Summertime 1939. Nothing stands between Germany and Poland, nothing but the heat. It is a flashpoint in history, the last summer of peace. War brings all things to a standstill. For a moment the darkness seems to overtake the light. The world stops in place. There is no movement, no life. It is written that at the end of days only the few will be chosen and there will be a mystical harvest. This is that story.
A telling change was in the air, a welcome lull at the end of a day made strenuous by extensive heat. The longed-for break in unseasonably dry weather was greeted by smiling faces. And a thrill was had at the sight of dark clouds ushered in by a late summer swelter. To cheers a sheet of rainfall swept through the thirsty streets and wilted boulevards of Warsaw. The flash point of August was for the moment lessened beneath a cloudburst.
Grey skies flickered overhead, captured through the lens of a black and white motion-picture camera. From throughout, the bustle of a busy street was heard, beset by the heightened clatter of pedestrians delving for shelter from the oncoming storm. In congruence with the unmistakable screech of an automobile's brakes came the klaxon of a horn superseded by a contentious shout almost immediately lost in the rev of a motor engine.
On a wetted city street, a young American man stood unwittingly at the curb. He filmed in the midst of pelting rain with a picture camera he held directly to the sky. The camera was strung around the man's neck, fastened securely to a thin leather strap. Atop of the boxy device an aperture served as a viewfinder through which he distractedly peered. Caught unaware, he was doused by a wave of rainwater fast brought up onto the sidewalk.
"Watch where you're stepping," came fast with a holler.
A canvassed lorry thumped heavily through a puddle forcing the American man to leap back from the curb. The lorry swayed, teetered, and jolted in passing. An irate fist waved from an open window, the only consolation had for heeding the untimely warning.
"Get out from the road," was added without sympathy.
The American's pants were soaked. He was a tall, well-groomed young man, dressed handsomely in a pair of beige slacks and a fine waist-length overcoat. Soiled by the filthy puddle, chastened for his heedless curiosity-his dark hair lay matted against his forehead and his pale complexion reddened, flushed from the shock-he had drawn unwanted attention to himself. That he was a foreigner was shamefully obvious to the common passersby. Rooted in place, he checked down at himself, at first taken aback, then shrugged good-heartedly and shook himself out.
A safe distance behind him, a sizable group of detrained passengers stood huddled together sheltered underneath the broad awning of Dworzec Centralny-Warsaw's newly built Central Railway Terminal. On the sidewalk in front of them sat a heaping pile of suitcases and steamer trunks. The wayfarers, assembled against the rain, consisted mostly of young, smartly dressed American women. The prettiest in particular, Lynn Ann Daily, waved tentatively and motioned to step from under the awning. She called to the American man by name.
"Oh-careful, James!-Here, James,..." shouting sweetly out of concern.
Her voice conveyed an extraordinary amount of emotion; he clearly was uninjured-for such a simple matter she appeared overly concerned. Her attempt to elicit a response from the American man had failed. Her words miscarried, thwarted by the gales and carouses of the storm.
"James." Sheltered from the pouring rain, Lynn once more endeavored to call out, "Here, James."
The man she addressed remained as of yet unaware, his notice drawn away from the group of American women.