It was my father’s idea. In a letter he suggested I visit our relatives in the village of Lembach. He wrote that the village is in the Vosges Mountains of France. He said they would be happy to see me. It would be a good experience. I had the street address in my pocket.
Finding my way around the mountains proved to be a challenge. It was becoming dark and foggy as well. I knew I was near the village. A few kilometers back I had seen the sign “Lembach.” Yet, I started having visions of being obliged to sleep in my small Peugeot rental. Running short on options, I saw a well-kept road off to the right. I drove up the road, but damn it, it ended near a farm house. I was embarrassed as I started to think I was on private property. Turning around, I spotted a man standing behind the house. His back was to me and he had a cigarette in his hand. Thinking he could perhaps help, I exited the car and walked over to him. My guess was that he was a German speaker but I spoke in French nevertheless.
“Excuse me, sir. Sorry to bother you. I am looking for the town of Lembach, but I am having trouble finding the right road.”
He was slow to turn around, occupied with his cigarette.
“Oh, yes. You are not far from Lembach.”
The man looked at me curiously and took a drag on his cigarette. Letting out smoke he added, “But, the roads from here to Lembach are difficult to follow. Especially at night.”
I didn’t know what to say, trying to decide on a course of action. I must have blinked my eyes a few times, perhaps displaying hesitation and confusion.
“You are American, I believe?”
“Yes. I had business in Switzerland, but I came here to look-up relatives. According to my father they live in Lembach.”
“Interesting. We rarely see Americans around here.”
He stamped on his cigarette butt. I figured the man wished to return to his house. It was time for me to depart.
“Thank you sir. I’ll give it another try.”
He extended his hand.
“My name is Henri Metz.”
The handshake was firm but the hand was soft.
“Pleased to meet you, sir. My name is John Gerhart. As you say, Jean Gerhart.”
“You have a problem. It is going to be difficult finding Lembach at night and with the fog settling in. We often have fog at this altitude.”
“I suppose I should have started earlier. I misjudged the time to drive here.”
“Mr. Gerhart, have you eaten this evening?”
“Why, no. I was hoping to find an inn where I might eat and stay for the evening.”
“We are having chicken tonight. You are welcome to join us. We can talk more about the road to Lembach. Your auto is fine where you parked it. Nobody will bother it up here.”
“Thank you, Mr. Metz. That is very kind of you.”
I followed Mr. Metz into his house. It was surprisingly large, made of stone and apparently very old. The windows were fitted with functioning shutters. We went into the kitchen where two women were busy preparing supper. It smelled delicious.
“Ladies, we have a guest tonight. An American traveler.”
Mr. Metz introduced me first to the older woman, “Miss Sabine Metz.”
“Good evening, sir.”
Mr. Metz said Sabine was his niece and the second woman, “Hélène,” his daughter. Hélène extended her hand, smiled and, in the European manner, nodded slightly.
I guessed Sabine was in her 40’s. Hélène in her mid-30’s, roughly my age. Both were svelte and attractive.
Mr. Metz led me into an ante room where he put his hand on a bottle of wine.
“How about an aperitif? Perhaps a Dubonnet?”
“That would be fine. Thank you.”
Mr. Metz handed me a glass of Dubonnet.
“You might know. The American Army passed through here during the war. This was my grandfather’s house at the time. According to all reports there was fierce fighting around here. During the heat of one battle the family huddled in the wine cellar under the house. The Germans were retreating reluctantly to the east and putting up a good fight as they went. Eventually they had to retreat across the Rhine. Poor fellows. Most were in their mid-teens, mere children. Grandfather put up some 50 American soldiers in this house for a period. He said it was bitter cold. The soldiers were very polite and well behaved. We owe much to the American army.”
After two Dubonnets, Sabine came in to announce supper was ready. At the table Hélène sat to my right and Sabine on my left, near the kitchen door. Mr. Metz explained the language situation as, he said, it might seem strange to people from out of the Alsace region.
“Sabine comes from a family that speaks only German and her French is limited. Hélène learned her French in school where German is no longer taught. She speaks French better than German. If she reads a book it will be in French. I speak both French and German equally well. My ancestors were German speakers for thousands of years. But I was obliged to learn French after the war because of my business needs are here in France.”
The wine had given me a good appetite and I ate my fill. Perhaps more than what would have been polite. When Mr. Metz was busy with his knife and fork, Hélène cast side glances in my direction. Sometimes she hesitated for an embarrassing period. Once a foot lightly touched my right foot, but it might have accidental.
After supper Mr. Metz guided me back to the ante room where, without asking, he poured two cognacs. The evening was growing late and outside the fog was growing worse. Mr. Metz and I chatted for a time about the war and, in general, the people of Alsace. He was an interesting man and well informed on a range of topics. When the cognac was gone he stood.
“Mr. Gerhart, it’s growing late. You would have trouble on the roads with all the fog. Why don’t you stay with us tonight. We have ample rooms upstairs.”
