“Missed the Saturday dance
Heard they crowded the floor
Couldn’t bear it without you
Don’t get around much anymore…”
Jasmine let the vibrato in her voice die down, and then puckered her lips. With precise strokes she reapplied her red lipstick while holding her compact mirror to her face. She held back a grunt when the driver, André, hit a bump in the road. From the rear-view mirror she could see an apologetic look in his green eyes.
She glanced to her right at Lydie, who shared the back seat with her, and thought how much more alluring she’d look with a little bit of rouge. Jasmine wondered what the young maid did on her days off. Dancing? Cavorting? Probably not. As if hearing Jasmine’s thoughts, Lydie smoothed back her straight mahogany hair and cleared her throat. Jasmine couldn’t have found anyone else more opposite than Lydie to be her confidant, but she appreciated Lydie’s loyalty and discretion.
She closed her compact and began singing again.
“Thought I’d visit the club
Got as far as the door…”
Lydie smiled this time, and Jasmine laughed. “You like that part, don’t you?”
André spoke up as he slowed the car. “We hit a checkpoint,” he said in French. Both women gave each other knowing looks. Lydie’s lower lip trembled, which made her heart-shaped face look all the more innocent and vulnerable.
Damned Nazis, she thought. And by the look of their uniforms, they were SS.
“Don’t worry,” Jasmine said in a low voice, knowing good and well they could be dragged out of the car and shot. “They just want to harass folks today. At least the soldiers let you through quickly if you toss them a bottle of liquor.”
Even as she said this, her heart leapt at the sight of two men and two women already being detained at the side of the road in a perfect line. Their backs were turned, and they held their hands up behind their heads. The shorter of the two men, who wore brown pants and a white shirt, was the only one to turn his head and look in Jasmine’s direction. They both locked gazes, and she couldn’t tell if he was silently pleading for help or trying to warn her away. As the SS officer nearest to them brandished his gun at the group after letting the car in front of them pass, Jasmine’s fright slowly turned to anger.
“They’re going to kill those people.”
“Shh,” André said softly as he rolled down the window. He put on a smile for the other officer who didn’t appear to have a weapon. “Good afternoon. Do you need to see our papers?”
The SS officer turned his head to cough. He looked middle aged, had dark hair, and apparently was allergic to the fresh hyacinths growing along the French countryside. She hoped the bastard would cough up a lung and die.
“Coming back into Paris?” the officer asked. He opened his hand and took the papers from André.
“Yes…Officer Rausch,” he replied after glancing at the SS officer’s name tag.
“Hmph. Rausch. He needs to rausch his ass out of France,” Jasmine said under her breath. She doubted addressing him by name would garner any favor.
“So you’re the famous La Dame Rouge,” Rausch said in English, poking his head in through the driver side window and peering at Jasmine.
She didn’t like his tone, and the glint in his eye chilled her. “If everything’s in order,” she replied to him in French, “I’d like to be on my way. I’ve got a performance tonight.”
His frown told her that he didn’t like her tone either. “Speak in English, Miss Léon. We both know you don’t belong here.”
Her anger returned. One minute I’m the black girl who doesn’t belong here, and the next you’re sitting in the night club watching my performance with a drink and cigar in your hands.
He’d change his tune if she shoved her gun into his face. The bottom of her stiletto instinctively grazed the secret compartment just beneath her feet. She wondered how quick his reflexes were. She could bend down, grab the gun, and show him what she thought about him and his Nazi ideals.
Suddenly the officer up ahead shouted a warning. The man in the white shirt who had been detained alongside the road had broken away.. He dashed south down the road and passed Rausch and Jasmine’s car. The other officer looked like he didn’t want to go after the man because the other four people would likely take the opportunity to flee in different directions.
“Rausch,” the officer yelled, “stop him!”
Jasmine smirked and turned to see the man in the white shirt still running along the road. “He’s mighty fast.”
Rausch rose to his full height and straightened his belt. “But not fast enough.” He extended his right hand, and the air grew dense. The fleeing man shrieked and what looked like a spray of blood soiled his white linen shirt. Lydie let out a scream when they saw the man’s head loll backward and then topple to the ground, separate from the body.
With trembling hands, Jasmine slowly reached for the secret compartment that held her gun. It was bad enough running into a Nazi–but one who was a warlock as well? No thanks. He needed a bullet in the head–pronto.
“Get out of the car,” Rausch commanded.
Jasmine’s hand suddenly felt as heavy as lead, and the back of her throat ached. She sat up and gave Lydie’s hand a quick squeeze in a gesture of comfort. “Stop crying,” she said to the young woman. “We’re going to be okay.”
Rausch grinned. “Get out of the car.”
Let me know if you want me to continue this short story 🙂