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Unformatted text preview: iatus in the reading practice of Liesel and her papa. He
clearly felt that now was a good time to resume. “Na, komm,” he told her. “I don’t want you slacking off. Go
and get one of your books. How about The Shoulder Shrug?”
The disturbing element in all of this was that when she came back, book in hand, Papa was motioning that she
should follow him down to their old workroom. The basement.
“But, Papa,” she tried to tell him. “We can’t—”
“What? Is there a monster down there?”
It was early December and the day had been icy. The basement became unfriendlier with each concrete step.
“It’s too cold, Papa.”
“That never bothered you before.”
“Yes, but it was never this cold. . . .”
When they made their way down, Papa whispered to Max, “Can we borrow the lamplight, please?”
With trepidation, the sheets and cans moved and the light was passed out, exchanging hands. Looking at the
flame, Hans shook his head and followed it with some words. “Es ist ja Wahnsinn, net? This is crazy, no?”
Before the hand from within could reposition the sheets, he caught it. “Bring yourself, too. Please, Max.”
Slowly then, the drop sheets were dragged aside and the emaciated body and face of Max Vandenburg
appeared. In the moist light, he stood with a magic discomfort. He shivered.
Hans touched his arm, to bring him closer.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. You cannot stay down here. You’ll freeze to death.” He turned. “Liesel, fill up the
tub. Not too hot. Make it just like it is when it starts cooling down.”
Liesel ran up.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.” She heard it again when she reached the hallway.
When he was in the pint-sized bath, Liesel listened at the washroom door, imagining the tepid water turning to
steam as it warmed his iceberg body. Mama and Papa were at the climax of debate in the combined bedroom
and living room, their quiet voices trapped inside the corridor wall.
“He’ll die down there, I promise you.”
“But what if someone sees in?”
“No, no, he on...
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- Winter '13