Elsie Dubin

Harvey Hertz was a regular Aryan Nazi before his boss signed him up to be a spy for the Gestapo and he started to see some of the things that they did to minorities. He started to question all the loyalty he had for the Nazis. His loyalty is truly tested when he gets sent to spy on Elsie Dubin’s family. He used to think that Jew’s were heartless but after meeting Elsie all his views were changed, She was intellectual , caring , and everything he’d ever wanted, but there was one problem – he was sent to turn her and her family into the gestapo.

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3. Chapter three

I got changed an hour before I had to meet Elsie and tried again as I stood in front of the mirror to convince myself to tell her that I couldn’t go, but I just couldn’t do it, part of me knew it would never work out mostly because I was pretending to be someone else, and she would never know the real me, but the other part of me wanted to see if it could. At six on the dot I walked down the steps outside my door and knocked loudly on Elsie's front door. Her sister Anneliese came to the door and smiled at me.

"Hello Mr Harvey, Elsie's still getting ready; she will be down in a minute." She informed me quietly and sweetly.

"Okay then" Within a few moments Elsie came down the thin stairs looking even more beautiful than usual. She was wearing an outfit that would stick out in the streets of our Germany, She wore a dress that had a filly white top to it with a navy dotted belt in the middle and a floaty skirt, at first I thought it was someone else - Someone who may be part of the Swing kids movement- but at the time I thought better than verbalising this.

"You look... beautiful Elsie." They were the only words I could find in my head to say.

"Thanks" She smiled shyly. She kept eye contact with me for a few moments before turning to her sister.

"Annie, if mum gets teary again just send her to bed and try your best to look after Emilie until I get home." She gave her orders as if they were mechanical and given often.

"Okay I will, have a good time"

"Thanks" Elsie kissed her sister on the head and led me out of the door.

"Sorry about that."

"It's fine, are you sure you can come out with me?"

"Yeah, Mum will be fine, I need to loosen up for one night" she grabbed my hand and held it in hers and I acted like it wasn’t a big deal while I felt my palms sweating.

"So where are we going?" I asked her

"It's not far, about a 5 minute walk." She said swinging her hand that was in mine back and forth.

"But you're not going to tell me anything about it?"

"I'll tell you that it's a very controversial place to go which is why I'm not telling you where it is." She leaned closer to me and whispered as if worried that if someone heard they would know where we were going.

"Alright then." We walked slowly up a steep hill and I saw what looked like an abandoned warehouse and I knew instantly that I wasn't wrong when I thought she looked like a swing kid.

"Elsie..." I stopped dead on my feet.

"You've realised where we're going haven't you." She turned from just in front of me and looked me in the eyes.

"Yes, and I think it's too dangerous Elsie."

"I know it's dangerous but it's fine, I’ve been coming here basically since it started."

"But... what if the brown shirts see us going in there, we'll be dead."

"it’s fine Harvey, trust me." I was reluctant but I agreed to it because it was our first date and she wanted to choose where we went and at that moment I wanted to do anything to make her happy. We stepped into the abandoned warehouse and the atmosphere inside is one of the best I'd ever experienced, everything in there was upbeat, it seemed like the type of place that any negative feelings would dissolve in the air here and I realised why Elsie went there. A swing band was playing music on the stage and everyone was dancing. All the men in the room were dressed in the same style, long coats, and shirts with their top few buttons undone and a messy skinny tie. I was the only one who stood out in this room. Elsie was dressed like all the other women in the room although it was hard to see their outfits as they were being twirled and lifted around on the dance floor.

“Wow…”

“I know it’s amazing right?”

“Yeah.” I agreed with her

“Want to dance?” she pointed to the dance floor.

“Yes but I probably don’t know how, I mean I know how to slow dance but… nothing like that.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll teach you.” She said squeezing my hand and pulling me towards the dance floor.

“Come on loosen up a bit Harvey.” She shook my arms a little and took hold of my hands again

“I’m sorry I’m just not much of a dancer.”

