Unformatted text preview: Max did not move. “The Führer.” He was very matter-of-fact about this. “That’s why I’m in training.”
“That’s right.” He walked to the concrete stairway. “Every night, I wait in the dark and the Führer comes down
these steps. He walks down and he and I, we fight for hours.”
Liesel was standing now. “Who wins?”
At first, he was going to answer that no one did, but then he noticed the paint cans, the drop sheets, and the
growing pile of newspapers in the periphery of his vision. He watched the words, the long cloud, and the figures
on the wall.
“I do,” he said.
It was as though he’d opened her palm, given her the words, and closed it up again.
Under the ground, in Molching, Germany, two people stood and spoke in a basement. It sounds like the
beginning of a joke:
“There’s a Jew and a German standing in a basement, right? . . .”
This, however, was no joke. The Painters: Early June
Another of Max’s projects was the remainder of Mein Kampf. Each page was gently stripped from the book and
laid out on the floor to receive a coat of paint. It was then hung up to dry and replaced between the front and
back covers. When Liesel came down one day after school, she found Max, Rosa, and her papa all painting the
various pages. Many of them were already hanging from a drawn-out string with pegs, just as they must have
done for The Standover Man. All three people looked up and spoke.
“Here’s a brush, Liesel.”
“About time, Saumensch. Where have you been so long?”
As she started painting, Liesel thought about Max Vandenburg fighting the Führer, exactly as he’d explained it.
BASEMENT VISIONS, JUNE 1941
Punches are thrown, the crowd climbs out of
the walls. Max and the Führer fight for their
lives, each rebounding off the stairway.
There’s blood in the Führer’s mustache, as
well as in his part line, on the right side
of his head. “Come on, Führer,” says the
Jew. He waves him forward. “Come on,...
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- Winter '13