“A Kapitany”, Chapter 35

Budapest Balcony with flowers

I started this novel seven years ago.  I dropped it, mainly because it started out with a bdsm theme and it fast queered me out.  I left it for 6 years, just dangling in my documents, but last year finished it.  The trick of this was the change in emphasis of theme.  Gone was the bdsm stuff  and the characters were able to develop.  The woman, Elizabeth more fully fleshed out, and Vadas, the former Dom, became more human.  Actually, besides an ‘action’ story, full of things like art thieves, violence and revenge, it also  became a love story between two very convoluted characters. I was able to research some historical information about WWII and what happened in Hungary and the ‘containment’ camps for Jews and all others, and especially what happened with the Soviet occupation.  All this information went into the novel and I believe deepened the plot.

I had a lot of fun this summer rewriting this.  Mostly tense changes and some other changes. This is just one chapter of 40 and perhaps I will post others later.

Lady Nyo

—-

Vadas slept badly. Shortly after dawn when first light appeared, he left the bed and stood watching Elizabeth, still sleeping. He avoided her questions the evening before, but she was no fool. She pressed him why Marcus was sitting in the hall of the lodge, obviously armed. Why the gun cabinet he was so careful about locking was unlocked and wide open. Why Maria wanted her company in the kitchen even though they couldn’t understand each other, and also because Maria wasn’t that welcoming of Vadas’ new squeeze. And why he had disappeared without notice.

Vadas avoided her questions until he started yelling at her. She didn’t back down. God, how she had changed in the months when he could do as he pleased! Now? She met him word for word, even yelling and stamping her foot. She was pushing him. He raised his hand, thinking she would shut up. He wouldn’t have hit her, just wanted her to stop with the questions. She looked shocked and then laughed. “You fall back into Hungarian because your English is so bad. Actually, it’s cute.” That had cut him. Cute? He was the Dom and didn’t think what he did was cute. What in hell was she thinking? Ah, there was no fear in this woman. She was fast getting the upper hand.

Vadas went downstairs. Maria must have gotten up even earlier as the coffee on the sideboard under the boar’s head was fresh, waiting for him. She must have heard the ruckus upstairs last night.

A cigarette and some coffee would concentrate his thoughts. He needed to think. He needed to get in control of Miklos and Elizabeth. Miklos was the serious threat, but Elizabeth was getting too bold. Ah, God. Women. If she wasn’t so fragile now, he would beat her. Of course he wouldn’t, but she needed to fear him a little.

It was still raining, but lighter today. The gloom outside fit his mood this morning. He looked out the window at the mass of trees and to the landscape stretching down the valley. There was a lot of land out there. He needed to put Elizabeth out there with a spade. Perhaps a plow. A big garden would tire her out, made her more docile.

Janos must have come in the middle of the night to lay the fire. Maria would be making breakfast soon. Elizabeth? Let her sleep. She probably was disturbed by his tossing in bed all those hours. By bed time they weren’t speaking. Like an old married couple, he thought with a sigh.

Miklos. He was in control now. His appearance (if that information was reliable) in Eger was part of his strategy. Andor was right: Miklos was playing cat and mouse. Vadas didn’t like being the mouse.

All this over a mere woman. No, that wasn’t right. Elizabeth was just a pawn in Miklos’ game. Actually a pawn in a shared game. He had done the unthinkable. He had pulled down the foundation of Miklos’ empire. Well, if not that, he certainly had disrupted his business. Why didn’t Miklos pick someone to replace him? He knew why. Twenty years and Miklos was comfortable the way things were. It was a delicate operation. Each man was necessary to the success of what they had been doing, illegal as it was. They were well honed parts of a particular machine. A man just didn’t walk into the job: years of risk and valued contacts, years of trust, at least with the clients. No, his wanting out had come from left field. Miklos didn’t believe he would walk away. It was an affront to his power and control. Of all injuries and insults, this was the one thing Miklos could not stand.

Vadas thought of the woman upstairs. It was an old tale, a classical tale. Both men wanted her. For different reasons, but both used her against the other. Vadas had used Elizabeth to break with Miklos; Miklos had used Elizabeth to break Vadas. It was like Achilles and Agamemnon, with Briesis between them. A long war with much causality until one defeated the other.

None of this was fair to Elizabeth. But women were pawns in the conflict between men. It had been so since the beginning of time. Why should it be any different now?

He felt like a sitting duck. Miklos was moving the pieces around the board right now. Well, there was nothing to be done about it except go on the offensive. Perhaps getting Elizabeth out of here for a while would give him time to develop his own plan besides sit and wait for Miklos to show his ass.

He sipped his coffee and decided he would take her to Budapest. Let her be introduced to the old girls there. It was right and proper she be brought before them anyhow. They shouldn’t meet her at the reception for the first time. Plus, he could kill two birds with one stone; he could meet with his wine clients and perhaps take in a museum or two. He had promised this to her before, and he had broke his promise. She was anxious, nervous. God knows she had reason to be. They were getting on each other’s nerves. A change of scenery would do them both good.

He would ask Zoltan to go with them. He would talk this crap through with Zoltan and get a better perspective. Right now he wanted to stalk Miklos to the ends of the earth, shoot him down in the street. He knew he had to be smarter if he wanted a future.

