, I’m afraid not!” Herman replied. “The only thing I know about the lady is that…we are on the same boat!” 

The girl laughed again. “We are on the same boat all right!” she said as she chuckled. “But I’m sure we were on the same boat at least once before, too! I can’t remember where, though!”

“You can’t count on me to remember that, young lady!” Herman said with a friendly smile. “I’m getting pretty old. I can’t even remember a darned thing about a minute ago not to speak of a while back!”

“The girl laughed once more. “All right, old man!” she said with a charming smile. “Help me recall it, then! Considering the fact that I’m thirty or forty years younger than you are…I might remember something!”

“Okay,” said Herman. “You’d better get started quick! We only have a couple of minutes. Once the gondolier gets a couple of more travelers, the gondola will start its long safari in Canal Grande, and you won’t get a chance to ask me a darned thing!!”  

The girl giggled as she nodded repeatedly “My name is Maudlin,” she said, “And since I already know your name, Herman, my first and second questions will be ‘Where do you come from?’ and ‘How long have you been in Venice?’”

“The speedy answers are that,” Herman said, “We have come from Vienna, Austria, and we’ve lived here since…yesterday!” He nodded his head and asked, “What about you, lady Maudlina ?”

Maudlin laughed. “I’m from New York, but I’m staying in Rome for the time being,” she said hurriedly. She then nodded a few times and added, “Now, the next questions: ‘Where were you before coming to Vienna?’ and ‘Where are you going after leaving Venice?’”

“The gondola is almost full,” Mother barged in. “We’d better move a bit to make room for the coming passengers.” 

“It’s okay, lady!” almost shouted the gondolier, “Just sit tight…where you are! We’re goingo get goin now!”

All the four passengers sat back and began looking at the channel, the buildings and the shops around as the gondola moved forward.

“It was a wonderful experience,” said Herman as they got off the gondola half an hour later. “I wish we could come here and do this every day so that Madam Maudlina could eventually complete her inquisitorial!”

 “She can complete her interrogation today,” said Mother staring at Maudlin’s face. “If she gives us the honor of eating lunch with us!” she added, after a minute, looking into Maudlin’s eyes.

“I’d love to!” Maudlin exclaimed enthusiastically. “I’m dying to find out where and when Herman and I met the first time!”

“Yeah!” said Herman wearing a frown. “Come to think of it, you look quite familiar to me, too, now! I think…I saw you one time…on the gondola…around…an hour ago!”

Mother and Maudlin laughed as they walked along.

 “Where shall we go?” asked Mother turning to Maudlin then. “Do you know of any place good…nearby?” she paused for a few seconds before she added, “My son, Herman, here, just loves to have a pizza or some Italian spaghetti!”

“God!” exclaimed Herman with a frown! “Never again! At least not in this country!”

Mother was laughing loudly now. “Herman ate some Italian food in Rome…which he really loved!” she mumbled looking at Herman as she chuckled.

“I know of a place, not far from here,” said Maudlin with a smile, “where they have good American food. I can take you there…if you like.”

Soon they were sitting around a table in a rather large restaurant eating.

“What about the rest of my questions?” Maudlin asked when there was a short pause in between their small talk.

“Okay! Shoot!” mumbled Herman with a smile as he chewed his food.

“My unanswered question was where were you before you came here and where are you are heading for…after you leave Venice?”

“We were in Vienna for some weeks,” answered Mother, “And we’re hopefully…going to go back to our Old Country…if possible.”

“Of-course it’s quite possible that…it won’t be possible!” mumbled Herman as he chewed. “But that has nothing to do with the purpose of your questioning.” He stared at Maudlin’s face for a few seconds before he added, “As I remember, we wanted to find out about where we first met.”

“Oh, yeah!” Maudlin said. “Curiosity killed the cat!” she added as she giggled before she began chewing her food. “And where were you …before Vienna?” she asked softly.

