Lori has been writing fiction since she first caught the writing bug at age nine.
Anna Wronski - Mother of Gita, wife of Rufin Wronski, mysterious disappearance 1939, lives in Pacific Northwest, USA.
Gita Wronski - Polish daughter of Anna and Rufin Wronski. Childhood friend of Sasha Mazur.
Rufin Wronski - Polish. Husband to Anna Wronski, father to Gita, Borys Kowalski's right hand man.
Ula Kowalski - Polish. Wife of Borys Kowalski, godmother to Gita Wronski.
Borys Kowalski - Polish. Corrupt politician; godfather to Gita, husband of Ula.
Sasha Mazur - Polish. Childhood friend of Gita Wronski. Private Investigator. Son of Judge Jakub Mazur.
Minor Characters in Poland
Jakub Mazur - Polish. Father of Sasha Mazur, corrupt dangerous judge.
Karol Lonski - Polish. Government official 1939.
Oskar Klebeck - Polish. Personal attorney to government official Karol Lonski, Found dead in the Vistula river in June 1939.
Sebastian Koslow - Polish. Acclaimed Polish Journalist.found dead in an abandoned warehouse, August 1939.
Robert Barron - American investment banker, business dealings with Borys Kowalski.
From Part 17
Gita was very unhappy that Sasha had ignored her since he'd come to Warsaw to investigate her mother's disappearance.
Sasha formulated a game plan for his investigation. His first step was scheduling an interview with Karol Lonski's wife, who lived with her grandson. He also called in another investigator to cover more ground in the investigation.
Interview With Mrs. Lonski
The interview with Mrs. Lonski didn't really provide anything new to the case. She was still spry at eighty five, and filled Sasha in on some of her husband's career. She affirmed that Borys Kowalski had designs on her husband's position on the Sejm and in the end got what he wanted.
She told the story with great indignation. "Karol's attorney, Oskar Klebek, told my husband that Borys Kowalski threatened to make false accusations that he'd had a long adulterous relationship with a woman and fathered a child by her. Apparently Mr. Kowalski convinced a woman to attest to it. But Oskar looked into it and learned she was a prostitute with a child and had been given a large sum of money by Rufin Wronski on behalf of Borys Kowalski. When Mr. Kowalski learned that Oskar had proof...well, Oskar turned up drowned in the Vistula River with a blunt force injury to the head. What does that tell you? The authorities said the investigation turned up nothing and the case went cold. But I know, I KNOW, Borys Kowalski had something to do with it. And I have no doubt he paid off the authorities. I can't prove it, but it's obvious to me." Mrs. Lonski's eyes misted and her voice quivered. "The stress was just terrible on my husband and me and on our marriage. I suspected that there were further threats to Karol that he hid from me, forcing him to resign, and that horrid man, Borys Kowaski got his job. My husband was never the same. He turned to liquor and within five years died from alcoholism."
Mrs. Lonski's grandson suggested strongly that Sasha should end the interview. Sasha thanked Mrs. Lonski and left.
The fact is, some of the story he already knew, and some of it he had suspected by reading through Borys' papers. It seemed to have no tie to Anna Wronski's disappearance. He'd asked Mrs. Lonski if she and her husband had known Rufin and/or Anna Wronski and also if she'd heard of or known Robert Barron, the American investment banker. She had heard of Rufin Wronski but never met him. If her husband had been acquainted with him she was not aware of it. Neither had she known a Robert Barron.
Sasha mentally tucked this story away in his brain, feeling fairly certain it had no merit in his investigation of Mrs. Wronski's disappearance, but perhaps later it might give a clue.
Finally a date
Sasha was drained and exhausted after the interview, having had little sleep the night before. He went to his hotel room, ordered a sandwich and coffee from room service, and decided to call Gita before he napped. Gita was not home so he got the number of her workplace and called. Gita answered the phone.
"Gita, it's Sasha."
Gita was still miffed that he had not called her the last few days. "Hello Sasha," she said. "What can I do for you?"
Sasha was taken aback by her cool formality and then it hit him she was probably mad at him because of his silence. "Gita, I'm sorry I haven't called. Truly I am. But I've been working really hard on my investigation into your mother's disappearance. You'll have to forgive me. I have tunnel vision when it comes to my work. I am really focused. I promised you I'd find her, or what happened to her and I don't want to let you down."
Gita softened. "Oh Sasha, that means so much to me. I can't thank you enough. Will I see you soon?" She mentally kicked herself for being forward. She didn't want to seem needy or demanding of his attention and affection.
"I'd like to take you to dinner. What time do you get off?"
"I get off at five."
"I'll pick you up at 6:30 then. Gita, I..." He wanted to say I love you, but it wouldn't come out. "I look forward to seeing you tonight."
