t was 1984 and people were doing crazy things to other people in the name of one thing or another, and Dabbie Hodson could see it clearly. She had but seconds to live. And just because she had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
She was helpless to do anything about it, but her eyes would be her weapon. They would remain open, probing, pleading, rebelling.
“I really don’t know that much.” She repeated this over and over, but seemingly on deaf ears, until she realized the terrible choice of words she had used. That much? What was that supposed to mean? How was he to take such a thing?
She knew something of Munich, of course, and of Berlin, but not that much about what was being planned for Saudi Arabia, but she really only knew bits and pieces, not enough to be killed for. What threat could she pose? The little bits and pieces added up to such a fragmented picture of the thing.
He stopped. He looked at her, and his face was kind. Her twenty-one-year-old face was truly beautiful. “Shhh,” he said. He gently stroked her hair, her cheek. “It won’t hurt a bit. I give you my word on that.” He even smiled. He had terribly white teeth and boyish long hair.
She struggled harder, though she knew it was only wasted energy on her part. She was held securely. Duct tape and rope had seen to that. All she could do was resign herself to her fate. There was absolutely no reasoning with this man. She had already tried everything, but she had failed miserably each and every time.
But she was determined. She would go with her eyes open, despite whatever might come. She would see it all just as it happened. She would look him squarely in the eyes, force him to see that she saw, her only real weapon.
He went to work. He was meticulous. Dabbie couldn’t tell exactly what he was doing, but she knew very well what the end result would be. If only she had stayed back home. If only she had not come to Europe. If only she had not stumbled into all of this. If only she had not met Gus.
Gus began to hum to himself as he worked. His hands never stopped. Dabbie tried to tilt her head, to get a better look, but she couldn’t budge. She had to content herself with seeing his profile, with listening to his humming, with knowing that her eyes would be filled with defiance when the time came.
The Munich all around her was bustling with activity. She could hear it from all directions. Munich was a wonderful city, a fun-loving place, the live and let live ebullience of the city emanating from its every nook and cranny. She had had a lovely stay here. All of it had been so adventurous, so new, so unlike life back home in Arizona. She could vividly recall the first time she had ventured into a Munich beer garden, where the liter mugs had been so huge that she had had to lift hers with both hands, and the giggles, from him, until he too had had to use both hands.
The fumbling noises he had been making came to an abrupt halt. He began stroking her cheek again. Gus looked so happy, so young, so full of life. It was so hard to imagine that he could be so heavily involved in all this horror.
Gus smiled at her once more. His eyes were soft, so gentle, so caring, so loving.
Maybe this was some kind of huge mistake. Maybe he wasn’t going to kill her after all. Maybe everything would turn out happily ever after. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
But then suddenly she saw it clearly. It was no fairy tale. There would be no maybe. This was real, as real as the mixture of sadness and fear that now flooded her brain.
And then she died, with her eyes wide open, challenging, piercing his to the end.
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