Scene 46 ‘Defiance’
Defiance: 1 Bridget’s POV
Janek whimpered beside Bridget as she watched Bert and Gillian rush across the road. Roman crouched over her; held her shoulders and muttered, ‘Gowno, gowno, gowno.’
‘What’s happened?’ Gillian bent down and held Bridget’s face in her hands for a moment. ‘Are you injured?’
Bridget clapped her hand over Gillian’s arm. ‘Yes, yes, I fell. Get an ambulance.’ She heard the fear in her voice. Gillian looked up at Bert. ‘Love, go call an ambulance.’
Bert glanced down at his night clothes. ‘Like this, in the middle of the night?’.
Gillian waved her hand. ‘Doesn’t matter. Nobody will see you.’ Bert frowned.
Roman stood up. ‘It just bump, no need for fuss.’
‘Roman, get me some water, please.’ Bridget shot a glance at Gillian. Roman hesitated but turned on his heels towards the kitchen.
‘Something’s wrong with him. Get an ambulance quickly,’ Bridget whispered to Bert.
Roman returned with a glass of water as Bert hurried off to the phone box in the next street. Bridget saw his hand shake as he passed the glass over her shoulder.
‘Why are you wearing winter clothes Roman, it’s boiling,’ Gillian said, as she settled herself next to Bridget on the threshold to place her arm around her shoulders. Roman didn’t answer but Bridget heard him whisper something to Janek, who quietened.
‘Move out of my way,’ Roman said. Bridget turned to see him holding Janek in one arm and his bag in the other. Roman pushed Gillian to one side with his knee and ran off.
‘No! Stop!’ Bridget yelled after him. ‘Roman. Don’t.’
‘What the blazes,’ Gillian said. ‘What the hell is happening, Bridget?’
Bridget put her face in her hands and rocked herself back and forth, teary-eyed. ‘He’s gone crazy. I don’t know. He was ranting about the Germans invading.’
‘It was the storm. It set him off.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘It sounds mad, Gillian, but he said we’d to run and hide in the forest….’ Bridget cried uncontrollably then; great sobs heaved out of her chest. Gillian held her tight and smoother her hair away from her forehead.
‘It’s all right love. The ambulance will be here shortly. They’ll know what to do.’
‘Bert can go look for them?’ Bridget said. ‘When he’s back?’ She pulled away from Gillian and tugged at the roots of her hair, shaking her head from side to side.
‘Yes. He can. He will.’
‘What if Roman hurts Janek? He’s not in his right mind. Oh, God!’
‘Oh, he wouldn’t. Surely. Not Roman.’
‘He might go to Andrej’s.’ Bridget felt relief for a split second.
‘That’s a long walk in the middle of the night,’ Gillian said. ‘Oh, look whose here.’
Bridget heard the puffing of breath and looked up to see Bert. ‘They’re on their way,’ he said, bending to rest his hands on his knees for a moment before he straightened up to look around. ‘Where’s Roman?’
Bridget started to cry again.
Soon the ambulance appeared in the street and pulled up at Bridget’s house. A man jumped down from the front, and the driver followed him shortly. ‘Now, who’s the injured one?’ he said as he approached the group. Gillian and Bert moved aside to let him kneel and examine Bridget’s ankle.
‘Can you wiggle your toes?’
‘Good. Let’s get you inside to take a good look.’ He signalled his colleague, and they supported Bridget to the ambulance as she hopped on one leg.
While he examined her ankle, Bridget blurted out what happened in bursts between tears. ‘I didn’t really want the ambulance for me,’ she said. ‘I wanted it for him.’
He nodded as he wrapped her ankle in crepe bandage. ‘It’s a strain, bit of a nasty one though. I think you should come into the hospital tonight.’
‘Will I need to stay?’ Bridget said. ‘It’s just I need to be here if they come back?’
‘I shouldn’t think so, but it’s best to check.’
‘D’ya need your handbag or anything?’ Gillian asked as she stood by the open doors. Bridget nodded to her.
‘Now what about your husband and son? The ambulance man asked. ‘Do we call the police?’
Bert and Gillian looked at one another, astonished before Gillian scurried to fetch Bridget’s bag. ‘What shall I do, Bert?’ Bridget said. ‘I just want them back safe.’
