Amie and Joseph galloped up the road.
Drops of rain plopped on the dirt—with a splat it bubbled on the dust. Those random drops hurtled to the ground; a hit or miss affair, mostly missing Amie and Joseph.
‘So how are we going to find the doctor?’ Amie asked.
Joseph shrugged. ‘Go to the biggest, fanciest house and look for the Merc…’
‘All the houses look the same. And I don’t think they’ve discovered cars yet.’
‘Knock on a few doors, then. It’s a village—everyone must know the doctor.’
They paced up a path lined with pansies.
Joseph knocked on the door.
‘You talk,’ Amie whispered. ‘Your German’s better than mine.’
Joseph glanced at Amie. ‘Yours is okay—but, whatever. Patriarchal society ‘n all that. So better if I speak.’
A lady with a withered face, and so stooped she probably only looked normal if she sat, opened the door. ‘Yah?’
Joseph used his best German. ‘I beg your pardon, but would you be so kind as to tell us where the doctor resides?’
The old lady grimaced and with an arthritic finger also bent double, pointed down the street. ‘At the end of the road, on the corner. The one with the Merc—can’t miss it.’
Amie and Joseph caught each other’s eye.
‘Did you say, ‘Merc’? A car?’ Joseph asked.
‘Yah. Ze horseless carriage—he didn’t want to be doctor—he vas our pastor. Aber Herr Roach insisted…persuaded him.’
‘With the Merc.’
The woman nodded. ‘No one likes it—it spooks the horses.’
A black cloud blotted out any light. The hills rang with the sound of thunder. Lightning flashed, layer upon layer, without a break.
Joseph bowed. ‘Thank you very much.’
Amie and Joseph then hunched over like the old woman, and ran down the road. A fork of lightning hit the ground with a crack. Amie and Joseph stopped in their tracks—but only for a moment. Then they bolted to the corner.
Sure enough, there was the house, bigger than any of the other houses, rising three levels and mansion-like. Parked on the side, the Mercedes.
As they crouched under the eaves by the huge cedar door, Amie said, ‘This storm gets any worse, and we’ll have to drive the Merc.’
‘I wonder if the doc knows how to drive it?’ Joseph gazed at the silver chassis splattered with rain drops.
‘You’d think Boris would give him driving lessons.’
Amie glanced up at the window under the slate roof. She watched for movement of the lace curtains. ‘You’d think he’d have some servant to answer.’
‘Sunday’s off, I’m guessing,’ Joseph replied.
The rain thickened into a steady wash.
Another bolt hit the weathercock. Crash! Bang!
Joseph and Amie grabbed each other and held on.
‘I really like you, Amie,’ Joseph said. ‘If anything happens to us, I want you to know that.’
‘O-kay.’ Amie wasn’t expecting Joseph to declare his “like” of her, during a thunderstorm on an alien world. ‘I like you too—but—um—I think we need to get help for Wilma before it’s too late.’
‘Yeah, yeah.’ Joseph knocked again. ‘Perhaps the doctor can’t hear above the storm.’
‘Why don’t we go around the house and have a look through a window.’
Amie and Joseph edged their way around the house. They hugged the mud-brick wall, squeezing between it and the garden bed and fruit trees.
When they reached a window, they stood on tiptoe and peered in.
‘Do you see anything? Anyone?’ Amie asked.
‘Looks like the lounge room. There’s an arm chair. Is that hair? A hand?’
Amie scanned the room. Plush! Definitely plush. There, a mahogany bookcase overflowing with leather-bound books. In the middle of the Persian rug, a blackwood coffee table. A set of lounge chairs, upholstered in royal blue velvet were arranged each side of the rug. Smoke spiralled from a silver ashtray.
‘Fancy, very fancy wancy,’ Amie remarked. ‘I reckon there’s someone about—they’ve been smoking a pipe.’
‘A doctor? Smoking? Doesn’t he know it’s bad for his health?’
They paused in silence. So did the thunder.
‘Do you hear snoring, Amie?’
Two feet in black socks lifted to the coffee table. The snoring grew louder.
‘Do you think he’s asleep?’ Joseph asked.
‘Yes, I do.’
‘Well, I’ll be. What’ll we do?’
‘Break in and wake him up.’
‘I don’t know, he may not like it.’
‘We haven’t any choice.’
‘He’s a doctor.’ Amie prodded the window. ‘It’s his duty to wake up and help us.’
Joseph rubbed the window. ‘How?’
‘Window?’ Amie pushed at a pane. ‘Nah, it’s got no moving parts.’
‘Back door—I bet the back door’s unlocked. My mum said when she was little, they never locked the back door. Well, these folk come from a hundred and fifty years ago—I’m surprised they lock the front door! No harm in trying the back, but…’
‘Whatever,’ Joseph muttered and then led the way to the rear of the house.
By this time sheets of rain had replaced sheets of lightning and peels of thunder. Even so close to the house, the deluge dumped on them and soaked them.
Sure enough, the back door was unlocked.
Amie and Joseph crept in.
Joseph stopped in the hallway and admired the artwork. ‘These are originals.’
Amie studied the one nearest her; sunflowers in a jug in bold bright strokes. ‘That looks familiar, where have I seen that before?’
‘It’s a Van Gough, an original Van Gough.’
‘I see. Oh, look at this! I like this one. Two girls in a field…and the poppies.’
‘Wow! You know your artwork.’
‘You pick up these things when you don’t have television or computers and stuff.’
‘Amazing! And look at the gold fittings on the lamp—and the tapestry—how did this guy afford it all? It’s like stepping into a rich man’s mansion.’
‘He’s the doctor of the joint,’ Joseph paused, ‘although, didn’t that grandma say he was the pastor?’ He sucked the air through his teeth. ‘He’s been paid off—I wouldn’t put it past that Boris. We better tread carefully. Come on, we haven’t much time.’
‘He may not be much of a doctor, but…’
(to be continued…)
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017
Photo: A Home in Bavaria © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2014