My brother drives. I am loading the guns. We carry nine millimeter Lugers. Krause likes Berrettas. I hate Berrettas. Fancy machining. Fancy work. Lugers are dime a dozen. You drop one. You pick one up. I am a shooter. Krause, I don't know. Maybe he just likes the ride.
We drop the Benz on Kreisler Island and cross the foot-bridge to Nexfer. We hit the old crowd coming from the porno district. It's an easy job in every town. Men are spent, weak and guilty. No resistance. The guns are only for show.
We work beautifully. Krause appears from a doorway, hands stretched, coat swung to the side. The first man turns and -- bang bang -- my piece points straight between his eyes. No confusion, no questions. We do fifteen hits then move on.
Krause counts the money. Twelve hundred marks, a good start but still a long way to go. He wants to hit a few stores, but I hate stores. People walk in and out. You have to rush, you have to drive. Shopkeepers are ready to die for a few marks.
We decide to do the promenade, bridges, bushes, young couples. It is an easy job, surprise, guilt and force again. We pull a fast few. Nobody complains. We move on. Three hundred marks, not the kind of money we need.
We decide on Krause's favorite, the opera crowd. It's a gamble but can pay off big; small town chic crowds, still safe, still unsuspecting, furs, cars, gold, silver.
We drive up to O. Platz and wait. Krause gets out and checks the cars in the lot, locks, plates, models. Then we watch the crowd. I have a bad feeling. A shadow. I tell Krause to split.
"Scheisze," he snaps, "get a grip!"
I don't like the rich. Keen memory. No guilt.
"Get a grip!"
I tell Krause to split. I tell him I don't like the rich. The swine report every little theft to collect insurance. They...
"Scheisze," Krause yells, "we have to bloody them."
I take a deep breath and try to relax. I still have a bad feeling but I know he is right about the blood. I know, it is a scary thing.
We sit in the car and watch. We watch and wait for the easy one, the rich, the dame, the lonely one. We sit and wait. We watch the crowd disperse, taxis, limos, cars. We sit and wait. Wait for the lone dame.
And then there she is, lean, tired, distant. Coming slowly down the steps. Dry skin, not worn, just dry. White summer fur over the shoulder, plenty of metal around the neck.
"There," Krause says.
She is ushered out by her man. Not her husband, a man. Maybe a lover. Maybe just a friend. They kiss long leaning against the side of her car. He moves closer, between her legs. They laugh. Tipsy.
Krause starts the engine.
The man opens the door for her. They kiss one more time then he disappears in the darkness of the lot.
She checks herself in the mirror, a deep drag on her cigarette, then backs out and leaves. We follow.
"Heinsheim plates," Krause registers, "outside Koblenz."
She takes the Bahn. We are right behind her. Fast, maybe too close. Krause says she is oblivious. I have a bad feeling again. That shadow. The traffic. I don't like the pace. I don't like the rhythm, the sounds. At Heinsheim she makes her turn and exits the Bahn. Krause's right on; narrow road, horse country, lots, stables, houses. Krause dims the lights, navigates by her tail-lights only. We are getting close. It is a feeling, like the shadow. We glide, almost soundless. Mother's Benz purrs like a wildcat.
She pulls up by a fenced-in estate and jumps out to open the gate. By the time she gets back we're there. Krause cracks her nose with the edge of his palm. She goes down hard. I collect the goods, the rings the stones and put a napkin to her nose. Krause picks her up, slaps her a few time. Her head bobs. There's a trickle. I wipe her face again. Still, there is a trickle, down her neck, down her white summer blouse. A button pops and then another. The blouse parts. Nothing under. Just goose bumps and the lively trickle marking the side of her breast. We pause. There's a blink. Krause's face is dark, distant. He sees what I see. The shadow passes. We throw her in her car and leave.
Krause drives fast, a different pace, sound, rhythm. The beams cut kilometers ahead. It is a bright night. Still much traffic on the Bahn and a lot more for us to do. In fifteen minutes we are back on Nexfer. Krause stops at a gas pump for a cup of hot water. I hold up the coat, he pours. The fresh blood comes right out.
We peddle the stuff in "B. Nuit" and turn over the silvers and the stones. The coat is hard. The fags love it, but don't want to pay the price. Krause nods. We walk back to the car.
A fag follows us, short and lean, mustache, outfit Armani. He taps on the glass.
"Yes," Krause rolls the window.
"Let me in," he orders.
