The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons is unintended.
Steffi couldn’t sleep much that night. There was just too much going through her mind. She woke up early on Sunday morning, her stomach tied up in knots. Olivia made her some breakfast but she hardly touched it.
The morning dragged. She would have to wait till 3 p.m. to discover her fate from Herr Bauer. He seemed to have been working hard on her behalf to keep her out of trouble since it all happened on Thursday evening. She felt a strange mixture of fear and gratitude towards him. He had shown some concern for her welfare, and she was aware that a lot would depend upon his attitude towards her. Professor Scharfschwerdt seemed to have delegated everything to Herr Bauer to deal with. She felt increasingly drawn to him.
Steffi reflected that she seemed to be attracted to dominant, controlling men who were older than herself. Francisco and Pablo could both be violent and aggressive. In both cases, she had been able to defuse tense situations by being sexually submissive. Maybe it was a character flaw, she thought. Maybe she just chose the wrong sort of men. She had been shocked when Herr Bauer told her about Pablos drug convictions. Maybe she just had poor judgment.
She always felt intimidated in Herr Bauers presence. It was better not to do anything to antagonise him, she thought. If he accepted that she was really sorry for the trouble she had caused, and fully complied with what he demanded, he might do more to protect her. Things might not turn out too bad. But then she had more doubts. She could easily find herself in court facing charges from the police, with the papers back home exaggerating everything as they always did. Or she could be packed off back home and have to explain everything to her parents. The thought of it filled her with dread. She would do anything to avoid that. But at least shed know one way or the other soon enough.
Herr Bauer had reacted badly when he saw how she was dressed on Thursday night. She thought about that as she finished her shower. She should dress smartly but conservatively when she attended his office that afternoon. She put on her dressing gown and laid out a short sleeved white silk blouse on her bed. It was high necked with a cravat. She took her black pencil skirt from the wardrobe and placed it next to the blouse, with a new pack of black hold up stockings. The skirt was knee length, fairly tight with a rear slit. A pair of open black leather high heels completed the outfit. It was warm that day, she wouldn’t take a jacket. At least she looked like a secretary rather than a hooker, she thought. Katarina helped with her hair as she sat in her bedroom. She helped her arrange it in a long plaited pony tail. Katarina produced a black silk elasticated scrunchie with a large feminine bow and slipped it over the top of the pony tail. She hesitated, but decided to put on some make up, just a pink lipstick she borrowed from Katarina, and some light eye shadow and blusher.
Steffi got dressed and picked up her handbag. She looked at herself in the full length mirror in Katarinas room. Katarina nodded approvingly. It was time to go. Olivia and the girls hugged and kissed her and wished her luck. She tried to smile and put a brave face on it. At least it would soon be over, she thought on the short bus journey to the Institute.
The Institute was closed on Sundays. She hesitated for a moment as she climbed the steps to the main entrance. She bit her lip, and pressed the button on the intercom. It crackled, and a male voice answered. She explained that she had an appointment, and a middle aged uniformed security guard appeared and let her in. He seemed to know to expect her and she went up to Herr Bauers office on the second floor. She took a deep breath and knocked on the oak door.
Herr Bauer answered and brusquely told her to come in. “Thank you for attending promptly, Fraulein Muller,” he said. “Please sit down.” Steffi remembered the spacious office from her previous visit. There was a large mahogany desk in the centre of the room, with leather armchairs and bookcases lining the walls. The room was cool. There was a faint hum from the air conditioning. There were 2 small tables in the corner. Her personal file and some papers lay on the desk next to the telephone.
Steffi sat on the edge of the chair fidgeting, her hands clasped almost in supplication. She looked at Herr Bauer intently, tears welling up in her eyes. “I’m terribly sorry for all the trouble Ive caused you, Herr Bauer,” she blurted out. “I must have completely ruined your weekend. I’m so grateful for everything you’ve done on my behalf.”
Herr Bauer seemed somewhat taken aback and smiled briefly. “Your attitude does you a great deal of credit, Steffi, er Fraulein Muller,” he said, correcting himself. “It justifies what has been done to stop this getting out of hand. However, I appreciate that you will have been experiencing a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty over the past few days. So I wanted to put your mind at rest as soon as possible on one point. There will be no actual criminal charges brought against you as a result of the incident on Thursday.”
