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SHORT STORY: Election madness — a Ms Winslow investigation: CHAPTER 1

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Spotlight - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 6/2018 vom 30.05.2018

Ms Winslow ist wieder zu Besuch in Heroldstein. Dieses Mal lässt die Wahl zum Kirchenrat gänzlich unchristliches Verhalten unter den Einheimischen zutage treten.


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Herr Ober ,” said Angelika Moser. “Dieser Fisch schmeckt überhaupt nicht!

For the next ten minutes, Frau Moser explained to the waiter in great detail what was wrong with the fish on her plate. She insisted on it being replaced, since she had ordered it only on his recommendation.

Ach, Frau Winslow ,” she said after the waiter had been sent back to the kitchen to tell the chef what Frau Moser thought about the freshness of the ...

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Ach, Frau Winslow ,” she said after the waiter had been sent back to the kitchen to tell the chef what Frau Moser thought about the freshness of the fish he’d cooked for her. “Standards everywhere go down and down. I see it in my own lifetime already. I can hardly imagine what it must be like for an older lady like you.”

Dorothy Winslow was in Heroldstein looking after Trotsky, the dog that belonged to her niece, Lucy Tischler. Lucy was going on a camping holiday in Italy with her husband, Klaus, and their twin sons, Roland and Freddie.

“Last year, we took Trotsky with us, but he didn’t like it, and we had to come home after a week,” Lucy explained, as Dorothy unpacked her suitcase when she arrived.

“He doesn’t like camping?” Dorothy asked.

“He’s not the only one,” Lucy said. “I’d prefer to stay in a hotel. But Klaus always went camping when he was small, and he wants the boys to see what it’s like. That’s one of those things about being married to a German. But there’s another thing I need to tell you about…”

At this point, they were interrupted by the arrival of Dorothy’s friend, the charming and debonair Armin von Weiden. He had heard that Dorothy was visiting again and had hurried round immediately.

“You’ve come at an excellent time,” he said to her. “The church council elections are in two weeks. Klaus and Lucy wanted to help me with my campaign to be elected chairman, but now suddenly, they’ve changed their holiday plans, and they’ll be away.”

Dorothy saw Lucy looking guiltily out of the window. “Most unfortunate! So, perhaps you could join in. Yes?”

After he had gone, Lucy apologized to Dorothy and explained what was happening.

“That’s what I wanted to tell you. Church members in Heroldstein can all vote for the church council. The person who gets the most votes is chairperson, and the other candidates are then members of the council. For the past four years, it’s been Frau Moser, and she hasn’t done a bad job organizing things like village fetes or forcing the local government to get the rubbish collection done more often. But as you know, she’s very bossy, and Armin has this idea that he could do a better job. I’m a little worried that the election might get nasty. These things can become awfully political.”

The day after Lucy and her family left to go camping, Frau Moser was waiting round the corner when Dorothy took Trotsky for a walk. She invited Dorothy to lunch with her in the village inn. This was when the waiter made the mistake of recommending that Frau Moser try the fish.

“Well, Frau Winslow. What do you think of Herr von Weiden wanting to head the church council?” she asked, after the waiter had returned with a schnitzel and run back to the kitchen before anybody could complain.

Dorothy murmured something diplomatic.

“As you know, Herr von Weiden is one of my dearest friends, Frau Winslow. I do hope that he will not be too disappointed — when he loses.”

Dorothy smiled politely.

“You know, it might be kind, Frau Winslow, if perhaps a friend could persuade Herr von Weiden to withdraw from the election. Someone he respects.”

The job was very tedious, she continued. Apart from organizing all the meetings and writing the minutes afterwards, it was so difficult to find people willing to help with things like the Christmas concert held at the church.

“I’m not sure Herr von Weiden would be interested in doing these little things. He’s so busy with his museum and art trips to Venice and such. Would he really want to make sure that one of the local farmers would let us have straw or lend us a real donkey for the nativity play? I think not.”

Dorothy wasn’t sure either, but she didn’t say so out of loyalty to her friend. Instead, she said that she was sure the good people of Heroldstein would make a sensible choice. And with two such outstanding candidates as Frau Moser and Herr von Weiden, what could go wrong?

Later that afternoon, Dorothy took Trotsky for a walk past the church. It was a pretty building with a large, well-tended graveyard dating back about 300 years. For modern eyes, the graves had unusual names on them, such as Gottlob or Apollonia. Dorothy found the lady vicar weeding one of them, and Trotsky ran over to greet her, wagging his tail. When the vicar saw Dorothy, she stood up.

“Guten Abend, Frau Winslow,” she said. “Trotsky is a good friend of mine, even if he is a communist. My name is Birgit Apfelbaum. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you. Would you like me to show you around the church?”

To be continued next month…



In her first novel,Girls Burn Brighter , young Indian-American writer Shobha Rao brings together the destinies of Poornima and Savitha — two girls growing up in rural Andhra Pradesh. Rao sets their stories, and the story of their unusual friendship, against a backdrop of great poverty, arranged marriages and sexual exploitation. When Poornima’s marriage goes wrong and Savitha runs away from their village, the two girls face years of separation and distress, because Savitha is sold into domestic slavery in the US. Rao’s great poetic skills create the proper spaces for hardship and pain as well as beauty and love. Written in simple but strong language, this is a novel that should be read. And despite the book’s difficult topics, it is a pleasure to read. Macmillan US, €18.95.


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Fotos: YoungID, Tucjkovo/iStock.com; pr