I take a deep breath. I try to place him. I can't. I try to feel him. I can't. That certitude. That voice. This time Krause feels it as well. We are cornered. Maybe trapped. I don't know. At last Krause initiates. He tells me to move to the back seat. I do. The fag jumps in. The seat belt snaps on like hand cuffs. "Drive!" he nods.
Krause eases up on the brakes and glides.
Krause picks up some speed. The pace. I close my eyes and feel the gun under my jacket. It is a silent drive. We have no pace. I am ready to strike.
"How much did you get for the stones," he asks.
"Twenty-five hundred, and..." I choke on the rest. There's no control. I am off balance. Krause shoots me a dirty look through the mirror.
"Pittance," the fag counts three thousand onto the dashboard from an flashy alligator valet. "Three thousand for the coat," he pushes.
Krause takes the money and puts it in his pocket. "Give him the coat!"
I give him the coat but he doesn't take it.
"Scheisze!" Krause hisses. "What do you want?"
The fag doesn't speak. He is not dealing with us. We don't know what to do. I wish Krause would pick up the pace. Little faster. Little slower. Just get in some flow!
"Come to my place for a drink?" the fag says.
"I'll pay you three thousand more."
"Why your place?" Krause snaps.
"That's where the money is."
"OK," Krause says. "We'll drive you to your place and wait in the car."
"You want to do it somewhere else?"
"Yes," Krause says.
"We like the open air," Krause says. "Sud Lauzin?"
"OK" the fag says and runs up for the cash.
"You are completely crazy," I scream.
Krause smiles, "we'll drive to Sud Lauzin and leave him there."
"Just like that?"
"Just like that."
"He pisses me off!"
"He pisses me off too."
"I'm going to kick his face to pieces!"
The fag comes back. Money as promised. I add it up in my head, a thousand more than what we need. We should split but we don't know how.
"Faster," the fag orders.
Krause steps on the gas. We hit the Bahn. It feels crazy. Jumpy traffic. Leaving Koblenz, dizzy. At last Krause takes the exit to the hills, pitch-dark hair-pins.
"This is good," the fag points to a small moon-lit clearing.
Krause drives off the road and comes to a stop. It is dark and quiet. The fag picks a cigarette from his holder and lights on.
"What's now?" Krause asks.
"You fuck me," the fag orders, "both of you!"
Krause's fingers stiffen on the steering wheel. "OK," he says. We get out and walk to a wayward tree. My heart pounds like crazy. This is not going well. Krause pulls out his gun and points it at the fag's forehead. The fag drops to his knees. My stomach rises. Krause hesitates. "Pants," he shout. God, he is nervous. "Pants off!"
The fag looks away. Then he unties his shoes and drops his pants.
"Shirt too!" Krause yells.
The fag squirms. He too lost the edge. He too is unsure. Krause takes a step back and aims the gun straight at the fag. "Go!"
The fag shakes his head.
"No! Not like that!" The fag inches over to me. Still on his knees. Still bent. Pleading. His forehead brushes my belt. Something passes over Krause's face. A glimpse of fear over my heart. That shadow. That cloud. He raises the gun again. His eyes are lost in the darkness. His face, just a hint of gray. The gun points at me now. "Go!" he screams. "Go! Go!"
There's a touch. Maybe real. I don't know anymore. A touch, a brush of a face. A nimble finger. "The deal, Krupp," he shouts at me. "Have to honor the deal!"
I am afraid to look down. There's a whiff of cold air. My shirt is wet, my back, my chest. My mouth is quickly drying. I fight the rhythm. The touch, the brush of the face, the nimble fingers. The pace. The quiet relaxing sound. I think of her. The trickle of blood on the cold blue veins of her breast. The goose bumps. The rich cologne.
My fingers stiffen. The gun goes off in my hand. A spray of bullets cover the meadow, sharp echoes from the cliffs. The next magazine sprays the sky. Smoke, stanch, little explosions. The fag jumps and hides behind a tree. I keep shooting. No control. No pace. Krause shouts. I don't stop until the last barrel is empty. I look at the fag. He is unhurt, shakes like crazy. He is trying to tell us something but Krause turns and runs to the car.
Down the hill we meet three police cars speeding up the hair-pins. Krause slows down and puts on the beams. From the exit more and more cars head our way. This time we slip by. Maybe it is the Benz. Maybe it is just luck. Once on the Bahn we watch the search-lights in the distance, a thick white cloud over the trees, early fog rising.