Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Thirty-Six
13th February 1976
“For once they cast someone who sort of looks like your father to play him” Maria said to Zella’s almost total disbelief.
“The American couldn’t get the accent right” Zella replied as they walked from the theater to the restaurant where they were going to have tea. “And I don’t see how you think that he looks like Poppa.”
Not for the first time Zella was aggravated by how it had become difficult for her to walk even the hundred odd meters between the two buildings without feeling waddling duck. Then there was the grating deference that people had for her in this state. She got more of that as the waiter seated them and repeatedly asked Zella if she had everything she needed. She had once read that many pregnant women said that they wanted their body back after having this thing growing in it for most of a year. Zella understood exactly where they were coming from.
“You don’t always have to be so contrary Marcella” Maria said, “If you saw what your looked like when I first met him just before the Spanish War, you would understand.”
The movie had been the first part of a two-part biopic about Augustus Lang, and it had been the Babelsburg-Hollywood collaboration needed to produce such an epic. Unlike previous films, this one had not overlooked the involvement of Zella’s father. To give the film a wider appeal to an international audience, the studio had cast Robert Redford as Emil Holz opposite Horst Buchholz as Augustus Lang. Zella thought that it was a stupid move by Casting.
Horst Buchholz fit the role of Lang perfectly, had the mannerisms and Lang’s style of speaking down perfectly. Only to interact with a man who sounded like a cowboy. Zella would be hard pressed to name anything more annoying.
Zella sat watching as her mother ordered food and drink, feeling completely useless. Since she had left her job after the interview with Friedrich that feeling had been growing. That should have been a career defining moment, instead of building upon that Zella was stuck facing months of inactivity. This wasn’t helped by what she saw as her colleagues in the ARD News Division slobbering all over Heinz Kissinger and his selected toadies in her absence. There had been noises from above about how threats to the funding of the network meant that caution was needed. What Zella had been seeing was not caution, it was obsequiousness and that should have been embarrassing. Of course, Kay Essert was going to be the worst offender. Zella knew that he wasn’t happy unless he had his nose crammed up the backside of anyone he thought was in a position of authority.
“You only have one concern right now” Maria said, “The little boy or girl who is coming in a couple months. Have you found out what it is yet?”
“I didn’t ask, and they didn’t tell me beyond that it looks healthy” Zella replied, “What makes you think that I was concerned with anything different?”
“I know you” Maria said, “You get that determined look on your face and then nothing stops you from doing something crazy, criminal, stupid, or usually a mixture of all those things. You might find it more or less physically impossible to carry out whatever you are thinking about this time.”
“I was thinking about how ARD is busy making fools of themselves without me” Zella said.
Maria seemed amused by her saying that. “And they just happen to be those who were gleeful to see you leave?” She asked, which Zella found embarrassing. She didn’t like how easily she was being read here. Too late, it occurred to Zella that her silence in reply to that question was an answer.
“I know far more about your situation than you realize” Maria said, “When you were a baby your father was called away to fight in the Soviet War and I was on my own in Australia for three years. Then I thought that it would be a good idea to travel with your father to the Russian Far East where Allied Forces were massing for the invasion of Manchuria and Korea. That was how your younger brother was conceived in a shitty hotel in Vladivostok, and I found myself all alone again except with two small children.”
Zella might have said that it wasn’t the same but knew that it would just start a pointless argument. Her mother had basically been forced to fend for herself during those years. There were no circumstances forcing Zella to do anything.
“I remember” Zella said, which was neutral enough.
“Not that it was all bad” Maria said, “You’ve said you remember living on the beach in Sydney, it was the two of us against the world.”
“And it doesn’t have to be that way for me?” Zella replied, with far more sarcasm than she intended.
“I don’t understand your constant need to make things so difficult” Maria said, “And the one time I actually hoped that you would stick to your guns, you didn’t.”
That was a shocking admission by her mother and Zella wasn’t sure how to respond. She had always thought that her mother had wanted her to conform to a more conventional lifestyle since she was a teenager. Fortunately, they were saved from further conversation by the timely arrival of the food that had been ordered.