In a Wine Glass, Darkly
Intrigue and infighting within the tangled
circles of Nazi theology & technology
© 2016 by Richard B. Messer
The wind whistling past the window, the rocking of the passenger coach, and the rattling of steel wheels over rail joints would normally put most people to sleep. But the pair of femmes sharing a cabin didn’t mind these distractions. The young Roe doe sitting in the corner by the window had her attention fixed on the book held in gloved hands. Large brown eyes behind pince nez glasses scanned the elegant German print in the book bound in faded green leather.
She wore a dark green jacket and skirt of light wool, with a black bow-tie at the throat of a white blouse. Over her shoulders was draped a black silk shawl. Her hair was a deep auburn, worked into a thick plait that had been carefully coiled against the base of her skull.
Her companion was seated opposite near the door. The white and red Brittany served as a personal secretary to the doe; an agreement that slowly developed into a bond of friendship over the past few years. That the canine femme being a few years older didn’t bother the cervine. The French canine was quietly reading the daily issue of a Berlin newspaper. Where her employer was dressed more along the Alpine fashion of the time, the Brittany sported a plain dress suit of brown linen and a beret pulled left in the French style. Her own deep red head-hair had been cut into a chin-length bob, but the wiriness of the tresses caused it to fluff out into a wild fringe under her beret.
“Hannover! Next stop is Hannover!”
The call from the conductor stirred the two out of their separate meditations. The doe set aside her book while her companion carefully folded the newspaper and laid it down on the seat beside her. There was a knock on the door and Menie DuMond unlatched it. The door slid aside and a grim looking terrier in a Reichbahn uniform eyed both women.
The Brittany pulled their tickets from her jacket and passed it to the conductor. The canine eyed the tickets, then both femmes.
“Change over in Hannover will be fifteen minutes,” he stated as he handed the tickets back to the French spaniel after punching them.
“Thank you, mein Herr,” said the deer as she stood, drawing the shawl up over her folded ears. She then crossed the ends before tossing them over the shoulders. She then gathered up the book and slipped it into a small shoulder bag while her canine companion took down a pair of leather suitcases from an overhead rack. These Mdm. DuMond set on the floor as both femmes felt the train begin to slowdown. Fraulein Rica Mader reached over her seat to recover an alpenstock kept up there. The mountain climbing tool was indispensable on the steep slopes of the Alps; at the same time worked well as a cane for someone of short stature. And for a furson who barely reached five feet in height, it was what the doe used to aid in her walking, though it was more of an affectation than a necessity. Still it was a formidable weapon when the need arose. The only concession made for her using it was fitting a rubber bumper to the spike at the bottom.
The companion-way was busy with other passengers making their way to the exits at either end of the car. A few glanced the femme’s way; a couple took one look at the alpenstock and quickly looked away. There were even little children who commented about ‘the little woman’, only to be quickly hushed by embarrassed parents. Rica Mader could only smile at a child’s innocent observation.
When the rush lessened, the canine and doe followed to disembark onto the covered platform, the afternoon sunlight sparkling through the glass panels fitted into the iron framework. They glanced around for a notice board presenting what train was leaving for which destination at what time. They noticed the train’s number bound for Kassel, and headed for that platform. A porter stopped them long enough to inquire whether they could use assistance with their luggage. The pair thanked him, handing over the suitcases and telling what the platform number was. The older canine smiled and followed along with a case in each hand.
When they reached the train, the femmes thanked him for his assistance with words and a tip. The fellow smiled, saluted the duo, and then headed off to look for others needing help. The femmes boarded the train, looking for an empty cabin where the number matched what was on the tickets.
Mader and DuMond soon found that cabin. It was a sleeper, as they were heading southward in their journey through the night. Rica Mader suggested they head for the dining car. Menie DuMond nodded agreement after the suitcases were placed in the overhead racks. Once the door was locked, deer and hunter made their way forward down the narrow companion way, squeezing by other passengers through two more passenger cars until they reached the dining car.
