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In daylight, framed in the doorway Mrs. Miller looked like a movie star, red lipstick, V chin and rose color paint on her cheeks. Her dress fitted to her compact body was transparent. Garth thought immediately that Aaron’s mother was beautiful enough to get whatever she wanted. Aaron never mentioned how beautiful his mother was. She must have really been something, once upon a time. She raised her hand blocking the light and reflexively put on thick sunglasses. Jewelry chimed as she shook her head to adjust the gold clasp holding her deep black hair. “Vhy have you come here?” Garth was embarrassed for himself. He was frozen in front of the door of the place he had heard of so often, his parents’ army surplus store. Looking back twenty years from now Garth will recall his fear and intimidation and her smell of intoxicating perfume that made him stay. Garth had not thought of the Why, had been too busy just getting there. He conceived
of this journey during the night while he waited to gather his buddy. The visit was a promise made to God if he got out the shit. This was the finish line that he saw from that moment, a thought which kept him moving forward. Talking to Aaron’s family would be proof at the end it was over. The dead and fear of death, the fighting, day after day. Somewhere in the US he would have a peek in on this little Jew family then he would forget all about Vietnam. Or get drunk trying. Eventually Garth was himself a short timer who nervously guarded the idea of returning to the world, the possibility everyday grew more real. He did not know anything about religion except what Aaron had told him. For a prayer to succeed it must be cunning is what Aaron taught him. One has to ask God for things indirectly. Garth prayed for God to allow him to safely visit Aaron’s parents. Doing that meant he was out of this shit. Amen. God did and Garth did. Questioning if he had out run his bad luck Garth was glad to have some place to go before home. He was a visitor from one little town to the other but here he is a stranger. The door opened again and after all Garth had seen in training, combat and the fleshpots of Saigon he could not
stifle the shock. A tiny twisted man with a toothy smile stepped forward and stood beside the beautiful woman. His face was twisted and Garth thought of beauty and the beast. Meeting them was just like combat. He shifted on his feet, deeply self-conscious of his erection. Like every time in combat. At a loss for words as his pants grew in the blazing sunshine on the quiet street. In combat it was a different thing. In ‘Nam he squeezed a trigger or fed ammo to his partner. It was hard to see that Mr Miller was offering his hand. Belatedly Garth grasped a hand that was cold as death, like a dead fish it slipped away.
Why? He had not thought about what he would say he only felt the need to be there. Along the drive he had been more involved with the scenery and the sun which was no longer arm’s length away and beating down from directly overheard. The used car he bought was the newest car he’d ever been in, it was like a cockpit, knobs and gimmicks to pass the time while driving, cruise control and a great sound system. It had a tape deck and Garth loaded up on tapes at the first car wash.
“Me and your son were like brothers, that’s all.” Garth knew it was the same as he had said before, that they had been buddies. “I am here because it is my duty.” Not something he had to think about. “Brothers? I see.” Garth saw his reflection in the sun glasses as her head nodded. “Vhat do you think of our little town?” She had a high voice and a foreign accent, her hand waved grandly at the humble crossroad community. She seemed to be blind the way her hand pointed vaguely. The four corners consisted of the surplus store and across the street a pizza shop. On the other side of the main road were the hotel and gas station both boarded closed. It was not a farmable spot, where corn was in tall stands everywhere nearby here instead were knots of heavy tree growth many twisted and fallen still living reaching for the light. “It’s nice. My hometown is only a little bigger than this.” “What do you mean, ‘duty’?” Mr Miller asked, still happy. Garth was without answers. He shrugged. “He was my buddy. We trained together.” That’s all he could say,
he hoped never to say that other thing again. His hand strayed to his side for reassurance. “The Army did not send you?” Her heavy glasses now held a steady reflection of his face. Her voice and accent was sounding more sinister. Like a movie. “No, I came because we were friends.” Garth stepped next to Mrs Miller and both turned from the brightness together under the store awning, Army Surplus, the painted letters flutter now and again. “Buddies” Mr Miller repeated in a voice that seemed to be mocking him. “Throw that away. Ruchel, make this one a fresh coffee.” Mrs Miller snapped at the girl. “What’s your name again?” “Garth.” He said and Max, Aaron’s father repeated, struggling with it to amuse them. A young man approached from across the street. “Look whose here. Why don’t you have a name easy to say, like Dino?” “Hello Dino, I heard of you.” It came like a slap in the face of the living by the dead. He was overcome once more by a feeling that he and Aaron should have switched places. Aaron surely would not have come to see my relatives; the strange anger
’ There was a firm handshake to Garth’s relief. The thoughts in his head ached. ‘Dino. He always called him. One tour just so I can tell everyone back home I did it.” “The war is wrong. “It looks like you got out of there. I can strip and clean -6- . something he wanted to tell them that he could not say.” “Well I’m not going back if that’s your next question. You’re Dino. It seemed to remove the dead fish curse left by Mr Miller.” Garth said. “That’s alright.toward his buddy helped him hold back tears in front of Dino. I learned a lot. Aaron’s friend from across the street. Dino?” Dino said nothing. I’m glad I went but I am sorry at the same time and I don’t want to go back.” Garth said repeating how Aaron spoke.” The half door from the entrance where coffee was sold swung open as Ruchel spoke. “I was Aaron’s buddy. “Right.” The little girl thrust herself among the adults. my friend from across the street. “because I don‘t want to fight side by side with someone who doesn‘t want to be there. “Well I think the war is wrong.
“The Army builds character. The broad empty streets seemed to darken and close in. He was taken by the dullness and boring sameness of the farmland that surrounded him.an M-14 or a 50 millimeter blindfolded and I know how to disarm a booby trap. he felt accusation and guilt and saw again in his mind things he hoped to forget. Garth no longer tried to like everyone. Rachel.” Dino smiled to match Garth’s smile. thirsty and now tired of foreigners.” Watching Dino make his little farewell from Aaron’s mother and sister Garth felt himself finally relaxing again. Garth felt everything the opposite of why he came here. Right?” Dino suggested meekly. “See you later. Aaron told me this was a quiet town. That could save your life.” He stepped out of the circle to look around. Dino was a person who Garth immediately disliked.” Dino had no desire to stay. Garth. Or if your leg got shot I could apply a tourniquet and field dress the wound in a snap. He licked his lips. “I am just happy to be out of there. Mrs Miller. Being away from the war was like bullet proof glass between him and the rest of the -7- . “It was nice to meet you.
Garth explained. Aaron was real again. a letter from the Department of Defense. so we don’t have to open any more Army mail. Garth felt the cold shiver. throw it away. Standing in front of Aaron’s family he read them like a spy. Between Rachel and Dino he studied the small looks and gestures. “I guess he bought GI insurance. He read the letter twice to make sense of it. It was all so nicely wrapped up for them.” But only after Mrs Miller insisted did he look at it. he was a smart boy. Ruchel’s protector. who is walking on my grave? He wondered. Instead of sending the form which you have to fill out. not me. He was reading fresh clues of the enemy. a bell on a spring rang when he opened the door to his family’s restaurant.” He showed them the key information. “It’s from the Army. In the Army we call that hurry up and wait. and seeing little disturbances to tender new growth. Then Mr Miller produced from his pocket a familiar looking envelope. -8- . Dino crossed the street.world. That’s what we went through everything for. first they want you to request the form. “Maybe you know what this is?” He offered it timidly. trailing Dino with his eyes. an older brother. This is the Army’s way of doing things.
“This is what you ask for. The Miller family was once whole. stepped from the entrance and joined them on the sidewalk. The artificiality and strain of the moment reminded Garth of before they were shipped out and the company was confined to base.” underlining with his finger. they had their mother’s face. She looks like she has good handwriting. Claim for Death Benefits… “Have your little girl do it. Aaron was smart and never stopped talking and that was fine for Garth who listened on and off. Why was he bringing up old wounds? He wanted to blurt it out.” She looked like Aaron. -9- . It amazed Garth that there seemed to be no alcohol around this town. Aaron’s face. …form SGLV 8283. the brother who snuck out of the store did too. Do I want to return? If I can stand this I might as well go back. What was sending his thoughts in this direction? Was it to rescue the girl from the lecherous boy next door? A girl her age where Garth lived wore make up and was planning her wedding. The father. Aaron dying ended that. the last time he saw him it was hanging from his skull. He did not know them when there were two sons and now there is only one. I bet you do real good in school. And the only person in the family they had in common is dead. Max.
Garth was a happy kid before he left home. Aaron’s parents . He was not sure what the old man was saying. After they ate they gave him a place by himself to cry. Garth could not control the tears. back then everything ended with a joke and now every conversation ended in an argument.Garth left them from there. They had roast chicken with cranberry sauce and side dishes that had numbers from the cans. Mr. Miller made a speech at the dinner table. Soon he stopped talking to his old friends and his cousins. an impromptu for the unexpected guest. the second six took him the rest of the way home. After his first summer back home He went uninvited to the Miller’s to mark his first Thanksgiving after the war. a fight or a challenge. After drinking a beer in the car he got out again and stepped into Woolworth and stepped out wearing a new shirt and blue jeans and next door in Florshiem a pair of loafers. He saved his boots and uniform in the car trunk and after finishing one six pack got some shut eye at a truck stop. In fifteen minutes he had bought two six-packs in the next little Pennsylvania town.10 - .
11 - . he woke and left in the dark. Garth volunteered to drive Rachel and a friend to meet some other Jew girls she went to school with who were going to a movie on Christmas day. All those emotions without booze. Their stories haunted him. puking and crying after too much Cole slaw. “I know it’s not the same for you people but Christmas is about being with loved ones and giving and Aaron gave his life and maybe that is why I’m still living. he drove the long night home exhausted and sweat drenched.stood outside the door and were clearly talking about Garth in their language. hearing of others having a good time caroling and drinking . This time he brought a turkey. When he got back from Jew Christmas Garth’s cousins told him what a wonderful day he missed. In Aaron’s bedroom he cried until he slept. his father warned him but he was sick before the end of the night. All they did was giggle. Be careful.” Aaron’s little brother ate like he had been starving. When Christmas came Garth once more left his family. pies and KFC side dishes to the Millers. Cousins and nephews were unavoidable.
and carrying on when he knew he could never join the fun. Even the trash sparkled. Days later it still annoyed him to find wrapping paper stuck between couch cushions. The only lights on the day after Christmas were at grandma’s. Nervously Garth entered the overheated house. “Where did you go. to be with a family who lost their son. Escaping the house he . It was as though he too were dead and could not accept his present.” His grandmother’s sure mouth and closed mind pushed him further to the edge. That he brought them a Christmas dinner because their table was bare. He had killed so many times that the big flakes of snow on the highway reminded him of splattering brains.12 - . Garth explained where he went. “It’s just like the Jews to have piles of money and no food on the table. Instead his gifts were set aside like an offering to a spirit. Never again. Days after Garth hesitated to open these underserved gifts. son? We missed you. Under the small artificial tree on the kitchen table was a present for him.” she asked quietly from the edge of the couch.
He stayed home on the day hunting season opened. The passage Aaron read to him. when he pressed it to his cheek into view came a little gook family at the door of their hut. Little kids. Once he told a couple of veterans. it was junk next to what the army let him use. After a while he relaxed and recalled a wonderful conversation they had in the barracks. Next weekend. “I think I killed about eighty four men. For Christmas Garth got a new hunting rifle. That was what they would do. he promised but he made no effort to get out of bed the next week. That’s more than all the Rebs and vets on both sides of the family. “Garth. The sight and scope were cheap. what’s wrong with you?” they asked. I am sick of hearing from you.smoked and drank in his car. for five dollars we’ll get a couple of bar girls to oil the hair on our coccyx. He did not like talking to the old timers much either.” He knew he was not only a soldier but also a murderer. nephews and cousins complained how they had waited for this day and his return.13 - . . old man.” A sexual treat reserved for one of James Bond’s foes. “Uncle.
He had his own 22 rifle at 8 years old and with it could hit a bird in flight. he kept a silent count.14 - . birds who were shooting at him. they were birds to him. He usually sat far from the girls. the enemies of America spreading communism. he knew when he had hit someone in the brush. and he did not have to wait to see if it moved again or not. in the action. the dampness and body smells reminded him of bars in Nam but these are big white girls and a now and then a black. No one questioned where he went alone every night. He sat expressionless for hours at the strip bar. In action as others mowed the weeds and clipped trees he squeezed off kill shot after kill shot. He tried to explain to himself his flat response to the flashing lights and jiggling flesh. Sitting alone in his room he punched himself in the head repeatedly. Every night was a late one.Since he was a kid with toy tanks and plastic soldiers he dreamed of being out there. that’s all. Killing birds. Green troops were confused about whose bullets went where but not Garth. It was a long drive to the nearest strip joint. he never hesitated to take a kill shot. He did not need to confirm kills. These were not the slight Asian girls whose . From his first patrol. He knew things he did were wrong.
He made several trips. Snow left in the cold and sun turned to ice. He put the cans of coins in a fruit box but the bottom came out. he watched dancers through mirror after mirror and coldly studied the audiences. He remembered burlap bags in the garage but the doors did not swing out with all the snow and ice pack. It was almost 1970 and Garth had a good feeling for the future that the new decade would bring. he would never have a car that nice again. The cans were heavy and the iron steps to his home above his grandmother’s garage were slippery. It was his disappointment with 1969’s celebration that moved him. He had that feeling for most of the preceding year.graceful lines and wanton eyes he once studied. Piece of shit. .15 - . Looking for something familiar. The day before New Year’s Eve he gathered his resources. His car was there like frozen torture. During the fading year he had saved enough coins in coffee cans to completely fill his refrigerator with alcohol for this year’s New Year celebration. Falling did not concern him except for now he was carrying money.
“That’s the stuff. He had planned to do all his buying tonight so that he did not have to go out again tomorrow. He drank two beers and now spent wildly.” This was the only package store on the island but they did not like him here.” He told the owner with profound sadness. His hand on his thigh he looked down then gathered his package.” He said out loud to himself.” Garth told the owner. “Here’s to you . No one really liked him anywhere anymore. or show his face. The bank across the street closed at four. the sadness was overtaking him.” There was a brilliant symmetry. “Victoria gin. Under the tree behind the light pole where the store owner could not see Garth tore open the bottle of Glen. The package store owner cursed him to his face. Two cases of beer seemed light and he cradled them in his arms.With a kick he opened the trunk of his car and put the coins he could not carry in the trunk for the next trip. “I’m sorry.” He said and remembered glossy ads that Aaron showed him. “I’ll be back tomorrow. the big one. Garth laughed at the owner’s exclamation when he returned with more coins.16 - . “Smart. Glen Fiddich. two cans of coins and two bottles of booze. If this is short I’ll get you. “I know where you live. sorry to himself for existing. sorry to bother him.
Nowhere to go and I am never late. From the top of the icy stairs he clearly saw three recycling barrels.17 - . In this condition he was relaxed and thought everything is fine. Revived and momentarily jolly in his yard he spoke to himself and his car simultaneously then wondered which is which. old Jew of mine. a fortunate coincidence or. piece of shit. To be with his buddies. “Smooth. cause and effect? Garth wondered but that was a ruse because he knew exactly why he drank. all of them. He picked up the empties around the little apartment. clear. A car can’t go upstairs. But someone might see or hear . Not that car. he thought. During the night he went into unconscious drinking and at sunrise he became aware of the light and thought he was sober. His disability was alcohol which was also his medicine. Falling onto the couch with a headache setting in Garth felt he had achieved his goal. He scraped his head on the slant ceiling as he cleaned. Remarkably well done.pal. In fact this might blossom into a three or four day bender. the same place where he used to play when he was a kid.” Kneading his thigh while catching his breath. Breathing hurt Up the stairs you piece of shit. he laughed. green and amber glass drums too full to ever move again.” Several long swallows followed.
To crash at midnight. His wet hands stuck to the bare metal. It was still early and he was going crazy. He brought the bag back into the apartment. Then he thought better of the idea as being lazy and stupid.18 - . He burned his mouth on the coffee and stepped out for it to cool. The coffee splashed his chest and he slid backwards and sideways until he got stuck in the railing. he watched a football game and then two more simultaneously. Grandma bought the clock for him when he moved out of his grandparent’s home so he would never be late for work. Before he took a second step his foot on the ice went out from under him. He played the radio and danced like a wild man about his room. He watched the pulse of water in the pot and the clock on the wall’s second hand. He was growing impatient with the many dark hours. He left behind skin as he went on all fours and climbed . Instead he placed them at his feet until later when he would kick them down. People around town did not understand how he could be paid by the US to stay home and drink. He decided to make a cup of coffee and set the percolator on his hot plate. If he did not make it to midnight he knew that would be a bad omen.the sack of bottles. Grandma gave him little jobs to give him cash.
Fuck New Years. It was like a Queen and Princess in a castle.freezing iron back up. sometimes he tried to picture Rachel then and imagine her now. Neither her mother nor Rachel was ever far from his mind since the first afternoon he spent as a civilian. the memory made him feel wonderful and warm inside. if he had a manufactured home tucked in the woods but he banished . Everyone in town had changed after he got back from Vietnam. Now the beautiful car he got with soldiers’ pay is an unrecognizable heap of rust covered with pine needles.” he’d say out loud whenever his eyes fell on it. He dug in like the cong. he thought.19 - . Upstairs the fridge and hot plate were both without power and the water had also stopped. “Piece of shit. It was ten years ago. the expectation they once had for him as an oldest cousin and leader of his generation was forgotten by most of the others. He used the toilet in the empty house next door. His hope now was the surprise he had to bring Rachel. They might respect him more. Wrapping his bleeding hands in socks he fell on the couch to sleep. today. Garth’s own family had accepted the taste of disappointment.
safety. A surprise even to himself although he had planned it. the effect is short lived. Land that was before corn fields are now small houses and little square yards.any such ambition with thoughts of his worthlessness. But like a splash of cold water in a drunk’s face. He stood for several minutes since a new industrial park created a lot of traffic. what’s safety? A buck startles and struggles in barbed wire with a bullet in the neck. He ached inside recalling that Jewish castle. “Cross now. rifle loaded and trigger finger poised.” It was a child who called.20 - . Mr. The boy who watches the great beast struggle watches as Garth struggles with the traffic. A surprise now that he returned. Odd how utterly sober Garth felt now and he felt that way too the last time he visited Aaron’s family. The surplus store . From the other side he sees the street again. its Princess and Queen welcoming him. Garth rehearsed the introduction knowing if Mrs Miller stood in front of him he would not be able to speak. shot by a boy.” Garth ran across six lanes. a hunter. “It was ten years ago today. Boarding the late bus the driver knew of the Millers and let him off at the hotel across the wide street. Tree buds hung everywhere. Two trapped beasts. he never really expected to live this long. It was himself a child once more crossing the great highway.
They explained how Rachel had disappeared in New York. Nearer he sees in the store window the animated smudge of deep black. Garth waits outside and watches her make a lengthy credit card transaction. Just like today. Max Miller now shook his hand like an American.21 - . it’s me. Max. It looks different inside although she looks the same. “Hello Mrs Miller. a beautiful day in spring. she is at the cash register. Her back to the front window. Tovah. the family friend she first went to be with investigated but after attending Music High School with a .” “Hello young man. come look who is here. Colorful placards of cowboys and cowgirls without horses dressed in western styles struggle to color the drab window of the Army Surplus store. His heart secretly prayed they would kick him out and call the police. her hair. Broom in hand Max comes out of the darkness to the front but returns when she makes the machine work without help.” This was not what he planned to say or the reception he expected. On a day like today ten years ago bullets from an unseen enemy cut your son to ribbons.has expanded and a beauty parlor has opened beside the Greek restaurant.
It was Aaron except with a sunken chest and pot belly and the kid brother wore thicker glasses. Studying the pictures. “How old are you boy? Still got any of that Cole slaw and chicken stuck in your teeth? What’d you do these days? You‘re a man. An FBI wanted poster of a small masked and unnamed woman was among the letters and clippings from Tovah’s search for Rachel. When the boy came in it was as if Aaron returned to the living. Garth took a seat in the shoe department and read everything. Seeing the brotherly resemblance Garth felt once again that he did not deserve to live. The answer was over Garth’s head except it had to . It had been too many hours between drinks.22 - . Like laughter and people pointing their fingers at him. Rachel had grown into a fine woman like her mother. the plastic cover sounded crisp like applause. Aaron was the leader but Garth knew what was about to happen.” He touched the brother to test his reality. Hours later at the Miller home Garth sucked down the wine strong and thick like coke syrup. After ten years Garth could only think how he should have jumped first.scholarship she disappeared in the summer of 1968. Garth jumped from the cushioned chair where he sat nervously.
I wish Aaron could see you.do with big deals in real estate. the plan waited twenty years. Sexuality was proving so confusing to her that even his brashest lies went unquestioned. However fathering another child was more than an affair. Father did not notice one of Mother’s furs was missing. Always daddy’s little girl Tovah found it difficult to blame her father. She felt parenting had to be sacred. She felt . “That’s great. Why can’t everyone meet Jews like you?” The brother took a long thoughtful look at Garth before laughing. It had to be her mother’s fault that he wandered. she sold it to hire a lawyer. she was an active adult before learning the truth about her parents. just the right thing for you to do. Chapter 2 The plans for divorce were laid down in detail when Tovah was still in diapers. he did not notice because his time was divided with another family.23 - . In high school Tovah had a lot of rationales for being sexually active but by college it was a free for all and no one had to make excuses or tell lies any longer.
herself to be a premium piece for any man who could see more than her plain face and extra weight. During Christmas break their condo had a simple menorah and Hanukah was acknowledged with an envelope empty except for a hundred dollar bill. It was understandable since none of the children were at home. For those few vacation days every year Tovah tried to spoil her father like when she was a little girl. If mother. Part of mother and father’s plan was to sell the house. She learned that for a lot of men big girls are a kink and a gymnasium for the guy who knows how to use her. Her sexual knowledge was from reading and practice. who was always so disapproving of enthusiasm. she ran to get the door. Inexplicably they leased a condo and that was where Tovah spent her vacations as a senior. was in the room or if this was like a knock on her dorm room door things might have happened . She had just kissed her father thank you when there was a knock at the door. When a good offer was made on the house they it sold while Tovah was still in college. share the cash and go their separate ways. A real man knows how a woman’s mouth looks is not as import as how it works.24 - .
most likely his real name was Jorge. Dad just left with George. Mother at the sink was hiding something. a jovial salesman for his family’s factory and mother who was unobtrusive.” Mother always had her hands in a sink full of bubbles. I am looking for Murray. “Hello. her father an extrovert. She had never seen her father move that fast.25 - . Father already had his overcoat on and was striding out of the door and away with George. “Can you tell him George is here?” The young man looked like one of the workers in her family’s factory. In her mind he was teaching her Spanish in bed. her father was overweight and almost 60. She dried her hands and went upstairs. together they took off in the car. something must be wrong at the factory. It worried her. Tovah followed. Mother seemed to wear a mask even at . But when racing across the room to please her daddy her natural defenses were lowered. “Did you see George?” Tovah was used to the two different worlds of her parents. even for one dish. Is he here?” He was just about Tovah’s age and she was immediately attracted to him.differently. “Mom.
“Did you look at him?” For years mother had been disapproving toward Tovah who made no secret of her romantic activities. she asked pointedly.home.26 - . “Who does that boy look like?” He had a nice bulge. his hair was black. curly and shining. Twenty years ago your father had an affair with his secretary resulting in your brother George. Given the chance she would have fucked her own brother. his eyes were brown. “You were going to find out next semester. thinking mom was questioning her desires.” Tovah was torn between the twin disgusts she felt and could not hear what her mother was saying. And added to the toll of this contemplated . She spent a lot of hours on the road as a volunteer working with the Jewish Women’s Organization. you might as well know now. Before Tovah could get defensive. his face was full and pleasant like that hot Haitian player for the Yankees. Your father and I are getting a divorce. Sitting on the edge of her single bed mother put crème on her hands and rubbed it in slowly and thoroughly. She wanted her current boyfriend to soothe her but he was with his parents in Massachusetts. A selfloathing grew like a fever or a rash traveling from her center making her body burn. or like her father.
You will never see your grandchildren. Downstairs her parents talked and she heard every word. Then I will tell you.incest came her father’s lies. rich boy.” “You suck. Father returned past noon after being away three hours. “What’s she talking about? Why is our daughter suddenly so upset with me?” He was continuing his role. ‘No.27 - . at once and forever. That’s right.’” With that she exited the world of her parents. Tovah could compete with her mother for father but how could she fight an unseen woman and a son? The place she held in her father’s heart was not what he said it was and the loss of that love was devastating.” Mother’s tone was only conversational yet it was a louder voice than she ever used at home. lox and white fish. “It was only a small emergency. I told her. there is someone else more important to me. Upstairs in the small and unfamiliar house she sat in a strange bedroom they called hers. I’ll show you. For the first time in years she straightened her spine. unaware. “I told her Murray. I got your favorite. I will become so successful you will come around kissing my ass. . Look. he brought bagels.
Don’t be mad at me. Her birthday is in January and she was twenty-four the summer she tried to kill herself. On the surface the old family was together again.“Told her what? What are you talking about? Tovah. it was an idea which eventually led to another abortion. I don’t know what your mother is talking about. Like most suicides she survived because her attempt was too timid.” Having a baby out of marriage is the worst possible thing a person can do and Tovah was suddenly determined to do exactly that. She even revealed herself to be an anti-Semite when she insisted he buy her a house in a seller’s market. She started taking a preventive daily dose of penicillin. Living full time with a passionate Latina was more than his constitution could stand. She began meeting men of the worst type who never took her anywhere or talked about anything she cared about. During recovery and therapy she was reunited with her parents who became reacquainted and reunited with each other. Her father was only concerned . She was not aware how little that mattered to her father who she wanted to deprive of grandchildren.28 - . Tovah’s mind changed for the final time when she decided to never have children.
Tovah had written many excellent papers through college and happily took up a pen to write fiction. From her chair on a deck in lush upstate New York before the wide lawn shaded by elephantine trees Tovah created an aggressive. . With a major publisher’s backing she was launched on a very successful. Being childless was also a silent protest to her silent mother who was so caring and maternal with her refugees whose children were all beautiful and talented but needful. She also has a gift for helping the people in her life. her work to help others. Therapy in the suicide recovery program included writing stories. She questions the world and is charming about it and life never hands her any problems she cannot overcome. Those children were the only ones her mother cared about back when Tovah was growing up. Sufficiently medicated words flowed.29 - . career. urban environment for a character radiating confidence and who is every girl. he must have a son to keep alive the family name.with Tovah’s brother. Her main character was a ten year old girl full of hope and expectation. She liked her position of being successful in publishing but obscure enough that men were not threatened by it. rub your nose in it.
“Last night we almost lost your father. She gulped down a cold one that had been waiting in the shaker for that purpose. a martini also helped. “Remember Max and Eva?” She hated when her mother opened a conversation like that. Even in retirement father set the clocks ten minutes ahead and mother never compensated for that. Cruelty was reserved for lovers. She did not care however she no longer responded with.’ As Tovah got older cruelty became too heavy a knife to pull on her mother. Tovah was happy that her calls were predictable.30 - . maybe a tear. It was painful to be probed by her mother who used vague associations and references from childhood. the death announcements must have started in college as a freshman with the effect that years later she used any excuse not to pick up a phone. I hope he suffered. She loved to watch the expressions on their faces and with mother she could not see the grimace. quivering lips. ‘Good.” This happened every six weeks since they moved to Florida.” in a bored and bitter tone that was unchanged for many years.Tovah got a regular call from her mother on Wednesday and always 10 minutes before the phone rates went down. “Hello mother. Remember the Empire State .
her mother’s Life magazine dream.31 - . Max was a little man who took time from the store to be sociable. There was something definitely wrong with the wife. It was all lies. she had wildness in her eyes and clear disassociation . The familiar references made Tovah gag knowing her entire life growing up was a lie. Tovah’s response was flat.building? Remember the Liberty Bell? After learning her father had two families the golden book of childhood memories was down the toilet. Tovah regretted not being with her to scream back in her mother’s face. empty store fronts and homes in poor rural towns. Mother gave the impression that once she and her brother were cute and the family fit in at picturesque places. a family with a foundation built on a set of lies. The JWO settled the war refugees on cheap properties like farms. Eva and family lived in a box house off a mud road and mud driveway. he made everything a joke but none of his jokes were funny. Struggling with a Dracula accent he was like a jester. All they have in common now is the memory of what once was. Eva. “Now who’s dead?” Max. only a tragedy could unveil. another of the immigrant families they used to visit.
That the mother was crazy was clear in Tovah’s mind. . For a visit at lunch with the family Eva wore a shining gown and on her head a toy tiara. “For thirty years. Tovah hated that.from events around her. Tovah also recalled the kids. she pranced around making ludicrous affectations of a ballerina. A little retarded boy?” “No.32 - . There are no retards -as you put it in our family.” She heard her father’s voice in the background as mother dragged this news out. They had the boy and a girl and another boy. “Of course I remember them. Having a family secret like the old days made mother feel comfortable. That Tovah was successful fueled mother but Tovah living with a man without benefit of marriage was a family secret. that’s Jerry and Annette. and despite having her own children she was one of those adults not trusted with them. a royal personage and an angel while serving tea. These people are the Army Surplus store in Pennsylvania.” Mother was an insufferable snob. the bland writer and little brother and a sister. If mom called surely the mother was dead. She spent her free time since retirement on the phone being superior with relatives. the chicken farm in Connecticut.
The house left them broke most of the time.33 - . Everyone wants but no one wants to pay.For thirty years how father lamented the anniversary of his mother-in-law’s death. . Father was content to work in the extended family and admire past greatness. For thirty years. They moved to a ghetto of Jewish millionaires but Tovah’s parents could not afford the amenities of living on Long Island. Tovah’s mother fought her sisters over their mother’s furs and what grieved father was that for thirty years a fund had been paying for cold storage in a huge refrigerator building. He was hopelessly under paid but being a Jew then he did not relish working in the greater community. Those old Jews had some money. Her parents did not even sit together at graduation. Lucky for Tovah Uncle Sol doled cash out to all the kids. Obviously Tovah’s brother knew and half-brother George did not seem too traumatized by his visit. The furs were like fish. so the story went. Selling the house generated a big lump of cash which was like rocket fuel to the two parents. Upon graduation Tovah fled Long Island for Manhattan. he turned his sales slips in and took a salary. The remainder of the year on the condo was paid and made their joint gift to her. they needed to be refrigerated.
he seldom spoke and what came out were not sentences. Although he painted professionally he was a sculptor with her body. Jonathan was like no man she ever met.34 - . she always had to remind him about the laundry chute after a day of painting. Language was a living thing she absorbed from lovers. She dressed him soon after they met and they became a couple together in a fine house. and Tovah thought he was ideal for her. So many of the men she met were cheap chiselers or men so afraid of being chiseled that no one was allowed to get close to them.In addition to publishing she found work as an interpreter. Hung over and stoned . Sex. Jonathan in his element made friends easily. food. or money. He had no concern with his appearance. Soon in the new house a few effeminate painters and some lesbian models came every morning and smoked pot with Jonathan before going to work. In addition to those incomes there were the monthly checks from the family trust that followed her after college. Living together she came to realize how brain dead he was. painting and alcohol were all he needed. He was androgynous and Tovah thought his passion for her was from the desire he had to be a woman.
She never wanted to get the fur coat for infidelity.35 - . He painted a demonic muscleman with a sword and buxom woman at his feet on a motorcycle gas tank which Tovah told him she liked. He was hers and carried her brand.” She almost made him move out on the spot. It was the second emotional response he ever evoked from her. It never bothered him to be dressed by her and clothes hung on him like a model. Women were never a problem for Jonathan. His past was of no interest and should there be someone else she was there first. and she turned away from that culture by not marrying her man. “If you want to have an affair.” she told him before she bought the house. After desire and possession there was nothing.” That was as passionate as she could get. To which he confided. Tovah thought of it as the dog house. Even a dog knows when he’s got it good. “I’m afraid of motorcycles. . I am in the Jewish mafia and I will have you killed. the first had been years earlier. The only work of his she liked was the stuff he did for money on guitars and custom vehicles. Drinking was a mess but Tovah got used to it. “it better not be in my home.Jonathan went out to his cabin and painted.
36 - . Reluctantly she opened up her memory. he wanted to be a writer. a French bishop’s dinner plate it was confiscated by the French Revolution. Jonathan suited her so well that it dulled her instinct for the hunt.Life was edging near the yawning abyss of complacency to accommodate approaching middle age. Now with Jonathan around she no longer cared to take the chances with men like when she was younger. Listening to her mother on the phone Tovah could only think what a great bit on a comedy album this would be to hear mother’s Brooklyn accent mispronouncing names and talking about our family. But I . Tovah’s hand went out to the center piece on the table. “The boy used to write to me. she and Jonathan found it at a flea market. While a broken old man in the next room chants his ancient laments. Hollywood did not want to make a movie out of any of her books. She had not been writing or selling much the last couple of years. As her life changed she felt more removed from her childhood and that breakdown which initially opened up the world she wrote from as therapy. The antique silver felt buttery. PhD work was deadly boring and lacking it limited her university career. it was worth as much as the original Shaker table it accented.