Vadas looked at his watch. Too early to call Andor and Marcus, but he wanted to meet with them before leaving. Perhaps they could meet together at Zoltan’s and lay down a plan while he was gone. Just talking it over with them would be good. Right now he was too close to the fire to think straight.

He heard someone in the dining room and thought Maria was bringing in breakfast. It was Elizabeth. She poured herself coffee and came into the room, saying nothing to him, only nodding her head.

“Good morning, Elizabeth. You sleep as badly as I did?”

“Your moving around in the bed didn’t help.” Elizabeth sat down across from him and looked out the window.

“I’m sorry, but I have a way to make it up to you.”

“What? Separate bedrooms?”

Vadas laughed uneasily. “No, smarty pants. That will never happen, not while we’re married. The winters up here are too fierce for that. No, I was thinking we go to Budapest later today to visit the aunties and play tourist.”

Elizabeth looked over the rim of her cup. “Are you serious, Vadas? Look me in the eye and say that?”

Vadas laughed. “So, you are picking up the phrases? Good, you need to learn if you live in Hungary.”

He sipped his coffee.

“Yes, would you like that? A change of scenery will do us both good. I am going to ask Zoltan to come with us. He needs a vacation, too.”

“I would like to see Zoltan. I would also like to see Budapest, again. This time with you instead of seeing it alone.”

She put her cup on the hearth. “Vadas? I want to pick up art supplies while we are there. I need to get back to my painting. I think it will calm me.”

“Then we will do it, Elizabeth. And it is time you met the aunties. We will stay maybe for three days. I will have to visit some of my wine clients while we are there, but you will enjoy that. We will go play the tourist like I promised.”

“Thank you, Vadas.” Elizabeth gave him a wry smile. “I’m sorry we fought last night. I didn’t enjoy it at all.”

“Well, that was hardly a fight, Elizabeth. The big ones come later in marriage.”   Vadas smiled into his cup.

“Vadas? Don’t ever raise your hand to me again. I am not a dog to discipline. You do, and I will be on the next plane back to the states.”

There was no mistaking her. Her tone said it all. Vadas knew she would do just that.

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth. You were pushing me. A man doesn’t like to be pushed. And, my English is good, not ‘cute’.”

“And a woman deserves answers, especially when it concerns her life.” Elizabeth stared into the low fire.

She would have the last word this morning, thought Vadas. Let her be difficult. She would come to know he was the man and a man didn’t answer every whine.

“Vadas, can we see Soffia in Budapest? I sort of miss her.”

“Sure, Elizabeth. You can call and warn her. I’m sure she wants to see you, too. But don’t think the old aunties want to see her. They never approved of Soffia, not in all these years.” Vadas laughed.

“Why, because she is a lesbian?”

“No, because they wanted me to get married after Marta, and Soffia looked too fast for their idea of a wife.”

Vadas stretched, the tension of last night mostly resolved.

“Look, Elizabeth. I go see Zoltan. I won’t be long. I need to talk to him. You go pack and pack for me, too. It will give you good practice when we marry.” Vadas half closed his eyes and smiled at her. Now, he would have the last word.

While Elizabeth was upstairs he called Andor. They agreed to meet at Zoltan’s. Then he called Zoltan to let him know he was coming. Gulping down one last cup of coffee and chewing on some bacon, he left before Elizabeth could appear and ask more questions.

Vadas met Marcus and Andor on the road to Zoltan’s cottage. Again the same dog met them at the gate and again Zoltan’s cousin yelled at the cur. It ran to the back under the house. Zoltan was in his favorite chair, his shoes propped up on the fender of the woodstove. It was early, but he was drinking plum wine. The cousin brought in a tray with a bottle and glasses. She left it on the table with a large sausage and a knife. The men found places to sit and Vadas poured out the wine.

“Well, Zoltan. We got news Miklos was seen in Eger yesterday. Maybe true, maybe not. But I have men there watching. It’s a big town, and Miklos knows the hiding places. But so do the men. We will see what happens. You up for a trip to Budapest?”

Zoltan blew out smoke and nodded. “Sure, sure, I’m up for anything right now. I’m getting stir crazy sitting here. I got my pills. I can visit a woman I know. Fine, but I drive, Vadas. We will make it with our lives spared.”

The other men laughed. Vadas drove too fast, talked too much and drove with his knees, his arms flailing around with his talking. Only Zoltan was used to his ways, but now? He decided he had tempted fate enough and wasn’t a cat with nine lives. Being in Vadas’ company was dangerous enough. He would drive.

“What about Miklos’ men? Has anyone seen or heard of them lately?” Vadas lit another cigarette.

“Nah, only that Barna is still bitching about his finger. He can’t grip his cock with his hand missing a finger,” Marcus said.

The men laughed. “Barna better be grateful Vadas left him his cock to play with,” said Zoltan.

“What about this Ukrainian?”

“Nobody has seen him, Vadas, but he’s probably lying low. What happened to Barna sent a clear message to those dickheads.”

“To some of them. Some need to clean the wax out of their ears.”

There was nothing new so they decided to continue to wait and see. Sooner or later they would flush out Miklos and his merry men. It was a dangerous game all around, but they had little to go on. They could wait. Miklos would come to them, eventually. The point was not to fall into another trap. That would mean ‘game over.’

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

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