The slick, black Mercedes rolled out of the entryway and headed north as we drove in silence. I was too frightened to speak. Something was terribly wrong. The dark road slipped behind us, as the car drove faster. I watched the trees whiz by, the children playing in the front lawns, and older men standing on street corners, smoking pipes in casual conversation. The sky was a baby blue with a splash of white clouds hanging high above. Life seemed so rich, so normal. What could be wrong? Troubled, I scurried through Astrid's purse, fingering through her items.
"What are you doing?" She asked, confused.
"I'm looking...for...a cigarette," I retorted between rummaging.
"You just got out of the hospital. Do you really think thats the way to go about things? Besides, I thought you quite smoking."
I shrugged. "I did. But I'm craving one right now and it'll put my mind at ease." Through all the junk, a small carton of cigs bobbed up in sight. "Ah ha!" I exclaimed, snatching out the carton. "I found some."
I tore open the top, and stretched in my finger only to feel not the long, slender tube of a real ciggie, but some short, stubbie nobs. Baffled, I poured the contents of the box in my hand. Astrid's cigarettes had been cut in small pieces. "What's all this?"
"What?" she asked, turning to see my dismay. "Oh, that. Stuart is trying to quit smoking. He suggest I do too and he recommended cutting your cigs into short knobs. That way, when you have a craving, you only smoke a small piece. Lesser nicotine. Lesser plaque. Neat, huh?"
"I can't smoke this shit, its bollocks. I need a real cigarette!" I cried.
Her smile faded. "I think I have a spare. Even I can't go without one WHOLE cigarette."
I kept fiddling through her purse, until I managed to find a whole one. "Success!" I declared, kissing the white stick.
Astrid gave me a weak smile and we continued down the road until we reached Vonmeinston Ave., the road to our flat. To my surprise, Astrid drove us right past our turn and we continued down Leinshire. "Astrid, we just missed out turn. Honey, go back." I pointed out.
She looked at me. "We're not going home."
I lit my cigarette and looked out the window, not wishing to face her. "Then where are we going?"
She didn't speak. She just pretended not to hear me, and continued driving.
"Astrid," I called louder, "where are you taking us?"
Her eyes blinked back a sheet of tears, as she sniffled. "Trixi, I told you. Something happened."
"What? What happened?" I demanded, sternly. The smoke was making me irritable.
She hit the gas harder. "At the pub. The Kaiserkellar."
I took a deep hit on the cigarette and exhaled its silver contents. "Go on."
"The boys are being deported."
I felt a giant lump well in my throat, and instantly, started choking on the smoke in my mouth. Anxiously coughing, I tried to clear my throat.
"Deported?" I cried, feeling my eyes begin to water.
She nodded. "It happened late last night. You know how the boys have been talking about all this time, the police being heavy round the pub. It so happens they've been investigating this whole time. They lads were caught, and arrested. All five of them. They're quarenteed in a local prison right now."
My ears couldn't begin to conceive the enlightment. "But...what did they do?"
"Someone tipped the police off. George is under-aged. He's not allowed to be working in a pub past the legal curfew, and he's been for many months. At first, they were just gonna take George. But then, the others stepped in. John started defending him. He got hastey with the officers, and it turned into a big brawl. Popped one, right in the cheek. Thats when they arrested John, as well. Paul, whom was watching in horror, tried to rationalize with the cops. Thought he might convince them out of it, and explain the circumstances. But they wouldn't lead in. John grew outraged. He was slightly intoxicated and been under the influence of speed, to stay awake during the wee hours of morning. So he burst out at the police again. They had to restrain him, and that time, arrested the entire group. Even Stuart and Pete, whom had nothing to do with it. I just can't believe, Trixi, I just can't! How could this happen? What are we going to do?"
"That's a lot to sink in at once," I whispered. She nodded, again. "I know."
A tear trickled down my cheek and stained my little white dress. I had worn it for Stuart, and now he was leaving. Leaving Hamburg. Leaving my life. Those salty drops of translucent liquid came streaming down my face, forlorn and mystified. I bit my lip, feeling the blood rush to the skin. My pouting lips began to tremble, big and ruddy. "Astrid," I said softly.
"Yes, Trixi?" her voice cracked.
The long, lean guard opened the cell door and stepped back so we could enter. I ran into the little room, nearly breaking down in anguish. "Stuart!" I bawled. He had been slumped in the corner of the small, confided room, looking worried and hurt. As he saw me come in, immediantly, he arose to greet me and take me in his arms. "Oh Stuart!" I cried. "Astrid told me everything. I don't believe that this is happening. What's going to happen? What are we going to do?"
He quietly tried calming me, as he petted my back and held me close.
"Stay calm, luv. Just stay calm. We have to be brave."
