An Opel, German made truck circa 1930, whined its way down the side of the hill. He had a very bad feeling they were about to be submersed in a day’s worth of back and forth. He measured with his eyes and figured at least three trips. "Let’s start unloading."
"Maybe it’s not our contact."
Mark gave Flannery a look of disbelief. "Who else? There’s no one here. Hasn’t been anyone here in some time, I’d guess."
His friend shrugged and jumped back into the plane to pull the wooden crates from the stacks, neatly lining them at the door. "Come on old man. Get your ass up here."
Mark waved him off and walked toward the terminal. The truck rumbled to a stop feet from the end of the runway where he stood. He choked on the dense smog of exhaust, covering his mouth and nose.
A big man hoisted himself from the driver seat and stepped down. He wore brown overalls and a denim, long-sleeved shirt. His balding head glistened with a sheen of perspiration. Bushy eyebrows hooded large droopy eyes that lit up when he smiled. "Dzien dobry. Hallo!"
Some of the tension he’d been feeling since he’d flown out of Lakenheath dissipated. He grasped the older man’s hand. "Hello, I’m Mark Danbury, RAF."
The man’s accent, European, though Mark couldn’t determine where from, gilded his words. "We wait long time for someone to come."
"We’re a little short on information, but still glad to help in anyway we can." Mark turned and pointed toward the plane whistling through his teeth. "That’s Flannery O’Riley."
Flannery waved from his perch in the cargo bay.
"My name is Emil Tomaszewski. Come, let us help your friend so we can continue or journey." Emil walked with a slight limp, but despite that and the protruding middle, he carried more of his share during the task.
The midmorning sun caused sweat to pour down Mark’s face, but he appreciated the manual labor. It kept his mind from lingering on Maggie, from seeing her board the train with that knowing smile. Remembering the taste of her lips…
"Watch it, Mark." Flannery sidestepped him with a crate full of canned goods.
He broke from the trance he’d been convincing himself the work would distract him from and shook his head.
"So, you think about a girl, eh?" Emil stood at the cargo entrance with his hands upraised for another load. He slipped his fingers into the slots on either side of the crate Mark had shoved over.
"This is good! You have wife."
Mark smiled at the jovial man. After just an hour or so of work and talk, he now knew that Emil had been married twice and had two grown sons. James and Adalbert worked within occupied Poland, during the day as street pavers, but by night as underground network emissaries. His current wife was ten years his junior and had stayed by his side as they crossed through the Czech Republic[check this for timing] and Austria[bavaria?] before reaching Switzerland.
Mark imagined a stern woman, tall and strong…with muscles. He chuckled to himself. European women were not the same soft, loving female variety he was used to. Maggie would never have the strength for what Emil described, some days taking to the roads on foot.
"Yes. She is very pretty." Mark lifted the last box onto the bed of the truck.
"It all fit." Flannery walked up after closing the cargo bay door and removed his cap. He scratched his head. "I’ll be danged."
"No kidding. I was sure we’d be taking at least three trips." Mark lifted his small duffel bag from the ground and slung it over his shoulder.
Emil threw his head back and laughed. "I learn to pack. Very quick and tight." He patted the side of the truck. "Fuel is hard to come by, but we are lucky. So far, the German’s have stayed out of Switzerland. So, men like me—we bring our families into these mountains. And we do what we have to…including bring supplies in from the airport." He struck the air above his head with his finger. "We go! Marta has made a fine meal to share."
Mark’s stomach growled at the mention of food. "Thank you. We could use a meal and a good night sleep."
"How many families did you travel with?" Flannery squeezed in between Emil and Mark on the bench seat. Emil started up the engine before answering the question.
With his side pressed up against the door, Mark hung his elbow out the window. The fresh cool mountain air swirled through the window and into the cab. Mark caught the scent of hard work and sweat mixed with the mountain heather.
"In March five new families come from Germany. All together, there are eleven, three from Poland, three more from France, and one couple from Prague--newlyweds."
Mark’s mind wandered as Emil ran through a list of everyone’s name, what they liked, how long it took them to get to the farm… His head fell back against the seat and he rested his eyes as the truck rumbled through the quiet streets of Langnua before becoming dirt.
Flannery must have understood his fatigue because he kept up the easy banter, relieving Mark of the obligation.
He jerked awake when the truck ground to a halt. A tall house rose out of green rolling hills that were backdropped by the magnificent rise of the Alps. Gray peaks with tops of white, a fortress for this small farming community. Mark yawned away the vestiges of much needed sleep.
picture found at FiddlersGreen.net