He was arrogant and . Jonathan never had to work a job.couldn’t help him. So who died?” Tovah could only describe her life as aimless determination. his breath and odor. As a couple they developed a tendency to buy big houses. and even investing. homes larger than they could afford. tequila. A reviewer in Texas called it. archery. she dropped the phone and clenched her fists experiencing a deeply troubling and unexpected sensation of grief.37 - . art. She learned to ski and drink wine from one. In college and grad school the most important things she learned came from her lovers. For ten years she wrote a series of children’s’ stories. manses from the gilded age in the small cities surrounding New York City. how to drive stick from another. he was trying too hard. In time she learned in addition to languages. However after stepping into a university classroom she never sold another new work. now this. Tovah did a lot of speaking and public appearances as a writer. a journey-woman who got lucky. Never had she imagined knowing anyone in the military. “The next Johnny Tremain. With word of his death she could recall him now.” she was golden from then on. Mother’s news was like falling down an elevator shaft. He was too white bread.
thought he knew all the inside tricks to eventually fake his way to a showbiz niche and celebrity. “What if I had been more giving?” Tovah questioned herself. they had no common destiny. she was even afraid he might develop a crush if she was too effusive with him. now he is gone.” What if tomorrow I come into school wearing an antiwar button? She thought of her mortgages. The US government was a good government and must have good reason to be there. No. He was just a child with childish dreams. The Army was his choice. Paul Newman. But that war. She could never be a protester. She continued thinking. Curse Johnson and that war. But he was so strange. It was war. She did . Tovah thought that she was like every intelligent and reasonable person by being against war. “How can I say I am apolitical? This is too close to home. When she was in the city she would avoid protesters and areas where there were rallies. Norman Mailer.38 - . Her adult life was made up of numerous connections that strengthened over time. What if his sister came in my office and wanted to tour the college? What could I say to her? Her brother’s death was okay by me? So many people today are coming out against the war. even a senator. Clearly the Beatle phenomena and television had warped him.
Mark. a red circle with black lines making equal divisions and subdivisions. the poetry teacher from California. Paying the cashier she noticed between the packages of chewing gum and candy bars a cardboard display with several different style peace buttons. This would be the chance to take someone under her wing and pass along her wisdom. she bought a small one. This must be where the kids get them. Tovah. wore beads and had the peace button on the same necklace. Where would a person go to buy a peace button? Tovah was a woman who to save money pumped her own gas at the truck stop adjacent to the highway. She . This isn’t supposed to be fun but being caught wearing a peace button was like a bedroom farce.39 - .not have tenure. Dangerous fun. it could be pulled closed if need be. Attaching it to her coat lapel made displaying it optional. knowing Rachel was a white girl had few to pick from as passengers descended the bus steps. Now what’s his name’s sister could come through that door. Turning it over in her mind Tovah decided to make it happen.
Rachel adjusted her pack. She was surprised at the massive green army backpack the girl wore. She thought travel day might start with a shower. was also a great unpublished writer.should be wearing a straw hat. Tovah had subdued the jealous resentment for the refugee families who mother had alleged only produced brilliant and genius children. the twenty minutes spent in the bus terminal made Tovah feel gritty and . Tovah pictured the Pennsylvania Dutch from one of the many trips she took as a girl visiting her mother’s people.” Tovah was surprised by the agenda. “Which way to the car? I hope you don’t mind but I talked to some people at your school and told them I would meet them today.40 - . Not even the gifted musician part rang a bell.” Tovah took both of Rachel’s hands. The dead brother. “I am so sorry about your brother. If Tovah had met her once she did not remember. The small girl had a healthy look not at all like the other passengers but she needed a wardrobe fix and that would be a fun way to get to know her. Aaron. A tiny girl in a long skirt that looked like it crossed the plains stepped carefully. The war had been over almost twenty years yet Rachel in her peasant outfit was clearly the child of Jewish refugees.
” “Coffee?” Tovah asked. “I was hoping to take you to lunch first but I don’t know where you can go dressed like that. That’s where they make the food. we can do some clothes shopping for you. You know my mother and clothes. no. “I think I hear people talking.” Tovah again suggested. Let‘s sit by the window. Nothing you can buy is as good as she can make.Rachel had been riding since before dawn. Now it seemed like not the best idea. “Thank you.” .” Rachel said. not this girl. “You drink the coffee. Tovah had planned for Rachel to meet some of the students and faculty. “Of course. My mother thinks I’m not old enough.” The girl was almost as old as some of Tovah’s students but most students wanted to give the impression of maturity and self-reliance. her friends.” “Please don’t ruin the illusion for me.” “I know this sounds silly for someone applying to college but could we go where food comes out of the wall?” At the Automat Rachel slid open a tiny window and leaned in. “This is New York.41 - .
” “That’s fine.42 - .Tovah had not been aware of that. “this is about war resistance. To which Rachel snapped.” Leaving the automat the tiny girl lit a cigarette.” Tovah enjoyed Rachel.” Rachel spoke with clarity. at home. “I have one on my coat. There are some people there I need to talk to. “This isn’t about college recruitment. My plan is for us to visit the school tomorrow. Tovah did not want to say anything to pop the little girl’s bubble. It’s been almost a year since my brother died and no one in town wants to miss out on having a May Day demonstration. But when Rachel produced Mao’s little red book from her back pack Tovah advised her to save it that it would be worth money someday. “Someday money will be worthless. We don’t have to go clothes shopping.” “Help yourself.” Rachel’s back pack had several peace buttons on it. “May I?” Tovah asked plucking one off.” Tovah’s plan had been overthrown. her easy amusement at simple things combined with a desire to overthrow the government of the United States. “I want to go to the campus radio station. .
“What are you doing?” Tovah asked. Tovah also lit a cigarette before starting the car and speeding up the avenue. Tovah did not see her students as ‘kids’. They did not worry about their futures but were busy doing something. They went to school in New York but they looked like hicks. Rachel explained how by listening to college radio she knew a lot of kids at the college. “It’s my body. Tovah found these passionate and social minded young people to be unlike her typical students. Rachel separated people into kids.43 - . Tovah thought the familiarity strange that Rachel had with her students.” Rachel replied. By the end the visit seemed a vague failure because at no point did Tovah get a chance to make a defensive speech about living with a man and not . or narcs. There was something to be cautious about dealing with people who renounce citizenship and have no respect for money. Being against America made them citizens of a different place. these kids were carefree. Tovah thought of the many times she too had said that when she was fourteen. antiwar. like herself and others who are adults. parents. peaceful. The school’s radio station was a switchboard connecting New York City radicals to small town war protestors.
I already know everyone. They spoke a language of youth which Tovah could not fathom. “I spend every night listening to those guys.44 - . We have a call in community. she shifted gears too often and sloppily. In the quad and the dorm rooms everyone greeted Rachel while Tovah felt she was getting the cold shoulder. Surely it was a rule that educational staff could not or at least should not be in the student dorm rooms. Everyone in the car marveled at a storefronts where a person could sell their blood and the barber colleges. Tovah’s rejection of marriage seemed picky by comparison with Rachel and her friends who are rejecting all western values. Rachel even knew a so called ‘power’ handshake. at one home they collected leaflets and nailed placards to massive two by fours to be carried by war protestors and possibly used as weapons. In .” Rachel happily explained how she immediately fell into the scene. Later they crossed over to Brooklyn.marrying. That no one requested she play her greatest rhetorical hit left her at loose ends. later Tovah felt coerced driving her new Volvo up and down garbage strewn streets of the lower east side. Now Rachel seemed less like a little girl.
” she sighed. He ruined a thousand dollar Persian rug last month. “Painters. He chooses his colors depending on what color he pukes.an old office building Rachel dug into her pocket for a surprising sum of money and rented films to be shown at her high school. What do I know? We were redecorating and I threw away a Picasso. and the Bronx. “Drunk is their natural condition. a speaker and he promised to bring some musicians for the anti-war rally. One of the tour guides through this level which to Tovah seemed only one floor above hell was the college DJ. These were mostly bearded beatniks and a few blacks who Rachel was dealing with. everything she planned for the day was postponed as they drove around bad parts of the Village. But who cares if you sell paintings? One dealer said the rug just increased in value. “Angels when they are sleeping. She picked up the wine bottles. Tony Skeleton.45 - . Tovah felt extraordinarily relieved to be home.” Tovah observed and spread a handy drop cloth over him. Jonathan was asleep on the floor beside the couch. To me it looked . Brooklyn. Tony Skeleton agreed to be the MC. They reached the house late and few lights were on. his head near two empty wine bottles. Tovah was concerned that her niece gave these characters credibility.
“Another reason we’re not married.” “Doesn’t your town have a town drunk?” “My town only has one street. Oi. It’s just better to leave a drunk on the floor and maybe make him suffer a bit the next day with the vacuum cleaner” The next morning Tovah drove Rachel back to the city where the girls she met yesterday now gathered on a . Oi. The only comparison was when she had seen her father and mother in bed. that’s all. A drunkard is a goy. In the kitchen Rachel stood near the sink. But I remember my father used to sing Ode to Joy.” “Dead drunk. ” If Tovah was making light of something she used to think important.” “I’ve never seen anyone like that before. Mother protected by father. father even in sleep sheltering his precious wife.46 - . Rachel wondered if that was a flagrant violation of something.like a cheap reproduction. the joke was lost on Rachel. white with shock. “I thought he was dead. That’s why I am the writer of the family.’” Tovah left him on the floor for the night. ‘Oi.
Tovah was impressed that some of these girls were only in high school. When I was fourteen I was still bourgeois. Rachel explained. These women called themselves the Mobe.47 - . Then it was becoming clear that my mother was not like other mothers. The older ones were impressed by her youth. After leaving the high school kids in Queens Rachel had Tovah next drive them to meet a group at Brooklyn College. It was . most in long army coats and smoking.” Some of the other girls nodded their heads. “Only a few years ago I was learning to sew gowns by my mother’s side. Tovah had made a lifelong study of the death camp survivors and their children. That was the start of my auto-emancipation” Tovah could see the other girls did not understand Rachel.corner. “I wish I was mobilized when I was your age. Most were awkward and friendless overachievers. still children they organized marches and demos in the entire New York region. Everyone they met was surprised that a person from so far away like Rachel was against the war. clearly freedom was the best thing for Rachel and Tovah offered it in abundance. One girl confessed. they too had been bourgeois until recently.
Next week Rachel planned to bring home more stuff. The college girls smoked an awful lot of cigarettes. It was a point that opened Tovah’s awareness. Rachel explained to Tovah that she received the $100.000 death benefit check from her brother’s life insurance. “it’s you who deserves to pick and choose.48 - . This political awareness put a lovely order to her world view. During a quiet moment heading home Rachel pointed out that almost every group they met were mostly women. Never before had she thought of women having political power and as a political force.” Tovah was overjoyed to find a sister.the Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam. but first she needed to find a headquarters to receive mail and deliveries. You’re like me. she felt for the first time in her life the equal of a man. that men are all scumbags and women are all liars. Not a lot of people admit this but it is rare for a man to satisfy a woman’s needs and that a woman in . Tovah was very impressed by the cunning of a child. “If you can do that you are as good as any man. Despite all of the independence she had earned and the man she had. For years she thought the sexes were different but equal. Let me tell you another thing.
in the middle of nowhere. That would be an abrogation of her responsibility toward a young girl if she did not see her safely onto the bus. It was almost mind boggling how much had been done. The expectation was that next weekend would be more of the same. It was difficult for Tovah to give without the expectation of a return. Capitalism was in her blood. A greasy looking boy with longhair and a car offered to drive Rachel home but Tovah in a most maternal and conservative way would not allow it. “What are needs?” Rachel asked.49 - . Gas was an expense item not on Rachel’s list. expense items. In a spiral notebook Rachel made lists. .” Listening to herself Tovah heard the outline of a new speech to shock and appall an audience. not altruism. the reaction to the death of a loved one must have an incalculable effect on one so young.this society can and should have a variety of lovers. and more things needed to organize a May Day rally in Middle America. names and numbers. Especially for the daughter of survivors. However she bit her lip. That night Tovah lay in her still bed in the quiet house and heard Rachel’s bedroom door lock.
financial loss and disappointment. And by the way I haven’t heard you play in a long time. Everyone says you’re a genius but I never saw you pick up an instrument.” Rachel looked up and seemed to be thinking then she went back to her notebook and the lists.The prospect next week of going to see a printer in New Jersey was not appealing but anticipating that Tovah put together in her mind a talk for Rachel. Save your money.50 - .” Tovah had saved the talk until they were on the bridge to New Jersey. “But you are going to find doing things for others at your own expense like this will just leave you broke and feeling used.” Rachel corrected her. You have amazing organizational and leadership abilities. I was a lot older than you before I learned that the best revenge is living well. “What you’re doing is great. There was only sky and cables above them. Save yourself from a lot of grief. slow down on this antiwar stuff. Rachel. She needed it because the kids of those from the death camps always seemed a beat off and losing her brother in the war would only further remover her from her peers. Tires whining on .” “You never heard me play. I know several professional musicians and they play and practice a lot. “We’ll work on this May Day event but let me tell you. stick with your education.
51 - . Karl Marx. If her feelings were hurt Tovah might have been successful at slowing Rachel’s anti-war passion. Viewing one of his canvasses extinguishes creativity and produces only jealousy of what so called artists can get away with. The only cheerful thought is for you when you get paid. what Rachel felt at the moment was unclear. she pronounced. Rachel went on to cross-examined Jonathan to learn if he made the frames and whether he had a skill that would be useful after the revolution.the steel grate of the bridge oscillated in the silence that followed between them. She observed the blandness and predictability of his canvasses. That this unlike good art which stirs people and makes an impact. She said that the very blandness of his work mutes unnecessary conversation. would say his work only sold because when displayed in a business office they made it a more oppressive and stifling place. Rachel as a rival for Tovah had been a person of his active disinterest and disdain almost from the first mention of her name. . Happy to be included Jonathan was oblivious to the scorching analysis of himself and his works. It was later during dinner with Jonathan when Rachel went on with a purpose about his unsold paints hanging around the house.
52 - . Tovah had to concede a dirty victory to Rachel. a male bimbo. The anger she felt toward herself for reaching out fueled the resentment she had toward her mother and the values implanted by her mother. The house lights were on. Tovah could never take pity or show mercy. she would be swinging a hammer. So accurate was the counter attack that Jonathan looked like a completely innocent moron. It pleased him to be noticed. There was mischief in his eyes and Tovah could tell he had not had much to drink. Jonathan surprised them being awake and by his color. It was like whipping an idiot child. a manbo. The worst of it was how it revealed the unspoken truth. It was late the next Friday by the time they got home after stopping for sandwiches on the Thruway. It was not the first time he had tried to pull something like this. Tovah knew . receiving Rachel one last time was a grim obligation. She couldn’t do that. At the end of the second weekend Rachel boarded the bus once more while Tovah in her mind was toying with canceling for the final weekend.Tovah understood that this planned attack was in response to the critique of her activism. far from being a martyr like her mother.
smoking like faux outlaws.53 - . a cold intellect waiting for the best moment to shock those around her. He should have consulted with me first. like any one of the dirty faced girls in long coats. “Looking at your work I find it hard to believe you use models. Despite all Tovah’s efforts Rachel remained a country girl the same as when she arrived without concern about the layer of road dust. Rachel had a furious purpose. Tovah did not respect any of that brain washed sentiment. he was not being spontaneous. . The girl had a natural loyalty while Jonathan had none. Tovah was crushed hearing him proposition a fourteen year old. His play for her was rehearsed and pathetic. Made worse because he waited up and stayed sober to do it. Clearly Rachel embraced the old values.his signs. the ones the Nazis tried to kill. Jonathan is what he is. If Tovah truly wanted to take Rachel under her wing the first thing she should have told her is all men are pigs.” Tovah was elated hearing her reject him. No different from the rest of the underground. Stepping out of the room to hang her coat Tovah could hear him using a soft voice asking Rachel to pose.
get over it. . like so many brought up in a quasi-religious home. her lack of attraction or even curiosity about Jonathan’s proposition may have been from that lofty place that labeled everything unattainable as Unclean.54 - . A special pampered child who came to replace children thrown in the ovens. Tovah’s mind became a set of confused emotions. She did not want so-called God’s so-called blessings. Tovah was an adult when she came to the painful realization that she was from the less desirable of her father’s two families. In bitter opposition to her father after she witnessed his moral collapse the God of her father also fell. you have another brother. that would not have been enough for Rachel. she shook off the desire to know what God thought of her actions. Young people die every day and she has no corner on it.Rachel’s modest long skirt was not modern but from the old country. Rachel was smug as someone who thought it was her role to tell others how to think and feel. I lost my father and you lost a brother. She hated Rachel who must be so spoiled and pampered by her refugee parents. If the President himself came to her parents’ store with the flag.
55 - . “Have him use protection.” Her father said and it was the last word spoken about it in her parents’ home. She needed to think of something… Chapter 3 . You will pay for any abortion from your bat mitzvah money. It had been her decision.Tovah was a young teenager herself when she announced at the dinner table that she was not a virgin. Later she might console Jonathan for the failure of his plan. First Jonathan would be punished for having taken initiative when her back was turned. It was all her mother’s play but mom caved immediately. Who’s the boy. Sex must have been a painful stranger to her. no wonder she could not keep her husband interested. unlike any decision her mother ever made. what’s his last name? Father asked for a reason that only became obvious ten years later.
shoes and glasses.ON the way to the town to get a bus Rachel’s father prepped her. This trip would be free of embarrassing remarks from mother. Those days Dad stayed alone in the store and the girls had to stumble across the highway and wave for the bus to stop. “Watch what you say around Tovah. her mother and father are divorced.that simply does not happen. The town had Montgomery Ward. a young woman alone Rachel felt safe. For Jews to have a bad marriage is common but divorce . Going with mother attracted stares and looks. Mother had dressed Rachel this morning and Rachel later had to make herself look normal. She and mother often came to the town for things like fabric.56 - . Now. The small town was clean and spread out and the bus slid in a single arc around the town center stopping exactly where the small line was forming.” So armed Rachel would be able to have a wellplanned weekend with her cousin the university professor to whom she was not really related. She felt like a grown up in the world. . Being alone for the first time on a trip to New York made it special.
assassination and war. And her ideal stereotype boyfriend whose mind she molded and who was a total dependent. Her .57 - . This was like Paris overrun by students and the anarchist ferment which preceded each of the world wars. Rachel returned to the city and was taken by the hand by girls from the college radio station and led to a warehouse district on the west side of Manhattan.After meeting Tovah Rachel felt friendship and bodyship were not two different things and that made it difficult to continue an honest relationship with a woman who used her body to get her position at the college and used sex like a library card. During the three visits it was expedient to pretend that they shared beliefs. A vegetable except for sex. In New York City she met others who felt that way too. And all governments are repressive and wrong. Marxist philosophy as Rachel read it explained why a system designed to crush individuals also needs these empty amoral souls who shepherd others into colleges to be taught complacency and false values. Individuals awakening to the realization that humans are not made to be ruled and all forms of government rule by murder. These people knew why they were against the war and saw the urgency because the war was at all the compass points and closing in.
The school frequently had rock stars show up to teach and hang out. Toby often referred to her as his rock and anchor in this world.58 - .parents were happy for her when she told them she had been accepted by the New York Music High School and found a place to live.” If that was what her mother said.” Not “There’s a customer. Mary. In the background she could hear the annoying electric bell as a customer entered. his wife also had a singing career but said she preferred the role of educator. The Tyler name opened many performance opportunities for students. The first year the algebra text books and publishers boxes of young adult . Toby was frequently on television and toured the country with his band most of the year and only stopping back in New York for a few months after the holidays. The Tyler’s also had fifteen adopted children and that was a number often reported along with mention of Toby’s voice which was clear and understandable to audiences of all ages. She wanted to end the conversation with “I love you. Her hoped for explanation of the new living arrangement went unuttered. She wanted to explain who the folk music star Toby Tyler is and how while he is on the road his wife runs the school where she lives with about twenty other students.
Stricken by senioritis Rachel would be gone from school most of the time during spring.literature arrived in stacks and waited to be opened.59 - . Fortunately many of the students with a musical gift were also academic geniuses and they dragged up the school average. By the third year the place was called The Fire House and was a hip hangout. She wanted the New York Music High School to graduate its first class in June 1968. Mary was a woman driven by passion and she told her passionate vision to her best students. Her attention . The fun ran out when Rachel and some of the other stand in teachers learned how some of their fellow musicians are hopelessly stupid about everything except music. For the students handling an O-D became as essential as handling an oboe. Mary was a teacher who used a method where the students taught each other. the Tyler marriage was falling apart and to maintain the school and residence Mary partnered with a pot and LSD distributer from LA to use the school. The Board of Education almost shut the school after its first year assessment. Having toddlers and teens on the family side of the building that was all she could handle. Rachel was one of those called on to teach.
had slipped from school to war and she joined others already in the fight who were preparing for Chicago. LSD made it common to run into people who shared her entire mindset and point of view. . She felt her jaw and lips in motion but had no idea what she was talking about.60 - . As an alternate reality flooded her mind in the form of leaf patterns. It is the same when tripping only more so. increases the ability to see previously unseen aspects of reality as well as increase ones empathy and ESP. “Are you going to Chicago?” The driver asked. Part of the magic Rachel experienced when hitching was to get picked up by someone who shared her interests and world view. When she stopped talking only breathing remained and with constant breathing she became aware that they were in a car and the car was ascending a river of rainbows. she believed. sometimes even going the same place. Something about LSD made Rachel fearless when hitchhiking. Acid. the ants swarming around a melted ice cream cone and the phenomena of tubes filled with people passing over head and all happening while her thumb hung in the same direction as the traffic.
” Chicago streets were not familiar to her so she stuck with the mob. The next street was dark and Rachel split off with a group that way. she had collected nozzle drippings when the pumps were turned off.” He had the look in his eyes which combined endless energy with serenity. two ounces equal a stick of dynamite.61 - . “It was hairy before but things have quieted down. From the police side of the busses tear gas was fired which kept everyone running. “I am. They could not run down streets with hotels on them. they moved with one mind deciding all at once to divide the . I thought I was peaking before when I picked up this guy and then I looked over and no one was there … Tell me when the car is moving because I think I am peaking now. A draw string purse in her bag held a small atomizer bottle filled with gasoline. those streets were blocked with paddy wagons and horses carrying pigs. She carried a brick in her leather bag with long straps and her black beret was held on with a large and sharp hat pin. I dropped about an hour ago. “Do you need help driving?” One of the girls asked.“Are you tripping?” The driver asked before the two other girls were in.
62 - . She turned on her caricature childlike personality explaining to a pig wearing a gas mask that she had to pee and convinced him to let her in the bar. Every barroom entrance was protected by at least three pigs in riot gear and two more behind them with huge teargas grenade launchers. Such ill-considered political action would only serve to turn masses against us. It resembled the scenes she was so often forced to watch at home and in Hebrew school. She felt heavy and did not want to move until she thought this thing through. of huge fires at the Nazi rallies. Inside the TV caught her attention. The street was lined with bars that were open while other businesses were closed. The pigs chasing them had stopped once they were away from the convention center. She disassembled the .cops chasing them. black coal and white bones. No matter what she did between birth and death only her radical activities would matter. her conviction remained but it assumed a greater sense of reality. the flames tearing through the Jewish ghetto and of the ovens. The small fires they made in the park looked ferocious against the night sky. The way it made her feel was confusing. Rachel stepped out of the crowd who had slowed their run. And the gasoline bomb she intended to leave behind became a frivolous self-indulgence.
63 - . On Saturday the crowd was larger and about equal in number to the pigs. Friday. the first night. one of the ones given out in the park and kept running. That night everyone seemed to know each other. They could attack the pigs and flee because the streets were empty and the pigs offered so many targets. Rachel put on the US Army gas mask. More people in the street meant the crowd was tripping over their own feet. If she turned she could see small campfires a few blocks away while in front of her on the screen because of the telephoto camera lens the flames looked as high as the trees. It was not the same for this larger crowd to flee as it had been the night . they arrived and gathered. They ran like spirits to the edge of where the pigs black sticks swept at them. It was someone else’s brick which went through that window and set the crowd back to running. It was fun to street riot. they broke a lot of glass as police chased them across wide avenues and down narrow streets.bomb and on the way out chatted up the nearby pig holding a grenade launcher. Tear gas canisters dropped around them. Across the street some of the gang she had been running with were also watching themselves on TV from outside a bar.
She almost didn’t take to the street the next day.before when the demonstrators were loose bands of individuals. She hoped to stay in the park while others fought. Also her mind was stuck in neutral from tripping the day before. No one wanted to partner with Rachel not simply because she was small but because her demeanor was of one who is sickly. It was a moment of revelation for her. A simple . her body aching after running from pigs on Friday. The brick in Rachel’s bag came with the women’s selfdefense course given at the Fire House in the weeks before the convention. That was satisfying since it diverted porkers from the job of clubbing the demonstrators.64 - . Running wild in the street made her feel insignificant and freed her mind to make plans for the rest of her life. The effect of continuous clashes was to confirm her decision to seek specific targets instead of any target in front of her. weak and frail. The injured began arriving as it got dark and the sight of blood made her want to rejoin the fight. She saw a pattern of studied targets would also be better for her into the future since the random target was not random at all but were points on a line that in time would have to lead to her. She found a use for the gasoline when she doused a police car and set it on fire.
However in a deeper exchange she would say that her reason for living was her desire to bring down the United States of America and the capitalist system.65 - .conversation would likely show that Rachel was mentally strong and intellectually rigorous. She blamed her brother Aaron’s death on US capitalism. In addition to the gift of a brick the self-defense classes distributed information about passive resistance and the names of Chicago area civil liberty lawyers who would help at the time of the anticipated mass arrest. opening quickly to whoever did not seem to be a pig or narc. Although the claim was that they brought enough LSD to drug the Chicago water supply they mostly saved it for themselves. Chicagoans who had been jovial and indulgent of the hippies coming to their town were no longer to be found. Mob rule can only work when the mob out numbers the police. She made no secret of her unquenchable thirst for revenge. even bombs and guns fall short without the strength of numbers. Blood flowed in all directions and formed patterns in the sky. Locals thought the police in cracking skulls did a good job. . Rachel and the others had to sneak out of the city and formed lines with thumbs out by the side of the road. In a psychedelic haze the tear gas became another part of the trip.
Several had pot and one wore a poison ring that opened with hundreds of tiny beads at the bottom. On the New Jersey side of the bridge they picked up friends and six of them filled the small car. hits of crystal acid. Politicians offered no hope. War resistors who were frustrated by lack of a political resolution went home to continue the struggle against the war in other ways. The street fighters never reached the podium as they dreamed. and good old ‘Nam. Borrowing her mother’s car she and some friends took off for Chicago.Many had other people’s blood on them and it was like the head splatter they had been watching at home on TV for years.66 - . The only mention of the war resistance was indirect after tear gas began to seep into the convention arena from the battle raging just outside. They arrived having dodged dragons and helicopters and listening to the most intense accordion music. disgust at the police violence was registered by only one senator. Kennedy. now a few of them were bringing the blood home. King. Monday morning Rachel walked aimlessly in the strange city. Melody parked the car near a stone bridge. . Melody was a high school student from Queens who distributed Mobe publications. she met a young woman who was crying.
By Monday the jails were full of hippies.” Rachel tried to be calming.” Melody said when a lone guy in a car stopped for them. Everything about Chicago looked wrecked and menacing. They fell in with the others. someone else started it and drove without the key. the guy’s head in bandages. Melody didn’t mind using it to block the street. “We’ll be back home in a few hours. “I don’t want to hitch hike.She recalled walking to where they had seen people gathering.” . I am afraid. Leaving Chicago looked and felt like a pitiless defeat. and anyone long haired or radical looking. A lot of the people waiting in the weeds were beaten and bandaged. Melody and Rachel helped a couple get a ride. “I’m afraid. She was sure it was some one’s idea to use it. Melody met a lot of people and talked a lot of revolution and radical clap trap. She fast walked to the bushes and someone else took that ride. She had no idea it would get burned.67 - . yippies. Saturday morning Melody had a vague memory of being talked into using her mother’s car for a barricade.
Getting into a strange car scares me.“You drove a thousand miles tripping your balls off and now you are afraid?” “I never hitch hike.” That Melody was almost crying seemed irrational to Rachel. It was clear that Melody was not a good person to hitch hike with. I guess this will be her chance. “I’ll check it out first. “What are you going to tell your mother about the car when you get home?” She said to get onto another subject.” Rachel saw no special risk in hitching. On the way home Rachel screened rides and listened to Melody talk about her mother and sister. It always has scared me.68 - . the father who she saw less often now than she used to. “Maybe they’ll have some weed. . “My mother said if it was ever stolen she would buy a newer one.” Melody regained herself. especially the ones she did not like.” “Is that all?” Rachel said. Especially when it’s a …” Melody’s voice choked. “Don’t worry. boys at her school.” “I can’t get in a car with a strange man. she was afraid of everything.
paying printers and putting up postering all over the city than did the famous Chicago-8. To Rachel the arrests of the Chicago-8 could have included her. “Thanks. Rachel would remember more of Chicago over the days and the sensation of street fighting. It made Melody a person who had to overcome her fears to function while Rachel moved fearlessly. See you at the office. The Mobe office never reopened again except to serve as storage. Joyous and happy Abby Hoffmann was on the news for a few days to proclaim a victory. Melody was a determined pacifist radical but Rachel was a warrior.69 - . The trial of the Chicago 8 told Rachel that there is no justice in .” Melody said at her stop. The energy of Mobe was next seen as a group calling for students and workers to strike several days every month. going to meetings. the Moratorium to end the war. The ones arrested were public faces but in terms of activity she spent more hours working on a phone. The trial was like the trials of her father’s youth. stuffing envelopes. Arriving in Manhattan after 1 AM Rachel rode the subway with Melody out to Queens. He was a lone celebrant at the victory party.Both Rachel and Melody came from a mother and father and none of the families seemed very close.
matches and matchbooks. Music High was prestigious and touring with the school ensemble or smaller groups was a requirement. Rachel had set fires since moving to New York but it was in Chicago she realized those fires were like a fingerprint since no fire was more than half a mile. to facilitate her activity she carried numerous lighters. when in a restaurant she grabs an ashtray to build in it a teepee of butts. matches and a pack of cigarettes. An esoteric school’s musical travels made the fires she started appear random as it followed the performance schedule across three states. She took her fascination a step further. Once the teepee starts burning she feeds it paper and plastic ware. .America and when it became 7 that proved there is especially no justice for black Americans. Her sculptures when they erupt stink and belch smoke long after she leaves. it paid her tuition. or as far as she could run in two or three minutes. more cigarette butts and finally lots of sugar. Cigarettes being lit throughout the room became a signal and started meetings.70 - . Flames had a fascination for her. from a concert. She toured the greater NY area.
She wanted to burn the homes of Americans and throw fire in their faces.000 domestic bombings in 1969. . Her parents were dupes. private security was not yet everywhere. Corporate heads of the war machine were located and targeted.71 - . for most it was dispersion to the rest of the country to dig in and fight on. She stayed clear of groups with lofty sounding names because those groups attracted the pigs. She laughed at the title of the Final SDS Weatherman because she never went to college.Her use of fire came directly from TV broadcast images of napalm bursting on villagers. The first wave was already in upstate New York. Some Americans truly deserved to have something done to them like what they were doing to others. Rachel did not get much attention at first. Her parents were among those Americans. a logical step to Canada. Persistent and driven by her inability to forgive or forget she endured and became one of the last of the operating sixties radicals. While war resistance grew throughout the nation after Chicago the New York radicals drifted away. more than most since they are immigrants and gave their son to the war. There were 10.
For many years being caught was a terrible fear because. she had nothing to say. Often she found herself racing the sirens of the fire trucks back to the theater or church where she was to perform.Chapter 4 She wore the army surplus trench coats like the ones her father sold.72 - . The kids at Music High were all prodigies and expected to be at least a little buggy. as she later realized. Rachel embraced the . Running was one way to reverse the health effects of smoking. As others were arrested. smoke masked the odors of accelerants and provided an excuse for going outside and carrying matches and lighters. The only exercise she got was running which she used to do in the school yard and was a part of her fire starting routine. some whose work she admired. she never thought of quitting. When Rachel disappeared for five to ten minutes and returned stinking of tobacco it was not of any concern to the teachers who chaperoned.
She hated being a liar and she was relieved when he stopped . She said she stood for all the killed and wounded and her fight was also for economic justice. Rachel the musician was frequently cheered while the silent body count gave credit to the revolutionary Rachel. It shamed her because it made her feel good. She described herself as a Marxist-Maoist who was using the gun to put down the gun. The three years they were together it twisted and wrenched her every day. She had only one lover and she still remembers passionate conversations with him about the insignificance of the individual during a revolution when her emotions almost made her reveal her activities. After a fire in the police garage killed an officer Rachel stopped going to public rallies and redoubled precautions not to get caught. She tried not to think about it. She initially committed herself to these acts after her brother was killed in the war but after years of doing it the act itself absorbed her to the extent it got her mind off her initial reason.eventuality of being caught too and worked slowly on a capture speech of her own. Pay back.73 - . She ordered supplies from different catalogs and had PO boxes in three different boroughs. Being a soldier in a war became her reason.
