FS Title

Four Star
Part Two


“You are back with us eh Christopher?”

“Back?” I blinked in the harsh light of the emergency room.

“You had us worried there, all that smoke you inhaled.”


“Your bus? The fire?”

It came flooding back. Jools look of panic, the flames, the smoke, the image of Betsy burning fiercely on the motorway.

“Jools, Dennis? The passengers?” I coughed hard which started a session off.

“They are all fine” the woman who I took to be a doctor stated, “calm down, it will hurt for a while and we need to do a scan to check you out.”

“Where?” I bleated.

“the Krankenhaus Baunatal in Kassel. We will keep you in overnight and if the scan is okay you can leave in the morning.”

“Hmm” I allowed before dozing.

"Come on sleepy head, rise and shine."

The voice seemed familiar, and it's in a foreign language. My mind wouldn't compute the information.

"Chris! Come on wake your ideas up."

Language - English, hmmm, not foreign, normal. My eyes snapped open.


"At last, thought you'd had a relapse."

"Where? What?"

"The hospital in Kassel remember."


"The Doc said your okay so I'm here to fetch you."


"Holding the fort at the hotel. She wanted to come herself but they'd only let me drive the car."


"So come on up and at em, I'll wait for you outside, there's a shower and lav through the door by the window."


It was close to an hour later when I finally slid into the borrowed car outside of the hospital. I was clean but my clothes stink of smoke.

"You could have brought me a change of clothes."

"I could've but..."

"But what?"

"We got all the other luggage off."

"Den" I mentioned with a sense of impending doom."

"Well we couldn't get to yours, by the time I tried to get it the whole bus was full of smoke and I just couldn't get into the front lockers."


"So you don't have any clothes."

"Why me? My new shirt was in there."

"That fifty quid one?"

"Yep. Bum!"

It's an hour's drive to Braunlage and most of that time Den was telling me what happened yesterday.

"...So they rushed you off to hospital and left us stood on the motorway. Jools wanted to go with you, but the ambulance was one of those estate car things so there wasn't room.

Anyway, the cops organised a couple of service buses to come out and take us into Kassel and by the time we got to the bus station the office had organised a coach for us."

"Bit efficient" I mentioned.

"Its a good job I got us signed up with that international rescue thing last season. Anyway, we got loaded up, and we pottered on to the hotel. We finally got there just after nine. So we've got a new bus for the rest of the week."

"So what happens now?"

"What do you mean?"

"With the holiday."

"We go on as planned. Sort you out some clothes and continue as normal."


"Why? You okay with that?"

"I dunno, I'm still a bit shaken up to be honest."

"It's a good job Jools is along then, I'm sure she'll be able to cope with most stuff."

"Yeah" I admitted with more humour than I was really feeling.

We turned off the autobahn and started the final leg of the journey. I sat there looking blankly out of the window, taking no notice of Den's chatter, occasionally grunting when it seemed appropriate. The road climbed and dipped through increasingly wooded hills, my stupor finally broken when Den mentioned,

"'Bout ten minutes, just over this next hill."


"You haven't heard a word for the last twenty minutes have you?"

"Um, no. Sorry."

"Didn't think so, you've had that glazed look on your face. We'll go in the back way so we miss any passengers hanging about down stairs, I expect Jools will be waiting for us."

The thought of seeing Jools lifted my spirits somewhat. We crested the climb and dropped down into our home for the week, Braunlage. The place was, even mid morning, pretty quiet but as we neared the ‘centre' more people were about, and I recognised one or two of our passengers, making use of the free day.

"Oh Chris, I was so worried!"

Jools smothered me in a hug that would impress any bear before I was into our hotel room.

"Go easy on him, he's still a bit out of sorts."

"Oh sorry Chris, I never thought. I'm just so glad you're okay."

"Me too."

"I'll go get some coffee,” Den offered.




"What for?"

"For picking me up and, you know."

"No problem Chris, that's what mates are for. I'll get that coffee."

"I was really worried Chris, I wanted to come to the hospital but the ambulance was too small and then we had to organise the passengers and getting another coach and...."

"I know Jools, I know."

"But I should have been with you."

"It wouldn't have made any difference."


"But you did what needed doing, those people were relying on you and Den to sort things out. I wasn't in any real danger, the doctors would have let you know if there was anything serious."

"I know, but, but I felt so helpless."

We hugged again, this time with me joining in.

"Oops, I'll come back."

"Don't be daft Den, I could murder that coffee."

"I guess I'd best go shopping, I can't wear this stuff all week."

"Now you mention it, it does stink a bit."

"And I love you too!"

