I wondered where it had all went. Time that is. Everything just seemed so different now. I still had my military clearance. The DIA(Defense Intelligence Agency) had slots for my clearance level; and could sponsor me for the 'endorsements' but they did not have the budget for a hire. I would have to 'hire' on to a consulting firm.
There were not many openings for 'ex' anything. There were many openings for 'security' types in South America, Africa and the Middle East. One of the benefits of Embassy duty were those language courses. If nothing else came up soon, it looked like I would have another chance to use them. At least it was not Afghanistan or Iraq.
Several of my buddies had done just that. The pay was not great, $22,500 a month plus all expenses. There was an optional Insurance policy if you had a family, that was in lieu of $2,500 a month. In you were 'Legion' (French Foreign Legion), South African Army or 'SAS'(British Army Special-Operations) there were a lot of 'friends' in them. Not too many 'Yanks' though. Everyone in the US thought the price was too low for getting 'KIA'(Killed In Action). They forgot it was tax-free plus a Hell of a lot more then Army or Navy pay.
I was on 'K' street, and decided to head on home. Driving in DC or Alexandria was usually a 'PIA'(Pain In The Ass) and the Metro was great, when it ran. New Carrolton Station was always full if you got there late. No parking in the main lot. I was not going to be long so the short-term slots would do me fine.
Up ahead were several people, just milling about. It was a mix of 'suits', Military and a few 'whatever' that I had 'bad vibes' from. I would have walked on but my eye caught the glimpse of a cute blonde in a very short shirt. She was kneeling down and was displaying a lot more than she probably knew. Sitting up next to her was an older woman, say late 30's maybe early 40's. The girl was screaming for 'help', no one seemed to be doing anything. You could see the scrapes on the woman's hands and knees, blood ran from her nose and a cut on her forehead. The kneeling girl was soon joined by a look-alike, also yelling and screaming for help. I realized that the reason for all this crowd apathy was they were asking for help in German.
I went up to them, knelt down and started to wipe the blood away. In German I tried to comfort them, letting them know that most of the gawkers would have helped but German was not a common Languages here in the US. Especially as fast as the beautiful girls were screaming. That was my first mistake. I had three woman stop and stare at me. During the lull, I did a few tests to evaluate the woman on the ground. Outside of her nose bleed and cuts and scrapes there did not seem to be any broken bones.
There was a small park nearby, the bench was big enough to lie on. I asked the girls to help me move her over, and to lie her down. I used my jacket to cover the dress and legs, for some modesty. I told the girls to stay with her while I would go to the store nearby and get some things.
When I returned from the stores, the one girl was on her cell. She was looking very frustrated. A police patrol came up to us and tried to have us leave the park bench. I told the 'assholes' the lady had fallen. I took out my soon to be cancelled Military ID and they shook there heads while reluctantly walking away. Ah yes, the wonderful US of A, so civilized. That security work was looking better all the time. I opened the three bags I was carrying. An assortment of gauze, tape, bandages, antiseptic, four 'Ace' wraps, several cold packs, six bottles of water and six of green tea were soon evident. Two blankets, some clothes of a size I thought she could wear and 3 sets of 'trainers', 7-9, which would help her walk. Oh, and an adjustable cane.
That was my second mistake. I guess, calling them beautiful in German and then actually trying to help, was something that was not expected. They gave me their names; the lady was Claire, the two girls were her daughters, Allis was 17, her sister Donna was 16. When Claire had fallen they both had tried to call someone, apparently their Father. He was visiting for business they said and no one who answered the phone number he had given them spoke German. He had turned off his cell too, a Deutsche Telecom World Traveler Model. He spoke several languages and never thought to ask if anyone there spoke German. They were not able to reach him.
I asked how would they meet up. A call at 5 or 6pm or they had rooms at L'Enfant Circle was the answer. I suggested we get a cab to their hotel, as the option was for me to carry Claire in my arms. Not that I would mind carrying any of them, but her husband might not be too understanding. I laughed when I said that. Again strange looks from all of them.
I wont bore you with the details, but it was just past noon when we got back to Claire's room. I asked the girls to order room service; for a meal to be brought up. Donna sheepishly looked at the menu, handed it to me, then in German said she did nor read English very much and would I please order for them. Again I became aware how it often was that the US was not used to dealing with other languages. Allis took Claire to wash her, treat her wounds and get her changed.