In the fall she bought another like it. Rachel was motivated to work enough to keep her wardrobe up to date and ever changing. She brought her so-called upper class look to her radical cell and soon found herself out of the inner circle. and certain paintings when displayed in the settings of wealth. The act of shopping kept her loathing for society constantly agitated. Her level of public activism went from an over coated . She saw his face last on a wanted poster. china. In addition to shopping she shoplifted since she felt crime against store property was a requirement of every revolutionary.74 - . It was taken at an antiwar demo where they trashed a bank. Howie’s image was cut out of a police surveillance picture. She had meant for the coat in the picture to go out in the garbage but it remained in a bag stuffed under her bed. they were together that day. Violence became an outlet for the work of hiding in full view by adorning herself under the demanding New York fashion schedule. A wanted poster for her came out soon after his and she was covered from head to toe.calling. perfume. as pleading to be destroyed. The other musicians at the union hiring hall knew her for her playing and that if hired she would show up. She stole and destroyed in stores and galleries out of a compulsion which perceived the items.
Attack and escape was the tactic as small cells broke out of peaceful anti-war marches and trashed banks and businesses. He had come a second week to bring electricity to her hidden room. it helped radicalize others. Still she missed the childish delight taken in the sound of shattering glass and exuberance of facing shielded police wielding clubs at peoples’ heads. students and straight people in business clothes.anarchist tossing fire bombs at police in the sixties who by the mid-seventies was a well-dressed. The voice firm. She was happy seeing the news films of innocent protestors being clubbed. peaceful hippies. humorless and edged with contempt. Immediately he went to the job. In the city the war protesters marched almost daily in one or more of the boroughs and breaking loose the radicals rampaged as different cadres competed for the few seconds of TV time.” He complimented his own skill from the last visit and only . “Nice work.75 - . A protest was judged a failure if it did not make the TV news. pro-choice liberal. “This is the way it really is.” Howie seemed born with a cigarette curling smoke into the corner of one eye and a soldering iron in his hand. almost invisible in New York. She had contempt for the war protester.
I got home from washing dishes at 4 and there he was. His father had a business in the Bronx renting out limos. The firehouse was sold. The Firehouse once served the NYFD but was retired and sold. “The FBI in a black car was watching my parents’ house. as an earth mother with bongo drums swinging under her tee shirt. I looked really young then. You were one of the Firehouse people? I’m surprised we never met before. The hippie beat lasted until 1972 when after a divorce the couple moved to opposite ends of California. Like everyone who met her. “You look the same. Mary’s maternal strength sent forth the spirit and vibration of love and caring.” “I think we did only you don’t remember me. Howie remembered Mary Tyler.76 - . He avoided looking at me. Like Howdy Doody.” She added before she could stop herself. Howie’s brother had also died in Vietnam. his mother worked. Music flowed from the Firehouse as well as elements of the radical underground. . His parents were divorced but both still used the house in Queens as a wardrobe.turned to speak when his hands were busy with wires and solder. She distinctly remembered Howie who hung out with some of the radical kids who lived at the Firehouse.” She added with a flush of mirth.
“bank robbery.77 - . Queens. In addition to the indignity of living in a stairwell the family she rented from insisted on No Overnight Guests. bank robbery. she knew people well enough to realize a lot of young men in this movement made claims that had no truth to them. He visited every Sunday for three years. “Astoria.“What actions have you been in?” Rachel asked. Her passion was spent sneaking into cloak rooms . Howie listed locations and dates.” He leaned back into his fog of tobacco and flux. In the years when Rachel should have been traveling the world and competing as her level of musical skill demanded she instead worked in anonymous orchestras doing sound tracks for TV and playing in ad hoc wedding combos. That seemed unlikely. He paused as Rachel decoded and realized that even before she was in high school Howie was at the front line. They only had sex infrequently and afterward Howie went back to his parent’s home. They did not engage in any actions together but dated. Time would tell. He did not need to spell it all out. June 3…” He lingered then leaned in toward her and out of his smoke.
Each time he took it he felt something was there but eluding him which if he could wrap his mind around it would free him. talking idly about the imagined autopsy for the society they assumed to be dying as they applied pressure. She and Howie sat in the park and looked at the ships in the yellow air of New York. the visions haunted and challenged him and he could not turn away from the challenge. It reinforced her black and white world view. later mailing wafer thin incendiaries that would smoke and combust in the faces of servants of the corporate giants. The stress of her undercover work had an effect on her playing that Rachel did not notice. at the Statue of Liberty Rachel choked up over the democratic tradition of mutual support between the US and France and Howie pointed out where they would need to place explosive charges inside the structure to bring it down. Howie took the drug more often.78 - .and destroying fur coats. She regarded the visions as beautiful and it seemed a fitting reward for the austerity of her life. She enjoyed the experience of tripping and looked forward to their hallucinogenic trips. Howie introduced her to LSD. The drug made Rachel feel sentimental. She also rifled their coats looking for addresses. Howie harbored a lot of guilt and fear for his revolutionary activities and LSD made .
The post trip exhaustion left him without the energy to panic. Each time Rachel would find evidence for the startled conclusion that the rubber leaked and she would douche herself violently. The other bank robbers were Black Panther members and were all arrested soon after the robbery.them go away. Since they did not kiss or hold hands it was not difficult for Howie to take his focus off sex. In the summer Rachel was hired to play at a large outdoor wedding that was so far out on Long Island crashers were not expected. With barbeque and beer no . They were not very romantically disposed and did it only with her reluctance after Howie would not drop the subject. Howie fit right in with the mix of straights and suburban phony hippies. For days after sex she always suffered the symptoms of severe morning sickness until her period arrived. Howie did not care about her orgasm when they had sex and easily gave up his own. He laughed and drank in a crowd of idle rich who played at fishing and construction where steel toed boots were unexceptional and did not give him away. She convinced Howie to sneak in for a good free meal. Every knock on his parents’ door and creak of the house sent him out of his mind. The meal was a gift that she wanted to give him.79 - .
Rachel and five other musicians stuffed themselves back in the car for the ride to Manhattan. “I never heard you play.80 - . You suck playing. chosen because eight years ago she was a prodigy. He must have heard her since she was the soloist before the vows. He must have heard because the food service with the long white table skirts was directly across from the bandstand.” He groaned. Rachel sat on Howie’s lap. “Where were you?” “I brought a bunch of beer bottles under the table and that’s where I stayed. “Quit it!” Her elbow plunged into his diaphragm. I didn’t think it was you. “Ooooooooo. “I heard someone playing a violin who sucked at it.” He bounced her on his knees as if he had said nothing. .” Under the table he chugged three and was into the fourth when he yawned and felt a delightful self-satisfaction before falling asleep. Afterward Howie. Rachel however loathed the phonies.” He said.one begrudged anyone their look.
The decline of her playing was evidence that music was no longer a driving force. She did not need the paranoid constructs. It was adequate but barely so. It would not require Howie to draw the FBI’s attention to her.It was true. She knew because after graduating high school she did not even listen to herself play anymore. “I am as good as I want to . Other interest occupied every cubic millimeter of her brain. Like an assembly line robot she made motions that she learned when she was trying to master the instrument. She was never paranoid and at that time had no reason to fear getting caught. She was committing no crime and in fact she was victim of a much larger crime. Her play was not yet so bad that she could not keep up with those musicians who were still striving.81 - . she sucked. waiting and then going again. She enjoyed making constructs with him about how the CIA and the military are keeping all the people down but inside Rachel felt that the world was a safe place and that in her mission as a revolutionary after so many years she was getting revenge for her brother’s death and that was justification for it. living where she did black cars were always coming. The entire world being phony and controlled made her unwilling to compete in it.
Like a good radical she had no bank account or credit card and had stayed off of almost all social institutions’ lists. Chapter 5 Rachel slowly selected through the most expensive birthday and holiday greeting cards.be and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone.” So it became her intention to make the money of a musician who played for a little extra income. They waited through the year in a box under her bed. a mediocre player. Fortunately the drafty stairwell carried the smells of her cooking out of the house.82 - . To manufacture her special chemical devices she made stands and legs for the . She made her purchases only on the coldest winter days when no one could dream of questioning a gloved hand. Rachel bought designer wine decanters. special gravy separators and a suburban housewife’s dream of Pyrex. Travel and chemicals used everything she made. She favored those with pretty decorative envelopes and cards made of extravagant paper as well as ones that opened with origami folds.
She respected her chemicals and when the recipe called for it she wore a US Army surplus head and shoulder shield with respirator. A favorite from the cook book was Birthday Card Surprise. The enemy was America. not even clothing since fibers were a key evidence tool. Not just booted tyrants but the boot lickers too. She wanted the enemy responsible to feel her pain.83 - . The separation was absolute between the bachelorette efficiency and her lab on the other side of the closet within a closet. Another which unfolded in the recipients face dispensed a powdered accelerant that burned skin. on . She would not let anything extraneous go between the rooms. The level of precision and patience was well worth it.kitchenware with wire hangers and used a camp cook stove. Later when scrubbed her laboratory equipment would return to cookware. A night of cooking could mean several hours in the small space. When the card was open. the now dry interior is exposed to air and becomes a sheet of flame. some burned immediately and others with exposure to water. The hidden middle management ones who expected lavish cards. Never so self-assured she always had her copy of The Terrorist Handbook in front of her. specifically rich capitalists and those who served those at the highest level of power.
display or in boxes in plain view. During the wash-up if the old lady from the family strayed near she explained that she was a macro biotic cook. During the long nights in her lab of distilling, separating and waiting her mind was set off by the exposed back of the walls, the lathe and boils of old plaster reminded her of her childhood and the old bedroom, the one in the family’s apartment above the store. It was the same image which came to her night after night. Although those nights were separated by years, the vacant hours of waiting always produced a repeated memory from her childhood, of being tight in her father’s grip and herself crying at the sounds of hammers and saws followed by a pop and a crash of the ceiling falling to the store floor to reveal out of the dust the 2 remaining walls of her room overhead, that terror and her father puffed up with pride. Despite her childish fear he had carried her in to see this and he laughed at her screams. When she ran away from home many years later she still had that idea at the core of her beliefs. If we still lived above the store things would be all right. The house down the road from the store where Aaron’s draft notice came was a cursed place.
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Coming out from the bomb factory after a long night she stood in the claw foot bathtub where she showered and scrubbed her skin especially hard, some nights she thought that if this were the time of witch trials that she would be suspected of being one. She liked that possibility. She yearned for that impeccable height, the smug distinction of being accused of the wrong crime. A Princeton lab blew up and killed a grad student, Rachel knew what the bombers were thinking, the bomb that exploded at night was not meant to kill, no one must have been expected at night. Or a post office rocked by misfired ordinance. Targeting the post office is silly; it is the means of delivery, why would anyone who is not a postal worker want to blow up a post office? The objective of Rachel’s war was to punish and cripple the war machine, its buildings, factories and institutions, in such a way as to make others fearful of serving society, any society. Only a crazy person would embrace the means of the enemy and resort to terror killing. The idea of terror killing was not to kill the heads of state, the police or soldiers; they are self-selected targets and prepared for this underground war. The object of terror was the targets. The targets were those who the system was intent to
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protect and nurture with the illusion of safety. Terrorists sought out the extended family of those who they blamed for the war. A grandchild, childhood friends, members of the press who supported the war were targets. A nursing home is burned to get a senator’s mother. Colleges are soft underbellies. The establishment would cry bitter tears if it they did not stop the killing and bring the boys home. When her fire in the police garage killed a cop she could not tell herself that he did not belong there but she was prepared and felt nothing. The score was not yet settled. Rachel knew in her heart that even after the revolution and the changes that would take place there would still be those who required the presence of the pig and that she would always be there fighting and offing the pig. She was an anarchist and an eternal revolutionary. Hiding in plain sight meant she had to conform to the outward appearance of her profession. Formal wear, black and whites, when she shopped she mixed pleasantly with the enemy by putting on a childlike personality. “I can’t believe women wear all this stuff.” The comment she repeated every time she confronted the make-up counter. Before long she made purchases, making up herself in the desire to not be noticed, like the flutist and the women in the office. But in her heart she
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was still the free nine year old who could not imagine being ten or being required to make the purchases she was now making. She still concluded transactions at Sax Fifth Avenue by questioned why people had to use money. In her heart she was still the hippie girl she once was when she first left home.
Her parents only shook their heads when the Marines came to tell them at the store and they made no expression until after dinner when she was alone with them. Dinner was the only time the tension in her family lessened but not that night. She helped her mother with the dishes. “Sit Ruchella, there is something you must know.” But something already told her, the blood drained out of her the moment she saw out the window the army hats they wore approaching the store. She watched them come and go while she straightened the shoelace display. Rachel was trembling with foreboding after the soldiers left. “Do you remember your brother? You were a child when he went away.” The words she would always remember. At that moment she received an illumination about her mother,
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the painted lady. What it meant she did not know. What could make her think she would forget her brother in the Army who she thought about every day? “He’s not coming home.” “What?” Rachel burned with the insult of her brother going somewhere else other than here, back home. “Where is he going?” But before she heard the euphemism the look on her mother’s face, only for a second, her sadness explained it all. The last time Rachel saw him was in that uniform and that would be the last time she would ever see him. In those first days after the news Rachel realized Aaron’s name had been vanquished from her parent’s mouths. Over dinner that was always quiet and solemn Rachel asked if they knew what happened to Aaron. Was he shot, exploded or burned? From across the table father took Rachel’s hand. Looking at him she thought he was making a face to make her laugh like in the store. No, this was his face, worn and sad. “We don’t know.” No one at the kitchen table shed a tear. Rachel did not cry even when she was alone in her room.
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it overshadowed her and could be a clue to her identity. So much was her story the story of a child whose parents had that heritage. The mystery story that would explain her was in front of her but she could not see.89 - . That was the first family she needed to forget. Her life story. Did they remember her? She wondered. Underground and on the run she was a stranger. The silence of years was not malicious but was because her mother lacked emotion. In a living room of trusted allies.Rachel would be living underground with strange families before it occurred to her what being a survivor like her mother could mean. Immediately all of Rachel’s . her parents’ and the life of Jews under Nazis would be stories she could only tell to herself. even in the protected cell whenever the talk got around to Nazis she had to enforce her silence. Once outside New York every tiny settlement at a highway intersection reminded her of her parents’ home. a person handed off by someone she knew to someone he knew and soon she was forced to trust strangers. When the farm family in Ohio took her in there was another Mama there.
and yet one hundred years ago was the last time the Ohio farmer was able to compete in his own market. in the morning after breakfast Mama joined her and told Rachel that they were a self-sufficient farm family. “What a pretty banner.” Alone in the basement the news was showing a montage of her work as a cartoon noose tightened in the background and other radicals were shown when they were caught. They needed to keep Rachel out of sight. Together with Mama they selected from the Sears catalogue then waited for the clothes to be routed by hand from another city. Talking politics would giveaway her identity. Mama was outraged about how the railroad subsidy before the Civil War was still impacting locally.90 - . It was homey and beautiful. In her thirties Rachel still looked toward mothers and mother images. She fingered the swastika on display with Hitler’s framed portrait.possessions were examined and she was instructed to dress in girls’ clothes on hand. Rachel with great effort blocked the particulars of peoples’ politics as part of sheltering. the Hindu sign of plenty. walking before the TV cameras in handcuffs. . She relied on her faux youthful personality as an out of touch love child. That the Ohio Valley fed all of America before the Civil War.
Overall it was a satisfying career. One program profiled her and showed the desolate street she grew up on and another examined the burned secretary and her reconstructive surgery. Rachel sat particularly fascinated by the prosthetic ear. and a secretary who was burned opening her boss’s mail. a dead mailman. “A dead policeman.” she knew there were more. a burned executive. or even sated. Spending her time in the strange home doing nothing she began to look for herself on TV.” turning the unsightly side of her face to the . With its timid lackeys under attack the war machine would lose its front line support. Rachel was told by Mama that a Canadian passport for her was on its way. appeased. At times she wondered if she was feeling anything or ever had. She had learned much on the path of endless revenge but she never felt fulfilled.91 - .An announcer speaks. a burned professor. The secretary especially interested her because it was the precise target she wanted to terrorize. for almost ten years she was sending one a month. “I only have forgiveness in my heart for the tortured soul who could do this to another human being. A soft focus on a smiling face that was not quite right who finally spoke. She was at the moment intellectually receptive and wanted to learn if the woman’s hearing was also affected.
He would believe in me. But I reminded those doctors that miracles come from God. ‘Why me.” Rachel snapped the TV off and paced the windowless game room in the large basement she had been told to stay in. “I pray the love of Jesus can find her and raise her from her anger and suffering. Forgiveness was a meaningless word that Rachel could not imagine using and a word she refused to accept from others. Forgiveness would not be offered in court. She scoured . What others might call a tragedy was for me an opportunity that strengthened my relationship with the Lord.’ My life literally changed. I always tried to be a good person but sometime after it happened when I was struggling with all the surgeries God came to me. Lord?’ But when God chooses to test you it is His choice and not yours.camera. hands that could weight minute quantities by feel. she beat the knotty pine. He said. Entering the sound proof shooting range she pounded her delicate fists. “When it first happened I cried.” Rachel sat appalled. shaking the heavy wood frame portrait of Adolph Hitler.92 - . ‘Because I believed in Him. You have to do your best to overcome the challenge. The doctors said it was a miracle they saved my eye.
93 - . The family was surprised how adept she was at handling powder and reloading. as far as Rachel was told. And what would you do if you found a gun? The first days ran into weeks. She learned a lot in the farmhouse basement. locals adorned with kerchiefs dancing to accordion music. In the dozen years she did not talk to her parents she did not want to. Looking at a map the idea of Indiana coming before Illinois blew her mind. was a drive to Montana for her passport and after visiting cousins in Montana it was a return to Alberta where she is the wife of a farmhand. Prison itself seemed preferable to the life .the room for guns accidentally left in the open but found none. The problem reminded her of her father’s thoughts on pork. gypsies. She visualized a punishing eternity being surrounded by sheepherders. The way the family laughed shooting together and how only the mother made eye contact with Rachel was intensely scary. The plan. For the first time she became familiar with gunpowder as it is used in guns. No. now that it was not allowed she wanted to see them again. she thought. Hiding in plain sight was going to be good enough for her.
As soon as they seemed to be well on . Through the grunts and banging noises she discerned the true plan. the timing was perfect. It was still hard for her to live without hearing the subway. Despite only leaving with the clothes on her back Rachel was able to sneak a waterproof plastic bag and a wash cloth soaked with chlorine that she had been concentrating for weeks from laundry bleach. What they would buy after her sale was the main subject they talked about. It was for more money than the family knew how to spend.of a farmhand’s wife. You got a foam cushion down there. She was going to be a human target in a hippie hunt. “The first five hundred miles we’ll take you in the trunk but we cut big ol’ air holes so don’t be scared and don’t hyperventilate.94 - . It was still weeks as they would not let her out of the basement before the passport was ready. like her heart had stopped beating. In that time Rachel made a stethoscope that listened to the family when they were upstairs. nice and legal.” Taking all back roads for the first five hours until they needed a refill. Why cross a continent to hide in Canada when she knew someone completely obscure in Kentucky? She had thought Kentucky was near Siberia until the map showed her that it actually bordered on Ohio.
While the boys were gone she pushed out the back seat. Stealing the car would have been more fun but Rachel did not know how to drive. “We’ll bring you back something. She also put twigs in the ignition key slot to make sure they had time to breath.” One said. Inside the clear plastic bag was dripping with the yellow green color the Handbook told her to look for when making Mustard Gas. Once she opened the plastic bag there was no going back. Before she exited the car she took a screwdriver from the glove compartment and stripped the rubber buttons on the door locks so they would slip off and not open the doors. It was unfortunate that it had to end that way. They parked the car. Kentucky is which way? She asked the counter man were the boys just eaten. She immediately got a ride to Kentucky from a truck driver gassing up an 18 wheeler. “We’re getting food. Pulling out Rachel was . One last time she struggled with the idea that they might let her go and not pursue her but the months locked in the basement were too traumatic.95 - .the way Rachel urinated into the bag away from the cloth then sealed the bag and combined the urine with the chlorine soaked cloth.” Said the other.
The weather was mild and .96 - . They would not be discovered for days. Only the staggering humidity was a surprise.barely able to see the boys sitting doubled over in the car. The images formed in her mind were clear. Penniless she straddled a line between truckers and hippies. Missouri and Tennessee. He spoke of the modest buildings that made up the little town.” he said. Some only made her uncomfortable and others turned her out for refusing to perform on them. Each town’s hippie colony thought it was the only one in the state. The truckers were all the same by degree. I have a cabin in the swamp where I hunt and fish and the water that flows by is the Mississippi. Chapter 6 “Where Kentucky sticks its tongue at Arkansas. “a remote patch. My ancestors refused to be coalminers and let out for the wide country. She told people now her name was Mary. she and her friends acted spoiled and disinterested but she was hanging on every word he said.” That was Christmas day in the car in with him.
she needed to eat little and sleep was never an issue. It had been like an acid trip. they talked about him and laughed during the picture while imitating his accent. Some towns closed after tourist season. his voice and the way he spoke. She tested everything to find what is real. things like food. And things that were vital not but not material like meeting other peaceful transients with whom she could sit and share stories about the road. A Thanksgiving and Christmas . a quiet place to spend the night. She did not want to upset the flow of things in the bountiful south and it was for many weeks that she floated like a flower child who desired nothing and accepting everything as a blessing. It became clear as winter approached that the two strands of beach winding with the river had many cabins. The theatre was almost empty that day. The cold northern winds blew and some of the fog lifted. Hippies always helped her find fresh clothes and a shower. More than twenty years since last she saw him still she was sure she could recognize him. a ride. Recalling the man’s name she changed her approach. Reality was what she sought and was grateful to find. Back on the road she lived by her wits. a place to drink wine with the locals. getting out of the rain.97 - .
Until she reached the town of Green she had not made the significant association. Waitressing in and around the snaking rivers she listened carefully for his accent in greasy spoons and fried catfish joints.98 - . freshly painted with people . looking for a human sign on uninhabited curlicues of land. When he said he came from a town like her own Rachel thought she understood what he meant but entering the town of Green meant a long walk on a narrow gravel road through squares of land where the corn stubble is thick and the manure piles are smoking. a crossroad and some stores with plate glass made the center of the town. this place was clean. Renamed as Mary she stuck with the last name Miller. Garth Green. Few who she met in the rural places were friendly and none liked her accent until she said she was from Pennsylvania which has for rebels a storied allegiance with the old south. She circled some regions on her highway map.went by without his surprise re-appearance and Rachel too was gone by the spring. it was plain enough as was the name she searched for. places she went to inspect. How could he find a similarity. The roofs were all black and the building messily white washed. Until a knot of trees rose from the distance then squat houses.
She could hear motor boats and smell fish frying. A tree shaded the back of the package store and starting on the other side of the tree a path was worn over a fallen fence that Rachel decided to follow.99 - . and as she got closer her expectation made her . Across the street. her town was a highway bypass. The overgrowth turned into grass and gravel which made the sun intensify on the streets of white houses. Not wanting to violate the law of the fence for fear of arrest at this pinnacle moment Rachel chose to walk away from the water and the sound of people swimming to the front of the golf course and the clubhouse. In the heat the town seemed deserted. Where the houses of the town ended was another fence but this one remained standing and it faced the back nine of a golf course. There was a small Piggly Wiggly. two fish restaurants. the old house. a ghost town.sitting in a park. The path was thick with the weeds that grow over night on this stretch of the Mississippi but otherwise worn and leading through parted shrubs into a small settlement. Undoubtedly this is where Garth caddied as a boy. set almost with the back steps in the river. a notions store and several conspicuously anonymous buildings everywhere with ample parking selling booze in brown bags.
She pulled the only kitchen chair up to the front window that was beautifully framed and ornate on the outside. a rusty bucket now – was the proof. . a shadow of its former self. A light flashed and she woke with a start.100 - . She climbed the iron steps to his apartment over the garage. the one he drove the girls in.” He responded and Rachel knew it was him that second despite a clearly changed appearance even in the dim light. Close now she could see the house was abandoned but not long abandoned. His car too. he was a frequent uninvited guest at her home and that suggested he would not mind this possible surprise. She was afraid to touch anything since the eating area near the door smelled of rotten food and the horde of crushed cans in bags put off a yeasty smell and the rest of the place was smeared with engine grease. the carriage house. “Shit.want to live if only to see this one thing. With little effort the door opened and something in the freshness of its horror told her to wait. She dreamed about robots when the iron steps outside clanked. She sat on his chair in a clearing she made in the clutter near the tall window and watched the sky fill with stars. Approaching the residence she shook off fear.
“I changed my name to one more American sounding. Doubting himself more than her. “Mary.101 - .” “That’s fine. “Beer?” He popped a can for himself and looked confused. How are you? How have you been?” .” He drank steadily but with agitation as if late for his appointment at a place where only booze could bring him and only if sufficient quantity is applied at a steady and constant rate. He walked to the couch near her and sat. “Do I know you? I think I do. “Where’s my chair?” He drained one can.” “Oh. undecided between ‘is’ or ‘was’. “I moved it over here.” “We met years ago.” as always her voice broke.” He popped another. “It’s the last one from a set. My brother.” He took a long drink from the new can before letting things settle. “is Aaron. you’re little what’s her name.“Did God finally send me a woman?” He scrutinized her from the doorway.” He looked at her questioning.
her she had a line on him now while he had nothing on her. a vague way of speaking that living on the road taught. I learned that lesson.” “I’m all right. I don’t bring home more than I can drink in one night. His love of the drink was evident and unashamed when they first met years ago.“I’ve been trying to relax. She would not judge him or make him uncomfortable. Stopping speech he drained the can and clawed the six-pack. not tonight. I’m 42 right now. thanks. Now. “Store is open ‘til 8 if you’re thirsty. and she hinted at the possibility of a social drink later.” He stated his age like a child.” “Don’t drink?” He asked timidly. Like vague suggestions made in the truck stop compared with what happens in the truck.” “After I got back all I did was party.102 - . “I’m tired. But I did settle down. Took the job grounds keeping at the family course where I was a caddy a long time ago. his stricken face was .” He belched and smiled “Moved to the house a couple of years ago but after grandma’s sister died it seemed haunted and I moved back to here.” She sensed his relief.
When drunk he thought he felt forgiveness. In these quantities everything became sleepy and quiet.much to be avoided. After she had been hospitalized they asked in a way that he could not refuse. Despite sickness and insanity he went there again and again seeking forgiveness that freed him from pain. Chapter 7 Grandmother asked long ago that he live in the house with his mother. too little and one is returned prematurely to reality . That was how he liked it.red as a rose in full bloom.103 - . Only alcohol could reveal his tortured conscience and cure it. The challenge in life was to drink just the right amount. Too much is sickening. his conscience. Only beer the last few years yet it flowed. So intense was his relationship with alcohol that he had to enforce a limitation or know his body’s wrath for going too far. In the past he let the booze peel away the layers of his mind until out of the husk all that was left was the transparent pearl at the core. an indication that Garth and alcohol had developed a long and faithful relationship. reminding him it . With enough he was like a well-tuned machine moving without effort and no thought.
the women did not understand that he got along fine without it. he assumed any decision he would make to be the wrong one. The old lady was someone no one liked being around. The church ladies who brought her meals and nurses who bathed the old lady never seemed to notice him. She did carry him eight or nine months and he had been raised in the church to be a humble servant. He found her dead after giving her an hour to make one. looking out for things and lifting the old lady on and off the chair in her room and emptying the bowl. He joined a great tradition sitting. Every family on the river had a man like him. It had been a long time since he exercised his will or voiced an opinion. He moved from the carriage house to a room in the old house. Garth’s mother’s decrepitude more than her actual age earned her the designation of cousin because certainly no one wanted her as a sister.104 - . Some of the married women in the family also helped out. He bathed daily in the swamp which as a hunter was the perfume he preferred. Just like in Nam he stayed close to the ground. The offer of running water was something that was supposed to make him come around. .was his Christian duty.
105 - . How many did you kill? What is it like? . “Oh. Mr Green.When he moved back to the carriage house the electric lines were gone. “Charge it to Family Fun Golf. They said even though we ran out with our tail between our legs without you it would have been worse. It had been years since he talked with anyone who knew him from high school. They did not recognize him although they watched him. They could not stop having at him. They were pointing out all the reasons we should have won that war and congratulating him on his phenomenal number of kills. They made him wait until they got the waterproof wire cut for him.” That was when recognition struck the cashier and a co-worker. At the register he said his name like when he was a kid. The chatty people they only quieted because of him. he looked and smelled like he had been dredged from the river. that’s not what you want. Entering the hardware store he looked like a thief. He scavenged the old house unable to find length of wire to toss out the window. Suddenly it was.” They had not lowered themselves to wait on him before and now the sales staff put down their coffees and newspapers shoving each other to serve him. adding.
His personal aspiration before the war was to make enough money to buy a car with a big block engine.Vietnam was a secret he preferred kept within. After Aaron died they put him on the point. After a few weeks in the states he developed another constant fear of running into anyone from Vietnam. There was an unwritten rule in the army about fuckups. a complete asshole who cost the gunner. a simple rule. He was just a dumb kid who liked to hunt and fish before joining the army. his buddy. And more than twice that number who did not get counted. even the rawest draftee in the company learned first to spit in his direction. When he was a short timer. A fuck-up. Everyone in Nam must have known about him. That combined with the skill he already possessed accounted for his ghastly high confirmed dead. making him lead through the jungle every day.106 - . he was bad luck. He unconsciously counted but when a captain came out of his bunker to pin . Stay away from a fuck-up and if you run into one keep him down. his life. one that everyone especially in combat knows. Following that first day in the field he lived moment to moment attempting to avoid the treatment. an old man over there.
“Everyone in Nam heard of me. . No gas or water and only electric service only sufficient for an outside light and a small TV.” He told Mary. Singling him out for commendation did not remove the mark he wore for losing his buddy.” In the early morning Garth took Mary to check the traps but he stumbled around overgrown paths to traps that were now flat arrays of wire with plants hanging. I’m the guy who lost the war. Once the sun was up and the dew off the greens Garth sat on a tractor and mowed. He confessed to having not even picked up a gun since returning. Mowing he said was for beer money and he had no ambition beyond that. Mary made the offer to cook for him but he turned her down. The men in his company as well as the officers and noncoms glared at him through the ceremony.a medal on him it was for forty confirmed and the number 83 popped into Garth’s head as the true body count. “I was a famous fuck-up.107 - . To Mary’s relief since there was not one working kitchen appliance or utensil between the old house and the apartment.
108 - .” Although in her mind she was looking at staying longer. It was the presence of Mary as a woman that Garth found disturbing him much the same as grandma’s sister. “I need a place to crash bad. it was not that he did not want her around. “I can’t have a woman here. He found women shadowy and uncertain and women of any age scared him. Please. . After so many weeks in a cold basement the warm air. “I can live in the big house. until I get my shit together. I’ll catch all kinds of shit from my family. he was afraid of what the neighbors would say.The question of Mary’s plans came up on the third day.” The enthusiasm she felt for this idea was not shared. His indecision was long and a look of searing pain crossed his face as he thought.” Still begging she silently indicated the house across the way while mouthing the word.” She placed her hands together and struck an innocent and vulnerable pose. He did not want talk about the family because it was important that the family runs a Christian golf course. Garth said. “Just a few days. all women.
cooking in one corner. She earned money at a fried catfish shack washing dishes and decided to bring Garth some food up in the garage. You worked hard.grass and sunshine that went along with the house captivated her. She fully embraced his rancid smell of cigar and cigarette stubs in his pocket along with beer breath and man sweat odor. While casting around for work she decided to avoid the golf club office since those were Garth’s relatives.” She wanted to kiss him but his face was especially postulated that evening. some from fire others old and condemned. For a little while. Undaunted then she knew as an adult she would do things differently. Space in the rubble was cleared and beds thrown down.109 - . “You eat it. bathroom somewhere else and garbage out the window. You can stay. The situation was not unlike ones she had been in at the beginning when she ran away from her parents to New York. “No matter what I decide it’s the wrong decision. In the other house. He shook his head at the offer and held up a beer can.” “Will you sit outside with me?” “Where? On the lawn?” . Abandoned apartments. instead she hugged him.
A hippie who appreciated the palate widening possibilities of vegetarianism she still enjoyed a fried catfish sandwich slathered with mayo. nothing is real. it’s nice out. He sat on the fender of his dead car and Mary in sunshine sat legs crossed near his feet.” He observed piously. “There is something satisfying about meat that you don’t get anywhere else. “Can’t drink in the street. It took a year before a member of Garth’s family approached her and Mary received her with slack jawed grace.“Sure. “This is your backyard.” Garth held a can to his lips and the rest in a plastic noose. the buildings turned red and in a brief instant the slanted sunlight shone Garth’s beaten face and Mary looked up to see him like her own father. Garth groaned and complained as if it was killing him.110 - .” Mary danced down the long stairs. a strong man who made himself king. Garth asked nothing of her and Rachel as Mary went back to her LSD mind set.” The sky was turning red as the shadows grew long. This aunt explained since returning from Vietnam Garth frequently hurt and disappointed the family who .
While he was fighting with alcohol addiction for his life those who loved him thought he was drinking to kill himself. The image of the troubled son with a woman at hand set up a frail and delicate hope. white bottoms of grass blades from the lawn and berries she gathered at the edge of the woods. Having had enough heart break they stood back to watch. in the .sent him off to war. Her tiny size and grey peasant skirt. The old people. She could spend an entire day in the children’s park near the town green where along with mushrooms she grazed on the soft. The drunken happiness and easy laughter masked his inner misery. the disconcerting smile was so odd to others that she fit with Garth’s life in the shadows. nieces and nephews were looking toward him and he faltered and fell before their eyes. When she was not filling in as a dishwasher Mary stalked mushroom. They were long in deciding because some cousins meant to get rid of him for good while Grandmother wanted to keep this a secret. Military service was supposed to mature him to be a leader of the family and the town. It was a difficult decision for his family to send him to his first rehab. Memory of life in the basement left a residual desire to be in sunlight whenever possible. cousins. his sisters.111 - .
