Felix was woken by the sound of storm troopers marching along the street. He leapt out of bed and hurried to the window. Pulling aside the thin gauze curtain, he watched a score of uniformed thugs stomp past a group of frightened onlookers and disappear into a nearby side road.
“Will I be killed today?” he whispered to himself as a pang of fear shot through his frame.
The streets, normally bustling, had become sheepish, only the bold, the brave and those with nothing to fear carried on with their quotidian duties. Felix was an honest, hard working man nearing retirement, small in stature and narrow shouldered with little eyes behind round spectacles. A watchmaker by trade, he lived with his wife Clara in the cold water flat above his shop.
His wife, roused from her slumber, got up to prepare breakfast with an impending fear that soon everything will be different.
They sat opposite each other at the kitchen table, Felix deep in thought taking nibbles from his buttered bread, Clara staring into space, both her hands clasped around a mug of coffee. As Felix rose from his chair he upset his plate, sending it crashing to the floor. Clara instinctively went to help but Felix stopped her and cleared up the mess by himself.
Felix had tried to ignore rumours that were spreading fast about the threat working its way through the city. Shop owners like himself, friends even, people just like him, were being rounded up by a new movement, who blamed his type for all the wrongs in the world. But why pick on these people, he often thought, they are just honest folk trying to earn a crust and get food on the table for their families.
He went downstairs to his workshop and started working where he had left off the night before. Tucked behind the store front, the workshop contained a large oak table, on which sat the innards of various broken timepieces lit by a neighbouring angle poise lamp.
Focussed and precise, he beavered away with the prowess of a master craftsman.
A short while later, the doorbell tinkled, announcing the arrival of a customer into his shop. Felix stopped what he was doing and went and stood behind the counter. A thin man with a knitted brow, whom Felix had known for years, had come to collect his watch. Felix told him it wasn’t ready but the man insisted on taking it as it was a gift from his father and he worried that he may never see it again. Felix handed back his watch and showed him out the door. The man glanced furtively about then went on his way.
Felix watched him go and then noticed a commotion further up the street.
A drunken gang of Nazi storm troopers had dragged a man from his store and left him lying in the middle of the street. They taunted him and stripped him of his clothes, while he screamed, begging for mercy.
Felix sighed and shook his head in despair.
He only hoped that the man was just being humiliated, one of the lucky ones, others were beaten to a pulp.
A few thugs clad in peak caps, jackboots and swastika armbands, hovered by his shop occasionally gazing into his modest but well arranged display window. The neatly arrayed Swiss chronographs often attracted the attention of a passing uniformed Nazi. Flush with power felt they could have anything.
Back in the workshop he realised one of the jobs left was to repair a broken pocket watch owned by a Nazi. He made it a priority and set to it immediately but became aware that his hands had started shaking and shook so much that he had difficultly using his tools.
Later on, his toil was interrupted by a gentleman who came in to the shop and warned Felix that a gang of storm troopers were working their way round the nearby streets, pasting stickers on the windows of certain shops and marking them with the Star of David.
As he was talking, Felix saw over his shoulder, two storm troopers standing outside, near to his shop window. One held a pail of white paint, into which he dipped a brush and proceeded to daub a six-pointed star onto the glass, grinning as he did it.
Felix froze and stared open mouthed at the window. Now he was marked. The air was redolent with fear and his pride hurt as the big white star obscured his display.
Horrified when he saw the star, the gentleman hung back and waited until the coast was clear before he left the shop.
Felix was compelled to fetch a cloth and erase the graffiti but thought better of it and trudged back to his desk and flopped down onto his stool.
After a moment of self pity, he pulled himself together and found an inner strength, a determination not to let this episode ruin his business, a love, which he had worked hard for, over many years.
In a frenzy of activity, Felix repaired the pocket watch owned by the Nazi. The intensity was such that beads of sweat formed on his brow.
Then, footsteps echoed down the stairs and Clara appeared holding a freshly brewed cup of tea. She stopped at the bottom and stood there looking at the window, her apron tight around her plump waist, her mousy hair tied back in a bun. The cup fell from her hands and smashed on the floor.
“The star. We’ve been marked.” She said turning pale.
Felix went over and held her. She sobbed into his shoulder.
While they embraced, chanting could be heard from a posse of storm troopers marching down the street. The noise grew louder. Felix broke free of her hold and went to look out the window.
As he did so, a projectile came smashing through the glass, grazing his ear and landed on the shop floor beside his wife. Clara let out a shriek and ran back up the stairs.
Felix stepped over to the door, slid the bolts across and flipped the shop sign over to closed.