The Woman in Red: 35. German reliability
They were picked up with a black Mercedes. German reliability before everything, Jean-Pierre thought. The chauffeur stood with a little signboard at the airport so that they could see he had gotten orders to drive them to Frau Bertha. It was a tight-lipped man. Either he couldn’t speak English, French or any language Katarina and her companion tried on him or he had received the command not to talk to them.
Katarina stayed impassive under it. She had other things to think about than making small talk with a German driver. When they left the neighborhood of Berlin-Tegel Airport, Jean-Pierre noticed the driver had locked the doors automatically from the car’s steering wheel. Probably for security measures he reacted spontaneously. Those Germans saw conspiracies and danger everywhere. They enjoyed the view along their route.
‘Let me do the talking, Jean-Pierre. Frau Hofmeister knows me for a long time. She has always been a sort of aunt or godmother for me and she is one of my mother’s best friends. I think she still trusts me. Even after the latest events.’
Jean-Pierre nodded affirmatively. For him, it wasn’t a problem. It was all new for him and he just would follow Katarina in her inspiration of the moment. It wasn’t so that they had a pre-designed plan, but she would know the best how to handle things.’
After a three-quarters drive, their chauffeur stopped before a beautiful wrought iron fence. He fetched a little device out of his pocket. Obviously it was a kind of remote control for the gate because now it went open very slowly. Through a long lane which meandered along the domain, they arrived at a large house. It was a designed in a modern style and it must have cost a lot of money.
Jean-Pierre established there were a number of men guarding the house with a weapon in their hands. He didn’t like that at all. The security here was very strict. Neither he nor Katarina was trained to match such a professional team of security people. He couldn’t even handle a gun, although it couldn’t be difficult, he thought. The safety-catch off, aim and shoot. How many police movies had he already seen? Up close, he wouldn’t miss. Just because he got these ideas, he suddenly realized he would never pull the trigger on a human being. He wouldn’t be able to live with the consequences.
Katarina was unusually silent. Most of the time she could fill the awkward silences with some small talk, but this time she obviously was so nervous she didn’t find the right words. Katarina didn’t like it, by the fact the driver had closed the doors, they were trapped as a kind of prey.
A young man, he could be barely twenty-five, came to meet him from the villa. He was accompanied by two men with black sunglasses. They did look so alike it could have been twins. The man gave his companions a nod and they posted themselves on both sides of the door of the Mercedes through which Katarina and Jean-Pierre had to step out. A second nod at the chauffeur made the doors unlock.
Katarina got out first, followed by Jean-Pierre. Out of the car and on their feet both men with the sunglasses took them by the hands and handcuffed them without them having a possibility to resist.
This is going wrong from the start, Katarina thought. She tried to bluff her out of the situation. ‘Hey, guys, I am a good friend of Frau Bertha Hofmeister, what’s going on. She will not be happy at all with this.’
The young one pointed at the entrance of the house. ‘Miss Katarina, Mister Jean-Pierre, I’m sorry, but I follow just orders given by Misses Hofmeister. Please follow me, she will talk to you and explain. I just follow orders.’
In the meantime, the car had driven away and with a soft urging by the twins with their spectacles, they were pushed inside the house. It was useless to put up resistance. The house was far from the road and the domain was fenced off with a high wall and the wrought iron fence probably was closed again. If they would call for help nobody would hear them. Unfortunately, they were out of luck now.
They both followed the spokesman of the three men. The only thing they could do was wait and see. At this moment, they were helpless and they had to count on the value of the many years of friendship between Frau Bertha and the Baroness. Katarina suspected Monsieur Charles had informed the women about them. It was one of the scenarios she had thought of. If their adventure would end here the Baroness would be lost forever.
After walking through some corridors, they arrived in a waiting room. ‘Please wait here. Frau Hofmeister will join you shortly from the moment she’s free.’ He locked the door of the room after them. Handcuffed in a locked room, Katarina and Jean-Pierre waited, resigned in their faith. Would the woman condemn them without question or would she be open to reason? Jean-Pierre didn’t know because, nonetheless they had a rather intimate contact at the castle, he wasn’t acquainted with her.
Katarina realized she had to play out the truth. When or if the minister’s wife would believe her, she didn’t know. She expected the worst case scenario, but secretly hoped for something better.