The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

What the hell is going on here the crowd vanished a

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Unformatted text preview: g of the hundred. Enthusiastically, he conducted an awkward regimen of stretches. He dug starting holes into the dirt. Waiting for his moment, he paced around, gathering concentration under the darkness sky, with the moon and the clouds watching, tightly. “Owens is looking good,” he began to commentate. “This could be his greatest victory ever. . . .” He shook the imaginary hands of the other athletes and wished them luck, even though he knew. They didn’t have a chance. The starter signaled them forward. A crowd materialized around every square inch of Hubert Oval’s circumference. They were all calling out one thing. They were chanting Rudy Steiner’s name—and his name was Jesse Owens. All fell silent. His bare feet gripped the soil. He could feel it holding on between his toes. At the request of the starter, he raised to crouching position—and the gun clipped a hole in the night. For the first third of the race, it was pretty even, but it was only a matter of time before the charcoaled Owens drew clear and streaked away. “Owens in front,” the boy’s shrill voice cried as he ran down the empty track, straight toward the uproarious applause of Olympic glory. He could even feel the tape break in two across his chest as he burst through it in first place. The fastest man alive. It was only on his victory lap that things turned sour. Among the crowd, his father was standing at the finish line like the bogeyman. Or at least, the bogeyman in a suit. (As previously mentioned, Rudy’s father was a tailor. He was rarely seen on the street without a suit and tie. On this occasion, it was only the suit and a disheveled shirt.) “Was ist los?” he said to his son when he showed up in all his charcoal glory. “What the hell is going on here?” The crowd vanished. A breeze sprang up. “I was asleep in my chair when Kurt noticed you were gone. Everyone’s out looking for you.” Mr. Steiner was a remarkably polite man under normal circumstances. Discovering one of his children smeared charcoal black on a summer evening was not what he considered normal...
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