Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Evacuation Part 2

For audio click here 
For part one click here 

David must have been to Hlavni Nadrazi one thousand times, but he’d never seen it so busy. People were sleeping on bags, queuing at closed ticket office windows, staring at departure boards. It stunk to high heaven of dirty clothes, body odour and desperation. They stepped their way through the bodies looking for Čestmir. David dragged the wheeled case behind him, while Iveta carefully carried the holdall with Lucie packed in it. David never would have thought he would have packed his daughter in a holdall. For fuck sake! Thankfully, she slept soundly for now, but one brute barging into the bag and she’d be bawling her eyes out. They stood outside the bookshop. It was 8.50.
“What does he look like?” Iveta asked.
“A rat,” David said, scanning the hall.
Despite the crowds, you could almost hear a pin drop. People talked in hushed tones, and children sobbed rather than screamed. They were attending a funeral of sorts and people behaved accordingly.
“He’s not coming, is he?”
“He’ll be here,” David said, but he had less faith in the scumbag than Iveta.
A rumour spread around the station that the Vienna train was ready to g. Masses of people surged towards the platforms, but they were pushed back by angry looking police.
“It’s going to be hell!” Iveta said.
“We’ve got tickets, it’ll be fine.”
“If he ever turns up!”
David looked around.
“There he is,” David said.
“Davey, hi, this must be Iveta.” David had never seen Čestmir smile so much. Vermin like him can thrive whatever the climate. He was probably looking forward to the future.
“Here you are,” he said. “Give me another five hundred and I’ll get you through security.
They looked at the mayhem in front of us, people pushing and pulling to get on the Vienna train.
“Okay,” David said and dug out the money.
“Come with him then,” the rat said and took them on a weaving walk through the bags and people and pushchairs and wheelchairs. There wasn’t a smile in sight, except for Čestmir’s and everyone looked like they hadn’t slept for a week.
At the other end of the station, Čestmir stopped.
“Wait here,” the rat said. He spoke quietly with a policeman, passed over some notes and then came back for David and Iveta.
“Go along and up the steps. The Berlin train is platform five.” With that, the rat left them and they walked along the deserted subway. At the top of the steps, there were three policemen.
“Tickets and passports.” David had never noticed that the clock on the platform ticked. David counted them, tick, tick, tick, the ruffle of paper as the police checked their documents, tick, tick, tick. He didn’t look at the men, he didn’t smile. He just counted the ticking. Iveta’s fingers lightly brushed his.
“Open the bag please madam.”
She unzipped the holdall. Tick, tick, tick.
“Madam?” Iveta handed over Lucie’s passport. tick, tick.
Tick, tick, tick.
“You only have two tickets. There are three of you.”
“She’s just a baby,” Iveta said.
Tick, tick, tick.
David got out the last five hundred euros he had and held it out.
“Only two can travel.” the policeman said.
David held the notes further in front of him, but he shook his head.
“It’s all I have left.” But the policeman turned his back on him.

 “You go,” David said.
“No, that’s absurd.” Iveta handed the bag to David.
“Ivi, don’t.”
“David, I speak the language, I can stay at my parents, I can get out of here some other way. But you? What will you do?”
“I’ll find a way.”
‘We’ll both stay.”
“No, David the Russians are at the border. You go. Get Lucie safe. I’ll catch you up.”
David tried to give Iveta the 500 Euros.
“Keep it, how else will you feed our baby?”
“What will you do?”
“I’ll be okay, I still have a job. It was your bank account frozen. I’ll get to you, I promise. And I can always sell this.” She slapped her arse. It had been a running joke for years that Iveta could sell her body to fund anything they needed money for. Today, David could barely force a smile.
They kissed on the platform as tears ran down their faces.
“Go,” Iveta said and pushed her husband away. “Call me from Berlin.”
“I love you,” David said and they kissed again.

for part three click here, part four here and for part five click here

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