“Okay just follow me” She put her arms around my waist and swayed her hips to the music, I tried to dance but instead made Elsie laugh too much that she fell down to the floor because while she wasn’t paying attention to the floor, a guy swung his partner round who hit Elsie in the back. She didn’t care though she just sat on the floor laughing hysterically.

“Want some help Elsie?” I held out my hand for her which she took.

“Thanks.” I pulled her up and in close to me, I could feel her breath on my lips and I wanted so badly to feel her soft lips against mine, but I fought against the urge and just held my arms around her waist until she broke eye contact with me and moved a little further away from me.

“Sorry” I murmured.

“What for?” she acted oblivious.

“Doesn’t matter.”

"Want to try and dance again?"

"Not particularly."

"Aw, come on." She begged and pulled my hand playfully.

"Alright, but try not to laugh so much this time." she tried to hide her smile.

"I can't promise anything."

"Come on then" I said walking back towards the dance floor, she caught up with me and walked by my side taking my hand in hers.

"So let's try this again, put your hands around my waist." I did as she instructed me to as she tried to teach me how to dance, by the end of her short lesson I couldn't dance very well but at least I could dance well enough so that she didn't laugh at me. I twirled her around and she laughed at me happily as we got to nearly the same level as the other couples who were dancing. The song changed as Elsie’s face lit up.

“I love this song.” She squealed happily as we danced, I knew I would never forget the way she danced with me that night, and how close she was to me. I thought that night was going to be the best night I would ever have even if I lived for a thousand more years

"You're getting good Harvey" She smiled putting her arms around my neck as the song ended, and moving her face closer to my own, just as our lips were getting close enough that I could feel her steady breath against them, everyone started screaming and she looked away from me, I cursed whatever had happened and looked around to find Nazi SS members rounding up everyone in the room. I looked around frantically to find the nearest exit where they wouldn't look.

"Elsie." I whispered and she turned to me "Follow me" I grabbed her hand and pulled her through the crowd of panicking people in the mist of all the people I saw Josef in the crowd; the last person I would have liked to see at that time. He was part of the SS now, and I knew that I couldn’t let him see me, if he saw me he’d expose me to Elsie and take her away from me. I found the small door that I was looking for a minute later I opened it quickly and dragged Elsie through it into a dark back alley. It was so silent in the alley that I could hear Elsie's breathing which had turned from steady to fast in the last few minutes, there were tears falling down her cheeks as I looked around at her.

"What's wrong?" I looked at her and longed to wipe the tears away.

"I am so sorry" She said as I moved closer to her and let her cry on my shoulder.

"It’s fine" I said stroking her hair to calm her down.

"No it's not" She removed her head from my shoulder and looked up at me, her eyes looked bigger than usual and I couldn't help fixating on them. "They could have caught us, if it wasn't for you we'd be the ones getting rounded up like sheep in there."

"Yeah but we didn't so why think about what could have happened."

"I guess you’re right... but…”
“No buts Elsie.”

“Do you think we're okay to leave here yet?" she changed the subject a little.

"I'll look"  I stepped forward and looked into the road, I couldn't see anything so I gestured for Elsie to follow me but as she was coming up behind me I saw the van that was carrying the Swing kids away. I pushed her away from the entrance and into the wall behind us. We were stood against the wall, her panicking that they'd seen us and me trying my best not to kiss her. She turned her face towards me and saw the longing in my eyes. She smiled at me and kissed me lightly on the corner of my mouth, obviously trying to tease me.

"Thank you."

"What for?"

"Saving me."

"I didn't save you."

"Yes you did, if you hadn't shown the initiative to run, I would have stayed there in shock and been taken away like those poor people."

"It's really fine, I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I’d let you be taken away."

"Why not?"

"Because I like having you around." She smiled shyly and looked at the ground.

"Thank you, I like having you around too." She put her hand on my cheek.

