Werner enjoyed the card game skat but after he dealt the cards, he welcomed the opportunity to sit it out. He sat back and peered at the man who had lit his cigarette earlier. I can’t put my finger on it, but I know I have met him before. But where?
He stepped into the aisle and made his way along it until he stood opposite him. “May I join you?”
The man nodded. Warner eased into the seat opposite. Several seconds passed with neither saying a word.
“Forgive my rudeness for staring but have we met before? I’m usually quite good at these things, remembering faces, that is—perhaps Berlin?”
Vaclav locked eyes with Werner. “If only I had the money. No, I’m only a poor laborer in search of employment.”
A fleeting look at the man’s hands told Werner otherwise. “You must do well as a poor laborer to travel by train.”
“How I wish that were true.” Vaclav drew Werner near. “Can you keep a secret?”
“It depends on the secret.” Werner scratched the back of his ear. “You see, I’m an agent of the state and sworn to upkeep its laws.”
“Oh! I see.” Vaclav slumped back in his seat. “Then maybe I shouldn’t tell you.”
“I’m sure whatever you are about to say can’t be that bad. Relax. I promise no harm will come to you. My lips are sealed. Does that help?” I wonder what this ignorant bastard will tell me. His naivete astounds me to share so openly with a stranger. Or is it a charade?
“Yes, I guess it does.” Vaclav sat forward. “My cousin Claude works for the rail. Must I say more? You won’t tell, will you? You promised. Jobs are hard to find. It often means travelling long distances. Claude means no harm. He only wants to help his family.”
“Not to worry. These are tough times. I understand.” He was distracted by complaints from his card-playing friends to return and he waved them off. “Your accent. It’s...