Jinnie woke up alone on Wednesday morning, the bolt that Fritz the porter had fitted on her bedroom door was obviously doing its job. Today was “meet the lecturers” day and for some reason, she felt a little nervous. But it might not be that at all, she also had a date with Paolo in the evening and was going to the university shooting range in the afternoon. Jinnie was first up, so she was on Kaffee duty. She nipped out for fresh croissants from the corner shop. Having found that the instant coffee they had bought on their first evening was very mild, just like the coffee they had drunk in the restaurant, they had tried putting in double the recommended amount, but that had produced an awful brew. In the end, they had asked in the Supermarkt and got some Vienna roast which was much more to both their liking. Jinnie waited until she heard Simone come out of the bathroom before she made a jug of coffee, she had noticed just how much her flatmate consumed in her huge mug every morning. In the meantime, she had her bowl of cornflakes and set about boiling an egg and buttering bread for some soldiers. Simone quickly joined her and was soon dunking croissants in her kaffee while Jinnie, much to Simone’s amusement, dipped her soldiers in her runny boiled egg yolk.
Jinnie and Simone were both taking the same course at the university and joined a cohort of 60 in one of the large lecture theatres. Half a dozen tables were set out on the stage and assorted lecturers sat behind them casually chatting. With typical German efficiency one of them stood up at exactly 10 o’clock and the theatre fell silent. The professor introduced himself and explained that for some classes they would be taught as a whole group, for others they would be split into smaller groups and for conversational German they would be in maximum groups of six, often it would one to one tuition. Jinnie and Simone landed up in the same group when the cohort was 30 strong but although they had the same Professor they were in different sixes for conversational German. Jinnie was in group C and Simone in group D but both were under Professor Dirk Scholz, who Jinnie thought looked rather dishy, if a little too old for her.
Professor Scholz asked all his allocated students to come to his table after the meeting so that he could put faces to the names he had been allocated and assess just how good their spoken German was. As Jinnie stood patiently waiting for her turn she noticed have both she, Simone and one of the boys had a tiny pencil mark next to their names on the professor’s list. Dirk, as he told them all to call him, proved to be just as pleasant to speak to as he was to look at and quickly put her at her ease. She was the very last to speak with him, as he spoke to the students by surname alphabetical order and w for Walsh was late in the order. When Jinnie got to speak to Dirk only Simone remained in the theatre and she was hanging around at the back, waiting for Jinnie as they were going to lunch together.
Dirk’s first word’s to her were, “Oh you’re Fraulein Walsh, I am delighted to meet you”. Jinnie wondered what had brought her to his attention and then she remembered the pencil marks. Dirk obviously noticed her quizzical look and went on to explain that the professors who interviewed her in London had been highly impressed by her spoken German and her accent, which they said made her sound like a native of Munchen. Blushing, Jinnie thanked him for the compliment and explained that her school German teacher had been a native of Munchen and had arranged for her class to visit there for a week, a couple of years ago.
They chatted for a few minutes before Dirk said that he felt he was going to enjoy teaching her as she was already almost at the required degree level and only needed to expand her vocabulary and tidy up a few tiny things. He made a few notes on his name list and arranged to spend an hour with her in his study every Wednesday morning at 11 o’clock. He then rapidly cleared up his papers, said goodbye and disappeared out of an exit. Jinnie was a little surprised at the abrupt conclusion of the meeting, but soon forgot it as she was joined by Simone and they set off for lunch in a fairly empty cafeteria. When Jinnie wondered were everyone was, Simone reminded her that Wednesday afternoon was sports time. Simone wanted to know what she thought of Professor Dirk. She had liked him but thought there was something about him. Jinnie mentioned the pencil mark against her name and how he had praised her spoken German. Simone grunted and said he had done the same with her, was that what the pencil mark meant? Jinnie wished she could remember the name of the boy with the pencil mark, she would like to speak to him. It appeared that Simone had been allocated the hour on Wednesdays before Jinnie.
After lunch Jinnie had arranged to have an assessment with the gun club, while Simone was off to the cooking club. They agreed to meet back at the flat and exchange experiences before going out for the evening. Paolo and Jan were due between 7:30 and 7:45 so they would have plenty of time to chat before going out. Jinnie headed off to the basement where the gun club had its butts. She had to press a buzzer to be let in, but she noticed other people were using a fingerprint access system. She guessed they were already members. Once inside it was very similar to the club she has used with Mike in East Barnet. She was greeted by a man who introduced himself as Lukas and he quickly showed her round the facilities, kitchen, preparation rooms, toilets, lounge and then the butts. He was pleasant enough but Jinnie didn’t warm to him, he seemed a little officious. Lukas explained that the assessment was really to see at what level her gun skills were. No one failed, they would take anyone on, it was just a matter of training and how much supervision a person needed.