” She smiled and put the book down but found herself stiff when she tried to rise from the table.” she thought rubbing life from her upper thigh to her lower leg. His legs bounced against the table accidentally. with white garages and sheds. His tee shirt was fresh. Usually their paths did not cross or there was only a look when they did.yard between the house and garage Mary sat cross legged on a picnic table reading in her lap one of the books from the musty stacks inside the house. It was a three beer walk and after each beer was finished he flattened the can with his foot then flung it like a disk trying to make it reach the water.112 - . he winced then spoke. it’s Sunday. “I’m thirtyfive. It had been a long time since she thought about her age. Three beers dangling from one hand and Mary in tow . “The family wants you to come by today. “half way there. Coming up from the river Garth was unrecognizable. he held a bar of soap in one hand and a dirty towel in the other.” She stood and adjusted her twisted skirt and bare footed she followed Garth at first thinking the family home was on the peninsula. Crossing a bridge they came to a settlement of several fine white homes.
or specifically judge her since the judgment on him had been turned in years ago. even children kept away. it was hard for her to believe they had not gathered to judge them. The family sat like semi-animated statues. Others small talked and laughed but none of the little circles opened for Garth or his guest. Until she lit up. she offered him the chair and sat at his feet.113 - . They said hello and smiled. When Garth appeared he looked different again. There was a circle of women with babies in a shroud of cigarette smoke. he was a stranger to them and had not been to Sunday at Grandma’s in years.” Garth repeated several times and she followed him to the kitchen and the refrigerator where he placed his cans for the walk home.Garth walked up to the grandest of the homes. Garth headed for the bathroom and Mary stepped out the back door. Looking up she caught his eye. “Let’s go. most of the men wearing ties. She could feel what was going on.” She whispered. “This is Mary. his eyes looked raw like he was crying. one surrounded by pickup trucks and cars. Not wanting to seem unfriendly Mary grabbed a chair in the sun and away from the smoke. Women still in church clothes. .
I served with her brother. Taking her cues from Garth they waited until everyone was in the house before rising. A woman in the doorway waited for their approach then disappeared into the house. a clear drink with bubbles running up the side. In the slow procession she thought of a possible police ambush. Inside the formal dining room the Sunday table ran into the adjoining room and eager relatives sat and with growing elbow friction. A sweaty silver glass tumbler was handed him discretely. With a lowing sound the assembled made their way to the house.He shook his head with firmness to his jaw she had not seen before. “This is Mary.” From the head of the table came a strong voice and all eyes turned to Garth and grandma. it is good to see you again. He was my only friend in …” His voice trailed off. he sipped. waiting.114 - . After more waiting Mary recognized the ring of a china bell. Here he comes. . “Garth. my first born grandchild. Mary could hear the hot voices inside whispering. Here she comes. Here he comes. the idea of going back to being Rachel and prison offered the possibility of escaping the web she now faced.
“Welcome to our home.” Grandma spoke. Sharing the head of the table an ancient couple, he in a wheelchair and unresponsive except for a mouth chewing, and grandma with rouged cheeks, lips painted on over skin and a gray wig that did not shrink as grandma did, styled thirty years out of date which she wore like a crown. Mary curtsied as she had been taught when they were trying to break her spirit in Hebrew school. The old lady was impressed by the gesture. “We are sorry for your loss.” “Thank you.” “Garth speaks often of your brother as a friend. Mary is an unusual name for one of you.” “I changed it to be more American.” Grandma’s attention shifted to her husband and the attendant feeding him. The old lady’s curt disdain was a form of approval. It was in the genes of all off them, Garth could not refuse the summons by the family any more than he could make his own heart stop beating. “Here, have a seat.” A young man pulled her by the elbow to the seat saved for her. Garth sprawled on a
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couch; she could see him in the adjoining room. It seemed everyone was familiar and comfortable with each other. The table of family seated more people than she could believe to be all related. How could a family stretch out like this? “Good old Uncle Garth.” The young man at her side said, alcohol strong on his breath. “We were nervous he was coming. We’ve learned not to try to tempt him with solid food. Years ago he traumatized some of the younger ones throwing up blood all over the table. He seems to have things under control now.” “He drinks four six packs a day.” Mary offered. She had not made a study of it, it was his routine, 6 for breakfast, 6 for lunch, 6 on the mower and six to go to sleep with, she noticed but did not judge. “He’s in control now.” There was admiration in his voice. In the next room, in the home where he was raised, his corpse like demeanor on the couch shifted. He could not stop hearing the talk and laughter, his name repeated. He hated that the most, Garth who disappointed us, he is not well, the war- you know, our family secret, the entire history just in the utterance of his name.
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When he opened his eyes he was with his family, when he closed them again he was back in the war. Every memory of the war drained back to one moment. The entire family looked over at the thud, poor Garth rolled from the couch and after beating his head on the floor tore out of the room. The men roared with laughter while women comforted frightened children. Mary had to pull away from her table mate. “He’ll be all right.” Garth’s protégé slurred. She followed Garth outside. He struggled to run and she watched him fall in the driveway. “Let’s go home.” She said helping him up. He had hurt himself and leaned on her, his nose pressed against her cheek after the first few steps. “Stand.” She stopped walking and stood him right. “You don’t look like your brother, like Aaron.” The glass of gin with a splash of tonic had upset his routine. Despite the continuous drinking she observed for months he was now drunk for the first time as far as Mary could tell. Suddenly he was talkative. “He was tall.” With one hand he indicated Aaron’s height accurately. “He topped out at six-three. I favor my mother.” Mary said.
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“That’s right.” He paused, a thought had been triggered that he did not care to share. Then, “How are your father and mother?” “I don’t know. I haven’t seen them in a while. They are a strong couple, I hope they’re well.” “That was a trap back there, a set up. I haven’t set down at their table in years.” He was issuing spit with his words, his speech was suddenly impassioned. “I handed you right to them. They were out to get us both and I handed you to them.” “They’re your family. They’re not the enemy.” “They are my enemy. I liked your family.” He could not disguise the hunger in his voice. “When was the last time you went back home to see them?” She could see he was not with her and asked, “When was the last time you were in Pennsylvania?” He could not remember and only shook his head. “Your father talked to me. He told me to do what I thought was right. Your mother was also very nice.” She wondered the source of the peaceful and faraway look. They walked for a few more minutes before Garth snapped. “My beers, I left my beers.”
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“Forget about it. You have more at home.” “I’m going back.” The sharp stones in the gravel were wearing out her feet. “Then I’ll see you at home.” “No. Come with me, please. If I go back alone they’ll ask me about you and then they’ll talk about you.” “Stay away from them. Your family is just like mine. They have no heart; the heart was cut out of them a long time ago. They just want you to go on like them, heartless.” She resumed walking. “Don’t say that. Your mom seemed awful nice.” Awkwardly he caught up to her. “You don’t know anything about my mother or me or my father. Maybe you knew my brother for a couple of months in the Army but what does that mean? The war is over and no one can take anything back.” “Why did you come here, anyway?” “I don’t know I was just living on the road and this seemed like a place to go.” She walked faster now not able to look in his terrible afflicted eyes and lie at the same time. “When I ran away from home I told my parents I hated the war, I hated America and I hated them. Now
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120 - . you can’t cut them off.” He seemed to accept it or did not care to question further what he heard. Before it’s too late and one of them.” Had she said too much? She wondered. that’s your momma and daddy.” “Why. “And I am a radical revolutionary. I have a past and that’s one place the police would be waiting for me.” For the first time he walked by her side. you know. “Grandpa can drink the beer.after so many years crossing the country I miss them and I thought you might have kept in touch with them.” “I wish I could go back that easy but I can’t. Rachel had not caught a wisp of cultural deviation in years. . You got to go back. is dead. the girl can give it to him.” “A dope dealer and what?” Long hair no longer meant anything.” She added. “I robbed a bank for money to feed starving babies in the ghetto. little missy. “What did you do?” “I was a dope dealer. You don’t want to wait too long.
But you shouldn’t go robbing banks. Someone is not going to be happy with you. he was so impressed. I got everything I want right here. But everybody knows me around here. It’s tempting though. You were a bank robber. But I don’t think about it anymore.” . The memory overwhelmed the reality of sun drenched noon and the accursed road home.” “Oh.” “You have to wear a ski mask. “It meant a lot to me having turkey with your family. So now I know.” “My father made a turkey for Passover that year. That makes sense. Not like what I had to face here. “I killed eighty men and when I got home the town turned out.” The gin he drank in the house seemed to clear the way.” His hand rested on her shoulder in a spidery way that made her blood run cold as never before in her life. isn’t it? I thought about robbing my family’s bank many times. And just to think when last I saw you you were a little girl.121 - . Course I don’t have your problem. killing people or robbing cousin Jeff’s bank and taking off. He recognized Rachel with depth. The memory of the time with Aaron’s family was once precious to him. That was real Thanksgiving.” “Whoa. I’d probably blow it at the dog track. Killed by me.“A policeman was killed.
“Your brother sure loved the Colonel’s coleslaw.122 - . outlived by a baby brother. goes down smooth. Rachel could see by his sudden change.” It was a timeless beer ad. energy without direction surfaced.” Rachel felt the wonder of time passing effortlessly for others while she sweated like a rat trapped in a sewer underground. would she recognize her brother or he recognize her? She could not recognize herself since the day when she saw the FBI with guns drawn approach her apartment. the oldest. the evidence that a few years back.” Beer.” Rachel said and both laughed a little. before he got drinking down to a routine. I believe I’ll have another brew. his addiction supplied his sustenance and was also a source of entertainment as he sang another. “What’s the rush? I’m late for a date with a taste that’s true. “Master blended. “Older than Aaron was. Garth startled her as he sang a tune. “My brother is almost thirty now.” The time must pass easiest for Aaron. Rachel discovered she too knew the tune well enough to hum along. . Like flag and country beer offered a culture and community. “It was coming out his nose.” There he paused.
later as a recluse he fancied himself a scrap aluminum speculator hoarding empty cans. He thought about the ages of his life.Garth must have been an out of control drunk. “Don’t go away. Mary resumed her cross legged pose on the picnic table and picked up her thickly bound book. then blackouts and hospitalizations. a link to . He did not know what he was going to say.” From a matching library of public domain books covering one wall in the house. From his apartment she could hear crashing and curses.” The familiar poing-poing sound of his feet on the steps was rushed. The first years back from the war were filled with days and nights of wild drinking. The family was not willing to examine his condition and accepted him as a shut in like his mother. The first years were when he still socialized and was a barroom buffoon. For the moment his passion was about brand loyalty. What he had in his hand he dredged from the muck at the back of the freezer in his broken refrigerator. A tower of crushed beer cans must have collapsed. I got to show you something.123 - . His descent on the steps was slow and hesitant. challenges and fights with strangers. “Crime and Punishment.
124 - . Then I wrapped him in some plastic and stuck him down in my pocket. “I policed the clearing and put every little bit of him in the body bag to be sent home for burial.” Without effect or emotion she studied what was in the bag. I wanted to turn it over to your parents that day but after carrying it for a year I could not let it go. “Here.the past in a plastic bag. Returning home alive he tried to carry out the promises and then had to continue living. “It’s his. He wanted to preserve the memory of Aaron being strong and protective coming from a perfect family as Garth imagined. It was one of a sack full of promises he made should he live. Had she ever noticed her brother’s hand? Was there anything to distinguish the single trimmed but discolored fingernail she was examining? All the religious .” He thrust it between her face and the book.” He had gentlemanly reverence for Aaron as a big brother of a sister. It was the end of a little finger. The sniper shot it off and I retrieved it. I held this in my hand for days like he was still alive and we would stay alive so long as I held him. I don’t think I looked at him since that day. where an ill looking greenishblack residue in a corner containing remains. a complete nail and a small bone.
” He sweated like he was back in the jungle and mopped his face with an unpleasant looking rag. The sniper picked him apart. That is why she hardly cared that she had been turned over to Neo Nazi’s by her so called friends for a living target. it was always the afternoon and long night of that first day in combat. time stopped. The tar at . The morning sun came up like a red knife and the sniper slipped off. He never got past the first day in country. one more failing added to the others he promised in exchange for his life. Damn. The bugs and critters were already at him. she had to respect that.125 - . Montana flew the Nazi flag however in New York and Pennsylvania they were secretly Nazis.edicts she had learned regarding the dead as unclean were dismissed as she felt the bone through the plastic. The same was true for her too. They were not doing her a favor it was a way to make money. Nazi’s in their hearts. Until now he was unsure if he could be a stand in big brother. Mary could see that he was still in Vietnam. I waited undercover. Now he remembered one last thing he felt unable to do. She could not be disappointed by criminals betraying her. “That’s what the war was all about.
Instead of him dying. Marksman. Fuck-Up. “Clean off after he was already dead. I gathered him up real careful. That was the worst day of my life. Out there I felt like I had the winged angel of death protecting me. My entire life . that’s who I was in the Army.the bottom of the bag had once been skin and blood of her bright and ambitious big brother. the smaller guy with the lighter end. I should be dead. In the morning I didn’t want any part of him staying on that damn ground. He wanted to be the first one to set foot in a combat zone. For his book. It was a nail and it was human.” The curve of the nail. He jumped first. a marked man. I carried him inside the wire then put him on a jeep. I let him. on your brother. My end of the gun.126 - . It didn’t matter what I did in the field and in combat. “I meant to give it to your dad. it was her brother’s. It must have hurt coming off. being dead he would not miss it. The bastard had me pinned and took practice on Aaron. she thought. Specialist. “How?” Garth shook his head. I was a fuck-up from that day on. I should be dead. is supposed to come out first. I even remember throwing that finger and two others in the bag with him. We were a team on the heavy gun. I came back without my buddy. If I killed a thousand gooks I still couldn’t shake that name.
growing up on the river hunting and fishing prepared me. it must a fell out of the bag. Not to kill less but to kill more. It was all so stupid.” He paused. This makes it real.127 - . somehow. It was a crazy comfort to me.” She cupped it in her hands. The freezer was working then but I don’t think it mattered after a year in my pocket in the jungle. But I lost my buddy. I wasted my life but at least now I have this. no matter how many of them I killed. This thing. “It was in the bottom of the jeep.” She deliberated on the possibility of a wasted life. Those civilian eyes begging for mercy were like fish eyes to me.” “You’re right. It protected me. You were in war and I was fighting at home. All of it. How else can we let people know that killing is wrong?” The only of her victims she saw in person were the Nazi boys at odd angles in their car in the yellow smoke. It was what let the angel of death pass over me. Their half assed irregular army was to me like hunting rabbits. “Maybe the answer is not to stop killing. She brought it near her face. already dead. I never looked at it again and when I came here I threw it in the freezer. this part that is real. “I feel connected. I knew it wasn’t a good omen but I kept it anyway. Since then she frequently dreamed of herself being . I couldn’t bring him back. That brings him back to me.
The executioner and some unseen crowd seemed to think it a terrifying death but she looked forward to it and always woke from one of those dreams with a feeling of satisfaction. That’s what I should have done in the first place. if it’s not too late. they wouldn’t.” “If you go and see my parents you won’t be able to tell them you saw me or they might turn you over to the FBI.” “No. classic middle class. They rely on the police. I’m sure the FBI talked to them and threatened them to report whatever they know. that’s your parents you’re talking about. The government kills thousands representing the American people. “No.” “Yes. No more killing.” .128 - . The government executioner came and crammed her into a small space like that car but with many other bodies like the boys.” “My parents are store owners. Or they’ll do to them what they did to the Rosenbergs.” “Maybe I could still give it to your dad. we have to hold a mirror up.executed. We’re American people and we can make a statement by killing thousands on our own.
that was who I could talk to. But After reeling it further back in his head he could see himself in a mirror practicing his salute. clean shaven. the whole camp hated me. “Why do you drink so much?” He looked as if a car was about to hit him.129 - . You’d topple over with a gun in your hand. “To get shit faced. “We used to get drunk every night they let us out. I’d feel great and I could still take on the world the next morning. I could part the gooks’ hair. Cases stacked up by walls near every building. No one was talking to me. I never shook back then. After I got to Nam I really started drinking. the bar bottles. Aaron too.” He clowned but could not break the solemn moment. we were real men back then. lonely bottles rolling in the wet street the next morning. an alert soldier. the long necks.” “When my brother wrote that you and him went out did you get drunk then?” “Sure.” He said reliving his barroom days when he had a filthy joke about everything. I must of. I was a dead eye. A shot then five or six tall boys. . muscular. twenty years old. did you? You’re just a little bitty thing. lean.“You didn’t really rob a bank. clear eyed. John Waynes. They were everywhere in Saigon.
He was a fish with a big hook through his mental lip. Rachel’s weapons were chosen after the destruction shown nightly in her home. When the letter came for her brother. They had come for one brother which left another brother at home she had to protect. blast away some irregulars during the day suck up the beer and fuck their sisters at night. she never felt any way about that but was saddened and felt pity over his discomfort. was her ceaseless thirst for revenge a Jewish thing? She could never understand how in Germany a soldier could come to the house and shepherd her family to a gas shower and death. and they went off together to kill Asian communist.” He had lost everything and still held on to a culture which viewed women as the delicate flowers of society. Her brother wanted to be like their Christian neighbors. like the US government’s napalm. . like Garth. Cunt Shit Dick Fuck Bastard Ass.130 - . “Oops. despite his pride in wearing the uniform. she chose fire. A letter came to the house and as a result her brother is dead. Had her life been any different? She wondered. it was the same thing.That was the routine.
People were still golfing as the winter approached and he mowed in a coat. It went to the bottom of a tablecloth drawer next to some old prayer books and the surviving children were told by father not to touch it. It was one more thing that kept her away from her parents. It was years after that she realized Aaron was buried as soon as he arrived. It was done in the morning on a school day without her. She earned enough to live quietly as Garth’s neighbor. He never looked well physically and was clearly not all there when someone spoke to him but he was near enough. She understood what it meant when Garth told her . The dishwasher received an unexpected gift of a bottle of rye fell asleep drunk early the day before Christmas. Chapter 8 Garth had found a harmony on the river. this is war. he was proof everything the body needs to live is in beer. The tiny tourist cabin he rented year round burned to the ground on Christmas Eve. A dishwasher meant nothing to her. He did not run over hoses and never once fell from the mower. Mary could get a few hours washing dishes when the regular dish washer was out drunk.The soldiers who had come to the store that day left a folded flag in a box for display.131 - .
cigarettes and several packs of matches. She wore a typical long skirt . She cashed her check at the bank Garth’s family owned and shopped at his uncle’s Independent Mart where except for the fresh pork it was all over priced canned goods and rotten vegetables. Also places were made upstairs to hide the kitchen equipment she was stealing from the restaurant for a new and better lab in the master bathroom of the old house. the greeting cards.he had killed eighty soldiers and maybe twice that many civilians. and she carried only cash.132 - . Alone in the old house she fashioned things out of wire and lath. At last she could work with the greater safety and the dignity of standing. She bought small quantities and then reduced them or distilled from them. After a year and a half she again felt the distinction of putting the stamps on graduation cards to the sons of several corporate executives. Money accumulated and it had to be hidden. Her new PO Boxes where under three different names in three states. Outside Garth was mowing in anticipation of the Forth. her handbag had been emptied of identification. Breathing life once more she made arrangements to travel to yet another city to dispatch her wishes.
She was always a person who despised waste and inefficiency. She had intentionally not bathed in preparation for this journey. especially the rear. her heavy sweater was long and faded yellow. her business could be back just like the old days. The cards delivered at intervals but to targets which are almost invisible plus no one predicted her to be mailing from a new region of the country. it needed washing. The next time they sat outside together in view of the old Mustang she might bring it up. Garth in a sleeveless athletic shirt was cause for a shudder. Unwitting for his own protection. Now she was always shivering even if it was at the thought of cold. It was important to drop one device a month. . A country boy like Garth could never understand the revolution. In New York under the stairs was warmed by open pipes in her living area.that she might have worn to work. her hair was lusterless and hung flat down her chest and back. She had reached the time in life when she was always cold. But it would be possible only with Garth’s unwitting help.133 - . she doubted he would ever know anything. It seemed that if Garth had a car he could help her on the far flung errands required in the tri state area.
and hairdo height.It was part of her determination to seem normal by blending in and getting along with the old woman who dominated the family. Grandma instructed them. the sister-in-laws also contended for a place in grandma’s heart and by extension they competed in their efforts to clean and refurnish the first floor rooms of the old house. As Mary she became the pleasant hippie girl once more. Like the competition over children. there after young married women. it might be shown that the way grandma raised Garth’s mother. Cautiously the old lady opened the bounty of her family. girl cousins and sister in laws were competing on every level with each other to express Christian love and generosity to Mary like any other sisterin-law. Some distilling equipment they discovered went recognized as odd and attributed to the legends of the old . Summer on the Mississippi with a southern farmer in the White House was a wonderful time and place to be a hippie. husband’s salaries. Grandma had a special pity for Garth. the sisters.134 - . The girls crawled all over the old place to the extent that Mary feared exposure. around a speakeasy and a whore house made her into a wild woman who went to California. The Carter years were the calm between the storms.
135 - . The one time she put mustard on her grits the way she would in a New York deli drew so many stares she could not sleep that night thinking she was hearing police. Mary learned a lot from the sister-in-laws. that mysterious and desiccated flower of the Old South. They circled like sharks to learn more of her. The cooking gave her something to do and not the whiff of a blintz or potato pancake ever left her kitchen since any attention would draw police. but they were easy on her as they understood and shared her loss. Mary became an avid student learning her new identity. Perhaps a blessing for her son. But the condition was understood that she be there for Garth. Aaron’s death in a lost war made Mary part of the fabric of strong women who kept alive southern culture. nursing her gave Garth something to do to help him settle down after he first returned. Mary Miller could not hide her skeletal history. Being a thoroughly supportive southern woman was a fine place to hide.days during prohibition and the old lady who last lived here. a favorite son. . The war was so devastating on his nerves when Garth got home that he also had a regular room at the VA Hospital.
It took buying a car to make Rachel feel like an exploitative American whose lifestyle dripped with the blood of third world people. One sister’s husband was a mattress salesman and had delivered a lightly used demonstrator model from the family store.The downstairs could accommodate all the stained sofa sets and distressed coffee tables the sisters sent over and the formal dining area was now lined with chairs. she thought. Having been a New Yorker she grew into adulthood with a foaming fear of owning a car or driving. an expression she once used freely on others. This was a compromise but living and waging a war of resistance against America while hiding in rural America was made more efficient by using a car. Not paying rent made a car easy to afford in Kentucky. the very device that was causing all the destruction and was so easy to avoid while living in the city. and a cigar smelling wing chair with a wine stained matching settee. A baby grand piano was sent and left by the movers covered with a waterproof tarp. She pulled up the string in the wall which was weighed down by a second wad of cash the size of a roll of . Surprisingly cheap. to enter into the beast itself. wobbly and mismatched with springs obscenely sagging out the bottoms.136 - .
this became the moment when she would have to involve him. So if I pay for a car would you pick one out and drive me maybe once a week?” Oblivious Garth became half of a couple who made the rounds of the small cities on the river. blew the old spider shedding away and untied the string. You know what I mean.137 - . She bought fabric one place and had her glasses adjusted. . She was still trying to get the plaster dust off the money when she handed it to Garth. followed by a visit to the post office. Near Nashville they found several beer gardens enough so they never became regulars anywhere. She brought the twin wads of cash up from between the walls. “I don’t know how to drive and I need to go to town to get stuff. The thought was repugnant.toilet paper. lady stuff. Exploring possible ways to begin a conversation to manipulate him a variety of avenues of thought opened in her mind. In one town she could buy a hamburger and he could drink Iron City on tap. She was past thirty and for the first time using sex to influence a man occurred to her. The thought was also liberating but only after she put it down.
As she got to know the children over the years little girls grew into young women and for some of them she made exquisite bridal gowns.138 - . Children grew and adults aged before her eyes. simple. She always knew how to make dresses as her mother taught her. she was endlessly grateful. both were sure Mary and her talents were sent by Jesus. no father and her mother was blind but they scratched a living from a patch of black land. beautiful but modest. Rachel made a wedding dress she considered tasteful. . Every so often on beautiful summer days the new bride dropped off fresh fruits and greens and over time she was in the various stages of pregnancy and with the years she was draped with babies. modest and modern American for a girl who lived in hundred year old shed. All the children were poor but some looked especially shabby. They were living so fast while Rachel waited so long. Not like her mother’s gowns which were made for a woman so attention hungry she might as well be naked. Mary said she thought helping others was the only way to heaven.To cover for her purchases Mary made dresses for the little girls who played nearby. Her mother’s taste forever affected by the depravity of prewar Europe. not at all the sort of over articulated peek-a-boo dress that held the woman on display.
A place she had never experienced before. God or the third eye within her mind. The woman’s gratitude made Rachel’s heart swell with a sense of breathless flight. Until that instant for her the divine order of things followed Marxist analysis and nothing greater.” Shouted the blind mother in a firm voice. . Despite numerous LSD trips this was a feeling previously unknown to her. America finally was ready to surrender and change. for her to announce herself and make a stand? All of this support and encouragement must mean popular support for the party program. Hearing the word shouted and knowing its ancient origin. Feeling she was no longer a single radical revolutionary in a wilderness but one of many who were hammering away at the Colossus. “Hallelujah!” Rachel entered the spiritual and religious realm of her mind. She said something to Mary but Mary was suddenly in a distant realm. Her thoughts were confused. she wondered if the time was for her to take the next step. It was like being drawn into a river of life. rough and tender her name echoed forever. Marx now suddenly seemed like a boy in a sand box making up rules and titles.139 - . A region previously undisturbed opened to her. Ruchel.“Hallelujah.
Still wanting an apology from the US . She had mailed a birthday wish and was taking pictures of the city’s large oil and gas storage tanks as alternate targets for the coming winter. Waiting then was the third. In this way the United States as an occupying power would be under internal siege as it is struck in many places at once by a single revolutionary. ones who Garth introduced her to knew that her brother was Aaron. The desire for publicity passed as she remembered the FBI outside her old building. Hiding in the open validated her interpretation of Mao and Ho for fighting effectively in isolation. And the other people. But she was not an enemy of the same country that destroyed southern culture. Instead of an apology from the government they still wanted to throw her in jail and if she went to jail or not she knew she would always feel hurt and insulted.Now she was leading an army and not merely in a car with a map giving Garth directions driving around Nashville. The People will feed the Revolutionary. to announce her program of resistance and clarify her response to the country who she blamed for his death. with that she already had their sympathy. that along with poverty and a list of ills. the man Garth accused himself of killing. final and logical step.140 - .
A colorful fire consumed her flash paper like a fuse and the rest of her material went up in an explosion that was impossible to miss. Chapter 9 It was a hot hazy night when Mary quit her cooking to let things dry for the next step in processing. fear of arrest motivated her more than fear of exposure to . She faced the woods and did not see the glow in the bathroom window.141 - . The water from the garden hose did not reach the second floor and frantically she ran into the house and up to the burning bathroom. The most flammable stuff and poisons were both stored in open shelves meant for towels. With buckets of sand and running water the new facility had more safety features than the old but there was nothing that could be done about the local humidity which affected drying times and other minutiae of the bomb maker’s art. Mary relaxed by doing yoga on the relatively dry surface of the picnic table.government while not trusting anything any government might say. Fighting the fire she was more afraid of having to explain all of these dangerous chemicals to a fire marshal.
She dumped the water on the flames then beat down the structure with the empty bucket and dumped sand across the embers on the bottom of the tub.142 - . it was an act of God or she had done it to herself. The ceiling was scorched but it was finally out. She was losing the grasp she had on her original rationale for targeting the servants of greatness instead of the great individuals. The drying rack in the bathtub was roaring. Since resuming her armed struggle she had mailed three cards and set two fires. Years of work and a fortune in chemicals were gone. There was no one she could blame. Her fate was like other domestic terrorist who worked steadily for years and are virtually ignored. Why had this happened? She ran a finger down the ingredient list and looked at the labels. She remembered the Israelis murdered at the Olympics and was jealous at the around the clock concern of the world.those chemicals and the toxic fumes should they burn. Christmas was coming again which meant individuals as well as institutions would have their guards down. Obscure targets meant safety and safety meant a long time operating but after more than ten years she wanted something other than what she wanted when she started. Revenge had now coupled with .
but one where they would not bump into any of his relatives. “You never mentioned a word. Garth had never heard that command before. A nearby town. With two six packs on the seat between them he was driving to the only place he felt at home since the war. she suggested. They drove away from the river and north through the valley. The Green family had escaped the mines.143 - . it just dissipated in the sky but everything was ruined. “Did I ever tell you about how I met your brother in the Army?” “No. That night after the fire she wanted Garth to drive somewhere for ice cream. Like stories he heard stories as a child of how hard the family once had it in the mines. not meeting a Green in the town of Green was impossible. The smoke was not spotted.it a desire for respect.” She was wide eyed. She wanted to hear some expression from a jury of her peers that her efforts were worthy. They would have to leave this corner of Kentucky to avoid his family.” .
If you never held a gun until today you are just lucky I’m lying over here.” The stiff neck rebel boy in every Southern gentleman came out. Aaron was impressed by the family’s golf course and Garth’s job from the age of eight.Chapter 10 On the first day of training you will get a bunk and bunk mates on either side.” Aaron snapped back. “I don’t know. It is a sure bet that one of the two will become your best friend in the Army. “No wonder it was so hard for you Yankees to put us down. shooting crows and other creatures who would mess the place.144 - . Aaron admitted he never touched a gun before.” “Okay. “but my kills are my own. Get yourself a buddy.” .” Aaron answered enthusiastically. “Pennsylvania was a half Rebel state. If you want to make it through the Army you will need a buddy. read your history.
“I went to the Greek church when my friend’s family invited me to one of their weddings. Something Garth later tortured himself with is the thought that had he known about Aaron they would never have been buddies. Everyone at that stage of training was getting that way. I am a Jew. Garth preferred sex to death.” “What?” It took time for a message like that to sink in after mind numbing days of running. Garth learned when he asked Aaron if he was going to early or late church. If he were to pick death it would be the one that had something to do with the hero of the story. listening to orders and snapping salutes. Often at night Aaron talked out loud about what he would do to the enemy. “I was to church one time in my life. Garth who had carried little creatures to the fire pit tried not to think about that. Garth had asked because after a week of looking forward to church he did not know what church would be like.145 - . exercise. he .Now with a buddy the Army process of breaking down the individual began.” Aaron’s answer was like a cocked fist. When Aaron read James Bond half the barrack listened. standing at attention. Twisting the knife in someone’s belly is easy to say. He knew he did not want to pray with coloreds.
It was no bullshit. Oxbloods replaced his damp and dirty sneakers. A few had traveled the world. After families went to church Garth changed into his caddy outfit. Garth considered himself a gentleman back home and was always proper with girls. Sunday was Garth’s favorite day when the entire family was together and the golf season was in full swing. he never talked to them in school but after church he talked to them. some of the golfers were interesting. Now his buddy was suddenly a Jew. He learned after a bad experience not to mention that he had the job of killing for the golf course. With his grandparents beside him he might shake a girl’s gloved hand. When they asked about him Garth only said he went to school. At parties with a couple of cheer leaders he said everyone on the team was getting it.146 - . Aaron was relaxed about sex. if he touched one she might break. He also learned quickly not to mention his .wanted a nice quiet church with a sermon he could use in the Army. The course had work for everyone. He was sure he and Garth would soon be getting some. Garth was sure his buddy Aaron had done it. Garth wore a white shirt and tie that was dug out of grandpa’s closet. he was afraid of them.
Naturally it followed by early spring a noticeable foulness to the air out on the links.family owns the place. or a toy pistol gun belt set. Later that Christmas day he was shooting pest birds. to the quiet go the tips. When Garth heard about it he was proud and told everyone it was his deer. The image of himself as a soldier straightened his spine like a reflex. “You’ll earn you’re stripes fast in combat. Crows formed circles on the greens and a buzzard had been seen in the trees over the 9th hole. the moment they saw that hairless pistol between fat writhing baby legs his future was known. Word finally reached Garth’s town that the country was in a shooting war in Vietnam. Under the tree there was always a bee-bee rifle. The family gathered for Christmas dinner and grandmother’s cakes and pies. A ball hit wild scared a grizzly pair who flew from rotten meat they were eating in the rough.” his grandfather told him. Every man in Garth’s family served. Like Jesus says. it had been . That he would someday be in the Army was a point of pride from infancy. until he got his first real rifle at 8. With a real weapon came his first real job for the family. The men got out there and they found the remains of a small deer.147 - .
His uncle pulled up with a backhoe and dug a fire pit deep in the woods. Aaron knotted the tie for Garth. He left a can of kerosene before he waved and drove off. except the part about being arrested by the military police.148 - .” “So can I.” “I can hold my liquor. Suddenly Garth’s joy had become a chore.eating the shrubbery. “I can drink. Following that Garth was put on more personal terms with the pests he managed. I could never be depressed around your brother. too.” “I can drink. Didn’t you ever bring girls out on that golf course? Was all Aaron wanted to know. They planned to do everything they were told not to do in the lecture hall.” . Like the rest of life. They were planning first to go where Aaron overheard a couple of corporals saying that there were whores. After weeks of training the entire company got their first pass off the base.
