Vampire Korps of the Gestapo Ch. 01byFive_Eight©
"If I am wrong, what have we lost?"
Trommler's expression said it all. Not only was he getting buffeted by the festival celebrants, he felt buffeted between the wishes of his friend and the wishes of a commanding officer.
Koch clapped him cheerfully on the back. "In five minutes we'll know, now won't we? See! There's the 'drom straight ahead."
Trommler still appeared unconvinced.
Koch ignored the look on his face. "Myself, I'm thirsty. How about you?"
"Let's just get this over with, Wolfgang."
"You're in good hands, Sieg," laughed Koch, "I meant to say, Colonel Trommler."
A long line stretched from the entrance of the Hippodrom into the street. "It'll take an hour to get in," groaned Trommler. "We don't have that much time."
"Don't forget the uniform you wear. We're the SS, we go where we want when we want." To prove his point Koch elbowed patrons rudely out of his way as he pushed to the head of the line. "Stand aside, citizens, we're here on business of the Reich."
To Trommler's amazement they were inside a minute later. The din in the Hippodrom was deafening, louder than a Hitler rally. Koch sauntered over to the closest bar. "Spaten," he shouted to the barmaid. He yelled in Trommler's ear, "What are you having, Sieg?"
Trommler yelled back, "I'd better not have anything, we're on duty. Remember?"
Koch hollered to the barmaid, "Make that two steins of Spaten."
Trommler held up his hands helplessly and mouthed to Koch: "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"We have to blend in," Koch shouted, "These black uniforms are intimidating, we can't look as if we're here on business. We have to give the appearance of being off duty, just a couple of soldiers having a lager after they're done for the day."
Trommler shook his head before craning his neck to view the giant festhalle. Well known or not, Monika Fuchsmach would be just one more drunken blonde girl in this madhouse. Before he knew it Koch was thrusting a stein into his hand and informing the barmaid how much the Gestapo appreciated the free beers.
Koch clinked his stein against Trommler's. "Bottoms up!" The Spaten tasted delicious. "Again!" Koch exhorted.
After his second guzzle Trommler's misgivings began to slip away. His friend seemed awfully cocksure, maybe because the colonel obviously respected Wolfgang more than him and he was even younger. He glanced at his watch, forty minutes before they had to meet at the car at the opposite end of the Wies'n.
"We've got less than a half hour before we need to start back," Trommler cautioned Koch.
"Stop looking at your watch and start looking for Monika."
Koch took another long swig of Spaten and led the way. Row after row of tables lined the enormous hall. Barmaids and revelers flowed like a river through the spaces between them. At times the humid press of people brought the majors to a standstill. If they got stuck in this mob Trommler knew there was no way Koch would manage to push through them, even if he drew his gun and started shooting. A stampede would injure hundreds. Trommler hated to think about what havoc a fire would wreak.
Koch gestured with his stein at one table where a bevy of students had discarded their blouses in the heat. Trommler felt the sweat rolling down his chest and back under his uniform, his collar was soaked.
"I'm going to be sopping wet before we get out of here," he said in Koch's ear.
"That's why God created beer," Koch screamed above the noise, "and tits. Get a eyeful of that!"
"We're supposed to be keeping our eyes peeled for Monika."
"I hope she's got her shirt off too."
He upended his stein and Trommler did likewise. The beer did not stop him from perspiring but at least he wasn't thirsty. He wiped a sleeve across his face and then he saw her. Monika! She sat regally at the head of a table full of admirers, signing a napkin for a rotund young man.
"Wolfgang, you were right," he shouted. "She's over there!"
Victory flushed Koch's sweating face. "What did I tell you, Sieg? Come on!" He dropped his empty stein on the plank floor and angrily coerced civilians to step aside.
Trommler finished his Spaten in a gulp and set his stein on a table. He too assumed his Gestapo authority and began pushing against men and women blocking him. Before long he stood next to Monika Fuchsmach. In person her beauty outweighed what he remembered on the screen, it almost took his breath away. She wore a white satin blouse with a plunging neckline without a bra and a black silk skirt with a printed pink orchid pattern.
She smiled at him. "Would you officers like an autograph?"
Words escaped him but not Koch. "Thank you but no, Fraulein Fuchsmach. I'm going to have to ask you to accompany the major and me."
Her beautiful face blanched. "Have I done something wrong?"
