Chapter 3

Dorian checked his makeup in the bathroom mirror. Perfect.

"Here, danke," he said, handing the prostitute beside him the tube of lipstick she'd loaned him. He'd finally found Der Zentram Klub and was now in the bathroom of the coffee shop across the street, preparing to make his debut. Thanks to the other girls on the street, he'd gotten a new pair of stockings, fixed his hair and re-applied his makeup. The girls had been very sweet and helpful, not at all like the hardened whores portrayed on television. At ten o'clock, he strutted across the street to Der Zentram Klub. He felt fabulous, despite the day's earlier run-in. He was beautiful, clever and in love. What could the world refuse him? The Perfume of the Gods, Klaus, and a lifetime of happiness would be his. He opened the club door.

The hard, pounding of the American dance music shook the floor, the walls and Dorian's own body. He walked along the edge of the black-tiled dance floor, kohl-lined blue eyes scanning the few patrons that were there. It was early for the night crowd yet and the floor was empty. The dozen or so men and women that were there were sitting at the bar or occupying small tables around the dance floor. The big boys wouldn't be there for a while, until after they'd hit the hot spots uptown.

Dorian adored the primitive, angry sound of American rap music. The concept of it, the roots and the reasons, were so completely alien to the aristocrat. In this surreal world of light and sound, the driving, pulsing rhythm was so inviting to his impatient limbs. It pulled him onto the dance floor, alone, and like some voodoo doll of music, made him dance. A tribal dance, a primitive dance, for the drums pounded a jungle beat and the chanting of the singer was like a prayer to some ancient god of dance-of energy. He threw back his head and closed his eyes. Red lights shone against his eyelids. He could imagine a raging bonfire around which he danced, flickering like a stray flame. The song bled into another and another, sometimes American, sometimes English, sometimes German. More people arrived. More stepped onto the dance floor and added their heat and energy. Dorian swung his long, loose, sweaty curls, lost in the music, the dance, the atmosphere. He danced with partner after partner, his feet in agony and the velvet and padding absolutely drenched, but he didn't care.

He shone like a star among the throng, but he wasn't aware of that. He wasn't aware of how everyone watched him, how some worked their way through the crowd just to dance with him, or even simply to be next to him. He didn't notice the people pointing to him and asking each other: "Wer ist sie?"

"Who is she?" asked the elegant man in the Giorgio Armani suit. He laid his jacket over the back of his chair and stood on his toes, craning his neck to see over the crowd. To see the Amazonian vision. His companion shook his head and shrugged. The elegant man smiled and made his way to the crowded dance floor. "I must find out."

Eroica raised his hands overhead and undulated sinuously to the slow, aching song filling him.

Damn, I wish I was your lover....

He could relate. Though he'd heard the song a hundred times, it still moved him. He knew that kind of hunger.

I had a dream I was your hero....

He tossed back his head, turned away from the lights and into the arms of Herr Stefan Dieslinger. Stefan's eyes were down-tilting and heavy-lidded; they seemed both mischievous and world-weary. They reminded Dorian of Oscar Wilde's eyes. Those eyes sparkled at Dorian, challenged him, and claimed him. Piece of cake, thought Dorian.

Herr Dieslinger leaned close to Dorian's rhinestoned ear. "Who are you, my angel?" he shouted over the music.

Dorian just smiled and nodded, dancing away from him slowly, sensuously. Stefan followed, a wolf stalking its prey. He took Dorian's arm and asked again, "Who are you?"

Dorian put his hands on Herr Dieslinger's shoulders and brought this red mouth dose to his ear. "Your angel." He slipped away into the crowd.

Stefan was, to use the vernacular Black Americanism, "got." He pressed on through the crowd, ignoring those who knew him and tried to stop him for a friendly "hallo." There was only one thing on his mind: spreading the wings of his "angel." He couldn't find her anywhere. He looked rather silly, making circles around the floor, peering up over the pulsing crowd, but he didn't care. Frustrated, he returned to his table.

The angel was standing there, holding his jacket. "Shall we go?" she smiled.

Stefan took his jacket from her and pulled her to him with his other arm. He kissed her hard on the lips. "Absolutely."

The Major was making his way back to the Prinz Carl tavern about the time Dorian was trotting across Ginhardt Strauss toward Der Zentram Klub. He hoped the eight o'clock crowd had gone away and no one who'd witnessed his earlier confrontation would be there. It had grown chilly with the coming of night. He wore a wool jacket and white cashmere scarf and had his bangs and below-shoulder-length black hair slicked and gelled back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck. He thought it would make him look more severe. Also, in case there were any of the eight o'clock crowd left, maybe they wouldn't recognize him without his trademark bangs.

He shoved his hands into his trouser pockets and bent into the slight breeze. The street life had quadrupled in the past two hours. He walked briskly and made no eye contact.

The door of the Prinz Carl was clotted with various and sundry creatures of the night. He paused. He didn't look forward to pressing into that crowd. He was still a block away, on the other side of the street. He scanned up and down the sidewalk. So far he'd not seen a single Egyptian in all of Munich. A couple of Saudis, a Turk and an Indian, but no Egyptians. And, fortunately, no Eroica, either. But to think that the little devil was gone would be naive. He knew him too well.

A young voice behind him asked, "Spend some time with me, my lord?"