149 - . We could buy something. The boys shuffled around until the first beer was gone and then got on a line to purchase another.” Aaron said. MPs scanned the men in line. The bar had no seats. The line of men in front of the whorehouse was long with a lot of familiar faces from the company in it. . grabbing beers and walking away. “There are stores. They stopped along the way for another beer. There were bars open across the street from the line. only poles and men in line. “We found it. Garth would be ashamed to be seen in a line like that. It was not at all what he had imagined. He pushed through the crowd and Garth followed. “Let’s get out of here. “We’re drinking and it’s only 10:30 in the morning.As soon as they got off the bus they saw the MPs. The closer to the address of the whorehouse the more MP’s they saw. Inside the bar was crowded with soldiers handing over dollar bills in exchange for cans of beer.” Said Aaron.” Garth raised the beer to his lips.” Aaron yelled a fresh can in his hand. “Cheers. On the street an MP eye balled them then gave a wag of his club as a warning.” They walked several blocks before they got to the end of the men in the line for whores. opening his can.
They went whoring again another time when it was less crowded. “if I want to go in that place. These girls were more to him than hair color and tit size. he worshipped them. Garth liked it so well he grew attached to certain whores. “They’re soldiers like us. inside they joined twenty other soldiers sprawled across seats. Certainly Garth was not saving it for someone special or for marriage he just was nervous about his first time. He tried to explain to Aaron how each one was different but Aaron did not seem to understand. most of them asleep.150 - . Eventually they walked up to a ticket counter for a movie theatre. What’s the difference?” “What if she’s mule ugly too? That plus all those other guys? Come on?” Together they staggered into another bar. After all those men been sloppin’ around?” He said with distinct revulsion and shook his head.” Garth admitted. That evening a pair of MPs woke everyone up for the last bus back to camp.“I don’t know. Garth was forever grateful that Aaron did not pressure him about the whores. Sometimes when he wasn’t around one he would have jealous fantasies. He did not tell one favorite whore about another. On the ride back to .
“My dick’s on fire!” In twenty years since the end of World War 2 Garth presented one of the worst cases of an individual hosting various venereal diseases. being inside of a woman was all that mattered. No bank account or object compared with the feeling he got when he was with his ladies.” He cried. it was not the brig that scared him. They carried Garth out.151 - . “Don’t you want to save your money for something else?” Aaron asked him. He grinned in expectation first and then because he did not understand how Aaron held onto cash when he could be getting pussy. . The doctors shook their heads at what level of pain he must have endured. Garth only put on a big grin for a reply. “I’m pissing fire. he feared not being able to have his girls. It reverberated through the camp and OD’s came running. The psychiatrist came and discovered he lived with pain not in fear of military discipline and confinement.camp Aaron talked about other things and Garth tuned out. That money could buy it was the reason to spend money. One night there was a scream from the latrine.
2Biblical recitations. A corporal who saw him doing it stood up as witnesses. 1. Without whoring only one vice is left to a soldier. As a public health risk this case presented a challenge to the doctors who ordered Garth sleep in the infirmary for a month.152 - . He was a ranger as he conquered each of the Six Peaks of Drunkenness. Garth now spent all his free time drinking.Family Battle History – his was extraordinary even for a Southerner. On a 48 hour pass he could get drunk five times. “If you return you will be dishonorably discharged. 4-Morbid Fascination . it gave him the will power to cut out the women. 6.his list was often incoherent and punctuated by puking.” Knowing that getting caught again would land him out of the service and that would shadow him the rest of his life. Public Health hand cards were printed for MP’s to distribute to the town’s pimps and whores with Garth’s picture on it. 3. Garth drank in the great imbibing tradition of military drunks.Guilt. The doctors told him.The Celebration of Life. What made Garth . reenlistment or returning to camp.Resignation to Fate – when what was the worst choice becomes recognized as the only choice. 5.The unwritten rule for Army doctors is to let the first time slide with a stern warning otherwise the Army would have no men.
Mary was accepting hers.153 - .exceptional is instead of returning to camp he would regain consciousness for more of the same military drinking. Aaron’s eyes fixed on the choice strippers. They took up the bottle of defeat. Southern boys had been raised on a tradition grown out of defeat. She long understood the significance of the defeat before she could accept it for herself. Talking about how drunk someone had been was an enlisted man’s main off duty activity while on base. Her war too was over and lost. even the boys who went to . Chapter11 Hearing the story Mary understood. Aaron was the first of many witnesses attesting to Garth’s capacity to get shitfaced. Aaron on the other hand paced his drinks and was not aware of what Garth was going through and the personal meaning of his friend’s recitations. That Garth was telling about how many Yankees were taken out by one great great-great-grandfather at Shiloh did not puncture the surface of his buddy’s awareness. From a time when they saw the flags of their Confederacy in the dust an order was passed while a torch was extinguished.
disappeared from our lives over ten years ago.” . he was bent like a U.” It touched Garth how happy Mrs. Garth had gotten off the highway where she told him so the license plate would not be photographed and without stopping Rachel was back in a car trunk.154 - .Canada to avoid the draft had been allowed to go back home.” Mrs. “We had a radio with a tall antenna and listened to music. The ride grew bumpy and she could smell pasture and manure. Miller broke in with a song. make-up did not hide it and she lost her dignity in the struggle to look young. “I don’t know if you know but Rachel. our light. Max carried a weight on his mind and body. Were both her parents alive? How tall had her brother grown? Was mother as crazy as ever? She could imagine how her father might look and her mother did not matter since she never saw her real face. The longest time was spent in the stillness during the visit. In the doorway she still had that movie star glow but inside it was clear she had aged. Miller was to see him. “Look who is here.
” .155 - .” Garth had caught Max’s eye and said in the lowest voice possible. They formed gangs and they joined the Nazis. Garth nodded. “Mr. Then too there were fine men like you and who like you who did not know what to do. You have to sit down and do something. isn’t she?” Max softly suggested.” Both men sat “Do you have a skill or trade? What do you know how to do?” Garth looked into his soul for the first thing. why do you come to me like this? But I know why because I remember when I was a boy after the Big War. his firm silence assured Max that Rachel was all right.“Rachel is all right. Miller. Max shuddered to think of her condition seeing his condition. They walked around all day with nothing to do. “I know how to kill. “You know this? You’ve seen her? Then you know?” Max asked with a look and a grunt. what should I do?” “I was just asking myself. Max came so close that Garth was startled. “She’s a little crazy.
“Ach.” Mr.” That was all he thought about and had sculpted it in his mind over the last dozen years.” Max nodded piously. It was the place he imagined himself mowing. It would make him a hero because the family would prosper again. “Are you charging enough?” “It’s my family. Miller made a noise.” In his pride he repeated a jingle. The two men nodded their heads connected by one thought. maybe?” “I don’t like working with the people. mowing? If we cut out another 9 holes it could bring more public. “Anyone can do that. He took offense. Garth felt like his mind had cracked open and it was wiggling like worms on the coffee table. What else?” “I take care of the greens. “It is prize winning green.” “Are you good at it?” Garth backed up. You know what I dream about when I am up there. . “You need outside customers.156 - .
” Chapter 12 A car door opened. She heard Garth walk around the car get in and open a beer. What’s this? Is he giving someone a ride? Like a distant echo she heard the familiar voice.157 - . I’m supposed to find you before the FBI does. He and Garth spoke briefly until a door slammed.” He paused to drink.’ The FBI was there too but he didn’t give them anything. it wasn’t such a problem. I couldn’t tell him.” His voice spoke and his eyes said. he said. ‘use it to help me find you.“You see. And then another. I don’t want him to go to jail too.” . “Your father brought out these shopping bags of stuff. “What happened?” She asked after a few minutes driving. “I have something for you. “Your mother offered me some of that sweet wine and my stomach did a flip flop. jovial but sad and sweet. we must keep Rachel safe. whatever we do.
Along with two rounded grocery bags covered with newspaper was the familiar case from her childhood for her first violin. This was exclusively the doing of her father and that supported her desire to keep .” Answered the outside person while her hand moved with purpose inside the bag counting how many bundles of bills made one layer across the bag and then with the back of her thumb ticking off the layers. The blood drained as she turned it over in her mind.Rachel could no longer wait and pushed out the car seat and slithered from the trunk. Even with the first of the miles growing and separating them she knew it would break her heart to be stuck in a trunk again. The next time she would see him too. Her name painted on with nail polish of which she had once been so proud. The first shopping bag contained silk flowers and stuffed animals from her old bedroom. Under the dusty newspaper from the other bag revealed cash in bands that her father had marked for the bank but had been stashing secretly for years. should she share this with him? “He sent your old fiddle. Do you still play?” “It’s been years since I put rosin on a bow.158 - . It had been years since she thought of what now seemed a happy time of soothing her father with her music.
“My father sent us money. he wants to help you. Yet wasn’t her mother being kept insulated part of mother’s problem? Had father been setting a bad example allowing mother to live on a delusional pedestal? Garth was not insane. Her instinct told her Garth was incapable of making the correct informed decision. A tragic joke on him.” As if that reminded him Garth added.159 - .” She held up a band of bills. one any Marxist revolutionary would come to. She was the rational one and he was treating life as little more than a joke. A full scale revolution could be fought for years with a resource like this. “Is that what was in that bag? I thought they were sandwiches when I carried it to the car.” “Where is he a lawyer? There must be a million lawyers named Miller. the Cole slaw kid is a lawyer now. Imagine that? A lawyer and I saw him with KFC coming out his nose. “Your little brother. A very typical goy he was likely to spend it all on drink or put it in the bank.” She knew her brother was stupid .this away from Garth.
Aged food was served while describing the furnishings and the details of the life of her family who lived in a world before Hitler.160 - . The people she remembered were wonderful and jolly. “You talked to my mother also?” Never in their years as neighbors had she ever seen him so struggle to gather his thoughts.” He went on to describe how she served him wine and he summarized the stories Eva told while bringing out of the kitchen strange delicacies like stinking meats and nasty cheeses on gold trimmed plates. Her family had a privileged life. “He comes Friday.” Rachel said with irritation at all the things now small which were once so significant. Her anger included Garth who probably heard her brother say Shabbat often enough but Garth would not dare say it himself. many had candy and some came with gifts.and was sure if he was a lawyer he must be a law and order Republican reactionary. your mother said. “Your mother wore a white dress. her hair was off her neck. For superstitious reasons or the fear of looking cultured to fellow rednecks the word could not be dragged from his mouth. for shah-bo…?” “The Sabbath. There were pony rides and a children’s house on .
When he came back from Vietnam women were among many things he no longer thought about but Eva was a sharp reminder that he used to desire women although Garth was a gentleman about it. He was back in the car and still licking his lips after all that salted food and he only drunk a little beer while back in the car being debriefed. To his own surprise he said. where they sang until everyone fell asleep and were carried to their rooms. Not only did she possess what made him notice a woman in the first place. foolish. She was his type.a summer estate. “I made a promise to your brother I would not visit a prostitute until after we saw some combat. and childlike woman.161 - .” . her story was like his own. She was like the woman he would have married had he not been a fuck up in the army. We heard you could get a blow job for a quarter in Saigon. He only needed to look at her although he barely understood her. All she cared about was all he wanted a woman to care about before he left for the army. Many cousins gathered around and big fires at night which kept them warm. she did not mind and continued talking. a painted.
“Why are you telling me this?” “I thought you should hear it.” Rachel put on an icy demeanor, “Because I lived on the lower east side of New York, I’ve seen it all. You can’t shock me. Not that with that and not with the stuff about the war my parents told me.” “I never told anyone. He was my best friend and your brother. And he would be alive right now thinking about having sex with women until I killed him. I shoved him out the door into heavy fire. My job was to jump first. He was dead before he hit the ground and I ran. But they dropped us in the wrong spot.” He was yelling over the sound of the helicopter he remembered jumping from. “They dropped us outside the wire. I should be dead, not him. The sergeant forced us to jump, had his hand on his sidearm. We had to jump and I saw it in my mind, the only way it could happen if one of us was to live. If I jumped first I would have to wait for him and we would both die. When he went first it meant one of us would still live. I’m sorry. ” She lit a cigarette and paused, smoking. “Well you are dead. Look at yourself. You were once a golden boy from a prominent family. A privileged white man in white America and look at what you have done with it. You said that the car dealership with your cousin’s name was supposed to
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be yours, right? Now he’s got it because you died. You got lucky. For me, I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to me.” “I never went whoring after Aaron…”
They crossed the bridge leading to their homes on the river in the minutes before dawn. The explosion, fire and grocery bag half filled with money were all forgotten as each crawled off to sleep. “That was fun.” Rachel said but Garth was already clanging up the steps to his place. It seemed like a date back in the old days with Howie and LSD. Garth’s clanging sound as he climbed the iron stairs did not seem to agree. The trauma of this visit and the after effect caused by a bag of money was more disturbing to her life than any brought on by a drug. Cleaning the smoky walls of the bathroom gave Rachel time to think. Money is not an easy gift, it made her want to be slothful and hire the kind of lawyer who could buy her freedom. She also dreamed about chartering a plane or helicopter to recreate a napalm drop back home. It was money enough to buy a small farm and disappear into the woodwork of American life. But she could not do
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it, there was a time she could have but not now. Her name could not appear on single slip of paper. Social Security made America a concentration camp nation.
Her morning meditation on life’s frustration was broken by a strange sound. Her instinctive thought was construction and the flow of traffic outside her window. She had momentarily been in New York. Like being unable to find a light switch in the dark. She shook her head to get her bearings. The sun was behind a strange haze, she had to stay in the shade of trees to look for the sound. She could smell it too. Beyond the back nine she could see patches of light in the woods as trees, shrubs and saplings came down with a shudder. It was Garth on a bulldozer. He was not drinking and operating the machine with care and concern, she had never seen him like that. The wild woods were nicer than the mowed links she thought. Mary stayed out of sight although accepted as a member of the extended family it was assumed they were living in sin. Mary was kept to the kitchen and laundry of
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the Christian golf course. The dozer stopped moving and belched black smoke, Garth chugged a beer before getting down. He came running over the brush and stubble. His enthusiasm was threatening to her. He made broad strokes as he spoke in an uncommon loud voice. “What’s the big deal?” She asked. “Nine more holes will be a big deal.” He spun around with a spark in his eyes. “Twenty seven holes will put us on top again. I got to get back to work; it’s rented by the hour.” He ran back to his dozer. Returning home Mary checked the car. Pressure built in the back of her neck as she tried to decide what to do. She worked to control her breathing telling herself that it was only money and by itself money has no meaning. She fought urges to go next door and tear up Garth’s apartment. Maybe it was some poor person with kids, her attempt to rationalize the loss. Do you know how hard it was for my father to save that money? She remembered his hands bleeding from the strapping around the boxes of jeans. Whoever stole it, I hope it lifts you out of this hell hole, or you drown in the river carrying it.
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Finally she concluded that it was better this way and got up to begin painting out the smoke damage in the bathroom and upstairs hall. With the smooth motion of the roller she thought how if she had not been ripped off there was nothing that the money might have bought to equal the emotion she experienced by its loss. She never wanted to be a big consumer and now there was no longer that risk. Like a good New York Jew who went to Buddhist lectures she seized on this emotion for its purity. She felt her initial response to murder the thief and then to forgive him was healthy. She looked for a similar loss in her life to apply this lesson on forgiveness. “Not Aaron,” she said out loud. Her mind was drawn to the comparison unwillingly, like being dragged into a black hole. Her reaction to the death of her brother was different, completely different. She could see it from afar, her insatiable lust for revenge. Loss of life and robbery of money must be different. Life ends but money moves to the next person. Who else had she forgotten to forgive? The sniper who killed Aaron? It was their country. God? Could God be forgiven for letting her feel the pain of loss? She also blamed Aaron for getting talked into enlisting. She wanted
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you in?” Garth called from downstairs.” “Do you know the money is missing?” Garth appeared at the top of the stairs. we had a talk.167 - .” “Grandma invites you and me for dinner. What was the loss of something soulless like money able to teach her about the loss of a loved one? If she found the robber she would not kill him a thousand times over but would offer forgiveness and an explanation of the robbery in a Marxist light.” . Between the freshly painted ceiling and the drop clothes Mary stood in light. “Hey. He wants me to take care of you and give you the best life I can.” she liked to say calling back. “I hees ya. “I put it in the trunk. “Why didn’t you say anything last night?” “Last night I was thinking about the idea he put in my mind. “Yes’m.” Garth’s hair was plastered down and he smelled of the river but was cleaner than this morning. And she missed him and wanted to share that in a house where it was denied. Your father wants me to use that money.an apology and barely got recognition.
She spent almost ten years in a child’s fantasy remembering a room at a fancy address hidden under dreary steps in a concrete rabbit hutch to which she could never return. Originally in her mind this place was a temporary refuge but she had now been here as long as she lived off Fifth Avenue. He wants it to be better for you so he gave me the money. yet she was still calling New York her home.168 - . Her reasoning to carry on had become forced.“About what?” “He agreed that if I added nine more holes it would bring in more public and then we would do more business all around. These years of hiding and joyless revenge might be read as a touching tribute but it was becoming more difficult. While here on the fertile banks of the Mississippi she still felt rootless.” It now was impossible to imagine ever leaving this spacious home on a bend in the river. . But this place now had her father’s blessing. she had been reluctant to think in terms of permanency until her father’s wisdom helped her see more clearly and admit that she needed to settle.” “What did you tell him?” “Only that you contacted me.
Garth was not only not her type but how . “Haven’t the two of you thought of marriage? People will talk and we don’t want anything to hurt business. Bomber crews on mopeds tour cities they once bombed.” She shook her head. That was part family and mostly family business. They laughed together with Garth.She never doubted the validity of the cause but with maturity came a question. And marry girls whose fathers they killed. had she extended a childish tantrum for too long? American GI’s who fought in the war were now returning to Ho Chi Minh City. After dinner the men gathered and Garth lead the conversation about when he was a boy and every house had a new car out front. You understand that.” “We’re not anything except neighbors. Dinner was served when the meeting was concluded. When the sister-in-laws started clearing dishes grandmother caught Mary’s eye. Humbly Garth stepped into the role he once shunned. Good days were about to return.169 - . Mary went to her. The invitation was to a weeknight family dinner. of course you do.
“Maybe it is something you should think about while you are both young. And about your posture.” Grandmother cupped Mary’s face. She could run the store with father but with family she was like a person lost and desperate. Grandmother with a gesture dismissed Mary to help in the kitchen. “You have such a pretty face. let’s see it. a Romanian phrase that she never understood except that it came out of her mother and touched her. You have the unfortunate habit of wiping your hands on your hips. she was a playful equal. “This is a Christian golf course and we want to look our best for the families who come here after church. Mary had on her lips the old words her mother said after such a gesture. . rarely a mother.strongly she associated him with her brother made it seem unnatural. competitor or loon.” Grandmother said. Affection was rare.170 - .” She gathered all of Mary’s hair and took a pin from her own hair to set it back.” “And if you are going to be serving guests here that skirt of yours needs some attention.
Was marriage the way to make everything proceed smoothly? These women in their bright colors were especially untroubled tonight. Grandma and grandpa were both kids in 1920 when grandpa stole a car and grabbed grandma. These women could be used to help her find direction in this country. The first nine holes were added one at a time to keep suspicion off the operation. they left Harlan Kentucky and the coal mining life and come Prohibition they ended up here selling booze to people from the city. The place got so popular they trucked in moonshine from the mountains and respectable . Scraping dishes she listened in a new way. The turn in Garth’s life was reflected in all of them.171 - .” Then they all spoke about Garth’s project like it was testament.A cousin added. They opened the golf course as a patch of grass going out to a path leading to the still in a cave. “And before church and God willing instead of church. if it meant nothing to her it would make all of these people so happy. It was selfish of Mary to hold out from this formal next step in the procession from birth to grave. Once that improvement is done it will be like in the old days. After dinner at twilight walking back through the brush Garth explained the family history.
“What are you going to do? Because she said something to me too.couples with clubs arrived and left with the bottom of their golf bags loaded with hooch. “Grandma told me she liked my idea but I could not have her permission to clear the land until I shaved and got a haircut.” She looked at him long before she spoke. Grandmother and grandfather had laundry hampers filled with cash after only a few years and so they built the restaurant and became 18 hole golf. Uncle Billy’s Barbershop opens early.172 - . Let me look at you. Grandma’s got all the business sense. Suddenly he sensed the possibility of sex after .” Garth was startled by Mary. This was the first time for Mary but Garth had gotten that from grandmother before. Everything was top of the line and Christian.” “I’ll be seeing a whole new you. Christian was a word used to avoid suspicion because Christians created prohibition and since then it stuck. “Grandma says we should get married.” Garth said as they reached their driveway.” “I don’t mind. Starch collar types appeared who did not want to wander in the weeds so they opened a clubhouse.
It sort of reminded me of the army. Why don’t we just pretend to be married?” “That is what they think we’re doing now. It always has been a Christian golf course.” “Look at this. Then hot showers on the base.fourteen years without. But we don’t have to tell anyone. “What do you think of grandma’s idea?” “I think grandma’s right.” .” All of her clothes dropped to the floor. when you are happy not to be rained on for five minutes.” “That I am Jewish? If that’s the way you feel the wedding is off. That he no longer cared was immediately it put a lie. “I had forgotten about hot water. “I don’t even have running water in my place.” “I need a change myself. She stepped in the shower before asking. The new respect others were giving him was having an effect.” Garth called after he showered. He been thinking he did not care about for about ten years. In the downstairs bathroom she looked at his red arm next to his pale white stomach.173 - . I don’t want to sit in a chair in Uncle Billy’s smelling like the river. The family knows about … .
” “They talk about us because that’s the way people are around here. She sensed herself becoming weak and pitiful. And our kids can pick their own religion. They just talk and judge and judge and talk.174 - . because like I was trying to say. Suddenly she realized marriage like this was her ultimate defeat and extinction. she promised herself she would not do anything to spoil the Christmas card image for her yet to be born children so they could be together with cousins. in-laws. they don’t even know we live in separate buildings.“But it will make a difference if we have a piece of paper?” “Yes. None of whom she could provide. . Grandmother won and Rachel did not mind. and grandparents.” “You won’t stop them going to church with their cousins?” Garth asked. Maybe she would share their joy having never had any in her own childhood. I don’t want it in the papers. a typical woman who is dependent on a man for both security and freedom.” “We can have a civil marriage at town hall. the family knows everything they need to know. She would be creating not more Jews but little Christians.
Using money her father gave him did not bother him the first day when that day began marriage was not yet an issue and he had not seen her body. Mary made herself a few new skirts. It was no longer a case of him keeping her safe. Garth belched diesel all around while Mary sewed together a handbag from the scraps and made a macramé handle. Until then Aaron’s sister was his sister. he . Garth’s blinding white skin would be burned red and hot to the touch by the second day. Returning to the carriage house with a shave and haircut Garth brought the material to fix the broken pipes to his place. But like Max told him. That was the luck of a survivor.175 - . whose insecurities allowed grandma to drive them like cattle.In the morning sister-in-laws brought lengths of fabric. He was wondering who would finish the project after he dies when in pain he staggering from the bulldozer. he was her prisoner and she was his. In Garth’s mind Aaron’s sister was still naked and laughing at him. took her old one and burned it. if Garth had not mentioned the Jew thing Rachel too might this minute be knocked up and on the way to town for that piece of paper. She bought some good shampoo and remembered to put on an apron in the kitchen. Jewish luck. She did not envy the sister-in-laws.
Aaron. Would that make things better for me? One life hardly made up for the hundreds I killed.” his stomach was rolling and he licked his lips. “Aaron’s sister or not she is a loose hippy chick free for me to screw. He was burned so bad it radiated to others. Take some aspirin and lay down.had to do something. The river was good for this and safer than going back to the house. I could give her a baby. “I have to be a man and not an animal. it might not for me but it might for her.176 - . he thought trudging back home and leaving rivulets of water. This might be rape. Officially he had been working a day and a half when he turned off the machine. He needed quiet and he needed to think. Her ass. Garth thought. her tiny tits. but it doesn’t have to be. her butt. One life to replace the one she lost.” He touched his face that the barber cleaned bare with a hot towel and closely shaved and was now sunburned. the second. The heat of the sun ran up his shoulders and his head burned like a match. He remembered how he had plunged into the many whores of his youth and the different ways he handled each one. Garth’s mind began to leave him. .
“When everything was quiet I thought something might be wrong so I looked for you. Since the fire things had changed. I have had plenty of burns myself and this helps. “Let me put this on you. a secret fortress firing random salvos over the hills at unseen targets. . He brought her to church which was a place she never had been for fear of what might happen to her. It’s a recipe from way back. that’s all. “It might sting but it will help you heal.” Garth yelled when the goop touched him. It would be a while until Mary weakened but Garth was persistent. In the kitchen of the old house she sat motionless as two weights pulled on her.177 - .” She held two fingers coated with goop.” She shook her head.” “I’m drunk. He was across his couch and she was dabbing his head with a cloth. She thought it was an old fashioned hippie love-in when the congregants went to hugging one and another. I think you have heat stroke. It was her mission and it needed no cash infusion from outside. The upstairs laboratory was her independence. It burned before it soothed.“Are you alright?” Mary’s face was rolling like a broken television.” “I’m a French fry.
and that went against everything she learned after leaving home. How many fronts could she put up? First she was the unloved daughter however at her present age it was an emotional loss she no longer grieved.Cold paternalism once more was trying to take over her life. Her actions in New York were from the heart but the lab in Kentucky was the lab she once wished she had. Yet her recent actions were like a career that had grown stale. She could not admit to herself that she also wanted to see what Garth would do. Maybe my old Honor Certificates too. But she stayed her own hand and told herself she wanted to see if they sent a picture of Aaron. So she surveyed her life. Her father had entrusted him. She could torch the car in 5 seconds with a sharp screw driver to the gas tank and a single match getting rid of the bags of cash and of sad memorabilia. it could have been worse. Twenty years as .178 - . Still having the means of escape and weapons at her disposal Rachel allowed for a ceasefire. She imagined a conspiracy between Garth and her father. Her mother was non-functional. It made Garth seem different as he was suddenly charged with her care. she thought. If Americans could elect Reagan twice they hardly seemed worthy of her sacrifice. but she was curious to see how father’s judgment will play out.
Rachel saw her life as a bottomless shaft. Maybe during a period of mourning but this was now a way of life. Even as she attempted calm breathing and other meditation techniques the anxiety of her life continued to build. . going with the flow saved her life except for once when the flow had led to murderous Nazi’s. she followed the charming and innocent hippie precepts whenever she could.” It was for her a means of escape. something to put a boat on nothing more. it was just another route of escape for her.an anarchist bomber. Life had cheated her but she felt at long last she could accept it. a pit into which she was falling.179 - . Rachel tried to think about lessons of flow she might take from a real river but was unable to see the fertility it brought to the land and farms. If she could not say that she was a soldier in a revolutionary army then she had no identity. and he took no political stand yet with a few words and trust he was able to touch others and transform lives. Of all the hippie ways the one she most used was “Go with the flow. In the name of her love for humanity she had hurt and killed others. She wanted to be more like her father who was not educated and the only cause he served was his family.
That was until now when she saw herself as an imitator of the only society she knew.180 - . and a pair of tortured forms slumped in a car. it was internal but it justified everything. She was also following orders. She labeled her actions as just and reasoned that she was better than American society and could judge it. he might be a Republican if he lived. Wasn’t Aaron looking for the same order and acceptance in the world by joining the army? Rachel had an equal force driving her. like waking from a dream. She reexamined him for the first time as she asked herself why had she done all of this? She could see burnt hands and faces.” She tried to sooth his burn. damaged eyes. But it was over. Letting go of violence was part of unraveling a thought process. Garth until now was a front to hide behind but the respect her father showed was reflected in how Rachel viewed him. He did believe the army propaganda. .Aaron was only a face she remembered but never got to know. “Grandma thinks I should marry you. Aaron now lacked dimension since she never knew him as an adult and barely remembered him.
” “Why do you want me to stop drinking?” “Look at yourself.” “So why didn’t you stop?” . I would like to have children … But I can’t have children with you until you stop drinking. And if you want to be the one and if you want to make grandma happy I will marry you but first you have to quit drinking. my mother was that way and so it was okay for me.” “I think it would make your father happy too. “Maybe I will someday. I would rather have no husband than one who can’t get himself off the couch in the afternoon. “I thought about how I would quit drinking for a long time but no one ever asked me.” “I’m not hurting anyone.181 - . It was how I was after the war and they accepted me as that.” “Then you agree? You’ll quit?” Suddenly Garth sat bolt upright.” Garth said tired of this old conversation. All you do is work. Who can’t throw a ball to his kid. drink and sleep.“I know.” “I think it’s time for me. It runs through the family.
That’s why I bought lottery tickets.” She guided him back.” Garth took steps toward her like he was dragging his own dead weight. When one wore out she made another like it. I figured if I hit the lottery I would quit drinking but this is better. she called it the handbag of truth. made of canvas and capable of hold half a bushel. hand painted with eyes. “You’re not going to change your mind?” Returned to the couch he was both serious and helpless.182 - .” After a few seconds of quiet he opened one eye. “When you’re sober I’ll give you that and more.“I had no reason. “How about it?” He lurched with lips puckered toward Mary. She avoided him but held him up so he would not fall. In addition to her brick she kept a special matchbox in which she had . “Because I do want to quit so I can better take care of you. “I know it’s none of my business but are you a virgin?” Chapter 14 For many years Rachel carried the same handbag.
another one from the list of things they had been told not to do. Years ago LSD was part of the ritual. When he got off the dozer he could barely move as ever nerve in his body screamed. In the morning Garth found a hat and put on a long sleeve shirt then went for his first beer of the day. The idea of having sex again made her uncomfortable. The hairs were standing on the back of his neck for fear Mary might catch him. His plan to quit was already failing. She could see by the appraising way he looked at her that he was going to be disappointed.183 - . By noon he was many beers behind and trembling. His happiness to be found inside of her body was more responsibility than she wanted.saved enough hits of LSD that she believed it would last her entire life. Walking stiff legged to the house Mary . she and Howie had sex as an experiment. Just one to start the day. an exploration. He needed one to get himself out to the bulldozer. She tried to tell herself to hide from the lack of enjoyment she felt previously. opened it quietly he drank it quickly. he may be marrying a woman soon but he could not cheat on his beer. This time with Garth it would be sanctioned sex. he waited until he was outside.
It was a poultice which had to be laid on his liver for exactly eighteen hours. What’s wrong? He explained to her how he felt and that he needed a beer if he was going to live. His body receiving proper nourishment was less painful. his swollen slit eyes opened and the light no longer hurt him. his affection and hatred both directed toward her as he focused on marriage while throwing up bile. Somehow with Mary’s help he made it through a transition that was so difficult he could not imagine himself getting through it. Without booze he changed. The plate had a sandwich. Grandmother was familiar with the ordeal going on and sent Mary back to the house with a stinking dripping sack in a Tupperware container. he could stand tall. Don’t move Mary told him setting him down near some water under a tree. Mary became the silent focus of his anguish. his craggy red face seemed fuller.184 - . She ran off and returned with a familiar can and something strange on a plate. As the odor of death . You need to start eating food again.met him. Desperate that he did not die Mary went to grandmother. These started the hell weeks as Garth transitioned from an alcohol based metabolism back to a food based one.
This is something I want you to do for me. the sacrament of the new age. “I know this will sound funny because I asked you to stop drinking but that was for our future children. When he went to visit family members they once more asked him into the house. a million times better. His thoughts of pleasure had nothing to do with alcohol.” . Put one under your tongue. When it was getting dark and it seemed right he put his hands around Mary’s tiny. It’s an old tradition. oriental waist. I promise. which had not happened since he returned from the war. After 21 days Garth had been back to work a week and decided to once more bring up the subject.185 - .” She held out the open matchbox. She wanted him to wait. He had been relaxed and feeling good all day. “Put one of these on your tongue. Don’t be afraid.dissipated his presence lost the offensive edge which triggered in others a natural aversion.” “From what I remember I don’t think you have to improve on the original formula. it will make sex a thousand times better. This will open your eyes to see things as they truly are. What is this stuff?” “It’s LSD.
“I heard about this stuff.” Greedy after so many years she slid a tiny square of paper under her tongue. She stood by me. right?” “Only the chromosomes in your mind. weed. The dispassionate examination of genitals like she and Howie did as two over ripe children. it’s all no good for me. Garth thought as he lay on her bed and listened to her talk about politics and light patterns. LSD. “If I do this it will undo the entire last month. LSD was expanding their minds at the expense of their genitals which grew small and dry.186 - . I’ll do mine.” Garth said. It can damage chromosomes. This was an approximation of the foreplay she had as a lost youth. Here. .” “No. None of that stuff is any good for me.” “I’ll do it by myself. He wasn’t angry and like any man who really does not expect to get laid. I can’t. right under your tongue. he was only slightly disappointed. Garth had a different set of expectations and found Mary’s condition of cold lips and hands to be a turn off. I have to accept things the way they are or I will start drinking again. Intimidated by the potency of their equipment they heaped on the foam and protection so that little of what they felt was mutual. Beer.
