Chapter 5

Written by: Suraya Dewing

With hands now firmly secured, Ralph leaned back, closing his eyes. He needed time to think and that was difficult with Helen beside him anxiously breathing in sharp loud gasps.

Lucie sat at the table, drew a cigarette from a packet and lit it. The choking smell of smoke drifted over to Helen who coughed as if she, herself, was the smoker. 

Ralph opened his eyes and looked directly at Lucie. “I believed you,” he said.

Lucie gave a half smile. “Mistake, Ralphie boy.”

André shrugged out of his coat and hung it on the stand. He reached into a pocket and pulled out the note Helen had seen fall from the umbrella. As he sat he smoothed it out on the table. Lucie continued drawing on her cigarette and watched. Eventually he slid the paper across to her and she studied it.

Darkness coated the city and they sat in the gloom. A flickering candle cast disturbing shadows around them.

André wandered over to Ralph and kicked him with a black polished shoe. “Are you sleeping, my friend,” he asked with a thick gravelly voice.

As Ralph opened his eyes he thought he had never heard a word so coated in malice as he had André’s last word. 

‘And to think I trusted him,’ he thought. In Dunkirk André had appeared as desperate to leave as everyone else and he had never guessed he was German. 

Now he knew he had made a mistake, a dreadful mistake.

He frowned, trying to read the barely discernible hieroglyphics on the note from where he sat. The only thing he recognised was an insignia that signalled Bletchely Park as its provenance. So how had this top secret message fallen into André’s hands? And how had he linked him to Se Lever?  

The silence was long and laden.

Ralph broke it. “Let my sister go. She has nothing to do with what I do in France.”

André hooted. “You are wrong my friend.” He snatched the note from the table and held it up. “This is a message your beloved sister sent to the resistance.”

Helen stiffened. A tiny “no” escaped from her lips.

Lucie chuckled humourlessly. “Yes.”

Helen pressed against Ralph. The drone of Spitfires overhead filled the room. They looked up. One of the pilots was probably her fiancé. She pressed harder against Ralph. 

Seeing her distress in the murky light, Lucie picked up the paper and made a show of reading it. 

“So perfectly translated,” she observed. Her white teeth gleamed as she gave a humourless smile. “So imperfectly transmitted.” She looked toward the sound of the planes and cynically smiled.

Ralph intervened. “Let Helen go. This is not her doing.”

“Aah but it is, my friend,” André interjected. 

He shook his head ruefully. 

With that, he lifted up a mat on the floor between them and opened a trap door. “I have some adjustments to make to the message,” he said as he disappeared into the basement.

Comments

Lots of great details here, Suraya. The tension's building up...