Lukas asked Jinnie what sort of guns was she used to as they had a selection that she could use once she had been assessed. Jinnie had started on a BB gun but had soon graduated to an automatic pistol. She had also shot a rifle but considered herself distinctly average with one while she thought she was quite good with a pistol. Lukas told her to stay where she was and went off into the preparation room. When he returned he was carrying a rather tatty Austrian Glock 19, a new box of 9mm rounds and two sets of ear defenders. He handed her a set of the ear defenders and placed the pistol and ammunition on a small table. He told her that he would like her to fire six rounds, 3 at each of two fixed targets he indicated.
Jinnie realised that her assessment had begun and that Lukas would be noting everything she did, so before touching the gun she asked where the safe zone was. Lukas smiled and said anywhere downrange. Carefully picking up the gun and pointing it downrange with her trigger finger along the barrel Jinnie released the magazine and checked it was empty. She then checked the breech ensuring that too was round less. She loaded six rounds into the magazine and asked for permission to shoot. Lukas gave her permission to proceed and while still pointing the pistol down the range used her left hand to settle the defenders over her ears.
The targets were standard bullseyes, at what Jinnie guessed was ten metres. Jinnie took up her two-handed “police” stance, aimed at the centre of the left-hand target and fired. The round hit at one o’clock about 2” from the centre. Jinnie adjusted her aim to a point at seven o’clock about 2” inches from the bull and fired. This time it hit the bull. She repeated with the same result and switched to the right-hand target. Putting all 3 rounds through the centre of the target. She then cleared the gun, took out the magazine checked nothing was in the breech and laid the pistol pointing downrange and magazine on the table before stepping away and removing her ear defenders.
Lukas pushed his ear defenders down around his neck and said, “Nice range craft, you have been taught well”. Jinnie bit her lip to stop her smirking and said that she was sorry about the first round but the gun didn’t shoot true and until she had fired the first round it had been impossible to know. Lukas explained that they knew the gun was slightly off but it was used to test how new club members reacted. He then asked her if she would like to shoot over a longer distance, 15 metres at a revolving target. She said, “With the same gun?” He laughed and said, “No you have passed that test, I will put that one away and I think I can trust you with my own competition pistol.”
When she picked up Lukas’s pistol it was like chalk and cheese, this was a well-maintained Glock19 and nestled in her hand like it belonged there. She followed the same preparation procedures as for the previous targets and when ready asked for and was granted permission to shoot. She trusted Lukas that his pistol would shoot straight and when the left-hand target turned she put three rounds in quick successive through the centre, switching to the second target she again put three rounds through the centre although this time she didn’t get her breathing quite right and one was only just in the middle. She cleared the gun put it on the table pointing downrange and pushed back her ear defenders to hear a round of applause dying away from an audience of half a dozen who had arrived behind her to watch.
Lukas explained that when he went to get his own pistol he had mentioned to one of the club officials that he thought he had a rare talent applying for membership and the word had gone round. She had been so busy concentrating on the procedures and shooting that she had not seen the small crowd gathering. Jinnie was now blushing as she considered herself only to be a decent shot, nowhere as good as Mike. Now she realised just how good Mike must be. Lukas said would she like to try one last go but this time at 25 metres.
Jinnie agreed, but asked for ten minutes to compose herself and go to the toilet as the audience had surprised her. She went into the ladies room and splashed some cold water on her face. She then sat on the toilet lid for five minutes and did some breathing exercises to get her heart rate down. When she got back she was delighted to see that the audience had disappeared. This time she had a little surprise when the first target turned, it was a bear with a target on its chest, but she managed 3 rounds in the centre. The second target was an alien again with a target on its chest and it too died from 3 rounds through the middle of the target.
When they had retired to the kitchen for a cup of weak coffee, Lukas told Jinnie she was welcome to shoot anytime and he would sign her off so that she didn’t need any supervision. He organised for her fingerprint to active the door lock and agreed that the club would use its connection with the military to requisition a Glock for her sole use. Of course, the gun would have to be kept under lock and key at the club, but they would supply ammunition. But in exchange he wanted her to apply to join the University shooting team. He said from what he had seen she was as good as anyone in the club. Jinnie quickly agreed to join the team, it would be a great cover for all sorts of things. She could wander the basement at will, she could keep her eye in with her shooting, she would get to travel to other universities and she would get gunshot residue on the hands and clothes, thinking ahead that could be useful. The gun club was open every weekday evening, Wednesday afternoons and all day at weekends so she could make use of it whenever she wanted.
When she got back to the apartment Simone wasn’t back yet. On entering she felt something wasn’t quite right but she couldn’t put her finger on it. It was only while she was showering that she realised that there had been a slight smell of cigarette smoke and no one who had recently been in the apartment, neither she, Simone or the porter who had fixed the bolt smoked. Once dressed she started to look around and was soon sure that someone had been in the flat. She was certain that odd things had been moved, only fractionally, but they had been moved. Then she saw a tiny bit of cigarette ash on a carpet in a corner and that proved she wasn’t imagining things. Had the apartment been bugged, was it burglar, or was it a creeper? Was it to do with her being in the resistance, had she been found out?
