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Unformatted text preview: t the hell do you call that?”
He reached over and grabbed hold of The Shoulder Shrug. No explanation was required. It was obvious that the
girl had stolen it from the fire. The book was hot and wet, blue and red—embarrassed—and Hans Hubermann
opened it up. Pages thirty-eight and thirty-nine. “Another one?”
Liesel rubbed her ribs.
“Looks like,” Papa suggested, “I don’t need to trade any more cigarettes, do I? Not when you’re stealing these
things as fast as I can buy them.”
Liesel, by comparison, did not speak. Perhaps it was her first realization that criminality spoke best for itself.
Papa studied the title, probably wondering exactly what kind of threat this book posed to the hearts and minds
of the German people. He handed it back. Something happened.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.” Each word fell away at its edges. It broke off and formed the next.
The criminal could no longer resist. “What, Papa? What is it?”
Like most humans in the grip of revelation, Hans Hubermann stood with a certain numbness. The next words
would either be shouted or would not make it past his teeth. Also, they would most likely be a repetition of the
last thing he’d said, only moments earlier. “Of course.”
This time, his voice was like a fist, freshly banged on the table.
The man was seeing something. He was watching it quickly, end to end, like a race, but it was too high and too
far away for Liesel to see. She begged him. “Come on, Papa, what is it?” She fretted that he would tell Mama
about the book. As humans do, this was all about her. “Are you going to tell?”
“You know. Are you going to tell Mama?”
Hans Hubermann still watched, tall and distant. “About what?”
She raised the book. “This.” She brandished it in the air, as if waving a gun.
Papa was bewildered. “Why would I?”
She hated questions like that. They forced her to admit an ugly truth, to reveal her own filthy, thieving nature.
“Because I stole again.”
Papa bent himself to a crouching position, then rose and placed his hand on her head...
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- Winter '13