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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
” Garth said. One tour just so I can tell everyone back home I did it. “because I don‘t want to fight side by side with someone who doesn‘t want to be there. “I was Aaron’s buddy.toward his buddy helped him hold back tears in front of Dino. my friend from across the street. something he wanted to tell them that he could not say. I can strip and clean -6- . “It looks like you got out of there.’ There was a firm handshake to Garth’s relief. It seemed to remove the dead fish curse left by Mr Miller. I learned a lot.” “The war is wrong.” “Well I’m not going back if that’s your next question.” The little girl thrust herself among the adults. Aaron’s friend from across the street. ‘Dino. He always called him. “Right.” The half door from the entrance where coffee was sold swung open as Ruchel spoke. I’m glad I went but I am sorry at the same time and I don’t want to go back. “Well I think the war is wrong. Dino?” Dino said nothing. “That’s alright. The thoughts in his head ached.” Garth said repeating how Aaron spoke. You’re Dino.
Aaron told me this was a quiet town. Or if your leg got shot I could apply a tourniquet and field dress the wound in a snap. “I am just happy to be out of there. Garth. Garth felt everything the opposite of why he came here.” He stepped out of the circle to look around. Mrs Miller. He licked his lips. Rachel. Right?” Dino suggested meekly. he felt accusation and guilt and saw again in his mind things he hoped to forget.” Dino had no desire to stay. “It was nice to meet you. Garth no longer tried to like everyone.” Watching Dino make his little farewell from Aaron’s mother and sister Garth felt himself finally relaxing again. “See you later.” Dino smiled to match Garth’s smile. He was taken by the dullness and boring sameness of the farmland that surrounded him. That could save your life. The broad empty streets seemed to darken and close in. thirsty and now tired of foreigners. Dino was a person who Garth immediately disliked.an M-14 or a 50 millimeter blindfolded and I know how to disarm a booby trap. “The Army builds character. Being away from the war was like bullet proof glass between him and the rest of the -7- .
” But only after Mrs Miller insisted did he look at it.” He showed them the key information. he was a smart boy. Garth explained. a bell on a spring rang when he opened the door to his family’s restaurant. -8- . This is the Army’s way of doing things. first they want you to request the form. a letter from the Department of Defense. so we don’t have to open any more Army mail. Standing in front of Aaron’s family he read them like a spy. Then Mr Miller produced from his pocket a familiar looking envelope. Garth felt the cold shiver. Instead of sending the form which you have to fill out. not me. Aaron was real again. That’s what we went through everything for. who is walking on my grave? He wondered. and seeing little disturbances to tender new growth. In the Army we call that hurry up and wait. an older brother. He was reading fresh clues of the enemy. Between Rachel and Dino he studied the small looks and gestures. “It’s from the Army. He read the letter twice to make sense of it. throw it away. “Maybe you know what this is?” He offered it timidly. Dino crossed the street. It was all so nicely wrapped up for them. “I guess he bought GI insurance. Ruchel’s protector. trailing Dino with his eyes.world.
And the only person in the family they had in common is dead.“This is what you ask for. The father.” She looked like Aaron. Aaron’s face. the brother who snuck out of the store did too. Why was he bringing up old wounds? He wanted to blurt it out. She looks like she has good handwriting. Aaron was smart and never stopped talking and that was fine for Garth who listened on and off. stepped from the entrance and joined them on the sidewalk. The Miller family was once whole. Max. the last time he saw him it was hanging from his skull. they had their mother’s face. Claim for Death Benefits… “Have your little girl do it.” underlining with his finger. The artificiality and strain of the moment reminded Garth of before they were shipped out and the company was confined to base. He did not know them when there were two sons and now there is only one. 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. Aaron dying ended that. …form SGLV 8283. -9- . I bet you do real good in school. Do I want to return? If I can stand this I might as well go back. It amazed Garth that there seemed to be no alcohol around this town.
