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MORNING SERIAL; The Element of Water.

Byline: Stevie Davies

'AND your cocks?' Himmler enquired.

'Oh yes, sir, we have cocks.' No one laughed. Heroic restraint was shown on the road between Munich and Berchtesgaden, amid the sublimity of the encompassing mountains. Impeccable black-uniformed figures, with a scattering of army grey and naval blue, ringed round the silent three-year-old with a snotty nose and a thumb that recurrently crept toward a moist, chocolate-stained mouth. It was as if a superior firm of undertakers had descended from hearses to view a future client.

'I have gone into the principles of breeding,' confided the Chinless One.

Still no one laughed. 'You are doing an invaluable job for Germany,' he finished, turning on his heel.

Re-embarking, they swept off south.

'The Reichsfuhrer has explained to me personally,' Paul breathlessly informed Michael, 'the Mendelian principles of poultry breeding. It was honestly eye-opening.' Already Paul was up to the wrists in blood. At the Rohm Putsch, he had been one of the elite boys poised on the running boards, agile, faceless assassins disciplined to the second so he later bragged, sotto voce. This had been his blooding.

Yes, I was there. Yes, I was one of those.

Paul appeared eager to impart secrets to his friend; they came away like ripe fruit nudged into an outstretched palm. Michael was puzzled at such garrulous credulity. Insensible of having transgressed taboos, Paul seemed blithe about his wet red palms.

He'd not killed before, he confessed radiantly well, not to speak of; he'd beaten criminals up, of course, roughed up Yids. But this was historic. Here they'd been shooting comrades. That took guts, and total commitment. Michael remembered the altar boy, wearing that same devout expression; and all the mothers cooing to Mrs Dahl, Oh, the little angel.

> The Element of Water by Stevie Davies is published by Parthian in the Library of Wales series CONTINUES TOMORROW

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 23, 2019
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