Gita's heart was pounding. It sounded as if he was going to say "I love you." Then a flicker of disappointment went through her. Perhaps he's just not ready yet, or perhaps he wasn't going to say it at all. "Yes, I'll see you tonight, Sasha." She hung up and could think of nothing else for the rest of the day but their date in the evening. "What will it be?"
Dreams of Little Pearl
For the first time since he'd arrived in Warsaw Sasha's thoughts were consumed with Gita. He thought about her beautiful deep auburn eyes, her freckles, her soft red hair, her delicate white skin, her scent of lavender, her endearing laugh. But soon, despite his best efforts, his lids began to droop. He set his alarm for fifteen minutes and would just take a quick power nap. He felt guilty napping when there was so much more to do towards the investigation, but he couldn't work when he could barely stay awake. He was asleep the moment he hit the pillow. He dreamed.
Nine year old Sasha sat in the tall meadow grass. His mind was far away, full of anger, sorrow and darkness. Yet again he'd witnessed violence toward innocent Jewish citizens on the cobbled streets of the Warsaw Ghetto where his father visited every so often, forcing Sasha to accompany him. The shaking had stopped finally, and his darkness had turned numb. Then he heard that sweet voice.
"Sasha, where are you? It's me Gita."
Sasha heard her in the distance. His heart didn't awaken right away as it usually did when he heard or saw her. But finally, the music pierced through his wounded soul and his young heart fluttered.
"I'm over here, Gita." He stood and waved his arms so she could see him. A smile broke out on her freckled face. Even from far away he could see a shiny fleck of gold in her eyes from shimmering sunlight.
Gita broke into a run. "Well, are you going to make me run the whole way?" she yelled.
"I've saved a spot for us. Take your time." What he really meant was 'Hurry, my love.'
When Gita reached him she plopped down in the grass next to him, out of breath. "I only have a few minutes but I have something to show you, Sasha." She pulled a shiny gold chain with a large oval shaped pearl at the end of it out of her dress pocket. "Hold out your hands," she said.
Sasha obeyed and she let it slip gently into his hands. He examined it carefully. "It's very nice, Gita. Where did you get it?"
"Very nice? That's a boy for you. It's beautiful and it's a real pearl. I was looking around in Aunt Ula's jewelry boxes. I found this in a special drawer in the back of one of them. When Aunt Ula came in I held it up and asked her about it. She got a funny look on her face. She asked me where I got it. I showed her. She told me it was my mother's. She said she didn't realize she still had it. She said she gave it to Mama when I was born. The pearl is me. You know, Gita, Little Pearl. She told me to put it back. I pretended to but I took it. If it belonged to Mama it belongs to me."
"What if your father finds it?"
"He's not my father and I'm going to find a good hiding place for it."
"Turn around, Gita." When she turned he fastened it around her neck. "It's beautiful on you, Little Pearl."
Gita looked down at the pearl which represented how much her mother cherished her. A little tear trickled down her cheek. "I'd better take it off now," she said, "in case I forget and Rufin sees it." Sasha removed it and let it drop into her hands. She tucked it back away in her pocket and patted it tenderly. Sasha was so moved he forgot himself and leaned over and kissed her cheek. She looked up into his face, lingered a second, then stood up. "I have to go Sasha. Thank you for putting the necklace on me. You're the best friend I've ever had." She ran off through the tall grass and was gone.
"I love you, Little Pearl," he whispered. "With all my heart."
Sasha awoke to find he'd been asleep for two and a half hours. He wanted to drift off to sleep again so he could dream about the memories of their childhood friendship. But in another hour he had to leave for his date with her. He didn't need to dream of her when he would be with her in a very short time. He stood up and stretched and headed to the shower.
The Judge Comes Calling
Sasha examined himself in the mirror like a school girl dressing for the prom. He straightened his tie, ran a comb through his hair one last time, and put on his coat. He looked at his watch. He'd taken too long dressing. He hurried toward the door. Just as he was about to open it a harsh knock came. Irritated, he reached for the door knob, ready to send whoever it was on their way quickly. He didn't want to keep Gita waiting.
Sasha's heart stopped when he opened the door. His father, Judge Jakub Mazur, filled the doorway.
"Hello Sasha," he said, as if he were on a friendly call. They hadn't see each other for over ten years. Their last meeting was so heated Sasha had grabbed his father by the collar and pushed him up against the wall with a threat that if he ever hurt his mother again he would kill him. There'd been a struggle and his father got the upper hand and walked out leaving Sasha humiliated.
"What do you want?" Sasha said through gritted teeth.
"Don't mind if I do come in," his father said, stepping past him.
"Get out. I have nothing to say to you. I told you last time, as far as I'm concerned, you are not my father. You are dead to me."
