With the Sound of Shouting
Joseph, Amie and Friedrich stared at the large stone in front of them. The stone glittered as if flecked with fine grains of gold.
‘Any idea what kills cockroaches?’ Amie muttered.
Joseph shrugged and shook his head.
‘I’m hungry,’ Friedrich said.
Joseph’s eyes brightened. It was as if a light bulb turned on above his head. ‘I have an idea.’
‘What?’ Amie said.
‘Yeah, borax,’ Joseph clapped. ‘Told you I’d think of something.’
‘But borax? What the heck is borax?’
‘Ja, was ist das Borax?’ Friedrich echoed.
‘You know my parents are into all things natural,’ Joseph began. ‘Well, what they do to kill cockroaches is put out Borax mixed with a little sugar to kill them. Their insides don’t take the Borax very well and they die.’
‘Yeah, and how exactly, are we going to get a hold of Borax to kill Boris?’ Amie locked her gaze onto Joseph.
Joseph shifted the weight on his bottom and glanced around.
‘Perhaps the doctor, Doctor Zwar, might know,’ Joseph said. A long shot, but out of all the villagers, Zwar seemed to be the most likely to have the information and resources. ‘Um, after all, he’s the village doctor…’
‘Only because Boris made him so.’
‘Yeah, well, better than nothing, I guess.’
‘And how are we going to return to the village to get this poison?’ Amie challenged.
Why did she have to ask so many questions?
‘I’m hungry. Can I go now?’ Friedrich piped up.
Amie gazed at the boy. ‘He could go for us, I s’pose.’
‘Sounds like a plan,’ Joseph said.
With specific instructions for Friedrich to locate the doctor and request some Borax, they sent him off down the valley to the town. Friedrich’s stomach grumbled as he galloped down the slope. He’d have some lunch first. Then he’d go to Doctor Zwar and ask him for some Borax—whatever that was.
Voices. Rang in the valley. The hills seemed alive with the sound of people yelling and shouting.
‘There he is!’
Friedrich hunted for a place to hide. But on the ridge of the slope, there was nowhere. Just short tufts of grass, stumpy bushes and loose pebbles. Friedrich froze.
The mob charged up the hill towards him. Their fists hammered the air. Their faces flushed almost deep purple with rage.
Friedrich’s heart thumped as if a deer was trapped in his rib cage.
The group thundered up to him and then halted.
‘Just wait a minute, it’s not the demon fellow,’ they said.
Kranz the banker dropped the aim of his gun from Friedrich to the ground. ‘Oh, it is the Biar boy.’
‘The Biar boy is found,’ Frau Schultz sang from the back of the group.
The horde of twenty split in half. Boris strode through the gap as if Moses who parted the waters. ‘Friedrich Biar, we’ve been looking for you.’ He sniffed the alpine air. ‘You haven’t seen those other two, what are their names? Joseph, and Amie?’
Friedrich remained a statue, stone cold like an avalanche of snow had been dumped on him. He tried to move his jaw to answer but the words turned to ice in his mouth. How did Boris-Walter get here so fast? He was sure he left him back on the hot dry Australia waiting for his return.
‘I think you know where the others are, don’t you Friedrich,’ Boris said.
Friedrich tried to shake his head but the muscles in his neck had seized up. He stared straight ahead at this man’s pot belly.
Boris leered at him. ‘You must understand those friends of yours are very bad.’
The crowd behind him roared. They waved their axes, pitch forks and rifles above their heads.
Boris nodded. ‘That’s why I had to discipline your family, you see. Those friends of yours are the rotten apples that spoil the whole lot.’
More grunts of agreement.
‘You don’t want to associate with them.’
Friedrich bit his lip.
‘Tell us where they are.’ Boris narrowed the gap between them. ‘Remember, you have a promise to keep. I have healed your sister, Wilma, just as you requested.’
The mob cheered and surged forward.
