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Unformatted text preview: those dirt holes every night.”
“Is that all you’ve got to say?” Mama’s eyes were like pale blue cutouts, pasted to her face.
They’d walk on.
With Liesel carrying the sack.
At home, it was washed in a boiler next to the stove, hung up by the fireplace in the living room, and then
ironed in the kitchen. The kitchen was where the action was.
“Did you hear that?” Mama asked her nearly every night. The iron was in her fist, heated from the stove. Light
was dull all through the house, and Liesel, sitting at the kitchen table, would be staring at the gaps of fire in
front of her.
“What?” she’d reply. “What is it?”
“That was that Holtzapfel.” Mama was already out of her seat. “That Saumensch just spat on our door again.”
It was a tradition for Frau Holtzapfel, one of their neighbors, to spit on the Hubermanns’ door every time she
walked past. The front door was only meters from the gate, and let’s just say that Frau Holtzapfel had the
distance—and the accuracy.
The spitting was due to the fact that she and Rosa Hubermann were engaged in some kind of decade-long verbal
war. No one knew the origin of this hostility. They’d probably forgotten it themselves.
Frau Holtzapfel was a wiry woman and quite obviously spiteful. She’d never married but had two sons, a few
years older than the Hubermann offspring. Both were in the army and both will make cameo appearances by the
time we’re finished here, I assure you.
In the spiteful stakes, I should also say that Frau Holtzapfel was thorough with her spitting, too. She never
neglected to spuck on the door of number thirty-three and say, “Schweine!” each time she walked past. One
thing I’ve noticed about the Germans:
They seem very fond of pigs.
A SMALL QUESTION AND
And who do you think was made to
clean the spit off the door each night?
Yes—you got it.
When a woman with an iron fist tells you to get out there and clean spit off the door, you do it. Especially when
the iron’s hot.
It was all just part of the routine, really. Each nigh...
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- Winter '13