“Corner table?” Rica asked softly. Menie nodded once more.
They settled into two chairs after setting their shoulder bags on the other two. A white-jacketed waiter came over, clicked his heels and gave a stiff head nod before asking the women’s drink preference. The doe asked for a brandy while her Gallic companion wanted a glass of burgundy. After the waiter left the deer femme reached into her bag and pulled out two items. One was a silver cigarette case, the other was a holder of unusual construction. The bit and stem was carved from a piece of black onyx to which a barrel of silver filigree was attached, and the whole was the length of her palm. From the case Rica removed a long cigarette with a blue pastel paper wrapping. She began tapping one end of the cigarette against the case a couple of times before fitting that end into the holder. The spaniel waited before pulling a match from the table ashtray and striking it alight. Menie held out the flame so that Rica could light her smoke. Leaning back she thanked her secretary with a smile before blowing the smoke towards the ceiling.
The waiter returned with the two drinks on a silver tray. After setting them on the table he asked if they were ready to order dinner. Both saying they wished to study the menu first. The feline handed the femmes the small cards printed with the dinner selections before leaving to attend to the growing dinner crowd.
Fraulein Mader waited for the waiter to leave before taking another draw on her smoke. Again she blew a streamer towards the ceiling, causing Mdm. DuMond to smile as she studied the menu card. The tobacco was a special blend her employer had been smoking for years, at least before the canine femme was hired as a personal secretary. The odor bore the heavy scent of rum that the tobacco had been soaked in. This was a camouflage necessary to mask the cloying sweetness of hashish that had been mixed in. It had been a blend Rica Mader took pleasure in, as the rum gave her the mellowness of the drink while the drug opened her consciousness that allowed the Roe doe to make use of her gift of divination.
*Do you think it was wise to take the crystals?* the hunter asked quietly in French while studying the menu. DuMond felt it was necessary to lessen the chance of being overheard and understood.
*The opportunity to grab all of them slipped through my fingers rather abruptly. So I felt fortunate to take the five at present instead of the full seven.* The cervine knocked ash into the ashtray. *The other two showed signs of fractures so I believe they will not be of use to us.*
Menie gave her employer a sharp glance over the menu. *Are they that important?*
Rica laid aside her own menu. *I believe they are. Or else Reichfurher Himmler wouldn’t have put them under such heavy guard. He believes they are emeralds of such a unique nature that it was better to keep those crystals locked up.*
The Spaniel cocked her head to say something else but held her tongue when she espied the waiter returning. The femmes gave their orders quickly, surprising the feline waiter such that he hastily scribbled it down before leaving. The doe watched her secretary’s face before the other returned her attention to their discussion.
*As I was saying, Himmler thinks they are emeralds. Whereas I suspect those crystals are of a quartz nature.*
DuMond blinked at this. *Quartz?* She took a sip of her wine. *Are you sure?*
The deer femme nodded while taking a deep draw on her cigarette. After blowing the smoke into the air, Rica sipped her brandy before answering. *Ya, I believe so. The weight and feel of it was more in line with quartz than a gem. Six were of the same size in length and diameter, having a hexagonal shape and points at both ends. The seventh is at least thirty centimeters longer and ten in diameter.
*But the oddest features that have been noticed by everyone who examined those crystals are the small gold contacts on the flats of the points, and what appears to be some manner of tracery within each crystal.*
The female hunter wasn’t paying attention, slowly rolling her burgundy glass back and forth between her fingers. Menie was staring into the depth of the dark liquid; lost in whatever only she could see. Rica noted the blank expression on her friend and employee’s countenance. She reached over and laid fingers sheathed in black leather on the others wrist. This caused the canine femme to blink and look up, confused.
*Was I going into another trance, Madame Mader?*
The doe smiled. *Nothing to worry about, my dear. And it was perfect timing, of course!*
The feline waiter returned with a tray bearing their dinner. After he left the two femmes quickly dug into their meal.