Boris held up his hand. The crowd stopped.
‘Now come boy,’ Boris said, ‘show us where they are.’
Friedrich refused to move.
‘I’m warning you, my boy, if you don’t tell us, we’ll have to assume you’re on their side and we’ll have to kill you too.’
Although his muscles failed to budge, the cogs in his mind were slowly rotating. He speaks my language very well in this Australia. How come he can’t in the other Australia? Maybe there’s a good Walter after all. And maybe this Walter, this Boris is the bad Walter.
Friedrich took a deep breath and willed the words to flow from his tongue. ‘Aber, Herr Roach, the two young people you are looking for are not up here. When I followed you to your secret place, I found them there.’
‘Not possible! They were here.’
‘Ja, the girl destroyed the church! What sacrilege!’ the banker hollered.
‘And the doctor and Frau Biar chased them with the horseless carriage up these mountains,’ Frau Schultz added. ‘So, they can’t be back in the village.’
‘But…’ Friedrich had to think fast. ‘But, they came not straight away. I was in the other land from where Herr Roach comes a whole day before I saw them. You must go back to the doorway where they went, to find them. Herr Roach knows all about them, because they come from the same place he does, you see.’
Boris pursed his lips. ‘Well, I’d rather go up to my doorway in the mountain, if it’s all the same to you. They lead to the same place, after all. Then, if you are mistaken and they are hiding in the mountains, we’ll catch them.’
‘But, Herr Roach, I forgot to mention…’ Friedrich recalled the warring and unrest in Prussia before his family left the homeland in the 1840’s. Surely Boris can’t argue with the idea that soldiers with guns would be after him. ‘…that because they are afraid of you, they’ve called up an army to fight you. The troops are coming through as I speak.’
Boris rolled his beady little eyes. ‘Spare me days, as if I’d believe that! The cave is out in the desert, my boy.’
Friedrich remembered good Walter pointing out the American Defence Base just outside of Alice Springs. The absurdity of soldiers from the Americas being stuck out in the desert had impressed Friedrich. ‘But, it is true, Herr Roach, they’re coming from the American Defence Base in the Centre of Australia because they consider your presence in that land a threat to the kingdom, and um, the Americas.’
Boris bent his head and fondled under his mouth where his chin, if it were not so receding, should have been.
‘And, when Joseph and Amie came through the doorway into that other land which you claim is yours, they jumped into one of those fast-horseless carriages and went straight there and told the soldiers all about you.’ Friedrich nodded and tried to make his eyes wide and truthful looking. ‘That’s why I came back through the doorway, back here to warn you, Herr Roach. Honest.’
Boris patted Friedrich on the head. ‘Very well, then, we will go down to the doorway in the village.’ Under his breath he said, ‘Your family’s outhouse.’
Boris gestured to the mob to turn around, then he paused. ‘But just to be on the safe side, I’ll send some scouts up to the mountain cave.’ He pointed to the baker, the fishmonger and Kranz the banker. ‘You three, go up the mountain, over the river and you’ll come to an outcrop of rocks. There, keep your eyes open for the pair, and this army the boy is on about. Just in case.’
‘What do we do if we meet them?’ Kranz asked.
‘If you find the boy Joseph and the girl Amie, you know what to do. Eliminate them.’
‘And the army?’
‘Tell them I’m not here, and that they are trespassing in the World of the Wends and that they must turn back and go the way they came.’ With a royal wave of his hand, Boris led the rest of the group down the mountain.
As they tramped downwards, Friedrich said, ‘Herr Roach, thank you for saving my sister. And as a special show of gratitude, I will ask my mother to make you some of her cakes, just for you.’
‘How kind,’ Boris said. ‘How kind.’
Friedrich raced ahead of the group. He was hungry and eager to meet with Dr Zwar. Must get that special ingredient, from the doctor, just for Boris.
[…to be continued]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Austrian Alps © L.M. Kling 2014