“Frankfurt!” said Herman. “Mother of-course, was back in the old country, and I was working in Germany, in Frankfurt, to be exact, doing my thing.”

“Hum…!” said the girl nodding her head, smiling. “So you were doing ‘a thing’ in Frankfurt, which we don’t quite know what it was! But none of this information helps me find out where we met the first time. I’ve neither been to Germany, nor to…Austria, ever!”

They ate in silence for a while before Mother spoke up. “It must’ve been someone who looked a bit like Herman. Unless…you saw each other earlier…in the United States, or something!”

“I don’t think so,” said Maudlin shaking her head. “I’ve been in Europe for quite some time now.” She thought for a while before she  suddenly turned to Herman, “Maybe…in Rome, then! You did say you were in that city for a short time, didn’t you?”

“Yes, I did,” mumbled Herman, “but that was really for a very short period of time and…”

Both Mother and Maudlin were staring at his face now.

“And what?” asked Maudlin with curiosity. “Exactly how longwere you in Rome?” she asked when silence lingered on for a couple of minutes.

“Less than a week,” Herman mumbled. “I just came to visit an old friend…We were together for some days and…I returned to…Frankfurt.” 

“Huh!” Maudlin said. “I guess we are out of luck then! Maybe one of us will remember something in the future that…will solve the riddle!” she added shrugging her shoulders.

***

When they entered their hotel room, Mother stared at Herman’s face for some seconds before she shook her head.“You know, Herman,” she then said, “I couldn’t quite figure out…why you lied to that girl about…the length of time you stayed in Rome. Was it because you suspected her of being…a secret police agent or something?”

“No, not really!” answered Herman. “The reason was that I suddenly got a hunch who she might be and…”

“And what?” queried Mother.

“You see, Mom,” said Herman taking a close look around at the same time. “If she is the person that I thought she might be, she saw me at a time when I was being arrested by Italian cops. She acted as my interpreter for some minutes while I was being handcuffed and taken away. I’m sure she would be asking me a whole lot of questions about what happened before and after that event if she actually turned out to be the person that I thought she might be…”

“You never told me you were arrested by the Italian police!” Mother said frowning. “Why did they arrest you? What in the world had you done that you deserved going to jail?”

“You see,” said Herman with a smile, “That’s exactly why I didn’t mention the incident then! I didn’t want you to get worried and ask me a lot of questions none of which I was prepared to answer!”  He walked to the window of their room, took a look out and then continued, “I had left my keys on the yard door of my place of residence the same night that I ate that lousy pizza I’ve told you about. When I came back, I climbed the wall to get into the yard and take my keys but I was taken into custody by the police who were keeping the building under surveillance in the hope of capturing its Italian owner, who happened to be a dangerous Mafia mobster. Instead of the gangster, of-course, they caught me…, the tenant of one of the rooms in the otherwise vacant building!”

“All right!” said mother impatiently. “What happened then?”

“Nothing much!” Herman mumbled shrugging his shoulders. “A girl who looked somewhat like Maudlin appeared out of nowhere to become my interpreter and help me talk to the Italian cops.”

“Okay! Then, what happened?” queried mother anxiously.

“Nothing!” replied Herman. “Then they took me away, and I never saw that girl again!”

“I know! You said that before,” protested Mother. “I want to know what happened to you, then.”

“Not much!” replied Herman. “Eventually, they realized that they had grabbed the wrong man, and that I had nothing to do with the thug who owned the place. So, they released me. Of-course they did not let me go back to that same place and I was forced to stay with a friend who had a big apartment in Rome, for some time, until my colleagues found a new dwelling place for me. I went back to Germany as soon as that particular issue of our Monthly was completed.”

“What ‘Monthly’?” asked Mother with alarm.

“Well, you see,” muttered Herman, “That’s why I didn’t want to talk about the incident!  Every answer usually leads to another question!”

Mother shrugged her shoulders, sat down on a sofa, picked up a newspaper and began fiddling around with it. 

