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Unformatted text preview: d with the gray-and-white conglomeration of dust. When they stood up fully, to
resume work, only small cracks of their uniform could be seen.
The sergeant walked to Brunnenweg. He brushed heavily at his chest. Several smacks. “That’s better. You had
some dust on there, my friend.” As Brunnenweg laughed, the sergeant turned to his newest recruit. “You first
this time, Hubermann.” They put the fires out for several hours, and they found anything they could to convince a building to remain
standing. In some cases, where the sides were damaged, the remaining edges poked out like elbows. This was
Hans Hubermann’s strong point. He almost came to enjoy finding a smoldering rafter or disheveled slab of
concrete to prop those elbows up, to give them something to rest on.
His hands were packed tightly with splinters, and his teeth were caked with residue from the fallout. Both lips
were set with moist dust that had hardened, and there wasn’t a pocket, a thread, or a hidden crease in his
uniform that wasn’t covered in a film left by the loaded air.
The worst part of the job was the people.
Once in a while there was a person roaming doggedly through the fog, mostly single-worded. They always
shouted a name.
Sometimes it was Wolfgang.
“Have you seen my Wolfgang?”
Their handprints would remain on his jacket.
“Gustel! Gustel Stoboi!”
As the density subsided, the roll call of names limped through the ruptured streets, sometimes ending with an
ash-filled embrace or a knelt-down howl of grief. They accumulated, hour by hour, like sweet and sour dreams,
waiting to happen.
The dangers merged into one. Powder and smoke and the gusty flames. The damaged people. Like the rest of
the men in the unit, Hans would need to perfect the art of forgetting.
“How are you, Hubermann?” the sergeant asked at one point. Fire was at his shoulder.
Hans nodded, uneasily, at the pair of them.
Midway through the shift, there was an old man who staggered defenselessly throu...
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2014 for the course ENG 99 taught by Professor Michal during the Winter '13 term at CSU Sacramento.
- Winter '13