In fifteen minutes he had bought two six-packs in the next little Pennsylvania town. Garth was a happy kid before he left home. Mr. Soon he stopped talking to his old friends and his cousins. They had roast chicken with cranberry sauce and side dishes that had numbers from the cans. He saved his boots and uniform in the car trunk and after finishing one six pack got some shut eye at a truck stop. He was not sure what the old man was saying. Aaron’s parents .Garth left them from there. Garth could not control the tears. back then everything ended with a joke and now every conversation ended in an argument. Miller made a speech at the dinner table. 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 they ate they gave him a place by himself to cry.10 - . an impromptu for the unexpected guest. 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. the second six took him the rest of the way home.
This time he brought a turkey. hearing of others having a good time caroling and drinking . Their stories haunted him. Be careful. pies and KFC side dishes to the Millers. All those emotions without booze.11 - . All they did was giggle. puking and crying after too much Cole slaw.” Aaron’s little brother ate like he had been starving. 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. When Christmas came Garth once more left his family.stood outside the door and were clearly talking about Garth in their language. his father warned him but he was sick before the end of the night. he drove the long night home exhausted and sweat drenched. Cousins and nephews were unavoidable. he woke and left in the dark. 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. “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.
” His grandmother’s sure mouth and closed mind pushed him further to the edge. “It’s just like the Jews to have piles of money and no food on the table. It was as though he too were dead and could not accept his present. Instead his gifts were set aside like an offering to a spirit. Nervously Garth entered the overheated house. Even the trash sparkled.12 - .” she asked quietly from the edge of the couch. Never again. Under the small artificial tree on the kitchen table was a present for him. Days later it still annoyed him to find wrapping paper stuck between couch cushions.and carrying on when he knew he could never join the fun. That he brought them a Christmas dinner because their table was bare. Days after Garth hesitated to open these underserved gifts. Escaping the house he . He had killed so many times that the big flakes of snow on the highway reminded him of splattering brains. “Where did you go. The only lights on the day after Christmas were at grandma’s. son? We missed you. to be with a family who lost their son. Garth explained where he went.
” A sexual treat reserved for one of James Bond’s foes. when he pressed it to his cheek into view came a little gook family at the door of their hut. . “Uncle. I am sick of hearing from you. For Christmas Garth got a new hunting rifle. Next weekend. Once he told a couple of veterans. That was what they would do. After a while he relaxed and recalled a wonderful conversation they had in the barracks. he promised but he made no effort to get out of bed the next week.13 - . “Garth.smoked and drank in his car. old man. The passage Aaron read to him. He stayed home on the day hunting season opened. it was junk next to what the army let him use. nephews and cousins complained how they had waited for this day and his return. for five dollars we’ll get a couple of bar girls to oil the hair on our coccyx. “I think I killed about eighty four men. He did not like talking to the old timers much either. Little kids. The sight and scope were cheap. what’s wrong with you?” they asked.” He knew he was not only a soldier but also a murderer. That’s more than all the Rebs and vets on both sides of the family.
These were not the slight Asian girls whose . From his first patrol. He did not need to confirm kills.14 - . he knew when he had hit someone in the brush. 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. that’s all. they were birds to him. He sat expressionless for hours at the strip bar. Sitting alone in his room he punched himself in the head repeatedly. birds who were shooting at him. he kept a silent count. he never hesitated to take a kill shot. Green troops were confused about whose bullets went where but not Garth. He usually sat far from the girls. It was a long drive to the nearest strip joint. No one questioned where he went alone every night. Every night was a late one. and he did not have to wait to see if it moved again or not. in the action.Since he was a kid with toy tanks and plastic soldiers he dreamed of being out there. the dampness and body smells reminded him of bars in Nam but these are big white girls and a now and then a black. the enemies of America spreading communism. Killing birds. He knew things he did were wrong. He had his own 22 rifle at 8 years old and with it could hit a bird in flight.
