One more Separated shooting nest was in front of me. After them, I’m entering the space of the Market. Left corner is a dead angle. From here I can’t see them, which tacitly observed, is a splendid location for a blockade. Anyone who jumps out of here is putting himself directly in Separate’s line of fire.
I squat against the wall and pulled out my telescopic mirror from the backpack. In the middle of the road, a pile of dirt sacks was standing, and behind it, guards were taking cover. I have failed to see them behind the barricade. To my right side, a married couple has shown up. They were somewhat older people, nearly 60 years old. Granny was a chubbier woman, pale in face with wrinkles beneath the eyes. She had a torn winter jacket, a skirt, and a headscarf and the ripped out gloves which didn’t protect her from the cold. In her hands was a massive amount of clothes that she fought with to carry. Man had overcoat over the woolen sweater, brown trousers, busted boots and woolen cap. He was dragging a trolley, with the wheels squalling because of the cardboard boxes weight. They were hastening toward the Market.
– Boy. Hey, boy. Forgive us. May we approach? – grandpa asked frightened.
– Yes, yes, of course. – I replied.
They slowly came close and have stopped near the wall. Chubby wife stood peacefully further away from the corner, trying to come to an end with cargo in her hands, and squalling seized when man leaned the cart against the wall. He was energetically hopping whilst blowing in chapped hands to warm them up.
– Thank you boy. Is there a guard anywhere? – he asked nervously.
– I’m looking for them. No trace, nor voice from them. – I replied in calm.
– Well, they are there, somewhere. Let me see. – he spoke.
He leaned over me to scout the street. Disappointedly he jerked back and laid a juicy curse. He corrected his cap, rubbed his palms, while the wife kept silent with her head bowed. He patrolled in panic from left to right and back in a circle; going through his deep pockets along with the discontented curses, and woman ruefully watched her husband. I tried not to pay attention to them. My eyes were fixed on the mirror that waited for guards to show up. Man stopped to look at his wife. She fought heroically not to burst in tears. I heard sobbing of an old tormented soul. I couldn’t look. She blushed while wiping her tears with dirty jacket sleeve.
– Well, what is it now? – he asked in broken voice.
She rejected to answer, lowered her head and hid painful tears in the pile of clothes. Husband was standing in front of her where he gently grasped hers icy hands.
– Well, what happened? – he asked again.
Granny looked at me in shame, and then she turned her head towards him.
– I can’t. – she whispered.
– You can’t what? You alone wanted us to sell the Steve’s clothes. – old man spoke carefully holding her hands.
– I know. – she said incomprehensibly, – but now, I can’t.
– You can’t keep it forever. We talked about this. – he comforted her.
– I thought he will come back, someday. – she cried.
– It’s hard for me too. – old man spoke with a difficulty in his throat, – It doesn’t falls easy to do this.
– Here, I’ll sell my overcoat, if that’s going to help. – tears glistened in his eyes.
Woman placed her head on man’s chest and started to cry loudly. I watched them feeling ashamed. I didn’t know what to do, how to behave. I wanted to comfort them in some way, to say: “Everything will be all right”, but I couldn’t find the courage. Grandpa became calm. He kissed her forehead and wiped her eyes.
– Does it hurt that much? – he questioned with teary eyes.
Woman nodded in confirmation with tears that ran down the large red cheeks. Grandpa took a knee and laid his hands over her bare feet. He blew and rubbed palms to warm them before he placed them over her frosted toes.
– It’s all right. It will pass. I will sell my overcoat for food. I can withstand all of it. It’s all right. – he was talking while she silently poured tears.
I took out a pack of cigarettes and offered it open to the old man.
– Thanks’, boy. – grandpa said taking cigarette, – Forgive us. These are some of our problems. – he apologized ashamed of situation and moved his head away, as I was about to yell at him.
– And for her. – I added offering more cigarettes.
He assessed me briefly and confused, then he took another one.
– Who is Steve? – I prompted.
– Our son. – old man answered swiftly.
I paused for a moment. I rose and approached the woman, nailed to the wall as I was walking on a steep edge. I lit their cigarettes and squatted without a comment. I thought what to say.
– I lost my mother when I was eight. I carried my sister for miles until we came to our mother’s friend. She was barely a year old when peace treaty was signed, and that was six years ago. I never met my father, nor do I know anything about him. – I commented with ease.
With her shaky hands, woman held cigarette and bitterly exhaled. She listened me speak. Old man was also stoked with my story, when behind the barricade a winter military hat budged. Guard was here. I took a rock and threw it behind the corner, forcing the guard to raise his head. It was an older bearded man with glasses. He saw the mirror on the corner. I placed my hand out to signal number three.
– Who is there?! – guard screamed preparing his hunting double-barrel.
– Separated! Three of us! We are headed to the Market! Don’t shoot! – I boomed with a fear weakened voice, hoping they don’t force a charge on us.
Grandpa’s face gilded while he was getting back on his feet to hug his wife. He grabbed the trolley with the other hand and anxiously stopped behind me, ready to move.
– Step forward! – guard commanded.
– I ain’t that big of a fool. You show yourself. – I said.
– No! Forget about passing! Get lost! – guard yelled unmannerly.
He folded up his rifle and placed my mirror on the crosshair. Husband and wife grew disappointed. They lowered their heads in sorrow. They were about to leave, but I held them back.
– We have to pass! Why are you keeping us here?! – I continued with fear.
– Step forward! Then we’ll speak! – the guard shouted lowering his gun.
– Nothing then! – I replied, – You explain Gulbrand Ulfsen why delivery is late! – I added and removed the mirror from his sight.
I waited patiently behind the wall with a hand on the Glock. I was ready to shoot him. I had 14 bullets in the magazine; one of them will turn him cold. Married couple jigged with uncertainty and waited for further development of the situation. Guard was silent for a while, thought of many consequences he might take if he ruins the busyness of the Market’s headmen. Old couple went down with emotions, but there was nothing they could do against the biting cold.
– C’mon, pass! One by one! – he broke his throat in fear from Gulbrand.
I walked slowly out of the cover with my hands up, where right behind me was an old couple following me. Guard suspiciously followed us as we were walking out and when I stopped before him, he moved his gun to the side. He waved in different directions around himself, because of the snipers and machine gun nests around us, well hidden in the surrounding buildings. Grandpa and wife moved along in speed, leaving me few steps behind them.
– I almost killed you. – guard spoke with turbulent emotions.
– I almost blew you into pieces. – I grimly swoop the words down and opened my hand to show him a grenade.
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