THREE MONTHS HAD PASSED since the last therapy, and it was time for another maintenance treatment of Retuxan for Albert as he was lying on the bed in the cancer clinic. While the nurse was preparing him for the now familiar routine he wondered if he was going to have one of the dreams of his long past life. Somehow they had become part and parcel of his therapy. He was no longer anxious or worried that these episodes reoccurred every time they gave him the medicines. The lady in the multi-coloured smock brought him the usual pills before the IV so that his body would accept the chemicals more readily. He took them then had a sandwich so that it would be easier on his stomach, and settled in for the rest of his medication.
As the IV began to drip he started to drift into oblivion. Again he was floating between reality and illusion, which seemed to be an alternate reality for him at that moment. He was back in Germany on a truck turning into a small town off a road by the river Rhine. Before they entered the small village he noticed a road sign 'Assmannshausen'.
After the war Germany had slid into an abyss of disorder and chaos. Living conditions had worsened because of the complete destruction of the infrastructure by the war. Food was hard to find and one could only survive by dealing in the black market. The grocery stores had very little stock and would be emptied very quickly.
Once the vehicle was in town it veered across some railroad tracks and began to climb a steep hill. The engine was labouring and made the truck slow down to a crawl. As the vehicle climbed higher Albert could see the roofs of all the buildings reaching beyond the height of the cross on the church's steeple. They continued until they reached a sharp turn to the right. The pavement ended and they kept going on a gravel road. Within minutes they arrived at a driveway guarded by two large stone posts. The truck turned left entering a large courtyard. Albert looked at the beautiful edifice. It was built out of natural stone with a covered front portal across the entire building. The roof slanted at an angle giving the place an impression of an aristocratic residence. Arches made of the same sandstone as the building supported the whole covering. The place was beautiful. Albert was overwhelmed. He had never lived in such a magnificent house. The truck stopped and backed up to the portals.
The driver jumped out followed by Albert's father who came back and removed the rear racks.
"This is it. Everyone out."
His father took a couple of suitcases out of the back then he raised his arms.
"You girls come first. Then one of you can help Dan and the other the baby. Bobule and mama will follow. Albert and Banda you two come out last. Before you leave the platform you can help by pushing the bundles and boxes towards the rear."
The boys were anxious to get out of the truck to explore the surroundings. Banda volunteered.
"Can't I come down and help? Albert can handle the things up here."
Father became angry.
"I don't have time to argue with you. Do as you're told."
The sisters did as they were instructed. Then grandmother and mama slid off the back of the platform.
Mama immediately began to help tete by pulling off the closest packages at the back.
As the space widened she called.
"Albert, Banda! Hurry and push some of the things closer so that we can get them off. The driver is charging us for a specified period of time, but if we take too long we'll have to pay extra."
The boys worked feverishly to get everything to the rear. Mama and tete took them down as soon as the lads were able to get the stuff close to them. After the last box the father reached and lifted the two boys down from the truck. Then he went over to the driver and after a short conversation handed the man some money. The chauffeur got into the vehicle and took off.
All the bundles, packages and suitcases were piled up in the yard. Albert's father picked up a couple of cardboard boxes tied up with ropes.
"You girls give the children to bobule and mama, then pick up whatever you can and follow me. You two boys stay here with the luggage."
The lads wanted to object, but the look from their father stopped them cold. They went over to a stone fence that encircled the courtyard and sat down.
Shortly after tete and the sisters were back for more things. The parents each picked up a mattress that was tied in a bundle while the girls grabbed a couple of suitcases and disappeared again. The sun was warm that April and with the surrounding trees providing shelter it was pleasant. The father appeared again with the two sisters and mama. He looked around.
"I think that we can make this our last trip."
He divided what was left into some piles.
"You two boys pick up everything that is in these two lots."
He pointed to another couple of heaps.
"You girls get these two. Mama and I will get the rest."
They all selected their loads and followed father through the door.
That was the first time that Albert saw the hallway and the stairs of the building.
Entering the father turned to the lads.
"Be careful the lights are off and it's dark in here. Don't trip or you might break a leg."
While the place outside was magnificent the inside was dim and foreboding.