Note: a re-edited Dorothy story from 2014
As soon as Dorothy stepped through the door, she knew she was in trouble. It wasn’t the uniformed men standing beside each of her girls sitting in the main foyer, nor was it the worried look in Aneeqa’s eyes. It was the sound of the cocking of a luger in her ear.
She made herself sound cheerful. “Captain Klossman, I presume?” Then she turned to face him.
“How good of you to come. I suppose you and your men are looking for the usual discount?”
“Not at all, mademoiselle,” he responded formally. “I know where you have been. I can assure you the Gestapo does not like it in the slightest.”
Dorothy didn’t even bat an eye. “Well then we’ll just have to give them the same discount. Right girls?”
She saw Aneeqa try to smile bravely at her words. But there was a haunted look in her eyes. It was the look of a woman who believed her life was about to come to a rather abrupt end.
The captain motioned toward the door with his luger. “You and your girls will come with me, mademoiselle. Major Mossman of the Gestapo wishes to see you.” That’s when soldiers lifted their rifles, causing the other girls of her brothel to nervously rise.
Dorothy was not surprised at the sudden appearance of a lorry pulling up to the door. The good captain had planned for everything, even going so far as to arrange transport for her and her girls. Her only question now was how he and the Gestapo had found out.
Was her contact in danger? She certainly hoped not. But there was nothing she could do about it now. No matter how much this Major Mossman of the Gestapo tortured her, she was not about to give him up.
One by one the soldiers assisted the girls up into the back of the lorry. Then they climbed in with them. A few moments later it lumbered off, leaving Dorothy to wonder if she would ever return to grace the halls of her establishment to once again ply her trade.
Aneeqa sat beside her. Dorothy carefully touched her friend’s exposed knee. It was their code when amongst strangers, especially the enemy…
“Do they know anything?”
Her friend patted her hand three times… “I do not know.” Then she squeezed her fingers reassuringly… “I told them nothing.” Dorothy breathed a sigh of relief. Apparently it was not Aneeqa who had betrayed the cause.
As the truck lumbered through the streets of the French town, Dorothy reassuringly grasped her friend’s elbow… “I understand. We shall remain silent.”
Aneeqa grasped her hand upon her knee encouragingly… “Yes, we shall.” Surely their intimate gestures would not arouse suspicion. But the two of them could not help wondering about the other girls.
Had one of them spilled the beans? It seemed unlikely. Still, it was possible there was a traitor in their midst.
Dorothy had no idea where they were being taken. It certainly seemed like they were going for a very long ride. Her hopes of ever returning to the brothel sank lower and lower with the passage of time.
The lorry made several turns as it slowed down. Dorothy thought she detected the aroma of the sea on the wind. Then the truck came to a halt.
The back opened and the captain appeared. He motioned for his men to get out. Then he indicated they should bring the women out as well.
Dorothy discovered they were on a beach. She gasped in dismay at what she saw down at the water’s edge. Five posts stood upon the shore sticking up out of the sand.
At a command from the captain Dorothy and her girls were taken over. Each girl was secured to a different post. Clearly this did not bode well.
“Captain?” Dorothy called out, trying to keep the panic out of her voice. “Are we here to serve the mermen of the sea?”
He appeared not to be the least bit amused. He coldly responded, “Major Mossman will be with you in due course, mademoiselle. Our orders are to leave you here.”
“But the tide…” Aneeqa started to say in alarm.
“Yes, mademoiselle… the tide” was all the captain replied with a knowing smile.
The soldiers walked back to the truck. The five women were left to stand bound to their posts in the early afternoon sun. The men piled into the back of the lorry. Then it drove off, leaving the women standing all alone with their backs to the incoming sea.
Dorothy waited until the lorry was gone before she looked down the row at her girls. They were clearly frightened. Were there any listening devices? She did not see any and decided to chance it.
“Did anyone talk?”
They all shook their heads at her. Elise and Helene, the two younger ones both murmured, “No, mademoiselle.”
“Could they have found out from someone else?” she quietly asked Aneeqa who was bound to the post next to her. “Or will the Major come to interrogate us as promised?”
“I do not know, ma cherie,” Aneeqa responded with a sad little smile. “I suspect we shall find out soon enough.”
“That is if they do not drown us first,” Dorothy replied dryly. A brief struggle to wriggle out of her bonds proved fruitless.
“Perhaps this is their way of making us talk?” Aneeqa suggested, the worry evident in her features.
The other girls had overheard and were adamant. “We shall NEVER talk!” little Elise at the end of the row loudly proclaimed.
She acted as though she was speaking for all. She proudly hefted her chest, displaying what had made her such a hit with the men who frequented their establishment. The other girls nodded their agreement.
Dorothy smiled with fondness in their direction. But the tide was ominously coming in. The water was up to their knees when they heard the sound of a lorry approaching. Did it contain the dreaded Major Mossman?
“Courage girls!” Dorothy declared. “We speak not a word! Vive la France!”