“Okay,” said Herman after a few minutes. “It was not really a secret of any kind! I was working as the editor of some political monthly journal. That was why I had to travel to Rome! I had to hold meetings with my colleagues to take care of the material of that particular issue. The cops let me go when they discovered this and were certain that I had nothing to do with Mafia or any other gangster organization…”

Mother was nodding her head looking relieved, now. “That’s good!” she said after a minute, “So your arrest did not have anything to do with…this girl, did it?”

“No…! Not that I know of!” said Herman thoughtfully. “Why…do you ask?”

Mother shook her head. “I don’t know!” she answered after a minute looking up at him. “I am, somehow, a bit suspicious of her. I mean being there that night, and then reappearing now that you are going back to the Old Country…and asking you all kinds of questions…”

Herman began to laugh loudly. “No, Mother! I don’t think she has had anything to do with anything!” he uttered loudly. “To tell you the truth, I was like you myself for quite some time! As soon as I saw a girl approaching me with a smile on her lips, I would suspect her of belonging to the British Intelligence Service, to SAVAK, or to the CIA!” 

There was a long pause again and then Mother started talking again. “Have your friends finally come to a definite decision about your return to the Old Country…?”

Herman shook his head. “They have left it entirely up to me, Mother,” he said. “After evaluating the evidence that we had and the things that the secret police guys told Dad about my case, they came to the conclusion that we don’t really know enough to make a sound judgment. They think the chances that the police will pick me up as soon as I arrive, or that they will leave me alone for the time-being, are…fifty-fifty.”

“Isn’t it possible then,” said Mother, “that the CIA or another secret police agency may be trying to gather more information about you now … to aid SAVAK?”

“Huh!” said Herman, now looking a bit confused. “You sure have the power to make anyone suspicious of anybody!” he mumbled, then, with a smile on his lips.

“Well,” said Mother, “When your Dad contacted SAVAK through that relative of ours, they showed him a folder in which there was only one sheet of paper! They laughed and said that there was absolutely nothing for us to worry about! With the things you have been telling me though…I’m beginning to suspect that… they were actually putting up a show… to fool us!”

“Well,” said Herman with a sad smile, “That’s what my friends have concluded, too. They believe that SAVAK might be spreading a trap for me…”

They were both silent for some time before Mother spoke up again. “Maybe…maybe we can get something out of that girl, Maudlin, if she really happens to be…a secret agent!”

Herman smiled. “How are we going to do that, Mom?” he muttered as he chuckled, “By tying her arms and legs and torturing her until she makes a confession!?”

They both burst out laughing.

“Well,” Mother said after a while. “We can try to get her to talk tonight when we go out to have dinner together. We are two and she is one. If we put our heads together and out-smart her, she may give us some information which will save your life!”

“All right! Let’s do just that!” said Herman with a smile. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed that not only is Maudlin a secret agent but also she is an empty-headed one, so that we can get all the information we want out of her without resorting to torture!”  

***

“Well,” mumbled Herman as he began chewing his piece of meat, “What about the investigation we began this morning?” He paused for some seconds before he added, “I mean, about the place where we first met. Any new ideas?”

Maudlin shook her head. “Nope!” she said as she cut her piece of steak. “I guess we’ve really reached a dead end! I don’t have a hunch where it might’ve been.”

“What about…Rome?” said Mother as she chewed. “You two said that you were both in Rome sometime back. Wouldn’t it be possible that…you met accidentally somewhere in that city?”

“Yeah! Why not?” said Herman staring at the girl’s face. “Come to think of it…It’s possible!”

“But you were in that city for such a short time that…,” mumbled Maudlin and stopped.

“Where did you live at that time?” asked Mother. “Anywhere near where Herman stayed?”

“Well, Herman hasn’t told me where he stayed during his short visit to Rome,” said Maudlin softly, “But the thing is…I didn’t have a particular place to reside there. Most of the time I lived there, I stayed with my close friends—especially an old girlfriend that I met as a child when I lived in England with my parents.”

