The weekend passed uneventfully. Rainbow and Nadja spent most of the time doing what they usually did; eating, sleeping, watching movies and having sex.
Nadja closed the slider after having stepped out onto the terrace for a cigarette. The breeze carried the stench of smoke into the room before she could close it fast enough.
It had been hard for Rainbow not to say anything about her mother learning English, but Rainbow loved Hildegard – perhaps more than she loved Nadja if she had ever really loved her at all – and so she honored her mother’s request and didn’t say a word.
“Is everything alright, sweet stuff?”
Rainbow glanced at Nadja. Did she suspect something? “Yeah, just thinking of the trip to Turkey.”
“That ought to be fun and interesting, ay? Something new.”
“Fun and interesting I don’t know about yet. New, yes. It’s definitely going to be a new experience.”
“I think you’ll like it,” Nadja said, sitting on the couch with her and pulling her snugly against her. “And then you’ll be with me all the time.”
Rainbow tried to fight the urge to resist, but Nadja sensed her stiffness anyway. “What in the world is wrong with you?” she asked.
“You smell like a cigarette.”
Nadja sighed in exasperation and roughly pushed her away.
“You asked,” Rainbow said defensively.
Nadja stood up from the couch and then turned back to her. “I didn’t say anything, did I?”
“You didn’t have to, Nadja,” Rainbow said, refusing to be scared silent by the tall woman’s temper. She expected her to haul off on her, but instead, she simply sat before her computer and became lost in her own world.
All the while Rainbow became lost in wondering what plan Hildegard had hidden up her sleeve.
Rainbow looked through the plane’s tiny window at the ground below. The cars now looked like tiny little matchbox cars and people were barely visible at all. It was nice to relax in the plane’s seat, no matter how cramped in she may be, after what had been a very busy morning.
And a confusing one.
After Nadja had dropped her off and she’d gone into the house with Hildegard, she was surprised to find several boxes scattered throughout the small house. But Hildegard wouldn’t explain them to her. Instead, she kept saying there was no time and that she would explain later. She rushed Rainbow into the bedroom and together they packed as much of her things as they could fit into the suitcases they were taking along with them.
“Hildy, isn’t that a bit much to be taking for just a week?”
“No. Keep packing,” the woman ordered as she hurried about the room. “Pack as much as you can.”
What the hell was going on?
“Does this have anything to do with your grand plan that’s such a big secret?”
“Sweetheart, I just want to get out of here. It’s been so long since I’ve had a vacation and we don’t want to be late.”
Rainbow left the morning behind in her mind and returned to the present. Hildegard sat in the center aisle next to a young man who was engrossed in a magazine. She leaned on her elbow which was on the single armrest between their seats, clear blue eyes gazing out thoughtfully at the blanket of clouds they seemed to float upon.
“Ok, let’s hear it,” Rainbow finally said. “What’s going on?”
“Rainbow, just trust me,” Hildegard said patting her hand. “Once we get settled I will tell you.”
“Who was that woman you were talking to this morning in the driveway that was walking away as we pulled up? I’ve never seen her around before.”
“That was the owner of the house.”
“The owner of the house?” Rainbow asked, more confused.
“You rent that house? I thought you owned it.”
“No, it is not mine. Even the furniture is not mine. I always found it easier to rent furnished places. That way you have a lot less to move whenever you move. Furniture is also quite costly. I have a decent retirement fund and I don’t want to spend any of it on furniture that can be rented along with a house.”
Rainbow took in Hildegard’s words. She was learning a lot from the woman lately. It was then that she realized they weren’t going back to Germany. The landlord she hadn’t known existed, the boxes… why hadn’t she figured it out before? “It’s a good thing Nadja didn’t go into the house this morning for some reason.”
Rainbow looked at Hildegard. The beautiful woman smiled and said, “I knew you would catch on.”
The more she “caught on” the more she realized the lengths Hildegard had gone to in order to save her from Nadja. Including the fact that she was willing to never see her own family again.
When their plane touched down in Antalya Rainbow was exhausted but her mind was running a mile a minute. Hildegard spoke in Turkish to the receptionist who checked them into their hotel room.
“I still don’t get it,” Rainbow said after they unpacked a few things and flopped down on one of the beds. “How could you put me before your own daughter and the rest of the family no matter how mean Nadja may be? You do know you can’t see her again, don’t you? There’s got to be a warrant out for your arrest for defying a court order.”
“Yes, I know, Rainbow. I stole you. And because I have stolen you I cannot go back and I cannot see my family again.”
Rainbow looked at Hildegard, stunned. “And that’s ok with you?”
“No, it’s not ok, but it has to be because of this.”
Rainbow watched as Hildegard got up off the bed and walked over to one of the suitcases. She then pulled out a DVD and slipped it into the DVD player atop the television. Rainbow sat up and stared at its screen. Static flashed for a few seconds and then a scene of Nadja and some woman appeared outside in a snowy field.
“What’s this?” Rainbow asked.
