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enough to fool his mother, at least until the first letter arrived. That was when he heard the dreaded call from the
First, his parents threatened him. He didn’t attend.
They begged him to go. He refused. Eventually, it was the opportunity to join a different division that swayed Rudy in the right direction. This was
fortunate, because if he didn’t show his face soon, the Steiners would be fined for his non-attendance. His older
brother, Kurt, inquired as to whether Rudy might join the Flieger Division, which specialized in the teaching of
aircraft and flying. Mostly, they built model airplanes, and there was no Franz Deutscher. Rudy accepted, and
Tommy also joined. It was the one time in his life that his idiotic behavior delivered beneficial results.
In his new division, whenever he was asked the famous Führer question, Rudy would smile and answer, “April
20, 1889,” and then to Tommy, he’d whisper a different date, like Beethoven’s birthday, or Mozart’s, or
Strauss’s. They’d been learning about composers in school, where despite his obvious stupidity, Rudy excelled. THE FLOATING BOOK (Part II)
At the beginning of December, victory finally came to Rudy Steiner, though not in a typical fashion.
It was a cold day, but very still. It had come close to snowing.
After school, Rudy and Liesel stopped in at Alex Steiner’s shop, and as they walked home, they saw Rudy’s old
friend Franz Deutscher coming around the corner. Liesel, as was her habit these days, was carrying The
Whistler. She liked to feel it in her hand. Either the smooth spine or the rough edges of paper. It was she who
saw him first.
“Look.” She pointed. Deutscher was loping toward them with another Hitler Youth leader.
Rudy shrank into himself. He felt at his mending eye. “Not this time.” He searched the streets. “If we go past
the church, we can follow the river and cut back that way.”
With no further words, Liesel followed him, and they successfully avoided Rudy’s tormentor—st...
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- Winter '13