It was the first time Herr Bauer had used her Christian name. Steffis spirits soared. It was a great weight off her mind. “Oh, thank you, Herr Bauer, I’m so relieved.”
“I must explain to you that this decision was only taken after a number of representations were made on your behalf both by Professor Scharfschwerdt and myself, and a colleague at the Consulate, to the Mayor, the Chief of Police, and the Captain of the police precinct. Initially, they considered charging all three of you with a very serious public order offence and letting the court sort it out. In that event you would certainly be looking at a lengthy prison sentence. But they accepted this would have been unfair to Martinez, who suffered a stomach wound, and to yourself. Garcia will be charged with the stabbing, and as he has admitted the offence, it is unlikely that you will be required as a witness, or that your name will be given in court and reported in the newspapers. And no action will be taken over the drugs matter. So you will not have a criminal record after all and the Institute will avoid damage to its reputation.”
“Oh, thank you, Herr Bauer, that’s wonderful. ” She listened intently, hanging on every word.
“The local police Captain in particular took some persuading. He was concerned about the complaints he had received from residents over the past few months, and was going to charge you with drug possession. But it was argued on your behalf that you were of previous good character, that you were an excellent student of some promise, that you were an immature young person living abroad for the first time, and you should be given another chance. It was also suggested that your rather unfortunate choice of boyfriends was the cause of your misfortune. I think that is all true, and that the other girls, Fraulein Busch, for example, have probably been a bad influence on you.”
He meant Katarina. She was her best friend, and Steffi was going to protest, but thought better of it. She nodded, and sat with her hands on her knees.
“Fortunately, the Captain has teenage daughters himself and had some sympathy with these arguments. He agreed that this should be handled by the Institute as a disciplinary matter. However, I had to give him a firm undertaking that you would be severely punished for what occurred. Professor Scharfschwerdt is very busy with next years cultural programme and has delegated it to me to deal with you.”
This sounded ominous, but Steffi said nothing. She thought it better not to interrupt him, and nodded and smiled weakly. Oh my God, she thought, I’m going to lose the scholarship. They’re going to send me home.
“There remains the question of your scholarship and your future in Argentina,” he said. “I have been giving that a great deal of thought. I have been examining your file. It is quite impressive in many ways. On balance, you have worked hard to get here and you deserve to retain the scholarship. Your course and your studies will remain unchanged, but certain conditions will be imposed and you will be expected to comply with these.”
Steffi was overjoyed. So she wasn’t going to be sent home after all. She would comply with Herr Bauers conditions, whatever they were.
“I think the main problem is that you are immature and easily led, Fraulein Muller. For your own good I intend to move you out of the student house.”
Steffi looked at him, crestfallen. “But where am I going to live, Herr Bauer?” she asked. “If I lose my accommodation my parents cant afford to pay for somewhere else.”
“That’s not what I had in mind. The Institute has another small apartment in the area which it uses sometimes but is currently unoccupied. You will be moved there from the house shortly. It is furnished and quite comfortable. You will live there. But there are further conditions you will have to comply with.”
“Ill do anything you say, Herr Bauer,” Steffi said hopefully. “Ill comply with whatever conditions you decide are necessary.”
“Good. Because you will be subject to a curfew. You will be required to be indoors at the apartment from 8 p.m. every evening. And there will be regular checks to ensure that you are complying with your curfew. If you fail to do so, there will be serious consequences. Furthermore, there will be no more Argentine boyfriends for you while you are there. Basically, you need to stop behaving like a complete slut. No more Garcias and their ilk. No more drug dealers. We will review the situation in three months time and decide if these conditions need to continue or if they can be relaxed.”
Steffi’s face fell a little. No more social life in the evenings. And no more handsome Latin boyfriends. But he had a point. Her choice of boyfriends hadn’t been good. And he said it was only for 3 months. If she behaved herself, hopefully she could get him to relax his conditions after 3 months. All in all, she had got off lightly. She was sorry to be moving out of the house, but on the plus side she would be getting her own apartment.
To be continued.