Chapter 15 “I was telling one of the partners over drinks what a cheap bastard the old store keeper was and when I looked over I saw he was taking notes.187 - . At Christmas the old man pulled a sign from the dust and stood it in the store window.” Elliot had them in stitches. He hoped this never happened again. He could not walk out on their first night together but as the sky got light and Mary beside him continued thrashing it seemed like the waste of a day. he is crazy. Season’s Greetings. Together they slept until noon when they awoke to make their first night together an official one. he remembered every joke he ever heard and he could tell them all day long but don’t get him started on how cheap the Jews are. He could go on for hours nonstop just on his old man and the crummy army surplus. He made it sound so funny how the cheap old man squeezed extra pennies from every dollar. piss your pants.She had been naked at first but he insisted she wear something. He did not want to get bored looking at her. He found her sexy but not when tripping. .
As a Jew he enjoyed rubbing elbows with the non-Jews and making sure they knew he was not just a Jew but also wealthy and successful. Together with his wife. Often he had to offer a chuckling apology . Otherwise he could pass for any plump and prosperous small town lawyer. he and his wife tried to be the imitation of their parents’ Judaism with some exceptions.she called him. for the house and a piece for personal pleasure. They were close with her family but Elliot rarely spoke of his. for the office. Anti-Semite or Jew was not clear. his tie and hanky all of which showed the Star of David. they went to restaurants and spent money on things for the house and themselves. When denied smoking a cigar Elliot without thinking could sit across a table from other attorneys and flick candy wrappers in their direction. It was not for the family but so guest might feel comfortable. Among the first things he bought with his earnings as a lawyer were guns.The comic lead in obscured him. Elliot quieted family objections with cash. unlike the war generation they were not happy merely to be alive. He thought his father’s generation should have had guns. the jewelry around his neck. Elliot put a white plastic tree up on the credenza from Thanksgiving until New Year’s over the objections of his wife who was also Jewish and his daughters who he sent to a Hebrew day school.188 - . They enjoyed life. Elliot demanded a further look at the rings he wore. In a suburban circle of homes that Elliot developed. When the kids were little they went to Hershey Park every weekend. He dressed well. Lee.
” he said dismissing them. Elliot smiled as he let the man drop it on the desk with the rest of the trash. He thought of police as the equivalent of sewer workers and he was of the opinion that they were corrupt and lazy liars. Over paid and over authorized police were the necessary instruments of law and order. The FBI approached Elliot at his office to discuss Rachel. On his desk was a house built of losing scratch off tickets. Mother and the girls went to temple regularly. He had just flown in from an airport Hilton weekend setting dentists up in strip malls. the FBI men stood and he did not invite them to sit. Most lawyers were paid once for the same services as Elliot’s group aggressively marketed. He promised all sorts of cooperation to the FBI but had none to offer. Elliot chuckled inside at the cop who . Elliot considered himself a Law and Order man and he voted for Nixon every chance he got.189 - . “Okay. Elliot was known in airport Hiltons all over the eastern US. Help yourself and then your kids is how he saw it. The agent who did the talking offered a business card. He did not believe in charity either. They ran ads for investment opportunities in medical journals and received ongoing percentages from property investors. He attended temple for 15 minutes once a year however the girls lit candles and recited prayers on Friday night.when a ball of foil was well placed.
Later. He waited a minute until he saw them cross the street for the parking lot then he headed out.190 - . . in his heart he rejoiced when he learned his top competition was gone for good. We are at Yale to make money. was the money angle of his sister’s situation? Entering the brass door he admired the ancient brown and gold lettering on the glass and waved at the man behind the cage who was in uniform doing nothing except looking like a dummy. he wondered. if we wanted to write law we would be at Harvard. He walked them to the outer door past the secretary’s desk which had no phone or chair as he had no secretary. What. Rachel had not crossed his thoughts for years. He walked from his building up to the old granite Post Office. The police wanted Rachel. Years after when the three of them were honored for the loss Elliot stared at his feet to hide the smile he felt creeping to his lips. who he was immediately happy to be relieved of. he attended the prestigious Law University and made valuable connections to last his lifetime. With the old man’s money he became a lawyer. “I’ll call 911 if I think of anything.thought he was important enough to need a business card. he had to mule that one around. Elliot was eight years old when she went off to join him. He put himself at the center of everything and made sure to make himself known. Aaron. Being Jewish was an asset in the world of winning investor confidence.” he quipped.
Elliot tried to bring the customs of his wife’s family to his parents. Even if he cared to outbid the US government there was also a matter of the law. like the ones who come to the hotel meetings. it was a non-starter. Even wearing a shawl and from a distance and grown an inch since the last time he saw her.Surveying the Post Office with the pointed casualness of a potential buyer. There was no entry area for him in this. The reward for arson and murder was enough to buy matching his and her Cadillacs. he knew her. He flipped the pages. Immediately he knew her. he nodded his head. Hanukah. The Wanted posters on the clip board had no dust on them.191 - . The loser had turned winner after all. Or that people love a circus even if it is only pictures of clowns. He chuckled and thumbed through more. When Elliot thought about his brother and sister he had an identical hatred for both. They were suckers. His brother and sister were the people who believed the bullshit and joined the Army or like her thought politics could change things. he took it as sign of a brisk market. over one he paused inspired and took a pen from his coat and wrote ‘UCLA ‘on the chest of a clean cut young black wanted man. Elliot came to learn was a holiday best left to school. She was a money pit. By the curve of her back or the set of her feet or something more obscure. He thought of his sister with pure envy. But a murder charge put her on a pedestal. When his parents lit the candles both .
cried. Helping gynecologist put up fifty nominally standard box houses in an old cow pasture reminded Elliot of his old home. On instructions from home Elliot was kept late after school and sent to the little chapel across from the Rabbi’s study.192 - . the mud. For their teary eyes he could never stand to look at his parents. His parents were there with nine others in the rabbi’s chapel where Elliot received a Thursday bar mitzvah. the flimsy construction was so reminiscent that for a shuddering moment even though he lived in a mansion it seemed for a tiny and . he was the one who was cheated. The cow flops. Thursday was reserved for those whose bar mitzvah fell during a year of mourning. He felt cheated because he did not even get a dime. All he got was a prayer shawl from the temple women’s group and his parents gave him a pen decorated with sand from the Negev desert which was bought from the temple gift shop. He first realized then his father is a cheap Jew. Elliot was jealous of his father who had been spared the humiliation of a bar mitzvah as his temple had burned days before he turned thirteen. Other families held parties when their boys turned thirteen. They ate jelly candy in tears and father said it was because they were so happy. The other kids humiliated him over the pen when he got back to class. He had not been told and never asked who died? It was just the way it was in his home. His parents and their copious tears of joy were better left to themselves. after all.
He told himself putting people in crap housing was his revenge for the true stupidity of smug doctors. His father sold crap to poor stupid people. The doctors who bought into the plans where stupid. lazy. Something from his deep inside was breaking through. Even when he did an income tally in his head of everyone in the room he was joyless. the doctors left the table feeling good about what they would make putting a 60 month roof on a poor person’s house. With the addition of a well-timed wink he could say he thought . When he smiled at someone they smiled back unsuspecting that his sentiments might be completely opposite those of any civilized human being.transient instant that he was making money the same way as his father but on a different scale. suckers… A million times Elliot had told himself the justification for what he was doing yet nothing could cease the smallness he felt when he thought about himself in a crap house and broken toys where he grew up and his father’s complacent satisfaction in that place. He was making the most only told him things are as they should be but gave him no cheer. His contempt circled the room like butter melting on a hot pan.193 - . The partners could not imagine where Elliot found roofing that thin. This was not a spot of gas either. Understanding eluded him like a blob of mercury but he knew everyone at this conference table was feeling good except himself. greedy. But something about the arrangement poked at him.
It was something he wanted to do beyond curiosity or desire that could not be settled vicariously. His father who grew up in Berlin confirmed what he suspected. Around eight or nine. That was only an excuse to cover natural blood lust. With his ostentatious gold and silver stars and rings he also carried guns. Then Elliot decided. when history repeats itself he would have weapons and he would tell them. He had the hope to someday use his guns on a person. Self-protection was a name to disguise a secret desire.blacks and whites were equal in a way that was an insult to both. The murder of nurses in Chicago completely absorbed him for . “You are being killed by a Jew. the age when some reality began seeping in around the edges of the cartoons he watched. but that was only the tip of the iceberg. his parents had never given him the details. His claim was because he wanted to see how it felt and see if he had the nerve like his brother in the army. He thought that made it seem sane. they were absorbed with Aaron’s death and Rachel’s disappearance and said little in the decade when Elliot was small. he kept it a secret but he kept moving toward it. To kill a fellow human was a drive in Elliot’s adult mind.” Armageddon. war and the holocaust were the obvious exceptions to Thou Shalt Not Kill. He became caught by the magnetic attraction of violence and suffering in the many shows about World War 2.194 - .
Back at the hotel Elliot was the first to observe that the tribal council looked more like the Rainbow coalition. That was why Elliot went south every chance business could bring him.days. He would kill everyone this time except the Jews. and in a final blaze of glory. hanging around hicks gave him plenty of stories to tell his partners. Louis area by faxing contracts without . Always he insinuated the corrupt and negative as he spoke in what he believed to be their language. The question of eternal soul would be answered quickly. Elliot and his partners developed a team of lawyers from the St. There he talked to whites about blacks and blacks about whites. He might wave the weapon and fire a round to save his self from being robbed but murder on the grand scale was just a way of letting off steam. Elliot listen and held back his laughter.195 - . that’s the way to go. Elliot had no patience. He told them how sure he was that the Devil is the ruler of this world. almost thirty victims. But like the happily married man who daydreams of girls Elliot was not likely to do anything. Where would he find the time to organize the thing? He liked to go out to the woods on land he owned and pop off boxes of rounds and see himself as another Hitler. Dream big. And so Elliot carried on. Having landed some Missouri Indians who wanted to open a casino on the Mississippi seemed like a prospect with exceptional humorous potential. armed to the teeth. he thought but could not see doing anything to get himself dirty. The Texas tower sniper won his respect.
they just wanted him barred. “Hotel is making a fortune on feeding us. Maybe I’ll buy some riverfront.” Returning to the buffet table.” He tried to look innocent slicing another bagel. When the council delayed the meeting Elliot said. They would only come down to the conference room if Elliot was removed. With the arches in his rearview Elliot headed south.196 - . Phone calls requesting the tribal lawyers had been unreturned. He could not believe the insult. Elliot laughed first but not for long. raw peanuts. Fried food. He could not believe it. that Native Americans. open racism. women piling their hair to the moon. His partners in the room said they would smooth it out. They said they would honor all contracts.” Elliot said in his belittling way as the planned casino was also to be called Riverfront. of all people would single him out. “I hope no one offered the chief a few extra beads.” One pressed the rental car keys into his hand. “Cool off.” Elliot observed frequently before a message was received. Jangling the keys in front of his team of attorneys he laughed. “These Natives are some strange birds.meeting some of the people. all made Elliot’s short list of . “I’m going on vacation. The possibility of accidently hiring an aggressive independent or loose cannon was always a threat. go for a ride. The Jews are their best friends.
southern virtues. So this is what people do who have no money. When he saw the cows hypnotically moving toward the barn he wanted to eat a steak. Most likely floods here every year. Tossing the bottom of the cone out Elliot then raised the windows. He liked the little towns and made frequent stops to sample ice cream. Elliot nodded. put the air conditioning on and lit another cigar. he wanted them to see his luxury car. “That golf over there. The days of slavery must have been grand. “I drove from St Louis today.197 - . “Full size. He drove by the cultivated land and plants in rows. 27 holes. his thoughts turned from the links to the clubhouse restaurant. He drove slowly by the white shacks with black roofs.” he said to a man older than himself. is that miniature or full size?” pointing to a sign. The whitewash boards shined for that minute in Elliott’s mind. Cement sidewalk. he slowed for the kids playing basketball on red clay. The rundown old restaurant looked glamorous with car headlights bouncing and moving across the building and the white paint appeared red and gold by the setting sun. this place once had been something. “Hey boy. granite stairs. Now I’m going to play me some golf.” The other man had walked off. Nice thing about coloreds is you don’t have to put on any airs for them. .” The man answered.
” Elliot then dropped his customary 2. “Give them my card. give me a call.” “That’s great. Tell grandpa. It was late Tuesday and golfers and families kept a steady trade. He picked a booth and adjusted the table from where it had been nailed for fifty years.” “They have a number?” With the bill she handed him a takeout menu and pointed to the number. is he black?” Elliot laughed savoring the moment.The tile floor was high quality and had stood up better than the mica countertop and ice cream parlor stools that were heavily taped. Elliot did not trust a stool with his weight. The place was isolated yet the people came.198 - . Here. “Who owns this dump?” He asked. Clutching his food and drink he exited and slipped into the dark where he could examine the building foundation and . Grandma and Grandpa. old but solid. “You must go to college. The waitress asked what was wrong. Elliot laughed and ordered a milkshake and a double portion of bacon wrapped shrimp. Seeing the server’s face was like candy after desert. “The Green family. call me if he wants to make some money. Elliot now wanted the order to go.” “Elliot Miller” The waitress read the card. “Mary’s white. Elliot stood and walked into the kitchen.5% tip.” “We have a Miller here.” “Sorry baby.
Miller.” “Thank you but do you know who owns this?” “Yes. the owners aren’t interested and I expect you to go back to the restaurant. If Elliot had shot him he would have been a trespasser.” He said merrily out of habit to the first white couple he passed.199 - . This area is private. That asshole was a real redneck. And I think you should leave. The facilities are up that way. Arriving at the car his heart slowed its beat. unless the other guy shot first. I do. a murder. “I like you. “Can I help you?” An aggressive voice came from behind. Through the woods he saw shacks. Here is my card.” “Well you tell the owners I can make them some money. “Howdy crackers. It seemed like that confrontation was close to going ballistic. you remind me of me.” Elliot walked back in the direction of the restaurant parking lot.” Elliot stopped and turned slowly.” “Nothing is for sale.” “This is not a social call and I am not selling anything.” Elliot said. The driveway behind the parking lot led to a house and separate garage with a pair of cars in front. “This here is private.” After waiting Elliot returned the card to its case. only a few had lights on. “remember that name.other possible assets. “Just admiring the property. Defending land was not the same law . he laughed.
as defending one’s home. he was tantalized by .” He talked to his guns. Next time. Oh my God. Primitive emotions awoke in him while driving back to the hotel. There was something about the lilting and clear telephone voice that called to Elliot. he looked at them and he was disappointed in them and in himself. “Downtown at a pawnshop I could trade the two of you for a color TV.200 - . Flashing keys and rings for years in the ghetto had done nothing but win him respect. Sucking up the milkshake sweat poured into his eyes. Only a camera or Jewelry could match a gun for size and expense and nothing equaled a gun’s awesome power over men. For once he was happy to leave the charm of the south. sucker. The first call he took at his office was a lady calling herself Grandma. The partners broke the news to Elliot over drinks. How could he draw a weapon with hands full? He placed two of the three weapons he carried on the car seat. It was a relief to be told he was off this one. In addition to the trespassing and murder charges on his mind. at the time of the confrontation he was carrying a greasy bag of shrimps and a drink. “Or a stereo. he could draw his weapon and shoot to kill.” But he could not stay angry because a used TV or stereo would be hideous while a weapon increased in beauty and value with age. Ironic that it was a racist white cracker in the south who would give Elliot the sense that he was ready. saying she was returning the call from the Family Fun and Golf Center.
and it lit a fire inside him. Elliot tried to circle in on what he said. “Amen to that.Whoever that little asshole is who chased him from the yard. quipped mind you. It was half the reason he wanted the deal. he thought in his own defense. he would regret it. he said. I’m Elliot Miller. They did look like the Village People. Elliot laughed at his own joke even now because he had been waiting to use that one for years. make the name unique or standardize a franchise? Maybe attract the PGA tour? Whatever the Fun Family wanted Elliot was sure of one thing . that a Jewish Indian is called a Shmo -Hawk.201 - . was it when I asked the chief if the boys were going to sing? Or knowing being a Jew would not pull any water with them he quipped. You won’t forget me. Still smarting from the insult by the Native Americans he had to latch onto something. He echoed her enthusiasm for Christian recreation while the contempt ran in his blood like hot oil but his voice was full of honey.the concept of Christian recreation which she kept stressing. The partners he was sure were laughing at the Natives and at him right now.” Elliot’s double talk about what he could do for her was inspired as he sounded her out. . did she want to increase the business or sell it. The Indian thing was a big embarrassment. He rubbed his palms in his eyes and put his feet on the desk. Elliot had something he wanted to prove and these slices of white bread seemed only to be waiting for him to toast.
he needed more scratch tickets. Any resort that has a loudmouth peasant lurking must have enemies. his hands moved from his eyes. He was shaking worse than . Cool. We’ll phony up something so big. He rested comfortably knowing an old business like that one must have made a few enemies. the house. I am going to blow that place off the map. he told himself. His hurt pride and desire for revenge swelled up like that. I pity him for what I am about to do. why take down one man in haste when if he waited he could bring them all down? He would have to trust some of this to the locals. I am known in Hilton’s and that puny reject has the nerve to tell me to get off. People open their doors to me. the children… He stopped at the door to try and compose himself. The times they argued and when he asked himself why had he done all of this.If he could do that much damage by accident then the southern attorneys he now contacted would work up a crippling nuisance claim against Family Fun then build an airport on one side and a brothel on the other. Elliot rose from his desk and touched the lucky coin in his pocket. be cool. He needed to return south and soon.202 - . this was the moment he feared more than death. Chapter 16 Garth came charging up to the house.
They had laid aside their anger and guilt. The years were everything and more. They forgave the government and the army. Mary was as beautiful as Garth dreamed and much to his surprise she also had a brain. Garth forgave his family for being who they are and Mary forgave Aaron for believing all the dope about the army. Now it is over. chemistry and writing. in her house-bound condition she brought the world to her home by home schooling the children. Mary was in the kitchen. chess. His heart held the moment knowing it could be their last one together as a family. As two strangers who resisted knowing each other for years knowing each other was a shy processes and what started only as small considerations had become devotion of the type that creates a biological dependency. home schooling. he could hear her. As phony as when they had cleansed themselves by going in the water where the children were baptized. memories and threats. Inside the house he was still trembling. As in her previous life controversy found her when she joined other homeschoolers in a lawsuit against the state board of ed. . “Mary?” “Si?” She was always playful and happy. It was a dream and it wasn’t real.when he quit drinking. Spanish. keeping the girls company while they washed dishes.203 - . Before as an angry anarchist Rachel roamed the world like it was her own. teaching the girls math. They were lovers and buddies.
Having found peace with the past and being surrounded by other women having children. along with the belief that she was having an impact. At the time of the pledge she was sincere and would do it if Garth did it with her. and sharing. “You are trying to ruin my life by teaching me at home and dressing me like this. Ruining lives was a criticism that hurt.In the beginning of their life together they decided if the pigs came for her that Mary would not go. “What?” .” Said her emotional ten year old. Always living for the hope that a new day that was coming. Death being a sort of ultimate trip. After the destruction of society what follows would be The Hippie Way. Unfortunately the baby grew up. When Garth left for the bathroom she could feel the egg being fertilized. equality. recently she was not so sure things would turn out that way. From the upstairs master bedroom she sat up on her pillows and could see swaths of green through the trees. She always had arsenic on hand but never for that reason. she loved to watch things burn and blow up.” Garth returned to the room. a world based on tolerance. The idea of peaceful death did not appeal to her any more than going down in a hail of police bullets. Her desire to live was strong. Mary finally conceded the point and allowed one to come through her. “I can’t leave my baby.204 - .
What should we do?” She looked in Garth’s face.” . No one is going to take me away from my children. He said Miller. she was resisting the urge to go into his arms. except for the things I did. honey.“You caught me at the peak of my cycle. I won’t allow it. “I need to activate the land mines.205 - . I watched until he drove off. I am not a criminal and I won’t be treated as one.” It was a pause Garth could not fill.” “Garth. My child will know I stood for something. My parents lost their parents and look at them. She pushed away. are you alright?” “There was someone outside and he was looking for you.” “Was he a cop?” “It was one man all alone. She stepped back. “I feel like finally I can bring a child into this world. He told me to remember that name. He was poking around and I asked him what he wanted.” It sounded like hippie mumbo jumbo but he was agreeable and tried to hold her. I am sure of it. I will go down fighting. “If they come for me I won’t go like my grandparents.
The idea of home as a fortress surrounded by land mines had worked for them until now and it was still working for them. Maybe he’s looking for me because he doesn’t know you’re here. He sat down heavily and let his head loll. If it meant keeping Mary free and the family intact they would kill the solitary bounty hunter. Part of the life they shared had been the process for both of them of coming out of combat mode. He had pulled a chair up to the bedroom window. A thought shared by both minds. He knew and understood Mary’s past. Garth excused himself and went upstairs. “I’m fine. “Dad?” “Daddy?” The girls called. Having bombs outside and guns readily available carefully hidden around the house became enough to make them feel secure while not having to be in the hyper-adrenaline state of the battlefield. just tired. Preparing for this day was a way of separating combat from normal life. It was only one man.“No. They also told the girls not to use drugs or alcohol.” The girls were taught US History from a Marxist point of view but were never told their mother was an active revolutionary. . He might be a bounty hunter we might be able to buy him off.” Garth’s sentence ended but not the thought. half a minute later Mary followed. Hand in hand they entered the kitchen. wait.206 - . the room was dark and he was watching.
nobody did. I’m a wanted felon. I was glad when she died.207 - . do you remember where we buried those land mines?” Now pointing out the window. “Number one is over there. “Daddy.” . Do you remember when we buried it? I was pregnant then. They had watched the parking lot lights go out and the last dish washer’s headlights disappear in the night. All I had for a father was her stories about what a piece of crap he was. always complaining. That’s why when I was little I spent most of my time at my grandparents. The pigs know I haven’t mailed a bomb in fifteen years.” She walked over and sat in his lap. her getting finished drinking herself to death and me just starting down that path. she had the dirt on everybody. I moved back to the carriage house. She went to California and came back home with me. I won’t let them take you. plus I was the oldest cousin.” The silence was long before she spoke. it was fun.” “You brought my life back. We’ll always have fun together.” “I’m sorry I never met your mother. you and the girls aren’t. unhappy. the last vestigial behavior of a hippie child. When I came back from the war their little faces never looked the same to me. In a high quizzical voice. “Nature’s law is not to kill. There will be no rest until justice is served.“I nursed my mother in this house for the last two or three years of her life. She was miserable. It’s still a blur. …. Don’t worry no one is coming to take this away.” “You wouldn’t have liked her.
. “I’ll miss you. “If I eat it now you have no evidence. they too were cleaned out.” she said No one came and during the days of waiting Garth took down the claymore mines disguised as birds’ nests in nearby trees.“You’ve taught our girl’s. Chapter 17 “You have to pay for that.” The teenage boy at the register meekly informed Elliot who slipped a banana in his pocket. “I think it’s good for the soil. “Please? Who will care about one banana a hundred years from now?” Elliot brought the banana from his suit pocket and began peeling it.” Still no one came.” They laughed and both breathed easier.” “Mr Pasquale!” The boy yelled the name of the man who owned the fruit store. Garth washed away any trace of explosives with a garden hose.208 - . The massive lanterns in front of the house were filled with gunpowder and ball bearings and wired to explode. haven’t you?” “Every woman needs a few brews she can whip up.
” he thought. He’s our land lord.209 - . “Keep the extra for a down payment on a house. Elliot exited feeling good about himself and the tenant. Something he had been telling himself from the time his total net worth hit a million.“Why you bother me? What is it?” Mr Pasquale came to the front and greeted Elliot like a long lost brother. “He ate a banana without paying. “One more zero.” “This cover it?” Elliot emptied a hill of change on the counter. Both men laughed heartily. the place for the zero following the one. So well-known and well liked Elliot frequently thought politics might be in his future. . Compared to some of these locals he was like a god. He can have anything he wants. Now that the boy knew Elliot it was one more person who held him in high regard. getting their vote should be no problem.” Pasquale’s pointed explanation to the boy. Pasquale paid on time and had few complaints. He wanted a more prestigious career and told himself he would change as soon as he hit ten million. With ten mil he never need to work again and could get into politics.” “This is Mr Miller.
He capitalized on the idea that everyone wants to be on the wrong side of the law at least a little. He told them who he was and for a price he could get them the contract. . He also got kickbacks from builders. Even professionals who worked so hard for their degrees could still be easily tempted with the idea that there was something out there for nothing. After a builder is picked Elliot returns the funds to the builders who were not selected. he also tried to always get the most as a partner.‘Get the most from each customer’ was another motto he lived by. It was not reason that convinced the intelligent customer to take the risk. jealousy and fear others might beat them to it is what Elliot used to seal the deal. He especially liked salvage yards where he found many building supplies. He had never been caught since giving a bribe is also a crime but it made him a little nervous that he might accidently solicit the same builder twice.210 - . He could sell a 5 dollar watch for 50 if he can convince the buyer the watch is stolen. He never took from his two fellow partners or got more than a third. He approached three or four contractors in a strange city. Elliot liked to be able to act as a supplier.
a chain of motels. Elliot and his partners were responsible for most of the closed zoos along secondary roads throughout the US. The research and leg work had all been done to come up with sure fire investments.With his loud vest suit and showbiz jewelry in the Hilton’s most expensive banquet room he assured the doctors that other less intelligent people were cashing in. strip malls. elite schools.211 - . Elliot was the sort of loud. . Canadian bananas. chicken burgers. “and the Kangaroos?” Miles of city streets were paved and no houses built on land one of them bought for pennies and sold for thousands to investors. or whatever posh neighborhood was local. overstated person who would never be a guest in their home yet they accepted his guarantee of riches from the podium. and vacation/retirement developments in the Deep South. urban sprawl. Investments were painted for them as money making machines. He made clear for them he would become their surrogate pig. a chain of restaurants. Later as they dined he went from table to table telling the same joke about being afraid to take out his credit card since he just bought a home in Oakwood Meadow. These included. Where are the camels now? Often he wondered. worm farming.
Grosses had to be higher than heaven before there would be profits to share. These problems wasted time which was Elliot’s second most valuable asset. At some point Elliot with the partners would have to explain in some school auditorium to hostile workers clutching worthless guarantees and to tell management drones who built homes based on fantasy projections. Putting frosting on a turd came when Elliot got back on the phone with the same investors to explained how he got burned too but this next one is like money in the bank. that capitalism is a system of risks. Elliot by then had explained to the original investors in the dream. With offers of no more than minimum wage the partners handed out all the executive positions. Like a promise from your mother. Even the most over funded enterprises had to be manned by workers after they were built.But the most pathetic were also the most costly. The workers went from home owners to squatters and then the people invariably moved on. He would get down on his knees and if he had to beg for the investor’s faith and .212 - . Anti-union rhetoric and the promise of profit sharing is what lured them. Elliot made it seem like communism but it was really religion.
another deduction! He readily put on the skin of a hunter which was an excuse for spending no more than normal time with the three girls. A deduction. When they were born he collapsed in the corner where he also stood during his wife’s screaming. then.213 - .confidence. But he never could find the moment to spring the thoughtful and expensive gift on them. Despite the money he had and things he and his wife did Elliot found it hard to provide more for his children. for his family. Part of his day was spent killing time. “I have to work. chatting idly. Elliot often reminded himself. On the far end of town. past the auto mile. He did not want to be around dirty diapers especially baby girls in diapers.” he often said. he found a donut shop that made crawlers which were crunchy and topped with caramel. He could not say to them it was hard work when all he did was make phone calls and go to hotels. Sometimes it was a chore to find places to be other than home. seeking out interesting restaurants and bakeries. He easily justified being away. That and a cup of their strong coffee . He would do whatever it takes because money has no conscience. As his personal wealth piled up he wanted to do something good with his money.
Nothing good was associated with a porn theatre and any neighborhood where they are found has already collapsed. The only one in town and Elliot studied it between crunchy and gooey bites. Today what the couple considered satisfying held no risk of pregnancy.214 - . I don’t need that stuff I have a wife.had Elliot laughing to himself about nothing by the time he finished. The beige building had recently been repainted red and black. The theatre was built years before as a bold attempt to franchise small movie theatres which failed. a trap door filled with disgust opened inside Elliot at the thought that these are guys who he might shake hands with during the day. It amazed him to watch the patrons who went into the dark entrance. . 200 pounds ago for him and a hundred for her. it reopening as a XXX theatre. It had to be a curse to have that kind of a need. He needed to find out who owned the building. Yet this small theatre was now succeeding when previously it had failed. What could he say if anyone ever saw him going into a place like that? Some of them were even wearing suits. Years ago Elliot and his wife conceived children. Interesting to Elliot was what was going on next door.
He directed his clients for a price because free advice is not valued. The world to Elliot is made up of mostly lower class people who sweat at work. Elliot could hardly sleep for the excitement of his new idea. all of the empty theatres in America will be reopening as Adult Entertainment. It is the same advice he gives away at the donut shop. He truly felt that by selling unique investments which offered distinctive opportunities to . shopping and chauffeuring the girls the wife was already asleep.215 - . Much the same as how he had to constantly remind himself to pretend to like sports. At times he was his own inspiration.After so called sex he mentioned a new idea to fill up empty buildings and make a steady income. He would never consider sitting in one of the theater seats for fear of AIDS and other diseases. Having spent a busy day at home. He considers himself among the most honest of men although he believes all men are thieves and liars. care about sports and who now watch porn. A few of the lower classes rise above to run things and then there are people like Elliot who see trends and take cues from the masses. He struggled to work it into an investment strategy but he still believed in the outcome. But like his religion he knew his idiosyncrasies were not reflected everywhere.
At the fair. It did not matter to Elliot because he wanted the girls to do whatever made them happy. Home once more he collapsed in the dad chair and was served a cold dinner then surrounded by the twins who he did not know and who as sixteen year olds both terrified and mystified him. The family was always amusing to him. It made him feel a tremor in his heart for his . They rode and ate in the car for hours driving to the country fair. eating fried dough. he looked at the local country girls in shorts and bikini tops. Recently the girls started eating salads and Elliot had some. Like a king in his castle he was fully aware that his presence would not be tolerated except for the Queen. As a dad he was sure his job was to reassure the girls that they looked fine but he could not hide the evidence as people who they considered fat were actually thinner than the Miller family. he liked to add bacon bits. thoroughly tanned. But unlike the pathetic figures that went to porn movies Elliot knew how to keep his queen happy. They had tried horseback riding a few weeks earlier and after Elliot’s horse collapsed there was a moment of family self-examination.fleece the rich and stupid he was making this a better world by supporting his family.216 - .
Starting with the subject of periods it spiraled out to encompass. It was their world one that he as a man. As a child he had never seen his mother without her clothing and makeup on. Long ago he had bowed out of any interest in lady things. make-up and bodies. Lacking a goat or wet nurse he was fed formula. Aaron. fashion. As a toddler he had a fear of the toilet and had to hold a parent’s arm when sitting on the bowl. paid for. With other children in school he functioned normally but after school at home following milk and cookies at the table Elliot spent afternoons under his bed doing homework or behind the couch squeezed next to the wall. his older brother. America is a land of suckers and getting bounced out of that casino development deal was proof. Large enough to give an impression of being a dominant power he still fit a typical executive office chair.daughters who wore long florescent shorts and oversized tee shirts. Native . a good man. The two brothers fought whenever they met. used open hand slaps to rule over the one television as long as Elliot could remember. Elliot was a big man who used his size. He worked and provided everything and anything for them. Just to confound people on weekends he wore a jogging outfit.217 - .
Not small change like Quonset hut motels or Honeytree Farm franchises. He also asked the chief if he liked wearing city clothes. On the far side of the mountains. ever. Two hundred mil. If they sold the world’s most valuable real estate for a cigar box full of beads remember that it was a long time ago. not in view of any city. Jews don’t go to Germany to even the score. That was Elliot’s good luck. Just assimilate and forget about it. It was on his drive south in a full size rental when he found that knot of land 90% surrounded by water and where old times are not forgotten. a top shelf investment with the three local commercial banks that should top 200mil. they would launch a project so large the three partners projected payments to their great grandchildren. This dream investment required at least a fifty million dollar ground floor investment.Americans might as well have stickers on their foreheads. min! . He laughed at the chief’s dignity. This would be the most lucrative percentages for the partners. He smeared the insult by trying to include himself with the listener.218 - . that they barred him from the conference table. suckers looking for revenge. beads were worth more then. When he said something like that out loud it was followed with a wink.
Inside he was like a child happily skipping to a birthday party. Old Grandma Green had agreed to a 99 year lease on the land. it stood on a mountain top. criminal defense lawyers. they hid behind their Wall St. Of the five three formed a company to follow the dream of proving the progressives wrong by amassing personal fortunes with slick marketing and mind boggling contracts. Journals and let the comments fly. Dare he and the partners dream about a percent of One Large? A Billion dollars had a majestic ring. wearing a cape and surrounded by cupids blowing trumpets.219 - . Now they could begin to make the island a prison.Mils excited him and made his adult heart flutter the way a K did in college. By college he was a slumlord and always walked around with twenty or thirty C notes in his pocket to sooth his nerves. Millions are the small stepping stones before Billions. or. A Billion dollars. Soaring one liners assailed their teachers and the world. But now all he could think about was that hick as he dialed into the conference call. . In another time they might have been pirates. At the campus coffee house the five of them spread out over several nearby tables.
it became the local duty to host a maximum security prison. Elliot and his partners came here already knowing that by borrowing so much they would own these small banks. there was not a Hilton for a hundred miles.220 - . Having invested so much in a super max for . School children drew men behind bars as their parents talked of good government jobs.There followed meetings in rooms like swamps. Elliot’s to destroy. The prison industry association shipped in a bunch of happy workers to testify at the meetings. They dreamed of news vans choking the roads to cover all the executions they would be holding. In a uniform it is easy to kill an evil doer during a day’s work. work for all. With all the bonds sold to locals it was like owning the entire town. The ones from Texas talked about executions they personally worked on. Dressed in those snappy semi military uniforms they would be federally regulated but working for a private paramilitary company. The small banks sold shares to the town’s own people. Hungry for something everyone wanted a part of. The rural community had stars in their eyes. those with money. To the public it was all about Jobs Jobs Jobs. None of the lowly townies knew anyone involved in the project beyond the teller at the bank where they made payments.