"Well I've got the car all day, we can pop over to Wernigerode, there're some bigger shops there."

"Good idea and I can get a look before we take the punters" Jools enthused.

I shrugged my agreement. After all, I need clothes and the local shops are not really up to much.

"You've not seen the coach yet Chris"

"That'll wait Den" Jools advised.

By now I was at least out of my ruined uniform, Den lent me a shirt and

Jools supplied a pair of jeans so I don't look or feel so scruffy. I followed the others back out to the car park and to the borrowed car. We were soon on our way down the steep drive.

"There's our transport for the week" Den pointed to the coach park.

I looked out expecting to see Betsy, but of course she wasn't there.

"Which one?"

"The white one, we'll give you the guided tour later."

I don't know if you know, but this area was right on the frontline during the cold war. The border between east and West Germany ran right through this area and as we drove to Wernigerode the scars from that era were still evident despite best part of a decade having passed since unification.

It wasn't a long drive and we were soon parked up at the bottom end of the town. The last time we were here I didn't get out of the coach park so I was intrigued to see this little town, preserved largely by the Cold War.

"The boss said to charge it to the company card but not to go mad."

"Chris nearly gets killed and all he's worried about is the cost!" Jools fumed.

"I don't need much Jools, a couple of shirts, trousers and underwear."

"Humph! We'll see, if that lump thinks we're doing this on the cheap..."

"Look you two, I'll leave you to do the shopping, I'm going to check out the train for Wednesday, we can meet up a bit later" Den suggested.

"Den" I whined, "don't leave me in her clutches!"

"Hey" Jools swiped at me.

"So I'll come find you when I'm done?"

"Are you going to book it today?" I asked.

"If you want, I wasn't going to."

"You might as well, I'm pretty sure they'll all want to go."

"Okay then. Enjoy your shopping" Den darted off before I could retaliate.

So it was just the pair of us who started to walk up Wernigerode's main street. I was still feeling a bit frail and once or twice I had to stop for a good coughing session. The doctor warned me that I might have a few breathing problems for a couple of days so I was less concerned than Jools.

We looked in one or two shops but there didn't seem to be any of the usual chain stores. Knowing that the locals must buy somewhere, I asked at the tourist office and we were directed to a new shopping centre barely five minutes away but out of sight of the picturesque centre.

"This is more like it!" Jools enthused as we passed into the air-conditioned splendour of the Harzer Centrum.

"Jools, I'm not feeling so good, I need to sit."

"Over here" she directed with more than a hint of concern.

I sat on the bench getting my breath back for several minutes.

"I don't know whether I can do this."

"Do what?"


"If you don't feel up to it, I can cope."

"Its not that so much as the passengers."

"They were all concerned for you."

"That's just it. I'm gonna have the concerned passenger bit all week."

"Hero more like."

"Whatever, I don't think I'll be able to hack it."

"So what are you going to do? I mean I can look after the tour stuff, you can't stay in the room all week."

"I dunno Jools, I just know that if I'm on that coach it'll be one long round of sympathy."

"Hmmm, lets get a coffee" my girlfriend suggested.

"So its not the work but the attitudes of the passengers that's the problem?"

"I guess so,” I admitted picking at my slice of torte.

"Well...I think I've got the answer."

"Go on."

"You might not like it but hear me out."

"Spit it out already."

"Work as Nena."

"No way!"

"Chris. Look, we can kit you out this afternoon, tell the punters that Chris has gone home to recuperate and that Nena has stepped into the breach. I'm sure Den'll be okay with that."

"But Jools..."

"Oh go on Chris, it'll be fun!"

"You are joking?" one look at her face said she wasn't!

"I'm serious Chris, the passengers took to Nena before, they won't mollycoddle you and it'll be fun."

'Fun for you maybe.'

"At least think about it."

Well maybe the idea does have some merit. It's true that the passengers always treated Nena okay and it wouldn't stop me doing my job. But the whole dressing up thing? I dunno.

"Aw go on Chris, it'll be fun"

I suppose it wouldn't hurt and being Nena can be a lark.


"It would be better than moping around the hotel."

"I said okay."

"And we could...." Jools face was a picture as what I said sunk in.

"Lets get started then."

"Shouldn't we tell Den?"

"Den'll be fine, it's the office I'm more concerned about."

"Lets do it then girlfriend!"

"Remember I agreed to be Nena not Barbie!"


At least there's one thing, I know my dress size so I won't need to get into the Nena zone till we get back to the hotel, leastways not fully.

Jools was a girl on a mission; I could but follow in her wake as we moved from store to store. I would have been content to just get a few basics, you know underwear, shoes, a skirt or two but Jools had other ideas. When she led me into Beat Uhse, that was the limit!