“How long did you say you were in Rome?” asked Mother indifferently.

“About two months! The last time I was there, that is,” explained Maudlin.

 “And you said that you stayed with that British girlfriend of yours?” muttered Herman with suspicion.

“Yes,” answered Maudlin nodding her head, “with a good old pal.” She nodded her head before she added, “We really had a nice time together until one night…when she was forced to…send me away to another friend’s place.”

“How come?” asked Mother eagerly. “What happened? You mean she just asked you to leave…her apartment?”

“Well, not quite like that,” said Maudlin. “What happened was that…another friend of hers came to stay with her, and she… a sort of …wanted to be alone with him. So, she asked me to go stay with a common friend of ours who lived not very far away.”

“What…?” asked Herman with alarm, “What was the name of your…friend …if I may ask?”

Maudlin stared at him inquisitively for some seconds before she said, “Her name is Angi. But…why do you ask? Do you have any girlfriends there, in Rome?”

Herman nodded slightly. “Maybe!” he retorted. “I know a few people here and there, in that city.”

“I see,” said Maudlin. “As I told you, Angi is a very old friend of mine. We went to school together as small kids. So she didn’t need to worry about my getting hurt or angry or anything when she asked me to leave her house practically in the middle of the night.”

“God!” exclaimed Mother. “Is that what happened? How in the world could she do such a thing? Asking a dear old friend to leave her house…in the middle of the night!?”

“No, no,” exclaimed Maudlin shaking her head. “It was okay! I didn’t mind that…at all! Besides, I went to the house of a common friend of ours which was near there.”

“Did you get a chance to see…the man who came to visit her?” asked Herman as he began cutting off a peace of his steak.

“No!” Maudlin answered shaking her head as she chewed. “I went out through her back door. That was what I always did when we didn’t want anyone to see us leave the place.”

Mother chuckled as she leaned back in her seat. “You sound like you two did a lot of clandestine activities…you and that Angi of yours!”

Maudlin laughed out loud. “Yes!” she then said. “Angi and I just love that sort of a thing! You know, that very day we came across another funny thing!” She stopped to stare at both Mother and Herman before she added, “Angi had told me, some days back, that she had noticed some guys watching one of the houses in the neighborhood. They had set up a newsstand there…I mean across the street from…that house.” She suddenly stopped and shrugged her shoulders. “It’s all very silly, you know,” she then mumbled. “Never mind that! I don’t want to bore you people with all this nonsense!”

“Come on!” said Mother firmly. “Hermi and I are both fans of mystery stories. So, go right ahead and tell us the whole thing! We’re eagerly listening!”

“Yes! Mother’s right!” confirmed Herman. “I’d love to hear your full story, too!”

“Okay,” said Maudlin as she moved her tongue under her lower lip. “You see,” she then began,“Angi told me that she had gone there several times, pretending to be looking at their magazines, just to find out what they were up to. Then, finally, when she came home one night, she told me to go to her guest room, where I usually slept when I stayed with her, and remain there until she called me. About an hour or so later, she came to me and said that something fishy had happened and that…I should go to the newsstand and see what was taking place there. She promised she would join me shortly.”

She stopped and shrugged her shoulders. She kept on chewing her food in silence until Mother lost her patience. “Okay!” she said edgily.
“Aren’t you going to tell us the rest of the story!?”

Maudlin laughed. “I just wanted to know if you were really interested in hearing the remainder!” she muttered giggling.  She, then, shrugged her shoulders, put some food in her mouth and began speaking as she chewed, “When I went to the place, everywhere was dead quiet. There was no one around except the newspaperman and a couple of customers. I began looking at a magazine and waited. Then, maybe ten minutes or so later, I suddenly heard the sound of the footsteps of a number of people running around, and the siren of a police car from across the street. I rushed to the other side along with the newspaperman and his customers.”

She stopped and smiled as she put some more food in her mouth.

