Smiling to himself, Horst Kloster turned around and with his package in hand sauntered toward his car, a 1942 Daimler.
It was parked on a side street where he had disembarked thirty minutes earlier, but the driver, Helmut Köhler, was nowhere in sight. Horst swore softly. He approached from the far side, debating whether to go look for him or just wait. But then he spotted the fair hair over top of the headrest. The head moved slightly, then slumped forward and with a jerk, came up again.
Horst couldn’t believe it. The man was dozing off in the front seat. Köhler had clearly ignored his instructions to stay awake and remain alert. How could he be so stupid? Horst thought, suppressing his anger. And sleeping in daylight for all to see.
Quietly, Horst opened the rear door and then slammed it, the sound reverberating through the car and startling his driver.
“Köhler!” Horst shouted. “Wake up, you imbecile. Can’t you see its broad daylight?”
He leaned in through the open passenger window, fixing his gaze on the hapless chauffeur, his mere presence trapping the man in the confines of the car. Köhler was shocked by what he saw and squirmed in his seat.
Kloster’s face had transformed from his habitual easy-going demeanour into one he’d only witnessed once before. All blood seemed to have drained from his face, his nostrils flaring from the sudden intake of air. His eye colour, once a pleasant grey, darkened and seemed to change into an ice-cold grey. And the mouth, only a moment ago smooth and genial, now contorted, as the upper lip twisted into a scowl. Nestled under his forage cap, his furrowed eyebrows added to the unpleasant countenance, projecting a verisimilitude of his true inner self.
“What if a Gestapo buffoon should catch you sleeping on duty?” Kloster’s menacing voice chided. He was referring to one of the many Gestapo-want-to-bees, nothing more than hired thugs that prowled the streets, looking for any incident, no matter how trivial, and then report it to a supervisor. “Do you think they’ll merely shrug it off?”
Foolishly, Köhler was about to reply, the words already forming on his lips, not realizing it was a rhetorical question. But Kloster wasn’t finished. “You damn fool!” Kloster hissed and without warning slapped Köhler’s face, his head bouncing off of the headrest and his left cheek burning, more with surprise than resentment.