Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-One
24th July 1975
They ended up taking Zella’s car, a BMW 700. It had seldom seen much use outside of work when ARD had not provided transportation. The rest of time Zella used her motorcycle. It was fast and parking was never a problem, unlike the car which was rather sluggish and there had been times when she had found herself circling city blocks looking for a place to park within screaming distance to where she needed to be. She figured that wouldn’t be a problem in Jena, though looking at the clock on the dashboard, Zella knew that she had other problems.
Stepping out of the car, Zella looked down the street her Uncle Peter lived on. She had been here countless times on her own, visiting either her uncle or grandmother. This time felt different though. Her mother had arrived at some point earlier and would have told God only knew what to everyone already there about Zella and her life. She also had Yuri with her and the truth about that whole thing could get awkward in a hurry.
“There’s no reason to be nervous” Yuri said, “You’ve known most of these people your whole life.”
“Today is my grandmother’s ninety-eighth birthday” Zella replied, “The lens she looks at the world through is reflected in that, so be forewarned. And my mother has already been in there for a time.”
“I see” Yuri said as he picked up the two heavy duffle bags containing the camera equipment they had brought. “Does she have a name? So, I don’t get off on the wrong foot.”
“Marcella Marie Holz” Zella said flatly. He had never really understood Zella’s relationship with her mother. How they had been butting heads for years, even when they had lived in the same household.
“That’s your name” Yuri said, amusedly.
“That wasn’t an accident” Zella replied, annoyed that Yuri had only now picked up on something so obvious. “I was named after her.”
“Oh” Yuri replied as they walked down the sidewalk towards Uncle Peter’s house.
“And please be careful about certain subjects when you talk to my extended family” Zella said, “They are big on educational achievement, and I get static for having a Degree in the Arts.”
“What exactly are you saying?” Yuri asked.
“Nothing” Zella replied, realizing too late that she had said something incredibly stupid and was already kicking herself for having done it. “Just be careful.”
Yuri looked like he was about to say something in reply when they rounded the corner to the front door of Uncle Peter’s house. Zella knocked, hopefully ending the conversation before she said anything else.
Theresa, Zella’s cousin opened the door and greeted her in Australian accented English. “If it isn’t Emil’s little girl” She said with a smile. According to Zella’s mother, Theresa had helped care for her when she had been a baby. It was a reminder that among her cousins, Zella was the youngest.
“Theresa, this is Yuri” Zella said, “Yuri this is my cousin Theresa.”
“If he ain’t a tall one” Theresa said drawing a confused look back from Yuri. Too late Zella remembered that while Yuri spoke a few different languages, English was not one of them.
“She’s giving you a compliment” Zella said, at least she hoped that was a compliment. “Just smile and nod.”
Yuri did as he was asked, but Zella could tell that he didn’t like that. Before anything else could go wrong, Zella led Yuri into the house which was full of people. Zella found herself being greeted by all of them, either as members of her family or those who were friends of her family from around Jena.
“You made it” Walter, Zella’s little brother asked when she found him. She thought that she had seen his wife and two children around, but at the moment it felt like a kaleidoscope walking through the house with everything in motion.
“Where is Oma?” Zella asked.
“She said she wasn’t feeling well” Walter replied, “And that it was too crowded. She stepped out with Peter a little while ago, I think they are in the back somewhere.”
Knowing that she would need to get the preliminaries out of the way, Zella flagged Yuri to follow her as she walked towards the back of the house. She saw Aunt Olivia in the kitchen and knew that she would need to swing through there on the way back. She thought that she saw Uncle Peter in there as well.
Zella tried to remember the layout of the house as she walked past the staircase that went upstairs, her Uncle Peter’s home office, a bathroom, and a few doors which were closed. She had no idea what was behind them. Finally, she emerged out onto the sunporch at the back of the house. Her grandmother was sitting in a chair that looked out at the garden and Zella could hear her breathing softly as well as the buzzing of bees in the flowerbeds whose scent filled the air.
“Oma” Zella said trying to get her attention, “There is someone here who I want you to meet.”
That got no reaction.
“Oma?” Zella asked again and she reached towards her only to have Uncle Peter emerge from the house.
“She said she was tired and needed a few minutes to rest” Peter said, “I went to get her something to drink.”
“If you say so” Zella replied as she watched Peter step around her with a glass of water in his hand.
“Zella is here to see you mother” Peter said pleasantly, when she didn’t react Zella saw Peter react in a way which did not match the tone of his voice as he turned to her. “If you could please get my Doctor’s bag from the office quickly that would be helpful.”