His car was there like frozen torture. 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. It was his disappointment with 1969’s celebration that moved him. he watched dancers through mirror after mirror and coldly studied the audiences. Falling did not concern him except for now he was carrying money. He made several trips. The cans were heavy and the iron steps to his home above his grandmother’s garage were slippery. Piece of shit. The day before New Year’s Eve he gathered his resources.graceful lines and wanton eyes he once studied. He remembered burlap bags in the garage but the doors did not swing out with all the snow and ice pack. 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. It was almost 1970 and Garth had a good feeling for the future that the new decade would bring.15 - . Looking for something familiar. He had that feeling for most of the preceding year. . he would never have a car that nice again.
Two cases of beer seemed light and he cradled them in his arms.” Garth told the owner. “Smart. Under the tree behind the light pole where the store owner could not see Garth tore open the bottle of Glen. The bank across the street closed at four. two cans of coins and two bottles of booze.” This was the only package store on the island but they did not like him here.” He said and remembered glossy ads that Aaron showed him. Garth laughed at the owner’s exclamation when he returned with more coins. sorry to bother him.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. His hand on his thigh he looked down then gathered his package.” He said out loud to himself.” He told the owner with profound sadness. “I’ll be back tomorrow. sorry to himself for existing. the big one. “Here’s to you . No one really liked him anywhere anymore. “I know where you live. “I’m sorry. Glen Fiddich. If this is short I’ll get you. He drank two beers and now spent wildly. the sadness was overtaking him. “Victoria gin.16 - . or show his face. “That’s the stuff. The package store owner cursed him to his face. He had planned to do all his buying tonight so that he did not have to go out again tomorrow.” There was a brilliant symmetry.
” Several long swallows followed. But someone might see or hear . the same place where he used to play when he was a kid. Revived and momentarily jolly in his yard he spoke to himself and his car simultaneously then wondered which is which. Breathing hurt Up the stairs you piece of shit. “Smooth. Falling onto the couch with a headache setting in Garth felt he had achieved his goal. cause and effect? Garth wondered but that was a ruse because he knew exactly why he drank. During the night he went into unconscious drinking and at sunrise he became aware of the light and thought he was sober. Remarkably well done. old Jew of mine. A car can’t go upstairs. he laughed. His disability was alcohol which was also his medicine. In this condition he was relaxed and thought everything is fine. clear. He picked up the empties around the little apartment. In fact this might blossom into a three or four day bender. To be with his buddies. From the top of the icy stairs he clearly saw three recycling barrels.” Kneading his thigh while catching his breath. Not that car.17 - .pal. He scraped his head on the slant ceiling as he cleaned. green and amber glass drums too full to ever move again. he thought. a fortunate coincidence or. piece of shit. all of them. Nowhere to go and I am never late.
People around town did not understand how he could be paid by the US to stay home and drink. The coffee splashed his chest and he slid backwards and sideways until he got stuck in the railing. He decided to make a cup of coffee and set the percolator on his hot plate. It was still early and he was going crazy. He burned his mouth on the coffee and stepped out for it to cool. To crash at midnight. He left behind skin as he went on all fours and climbed . 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. If he did not make it to midnight he knew that would be a bad omen. Then he thought better of the idea as being lazy and stupid.18 - . 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. Instead he placed them at his feet until later when he would kick them down. His wet hands stuck to the bare metal.the sack of bottles. he watched a football game and then two more simultaneously. He brought the bag back into the apartment. Grandma bought the clock for him when he moved out of his grandparent’s home so he would never be late for work. Grandma gave him little jobs to give him cash.