“Okay, you naughty girl!” said Mother impatiently some two minutes later. “Tell us what happened before I grab your ear and squeeze it hard!”

Maudlin laughed. “Well,” she said, “what happened was that the Italian cops wanted to arrest a young man who had climbed the wall of a house which was under their surveillance, but they could not talk to him because he did not speak Italian. I couldn’t see him in the dark but tried to help him by translating what the cops said.”

“And then?” asked Herman coolly.

“Well, after they took him away I went back home and told Angi what I had seen,” she added shrugging her shoulders. She, then, wiped her lips with a napkin and smiled before she declared, “End of the story!”

“Come on!” said Mother edgily. “You mean to say that you never found out what they did to the guy they arrested?”

“Nop!” said Maudlin as she leaned back. “How could I?” she mumbled. “What happened was that one of Angi’s old friends came to see her that very night and…as usual, Angi asked me to leave the place through the back door…and I didn’t see her for quite some time after that.”

Mother shook her head and said, “So…you’re not a cop at all, are you!?”

“What?” said Maudlin looking confused . “What do you mean?” she mumbled.

Mother laughed as she turned her head to look at Herman.

“Mother is joking,” Herman said after some seconds. “The reason she said it is that…, since I’m going back to our old country soon, she is suspecting all the people around us to be connected with the secret police of our country. She’s afraid I may be arrested as soon as I set foot on our soil because of what I’ve been doing here…” He stopped talking and began filling his mouth with food.

“What…have you been…doing here,” asked Maudlin looking at Herman with suspicion, “that makes you…deserve detention?”

“Not much,” Mother said some seconds later. “But since we have a dictatorial regime in our country, any sort of criticism against them is considered a crime…and is punishable by the state.”

“God!” said Maudlin suddenly. “Now I know where I had seen you, Herman! You are the young man on the wall! Yes! I talked to you for some seconds when you were up there and…a few seconds after they grabbed and arrested you. But I never got to take a good look at your face in the dark.”

Herman began to laugh. “Congratulations, dear interpreter!” he said affectionately.  “Glad to meet you again!”

“So, what happened to you that night?” asked Maudlin excitedly.

“Nothing much!” answered Herman. “They asked me a few questions and…let me go.”

“Really,” mumbled Maudlin. “But I heard them say that …you belonged to the Mafia …or something.”

Now both Mother and Herman were laughing loudly. “He is the chief of all the Mafia branches in Europe and Asia,” Mother then said. “That’s why we are worried about his return to our old country!”

“Where…did you go?” muttered Maudlin, looking at Herman with mistrust, “If they let you go shortly after that, where did you stay that night? Didn’t they take over the place where you lived the same night?”

Herman nodded. “Yes, they did,” he said gently. “I had to go and stay…with a friend.”

“Who happened to be...Angelina?” said Maudlin enthusiastically. “Right!?” she added looking into Herman’s eyes.

“Right!” muttered Herman, “Your good old friend, Angi!”

Maudlin laughed. “I should’ve guessed sooner!” she then exclaimed, “Your image in the dark is still before my eyes. I can’t really figure out why it didn’t occur to me sooner that you’re the very guy!”

“Let’s forget about all those terrible incidents!” Mother said looking at Maudlin wearing a smile, “The most important, right now, is to decide what to eat for dessert!” She paused for a few seconds before she added. “Now that we are certain you are neither a spy nor an intelligence officer, we can celebrate our friendship with something sweet!”

****

“So, what are you going to do now, Captain?” asked Maudlin giggling as they strolled out of the restaurant.

“Why do you call him Captain?” asked Mother raising her eyebrows. “For all I know, he was just working for his Doctorate degree and he never, ever, worked for the military!”  She shook her head looking at her son inquisitively.

“Well,” said Herman with a smile, “this is the title Angelina gave me during the time …I had to stay with her in that apartment. Since I was the editor of our newspaper and I had to lead some people…she called me the Captain…jokingly.”