‘Sounds sensible to me,’ Bert said. ‘And it might be for the best love. He hasn’t done anything wrong, after all.’
Defiance 2: Roman’s POV
As Roman ran down the road carrying Janek, he decided they should hide in the woods, a twenty-minute walk that provided plenty of shelters.
‘Where are we going?’ Janek asked him a few times, then slumped onto his shoulder and slept.
Roman followed the path that curled down from the Bridge to access the woods below. He knew the route well because they had walked it often since their move. But in the dark, carrying Janek and a bag, he had to tread carefully to scan the ground for stones and other obstacles to trip over. At its base, the path wound into the dense woods. Roman was heading for a place they used as a picnic spot, a massive boulder, worn into an enclave-like shelter on one side. They could sleep there, and the next day, he would assess the situation.
The earlier storm had given way to a freshness in the air. Raindrops dripped from the tree branches as Roman brushed them aside. Occasionally a cracking twig would sound in the distance, and Roman would stand still for a moment, listening hard. He pressed on, proud of his navigational instinct. The shape of the boulder came into view under the beam of the half-moon.
Roman took off his coat and laid it on the soggy ground. It would get wet, but he couldn’t think how else to avoid Janek catching a chill. Roman laid Janek down, who rubbed his eyes and turned onto his side, head rested on his hand’s prayer-like, knees pulled up to his stomach. Roman lit a match, then a candle that he pushed into the soft ground. The flame barely wavered in the still night are. Light from the candle showed the area that provided shelter was thick with grass and weeds. Roman fell to his knees and began to rip the weeds away in clumps to flatten the ground where they would sleep. His hands stung from the nettles that intertwined with the dock leaves and grass, but he kept on clearing until there was a space for them to sleep. Roman heard a spring tinkle nearby where he wanted to rinse the nettles from his hands, but it was too risky to leave Janek, even though he was asleep. He laughed at himself, remembered the misery he had endured, hunger, beatings, witness to executions, what was a little stinging in the fingers compared to that.
Roman gently lifted Janek onto his shoulder. He pulled the coat into the curve of the boulder, laid it and Janek down, kneeled to drag his bag over as a pillow, then collapsed down himself, placing his arm over Janek and curling around him.
Roman stirred when he heard voices approaching. He opened his eyes; it was early morning; the light rose behind the trees. He shook Janek’s shoulder. Whispered in his ear. ‘Wake up, Janek, wake up.’ Janek turned and groaned something inaudible. Roman jumped to his feet as two policemen emerged from behind a tree, creeping towards him slowly. One of them spotted him and straightened up.
‘Roman Kozynski?’ he said, stretching his arm out to stop his colleague from moving further.
Roman bent towards Janek, who sat up staring at the policemen. ‘Get up, Janek. It’s time we go.’ Roman grabbed his arm but kept his gaze trained on the police. Janek wobbled to his feet.
One of the police moved forward a few steps. His foot rolled and snapped a twig. ‘You’re not in trouble. We need to check your both alright.’ He raised his hands in the air in a surrendering gesture. ‘Your wife Bridget, she’s very worried about you.’
‘I worry for her. Germans coming,’ Roman said, then pulled Janek behind him. ‘You no hurt my son.’
The policeman took a few more steps towards Roman. ‘You must be hungry by now?’ He said to Janek. ‘Why not come with us for a nice warm breakfast.’
Roman bent to sweep Janek up in his arms. ‘It trap,’ he said.
‘No, you’ve got it all wrong. We want to take you home.’
Roman bent sideways towards his bag as the policeman sprang forward and grabbed his arm. The other followed quickly. They held Roman between them and pushed Janek away. One grabbed Roman’s arms and twisted them behind his back. He cuffed him. Roman struggled, kicked out, then stumbled to the ground. A policeman fell on top of him, restraining his legs.
‘Just come quietly. It’ll be okay.’ They yanked Roman to his feet. Janek screamed and shrieked, his face a furious red. A policeman took his hand. ‘We’ll go see your mummy now,’ he said, leading Janek with one hand and Roman with the other.
(Gowno – polish for shit)
- : Drama, fiction, mid-20th Century