"Brave? How can I be brave? You're leaving, Stuart, you're leaving!"
I could feel his body quiver against mine. He was just as devastated as I.
"Shhh, it's going to be alright, Trixi. I promise, whatever happens. It will be alright," he tried to sooth me.
I weeped in his chest, letting my tears fall down his tight, black tee.
He was stroking my hair softly, and clenching me to his body.
"It's not okay. This is not okay! Oh Stuart. Why?" I said in tears. "Why is this happening?"
He lifted his chin on top of my head, and let himself begin to cry. I could feel his jaw trembling against me, as he tried to hold himself together.
"We never saw this coming, my love. We never thought it could happen. But it did. It was a simple twist of fate, that brings forth devilish consequences. Yes, we all knew George was under-aged. But he was one of us, you know. He was a part of the group and it didn't matter. Not until now."
My heart had been pumping hard in my chest until he spoke George's name.
'George,' I thought to myself. He must have felt awful. I jumped around. There he was, sitting reverantly at John's side, arms folded around his knees, pressed tightly to his chest. His big brown eyes were crystals of shame, and saddness. The whole thing had traumatized the boy.
I took Stuart's hand, and stroddled over to John and George, kneeling onto the floor with them. George looked up at me, with those sparkling eyes. "I'm sorry." he said ever so faintly. "This is all my fault."
With that, he began to weep. My heart went out to him, and I felt a loving, mother part of me, want to hold and comfort him. He was just our little George. I reached over and hugged him. "Don't you say that, George. None of us blame you for this. We love you." I patted his tiny back, resting my head in the corner of his neck and shoulder.
"How can you be so nice to me? After all this? This would have never happened if I had not come along in the first place." he whimpered.
"George, you are an important factor in the band and a dear friend to us. I don't regret knowing you for a second! You've been so wonderful to us. We care about you, darling. It wouldn't be the same without you."
"And if you go, we go." John chimed in. George looked back at John, like a child staring up at his strong, father. "Really?"
"Really." he agreed, hugging George to his side, proudly. "Without you, we'de all be f*cked."
Stuart sneared at him. "Elloquently put, John."
"What can I say, I've always been a motivational speaker." he bragged.
I smiled for the first time, at John's light-heartedness. But at the same time, it made me sad. I would never feel his sense of laughter again, once he left. It stung my heart. And he quickly picked on to my discomfort.
"Hey," he proposed, "remember the time we were playing truth or dare, and you snogged the hell out of Trixi?" John nudged George, with glee.
A little smile escaped George's lips and he nodded, a little arrogantly. "Yeah."
"That was great," John laughed. "And the time you walked in on Trixi in the shower and got to see her boobs?"
George couldn't help but giggle (though turning red at the same time). It was nice to see his child-like face be happy again. Even if it meant recollecting embarressing stories from our past (at my own expense).
"Were they perky?" Paul inquired, scooting in on the conversation.
A wide grin replaced George's little smile. "Yeah, they were great!"
"Hey, that's my girlfriend's tits you're fantasizing about!" Stuart snapped, but not so much with discontent.
John gave an evil smile. "I've done more than fantasize about them."
I shot John a look of death, and he just gave me that mischevious look.
"I raped her while she was sleeping." he teased. I rolled my eyes at him.
"Bastard!" Stuart declared, playfully.
Paul threw in, "Yeah, I did too, Stuart! That Trixi's a real whore in her sleep."
I burst out laughing. "Hey, thanks." I muttered.
"She's the community shag," John added. "We've all had a tickle."
Stuart grabbed me, possessively. "Me, especially." he growled, kissing my lips.
I licked my lips and kissed him back.
"Remember that time you two did it in the attic?" John recalled, looking at me and Stu. I flushed, and gave an awkward laugh. "Good times, John," I joked.
"Yeah, we could all hear you. Going it at it like bunnies!"
"In springtime!" Paul beckoned.
I cuddled closer to Stu, leaning my head against his chest.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he groaned. "So we fooled around in the attic? I remember that time George got it on with that German bird at the big party."
"Oooooh," John and Paul hissed. "Yeah! Jolly good times."
George hid his bright apple cheeks, behind his propped up knees. "It was just a fling," he said, blushing.
"She was hot too," John commented.
"Boobies out to here," Paul gestured.
We all had a laugh, just like the good old times. Even within our reminiscing, the simple truth still hung in the air. No matter how far back in our heads we pushed it, fate remained.
"When do you have to leave?" I whispered in Stuart's ear.
He was clasping my hand in his. "Tomorrow," he whispered back.
I took a deep breathe, as my heart rate increased. I nodded, quietly, then turned back to the lads, whom were laughing and jesting, looking back on all the fun times we had. It would be our last night together.