"I think it's safe now." I changed the subject again so I wouldn’t kiss her.

"Are you sure? - You're not going to push me against the wall again are you?"

"Unless you want me to then no." She laughed and we left the ally way slowly being sure to not draw any attention to ourselves in the process. I gave Elsie my jacket so she could hide her dress, it looked too much like the swing kids and they'd spot us a mile away. She held my hand tightly the whole way home; I kept praying that none of the SS would spot us or at least that I wouldn’t see Josef lurking around, but my prayers weren’t answered just as we turned around a corner we saw Josef with some young teenage girl who he had pinned against the wall, I could hear her crying and I looked at Elsie quickly, I knew she was going to say something and Josef hadn’t noticed us yet so I covered her mouth with my hand and pulled her back round the corner, I could hear her making small screams for the girl who was with Josef, I knew exactly what was happening behind the corner, I remember Josef bragging about it to me when we were just teenagers.

“She was helpless” He would tell me “Couldn’t even stop me, she hardly even put up a fight everything worked out perfectly, and I got exactly what I wanted.”

I listened to Josef around the corner as he attempted to get what he wanted from her.

“You’re just a worthless Jew, this is your fault that I have to do this to you, and you forced me to.” Josef shouted at the girl.  She begged for mercy for him to just take her to the gestapo but he wasn’t listening to her, there was only one thing he wanted from her and he wasn’t going to let her go without getting it. We had to stay there while he violently violated the girl, I had to keep my hand over Elsie’s mouth as it happened, and she kept covering her ears trying to block the girl’s screams out. She was obviously failing as I felt her tears dropping on my hand. Every now and then she’d try to get away from me, to go help the girl but I held her back because I knew what would happen if she got away, She kicked me a few times in the crotch but I kept holding onto her through the pain, I knew for a fact that she wouldn’t save that girl, she’d just get herself into the same or even worse position. After Josef had gotten what he wanted from the girl I heard him throw her to the floor.

“That’s the only thing you’re good for, remember that when the gestapo get hold of you.” When I was confident that he’d left I let go of Elsie and she ran around the corner as quickly as she could and sat by the girl’s side, who even though she didn’t know who Elsie was still took hold of her and cried big tears onto her stomach.

“It’s alright, you didn’t deserve that I promise you.” She stoked the girl’s hair

“How do you know what happened?”

“I saw him leave you here, where do you live? – me and Harvey will take you home.” She noticed me for the first time and looked at me with fear she backed away on the ground; it was obvious that Josef had put a feeling in her that will have made her fear every man she met from then on. She told Elsie the address and we walked her there, Elsie and I had to hold her up because she was too weak to hold her own weight. Elsie knocked on her door and an older man opened the door to us.

“What happened?” He said taking the girl away from us, he told us to stay there and took her up the stairs. He came back down and looked at me angrily as if I’d done that to her.

“What happened to her?”

“A SS man caught her, and he did… unspeakable things to her then just left her there all bruised on the floor.” He backed away like we were lying and I saw him clench his fist.

“Thank you for bringing her home, I’d hate to think what would have happened if you two hadn’t found her, It’s kind people like you that make living with Hitler as Führer bearable.” We said goodbye to the man and started on our way home.

“I can’t believe even a Nazi would do that.” She whispered a little.

“I can believe he would.”

“You know him?”

“Yeah…” I said nervous that I had given myself away.

“How?”

“We went to school together, I was best man at his wedding, and I’m his son’s godfather.”

“Was that before he became a Nazi?”

“Obviously, I haven’t seen him in 3 years, since his son’s christening.”

“I used to think that the SS were all talk, I didn’t think that they’d ever hurt us, maybe that they’re all just trying to protect themselves or their families but now I’m starting to think that they believe everything that Hitler tells them.” I hated that her hope was being taken away from her. I used to be one of those people that believed Hitler, when we were at school it was all fed to us as facts. As soon as Hitler got into power all our lessons revolved around his regime and nobody ever questioned it. Somehow Hitler found a way to get his regime into every single lesson, like in word problems in maths, they taught us how to spot a Jew in R.E and in science we were taught why we should find Aryan wives or husbands.

