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Unformatted text preview: giant ham-fisted youth, too big for his age. The church disappeared in darkness the
farther his eyes traveled upward.
It all watched him.
He warned himself. “Keep your eyes open.”
(German children were on the lookout for stray coins. German Jews kept watch for possible capture.)
In keeping with the usage of number thirteen for luck, he counted his footsteps in groups of that number. Just
thirteen footsteps, he would tell himself. Come on, just thirteen more. As an estimate, he completed ninety sets,
till at last, he stood on the corner of Himmel Street.
In one hand, he held his suitcase.
The other was still holding Mein Kampf.
Both were heavy, and both were handled with a gentle secretion of sweat.
Now he turned on to the side street, making his way to number thirty-three, resisting the urge to smile, resisting
the urge to sob or even imagine the safety that might be awaiting him. He reminded himself that this was no
time for hope. Certainly, he could almost touch it. He could feel it, somewhere just out of reach. Instead of acknowledging it, he went about the business of deciding again what to do if he was caught at the last moment
or if by some chance the wrong person awaited him inside.
Of course, there was also the scratchy feeling of sin.
How could he do this?
How could he show up and ask people to risk their lives for him? How could he be so selfish?
They looked at each other.
The house was pale, almost sick-looking, with an iron gate and a brown spit-stained door.
From his pocket, he pulled out the key. It did not sparkle but lay dull and limp in his hand. For a moment, he
squeezed it, half expecting it to come leaking toward his wrist. It didn’t. The metal was hard and flat, with a
healthy set of teeth, and he squeezed it till it pierced him.
Slowly, then, the struggler leaned forward, his cheek against the wood, and he removed the key from his fist. PART FOUR
the standover man
the accordionist—a promise keeper—a good girl—
a jewish fist fighter—the wrath of rosa—a lecture—
a sleeper—the swapping of nightmares—
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- Winter '13