A Short Story (C) Alex rieneck 2019
Steinmetz was happy. It was quite pathetic really. The M.O had just made his scheduled visit, and as well as determining the cause of Baumer’s earache, had lined everyone up in the room that had once been the first-class restaurant, for a crabs and pox inspection. During this activity it transpired that Steinmetz had acquired a packet of toothpicks from the doctor’s open bag. They were the “good sort” he burbled; “The bamboo ones from China, that don’t get waterlogged and break!” Lo and behold, Steinmetz had a new hobby! Picking his teeth and staring at the world as it passed beneath them. It made a change from the implements he usually seemed to pick his teeth with – which had, to a large degree, been the reason for the three cases of crabs and pox that the M.O had discovered.
It was crazy Andressen thought, not for the first time, the straits that the war had brought them all to. Even the “Grey Goose” restaurant itself, had suffered a case of pure army vandalism. For no sensible reason, the carpets had been torn out and the complicated plaster ceiling crenellations, which had once glittered with gold leaf, had been slathered with a thick coat of the same battleship grey that covered the outside skin of the ship. The join between the room’s wall and the ceiling looked like the lumpy skin of a cancerous elephant.
Steinmetz stood looking down through the almost horizontal waist high windows at the passing green lowlands of Southern Switzerland. He was picking his teeth and Andressen could not help but admire the gentle curvature of the man’s rump rump inside his uniform trousers. Again the thought returned unbidden of the straits in which the war had placed them. Andressen swore silently as a way of spicing up his internal dialogue. War nothing, a fine arse was a fine arse, no matter who it belonged to, and Steinmetz’s blonde hair, he was sure, would be quite luscious if allowed to grow longer than the regulation crew cut.
Andressen crushed his cigarette out in the Horse-meat tin they were using as an ashtray a crossed the room to Steimetz. He’d see if it was possible to give the Pox back to its original donor. As far as that went Steinmetz could have the crabs back too. He didn’t want them either.