Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thomson

Never Anyone But You by Rupert Thomson

Author:Rupert Thomson
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Other Press
Published: 2018-06-05T04:00:00+00:00

Later that same day, Claude and I set off along the road that led east, towards Le Frêt. We were making for the woods on the headland, where we would have some privacy. It was late August. The sky had clouded over, and the air felt dense, electric. I hoped no one stopped us. It would be hard to explain why we were carrying a loaded revolver and an empty shoe box.

I was still trying to dissuade Claude, even as we walked, but she was in the grip of a scenario she had already spent a lot of time imagining. When the day came, she told me, she would pretend to be a widow visiting her husband’s grave. She would wear black, perhaps even a hat with a veil. Circling the house, she would make her way slowly and painfully along the road towards the churchyard. She would be carrying a prop of some sort—flowers, or a prayer book.

Picture it, she said. The entrance to the churchyard, the parked cars with their Nazi pennants, the officers standing in groups in the winter sunlight, their greatcoats draped over their shoulders, talking and smoking…Since they only had eyes for the blond-haired beauties of the island, they would be unlikely to pay any attention to the old crone who was approaching. When she passed behind the Kommandant, she would take out her revolver and fire several shots at close range. The sharp shocked smell of cordite, Gussek’s body lying facedown on the tarmac…

I sighed, then shivered.

“Don’t you see how clever it is?” she went on. “The death I’ll be dressed for isn’t the death of my husband, a death that happened in the past. After all, there is no husband. I’ll be dressed for the death that is about to happen. My widow’s weeds are for my enemy. My flowers are for him.” She paused. “Perhaps I’ll even toss them onto his dead body, as one might toss flowers onto a coffin once it has been lowered into the ground.”

“No, Claude,” I said. “I won’t let you do it.”

“Think of how it will reverberate. The head of the occupying forces shot dead—and by a woman! They’ll probably discuss it on the BBC.”

“No.”

“What’s wrong? You see a flaw?” She had a look on her face that I had seen many times: the confidence—no, arrogance—of someone who felt not only justified but unassailable.

“You don’t know how to use a gun.”

“That’s why we’re going to the woods—for a bit of target practice. It can’t be that difficult.”

When we reached the top of the hill we turned off the road and followed a track that led towards the headland. Since leaving the bay, we had passed nobody. We’d not been seen. At first there was heather on either side of us, but soon the trees closed over our heads. Oak, sweet chestnut. Pine. We followed a narrow path that curved down into a gully. All the sound drained out of the world. I couldn’t even hear the sea.



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