by Matthew McLean
If you were Italian, Japanese or German, and in Moscow, the Alon Bar was the place to be. A bar for expatriates, it could provide all of the comforts of home, even for Americans. Francesco Basso desperately wanted to get there.
Stumbling down the alley, he felt as if he were extremely drunk. He knew then with certainty, he had been badly hurt. He crashed into cold mortar, lurching into one of the buildings that formed the lane he moved down. He stopped for a moment, panting, feeling life drain out of him. A constriction in his chest moved him on.
After an endless mile, he stumbled onto the back stairs of the building for which he had been searching. The sign above read EXIT in dull red letters. Below, painted on the door, were the words ALON BAR.
Francesco collapsed on the stairs, rapping on the bottom of the door with the strength he could muster. He would never know how long he lay there.
The door opened and a man in a dark suit stepped out. He reached and pulled Francesco halfway off the hard stairs. For a moment, all Francesco could see were a pair of beautiful, feminine feet standing in superb Italian shoes next to the man who held him.
He couldn’t move, but his head rose. His vision traveled from the feet, up the legs, and eventually came to rest on the face of a beautiful, blonde woman.
In his delirium, Francesco thought, “She’s a Nazi.”
A disembodied voice said, “Alek?”
The Nazi spoke, gesturing inside.
“Bring him in.”