Fiction

The Paternoster

In winter in Hamburg—the busiest port in Europe—when gangways are slippery and frozen handrails take the skin off an ungloved hand, when the wind along the Elbe is like a razor around your ears, and in the many harbour channels where traffic is least, you can find sheets of ice as big as a tabletop which rock and clack together as barges and tenders and tugs nudge their way through, and snowdrifts pile up at the entrance to our shipping office at the dockside. There are six of us working for the company. Otto Meisterhans is our boss, a nice…

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