Always it was blitzkrieg, blitzkrieg. December 1942, the Occupation. Now the whole of France, as of last month.‘We shall have to see, won’t we?’ he said at last.Accustomed to such delays, the Bavarian sucked on a tooth and snorted, ‘It’s one lessFrenchman for us to worry about.’Must he be so blatant? ‘We’ve no evidence he was involved with the Resistance,Inspector. Perhaps …’‘Perhaps what?
, you French. A lonely road like this, death in the small hours?Pedalling like hell to avoid the patrols? He hit a patch of ice and went off the road.’ Kohler smashed a meaty fist into a palm. ‘That boulder settled him, Louis. That one. That one rightthere!’ He pointed fiercely.Blood was frozen to the rock that had killed the boy. Blood and dark brown hairs. ‘Iadmit that it appears as you’ve suggested, Inspector, but the bicycle, my friend, it’s undamaged.’So it was. Irritably Kohler dragged out a cigarette and began thumbing a lighter that justwouldn’t co-operate. ‘Please, allow me, Hermann.’ ‘
, of course. That lousy bed last night, Ididn’t sleep a wink. So, what do you really make of it?’St-Cyr found his pipe and began the ritual of packing it. Inwardly Kohler threw up hishands in despair. Sometimes Louis took for ever! As at meals, especially lunch. Two hours if hecould get them. Two! Not a shred of tobacco was lost. Hard up on the rations again. So, that made them equal.Tobacco was the great leveller these days. It brought out the worst in people, boughtfriends, information, pretty girls.Several minutes passed in which neither of them moved from where they’d beenstanding. Hermann was the taller – bigger in every way. At fifty-five years of age he understoodonly too well the vagaries of life. He’d cock an eye at something new but beyond that, nosurprise, only a stolid acceptance of human frailties. He frowned at his superiors, remainingremote from them. The bulldog jowls, sad, puffy eyelids that bagged and drooped to well-raspedcheeks and shrapnel scars, served only to emphasize the hidden thoughts behind the faded blue