“Yeah I know, but I’m sure it’ll be over soon.”

“How do you know?”

“The war, England and France are fighting their hardest to get rid of him, we’ve just got to hope they do it soon.” I tried not to reveal how much I knew about the war.

“I’m starting to run out of forgiveness for them.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well I’ve always thought that the SS were just doing their job, so when my friends went missing and my father… I found a way to forgive them… I won’t be able to forget this as easily.” I knew that she knew that it could easily have been her behind that wall or any other Jewish girl in Germay.

“I wouldn’t expect you to.”

“Thanks for holding me back by the way.”

“It’s fine, I didn’t want that to happen to you to, and I knew that if you tried to help her he’d just get what he wanted from you.”

“You need to stop saving me; soon I’ll owe you too much.”

“You don’t owe me anything, I like saving you.”

“Why?”

“It’s an adventure” I smiled as we got to our houses. We stood at the bottom of the steps that led up to her house.

“I had a great time, you know before the SS man ruined it.”

“So did I, thanks for taking me there.”

“You shouldn’t be thanking me, if I hadn’t taken you there we wouldn’t have nearly got caught by the SS and had to listen to ….you know.”

“What did I tell you about what if’s” I reminded her. “Anyway, I liked seeing you dance.”

“Well, I may need to keep you around, since I met you seems I can’t live on my own without needing someone to save me” She joked.

“Well I’m here to save you if you want me.”

“I think I do; want you around more.”

“Then how about you come over tomorrow night, I’ll cook something from the rations I get.”

“Alright, sounds good.” She kissed the edge of my lip again and smiled a smile that could have brightened everyone’s day. 

“I’ll see you tomorrow then.” She said skipping off into her house, I watched her as she opened the door and Anneliese popped her head out of it and waved at me, I waved back before stepping up to my front door and putting my key in the lock, as soon as I put it in it snaps quickly, I wonder what I can do but decide to go over to Elsie’s to ask to use her phone, and as an excuse to see her a little more tonight. I walked over to her house and knocked on the door, Anneliese opened up and looked at me with a confused expression, she bit her lip as if deciding whether to talk to me but decided against it and just called Elsie, who also looked at me with a confused expression.

“What are you doing here?”

“Well I just couldn’t stay away from you.”

She laughed happily at me “ Really, what do you need?”

“My key broke in my lock, do you have a telephone?”

“No I’m sorry we don’t but you’re welcome to sleep on our sofa for the night, then I’ll show you the nearest locksmith in the morning.”

“Are you sure? – I don’t want to be of any trouble.”

“Yes I’m sure, come on in.” She said making way for me to come in, Anneliese had already ran upstairs so it was just the two of us.

“I’ll get some blankets and a pillow for you from upstairs, make yourself comfortable for now.”

“Thanks Elsie.” I sat down on their couch and waited for Elsie to come downstairs, I heard her soft footsteps walking down each step slowly and then coming into the living room.

“Here you go.” She said throwing a thick blanket that looked homemade and a pillow at me.

“Thank you.” I sorted them onto the sofa, spreading the blanket out and plumping the pillows up at one end.

“No problem, you going to go to bed now?”

“I guess so, are you?”

“No, I’m not tired.”

“How? – from the night we had I would have thought you’d be all curled up in bed right now.”

“Adrenaline I guess.”

“So what you going to do?”

“Well I was going to stay down here and talk to you, if you wanted to.”

“Sure…” it was honestly the best thing she could have said to me at that moment but I hid my emotions well.

“What shall we talk about?” She said sitting next to me on the couch.

“Well, I told you things about me, but you’ve never told me anything about you.”

“That’s a good point, what do you want to know?”

“What was your childhood like?”

