Tuesday was just a regular day at work, nothing out of the ordinary, no strange men who looked like Evil Cossacks lurking in the shadows. A few of us were bleary eyed because of World Cup Parties. Yes all the British teams had been eliminated, but that didn’t mean you couldn’t get together and celebrate a good game of football. The World Cup was once every four years, you had to enjoy the moment, and believe me, all over Europe, everyone did!
On Tuesday evening, I stopped off at the small supermarket on Borsigplatz to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables. The German Supermarkets were so much better than the NAAFI and were always stocked with fresh produce. If you tried hard to speak German, the staff responded in broken English, making life a little easier. It was a bit of a game with them, but a good way for me to learn German. In the Borsigplatz area, you could pick up food from all over the world, it was a joy to shop there.
I wasn’t in a hurry as Les was at football practice and our friend Ken was dropping him off afterwards. I was wandering around the supermarket, finding new and different things to cook. Cooking was my hobby and I never tired of trying new recipes. I wasn’t looking where I was going and walked smack bang into someone.
She looked at me and her eyes welled up with tears. She had an awful bruise around her eye now, her lip was swollen and it even looked like she had hand marks on her neck. She just stood there trembling. I put my shopping down and looked her in the eyes. Next I did that stupid thing that we Brits are renowned for, I spoke slowly and loudly, with lots of hand gestures and said
“Shall we go and get a drink?”
She lowered her head and nodded. I picked up my shopping basket with one hand, and held her arm with the other, just in case she bolted. After paying at the checkout, I led Anna to my car.
“come sie mit to mine haus?” I was so good at mixing German and English, but she understood. “Nein, Viktor can find us there, him will find your haus, das ist nein gut”.
I understood, she was looking out for me, he might be watching and she was trying to protect me. We got in the car, and I drove in the direction of Dortmund, and found a small Balkan Restaurant, one that Les and I ate in. We went inside, Anna constantly looked all around the room, like she was expecting someone to be watching her or following her. I found a table that was tucked away at the back. “Are you hungry? Would you like to eat something?” She nodded in response so I ordered a platter of meat, rice and salad to share. I also ordered two beers.
She cried for the first five minutes we sat there, sipping beer in between sobs. Our waiter brought us son schnapps “on the house” and eventually she calmed down a little and spoke to me.