I was simply enjoying a day in the town of Paris, France. After Germany took over and Hitler took everything I was now quiet and watched what I said around people, because we knew German soldier's watched and heard everything. I was in a slim black dress, under my brown coat, walking on the stone sidewalk simply looking around at the many buildings in people. I noticed they didn't have happy eyes anymore or didn't walk with pride.
I simply didn't care really. I didn't care what happens in this war if I lived or died but since I'm in this war I'm going to do whatever I had to do to get by. I was on my way to Shossanna's or Emmanuelle's theater. She was born Shossanna Dreyfus, a Jew, but after her family was killed by German soldiers she moved to France as Emmanuelle Mimieux and got with my cousin, Marcel. I walked up to the entrance to see Emmanuelle on a tall ladder taking down the letters off the top board of the theater and placing them in a small cart. I smiled up at her.
"What's playing next?" I asked her. She looked down at me a bit surprised then smiled and looked back at her letters.
" 'A month in Spain'. I've never seen it, but I heard it's good. It's a french film." she told. I nodded then I heard the front door open and my cousin walk out and he smiled once he saw me.
"Nicholette." he said happily and walked over to me and embraced me in a hug. I returned the tight hug and hummed in happiness.
"Marcel, how are you dear cousin?" I asked as we pulled back. He sighed but kept his smile on his face.
"Trying to get by alive with this war. The Germans here are cracking down harder on us Negroes then most whites. I warn you to be careful when walking the streets." he told with slight concern which I only nodded.
"Do not worry I can handle myself." I said trying to lighten up this conversation. His eyes however didn't believe me. Emmanuelle walked off her latter and came over to her boyfriend and I.
"Marcel, don't bring the girl down more then she already is. It's bad enough we have to deal with these German-" she suddenly stopped speaking as two Nazi soldiers walked our way. They were talking amongst themselves but when they saw us they looked at us with slight sneers and we only stared back at them. Once they grew closer Marcel and I looked away, yet Emmanuelle kept her cold hateful glare on the men as they walked by. Once they were gone she looked back at us. "It's bad enough we have to deal with German bastards. They shouldn't treat us like shit." she said with disdain. I looked down with slight fear of being caught by Nazis or even worse the Gestapo officers.
"Qui, Shossanna." he said then his eyes turned back on me.
"Will you becoming in?" he asked. I shook my head.
"A quick visit. I am on my way to work." I told him. He scowled and I knew why. I helped a German gun store owner to help get by and Marcel didn't like it one bit that I worked for a German. German family had moved into French and Jewish homes after France was taken over by Germany.
"Nicholette, you need to quit that job. It's dangerous for a black woman to work in a gun store especially owned by a German white man." he told. Emmanuelle nodded in agreement.
"Many Nazi soldiers come in there to by weapons, what if they decide to take advantage of you?" she asked. I shook my head with little concern. I didn't expect them to understand but I felt the safest in that place. I felt like I could survive anything in there.
"I have to go I don't want to be late." I said. My cousin and his girl friend looked at me with sadness and I smiled with assurance before turning and heading down the street. Once I arrived at my job I looked up at the sign. 'Rudolph's gunstore und Waffen' 'Rudolph's Gunstore and Weaponry.'
Rudolph was a really nice man if you got to know him. He was a forty five year old man with a wife and two teenage boys at home. The store use to be owned by a Jewish man and was a clothing store, but once the war started he went into hiding. I however showed up wandering what was to happen to the store then I met Rudolph and he told me I could continue working, cleaning and stocking guns. I simply couldn't be around if any Nazi soldiers came in. I didn't know if it was because he cared for my safety or it was because he didn't want a Negro woman to ruin his business.
I went inside and saw the old man sitting behind the register. He had on a white shirt and gray pants. His hair was brown on top and graying on the sides. He looked up at me, his eyes bigger through his glasses. He nodded at me once.
"Hallo Nicholette." he said in his German like tone. I nodded back.
"Hello Mr. Rudolph." I said removing my coat and hanging it on top of the coat rack by the door.
"I need you to count the guns in the storage room and make sure we have exactly a hundred and five guns total." he commanded. I nodded at him grabbed the storage keys off the hook by the coat rack and started heading towards the back of the store to the room which contained most of the guns which weren't on display out here on the shelves. I unlocked the door and went inside and started counting all the rifles and shot guns, revolvers and pistols.
I didn't know any German names for these weapons or the German language, only the American terms. I started to count the weapons one by one. It took a about fifteen minutes to count them all with out messing up. Once done I wrote the information on a sheet of paper and left the room.
As I walked to the front I saw German soldier at the front and I instantly froze knowing who it was. Dieter Hellstrom. I've seen him in the papers for killing many Jews. I've also seen him in this store many times. My heart sped up as I knew he was a dangerous man and I should just wait for him to leave. He was talking to Rudolph in German so I turned on my heals to walk back to the storage room.
"Oh Nicholette." I heard my boss say firmly, but his voice was light so I knew he was trying to sound friendly. I turned slowly and braced myself for the inevitable.