The invitation from Mr. Metz came as a surprise, but certainly a welcomed one. Mostly because of all of the wine and Cognac, I did not look forward to struggling with the roads on a dark and foggy night in an unfamiliar mountainous region.
“Why, thank you, sir. I appreciate your generosity.”
“Not at all.”
I retrieved my suitcase from the rental. When I returned to the house Hélène met me inside the door. She told me, “I will show you to your room. It’s up the stairs.”
She led me to a spacious bedroom that was off a wide hallway.
“The WC is at the end of the hall. You can’t miss it.”
Pointing to a window over my shoulder she told me, “That window is opened slightly to catch the western air. You may wish to close it if the room becomes too chilly.”
I turned to look at the western window. At that instant she walked behind me going to the doorway. I felt a finger drag across my backside.
“Good evening, Mr. Gerhart.”
There was a small light in the room so I climbed in bed and started reading a chapter of John Grisham’s, “Gray Mountain.” Growing drowsy I gave up reading and turned the light off. The room was totally dark. Soon I was dreaming. I found the Gerharts in Lembach. A gorgeous and busty peasant woman in a flimsy dress met me at the door. She said there was nobody home and she was exceedingly happy to meet an American cousin. How wonderful. She led me to their living room, and shortly she brought in a bottle of an Alsatian wine. Soon the wine had its affect. We were talking about America when, for no apparent reason, she came over to me. She said, “Excuse me,” and reached behind me to straighten a toile. A firm breast pressed against my forehead. Holding a toile in her hand she stood in front of me, breathing heavily. I took her hand and she led me to a bedroom. As we were bouncing around in bed I heard the front door open. Over her shoulder I saw a large man standing in the doorway holding a pitchfork in his hand. Suddenly, I awoke with a shock. My heart was racing and I was gasping for air. I noticed I was ready for love making. What a disappointment.
After I gathered myself together, I realized my bladder was full and I needed to visit the WC. I couldn’t see a thing so I felt for the wall and then moved along until I came to the door. Opening it I realized there was a dim light at the end of the hall. After returning to the bedroom I fell asleep again. But the dream did not resume.
Sometime in the middle of the night, perhaps early morning, I was awakened by creaking floor boards in the hallway. At first I was unsure that I was actually awake. Perhaps, I thought, I was still dreaming. There was a light tapping on the door and then the door opened slowly. In seconds the blurry outline of a woman was framed in the door. Closing the door behind her, she found her way to the bed and climbed under the sheets with me. I made room and slowly eased my arms around her waist. I tried to kiss her but she did not want to exchange kisses. It was my impression Hélène was intent on getting down to business. She had no panties beneath the pajamas, so that was no problem. I tried to move above her, but that was also not her preference. She intended to be on top, so to speak, in command of the arrangement. That was fine with me. Afterward she kissed me several times. She stayed a few minutes and then tiptoed to the door. She had no trouble finding the door in the pitch darkness. I still could not see anything. The blurry image disappeared through the doorway and the door closed quietly.
In the morning I awoke to the smell of coffee. After washing and dressing I packed my things. Downstairs I found Mr. Metz in the dining room reading a book.
“Good morning, Mr. Gerhart.”
“Good morning, sir.”
“I see the fog has dissipated. You should have no trouble today finding the Gerharts in Lembach. Sabine is making breakfast. It should be ready in a few minutes. Please have a seat.”
“Will Hélène be joining us for breakfast?”
“Hélène? No, she will not be home until later this morning. She works the evening shift at the hospital in Wissembourg. She departed shortly after supper last evening. Her cousin, who also works there, drives.”
I took a seat across from Mr. Mertz. Thoughts were going around in my head. Sabine brought the eggs, sausage, and a baguette. When she returned to the kitchen I could not avoid noticing how her tight, satiny dress accentuated her firm and lovely-shaped ass.
Sabine joined us for breakfast. She didn’t say a word. After coffee I stood while declaring it was time for me to be on my way.
“Thank you, Mrs. Metz and Mr. Metz for your hospitality. You have been very generous.”
Mr. Metz stood and took hold of my briefcase.
“I’ll walk you to your auto.”
Sabine showed me a smile.
At the Peugeot Mr. Metz placed my suitcase in the trunk. Standing beside the vehicle, he handed me the map he had made.
“Here, I am certain you can follow my directions to Lembach. You should be there in 20 minutes time.”
I slipped the paper into my pocket and moved behind the steering wheel.
“Thank you, again, Mr. Metz, for everything.”
He looked at me, hesitating.
“One other thing.”
He paused for a time while looking me straight in the eye.
“I hope you enjoyed your stay?”
I tried to find the right words.
“More than I would have ever expected.”
“I’m pleased. Have a pleasant trip. Be sure to visit us again if you are in the vicinity.”
After the Metzes I drove directly to Switzerland and returned to business. I decided that perhaps on a future trip I will try again for Lembach.
Joseph E. Fleckenstein has published over 27 pieces. You check out at his website here.