Up until this moment I had entertained the hope that she might have had some secret plan to save me. My despair had compelled me to believe it.
Coming here in disguise—with that new, flower-laden hat and its little veil that changed her looks so much—showed me that Rochelle was fearless, especially at a time when she was wanted dead-or-alive. To deserve such notoriety, she must have forged some connections with French Resistance fighters, right? If so, couldn’t she pull some strings with them? Did they follow her to this place? Were they waiting in the wings to get me out of here, out of the hands of my captors?
I recalled old western movies, which I used to watch with my dad and Uncle Shmeel back in my childhood. Closing my eyes I could feel the warmth, sitting in-between them in the darkened movie theatre. I could just see the silver screen. Up there was the victim, his larger-than-life face utterly pale as the noose was beginning to tighten around his neck.
At that very moment, my heart raced. Uncle Shmeel would put his arm around my shoulder. “Don’t you worry, Lenny boy!” he would whisper, trying not to disturb the spectators around us. “Listen! Can you hear the hooves of horses, galloping?”
“Uncle Shmeel,” I would whisper back, “how can I hear anything? This is a silent movie!”
“Oh, but you can hear it,” he would reply, “inside your mind, inside your heart.”
And my dad would assure me, “Relief is on the way, Lenny boy! The cowboys are coming, any moment now!”
With that glimmer of hope I imagined myself now, just like that actor, standing under the gallows, hoping for a miracle. The rescue scene, exploding with a blaze of bullets, was sure to come, because my dad and Uncle Shmeel had promised it, because the plot had demanded it, and because how would the story capture your heart without the must-have happy end?
Yes. The moment was almost here. I had to believe it, then and now.
But as soon as Rochelle uttered the words Marriage before Death, my hope crumbled.
"The story of how they survived such horrors is extraordinary. Also extraordinary is the author's deep and gorgeous writing, interweaving desperation with descriptions of 'beautiful light streaming from high-arched, stained glass windows, rattling in the duel between the German artillery and ours.'"
- J.A. Schneider, author of suspense and psychological thrillers