“It wasn’t really a joke,” said Maudlin, looking into Herman’s eyes. “She really believed you to be…the Captain of a ship. That’s what she told me, anyway, when I went back to stay with her again later. She was a sort of hoping that…you would go back to her after a while. Something that…you never did.”

“No,” muttered Herman nodding his head, “I’m really sorry that …I never got a chance to do that. I would have done it for sure if I had had the opportunity.”

“You look so disappointed!” Mother said looking at Herman’s countenance wearing a smile.

“You also look…very very funny, Captain!” said Maudlin giggling. “You look like someone…who has been caught… picking somebody’s pocket or something!  You must have been…drunk…when you said those things…to her…!”

“I guess that’s possible!” mumbled Herman looking at Maudlin. “Of-course a number of people know about what I seem to have told Angelina. But, I sure didn’t expect you, of all people, to have heard about them! After all, you didn’t even know my name until a few hours ago!”

Mother grabbed and pulled Herman’s ear as they walked on. “Let’s hope she hasn’t told anybody else about these things, otherwise…”

“Don’t worry about that, Mother,” said Herman laughing, “Angelina might know about a number of things that  I have done in the past, but one thing that she doesn’t know anything about…is  my name. That was probably why she kept calling me “The Captain”.

“My God!” exclaimed Maudlin, “You mean to say that you never told her …your real name?”

Herman laughed. “Well, I don’t know!” he mumbled as he laughed. “What do you think?”

“But I thought you said…,” mumbled Maudlin before she suddenly stopped. “So, you mean to tell me that your name is not really…Herman!?”

Mother and Herman began to laugh.

They had reached one of the nearby canals now. “Shall we get on a gondola again?” Mother asked.

“All right,” mumbled Herman “It’s fine with me! It might be the last time for me…ever!”

“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” said Maudlin hesitantly. “I have something to do here. I can’t go with you.”

“I’m afraid we may not have time for that,” said Mother. “We are going to go back…home…tomorrow morning.”

“I’m sorry to hear that!” muttered Maudlin. “I was a sort of hoping that…we could get together again.”

“We can always hope!” said Herman with a smile. “Who knows? Maybe something will happen…and we will see each other…much sooner than we think!”

They were now standing near a gondola which was almost full. Maudlin helped Mother get on the boat before she turned to Herman. “Farewell Captain,” she whispered as she shook his hand. “Let’s just hope that…we will meet again…someday!”

“Let’s,” said Herman smiling. He then sent her a kiss with his hand, and moved forward to step on to the gondola.

“Sail on, Captain!” he heard Maudlin yell as the boat began to drift away.

*****

When the airplane took off, Herman suddenly felt cold sweat running on the back of his neck. “What in the world am I doing!?” he mumbled to himself. “Am I knowingly moving into their trap?”

He gently moved his head and looked to his left. Mother was staring at something somewhere out there. Her frowning face revealed her deep anxiety. “She is worried sick!” he muttered to himself. “We are so lucky she was finally convinced that Maudlin was not an undercover agent of any kind …otherwise…”

“Yes, I’m persuaded about Maudlin’s innocence,” Mother’s voice echoed in his ears, “but I still have…my reservations.”

“But why, Mother? Any problems I don’t know about?” he almost moaned turning to look at her face as they walked along Tiber River.

“Well,” Mother muttered gently, “For one thing, I still don’t know how you met that girl…called Angelina.”

“That was quite accidental, Mother,” Herman answered after a minute’s thinking. “We were both going to a Pizza joint to eat and…we met on the street.”

“Did you talk to her first or…did she talk to you…?” Mother inquired.

“Well,” said Herman hesitantly, “as far as I remember…she did!”

Mother nodded her head repeatedly frowning with suspicion.

“And you told her…a whole lot of things…that you don’t even remember…after she made you drunk! Correct?” she inquired staring at his face, after a few seconds.

