The Second World War: PART 2 - Adelise Gèroux - Paris (1945) #2
When Adelise Gèroux finished packing her life into a single suitcase, she walked out onto her balcony to take in the evening air.
She lit a cigarette and leant against the metal railing, peering out. Her boarding house permitted her a fine view of the quiet park along la rue. She’d always felt an affection for the spot, though she never went in. It was from this vantage point that she truly realised, came to terms perhaps, that she was leaving this place, her home of four years, for good.
Le Jardin Vert, or green garden as it is in English, doesn’t benefit without the music of the French pronunciation. It was certainly an interesting park despite its certainly uninteresting name and was a stone’s throw away from the metro. It was deemed by the locals as one of the most romantic spots in Paris and had inspired a setting in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, apparently. Adelise promised to read it, but hadn’t. From the park’s only lamppost, the silhouette of the Eiffel Tower could be made out against the lighter backdrop of western sky. The park also had a ten-foot high wall of concrete that ran the entire length of street on the farthest side. Running parallel to it, close to the boarding house, was a railing and wrought gate that shared the road’s pavement.
When she finished her last cigarette, she stubbed out the filter tip in next door’s plant pot, regretting it. She plucked it out and tossed it into the street and went back inside and into the ensuite bathroom.
Mademoiselle Gèroux was glowing at twenty-eight in a way that she hadn’t as a small girl. She stood around five-feet-four with long eyelashes and tall cheekbones that exaggerated the fairness of her skin. She was indeed a redhead but of the more darker variety. With greenish blue eyes and almost squared lips, she looked dangerous too. Her complexion was quite flawless, and the application of makeup was meticulous in detail. She wasn’t slim, and it suited her. To put it bluntly, she was a catch.
In her bedroom was a burly Englishman who was fast asleep and unaware of that afternoon’s revelation. Adelise planned to escape to neutral Spain that night without finalising too many details.
She smiled to the woman in the mirror. It was one of those deep smiles with a lot of pain behind it, a mustered smile if you will, and she deposited an envelope for Roger behind the wash basin’s cold tap.
After a week of rainfall and Nazis cutting supply lines, the street was plunged in darkness. The rain itself had only slackened and tapped rhythmically on the pavement and Adelise’s beret as she closed the door. Her keys echoed on the marble when they fell through the letterbox. The sounded pinged from wall to wall and was lost somewhere upstairs. She closed the flap and was in the street for quarter-past two and glanced to her right: there was a rack of unchained bicycles on the corner but beyond them there wasn’t much else. On her immediate left was a black Mercedes.
The young woman set off. Her wedges knocked with each step, her tattered suitcase rocking comfortably. Clutched in her left hand was a 418 Beretta and Brausch silencer with the safety was off. She knelt, placing the case on the ground, dropped the gun into her trench coat’s pocket and tightened her belt. After tilting her beret lower, she straightened, and padded across the road glancing sideways. She slipped between a street-sign and a bin and deposited her half-empty pack of cigarettes inside with a clunk. She marched past the car and stopped beneath a street lamp, looking up to what was once her bedroom. To the escaped British airman – who she’d mistakenly fallen in love with – one reason behind her sudden departure.
She shook off regret and pressed on.
Suddenly an outstretched arm with something in the fist appeared before her. Adelise backed against the railings and went for her gun. Her suitcase fell and bounced off the pavement, flinging linen into a puddle. Her fingers felt for the butt of the Beretta and knocked it deeper into the pocket. Her index finger struggled with the weight of the silencer and it fell again, but the arm was holding a bottle, no weapon.
A drunk followed afterwards, emerging through the gate and patting his pockets. He was ignorant of the clothes and cursing woman. He staggered past her some way and trod on some dirty stockings, the drunk looked around confused and saw the young man.
‘Pardon mademoiselle... might - might I trouble you for a match?’ he asked in slurred French.
She’d seen him around the café a few times. Always unshaved and drinking too much Pernod. She produced her lighter and he waded over, grateful.
With drunks – everything is overplayed – they exhume care in all things, for instance the opening and closing of doors. It becomes a task when inebriated to act sober and often done with a little too much thought, before they slam the proverbial door and give the game away. He knew he was drunk and didn’t hide it. His lips drooped and bore a toothy smile, a hand extended for the lighter, it shook.
There was a cough. Two more followed in quick succession. No wind. Her breath whistled through the gap in her teeth. His lips thinned into a sneer – no alcohol on its breath – only tobacco. She saw the black sausage pressed into her stomach, the Walther’s butt protruding.
She fell into the railing, slipping onto her backside. Adelise went for her pocket with both hands, contorting. The process was slow and painful for any to watch. With laboured breaths, she dragged herself up the rail like a vine, hissing. She bounded across the cobbles and stopped, swaying for a moment. Tears appeared in the corner of her eyes. She felt her stomach and choked them back, crumpling into a heap below. Her outstretched legs gave a twitch in the road and surrendered.
The Mercedes’ dual headlamps flickered on. Three men in hats and coats climbed stiffly out. The killer, Otto Krause, produced his own lighter and puffed on a Russian cigarette, his men half-carried, half-rolled her body into the vehicle’s boot. He looked up and to the third-floor balcony where she’d came from.