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Unformatted text preview: t of the fire, Max remained wordless. Now that he was having a proper bath once
a week, Liesel noticed that his hair was no longer a nest of twigs, but rather a collection of feathers, flopping
about on his head. Still shy of the stranger, she whispered it to her papa.
“His hair is like feathers.”
“What?” The fire had distorted the words.
“I said,” she whispered again, leaning closer, “his hair is like feathers. . . .”
Hans Hubermann looked across and nodded his agreement. I’m sure he was wishing to have eyes like the girl.
They didn’t realize that Max had heard everything.
Occasionally he brought the copy of Mein Kampf and read it next to the flames, seething at the content. The
third time he brought it, Liesel finally found the courage to ask her question.
He looked up from the pages, forming his fingers into a fist and then flattening them back out. Sweeping away
the anger, he smiled at her. He lifted the feathery fringe and dumped it toward his eyes. “It’s the best book
ever.” Looking at Papa, then back at the girl. “It saved my life.”
The girl moved a little and crossed her legs. Quietly, she asked it.
So began a kind of storytelling phase in the living room each night. It was spoken just loud enough to hear. The
pieces of a Jewish fist-fighting puzzle were assembled before them all.
Sometimes there was humor in Max Vandenburg’s voice, though its physicality was like friction—like a stone
being gently rubbed across a large rock. It was deep in places and scratched apart in others, sometimes breaking
off altogether. It was deepest in regret, and broken off at the end of a joke or a statement of selfdeprecation.
“Crucified Christ” was the most common reaction to Max Vandenburg’s stories, usually followed by a question.
How long did you stay in that room?
Where is Walter Kugler now?
Do you know what happened to your family?
Where was the snorer traveling to?
A 10–3 losing record!
Why would you keep fighting him? When Liesel looked back on the events of her l...
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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