Danny and the P.O.W. - by Bruin Fisher

Part 2

Mr Rogers, newly appointed languages teacher at Merrywood Grammar School in one of the rougher areas of Bristol, stood breathing heavily and admiring the view. He'd climbed to this vantage point with his guide and it had certainly been worth the effort.

He was on holiday, enjoying one of the benefits of selecting a teaching career – frequent holiday periods. It had been a logical choice. He had developed a fine proficiency in German which had guided him to a languages degree course at Durham University, which gave him French as a second arrow to his quiver. A teaching qualification followed and by the time he was 26 years old he had landed a job as assistant teacher of languages at a grammar school. He wanted to enthuse young minds with learning, with appreciation of European culture, with communication with foreign peers. And already he was finding that his pupils were not quite so enthuse-able as he had expected.

So he had taken his first paid holiday here, where he thought he might persuade the school and the education authority to allow him later to bring a group of fifteen- and sixteen-year-old boys to see a different culture and to practice their German.

How quickly things change.

A week before travelling he had thought to write ahead to the address that Willi Kessler had given him five years earlier. He'd written a short letter, telling Willi that he was coming to Austria and the address of his guest house. He didn't really expect to make contact, he'd had no contact in five years and a lot had changed in Austria, as in Britain, in those five post-war years.

But when he'd arrived at the little guest house that had been booked for him by the travel agent, there was a letter waiting for him. It was from Willi and asked if they could meet, suggesting the local railway station two days later. Danny sent off a reply immediately and was on the station platform well ahead of time for their meeting. He watched the passengers alighting from the train that Willi had told him to meet, looking for the skinny youth that he had helped into the truck all those years ago. And it had taken him a second glance to recognise the paler but stockier man who strode towards him with no hint of the hesitancy that Danny remembered and associated with his wounded feet.

They stood face to face, each smiling broadly. Willi extended his hand to be shaken, Danny took it and shook it. As he did so, Willi stood closer and wrapped his other hand over Danny's shoulder and pulled him to himself, trapping their clasped hands between their stomachs. Danny followed suit, snaking his free arm around Willi's back and pulling him close. They stood locked together like this, and Danny felt his eyes watering. He dropped his face onto Willi's shoulder and twisted his head side to side to wipe his eyes on the material of Willi's shirt. As he did so he felt Willi turn his head and kiss him below his ear. They both pulled their heads away a little to look into each other's eyes, searching for the reaction in them. Finding affirmation in what they saw, their heads moved together again, gently, hesitantly, into a mutual kiss, lip to lip, tenderly touching and caressing each other's mouths. It was some time before either one of them realised they were stood on a busy railway station platform, and attracting a lot of attention.

They spent the day together, gradually discovering that each felt something deep for the other that had not faded in five years. And they held hands as they walked through the parks and squares of Salzburg.

Today was their second day together and Willi had persuaded Dan to climb with him to this vantage point high above the city, where you could look out across the mountains or down into the valley at the roofs of Salzburg. And here they were, on top of the world, alone and with the world at their feet. And Danny knew, as he wrapped his arms around Willi from behind and hooked his chin over Willi's shoulder so that they surveyed the view ahead of them together, that all of the plans for his future that he had made with his parents over the previous years were off. That whatever the future held for him now would feature Wilhelm Kessler prominently. And he smiled, and kissed Willi again.

2007 Bruin Fisher

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