” he’d say out loud whenever his eyes fell on it. Now the beautiful car he got with soldiers’ pay is an unrecognizable heap of rust covered with pine needles. the expectation they once had for him as an oldest cousin and leader of his generation was forgotten by most of the others.19 - . He dug in like the cong. if he had a manufactured home tucked in the woods but he banished . Everyone in town had changed after he got back from Vietnam. Upstairs the fridge and hot plate were both without power and the water had also stopped. Fuck New Years. today. They might respect him more. It was ten years ago. His hope now was the surprise he had to bring Rachel.freezing iron back up. Garth’s own family had accepted the taste of disappointment. Neither her mother nor Rachel was ever far from his mind since the first afternoon he spent as a civilian. he thought. the memory made him feel wonderful and warm inside. It was like a Queen and Princess in a castle. sometimes he tried to picture Rachel then and imagine her now. “Piece of shit. He used the toilet in the empty house next door. Wrapping his bleeding hands in socks he fell on the couch to sleep.
He ached inside recalling that Jewish castle. he never really expected to live this long. Boarding the late bus the driver knew of the Millers and let him off at the hotel across the wide street. He stood for several minutes since a new industrial park created a lot of traffic. Mr. The boy who watches the great beast struggle watches as Garth struggles with the traffic. “Cross now. the effect is short lived. The surplus store . a hunter. what’s safety? A buck startles and struggles in barbed wire with a bullet in the neck.any such ambition with thoughts of his worthlessness. It was himself a child once more crossing the great highway. its Princess and Queen welcoming him. A surprise now that he returned.” Garth ran across six lanes. shot by a boy. Garth rehearsed the introduction knowing if Mrs Miller stood in front of him he would not be able to speak. A surprise even to himself although he had planned it. Land that was before corn fields are now small houses and little square yards. But like a splash of cold water in a drunk’s face. Odd how utterly sober Garth felt now and he felt that way too the last time he visited Aaron’s family. “It was ten years ago today. rifle loaded and trigger finger poised. Two trapped beasts.” It was a child who called. From the other side he sees the street again. safety. Tree buds hung everywhere.20 - .
Max Miller now shook his hand like an American. Garth waits outside and watches her make a lengthy credit card transaction.has expanded and a beauty parlor has opened beside the Greek restaurant. Tovah. her hair. Nearer he sees in the store window the animated smudge of deep black. “Hello Mrs Miller. Broom in hand Max comes out of the darkness to the front but returns when she makes the machine work without help. it’s me. His heart secretly prayed they would kick him out and call the police.” This was not what he planned to say or the reception he expected. Just like today.” “Hello young man. she is at the cash register. Her back to the front window. come look who is here. They explained how Rachel had disappeared in New York. a beautiful day in spring. the family friend she first went to be with investigated but after attending Music High School with a . Max. Colorful placards of cowboys and cowgirls without horses dressed in western styles struggle to color the drab window of the Army Surplus store. It looks different inside although she looks the same.21 - . On a day like today ten years ago bullets from an unseen enemy cut your son to ribbons.
After ten years Garth could only think how he should have jumped first. An FBI wanted poster of a small masked and unnamed woman was among the letters and clippings from Tovah’s search for Rachel. Rachel had grown into a fine woman like her mother. Garth jumped from the cushioned chair where he sat nervously. “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. When the boy came in it was as if Aaron returned to the living.22 - . Like laughter and people pointing their fingers at him.scholarship she disappeared in the summer of 1968. Seeing the brotherly resemblance Garth felt once again that he did not deserve to live. Garth took a seat in the shoe department and read everything. It had been too many hours between drinks. Hours later at the Miller home Garth sucked down the wine strong and thick like coke syrup.” He touched the brother to test his reality. the plastic cover sounded crisp like applause. Aaron was the leader but Garth knew what was about to happen. Studying the pictures. It was Aaron except with a sunken chest and pot belly and the kid brother wore thicker glasses. The answer was over Garth’s head except it had to .
