Chapter One Thousand Nine Hundred Forty
9th October 1969
It being a Thursday afternoon, the V8 Club was empty except for a few regulars who inexplicably liked the menu. The Club was known for many things, never the food though. Elis was teaching Johann how to do the books in an effort to ease Sarah’s workload slightly. For years Sarah had helped Elis manage the place on top of her career and after a recent panic attack, she had been told that she had been suffering from exhaustion. The stresses of her life from day to day as well as continuing decline of her father, something that never seemed to end, had just gotten to be too much.
Sarah had been advised to take a vacation and make effort to delegate some of her responsibilities. Part of the problem was that Elis wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect of having to trust someone “not in the family” so he had decided that Johann was old enough to start learning the family business. And by that, he meant the Club, not the other one. Sarah had told him that wasn’t funny and if he even thought about teaching her son the finer points of armed robbery then the American FBI would be the least of his worries. Elis had just laughed and went back to talking to the vendor who delivered the Club’s liquor and beer. It had worked out so far because Johann was good with numbers, even if he wasn’t a Mathematical savant like Nessa.
Sarah had come home earlier than usual because things would need to be set up ahead of the weekend which was expected to be busier than usual. The latest incarnation of the English band Mythology was coming to town and everyone expected the place to be a zoo. The previous week, Sarah had talked on the phone to Tony Iommi and he had promised that their Singer would be on his best behavior because they all remembered what had happened the last time. Sarah had said she would believe it if she saw it and just in case, she would call the Police and tell them to set up for Riot Duty ahead of time. Tony had laughed, Sarah had been dead serious.
That was why Sarah was less then thrilled by the interruption when Django Reinhardt walked in. One of the projects that Sarah had been involved in for years was the Reinhardt Orchestra, Django’s long-term labor of love whenever he wasn’t touring with his quintet, so she felt obligated to drop everything. The man who walked in behind him wasn’t someone who Sarah had expected, or wanted, to ever see again.
“Isn’t that Zöller?” Elis asked, “Haven’t seen him around in a long time.”
“I know who he is” Sarah snapped.
“It’s been what? Eighteen years?” Elis said, “Or seventeen years, nine months, give or take.”
“I am glad you find this amusing” Sarah said.
“With all of us, the chickens eventually come home to roost” Elis said seemingly oblivious to how that might apply to his own situation. Johann just watched with smirk on his face, unaware of how any of that applied to him. He just saw that years earlier his mother had involved herself with something that was fertile ground for his Uncle Elis to poke fun at her for and clearly, he hit a nerve.
“Tell you what Elis, how about you go fuck yourself” Sarah said sharply.
Elis just shrugged as Sarah stomped off. Exactly what was she supposed to have done? It was not like if Johann had not had questions over the years and she had always struggled to answer them. Perhaps she could have phoned Zöller to arrange an introduction, his wife would have loved that, Sarah thought to herself sarcastically. Hello, I know it has been a rather long time. Oh, by the way Karl, there is something that perhaps you ought to know…
“Are we interrupting something?” Django asked as Sarah approached his table.
“John Elis, the owner of this establishment, is being a pill” Sarah replied.
“If I could introduce you to…” Django started to say.
“We already know each other” Sarah said a little too fast, interrupting Django. “Karl and I played together in the Philharmonic when we were younger.”
“I would like to think that we were a bit more than that, we had a wonderful season together before I tragically got called away” Zöller said, “Gertrud occasionally asks who the other woman was.”
Apparently, the minor detail that Sarah had never considered Karl to be more than a donor clearly had never entered his mind otherwise he likely wouldn’t find this nearly as amusing. Nor had he ever figured out that it had been Sarah who had arranged for him to receive an Oxford Fellowship just of get rid of him. Afterwards, Sarah had heard through mutual friends that he had gotten married and had become a Professor at the Hamburg Music Academy. Why couldn’t he have stayed in Hamburg? Sarah though to herself. Still, that time had not been completely unpleasant, and she had gotten Johann out of the deal even if it had come at the cost of her relationship with Carla Herrema. Her partner at the time had found living with a small child to be more than she could handle.
“I see” Django said, though Sarah doubted he knew the full extent what had happened. “I’m sure that you have heard the rumors about whether or not I intend to retire by now.”
“Actually, no” Sarah replied, “I don’t have time for gossip.”
“That is one of the things I like about you” Django said, before launching back into the conversation, “As I was saying, there are rumors that I am considering retirement, I am not, net yet anyway. However, I have been convinced that I need to take on an understudy or two.”
Sarah was wondering where Django was leading with all to when Johann walked up to the table.
“Going out Ma” Johann said, he kissed her cheek goodbye before bounding out the door in the way of most seventeen-year-olds with limitless energy.
“I didn’t know you had children” Zöller said.
“Just Johann” Sarah replied, “Though I also have Elis. He might nearly be sixty, but he acts the part.”