Unformatted text preview: “Sorry, Mama.” He placed them
on the table. “They were all out of shoes.”
Mama didn’t complain.
She even sang to herself while she cooked those eggs to the brink of burndom. It appeared that there was great
joy in cigarettes, and it was a happy time in the Hubermann household.
It ended a few weeks later. THE TOWN WALKER
The rot started with the washing and it rapidly increased.
When Liesel accompanied Rosa Hubermann on her deliveries across Molching, one of her customers, Ernst
Vogel, informed them that he could no longer afford to have his washing and ironing done. “The times,” he
excused himself, “what can I say? They’re getting harder. The war’s making things tight.” He looked at the girl.
“I’m sure you get an allowance for keeping the little one, don’t you?”
To Liesel’s dismay, Mama was speechless.
An empty bag was at her side.
Come on, Liesel.
It was not said. It was pulled along, rough-handed.
Vogel called out from his front step. He was perhaps five foot nine and his greasy scraps of hair swung
lifelessly across his forehead. “I’m sorry, Frau Hubermann!”
Liesel waved at him.
He waved back.
“Don’t wave to that Arschloch,” she said. “Now hurry up.”
That night, when Liesel had a bath, Mama scrubbed her especially hard, muttering the whole time about that
Vogel Saukerl and imitating him at two-minute intervals. “ ‘You must get an allowance for the girl. . . .’ ” She
berated Liesel’s naked chest as she scrubbed away. “You’re not worth that much, Saumensch. You’re not
making me rich, you know.”
Liesel sat there and took it.
Not more than a week after that particular incident, Rosa hauled her into the kitchen. “Right, Liesel.” She sat
her down at the table. “Since you spend half your time on the street playing soccer, you can make yourself
useful out there. For a change.”
Liesel watched only her own hands. “What is it, Mama?”
“From now on you’re going to pick up and del...
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- Winter '13