“It was great, my parents may not have had much but they were great, because I was an only child until I was 15, I always had their undivided attention, before my dad died my mum was like my best friend, I told her everything like after my first ever date I told her everything about it, I even told her when I had my first kiss, there was nothing that I felt like I couldn’t tell her, but now it’s different. I feel sorry for Emilie sometimes because not only will she not remember our dad but she won’t know how mum was before she lost him.” I envied everything about Elsie’s childhood but I didn’t show it.

“What was your dad like?” I wanted to know everything about her life, including her father.

“He was great too, he treated me like I was his little princess, and he taught me everything he could he taught me the best way to grow every type of plants, and how to cook Sabbath diner perfectly on the Friday of every week”

“We never made Sabbath dinner when I was a kid.”

“Really, why not?”

“My parents didn’t see it as a big deal.”

“I love the Sabbath, it was the one day a week when my dad didn’t have to work and when he came home on Friday night, and we’d prepare the whole meal then spend all Saturday doing any family things we could think of. Obviously that stopped when Hitler got into power, we couldn’t draw any attention to ourselves by buying the ingredients we needed and we can’t grow it all, I kind of miss it.” She reminisced sadly.

“You’re making me wish that I’d experienced it.”

“Well if we’re both alive when Hitler gets defeated I’ll cook you it.”

“Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“Why has no man got you down the aisle yet?”

“Because I am picky with men, most men never survive the first date.”

“Have I?”

“Yes.”

“Why have I and not all those other men?”

“You just have something about you that intrigues me.”

“What’s that?”

“I can’t put my finger on it, if I figure it out I’ll let you know.” I wanted to know her inner most thoughts especially ones that included me.

“Deal.”

“Have I survived the first date?”

“Definitely, I knew that you would before I even came to dinner yesterday.”

“How?”

“I don’t know, I just felt something for you that I haven’t felt for anyone else, I’ve never even been on a date before.”

“Really, I’m guessing you’re 22 about and I was your first date.”

“Yes but I’m 24.”

“Wow, if I’d known then maybe I would have tried not to let you save me so much.”

“I enjoyed it and I didn’t save you, I did what any man would have done.”

“You think that Neanderthal would have done that for any woman?”

“That’s different.”

“How?- He’s a man and he wouldn’t do it.” She had a point and I put my hand around her waist.

“Okay you got me there but any decent man would have.”

“Stop putting yourself down Harvey, you saved my life not only once tonight but twice and that is only one reason why you survived our first date.”

“Guess you owe me one then.”

“Yeah I guess I do.” She shivered and I passed her the blanket which she made me share with her, I moved closer to her as she put the blanket over the both of us.

“It’s going to snow tonight” Elsie said conclusively.

“You say that like it’s a fact.”

“Well, I’m good with things like that, somehow I always know when it’s going to snow or rain, you’ll see.” She winks at me.

“You can’t possibly know that.” I didn’t believe her, I thought she was just playing around.

“I do”

“Alright then, we’ll see.”

“Yes we will” She said putting her feet up on the couch and resting her head on my shoulder. “How are you so warm?”

“I didn’t know I was.”

“Well you are, I’m so cold, do me a favour”

“Sure.” She grabbed my hand and placed it on her cheek then did the same with my other hand. “Thanks, now my face is warm.”

“Wow, you are cold.” Her cheeks made my hands a little chilly.

“I told you Harvey”  I looked into her eyes and saw another almost kiss moment and I try to get away from it but I can’t drag my eyes away from hers, but instead of getting interrupted or her breaking eye contact with me her eyes lock with mine and when I thought that she was going to turn away from me she moved her face closer to mine and parted her lips slowly so that the ends of them had to unstick from each just to part, I moved my hands from her face down to the back of her neck and moved closer to her so my lips are finally touching hers. We had the most perfect kiss, it didn’t last long but it was everything I had ever thought it would be, and I knew at that moment that I had fallen in love with Elsie Dubbin.

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