“This isn’t what I want you to see. Just wait.”
“Wait for what?”
Without answering, Hildegard fast-forwarded to a scene that started with the same woman walking away from the camera, as if she’d turned it on and then stepped away from it after aiming it towards the center of Nadja’s living room.
And then she heard Nadja shouting. The sound quality was poor and the German was rapid, so she could not understand much. The only obvious thing was that Nadja was utterly furious and the woman she was with, who was much smaller than Nadja, seemed terrified.
Next, Nadja smacked the woman so hard she fell to the floor.
Rainbow muttered a barely audible, “Oh, my God,” and Hildegard went into the bathroom and left her to watch in stunned horror as the woman she was supposed to go live with beat the life right out of the helpless woman. It seemed like an eternity before Nadja calmed down enough to realize what she’d done. Rainbow wondered why the police hadn’t come barging in after all the racket they’d made.
Hildegard returned from the bathroom just as Nadja brought her shaking hands to her face. “Nein!” she cried. “Nein!” Her trembling knees then gave out as she knelt down on the floor next to the dead woman whose body was mostly out of range of the camera’s eye. All she saw was part of an arm. “Nein, nein, nein, es tut mir leid,” she said in a shrilly voice she hadn’t known Nadja capable of possessing.
Rainbow wanted to turn her head away from the awful scene but was unable to for some reason. It was as if her neck was frozen and she was forced to watch as Nadja cried and apologized over and over again to the lifeless woman who lay still on the floor. Eventually, she stood up and half fell onto the couch.
Hildegard sadly took the remote and fast-forwarded. “She sits there for about a half an hour,” she said, and then she stopped fast-forwarding when Nadja moved again. This time it was to wrap a blanket around the woman’s body and carry her out the door. The camera continued to record for nearly another half hour until the memory card was full and the camera shut itself off.
“Oh, my God,” was all Rainbow could mutter. “Just oh, my God.”
Hildegard took the disc out of the player.
“How did you get this and what are we going to do?”
“I asked to borrow the camera one day not too long ago. Nadja must not have ever discovered that her ex-girlfriend was recording or else I’m sure she would have deleted the remember card… I mean memory card. Curious to see what may be on the card before I used it for my own purposes, I viewed it and that’s the horrible scene I saw. I then recorded it onto a disc and then the morning we left I sent copies to her and the boys so that they would understand why we’ve disappeared.”
“You didn’t go to the police?”
Hildegard shook her head. “I couldn’t do that. As horrible as it was I couldn’t turn against my own child. Abandoning her is hard enough. I don’t think Nadja wanted to kill the woman. I think she just doesn’t know her own strength at times and got carried away with her temper but never meant for her to fall and die.”
“Do you think your sons will go to the police?”
“I don’t know.” Hildegard walked up to her and took her hands in her own. “I have come to love you very much, sweet Rainbow. And I know that being much older than you that you are probably going to live much longer than I. But I want you to know that you’re welcomed to stay with me for as many years as I have left, and I’d say I’ve got another twenty or thirty of those left. But I’m also prepared to let you go if that’s what you would prefer.
In light of the horrible circumstances that had unfolded much too fast and much too harshly for Rainbow Karson, she was certain that she had no desire to return to a murderer – even if it was an accidental murderer – with definite anger management issues, and she also didn’t want to strike out on her own in some strange country either. “Where do we go from here?” she asked the older woman who had sacrificed her own flesh and blood to save her from potential misery, even death.
“We’ll spend a week here as planned and try to enjoy ourselves as best we can,”
“Won’t they look for us here?”
“I hope not. I told everyone we were going to Istanbul. But after a week or so we’ll go where we can both speak English.”
“The United States?”
“No, they would look for us there since you’re American.”
“That wouldn’t be good either. Too close to Germany. I was thinking of Australia.”
Rainbow thought a moment and then said, “What about my going back to the U.S. and you going back to Germany?”
Hildegard shook her head sadly. “I can’t do that. I would be placed in jail and in danger of Nadja. After all, I’m now what they call – oh, what’s the word for it?”
“A witness. You’re a witness.”
“Witness, that’s it?”
“But doesn’t the thought of never seeing your family again hurt?”
“Of course it does,” Hildegard said. “But one has to do what they have to do. And I did what I believed was best for everyone and what I believed was right as a mother. Now, how about your first taste of Turkish cuisine since it’s right about dinner time now?”
“I’m definitely hungry despite the grim reality we’ve had to face.”
“Then let’s freshen up and go get ourselves a cozy little table in this fabulous little restaurant I just love to visit when I come here. What do you say, Rainbow? Shall we? Just you and I?”
“Sure, I’d like that,” Rainbow said, trying to manage a faint smile.
So off they went a few minutes later. Only they weren’t “alone.” No, they weren’t alone at all. A human predator followed their every move and watched in silence from within the shadows. That predator smiled in knowing satisfaction and waited for the perfect opportunity to spring forth from the shadows that hid them along with their disguise.