"Just following orders, Fraulein. Do not cause a fuss."
"But I've done nothing," she stammered, placing a hand to her low-necked décolletage. Trommler noticed a shine of perspiration on the exposed flesh of her bosom, nipples hard under the satin.
Koch just leered. "Don't make me ask a second time, Fraulein. You are under arrest."
He grabbed her by the arm and yanked her to her feet. She tried to pull away from him, terror widening her eyes. In a surreal moment Trommler felt sorry for her until a man seated by Monika leaped to his feet. The man was taller than Trommler and broader than a barn.
He spoke German with a British accent. "Officers, there must be some mistake. Do you not recognize this woman? She's the famous actress Monika Fuchs---"
Koch cut his words short. "We know who she is. Now sit back down, citizen, or you'll be arrested too."
"It will take the two of you to arrest me, now get your filthy hands off her."
Koch nodded to Trommler as he manhandled Monika away from the table. Trommler drew his pistol, leveled it at the man's midriff. "The major advised you to sit down, it would behoove you to take his advice."
The large man growled in English, "You don't dare shoot me in here, you Nazi fuckstick."
Trommler smashed the butt of the Luger down on the man's nose. Bone crunched and blood splashed on Trommler's face. The man sprawled across the table upsetting several beer steins and rolled to the floor, groaning. In another surreal moment he reflected that the bleeding man had not lost consciousness and that the noise diminished nearly to a hush because he could suddenly hear Koch's voice urging him away from there, they had to leave. Monika screamed the name 'Scotty' repeatedly. He snapped out of his daze, jogged to catch up with Koch dragging the resisting actress toward the exit and grabbed her other arm. They began marching her through the throng.
Fortunately Trommler had not holstered his Luger because he had to use it to threaten men bent on interfering a dozen times. Koch had his pistol drawn too, fighting the same battle. The quiet in the big hall proved to be temporary and angry voices began to shout. A flung beer stein hit him between the shoulder blades. Beer dripped down his collar. Another stein grazed Koch's head, knocked off his peaked cap. Trommler heard an isolated voice say: "That's Monika Fuchsmach."
They were nearly to the door when a bear of a man barred their progress. Koch fired a bullet into his chest. Crimson squirted from the bear's white shirt and he collapsed in slow motion, first to his knees before at last tumbling forward with a mighty crash. The resulting reverberation trembled the planks under Trommler's feet. A collective outcry went up but no other brave souls got involved. Then they were outside the door. The cool evening air bathed him, his uniform drenched in sweat and beer.
The people lined up to get inside began to shout questions at them. They scattered when Koch fired a warning shot into the air.
When Ingrid von Schitt heard the single report of a pistol she whirled. The shot rang out in front of her, off to her left. Without a second thought she knew one of her underlings had triggered the round. As she raced in that direction she asked herself: one of her goon girls or the one of those loose cannon majors? She bet the latter. Her boots beat against the turf of the Wies'n as she ran like the devil licked at her heels.
She'd gone about a hundred meters when she almost knocked Erika off her feet.
Breathlessly she asked, "Did you fire that shot?"
"No," Erika replied, "but it came from up there."
The baroness set off wordlessly with Erika close behind her. No one got in their way, most moved to let them pass not wanting to intervene in Nazi business. Von Schitt bowled more than one person over before she reached the open area in front of the Hippodrom. A multitude congregated watching a tableau of mass confusion unfold. Patrons poured from the festhalle: shouting, pointing, angry.
She recognized Koch's voice, strained with agitation, before she saw him, Trommler too. They had a blonde woman between them who could only be the Fuchsmach tramp. She heard the actress' name being called. Koch waved his Luger, cursing, a wound over an ear leaking blood down the side of his head. He'd lost his cap. Trommler still had his, but he had blood on his face, the front of his uniform. They stood in the center of all the chaos. There would be a riot if von Schitt didn't get matters contained; to make things worse everyone was drunk.
With great authority she strode into the middle of the turmoil and straight over to the SS men and their captive, speaking loudly but calmly, in charge. "Relax, let's everybody relax. We ask that you go about your business. Do not interfere anyone, we don't want consequences." She draped her arms around Trommler and Koch as if embracing them.
Trommler said, "Colonel von Schmitt, there's been trouble but we have the girl."
Monika Fuchsmach asked the colonel, "Who are you?"
