Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Seventeen
22nd September 1967
Standing in a booth sized observation room as the Police interviewed Elke, Kiki watched her from behind the two-way glass and listened as she denied everything and attempted to blame her daughter in equal terms. Elke had no idea that there were tapes of her actions and while the status of those would need to be adjudicated, they were damning.
Kiki had wanted to talk to Elke herself, but had been told that it wasn’t a good idea and there were legalities to consider. Instead she got to watch as investigators got Elke to dig herself further and further into a hole of her own making. To Kiki this seemed wrong. Yes, Elke had neglected and abused her daughter as well as blaming Sophie for everything wrong with her life. There were no excuses for that. However, she had been abused, taken advantage of, and thrown aside when she had become inconvenient. Kiki still felt that Elke needed help. Arresting and prosecuting her wouldn’t serve that purpose. Would it?
Looking at Elke, Kiki had a hard time squaring her now with what she had been like nine years earlier. Back then she had come across like she had the world on a string, thinking she had found a way to beat the system by taking up with Reiner Blum, who she had been completely infatuated with at the time. She had gotten thrown out of the Medical Service for fraternization because Blum’s father-in-law had been the Commandant of the Stettin Training Depot and he had wanted her gone. Sophie being born eight months later told the rest of the story.
Kat had once told Kiki that predators knew how to spot damaged people who could easily be victimized. Many of them were shockingly skilled at manipulation and had strategies for getting what they wanted. Blum had spotted Elke and in retrospect, it was easy to see how he had been able to do that and had gotten away with it for as long as he had.
Kiki remembered how Blum had come onto her after Elke was gone, testing boundaries, and promising that he could ease her way through the remainder of training. It had ended badly for him when Kiki had done her level best to twist off an arm that was connected to a hand that had gone someplace it didn’t belong and had kicked him in the crotch so hard that Doctors had debated if he had needed surgery because of the swelling. Seeing the result of what he had done to Elke, Kiki was starting to feel that perhaps she had not gone far enough.
Finally, there were Elke’s parents.
Elke’s father was a real delight. He was more concerned about missing his programs on television than what was happening with either his daughter or granddaughter. He had commented that he had gotten more than a few licks from his long-deceased father and had turned out alright, so he failed to see what the big deal was. As in a grown man who saw nothing wrong with beating a helpless child thought he was alright. Kiki seldom felt the sort of rage that she had felt watching that interview, she had wanted go in there and give him the sort of beating that he apparently thought wasn’t a big deal. The mother had suffered a stroke few years earlier and was unable to speak, Kiki doubted that she would have anything positive to say if she could.
Unable to watch any more, Kiki left the observation room and to her surprise, Charlotte was waiting for her outside the door.
“You have pursued this as far as you can Kristina” Charlotte said as they made their way towards the exit flanked by bodyguards. Charlotte clearly had her doubts about if Kiki would leave willingly. “This is the part where you need to let it go.”
“But it isn’t over yet” Kiki replied.
“Yes, I agree” Charlotte said, “Your involvement is though.”
Kiki had never known Charlotte to be this firm about any issue. Leaving the building as walking towards the waiting car, they were silent.
It wasn’t until they were seated that Charlotte spoke again. “You are new to this sort of thing” She said, “When I was starting out, I had someone with far more experience than me say almost the exact same thing I told you.”
“I’m not a Social Worker” Kiki replied looking out at the passing city street.
“What you do isn’t so different” Charlotte said, “You found yourself in a position where you were obligated to intervene, and you did it to the best of your abilities. While your methods were questionable, you got the least bad outcome.”
Kiki heard that with some disbelief. Was really the best they could do?
“What happens to Sophie?” Kiki asked.
“She is in a safe place” Charlotte replied, “I was able to see to that myself.”
“Good” Kiki said.
The house was huge, and Sophie found herself walking up several flights of stairs before her guide opened a door.
“She only asks that you tell her about your day and that you follow the basic rules at first” The old woman said with an odd accent. “When you are ready, more will be expected.”
Sophie followed the old woman into a bedroom that smelled of dust and stale air. She had been hearing about the expectations of the Lady of the house and it sounded bleak. Having to explain herself daily? That sounded painful.
“You will be happy here” The old woman said, “Dinner will be in a little bit, I’ll send someone for you.”
With that the door closed and Sophie had never felt more alone in her life.