Klaus turned slowly, reluctantly. A tenderly young boy stood there, his large eyes as black as despair. His long white hair streamed straight and flaxen down to his waist. The boy looked emaciated. Klaus had to look away. "No," he answered, low and gruff, and began to walk away.

"Only thirty marks, sir," the boy persisted.

Klaus cringed. Thirty marks might buy a few meals, or shelter for one night in a sleazy inn, if he was lucky. Or perhaps whatever drugs were keeping the wraith on this plane.

"No," Klaus said again, unease sharpening his voice.

He was only able to take a few more steps before the boy grabbed his sleeve.

"All right, twenty marks, right now, a quick one in the alleyway."

Klaus whirled and grabbed the boy's wrist. The small hand in his was like a skeleton's hand. There was no strength or resistance.

"No! I do not want you!"

The boy's flesh was cold. His white hair and white bony hands and his eyes so empty and black made him look like a spectre. A poor lost soul unable to go on, trapped in a non-existence. Klaus' heart twisted, but his expression never changed. He thought about how the boy was utterly alone, even as he himself walked away. Had this happened a few years ago, Iron Klaus would have been able to keep walking. But now....

He turned back to the boy. The ghost-child was making his offer to another passerby who also refused him. He saw Klaus stop and hurried up to him.

"Change your mind?" he said, forcing a smile on his pale lips.

Klaus regarded him silently a moment. What had brought on this softness in him? Was he mellowing with age? He removed his scarf and placed it around the boys thin shoulders. Then he handed him fifty marks. "I don't want anything," he said. "Just take it and go." At last he was able to walk away. But he heard little footsteps following. He walked a little faster. So did the boy.

 

 

"I don't want anything from you," he hissed, whirling on the prostitute with a scowl. "That's it!" He hurried across the street.

The white haired boy watched his handsome benefactor run away. He hugged the scarf close around himself and swallowed rising tears. The generosity of this stranger; it had been so close to caring. He had needed the money but he had also craved the closeness of another's warm body. And this man had given him fifty marks, his scarf, and asked nothing in return. That was the worst pain, to be shown compassion, and then be rejected. But his stomach was racked by hunger cramps and he needed a place to sleep. He watched the man disappear into a tavern, then turned away and thought only of survival.

Klaus brushed by the people at the door and entered the tavern. He looked around carefully. He had no idea what Mattias Pfarr looked like, but Mandel, the young go-between who worked for the dealer, had said Herr Pfarr would be wearing a red hooded windbreaker. No red jackets in here. Klaus took a booth along the far wall.

It wasn't long before Mattias entered, accompanied by a tall thin Egyptian. Klaus caught his eye and nodded. They came over and sat down across from him. "Herr Pfarr," he said, inclining his head in acknowledgement.

"Herr Scherer," the red-haired man replied. "This is my associate, Azhan." The Egyptian merely gave a nod.

"Let's get right to business," said Klaus. "Do you have any samples of your wares?"

"Is there anything specific you have in mind?" asked Pfarr, signaling the waitress.

Klaus said nothing until the waitress had taken Pfarr's order and left. "Gold. Jewels. The death mask. What were they able to get out with?"

The waitress returned and set down dark, bitter German beers in front of everyone. Again, silence reigned until she was gone.

"Mostly small objects at first, but eventually, we collected the majority of the tomb's contents. Including the body itself, but it's gone missing. Only the sarcophagus remains." All the old mummy movies Klaus had caught on late night television came back to nudge uncomfortably at the edges of his mind.

"Well, what can I see now?" Klaus asked.

Mattias and the Egyptian exchanged looks, then Mattias reached into his jacket. Klaus tensed and got ready to go for his gun. Slowly, Herr Pfarr withdrew an envelope. He slid it across the table towards the Major. Inside were photos of the burial treasure. Klaus looked at each photo carefully, trying to determine where they were taken. The backgrounds were all of the same stone wall and cement floor. A basement perhaps. He laid aside three photos, one of an ornate unguent box, one of a gilded cedarwood chest and one of the prince's throne. "These."

"Ah, yes, well the throne has a current bid of three million pounds from an Englishwoman."

Klaus bristled until he reasoned that Dorian would never bid on anything he could steal.

"Three million pounds, yes?" Klaus said, chewing his lip thoughtfully. "About two million marks, right?"

"Right."

He pretended to examine the photo of the throne. At length he said, "Three million marks."

"And on the other items?"

Klaus took a sip of his beer and smacked his lips. "For the box, my people will be willing to go 60 thousand, I'm sure. And for the chest, 90 thousand." Pfarr and Azhan whispered back and forth for a minute, then the German turned back to Klaus.

"Agreed, but of course, we will need proof of your good credit."

"Of course." Klaus gave them a deadly smile and reached into his jacket. The two men visibly tensed and moved their hands ever so slightly towards themselves. But all Klaus withdrew was his falsified bankbook and identification. Pfarr and his silent companion looked it all over slowly.

"All seems to be in good order, Herr Scherer. We must sell quickly, you understand, but we also wish to be fair to all our bidders."

"Naturally," Klaus smiled. "Your boy, Mandel, knows how to get in touch with me. When will the final bid be taken?"

Pfarr shrugged. "This weekend, perhaps."

"And where will the sale take place?"

Pfarr smiled. "We deliver."

Klaus stood to go. "I will be in Munich until Sunday. I hope to hear from you soon."

"Good." With that, the deal was done for the night. He only wished he knew something about the Egyptian. He had a bad feeling about that one.

 

Next Chapter
Eroica