That hadn’t gone well. Mordechai had been uneasy about the prospect of going over to Florian’s house in the first place, but the man had begged and pleaded and nearly guilt tripped him into the visit. Apparently it was in celebration of his daughter finishing middle school. One of the reasons for Mordechai’s hesitation was the idea of being around a lot of people, but Florian had told him he only planned to have him and another family friend over. Then he proceeded to go on and on about how much he wanted Mordechai to meet his wife and kids and how if Mordechai wanted him to, he’d keep it as “kozzer” as need be and how he’d drag him there anyways if he refused. Unable to find a reason to back out, Mordechai agreed, but as he was walking home, he wished he hadn’t.
Florian’s family was nice enough. He’d been a bit surprised by his wife, Miranda, who was a red head, about as pale as Florian himself, with a fiery attitude and just as American as one could be. But then again, Florian was full of surprises. He had two children, Kendall, the girl who was a spitting image of her father, and Lukas, the younger boy, who had to be repeatedly stopped from showing off his soccer skills in the house. If anything, they’d managed to make Mordechai a little sentimental, having separated himself from his family, but then again, Florian’s felt more like a family than his own ever had.
It was the so called, “family friend” that had left the hair on the back of his neck standing. He’d been introduced to Mordechai as Chadrik Schmidt, an acquaintance from Florian’s scatterbrained past. He stood a few inches shorter than Florian, but his overall presence was no less impressive. He was a calm, cool and collected contrast to Florian’s vibrant and animated demeanor, with thinning, silvery hair that was slicked back, sharp icy blue eyes and circular glasses that rested on the edge of his nose. His clothes looked as if they’d never once seen a wrinkle and even through his smiles and laughter, Mordechai picked up on an underlying pride and sense of constant composure, as that of an officer on duty. He had an almost perfect American accent, but not so good as to completely mask the obvious fact he was German. In fact, when Mordechai had hesitantly questioned where he was from just to be sure, he’d turned and with a look that sent chills down Mordechai’s spine, he proudly stated he was of Prussian descent and was born and raised in Dessau, Germany. Mordechai was more than willing to bet money that Chadrik would not be ready to say that as arrogantly as he did anywhere but in that room.
Maybe it was just him though. No one in the Hartmann family seemed to be affected by Chadrik, but Mordechai had always had a knack for reading people and from the way Chadrik had looked at Miranda, spoken to him and Florian, he didn’t seem to be too fond of anyone, hateful almost. But then again, this observation seemed to have not been made by anyone else. Perhaps it was just Mordechai’s distrustful personality firing up upon meeting a German so close to the atrocities that had taken place in Europe. Perhaps an overactive imagination had fabricated the detestation he’d seen behind Chadrik’s lenses. That had to be it. After all, he was a friend of Florian, and Florian was a respectable person from what Mordechai had seen so far.
Suddenly Mordechai stopped walking. This didn’t look at all familiar. Turning on his heel he looked back from where he’d come. He’d found his way out of the suburbs and back to the city, but where in the city was he? The place he was renting was in a quieter part of town, but then again, the entire city was quiet; what people in America called a “one horse town.” There were no fancy signs or lights to indicate where he was, just flat topped buildings and dusty old stores and businesses that had barely pulled through the Depression Era.
Biting his tongue, Mordechai looked around for a street sign to set him straight. He had to be up early for work the next day and couldn’t be wandering around the streets forever. Of course, whether he had a job or not, he couldn’t be wandering the streets forever. That just didn’t sound like a good life plan. Turning around again, he spotted what he was looking for across the road, but couldn’t make out the name in the dark. He looked both ways, though he knew there weren’t any cars to worry about but before he could step out onto the pavement a voice spoke out from behind him.
Mordechai spun around as if he’d been stung. He nearly stumbled over himself when he recognized the man behind him.
“Oh geez, Mistah Schmidt, you tryna’ give me a haht attack?!” Mordechai’s voice came out at almost a squeak at the sight of Chadrik standing over him. The first thought in Mordechai’s mind was ‘something out of a nightmare.’ When he received no reply, Mordechai self-consciously began smoothing out his vest and laughed awkwardly. “You been followin’ me uh’ somethin’?”
Chadrik’s reply came without hesitation and was spoken with such forcefulness that Mordechai immediately stopped what he was doing and looked up. Caught completely off guard by Chadrik’s response, Mordechai fumbled around, searching unsuccessfully for his words.
“Uh... w-wait... what? What do yo..”
“I wanted to have a word with you,” Chadrik cut him off, his voice carrying a sense of impatience. “But not there, the… neighborhood that is.”
Bad news, Mordechai, bad news, Mordechai thought frantically to himself. Guy follows you home to ‘have a word with you’, doesn’t ask to talk to you, but FOLLOWS you?! Still, his thoughts did not connect with his mouth and he stammered out, “Uh.. shour, whateve..” He barely had time to finish when he was forcefully shoved backwards into the side of a brick building. Milliseconds later, and Chadrik’s hand had an iron grip on his shirt collar.
“Thank you kindly.” Chadrik muttered as he pulled a cigarette out of his pocket. “Do you mind if I smoke?” he asked, though it wasn’t a question that needed an answer. Tense seconds passed as he held the cigarette between his teeth and reached back into his pocket for a lighter. As he lit it with at a painstakingly slow speed, Mordechai’s mind was racing. What was this? Intimidation? Well it was working. Mordechai held his breath as seconds turned into what seemed like minutes. Finally, Chadrik had slipped the lighter back into his pocket and after a long sigh, turned back to look Mordechai dead in the eyes.