Herman was silent for some minutes before he spoke up. “I’m afraid you are right!” he submitted. “But I can’t even imagine that a girl like Angelina…be working for a…secret police organization.”

Mother nodded gently and then said, “One more thing that makes me guarded is…that…” She stopped, took a look around and at the river before she added, “The night you were arrested, Maudlin was sent to the place by…Angelina. She probably sent her there to see what was going to happen to you.” She paused frowned again before she asked, “You told Angelina you were going to go home before you left, right?”

Herman nodded his agreement.

“For all we know, she probably expected the cops to be waiting for you at your place that night and wanted to know its outcome. So she sent Maudlin,” she said softly. “Therefore, we can’t really be certain about either one of them, can we?”

Herman shook his head. “No,” he admitted, “You are right, Mother! It’s always a possibility.”

They walked in silence for some minutes before Mother began talking again. “I’m not really sure if what you have decided to do is…the most sensible thing,” she declared firmly.

“To tell you the truth,” Herman answered in a soft voice, “I’m not so sure about that either!”

They both remained silent for a while more before Herman began to talk again. “But you know, Mother,” he said, “When I was leaving the old country, I was almost in the same boat! I was soaring towards an entirely new world which I knew almost nothing about!  What is more, I was extremely young with practically no financial support. So, what I am facing now…is not all that different from what I was to face then! The difference between the two is, probably, that, at that time, I was flying up, reaching for a storm, whereas, now,  I am diving down, into the heart of a hurricane!”

Mother nodded her head thoughtfully. “I have told you…several times,” she muttered, “that you do not really need to do his! We have been away from you for so long. We can bear the pain of your separation for a few more years. You don’t need to sacrifice your own life …to save ours!”

“It’s not only you… I’m worried about, Mom,” Herman whispered looking down at the river not so far away from them. “It is our people as a whole! It is the freedom they have lost and the oppression they have been suffering for so long...”

He then smiled and kissed Mother on the cheek as they walked. “Let’s change the subject Mummy,” he said. “We only have a few hours left of our freedom.”

“Okay,” mumbled Mother, “if that’s what you want!”

The path they were walking along was now deviating from the winding river.  Mother looked at her watch. “There isn’t much time left,” she mumbled, “We have to be at the airport in less than an hour.  We have to say farewell to Rome.” She took a long look around before letting out a lengthy, exasperated sigh.


He turned his face to look at Mother again. She was now staring at him wearing a lovely smile on her lips. “You shouldn’t worry about what is going to happen down there,” she said firmly. “It is true that there may be some wild winds ahead, but I want you to know that in facing the storm, you will never be alone -- no matter what its consequences!”

“I know,” Herman said with a smile, “I’m quite certain of that!”

******
 

Hours had passed now since the plane took off.  A hurrah sound made by some of the passengers indicated that they had passed the border. They were now officially in their “old country”, and there was no way of going back.

Herman took a long breath and smiled. “What’s the first thing we’ll do after we get off?” he asked wearing a smile looking at Mother.

“Tonight,” Mother answered…I am going to cook one of the dishes that I know you love. It should be a good beginning to welcome you home!.”

“Wonderful!” replied Herman, as he tried to look out of the window which was on Mother’s side.

When the plane eventually reached its destination, he began thinking about what might be before him. Was he going to eat his favorite food at home that night after so many years, or was he to spend the night alone in a dark stinking jail cell after hours of torture?  He let out a deep sigh. “Whatever it is going to be,” he mumbled to himself, “I shall be prepared for it!” He smiled and looked at the airport on which the plane was now softly landing.

“Sail on Captain!” a girl’s voice suddenly rang in his ears.

 “Yes I will!” he whispered firmly, nodding his head as he gently stood up to take his bag off the luggage compartment above his head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: February 27, 2020

© Copyright 2022 Herman Azadi. All rights reserved.

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Ad Adi

Nice story

Thu, February 27th, 2020 2:03pm

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