That tickled Elliot. concrete trucks wore out the oiled town roads. no one came to play golf and the Family Fun sign was covered with dust. He laughed out loud at the thought. Now it could take forever to build and their return on the investment would shrink to nothing. Like they were seeing the Sears Tower in Chicago get topped off. they don’t work this slow up north. Soon this would be a one industry town and black and white together they would be stuck working for poverty wages keeping men in cages. Knowing his part in all of that Elliot whistled a happy tune. The town’s people cheered when the highest guard tower was finished. Elliot could not imagine what these hillbillies could be thinking. The union operators up north are paid twice as much but they get the work done. When these people voted down completion insurance from Lloyd’s they made a blunder. There seemed to be a lot of people leaning on shovels.221 - . Elliot kept that to himself as he passed among the goobers gawking. the trucks turned red clay up everywhere and as it dried in the sun the island was enveloped in an orange cloud. From the other side of the river people looked. .their town they all stood together watching it go up.
it was squat and ugly surrounded by the dust. Driving further the prison loomed again. “Looking well. If I had a job like that I would shoot myself in ten minutes. The old golf course was no longer visible. Mr Green.” He slid next to grandma since the attendant was helping grandpa. sitting like it had just fallen from the sky. going in and out of sight.” . Elliot labeled him an obvious retard as the man progressed. “How’s business?” But seeing Grandma and Grandpa Green having breakfast in a booth he went to sit with them. The broad shoulders of the main prison building loomed from the bridge but the turn off was thick with sticker bushes. He thought he had seen him a couple of times. Inside the Family Fun ice cream bar he asked the counter girl. This guy with the rest of them are going to pay. “One delay after another.222 - . the house and golf course were the first and second places after the bridge. with satisfaction Elliot’s attention drifted and he got out of the car to get a milkshake. After concrete came the flatbed trucks loaded with iron for inside the prison.Except that guy kept bothering him. With the excuse that he was counting trucks Elliot sat one morning watching the guy ride a lawn mower.
They spoke about pride in their town and a place for the young people.Nothing broke the rhythm of his feeding. and his partners who loathed being here. It was like an entire world in . Elliot laughed about something else with everyone at the table. Not me.” To Elliot they were an especially unfortunate couple since they took the lease money and invested it in the Prison bonds. To Elliot the pattern was familiar.223 - . were the only ones destined to make any cash from this. “It is a beautiful day. That is the work. Mrs Green. The Greens bought bonds to help the town.” Grandma’s cordiality revealed nothing. As a salesman he first creates a good feeling between them. now that the dust has settled. Because once the buyer takes a loss the possibility of friendship is gone. “It is a beautiful day sir. it had not been easy gaining their trust. They must think of themselves as Rockefellers. People were always coming up to be friendly and say nice things to the old couple. Elliot wanted to get to know them now because soon they would likely not want to talk with him. It was as if he. The entire place was laughing along with the clattering of dishes.
” In the two years it had taken to get the papers signed before the first shovel bit soil Elliot never heard a word from Grandpa until now when he suddenly spoke. When she opened a coffee can she always said ‘’whoosh.” like a child.” Elliot could not be dragged into the subject of the Vietnam War. His older brother went off and that was it.” Grandpa glared around the table before his attention returned to the nurse feeding him bacon and eggs.a snow globe.224 - . He’s proud. “I can see he is proud. She was a total air head. In her answer Grandma went on. He was probably in high school before he asked about Aaron. “That’s my grandson. Maybe he would like to be an Officer once the prison opens. “He’s doing a great job. He always hated . His mother’s answers could not be understood. The mower sound approached the restaurant. “Who is that mowing?” Elliot asked. in essence she did not know who was riding the mower but you can rest assured it was one of her sons or grandsons. he killed a hundred commies in Vietnam. If he wanted to know an answer he had to go to his father.
Often he thought he dreamed up his brother Aaron along with the rest of his life before college where he began making connections. In exchange for the pleasure of being a man with money and a reputation was the pain that must be kept within and never acknowledged. She told him. Elliot believed.225 - . Elliot did not understand and he could not figure it out from father’s silence. “He is in Vashingmachine. In his way Elliot gathered information indirectly by deflecting the subject out of the conversation. That formula. The two other partners could not stand the little town of Green.” His father told him years ago. His parents must have thought he was too young and forgot to tell him. The Family restaurant’s 1930’s . One thing he knew was that he never shed one tear. The culture there was so isolated that when they asked about pizza they were told there was no Italian restaurant on the island.asking him anything since every answer somehow got back to the monster with the ugly little mustache. he asked his sister. was what made all Jewish men able to endure. “When will we see him?” His father did not answer.
original air conditioning struggle to meet the strain of all the people at meetings and the men sweated through their suits. Elliot correctly assessed that his partners were not truly people oriented. By being a people person Elliot relaxed, “What,” he asked himself, “is the worst they could do?” With that he felt unimpeachable since no one in the room before him could hurt his wife, girls, or touch his bank account. As far as embarrassment went Elliot felt bad for his customers who obviously where born deficient. These were low hanging fruit and there was no excuse for not picking them. This guy on the mower who had the arrogance to invite him out was like a pebble in his shoe. After a while Elliot began to think he had seen this guy once before and there was something other than loathing here. He would find out his name.
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All of Garth’s growing up was in the secluded country. Because of his mother was gone his years between 2 and 14 were spent with his grandparents. Grandpa who lived in his glory days in the war molded the boy for eventual Army service in the family tradition. Garth did not know too many presidents but he knew the Generals of WW2. They trusted an 8 year old with a gun because there were no other kids around his age. Grandpa saw the way the boy observed caution near the river that he was no ordinary child. As grandpa saw it a boy without recklessness needed to handle a gun. It was not right for a boy to be so meek and mindful; something had to make him passionate enough to act like a boy. But Garth was already two years old when he came to their home. Owing to his mother’s condition Garth already had most of his primary instincts frustrated and terrified out of him. His newborn cries went unanswered; he accepted hunger and sat in stink. He became quiet and learned to do as he was told. His mother was still sweet, young and popular at all the LA clubs and said it was just not the right time for her to have a baby. Sitters would bother her to
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pick up the kid. She went back to California. Garth with his grandparents was happy for what he had and asked for nothing. His strategy was to be unnoticed and survive. To fix him grandpa bought the little soldier a gun.
When Garth entered high school things changed. An ancient looking woman arrived who Garth was sent to live with. “It’s your mother.” Grandma told him. “No, you’re my mother. That’s my grandmother.” He was ripped from a pampered life in an orderly home with two old people and dropped into a place of shame and despair. They were given the old house near the bridge. The wretchedness of the woman drove Garth to move to the apartment above the carriage house. He trimmed the brush and weeds and white washed the old house. She was everything he had been raised not to be. It was easy for him to convince himself she was not his mother because Grandma and Grandpa could never produce this for a child. It was their child and there was no one who could say ‘no’ to her. Booze was delivered to the house and paid for by someone else. A colored boy came to the house and
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for a bottle of booze gave her a bag of dope. Garth felt like he was paying the price for the life he had with his grandparents. “I guess you believe what everyone says about me. Your Grandmother is the world’s biggest liar. When they first opened Family Fun your grandfather was a bootlegger and your grandmother ran a whore house. Your grandmother sold dope to the girls.” But these stories meant nothing to Garth who long ago learned to ignore and forget anything she said. Each day with her he grew more distant in his mind. He did not hate her but was anxiously waiting. If there was anything her existence taught him it was the amount of abuse a soul could take. Once this was over and she was dead he could return to his previous life. He still met with the family at church where he added to his normal prayers a secret prayer for his mother to die.
She had tried to get him to drink with her before he went off to the army. She was just an old dog in his mind, one the law would not allow him to shoot. He enlisted in the army after four years of taking out her garbage and leaving scrambled eggs and toast for her before the school bus came. The army was sure to be an improvement
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where his only worry would be the condition he would find her after he did his service. In a big waiting area they were now on a military reservation where their sergeant would give the oath. Garth never spoke to strangers but envied anyone who could and so it was natural that he noticed Aaron from the beginning. Everyone there was trying to act relaxed. Some silently by themselves and others chatted with a neighbor. The way Aaron went around he seemed like part of the process. He talked, listened seriously then drifted to talk to someone else. Garth wanted to talk to someone but he could hardly understand when Aaron came to speak with him. When he said he was from Pennsylvanian Garth understood. Garth thought he must be a coal miner and this is his big chance to get away. “After I get out I am going to write the best seller about this war.” Aaron let it be known after talking a while. “My grandfather was in the war. All he did was work in the kitchen but he has a lot of great stories. Maybe you should talk to him. He met all the big generals.” Garth said.
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World War 2 is old news. I plan to beat him.” Aaron looked around then shook his head. “What are you doing?” “Writing. I am sick of hearing about them. look.231 - . “I changed your name to John.” . I think you and I are going to do good. Some of these guys. Mailer had the best seller about World War 2. Aaron had been taking notes that first day.” He held out a pocket notebook.” “Am I in it?” “Yeah.” “Writing your novel?” “Notes. You can use my real name. “The Army is a big racket.” Garth said trying to sound tough. “I would stay clear of some of them.” They bunked next to each other.” John – a friendly country guy “That’s great. ” “Write about us. He was published by age twenty five.“Vietnam is what everyone is going to want to read about.
under combat conditions in the field he saw that he was different. Nothing falls out of a tree like a VC. Simmons and the other drill sergeants.” Garth offered. . I’m calling Sgt. Shit.“Thanks. The gook eye is black like crows’ eyes. that’ll make it easier. “I’ll use that in the dialogue. Garth found cleaning out the Cong was the same as the job he did back home since he was small.” But after the second day Aaron like the rest of the men was hungry for sleep with no energy to write or even think a thought he had not been instructed to think by Sgt.232 - . The eye was his favorite kill shot for both. Garth was cool and intent on making every round count while other men fired blindly and made themselves targets and others ran or trembled in the bush giving themselves away to the enemy. Simmons Sgt. Garth used to shoot birds through the eye. Despite the situation he came from Garth always felt he had an average white life but in Vietnam. Smith. he was too cold blooded. Men in the company found it unnerving and just another reason to stay clear.” “Sgt.
they whored and drank together through training. they were buddies. Aaron made peace with another gentile as he had done since high school. For his unpatriotic parents Garth saw Aaron like a man missing a limb and was amazed that he could get along so well. He had grown up hearing bad things about Jews and now was the proof. he thought at the time. The voices from Garth’s upbringing faded. .Garth could not understand how Aaron’s family could be against him going in the Army. As his buddy Aaron won back Garth’s loyalty. something he had been feeling his entire life. By making him a man the Army helped Aaron get over his shame at being a Jew. It was like a Jew. rescued by America yet he does not want his son to serve. Garth’s jaw almost fell off his head when he learned Jews who left Germany trained soldiers for the Army of the Confederacy and that Judah Benjamin whose round face is on the confederate script handed down to him when he was a kid was also one of Aaron’s people.233 - . But it was too late for anything like that to come between them.
pregnant only in her imagination. On her slight frame it stuck out like a bowling ball after a month. After each of the few times with Howie she was in hysterics to have an abortion. From where the fairway ran next to the road they laid mines that were operated by remote control. She had less to fear with Garth since her only other lover. Against all warnings she sun bathed it in the summer until it kicked and she was gathering a pool of sweat around her. For . After a few tries with her husband she looked at the clock near the bed to mark the exact time of conception. “The fuse is lit.234 - . Near the house where the white picket fence had trees over hanging they placed claymores with wires running to triggers in the house. allegedly had a larger member than Garth was likely to have. She was keen on it too.Chapter 19 Secretly she had been looking forward to sanctioned sex in the hope that the experience would improve. With Garth they prepared the nest.” She told Garth as she felt change begin. Howie. Now she no longer feared pregnancy but looked forward to it like acid kicking in. stroking it idly and frequently coating it with hippie exotica.
Despite her politics and without missing something she . Rachel inside had to agree.the walkway up to the house they packed the concrete lamp posts. It proved the cliché about a woman’s love and Rachel watched Garth’s transformation with contempt for how he followed programmed male behavior. Garth moved to another room. She hid from the world while having a world of her own around her.235 - . The child might be real but the role of mother was a disguise. After a second one was born Rachel once more found the act unpleasant and gave up sex. Garth brought home a pair of AK-47’s from a gun show in Nashville. He had no need of a mind as he strutted with all the pride and empty banter of a man about to become a father. The nest was secure. Even home schooling was part of a selfish screen. A father only contributes one tadpole. He seemed to have a strange understanding and something about that irritated her. Having a baby was the deepest of deep hiding. The inside of the house passed muster as competitive with any of the sisters’. When in later years her unhappy teen daughter accused her of making her favorite foods only to keep her home.
Chapter 20 Laughing so hard he had to put the hamburger back in the plate. by their laughter life was like an orgy to them. The sister in laws enjoyed everything.never desired she only wished to understand why she was not like the women around her. Rachel as Mary considered herself to be sane and rational but unlike those women she did not go through existence laughing. She was not jealous but angry about her inability to understand. That the sister in laws seemed to be enjoying their sex lives also bothered her. Grandma had to explain about being a . Was sex clear to others? It confused her and she was this way from the start. Sex should be like breathing but it wasn’t. She was frustrated by not being able to study such an individual response. it was not a punishment for having hurt others. He had asked Grandma “What is that story they all tell about you?” A common ruse Elliot used to flatter old people. from baking pies to singing in the church choir.236 - . The waitresses who were teenagers had never heard the story she told.
flapper. The smell of cut grass and b. he would have to do it himself. good food. The arrogant ass Elliot was now poised to grind under the steel track of a bulldozer. I got to take Becky to the doctor about that rash and get some parts for the pool filter. “Grandma. to be immersed in their old time lives.o. finishing his large burger. This was why he came here. The dust is still raising hell with the filter. reached them before he did. he took big bites. This was too complicated to convey. Good talk.237 - . He had just gotten off a mower and was mopping his face with a bandana. Ask his wife to ask his parents or ask himself. Then that man came to the table. Is there anything you or grandpa need in town?” He courteously nodded at Elliot. It was the stranger from that night. The fellow on the mower could be heard far away before Elliot isolated how he might know him. By . There were only two ways to find out for sure. Elliot could not read his father or his wife and this stranger was suddenly blocking him too. What was wrong? Elliot pondered. Elliot considered himself a master of reading faces but he could not read this one. He knew there is a separation between himself and them but for moments like this the wall became glass.
238 - . thick gravy. “That wasn’t Christmas it was a visit. her pointless questions leading to a story. eating so .” Now he remembered him. his friend. His father still denied it. from the Army. This could be good for a laugh. mashed potatoes. the family in Romania and the peasants on the family estate decorating the town.his parents schedule the store was slow from one o’clock until two. He wished one day his father would put a bandage around his mother’s mouth. In his hotel room Elliot could smell the turkey of thirty years earlier and those KFC sides which he lusted for ever since. From Can-tuck. As always his mother answered the phone. the possibility they once had Christmas in their home. he did not look that old. Was it a cook who visited us? “Your brother Aaron. he’ll think twice before he’s rude to me again. He listened to it unfold. But then Elliot’s thoughts went to the other place. It made him dizzy. Of course they had never had Christmas in their house but with so few visitors over the years Elliot could peel back the layers with his father.” He denied ever having Christmas in his house.
consumed in a way that built his present largeness and the power he radiated.” “Elliot Miller.” Elliot offered a politician’s hand clasp. No one knows.” Elliot smiled and winked. And the memory of his first time… No longer could he hate that man but neither could he respect him. a nobody who had the sort of face that made you forget his name.” Elliot extended his card.239 - . Then he extended his hand. Food that satisfied something more than hunger.immersed in food he could not get air. “If you every need anything. . The tractor stopped as the man took the card. The mower guy soon passed his way again. You look like you’re doing pretty good for yourself. superficial and quickly withdrawn. looked at it and stuck it in his pocket. “Garth Green. “Is the mower yours or are you still making payments? Everything okay? You’re pretty quiet. In the daylight he could see this guy was a nothing. “Everything okay now. right?” Elliot could not resist spooking anyone who presented themselves as skittish. He did not fade into the background he was the background.
he had his memories. Chapter 21 Garth accepted things. Because he did not want his family life interfering with the life of his business. “Now I’ve got you.240 - . Like a proud rooster on his riding mower he cruised over the realm which had been given a new life by his efforts. . Those wires and switches would do nothing although the mines and bombs around his and Mary’s home remained active until they were also taken down only a few years ago. unlike the hundreds of whores of his youth he did not pursue her. The pretense she offered in other areas satisfied him and he privately enjoyed the respect he was shown by Grandma and the rest of the family. He walked toward the construction site to annoy some steel workers. he removed the live bombs from the golf course. Elliot laughed.He mowed on.” He said out loud knowing in fact that he had nothing. which was also family. He was old enough to know other men in sexless marriages and respected his wife for not trying to do something when clearly she had no talent.
Becky was a teen now and Maggie would be soon. looked. now it was full of women and that was daunting for Garth. Every driver who approached slowed. From pressure to become women scientist. Becky insisted much of what her mother was teaching her was wrong.241 - . It was intensely strange not to have the child’s seemingly healthy mother waiting. The first few mornings Garth and Becky waited for the bus by the side of the road. . judged and sped on. The children had grown up in the church and were close to cousins their age but Mary was devastated when Rebecca insisted that she wanted to go to public high school. As one of the pillars of her world crumbled all of the attention was shifted to Maggie who soon asked to go to public school too. playwrights. scholars. It just rolled into the big ball of strangeness that Garth figured all men go through in one manner or another. Once it was a house full of girls. and poets under the burden of home schooling the girls once in public school became vain princesses competing with classmates for boys’ attention and other adornments.
She never answered the phone and would not allow cable TV in the house. but she was loyal to him and their home. She may have killed people and set fires but that was what they had in common. She feared standing on the side of the road because a trooper might recognize her. Other marriages had cheaters.It became another one of those things Garth accepted. With both girls being educated elsewhere Mary started sleeping late and staying up reading all night. drunks and abusers. She had things that would never be shared but the way she gave herself to him was like a dream. the family even prospered yet it was done without having her heart in it. The girls in school left empty the only part of family life that once held her interest. He remembered when she dropped her clothes in front of him in the weeks before they got married. Except for cooking dinner she was disappearing from the family. putting the card down in his pocket he had no intention of mentioning him .242 - . He was a wreck and had nothing to offer her and she gave everything and became part of his life and his family. Garth fingered the business card. she could never wait with her children for the bus.
he did not look at women. he did not think she had been there long.to Mary. In the dark while he waited for her to come upstairs he thought he saw a flash and heard that single muffled report. lately that temptation was strong. he had expected this or something like it. was there any life left in the old girl? . Her tiny silhouette in the doorway. But he was not sure and the card was a test. Something she did while others slept. she was not the suicidal type and would inflict herself on others a thousand times before putting the pistol in her own mouth. Going to bed he made sure to leave the door to his room open. Garth had not been sleeping well lately. But he must have dreamed it. what tempted him would be spending one or more years drunk.243 - . In recent months as the the island was turned into a construction site he only closed his eyes but did not sleep. The lacquer letters on the textured card shined at Garth. But as usual he emptied his pockets on the kitchen table so Mary could file the receipts. Life sober was becoming unbearable. his arm froze at the thought to throw the card away and he left it on the table. In fact if he thought about it Garth only slept well in the Army where his exhaustion was total.
As a neglected and unwanted child.” She concluded.He wished she were dead both to end her suffering and to free him. Living with a disaffected wife who asks buggy questions offered some moments of comfort since it fit the world he knew. “I just need to lay low. His heart was pounding and he was alive again as he answered her questions.244 - . Now she reminded him of the days when he was happy she had come along. Why couldn’t she live in peace like him? Was it because she was still hunted or is there a difference between the two of them that he could not understand? She told him this was the difference between sanctioned and unsanctioned killing. when the girls left for public school the distance between them grew. She had guided him back to a normal life with his family and she had his children but the harmony was not between them and although the paper said Marriage what followed lacked closeness. As an adult he never experienced unconsciousness without a tendril still looking for missing sustenance and affection. “This is my brother. it was not to be. early life offered Garth no contentment. Let’s put a locked gate in our driveway. I just won’t .
They can read license plate numbers with satellites now. “I burned a nursery school to kill a senator’s . Every stranger is my brother and my own brother is a stranger.” “I would kill my brother to save my family. “What am I going to do? Where am I going to go?” was all he could hear.” “If that’s the way you feel you should have said so years ago.” The sun was up before she returned to her bed and Garth was getting up to get the girls ready for school. With two children he felt at first he knew the answer. “If he’s not looking for me he has to have an FBI tail on him. He could not forget his loyalty to Aaron and the debt he owed for letting him jump first. There is no place left to hide.245 - . often he thought he was the only one who loved them. California. Canada.” “I thought that’s what you were saying. He ticked off a few places. I’ve done worse. Texas. Mexico. She wrapped herself in her blanket and looked up at him.go out until I can be sure.” Garth did not realize she felt that way. “We can go for one last car ride…” He offered diplomatically. A year?” Her lip curled as she spoke.
Because my body is my own and I don’t want to lie to you. Our daughters no longer need me. She had guided Garth back to sanity but clearly she was insane. After all these years it was no longer the world that was the threat to the family. the faceless shape in a thirty year old wanted poster. I knew everything I wanted to feel but I never felt anything. how are you going to get rid of the body?” Mary seemed aged. That’s why I don’t sleep with you. Garth hated himself for what he did but she hates everyone because she feels cheated of having a life and has added that to her other anger. My parents never imparted feelings in me and as a result I never developed them on my own.granddaughter. Yet that is all I can come up with.” “If you shot him or poisoned him. Killing my brother has got to be wrong. It was obviously her.246 - . “Maybe it is better if I go away. Not even for my own brother. The little 14 year old Rachel had not grown inside but was withered. She could still kill without remorse and that would destroy them all. I blinded people. All because of my parents. the thought to kill him and the means. they raised me to never shed a tear. she was. I killed a dishwasher to get his job. I have no ability to feel. . I made children orphans.
We tell the girls to sleep at their cousins’ and in the morning make some calls for no one to look for us.” Garth pulled that out from the back of his mind. But helping her was the only thing that made him want to go on.“I mean that is a heck of a body to dispose of.247 - . denying it like a proper woman would deny a desire for sex. He remembered how much he once wanted a type of woman who she reminded him of. a plan from years ago when he was actively thinking about that stuff. It will work. She was still beautiful to him but she did not know how to use it. at those times he forced himself to think of her as his best friend’s sister and let a variety of taboos assault his desire. mister and misses. She did not know she needed him and would not admit it. Before she tired of what she called being a cookie cutter robot like the rest of the women. but he would rescue her once more.” “I am not going to leave my home riding in the trunk of a car. The grocery bag of money was restocked long ago waiting to be used.” “We’ll go out together. Never again. you and me. Then his feelings toward Mary were different. . that and once more she needed him.
Such is the life. room service and a movie. he removed his leather holster and directed the AC blower at it. He considered building a mansion on the hill for his family. After fiddling with the radio he got the all-news station from Chicago. Hilton’s little sister. He found a Hampton.248 - . he thought. He removed the soggy nylon strap from around his back. By the time he got there he was dry again. The Family Fun motel was too decrepit for him. supervising these hillbillies was a job. Elliot saw the real prospects of constructing entire empty villages as he spoke to the local movers and shakers with their eyes wide and mouths hanging open. with horse stables. In the peaceful moonlight passing abandoned share cropper shacks he listened through . the call home. anticipating being back at the room and removing his shoes and peeling off his socks. he could not even sleep until he was far from the smell of the island and the river. Dinner. he talked to hick bankers and went to Rotary meetings.Chapter 22 Elliot spread the parts of his gun across the car seat.
milkshakes in the one gallon size. He shoved the mail in his pocket and untied his shoes in the elevator. No place is too far to go to get something for nothing. spaghetti served in bathtubs just for him. Elliot found intermittent tipping got the best response if he was going to need service for a while. He turned giving nothing.249 - . He had trout almandine last night that would not have satisfied a cat so tonight he had planned to take out the car and dine at a local pizza joint. was Elliot’s motto. He knocked out red sand in heaps on the floor. The concierge had his mail and key ready for him and she got eleven dollars. Even as he dreamed it on the hotel bed the center of his chest became calm.stories about murders in Gary to get to the New York stock prices. Mercantile prices suddenly fascinated him. But that was yesterday before he saw the face that had so haunted him. Usually no more than $5 for a male valet and tenner for a woman. . his breathing evened and his mind stopped racing. The valet was there and Elliot toyed in front of him with a one dollar or a ten dollar bill. Dozens of pizzas with all kinds of toppings.
He opened his eyes in bed and looked at the time. That was important because he wanted to hold onto his temper before he made a phone call later to his father. His car was not far and in the cool of the morning he did not mind walking. it’s just old age.” . He would follow the traffic he had seen from his room and stop at the first greasy spoon. He had not eaten last night yet he felt surprisingly good this morning.” “Is mom feeling all right?” “Your mother is fine. 3:54. He put his shoes back on and left the hotel. we’re both fine. “I wish you would not call because at 6 in the morning it bothers your mother. maybe she’s not well. too late to go back to sleep and too early for room service.250 - .
but what will you do when this golf fad blows over? Who would want to golf in the shadow of death row?” “Why are you here?” “Why am I here? I am here because I don’t think there is anything more inspiring than miles of shiny razor .” “You are Grandma’s boy.” “Let’s drive up. It will be to your regret if you don’t remember me. ” “Maybe we should talk in the house. I remember you. unless Lincoln offends you. I know. “Do you need a job? Once the building is finished we need to hire a staff.” “I’m doing fine where I am. I have an air conditioned Lincoln.251 - .Chapter 23 “Do I know you?” They spoke over the distance of the parking lot and in the still of late twilight their voices traveled between them like darts. we all know that.” Elliot’s comment hung suspended and was deflected by silence. “If you don’t know me Mower-man you are going to wish you did.
Knowing bad guys are where I can keep an eye on them gives me a stiff one. he moved fast for a big man. cracker!” Elliot pressed the pistol into Garth’s face. Of course not all concrete is created equal. I don’t know who you think you are or think that you know but I am going to get in my car and go back to the hotel and forget this ever happened. I went to them for Thanksgiving and New Year’s. that’s nothing.” .” “I know your parents. your brother. “I served with Aaron. a lot of mower jockeys served.” Elliot laughed heartily. Maximum security is something I want to share with the world.” Garth watched him. “Back up. Come on up to the house.” “Listen wacko. “Move that fucking mower and let me pass.wire on top of concrete walls. “Back. that’s enough. It looks great on a resume.” Garth got off the tractor and approached the car.252 - .” “Well. The window rolled down and Garth leaned in. The only way out of the lot was to drive past him so he waited. I said. There’s someone for you to meet. Move back. don’t forget we’re hiring.
They need me. boy. a frightened fat man sweating through his business suit. “Slow down. .So this is what the avenging angel looks like.253 - . The door began to open and gave Garth time to speak.” “Come to the house.” Garth moved the tab to cover the red dot.” If his approach could so terrify her brother he worried how to tell Mary. “It’s safe now. They had two children on the iron clad promise that the children would never know their mother was wanted for murder. I married your sister and we have two little girls. “I know I deserve to die but please don’t kill me.” And handed it backed. “It is you. Garth judged Elliot to be in a state of terror. Meet your nieces.” “What?” Elliot’s attention turned from the safety switch he was fumbling with. When did you last see your sister?” Elliot stood from the car and offered the gun with both hands. Tell me if the safety is on. “It’s too dark. Catch your breath.
Who the hell is he to call me a cracker? That was what Aaron also called southerners.With the name of Elliot Miller popping up more frequently on the island it was becoming more than they could stand. Being a school night the girls were in the front room doing homework together. Likewise Uncle Elliot was of no interest to them until he told them he had twin girls who were sixteen. . Cracker. Mary never mentioned her family except that she ran away at 14 to become a musician in New York City.254 - . The girls made clear to Elliot that they were excellent students. If the story ever got as far as one time music great Toby Tyler the girls were thoroughly bored. He wanted to scream out his guilt but now the conditioning of years left his face and demeanor unchanged. a word from the past and the memories that go with it were giving him a feeling like a steel hand ripping into his stomach and raising him off the ground. Now this. Having been homeschooled they were far ahead of their age mates in the public school. Suddenly Elliot tried to answer all the questions about his daughters while Garth went upstairs to notify Mary.
” He said as he sat where he used to sleep. gasping as she sat upright. “Mary. he knew she had spent the day in bed reading by the condition of the house. When he entered her room she was asleep with the Collectors’ Copy of Wobbly’s Weekly on her chest. “Elliot is here. With one motion she shook off the lethargy of years.One way Garth found to assure himself that Mary would continue being there for the girls was to insulate her from the world and to become the one responsible for keeping all trouble away.255 - . For the first few years they slept together after they stopped having sex but it was the memory of this as the room where he tended his mother before she died that drove him to sleep on a couch downstairs and eventual back upstairs to his own tiny room. He was about to say your brother is here but halted thinking of Aaron. . She still had mail drops they visited seasonally and she subscribed to various socialist magazines. Mary was still caught up in his sexual thoughts and at this moment the room reminded him of that.” he whispered. she threw her magazine away.
The construction project was just a coincidence for him to be here.256 - . twins. She even wore make-up a few times. Years ago the sisters prevailed on Mary to have her hair done.” Elliot rose from his chair and followed his sister into the kitchen where they sat facing each other across the table.“I invited him. the same age as our girls. It’s fine.” “Twin’s…” Mary repeated. What happened?” “I guess when you and Aaron went away they had no one else to feed so they stuffed me. this would be a Jew family reunion.” It was something she would have never done for Garth’s family. “There were twins on my mother’s side of the family but I don’t think the father has anything to do with that. He has two girls. Garth doubted he would see that today. or ever again. she rouged her cheeks for church. Close the door and let me get dressed. He knew she always enjoyed shocking them with her dishevelment and clothes from India. Come downstairs. “They’re both still alive?” . it seemed to amuse her. “Elliot? Look at you.
257 - . I was a war protester back then and they wanted to silence me. The government has already convicted me. the picture is me but they have no proof. to every old customer who walks in. “…but not enough to retire. Too much to quit…” Elliot ended.” Mary picked it up. “He still says that. They never change. Under that condition how could anyone get a fair trial?” .” After the girls went to bed Elliot described what he saw in the post office.” “Have they sold the store yet?” “That will never happen. all of us. He still is selling shoelaces from boxes older than I am. He’s making too much money. “If you saw the picture then you know it could be anyone. I admit it. To collect the reward someone only has to turn you in.“They’re alive but they are still not living life. Dad said they will carry him out. More than ever now.” “That’s right.” “You don’t have to be guilty.
“Now this is the woman I love.” Garth produced a revolver from the drawer next to the refrigerator. “Lay your weapon on the table. what have you got on your mind?” “What are you doing.” “Rachel.“That reward money is still a nice pile of change. Honest. to me it’s not worth the paper work. the mother of my children. “Because I don’t want anything happening to her I want to know.” Garth was glad it was him holding the gun and not her. I need for him to make his intentions clear. Anymore?” She demanded. “That’s all. Sheepishly Elliot produced a second from his jacket pocket and with some difficulty reaching down for it.” Mary drew the weapons to herself and individually admired them.” He shook his head and laughed but was laughing alone. you’re on his side? I’m your brother.” . “Nancy Reagan carries one of these. Garth?” “He pulled a gun on me in the parking lot. For someone.258 - . a third. But some of these crackers might jump at the price.
” “It was so brutal.259 - .” “He wanted to be an American and a menche.” “Every night the same stories. “Because of Dad.” “Hitler this.” “But he couldn’t do that there.” “Was this a plan? Why are you carrying all these?” “No plan. .” “That’s right. this cousin died there and your other one was put in slave labor.” Garth did not know what they were talking about.” “That’s why I had to get away. Hitler that. I put mine in my sock. Didn’t our parents understand we wanted to live our lives we didn’t want to hear about that?” Garth had never seen a fury like this in Mary. Everything about them said victim.” “He couldn’t understand why our brother wanted to join the army.“She keeps hers in her purse. You know why I carry them. Oi God! If you don’t study and get all A’s then your family died for nothing.
” Elliot looked up.” He remembered himself and made like he had spared Garth’s life.” Garth consoled him. But I never shot anyone. To show the ghosts who are everywhere that you learned the lesson from their deaths. Ask Garth. “But killing shouldn’t be easy. I couldn’t see straight.” “That’s why I carry them.” “It’s easy to pull a trigger. . “It’s life after that’s hard. I’m glad I didn’t. I was shaking.” “Killing a human being is easier for some of us.260 - . “I don’t want to shoot you now.” “I tell myself I could do it without hesitation.” “For me it is. his tone changed. I never miss a head or heart on the cardboard cut outs at the range but a few minutes ago that little Israeli made semiautomatic weighed a ton and I didn’t know what to do with it. So you do what you do now to prevent the next Hitler. That shouldn’t be too hard to live with.” She said and added quickly what she was learning.” Garth agreed.“You just want to reach out and kill someone but Hitler’s been dead and the war’s been over forty years. “You’re not a killer.
