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Freefall: Chapter 37


hat is wrong with you?”

Moe almost dropped the string bag laden with food wrapped in newspaper. Could it be that she was speaking to him?

Since he’d come to Bletchley for six days a week — though the colonel did work on Saturdays he’d managed Moe’s time so he had Shabbos off another huge benefit of the posting — Moe had been dropping off kosher food packages for Rob Morgenstern. If they weren’t working the same hours he’d leave it near her chair; if they were on the same shift he’d hand it to her. She’d then give him a stiff nod and a dry “Thanks Yank.” That was the entirety of their relationship.

So why was she talking to him now? And what in the world was she talking about?

“Excuse me?”

One of the other codebreakers at the table looked up sternly. “Sssshhh.”

Working on the intercepts to try and make sense of them needed full concentration and chatting among the cryptographers as they pored over the encoded messages was almost unheard of.

Rob stood up and nodded her head toward the door. Moe puzzled followed her out.

Again: “What is wrong with you?”

Moe tried a touch of humor. “I’ve intercepted your message but it needs some decoding.”

She didn’t smile. “Why in the world didn’t you tell me about Mrs. Braun’s accident?”

So that was what she meant. Moe felt a wave of righteous indignation wash over him; he hadn’t appreciated her snide tone and complete lack of common courtesy these past two weeks.

He kept his voice carefully under control. “Have you given me any indication that you wanted me to speak to you? I’m the lowly Yank remember? Why would you sully yourself by speaking with a cowboy?”

Suddenly and completely unexpectedly she laughed — a pleasant sound.

“Touche” she said her voice softer than he’d ever heard it. “My apologies Lieutenant. Now tell me about Fanny Braun.”

Moe’s anger and hurt feelings melted away with her apologies. “She fell off a stepladder.”

“Yes I know that” she said with a touch of impatience. “Jack Slater is billeted next to them and he told me about it today. But how is she now?”

Moe’s mind went back to those difficult moments. Walking in and finding his hostess lying on the floor groaning semiconscious her arm sticking out at a dreadful angle to the rest of her body. The feeling of helplessness: alone in a strange country with no idea of what to do. Racing to a neighbor who’d phoned an ambulance. Telling Sam cheerful Sam and watching tears flow from his pale-blue eyes. Fanny’s homecoming…

“She’s much better. They kept her in the hospital for one day because of possible concussion. One arm is broken and the other wrist is sprained.”

“Poor poor Fanny.”

“Do you know her?”

“Much better than you do” she said sharply.

“So you know how she is. Still smiling and singing though she’s in a lot of pain.”

“But wait — if Fanny’s arms are both useless who’s been making the food there? Sam?”

Now it was Moe’s turn to laugh. “Not exactly. Sam’s a great butcher and a wonderful person but he’s hopeless in the kitchen. No I am now the official cook and cleaner of the Braun home.”

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