I called room service, got enough food for a small army, a white and red wine, four large bottled waters, 2 spring, 2 mineral and an assortment of salads and appetizers. When Claire came back, she had the clothes I had gotten her on. We had only had her change into the trainers before the cab ride. She pointed at the shirt, a Washington Redskin tee and sweat pants to match. She told me how grateful they all were and how lucky I spoke German. I had one more thing to do before room service arrived, two actually. I went to the mini-bar, took a brandy, poured it into a glass, warmed it in my hands and handed it to Claire.
She looked at me with 'puppy dog' eyes as the doorbell announced room service. The waiter explained he had brought the soups, rolls, bread, waters, wine and appetizers up before the entrees and salads. He was from Europe and it was noted on their reservation that they were from Germany. Every effort would be made to have them think they were home. I was beginning to think that some people do care.
When he left, saying he would return in 30 minutes, I asked him for the bill, he handed me the $315.70 bill and I handed him $400. "Treat them right!" I said. He just nodded. I spoke to the girls, telling them that they were very brave, but thought learning something about the US and some basic English would help. I kissed them on both cheeks, then bent down to do the same to Claire. I turned to leave.
"Wait!" came three shouts in German. "We need your particulars. Your contact number and address. Franz will want to thank you."
With that information written down, I also added my cell phone number, saying they should call me if they needed anything again. That was my third mistake. I never saw the look the two sisters gave each other as I left the room. Oh well, I thought. "Where were those two 7 years ago?" I realized that a 9 and 10 year old did not date. But you all know what I mean. Where were girls like that when I was younger.
I made it back to my car. Drove to my Parents home on the 'Island' and crashed on the sofa and slept, dreaming of 'my' three girls. I was quite rudely awakened by the ever-crescendo sound of my cell. I was a little after 6pm. I answered, "Hello".
A voice asked to whom were they speaking. Not fully awake yet, I replied, "It's me!" "Are you the person who helped Claire Bauer and her daughters earlier?
"Yep! Is this Mr. Bauer?"
"Nein! I am Franz Von Haldenstein, Claire is my sister! What are you called?"
I remembered that I had never said who I was. "My name is Robert James! My friends call me Bobby, my enemies call me Sir!" I laughed. You have a lovely sister and beautiful nieces Sir!"
"Ha! Franz please Bobby, I would hate to be your enemy. Thank you for helping Claire. This is their first trip to your country and I was so hurried with my meeting I had forgot that."
"How is it that you know German?" Franz asked me.
"Well, one must learn as one travels!"
"So, are you a 'Traveling man' Bobby?
"Among other things, Yes, from xxxx to yyyy!"
"Would you please join us for dinner tomorrow, Claire should be rested, we will stay in the Hotel, if that is agreeable?"
For some reason I accepted. My next call was to my soon to be Ex employer to check out Claire and Franz. They were just to nice to be regular tourists.
Bauer did not ring any bells at Langley. Von Haldenstein did. It was an old Prussian family. Several female relatives had Married, one into the Krupp family, another into Manheim Steel and a third was a now Daimler.
Baron Deidre Rudolph Von Haldenstein had one son, Franz Victor Von Haldenstein. It seems I was to be a guest of Royalty! What was more interesting was if there was a Herr Bauer for the beautiful Claire?
My parents had money. I was raised well and knew that I did not want to insult my host. More details could be forthcoming, but I felt that if I needed to know anything, I would be told it. The next day I dressed in a dark suit, drove to the hotel in my Mom's Mercedes and was fashionably late.(6 Minutes)
Two men stopped me as I entered the Lobby.
"Herr James?" one asked.
"If you would be so kind, please come with us, we will take you to meet Herr Von Haldenstein?"
It was a quick but adequate search. I was not a real concern to them, the search was merely a formality.
Eventually the two men took me to see Franz.
He, and the 3 objects of my dreams, Claire, Allis and Donna; were seated at a table. Franz stood up, extended his hand and introduced everyone. "Bobby, you have already met them, Claire is my wife, Allis and Donna are our daughters!"
He could not have said anything more to get my un-divided attention. His wife, did he say. I thought he had said sister on the phone.
"They are all still very beautiful!" As I smiled at each.