261 - . by the God of our father’s. “Do the girls know?” “Elliot. do you?” “Why?” “The front of your house is orange.” .” Elliot’s expression turned serious.” “You don’t get out much.” Garth could see his wife’s face become twisted with a painful memory. “I guess I’m finally meeting Mary. Don’t you notice all the trucks?” “For eight years I rented an apartment under iron stairs a block off 5th avenue.“I’m not your enemy.” Garth returned his gun to the kitchen drawer. The biggest thing I worry about is my apple pie crust. “That’s it?” Elliot asked. “Was that loaded?” Elliot asked. I swear it never came up. “That’s it.” Garth sat in the kitchen chair next to his wife. It’s so beautiful out here. “It would be more dangerous if it wasn’t. I block out traffic noise.
Prize money.“I know Rachel.” “What are we going to do about that reward money? There are post offices everywhere.” Elliot alone smiled. But you can tell him that his granddaughters escaped the family curse and are going to have happy lives. All I remember is you and our parent’s screaming at the Shabbat table. Don’t tell him that you found me.262 - .” “So you don’t mind if I tell dad?” “I’m an adult and I don’t care what you do. Religion makes people hypocrites. not a day of rest. Cash reward. That wasn’t what it was. It was supposed to be Shabbat but we waited long past sunset on Shabbat.” “You are so stupid.” “What do you mean?” “It’s says fifty grand. The fighting between you and dad was always bad but Shabbats were the worst. We wanted to eat and we had to wait for the fight to end. Don’t say a thing to him about where I live. . we all block everything out. Why did he send us to a Hebrew school if that wasn’t what he wanted us to think? Saturday itself was his busiest day.
” “He sent me to Yale and gave you cash.” “It took us eight. They know I’m someone important.“You would send me to jail for fifty thousand? Your own flesh and blood?” To witch Elliot replied with a noncommittal wink. “This is how I do business.” He looked around the room.” “Our father gave us a bag of money to help us. “I drive home barefoot.” Taking off his shoes he stretched out.263 - . Adding. It was sixty three little rubber band packs of twenty dollar bills. if you don’t tell the police. When a black Lincoln goes by at 100 miles an hour the cops back off. “Do you have fifty thousand on hand? In case I was serious. it takes me five hours most nights. how much did he make in that crappy little store? Why do I bother traveling all around the country?” “But I want you to have it. Garth and dad got along instantly.” .” Garth said for the sake of conversation. “That’s the way I drive.
No.264 - . “My parents were refugees from Hitler’s Germany. It was the summer of 1999 when Garth came into the bedroom where Mary was writing her social and political analysis of the last part of the twentieth century. Walking away beaten the bounce was gone from his step as he shuffled down the long and unlit driveway back to his car in the restaurant parking lot. Sorry.“No. I would never.” “What are you talking about? My parents never loved anything but that little store of theirs. “It’s funny how we started out so different. that’s what I tip the guy who mows my lawn.” Elliot said good night and shoved his small weapons and variety of ammo into his front coat pockets. The room had the pungency of perpetual habitation and rotting books.” She dropped her current notebook on the pile of notebooks that she slept with. you hold onto that in case a bounty hunter can get past your withering gun fire. You had two parents who loved you. . It had been a while since he had been upstairs to see her. No longer was Garth stalked by the fat man. I had no father and my mother threw me away.
“When was the last time since you went out and stretched? I’m glad you found something to do but writing a book that can’t be published under your name or in your lifetime seems pointless. I .” “Are you crazy? The way they tap phones in this country? You might as well just push me out into the road. And that he loves you.” “You think I’m happy? Maybe for a little while until I was 8 years old and they stuck a rifle in my hands.” “I thought your father was wise and kind. I still have Elliot’s phone number.265 - . All I saw were the scars.You have no idea what that can do to a person. You’ve had a happy life going in little circles. But people like me live in a maelstrom around the eye of cataclysmic events.” “It would seem pointless to you. The events of my life would have no meaning if they weren’t recorded.” “But don’t you want to get up and get out?” He came around the bed to sit on a corner. maybe your parents could go to Elliot’s office at a certain time and we could call them. one generation after the next. A window needed to be open. Mary picked up a notebook and held it in front of her chest.
Garth felt all was lost he was almost sixty and the comfortable family he grew up with was dead nearby or living far away. The children she raised questioned everything. He might give you some direction. .” “You go and talk to my father.” Garth said with all the calm he could drag to the surface and got up from the edge of her bed. “There’s scrambled eggs and toast downstairs for you. Maybe I am not as miserable as you but don’t write in your little books that I am happy. He shook his head and took a chair alone at the kitchen table.thought you and I had a shot at being happy but that didn’t happen. Their adult daughters broke off from them when they learned their mother had not been honest. He struggled with his urge. I used to have a thriving family business and a beautiful country golf course and now I am another maintenance man on Prison Island which stinks.” Once or twice before he felt like this. Wasn’t all this expansion his idea?” “That must be it. his intention was asking her for a New Year’s date and now he just wanted to find some beer and hit the road. After so long it still called to him.266 - . to grab some beers and hit the road.
267 - .“Grant me the serenity. The lacquer letters and numbers in disarray were stuck to his thumb. “Grant me the courage to change that which can be changed.” He said to himself.” He clasped his hands in prayer. He pulled out his wallet and unpeeled Elliot’s card from behind the bills. . The paper was turned to compressed lint having been sweated through for many years.
Born in Pennsylvania and relocated to Kentucky at 14 where she became a child bride known as Mary.Chapter 24 The Trial of Rachel Miller Upon arrest she immediately admitted to once having been Rachel Miller but not to any other residence. They only spoke after she was brought to court and fully charged. Rachel.268 - . She demanded to speak with an attorney and once given one she had nothing to say to him. she fumbled with wire strands and tweezers for the small quantities her volatile mixtures required. In court she learned her arrest was the result of an anonymous tip to the FBI. She knew that was a lie and there was no one she could trust. The tips were callous and desensitized her fingers came to blunt ends like the trucker drivers and stevedores she met in New York. alone in her segregated cell studied her fingers with selfish concern knowing there was no one else who would be interested in their story. . The most sensitive parts were wearing leathery caps and they offered no help judging temperature or texture.
a phony smile and the unconcern of a happily employed artist was what she presented to the world but the history of her fingers returned her to the stages of her life. The only relief she knows is by picking up the violin and bow and playing for an hour. Peers not in the musical world but the ones who marched to the militant beat where she was known as a . She was also denied the company of others. And she would have. People are basically good was one idea stuck in her head which inspired her most of her life. Her inquisitive and sharing nature made her stand out among her peers.269 - . It was a comfort to her in many situations and gave her the courage to open her heart with an array of individuals who a diminutive and young person from a sheltered background might never have had a rapport. Her elbow twinges and her shoulder ached and sometimes it was the other way around. The repetitive movement that caused the injury also soothes it.Gentle detachment. But that is not possible in prison where the authorities are not inclined to ease her stay. Rachel was segregated from the prisoner population for fear she might spread her pacifist beliefs.
white radical to the police and as a sister in the local community. Music made him another person. . That was years ago. It was from a yard sale and after her father sent it out for new strings it sounded as fine as any she would later play in her brilliant but brief career. not an obliging small-town merchant. she saw him finding peace. However when the description brilliant and inventive was laid on her in the news it was not for playing but for her ability to elude capture for almost fifty years as she made bombs and incendiaries each so unique as to offer the police no trail to follow. Her father in that way inspired her to play the violin. In a melodic thrall until the violin plays the pizzicato and his eyes reopen and a genuine effortless smile comes to his lips. under a musical spell his face relaxed from the jester’s mask he made of it in the store. It was not a boast when Rachel told Mary at the School of Music that her playing was the result of her independently inventing the Suzuki method. At peace.270 - . erased too were the strain lines over his eyes which came to prominence when he struggled to tell a story in a language that twisted his tongue. Before that she watched her father’s head loll with heaviness when he listened to the Texaco Hour. or a survivor.
They were another face of the enemy like the cops and the army. She searched for the one word she could throw back at any argument. the distributers. The President is the same as the guy who offered her wads of cash to make a movie. In her heart she was always sure . Porn and the people she came to associate with it. In a desolate tenement she learned how to put together a newspaper and live in a community without laws. That there was no single word or phrase that could explain it. to talk with those guys about the revolution she had to put up with a lot. It was the same aggressive hunger in all these men.She was a young runaway living in a radical commune in the lower east side of Manhattan and there a boy from Queens showed her the chapter he was writing for ‘The Terrorist Handbook’. The same men who made and sold porn also printed the revolutionary newspaper and made duplicates of the war film from Hanoi which were sent throughout the country. They swaggered and licked their lips. all armies. It was a world dense with high school age kids and a few older people in their twenties. After a celebrity made a trip to Hanoi upon her return there was an influx of newsreels from the North. challenged her belief that all people are good.271 - .
“My sister had a shelf full of porcelain dolls that she liked to dress. He could have sent the same German soldier out to fight four or five times after being wounded. And our homes.that life still was pleasant. She came to isolate one day. The Hitler argument disallowed any counter discussion or else her father would bring to bear the shattered limbs of his big sister. sunny and beautiful but she could not share it any more than she could express it. My mother thought because my father was a famous doctor we would be safe. raped to death by Hitler’s men. She said they would go to Aryan children in the special home for Hitler’s Kinder.” At which point he laughed. Adding. My parents were no more Jews than we are. “Hitler’s jealousy was such that it would destroy the world it was building. Hitler took our toys. . about seven years old and she is playing at her father’s stocking feet with Barbie dolls in her family’s new house. An Aryan woman one day came to our house and took her dolls and my toys too.” Her father observed. and he would accuse her of sharing responsibility. “Very pretty. It drove her to spend hours with her dictionaries.272 - .” She searched during most of her youth for a word that could deflect the Hitler argument. My father’s was a brilliant surgeon.
Her mind was occupied analyzing the constant rage she felt. At fourteen in 1966 she could justify her reluctance. and shout about. It was a wall of resistance toward what her mother wanted . She convinced herself too that all she needed was Love but she kept that to herself because of love’s other meaning.273 - .It was the music of the Beatles arriving in time to rescue Rachel when they offered her and her generation a new meaning to the world. Her deeper anger had more to do with her mother’s bright lipstick and the artificial mole she adorned herself with. When the war was raging then being anti-war was something she could talk. She fell like one of so many cut daisies for the charismatic Christians and their peaceful ways. Learning its desires and feeding it while maintaining an A average and learning new music for the school tours. This was not a line but a fact. Other times when she was asked she explained that she had no interest in sex. They promised each other to remain friends and did. Like her comforting thoughts of societal love she also internalized the rage she had felt since before her brother went to the war. She did not reject the offer of the boy from Queens to share his sleeping bag but refused to allow him access and did not want to touch his organ.
to protect and provide for the . servants and even friends.274 - . Rachel’s brothers did not know or care and father smiled and nodded. who at parties and balls would infuriate the young men as she coyly played with them. to be a cultured tease. spat on by the neighbors. a coquette. Reassured by father’s presence mother worked in the family’s store and in the evening they formed circles. Where these balls were being held in western Pennsylvania was a mystery but it was her mother’s dream. He would not save her. he found the fantasy agreeable. Only a young girl her mother along with grandmother and the other children were flushed from their homes and made a procession through the streets. When Rachel’s mother’s mother perished her mother was a girl who then fell or was pushed through the cracks of a death camp. Max took care of Eva who together formed a crippled parent’s outer circle. It was a set of dreams that her mother as a young girl shared with an older boy in the death camp and who she was reunited with in America many years later. The dream of a coquette was all that remained.for Rachel. a toxic dream. Her grandmother did not have her wig when the Germans came was something Rachel heard from her mother many times.
she could claim. were confusing her for the activist Rachel who by coincidence shared Mary’s Maoist-Marxist philosophy.275 - .children’s circle. While her parents brought the kids to the meetings of death camp survivors it did not sink in to Rachel or the other children that they were not alone. The Mafia sold her to American Nazis as a live hippy for a hunt in Wyoming. The police. Mary considered herself a . She reasoned that the party was always under the FBI’s thumb while the mob did whatever it wanted. She knew the guys who printed her newspaper were in with Mafia. After the meeting kids went to their scattered homes still feeling desperate and alone with reclusive parents living in their private world. two separate circles. It was her decision not to use the Communist party underground. Especially so Rachel thought for her family. The effect among the kids at these gatherings was to reinforce how strange all the parents were. All of the criminal charges were for actions before 1978 while living in New York. In jail she finally felt proud of herself for having been an inexperienced young girl alone on the road. When she slipped the FBI that day she really slipped them.
She wanted to understand not only who and what but also why. It was a lot easier to suppress her anger that way over the years but once comfortable in the confinement of prison and safe from counter accusations she viewed all the people in her life as suspects and examined the evidence on each one of them. Rachel had mused about the likeness the FBI claimed between herself and the image of the little woman in the long coat with a shawl over her head. Clearly whoever turned her in possessed the most difficult of minds to liberate. Her legal strategy was to rip through every witness. God himself might expect to be called on to explain creation. To identify one or more specific weaknesses of mind in several individuals will help to elicit why these people have become docile puppets. She wanted to put all of society on trial. She wanted to examine the driving forces in the greater culture.276 - . Of the millions of . her plan was not to talk about herself but to begin the conversation among the masses to abolish war. Rachel had hoped for a podium. how advertising and consumerism were enabling neurotic narcissism in women and the culture of endless war in American men.teacher and intellectual. Ideas she had been honing in her notebooks would be her tools used to expose a basic flaw in the human race.
anyone so dressed. Until she obtained the life size blow up from the FBI she would call her witnesses from characters who she did know in the town where she arrived as an unattached hippie. For thirty years a tiny woman. including the tourists who were in that picture. But when she . only a handful could point a finger at her. threatened the foundations of the republic because she was a war protester. It was taken at an anti-war rally and she also wanted a list of the speakers who addressed the crowd in Greenwich Village that day. “I want to kill my husband.” was something with which she could identify. These were the people who knew she was sober and reliable. Rachel wanted to prove that she was singled out and planned to prove her innocence by indicting everyone else in the photograph.people who saw this in the tens of thousands of post offices. Although when another waitress robbed her tips she could say nothing for fear of a fight breaking out and the police being called. She wanted the jury to see the entire photograph of the hundreds of others. The picture was a cut out. The women who opened up as they washed dishes or waited tables together would convince a jury that she was sympathetic and understanding.277 - .
No day of rest to reflect on creation and give thanks. The day of . The entire town was evil. selfish and self-centered. Out doing neighbors and trying to get ahead was the number one topic of conversation.learned the girl’s grandfather worked in a hardware store then a bomb was sent to her grandfather’s store. She felt that work is unacceptable and only passion is acceptable as the motivation. parents against each other. But all of the people of the town were slaves to their work. They talk endlessly about work when they are at home but they can say only an embarrassed sentence or two about home life when they are at work. Entire families were in division. They understand their jobs but are mystified by their families. People want things and buy things for themselves then they worry how to pay for them while wanting the next thing. and parents secretly against children.278 - . While she scanned the horizon for the police they had their heads bowed nurturing their lawns. In a little town everyone seemed to have problems. Except for the matter of steel bars in front of her face it would seem she had all the evidence against the little town. children against parents. That was the first thing she noticed. The locals go to church but have no Sabbath.
rest is Monday after an exhausting weekend.279 - . She could run down a list of how flagrantly American culture disregarded the Ten Commandments. Passion motivated that too. It felt like she had spent a lifetime beating her head against a wall. And her hands which once held his became like ghosts to her. War is always wrong. To tell how the sergeant with hand on his side arm forced him and Aaron to jump outside the wire. She wanted to hear of her brother who often held her hand when she was a little girl and was shot to pieces. except one and she had not been charged with that one. She should have seen that before. But her actions were revenge and politics. Rachel learned to eat pork in Kentucky and there came to see the special consideration toward taking a human life. She lost feeling in this world and tried to wring more from meager memory of the past. She knew the war was wrong the day she learned Aaron died. In shacks where beer and hard liquor was served the boys fought each other but never to death. . to be near Garth and hear him tell what he saw as he did long ago. Rachel in the course of her antiwar struggle regarded taking a human life like other Jews claimed to not eat pork at home. it would have saved his life.
She could see how like her father there was a day everything changed. But historically millions of Jews came to the New World. the animals she helped feed that were later served family style in the restaurant. her family had pain for generations. Aaron’s buddy. was there when the soul of her brother departed his body. She never liked alcohol. She remembered in the evening he swatted imaginary flies . Garth was the first alcoholic or drunk person Rachel had to deal with. With garden fresh peas she picked. Garth’s drinking made her apprehensive. It was the other way round for Garth. she feared the morning she would go out to do her yoga and his beer drenched corpse would be sprawled on the steps to his apartment.280 - . Proper alcohol use as illustrated in popular culture says beer time only arrives at dusk. Used to be he’d drink from morning until early afternoon before he could hold a civil conversation.Some people don’t have lives with pain. her father’s family stayed in Berlin. It took time before his presence was felt other than as a sack of booze. She saw the rich and the poor living side by side. Garth. Garth’s lack of interest or ambition made for a comforting quiet. Doesn’t that mean something? Living quietly on the river awoke in her the value of life.
There was a knowing wink at the mention of Grandma and Grandpa every Sunday. it was mostly about Garth’s family who made barrels of cash during the depression with booze. The cemetery had some twenty and twenty one year olds from ww2.281 - . He. Aaron’s internment at Arlington was not an honor to his family. Some of that money went to build the town’s only church. who was an attraction for miles around as the . Everyone doesn’t have to know you’re Jewish. Rachel could imagine her parents tossing her body in a hole the same way. Even the worst things these people did seemed bathed in sunshine. despite neighbors and taverns nearby Garth drank alone. For them it was easy to value life that was not miserable. That was the big lie her father told her and the family.while watching television above the garage without curtains. of all people. Max had used the flag to wipe away Aaron’s footprints. dope and whores. Korea and Vietnam at rest. She learned the principle subject of gossip as it was repeated in various corners of the small town. Their sacrifice was not disputed. While most people will become happy and sociable after one drink or two.
A Jewish man. his special numbers could be seen inside his sleeve on a hot day. Only the completion of the train tracks and the mass arrival of more victims saved Max’s life. The Greeks across the street celebrated their version of Christianity. That one then beat Max until bones were heard snapping. he was often pointed as an example of Jewish inferiority.local Jewish merchant. How could she be any more confused when she was bussed for hours a day to a Hebrew school? Not being seen as Jewish left nothing to be seen as for Rachel. In the beginning on a quiet night the German’s would bring out Max and beat him until his blood had splashed on one of them. He was not a child as he appears on first impression. And his scars. How. Rachel was taught in Hebrew school that except for their sect’s unique interpretation of the Five . could her father think here in America people might not see him as a Jew? He lives in that part of Pennsylvania other Americans visit just to behold a religious oddity. Rachel wondered. both now and back in 1938 to the Germans who grabbed him.282 - . Max’s father was also a short man and he was a famous surgeon. Max rarely went in the sun and throughout his life his scars remained pale and fresh.
he joked in broken English with delivery men and customers all day long until he arrived home. Father would put Aaron in charge of the family for days at a time taking mom to different hospitals and rest homes. “I only run a store but my father was a great doctor. He thought that was another reason to go to into the Army.283 - . as a girl she suggested that maybe he was so good a doctor the Germans let him live. We should go to Berlin and look. But mother was also a rival as she did and said things which took her and Max away. Rachel and Aaron made Elliot the slave. . It was Aaron who first got Rachel interested in politics. At home he was a devoted spouse and in love.” For the eternity of youth she tried to infect her father with optimism.Books of Moses the rest of the world is wrong and will be punished when they die. But most of the time Max was happy. for a chance to be a hero like our late President. He saved many lives. When Aaron was left in charge the family felt half normal. Jewish existence is to suffer and die was Max’s philosophical response to her. She thought Aaron could be the first Jewish president. But he only became bleak about that.
The Barbie’s were imitation dolls with no flexibility. She spent hours sewing dresses while waiting at the cash register. Rachel did the books then got on her own bus to school. from her seat in the window. According to the story heard and repeated the reason mother only ran the cash register was for fear her father might catch her doing a common job like sweeping or arranging merchandise. Mother sewed at the counter on a high stool from where she could oversee the store and where father could always find her.284 - . He was off in the woods directing his crew the day the SS and Romanian Nazis took the other Jews away. . The exception was hospitality. waited for her father to approach.Other than Hebrew school and the store her time was spent in her heavily doll and doily adorned room. Her father would see that she was the boss and it was Max who did the peasant work. Eva. Rachel and her mother brewed coffee which they sold along with snacks and newspapers to the commuters who took the bus. Her father was a wealthy land owner who sawed down whole forests and ran the wood through saw mills he owned. The stand was only open a few hours in the morning before the Greek restaurant across the street opened.
Maybe that was why she was so adamant that she teach Rachel how to sew. tight skirts and bright colors brought all kinds of unwanted attention to Rachel. They cut and sewed doll wedding dresses. Rachel was embarrassed for her mother as she would be for a dumb kid in class. She was thankful when the rabbi sent a note home about the subject. Rachel taught her mother how to make change.285 - . That was also the time Rachel began to feel alien in her own home. Father and Aaron were constantly at odds then too. it was to enflame the male for the wedding night. She remembered herself and her mother on nights 15 below with wind howling off the lake selling coffee from an open door. Rachel resisted becoming the kind of woman her mother was poised to make her. Her mother explained to her about the slits and use of see threw material. the clothing her mother made for her to wear was changing. At the age of nine Rachel lost the fascination and stopped sewing with her mother. Aaron got out of the Hebrew school system and was in the . Rachel in a long fur coat mother made from unfashionable salvage. It was the only skill she had to transmit.Scratching and rooting for every commercial opportunity was the essence of how they survived.
Father saw any uniform as a Nazi uniform. Just as Elliot was kept under the couch fights about the army crushed her father. American kids did not know how to study. Every blow was unfair and dirty. He expected to do well in the army and Rachel wanted to follow him there until she learned more about courant events.” Aaron despised their father’s wisdom.local public high school. “Maybe your beautiful older sister who was dragged behind the house and raped to death is sick of you bringing up her story. “Once a slave of Hitler .286 - . You would have been better off dying to save her. She planned to do like her brother. The time between when he signed up and actually went in was one brutal fight after another. You have Hitler on the brain. Her brother . she did not like what the army was up to.” If the family was always quiet they were at one time warm toward each other but no longer. Aaron said being in public school was like being back in kindergarten. the challenge for Aaron must have been not to go too far but finally. Overall she agreed with Aaron except when he fought with their father.always a slave of Hitler.
” Rachel corrected him.” With Aaron away it became a joke again.entered the army under a curse. a secret spy during the war.” She had the memory of an ancient religious scholar. A Jew waits until they come for him. “Only a goy joins the army. she needed someone whose playing she respected before she would accept instruction and .287 - . “No. She was too stiff necked to be instructed by teachers who were not on her plane in terms of feeling each note. “This is exactly what I predicted when he went to the public school. A knock on the head and he is drafted. Recording the words of a man who often said the numbers on his arm were for the Germans to keep track of him. Music under the pressure that it must deliver her away made it like playing with weights tied to her arms. Rachel’s ability to be taken up with the passion for her music became intermittent. Listening and visualization then mechanically reproducing were enough to bring her to the top among small town musicians.” Father said. “you said he would become a goy and marry one. Even if the answer was more practice. he was a valuable man. literal and cast in stone. He was glad to go and the tension at home was relieved when he left.
Alone in Manhattan she spent years in a concrete and steel bunker putting together her own ordinance.288 - . breathing hard. Only one thing in her life surpassed the unbridled energy of her playing. They did all the cliché things but for Howie. Rachel however was a cell member as well as a cell by herself hiding her actions she disassociates from other radical groups and individuals. running from a fire. Her brother going to public high school opened the door for Rachel to attend a music school. She knew what she was doing and exactly why. he had to go away. Just as the first American Revolution began in 1776 it was not over until the British left in 1783. a fellow soldier.practice more. If she thought about it she had a very normal life for an underground resistance fighter. America! The arrangement was that a cell member knew only fellow members of the cell. to be effective in this modern revolution Rachel dug herself in for the long haul. For that she needed to go to New York City. Happy Holidays. At nineteen she had a lover and was in love. When she could not run another step she staggered on laughing until returning to the back of the concert hall with a cigarette in her mouth. .
she watched people with purpose walking by and at that moment decided to end any further activity bringing people into the cause.The final time she met with anyone of her cadre who she might recruit it was termed a support group and the only one who turned out was a radical celebrity from Chicago whose reputation preceded him and it was well known for years that he turned nark. After the meeting she drank black coffee alone at a restaurant counter.289 - . Rachel loved chemistry and Howie was the same about everything electrical. That was when Howie took flight and she realized how stuck she was in an unregistered apartment behind a stairwell. No one wanted her support and Rachel did not need any. . she was elated that these things which might have tempted her were now impossible for her to obtain. Because he was making money rewiring a house after school he was not hanging around the Panther Party headquarter and was not arrested. Locked out. She bought bomb making supplies in person for cash in New Jersey. a Musicians’ Union card and a NYC Library card. get a credit card or make a major purchase. Having dismissed the obligation of party members to bring others along she was free to pursue endless revenge without cluttering ideology. Her only identifications were a few student discount cards. She could not open a bank account.
right after high school. If a police captain makes a remark in the Daily News or the Times she doesn’t like she adds him to the list and begins her research. With Howie it seemed abnormal. . Only Rachel has to know. It went good with a cigarette. At that time. her entire life was an exercise of the people’s right to attack and kill members of the state. Her books could be published now although a revisionist would teach them. The women who were not like her and actually practiced free love were soon squirting out babies like it was nothing and taking jobs around the college towns upstate. He doesn’t have to know the reason his little nephew was blinded. She believed in the electric chair. he was nice but his penis was not at all like ones she glimpsed growing up.290 - .She liked the scream of a siren pushing through to a fire. it seemed like the radical men were either headed towards eventual heroin addiction or ones like Howie who stuck with pot and LSD. it doesn’t say excuse me. just like the sniper who killed her brother. it pushes people out of its way. Rachel did not want to be one of them. She had to revise her estimation of sex. It blares. Had the revolution been won she would have a chair at a college instead of this chair.
Becoming pregnant made sense but having kids and being around them all the time was enough to drive her crazy until she fought back. She was their teacher and she was a mean teacher.291 - . After one child it became worse. Where ever they are now no one needs to know who their mother is. Instead she imagined living on an isolated farm in the Urals where snow fell ten months a year. She became their school teacher. Like a narcotic addict she could not begin her day without it and at night could not stay away from it. Of course by this point in her life she once imagined herself heading a government bureau but the good old Soviet Union was gone. It was the kindest thing to do.When she wanted babies her body was magically responsive and the intercourse which was repeatedly terribly became with Garth easy from the first and soon irresistible. Despite the stress of creating two average scholars it gave her a reason to get up. she did not want the children to grow attached. Once her mind was made up to conceive she became astonished by her receptivity. Soon they only . If she had to look at them all day she cared about their appearance but when they went to public school their father sent them off. She bubbled like a volcano.
“Of course. When she saw her parents so unmoved by the death of her brother she made a promise to herself. When she learned of her father’s death she was disappointed by how easy it was for her not to shed a tear. Over the years she made sure she was not photographed. She figured Elliot owned a few old age homes. It took her father’s actual death to provoke her imagination. Garth’s family was prolific and cousins moved away until it became the thing to do.” she thought. exploiting male weakness had been Eva’s . She was satisfied to be the woman with a secret in the old house. Garth received a letter post marked Philadelphia. The village will now have to get by with only one Jew.292 - .saw each other at meal times and eventually not even that.” It was so clear. a typed note. the family Christmas card showed only the girls. “the wealthy widow will remarry. she thought like a cold race theorist. Often when fantasizing about hearing of her father’s death she wondered what would become of her mother. MM b1922-d1997 Rattling in the envelope was one of Elliot’s obscenely expensive business cards.
You must wake up. Look Out! “I’ll never know. She was glad his suffering was over. a strange language was spoken between her parents. Father came home late and ate at night and as most nights had that shrill Yiddish conversation with mother.twisted message.293 - . where she is a little girl and her father was expected home momentarily. A deep breath was all she allowed and that was for her mother. At least her brothers shared a room but Rachel was all alone until sometimes she prayed her mother would go back to the hospital. as loud as it could go. “You are dreaming. a Latin based Yiddish that made the kids uncomfortable.” . Then Rachel’s mother’s thin eyebrows would arch and her face freeze and mother did not recognize her children followed by the silent scream. You are safe with me. it broadcast to all rooms. ww2 or the news. it was such a dark and grim house. sewing and telling stories about her father and Romania.” She wiped away what she assured herself was a tear of laughter.” Father would speak softly. Eva was good at laundry. “You are dreaming. Aaron always had the living room TV tuned to sports. Then father had to hold her with one hand over her mouth. Stories often took her to bad places. men of the world.
But tears at that point are viewed as self-pity. It seemed with the end of her father’s generation they would hear the end of stories about death camps and Nazis. But as her father suffered he made others suffer and her mother who was all pure childish impulses as far as being a mother to Rachel.” Father always said when it was over.“She used to be worse. the pain of the living? Prison seemed very inviting as a place to shed tears. Father traveled half the Jewish world before finding her again. She hoped to live that long but with her father’s . and the pain of strangers who are dust but what about Rachel’s pain. The secret information carried down by the family was how much worse she used to be until she had shock therapy. Their own pain. for the generations lost. At her best she was a spoiled little girl who smiled at Max from the Women’s side handing towels like Max did to new arrivals from the train who were told they are about to shower. her mother got what she deserved. so great was their love it made an island for the two of them in a sea of pain. Rachel promised herself any tears shed would be shed for others.294 - . Recapturing that moment of innocence and love was what they lived on and it must have allowed them to ignore cruel death.
actual death she saw it was not over and as much a cult as ever. “Who put these clothes on you? Can’t you put on a little make-up?” She began ranting the same stupid nonsense of forty years earlier until from the next room Elliot’s voice was heard. I wish I could hug you. That was what she hoped to speak about. the capitalist nation which wages unchecked war must fall. “The old lady is nuts. “headset and microphone” then swirled his finger meaning “tape recorder. “Oh sister. He wore a trimmed beard that came to a point.” . “Is this how you want people to see you?” Is roughly what her mother said.” Elliot said entering behind a guard who tapped Eva on the shoulder. the pressure on her generation to bring peace to the world. When her mother arrived she rushed to the cell. Her program was simple. Her goal as a radical revolutionary was to increase the pressure by targeting servants of the people with all the power.” And mimed. her mother excused herself. Her books were full of reasons but alone in a cell she had but the one root to her anger.295 - . Elliot looked like the pope in his flowing suit and adorned with gold. He said. embarrassed.
You’re my hero.” . I’ll prove to them you are only trying to save yourself. I’m so glad I married you.296 - . Help Elliot get me out of here. How about a kiss?” Their lips were separated by half an inch of steel. “I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my daddy. I build prisons in this state. “They know I have money and I draw a lot of water here.” Elliot looked happy. “who snitched?” “Well then.”he looked around and whispered. “Where were you. “You did it for my father’s money and the reward.” Garth was sheepish around the dark corner. why didn’t you come to see me? Have the girls sent word?” Garth was relaxed. We’ll counter sue everyone. You wanted a divorce for years.” Sitting straight adding loudly.. “How are you holding up?” He asked her. “Are you and mom the only ones? Bring Garth up here. he was the only one to pull up the chair in the corner. He sat like a farmer tugging at his pant knees.“I already hired you a big shot Philadelphia criminal lawyer. I want to see my husband.” He laughed.. “I know you like your time alone and I was waiting to hear who. She whispered.
he never again came to visit. When she asked to mount a political defense he told her the sadistic delivery method could only indicate one . The jury would see her as sociopath.297 - . She had lived in the town 20 years. She could not rely on loyalty.She did not know who turned her in but she had to have some grip on the situation. He told her the evidence was indisputable having left chemical signatures on her victims which connected indisputably to residue left in her old residence in New York City. It proved he was loyal to a place and maybe to her again someday. Garth could be seen through a small window doing his job on the prison grounds. He said he would take the case only in the hope of saving her from the electric chair. He did not want to help her because he did not want to be implicated. Rachel told Elliot she saved him a bucket of money after firing the big shot Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer. Her hope to get Garth to falsify documents faded. she was a weight around his neck and she knew it. ever. She wondered how hard could it be to stretch her history to thirty? Fairly difficult because she refused to sign anything. To live she had no choice but to throw herself on the mercy of the court.
War is cancer indiscriminately killing old and young. men and women it must not be viewed as a tool of sane politicians.thing. Insanity. I am sorry for the innocent I have hurt but in my way I will always fight for peace and continue my protest so long as war remains a tool of our so-called leaders.298 - . War is wrong and I am a fighter in a campaign for peace. When an American child burns his fingers on a toy in a pile that a war contractor paid for that is my way of bringing the war home. War is wrong and it had to be said. Evidence of insanity was her only hope of living and that meant submitting to tests and examinations which by declaring her insane will also invalidate her campaign against war. Facing death with the wish for peace on her lips was her choice. Rachel Miller/Mary Miller Green .
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