“Vive la France!” the girls cried out in unison.
The lorry drove onto the sand. It pulled up and halted less than 25 meters away. The lorry displayed its canvas side to the girls as they stood in rising water.
The passenger door opened. A stern looking man in his thirties stepped out. He was wearing the uniform of the Gestapo as he walked down to the girls with a riding crop in his hands.
He slapped it into his palm. Then he walked over toward Dorothy, avoiding getting his boots wet. He briefly inspected her and the others in line all secured to their posts.
She and her girls were dressed as tarts, not something one might wear to an interrogation. But it did nothing for him, as he paused at the water’s edge. He was all business as he stood a full 5 meters away from where the girls were already standing in deepening water.
“Mademoiselle?” he called out to her sternly. “We have been tracking messages being sent to and coming from your establishment. Would you please divulge the contents of these messages?”
“We have received no messages,” Dorothy responded politely, trying to act confused at his claim. “And we have sent no messages, unless you are referring to those intended for your officers and enlisted men to come seek a little companionship from the ravages of war.” She smiled as though he should fully understand the nature of her profession.
“These would be special messages, mademoiselle,” he told her, allowing a hint of menace in his voice. “These would be messages sent to and received from the Allies?”
He looked down at the water having risen to her knees. He nodded with a faint smile as though acknowledging the danger she and her girls were in. “Mademoiselle, I would suggest you cooperate. As you can tell, there is not much time to discuss the matter.” He used his riding crop to motion at the tide coming in by way of explanation.
“I know of no such messages,” Dorothy replied, shaking her head.
The major sighed heavily. “Yah, I see.”
He calmly took a couple of steps to his left until he was facing Aneeqa. “And what about you, mademoiselle?”
“I know of no such messages” was Aneeqa’s firm reply.
He stepped over a couple more spaces to face Helene. “And you, mademoiselle?”
“I know of no such messages, Herr Major.”
Two paces farther over. “And you?” he asked Brigitte.
“I’m sorry, Herr Major. But I know of no such messages.”
Two further steps to the left. “What about you?”
“No, Herr Major,” Elise answered politely, shaking her head. “I know of no such messages.”
He sighed heavily. “Yah, it is as I suspected.”
He abruptly slammed his riding crop into the palm of his hand. The younger women flinched. Dorothy remained steadfast, although her heart beat fast. She sensed this was not going to end well.
“So be it, mademoiselles.”
He strode back to the passenger side of the lorry. He muttered something about it certainly being a very short interrogation. Dorothy was surprised. Was that it??
When he reached the lorry he pounded twice on the edge of the cab with the palm of his hand. The canvas abruptly rolled up along the side of the transport. What was revealed was a heavy machine gun on a tripod, fully manned and at the ready.
The gunner wasted no time taking aim at the five young women. There was hardly a pause. Then he started firing with no preamble whatsoever.
The gun went off with a noisy rat-a-tat-tat. At the end of the line Elise sported a look of complete and utter shock as her body took a half dozen slugs before she even got the chance to scream. She slumped against her post, blood coming up out of her mouth as her eyes stared in astonishment.
At that moment the rest of Dorothy’s girls instantly realized the interrogation had come to a quick end. They all started screaming as the gun continued its rat-a-tat-tat. Brigitte’s screams were silenced forever as she grunted and then slumped forward, her body riddled with slugs.
Helene barely had time to scream Dorothy’s name at the top of her lungs before the gun swung over to include her in its sights. She also grunted as she slumped, several rivulets of blood pumping out of her severely riddled body. By now the tide had begun to redden with the addition of a new color of liquid around the submerged legs of the women being gunned down.
Dorothy screamed the whole time, numb with shock to the point she was unaware she was doing it. She watched her girls being methodically gunned down one by one. She was just starting to blurt out the name of her dear friend – “Aneeqa – NOO!” when there was another rat-a-tat-tat.
The bullets tore into Aneeqa’s body. The poor girl dance obscenely against the post she was tied to. Then she slumped over in death.
In a split-second Dorothy’s life flashed before her eyes. Then she started to scream for herself as the gunfire came in her direction. Hot lead tore into her body until she jerked like a marionette as she was riddled with bullets.
Her screams were silenced as she too slumped against the post she was secured to. For a moment there was silence save the sound of the tide coming in. Then the good major hit the side of the lorry twice with the palm of his hand.
The canvas came back down along the side of the lorry. The gunner was hidden as before. It looked like nothing more than a common transport.
The Major took one last look at the five bodies slumped and bleeding into the afternoon tide. “A short interrogation indeed,” he observed. Then he climbed into the passenger side of the lorry. It roared off, the wheels kicking up sand. Five bleeding, bullet-riddled tarts were left tied to their posts as a stern warning to anyone who might dare side with the Allies against the Third Reich.
2014 (written for Dorothy and Rifleman Feb 16 ’14; ed. Mar 26 ‘20 by riwa)