When Simone came in she was carrying what to Jinnie looked like a Victoria sponge but Simone said it was German sponge as it had no fat. Jinnie didn’t want to argue, but she knew it was just a fat less Victoria sponge. Anyway, it looked good and they both settled down for a slice and a glass of milk. For a first effort, it was pretty good and Jinnie hoped that Simone would keep going to the club as having a cook in the flat would be useful. Jinnie didn’t want to talk about her suspicions that someone had been in the flat in case it was bugged so she suggested they took a stroll to the Supermarkt. As they walked she talked to Simone about her suspicions and the ash and slowly her mood turned black. As cover, they bought a couple of items and started to walk home stopping at a bench to discuss things further.
Neither knew what to do but decided not to speak about it in the flat and only to talk about inconsequential things like university and boys when there together. They agreed that if they needed to talk it might best be done when out for a walk. The next step was to check if they could find any obvious bugs in the flat but neither of them could come up with a reason they could admit to for the apartment being bugged.
Paolo rang the doorbell at exactly 7:30 and Jinnie hurried downstairs, pleased that the hour she and Simone had spent searching had found nothing. Paolo was sitting on a bright orange Lambretta with a black seat holding a spare crash helmet. She loved it at first sight and couldn’t wait to be driven away, any thought of a double date was quickly forgotten. They headed off to the suburbs, past Tegal airport to a large lake and to a beautiful lakeside restaurant Paolo said was owned by his rich uncle Umberto. Paolo explained that his uncle had the Lambretta shipped from Milan especially for him. Uncle Umberto was a jolly man whose German was heavily accented despite living in Berlin for over 30 years. The restaurant featured Italian food and was very popular, but Umberto had reserved a quiet table for his favourite nephew. The fresh Pasta and meat sauce was fantastic and Uncle Umberto pressed then to try the Chianti, but they stuck to soft drinks with it, as Paolo was wary of the drink driving laws. For dessert Jinnie had one of her favourites, Tiramisu and was full to bursting when they climbed back on the scooter. As they were leaving Paolo turned to her and said, “We have got to hurry as I have strict instructions to get you to a meeting with your controller by 11,” and shot off with his uncle and aunt waving goodbye and a stunned Jinnie on the back of the scooter.
It was just before 11 when Paolo parked outside a nondescript bar in a side street near the university and not far from the apartment. As she took off her helmet as a taxi pulled up and Simone and Jan got out. Jinnie stared at Simone and Simone stared at Jinnie. What was going on? Before they could speak, the two boys took them by the hand and led them into the bar where, in a corner nursing a small beer, sat Professor Dirk chatting casually with another man. Dirk invited the girls to join him and the other man, who Jinnie thought looked familiar, and the two boys drifted away to the bar.
Having got the two girls a drink, Dirk explained how sorry he was not to have been able to introduce himself before but he had needed to check them out as previously the security forces had tried to slip agents in among the students, he really needed to maintain a certain level of suspicion about new arrivals. Dirk explained that he was gratified to see that neither girl had realised the other was an operative and that the boys had steered the girls to him without suspicion. He went on to tell them they had been under loose surveillance since leaving home. Jinnie suddenly recognised the man at the bar with the two boys, he was the helpful catering man from the train. Dirk went on to say that he wanted them to be careful as the Gestapo had agents everywhere, but they could trust Paolo and Jan. As he would be seeing them both weekly he would be able to instruct them then, but if anything important came up one of the boys would act as a messenger.
He then shocked Jinnie by congratulating her on her shooting that afternoon and that he had received a full report on her afternoon, while she was still talking to Lukas, but to be careful of him as they weren’t sure of him. He then said that an untraceable pistol would be delivered to her at the flat soon. It was for their personal protection and while they were at classes tomorrow one of his people would prepare a hiding place for the gun probably behind one of the bathroom tiles.
That prompted Jinnie to ask if one of “his people” had been in the flat that afternoon. Dirk replied, ‘no,’ and asked why. Jinnie explained about things being moved slightly, the smell of cigarette smoke and the ash on the carpet. Dirk harrumphed and said he didn’t think it was the Gestapo, they were far more professional than that and would not have left any telltale signs. However, he was aware that last year there had been reports of a peeping tom in their halls and if he was still around two such pretty girls as them would be an obvious target. He would have his people scan the apartment electronically while preparing the hiding place and get a message back to them via one of the boys. But for tonight he suggested that they make sure they lowered the blinds before undressing, undressed in the dark or slept in their nightclothes tonight. And with that, he drained his glass and he and the snack vendor were gone. Simone looked at Jinnie and said, “I told you there was something about him”.
In Chapter 9 – What to do about Alexandre.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file