"Yes, well, here I am, alive and well."
"Get out, now."
"I'll be on my way after we take care of some business."
"We have no business."
"But we do Sasha. Now sit down."
Sasha remained where he stood. His father wanted him to sit so he could set physical dominance over him, a lifelong tactic he used to overpower people and get his way. Sasha was not going to oblige him. He noted the heavy bags under his father's aging eyes, the deep furrows between his brows and hard lines around his mouth and chin. His once lean, hard torso was now rotund, protruding flab spilling over his belt, buttons straining down the front of his shirt. He noticed a tremor in his father's hands. Even his voice sounded a little weak. 'He's sick,' Sasha thought to himself.
"Okay, have it your way," his father said. "Let me get to the point quickly and I'll be on my way. I heard you've been snooping around in other people's business; that you've been to see the widow of Karol Lonski. I heard that you're looking into the matter of Anna Wronski's disappearance. That makes me very unhappy, Sasha."
"I have. How do you know this and what business is it of yours?"
"A little birdie told me. You stay out of this Sasha, or things are going to happen. Things that will make you very unhappy."
Sasha thought it out. The only person who knew about his visit with Mrs. Lonski was her grandson. Now that he thought about it, the young man had been very fidgety. Sasha knew his father wouldn't be here if he wasn't somehow involved in Anna Wronski's disappearance, or the matter of Borys Kowalski's involvement in the murder of Oskar Klebek, or both. Perhaps there was a correlation to Anna Wronski's disappearance after all.
"I'm not surprised you're unhappy about it what with your years of collusion with Borys Kowalski and Rufin Wronski - extortions, blackmails, bribes, murders. I hear you're flying solo now that you've taken Borys Kowalski out."
Jakub remained cool and unaffected. "Kowalski had a heart attack. Now, as I was saying, pack your bags and go back to Krakow or your little girlfriend will have a tragic accident."
It was everything Sasha could do not to attack his father. That's just what he wanted. Since his father had aged so much Sasha knew he could take him down. But no, he would restrain himself and act calm. "So, you are involved in Anna Wronski's disappearance. What did you do to her?"
"It was Kowalski's doing, he and his little ferret friend Rufin Wronski. Wronski's wife got nosy. She was eavesdropping and heard them talking about murdering Oskar Klebek. She started acting suspicious and they had her followed, caught her talking to some big shot journalist."
His father didn't respond.
"So they took care of Klebk and Koslow, I get it. What about Anna Wronski? What did you or they do to her?"
His father mopped beads of perspiration off of his forehead with a clean white handkerchief. He looked tired, but he puffed out his chest with an unconvincing bravado. "After Koslow was out of the way the cowards decided to let the Wronski woman live. Kowalski gave her a choice, board a ship to America never to return or stay and the little girl would meet with tragedy."
Sasha couldn't believe what he was hearing. Kowalski would have his own goddaughter killed to save his hide? Her father knew, how could he allow such a thing? "So if all these things were committed by Borys Kowalski and Rufin Wronski, why are you threatening me and the woman I love?" It was the first time he'd ever said those words out loud to anyone since he was a child.
"I don't owe you any explanations. Get out of town tonight. No more contact with your your precious girlfriend, you got that little goody two shoes, jew loving church boy?"
"You make me sick," Sasha said. "You're whole life has been nothing more than preying on innocent people, destroying lives, greed and power. How you hold your head up after your brutality against innocent Jewish men, women and children for the glory of Hitler is unfathomable."
"Stop your snooping, get out of town tonight, or little Gita is gone."
Without a Goodbye
Sasha sat on the edge of his hotel bed in the dark, running his hands through his hair. The clock read 10:30 p.m. He prayed like he'd never prayed before, asking God for wisdom, asking God to take his father out. "I don't care if you kill him or have him sent to prison. Just take him out," he prayed. He'd reached for the phone to call Gita a dozen times. What if his phone was tapped? What if he sent her a message by courier? No, both of those were risky. He picked up his brief case and suit case and went down to the front desk to turn in his key and check out. He remembered the assistant investigator he'd hired would arrive in the morning. He left a message for him with the hotel concierge telling him there was a change of plans and asked him to call him at his office in Krakow. Sasha left the hotel, Warsaw, and out of Gita's life.
Gita, dressed in a stunning green evening dress and wearing the pearl necklace, looked at the clock. It was 11:00 p.m. She made one last call to the hotel and was informed that Mr. Mazur had checked out just moments before and did not leave a forwarding address.
Frantic she asked the concierge, "How did he look? How did he act? Was he upset?"
"He was rushed, that's all I can tell you, Ma'am."
Gita hung up, flung herself onto her bed, and wept the night through.
It's important to note that this is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.”
© 2018 Lori Colbo