“So… Mr. Mordechai……” he paused, flicking his hand around, obviously waiting for an answer.
“Toltzer.” The sound caught in Mordechai’s throat, as if Chadrik’s grip on his collar had stopped it, but he managed to force it out without stammering.
Chadrik’s eyebrows flickered with interest at the name. “Interesting,” He mused. “That name, it is..”
“Deutsch? Yeah, it is,” Mordechai’s lip curled, hating the way Chadrik was looking at him. “Family’s done a bit of travelin’. Kind of happens when Grandad’s country don’t like ‘im all that much no more.”
A slight smirk made its way onto Chadrik’s face and a puff of smoke swirled out from the crack between his teeth, making Mordechai think of the dragons he’d been told stories about as a kid. “Oh? Well congratulations to them for getting away in time.”
Mordechai couldn’t stop a scoffing laugh from escaping. “Yeah, thanks. I’ll let ‘em know.” He said, his brow furling into a glare as he met Chadrik’s gaze with the same ferocity. “Now what the hell’s this all about anyways?” Mordechai forced his balled up fists into his pockets, trying to prevent Chadrik from seeing how bad they were shaking.
The smirk disappeared from Chadrik’s face and was replaced an expression of complete seriousness. “I had heard quite a lot about you before tonight, Mr. Toltzer. Don’t worry, all good things. Florian thinks quite highly of you. Shameful really, for a man of such a bloodline and high standing as he. Of course, he does not know any better. Florian does not know much of anything, does he?” Chadrik paused with a quiet laugh that chilled Mordechai to the bone. It was the laugh of a person who knows something you don’t. “But you know what, Mr. Toltzer? I like it that way. It is better for both me and him, especially for me, actually. Tonight however, I heard something that… unsettled me a bit. You have been… helping Florian in piecing together this past of his?”
Mordechai swallowed, feeling as if he was going to melt under Chadrik’s searing gaze. “Y-yeah… I’ve been.. we’ve been.. lookin’ around things… searchin’ for a lead,” He admitted slowly, feeling sweat gathering on his forehead.
“Ah…” Chadrik clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and looked down at the ground for a brief moment. Then shaking his head, he laughed again. “Well, I have to give it to you, that is a very brave thing to do, given that he very well could have contributed to the near extermination of your kind. You have got some guts, more than what I would expect from a rat like yourself.”
Mordechai felt his fists tensing up again at Chadrik’s poison-laced compliment. Shut up, he thought venomously. Why don’t you just shut up?!
“Unfortunately, that just won’t do,” Chadrik continued, clicking his tongue again. “I am very thankful for what you’ve done for Florian, really I am. He is a lot happier now with someone to talk to, and when he is happy, he is not asking questions.” At this, Chadrik’s grip on Mordechai’s collar tightened and he stepped closer. “But if you start poking around in places you should not be, looking for your ‘leads’.. stirring up old ghosts… he is going to start getting… inquisitive again. He is going to want to fill in those black holes in his memory… He will be asking questions. Questions I would prefer him not to find an answer to. Verstehst?”
“Yeah,” Mordechai croaked in reply. “I git yah.”
“Good.” Chadrik dipped his head and peered over the rims of his glasses. Taking the cigarette out of his mouth, he held the smoldering end centimeters away from Mordechai’s face. “Because if you do not, Mr. Mordechai Israel Toltzer, there are going to be consequences for you, and if need be, for Florian and that little abomination of a family he has got.”
“U-understood.” Mordechai stuttered quietly, keeping his eyes on the smoking end of the cigarette until Chadrik pulled it away. The iron grip on his collar was released and Mordechai felt a gush of air escape his lungs. The tension in his body released so quickly, he had to lean against the wall to keep from falling down.
Chadrik had turned around to face the street and spoke up again after a few moments, the rigidity of his voice gone. “You will need to turn around and go back the way you came. Make a right turn down Laura Street and that will get you on the right track again. And I would not make a habit of this ‘getting lost’ thing. It might prove hazardous for your health.”
Straightening out his collar, Mordechai forced himself upright. Slowly with his head bent down, he crept behind Chadrik and humiliated, made his way down the street in the direction Chadrik had pointed him in.
“Oh, and Mordechai?”
The hair on the back of Mordechai’s neck stood upright, and he slowly turned back to look.
“I really think we can all be great friends,” Chadrik mused with a syrupy smile. “After all, this is America right? The land of opportunity?” He started laughing after he finished speaking. It was the cruelest laugh Mordechai had ever heard and sent shivers down his spine. Forcing himself to turn around, he tried to shove Chadrik’s voice from his mind and continued on his way home.
I needed to write something. I haven't been able to write or draw anything lately; everything I do comes out as total crap. Re-drew the pic for this at least 4 times in different ways until I finally settled on this. Short story isn't the best I've churned out, but wanted to work with "Chadrik." Been working on his character, and I have to say, he is turning into one of the most vile creatures out of all my antagonists. I love him. 8I
Still debating what I'm going to do with Politically Incorrect.
But... for now, as it is 3:30 AM.... I'm going to go to bed. :I
BTW, for those of you who are always asking me.... Happy Andy is next on my list of things to draw....
Mordechai, Chadrik, Florian -