"No way Jools!"

"You didn't, you did."


"You thought we were coming in for underwear."

"Well that is what you usually get in one of these places."

She rolled her eyes; "if you are going to be Nena all week you need boobs. And they sell falsies in here" she explained.

I sighed in relief.

"You really did think we were going to buy some sexy undies for you didn't you?"

"Well you must admit it was a reasonable assumption."

"You've got a one track mind!"

By the time we met Den I was loaded up with enough bags to sink the proverbial battleship.

"I thought you were just getting a few bits to last the week?"

"There's been a change of plan Den."

"Um" I managed.

"What my lummox of a boyfriend is trying to say is that he's going to be my girlfriend."


"Just for the week Den, Nena's back" I told him.

"Phew, I thought you'd been holding something back."

"You're not bothered?" I exclaimed.

"Well actually, I kind of miss her. Those trips at the beginning of the season were great fun. I know all that stuff with the mugging was a bit queer but...."

"You fancy her Dennis!" Jools stated.

"What's not to fancy?"


"Den!" we both echoed.

"Well you have to admit, you do make a good looking girl Chris."

"What did you mean, holding out?" Jools enquired.

"Well you hear these stories, you know, 'Sargeant Major now Major Miss', that sort of thing."

"You really thought..."

"Dennis you are a one!" Jools slapped his shoulder.


"Lets get back to the hotel, if Nena is arriving today we have a lot to do"

Jools mentioned.

"Did you get the train booked Den?"

"Yep, slight change of plan but I think you'll like it."

"So long as it's booked I trust your judgement ."

We walked back to the car; I still hadn't really seen much of Wernigerode, still!

Dinner was scheduled for 7.30 so when Den left us at our room at a bit before four we didn't have long to make Nena convincing. I won't bore you with everything, but lets just say that it was tight! It was definitely Nena who looked back from the mirror just before we left the room. My newly bleached hair, false bosom and short skirt yelled 'sexy woman' rather than 'drag queen', and somehow it just felt right.

Indeed, all my fears of pity were now replaced by a need for Nena to be accepted.

"Damn girl, if I was a bloke I'd be trying to get in your knickers!"

"Well I am a bloke and you are welcome anytime!" I replied to Jools comment.

"Later maybe, right now we need to introduce you to the mob."

"No time like the present."

We descended to the restaurant where we found Den partaking of a beer.

"Nena! Great to see you again. Thanks for stepping into the breach."

"Dennis how is Chris?"

"Better but not up to work yet."

"And so I am here!"

What a charade! Of course the passengers in the waiting area were all ear wigging - which of course was the plan!

"Come on then girls, lets introduce Nena."

It's a big hotel and the restaurant matches. Not exactly intimate but for feeding lots of guests - well we'll see. The maitre de took the three of us to our table; the bus passengers were taking their places on the tables reserved for Global, a strip along one wall.

"Ready?" Jools asked.

"As I'll ever be."

We made our way to the passengers, Den then started the introductions.

"Good evening everyone, hope you had a pleasant day,"

A round of mumbles was the reply.

"As most of you know, I went back to Kassel this morning to see Chris. The good news is that there's nothing seriously wrong, just smoke, but the doctors want him to rest up for a few days so he won't be rejoining us this week."

"Give him our best Dennis, we'd have been in a pickle without him."

"Glad he's okay, poor luv."

"I'll pass on your regards when I speak to him. In the meantime, as we were running two couriers this week, and Jools isn't familiar with this tour, she has talked her friend Nena into joining us for the week"

"Hi" I offered with a little wave.

"Nena is German and I hope you will make her welcome. Nena?"

"Thank you Dennis. I am so sorry to meet you all in these circumstances but I hope we can have a good vacation. I am from southern Germany, a place called Augsburg, and I work on the tour bus as a guide. Tomorrow we have the big day, we go to Berlin. I think Dennis has told you, but just in case you forgot, we leave at seben thurty, I know it is early but we want to give you a good visit - and miss the traffic! So, enjoy your dinner and we will see you in the morning"

"Everyone okay?" Den asked.

The usual mumbles.

"Okay, as Nena said, seven thirty out front and we'll have a good day out."

We made our escape as the soup turned up.

"That went well,” Jools observed.

"Lets hope the rest of the week does" I mused straightening my skirt out.

To be continued.

Maddy Bell 11.09.05


Pictures of Nena have been generated using Ania's 'Cherie' Fkiss doll on Angy-Chan's template and are Copyright 2004. They are used with permission, if you'd like to see more go to www.acharsi.prv.pl

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