Particles of dust danced on a thin wedge of light that streamed through a crack in the curtains and fattened out against the footboard of his bed. Its source was one of many lampposts that lined the street. The musty air predominated over the smell of fish and salty breeze that squeezed through the slightly open window, tinged at its edges by the odor of his unwashed clothes and whiffs of manure from the clip-clop of horse drawn wagons below his window. Against the wall at the foot of his bed was a sparsely filled armoire with a jacket hanging from the open door. Toward the window angled at the corner was a chair cluttered with the previous day’s clothing, a pair of highly polished shoes and a pair of scruffy work boots neatly placed under it. Beside the window a three-drawer dresser was squeezed into the space between the wall and the head of the bed while the opposite side held a small bed table with a light on it.
Lately, Werner Gruener was afraid to sleep. His dreams were being touched by an intruder. He knew this in the same way someone knew or sensed that their private belongings had been violated. He rolled over to his side, back to the window, and drifted off until he felt her probing presence. He had not established in his mind how he knew it was a woman intruding into his thoughts but, somehow, he just knew. He had a good sense for such things. This morning he had planned a very special surprise for her: a set of images that she would not soon forget. Perhaps, he mused, she would enjoy the images of her demise to the tune: I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. The unexpected sound of a key entering the lock spoiled the moment and, slipping his hand under his pillow, he gripped the Luger.
The door opened and quickly closed. Pressed against the door was a man submerged in the thick morning grayness of the room. A deep black shadow masked his face. “Are you awake, Werner?” ...