Below is an extract from the beginning of my new Historical novel, working title:
Black Danube. A Leo Katz Crime Thriller
Set in Vienna 1899 it follows the story of Leo Katz, a crime photographer, as he tries to solve the mysterious murders of several Jewish dissidents, and help clear the name of a young woman falsely accused of the gruesome killing of her fiancé.
I stood in front of the grand pillared entrance to the Kaiser Franz Josef Railway station in bare feet. I had no luggage or hat. People ambled past taking side-long looks, and shaking their heads as if to say, ‘Ah, another penniless immigrant. This city is going to the dogs.’
The top two buttons on my dark brown waistcoat popped open. I clutched at my chest, hunched my shoulders, fastened them back up, and pulled my gaberdine tight to hide my defective attire. A high-pitched whistle blew. Then the sound of metal wheels scraping along the track. They screeched so loud I thought I would never hear again. Gradually, the noise faded. I wiped away the mist left by the steam train from my face, and tried to focus. But my eyes were fuzzy as though I had indulged in an excess of alcohol.
I fingered my stiff shirt collar to let in some air to cool my sticky flesh. Not daring to move, in case I loosened more buttons on my tight garments, I observed the washed out faces of men and women that walked along the pavement. They stared ahead not looking at anything or anyone. I blinked rapidly. They shimmered and faded becoming nothing more than ghost-like figures floating above the raised wooden pavements.
A swirling wind blew the phantoms away. It caught at my coat flaps, whipping them up and down so fast I almost took to the air. I held onto them and squatted down until the gusts decreased. I stared down the steps. At the bottom lay my black shoes, heels broken, sole ripped off half way, gaping open like the mouth of a dying fish.
Rain pelted my face and shoulders. I stumbled down the steps, raised my head, and wiped away the thudding raindrops. Through the rippling water that slid down my lashes, I saw gigantic eyes appear in every window of the massive grey station that loomed over me.
I ran across the street, tripping over the newly installed tram lines, stepping into deep puddles that splashed my trousers with blood-red water. I tore at the stained fabric with my elongated fingernails and ripped the garment from my legs, revealing white bloomers that flapped in the wind like an injured bird trying to take off. Horrified, I tried to cover the girlish underwear with my hands, but my fingers turned into dumplings and melted.
‘Kazab!’ Yelled an old flower seller dressed in a voluminous white high-necked blouse and billowing black skirt. Her face was so wrinkled it caught the water that fell in the deep crevices of her cheeks. She picked out a bunch of dead roses, held them before me and shouted louder than before, ‘Kazab!’ I put my hands over my ears but her cry of, ‘Kazab!’ was deafening. My knees buckled, and I fell to the ground. ‘Kazab!’ She screeched the word over and over. It pounded my head like rocks being thrown. ‘Kazab! Kazab!’
They say the truth hurts, and it does, for I am indeed a liar.
Vienna, Hohe Brücke, 1894