Rifka’s brow furrowed as she watched the SS officer pace unsteadily from one side of the room to the other. It would have been amusing if she wasn’t so agitated.
“Miss Belsen,” he said in German, almost too politely, “so you’re telling us that these papers,” he held up a few browning parchments and waved them through the air, “somehow found their own way into your satchel?”
“Yes sir,” Rifka replied truthfully, pulling her long, curling brown tendrils from her face and holding them at the nape of her neck, wishing she had a ribbon to tie it back with.
“Papers that are suspiciously filled with code that is known to be affiliated with the MI-6?”
Rifka rolled her eyes at the German officer, although she was warned about being rude to the vicious men before. “Officer,” she addressed him politely.
“Major Saber,” he interjected, as if calling him officer made him seem dog-ish.
“Major,” she restarted, “do you understand the meaning of framed? Other than that of surrounding a picture in wood?”
The Major sighed and sat across from Rifka, taking off his cap to reveal bright blonde hair. His tall athletic figure and glistening blue eyes gave the explanation to his high rank, being the definition of the “master race” and all. She would have found him attractive if she wasn’t so annoyed with him.
“This is quite an often excuse we get in these few situations.”
Rifka growled in frustration. “I’m a Belsen, Major. A Belsen. I’m practically royalty here. My father is one of the best generals in the world. Yes, I could care less if Hitler gained all of the power he wanted, but I’m not about to go against him! Do you know how many people I’ve seen killed because they were just suspected of abandonment? Why would I be carrying around plans to extricate him from power?”
“We know all of this,” Major Saber said, obviously trying to keep his temper down. Rifka’s father always said she talked too forward for some people to handle. “And believe you me, there’s a man questioning your father as we speak, but it’s hard to imagine someone going through such trouble with such valuable information!”
Rifka rolled her eyes again – a nasty habit for a nineteen-year-old. “Maybe to destroy my father and his reputation?”
“Then why not frame him instead?” he asked, throwing his hands up in the air. “Your father can easily bounce back from this, adding to his power more like. What a poor General, his own flesh-and-blood a British spy. Just think – the fame! –the publicity! – the pity!. Why you?”
“I don’t know!” Rifka yelled, her face becoming red. “You tell me!”
Major Saber raised his hand, palm open, as if to strike, but he stopped, his facing becoming red – it was taking everything in him not to slap her.
“That’s right,” Rifka chided him. “Hit me and I could have you demoted right back to private.”
Major Saber stood up, kicking his chair. At least he was letting his aggression out on something. He turned around again after a moment. “Your satchel was examined last night. No viable finger prints besides your own were found.”
“I leave it open all of the time,” Rifka reasoned. “You don’t have to touch it to put something in it.”
“Just confess, Rifka!” he groaned impatiently. “Stop playing! You confess, bargain with other information you may have, and live. Don’t confess and we’ll hang you. Please give me the benefit of not seeing you killed!”
“Why would you care if I was killed?” she snorted. “I’m just a spoiled daddy’s girl, right? Wrapping everyone around my finger just so I can get my own way.”
He looked at her in an odd way, his bright eyes darkening.
“I can’t confess anything, Major Saber, because I didn’t do anything.”
He was saved from continuing our pointless banter when someone entered the room, whispering something in Saber’s ear. His once darkened eyes brightened, as if there was a flame of hope lit inside him. The man left.
“So?” she inquired.
“Come,” he ordered, smoothing his hair back before placing his cap back on, the German Eagle glinting in the light.
“What is it now?” Rifka asked, “Are you taking me to be gassed, huh? Hand me Zyklon B pellets and that’ll be the end of it?”
“Lord, woman,” he breathed, “you’re going to make one trying wife one day.”
“So I’m not going to be executed?”
He pushed open a door without looking at her. “Do you recognize him?”
Rifka moved against the Major, politely pushing him out of the way so they both could fit in the door jam and craned her head so she could see inside the cold room, identical to the one she had just been in.
A man was sitting at the table, his light-blue button-down shirt slightly soaked through with nervous perspiration. An odd array of ginger and blonde hair poked out in all angles. His image provoked something in my mind. Could it be?
“Tell him to say excuse me in German,” I asked the Major. He raised an eyebrow but did so anyway, barking the order.
The man’s face turned a deeper red, the sweat collecting on his brow. “Excuse me,” he muttered in a horrible attempt at straight German, his foreign accent poking through like needles.
A flush came to her cheeks and Rifka turned around triumphantly, nearly colliding with the Major. “He was in the café this morning,” she explained, “He bumped into me and tripped, his papers flying everywhere. I remember him because I remember how horrible his attempt to properly say excuse me was.”
The Major let a sigh of relief out and smiled. “This is good - this man was found trying to smuggle through the barriers in the city, carrying a few sheets of that same code that you have.”
“A spy?” Rifka asked, not surprised.
The Major nodded. “And there is two sheets of code missing – your two sheets.”
“They fell into my bag when he bumped into me,” Rifka muttered, then smiled. “I tried to tell you,” she laughed, hitting the towering man on the shoulder.
“We have to be careful these days,” he smiled. “You never know when the people you least suspect will turn on you, leaving you in the dust to wither away on your own.”