"Shut up and listen. I'll take over custody of the Fraulein, you two men get away from here. Hurry up and bring the car around."
"Bring it around where?" Koch gasped.
"Pull up outside St. Paul's. We'll meet you there, now make yourselves scarce before you get torn limb from limb. Go!" She gripped Monika by the forearm while continuing to address the rabble smoothly as a politician. "This is a private affair of the Reich, everything is under control now. Do not accost any of the officers, they are only doing their duty. Create a disturbance at your own peril."
Erika's eyes roved the surroundings hunting for dissent, pistol drawn. "The colonel said stand back. What do you think you're doing, citizen? Back away!" She brought her gun up and a hero retreated into the ranks.
Von Schitt was already moving Monika north toward the church. Erika swept her pistol back and forth in a calculated wide range to keep bystanders at bay. Koch and Trommler seemed frozen in place until Erika urged them unkindly to make tracks as instructed. She wheeled smartly around then to rejoin the baroness who had disappeared from view.
The majors began walking rapidly to the south end of the grounds, both of them wary. People avoided them as they left the scene. A big man with a smashed and bleeding face stumbled from the entryway of the Hippodrom before they got out of eyesight. He glanced around wildly like he was searching for someone and didn't find whom he wanted; then lurched after Trommler and Koch. At first his gait was unsteady but it improved with each step he took.
He cursed and spat blood every few meters but never stopped, never let the SS majors get too far ahead of him. Once away from the Hippodrom they slowed their pace, intent on where they were going, stuffing their pistols back in their holsters, not checking behind them. When he saw them pause at a beer stall to grab a fistful of paper napkins, he paused too. While waiting he untucked and unbuttoned his shirt and pressed the cloth to his face to check the outpouring of blood. One of the majors threw a glance over his shoulder but the man turned away in time before being recognized. He inched behind a group of tourists for extra concealment and hunched down, conscious of his large build.
The SS officers finished mopping their bloody faces, threw the napkins on the grass and started off again at a trot. The big man fell into step behind them like a shadow they didn't know they cast.
Ryan Hex halted in his tracks. "Was that a gunshot?"
"Damn sure was," answered Odell Yell, "and it sounded like it came from near the Hippodrom."
Hex's trenchcoat billowed behind him as he burst swiftly past Yell, who had to run to catch up. Yell soon overtook Hex and flew up the thoroughfare ahead of him. Despite the fact he ran track professionally Hex never lagged far behind. But after a minute Yell slowed to a standstill.
"What?" Hex asked when he got to his side.
Yell said under his breath, "Two SS officers at ten o'clock."
"They appear to be in a bit of a hurry," observed Hex.
"Yeah, and one of them's bleeding and minus his hat."
"Is that Scott Hoffner behind them?"
"Sure is, he's beat to shit. Where's Monika?"
"Wherever she is it isn't with him."
Yell opened his mouth to get Hoffner's attention but felt Hex clench his arm. He fell silent.
"Stay with the SS, I'm going to talk with Scotty," Hex said and strolled on without waiting for a reply.
Hex sliced through a bunch of milling people, angled around so his black clothing wouldn't be apparent to the two officers. He was dressed very much like a plainclothes Gestapo agent and didn't want to draw their attention. In a short time he'd circled behind Hoffner, lengthened his stride and fell into step alongside him. Hoffner flinched and jerked his head toward Hex, who had a finger to his lips for silence.
"You tailing those two SS creeps, Scotty?"
"That one in the hat has said his last Sieg Heil. I'm going to pulverize him as soon as I get him alone. The bastards arrested Monika."
Hex swore. "Where is she?"
Hoffner spat some blood on the grass but said nothing about his own wounds. "They must've stashed her someplace, I don't know where."
"Is she all right?"
"The last I saw she was."
"How about you?"
"I've had me nose broken before, mate. I've never died yet."
"Odell's over to our right and he's following too so let's give them all the space they need. Tell me what happened."
Hoffner gave terse account of the fracas in the Hippodrom.
When he concluded his report Hex asked, "Do you have any idea where Monika is?"
"She was with the SS men inside the hall and then outside she wasn't. She couldn't have been out of my visibility for more than two minutes, at the most."
"Seen any brown shirts?"
"Just the SS characters."
"What's your best guess as to Monika's whereabouts?"
"I don't have a clue."
But Hex did. Ingrid von Schitt.
TO BE CONTINUED...