do with big deals in real estate. Father did not notice one of Mother’s furs was missing. “That’s great. she was an active adult before learning the truth about her parents. I wish Aaron could see you. Always daddy’s little girl Tovah found it difficult to blame her father. she sold it to hire a lawyer. he did not notice because his time was divided with another family. Why can’t everyone meet Jews like you?” The brother took a long thoughtful look at Garth before laughing. Sexuality was proving so confusing to her that even his brashest lies went unquestioned. However fathering another child was more than an affair. It had to be her mother’s fault that he wandered. Chapter 2 The plans for divorce were laid down in detail when Tovah was still in diapers. just the right thing for you to do. She felt parenting had to be sacred. 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. the plan waited twenty years.23 - . She felt .
she ran to get the door. If mother. During Christmas break their condo had a simple menorah and Hanukah was acknowledged with an envelope empty except for a hundred dollar bill.herself to be a premium piece for any man who could see more than her plain face and extra weight. who was always so disapproving of enthusiasm. A real man knows how a woman’s mouth looks is not as import as how it works. share the cash and go their separate ways. When a good offer was made on the house they it sold while Tovah was still in college. Inexplicably they leased a condo and that was where Tovah spent her vacations as a senior. It was understandable since none of the children were at home. Part of mother and father’s plan was to sell the house. was in the room or if this was like a knock on her dorm room door things might have happened . Her sexual knowledge was from reading and practice. She had just kissed her father thank you when there was a knock at the door. For those few vacation days every year Tovah tried to spoil her father like when she was a little girl.24 - . 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.
something must be wrong at the factory.differently.” Mother always had her hands in a sink full of bubbles. “Can you tell him George is here?” The young man looked like one of the workers in her family’s factory. “Did you see George?” Tovah was used to the two different worlds of her parents. But when racing across the room to please her daddy her natural defenses were lowered. She dried her hands and went upstairs. her father an extrovert. Tovah followed. most likely his real name was Jorge. a jovial salesman for his family’s factory and mother who was unobtrusive. Is he here?” He was just about Tovah’s age and she was immediately attracted to him. Father already had his overcoat on and was striding out of the door and away with George. I am looking for Murray. She had never seen her father move that fast. her father was overweight and almost 60. “Hello. even for one dish. Mother at the sink was hiding something. together they took off in the car. It worried her. Mother seemed to wear a mask even at . Dad just left with George.25 - . In her mind he was teaching her Spanish in bed. “Mom.
thinking mom was questioning her desires.26 - . Your father and I are getting a divorce. you might as well know now. She wanted her current boyfriend to soothe her but he was with his parents in Massachusetts. “You were going to find out next semester. or like her father. Sitting on the edge of her single bed mother put crème on her hands and rubbed it in slowly and thoroughly. his eyes were brown. Given the chance she would have fucked her own brother.home. his hair was black. “Who does that boy look like?” He had a nice bulge. curly and shining.” Tovah was torn between the twin disgusts she felt and could not hear what her mother was saying. Twenty years ago your father had an affair with his secretary resulting in your brother George. A selfloathing grew like a fever or a rash traveling from her center making her body burn. Before Tovah could get defensive. his face was full and pleasant like that hot Haitian player for the Yankees. “Did you look at him?” For years mother had been disapproving toward Tovah who made no secret of her romantic activities. She spent a lot of hours on the road as a volunteer working with the Jewish Women’s Organization. And added to the toll of this contemplated . she asked pointedly.
. For the first time in years she straightened her spine. I’ll show you.incest came her father’s lies. there is someone else more important to me. he brought bagels. lox and white fish. Upstairs in the small and unfamiliar house she sat in a strange bedroom they called hers.27 - . Downstairs her parents talked and she heard every word. at once and forever. That’s right.” Mother’s tone was only conversational yet it was a louder voice than she ever used at home. Then I will tell you. “It was only a small emergency. I got your favorite. ‘No. unaware. rich boy.” “You suck. “I told her Murray. Father returned past noon after being away three hours. You will never see your grandchildren. I will become so successful you will come around kissing my ass. I told her.’” 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. “What’s she talking about? Why is our daughter suddenly so upset with me?” He was continuing his role. Look.
She even revealed herself to be an anti-Semite when she insisted he buy her a house in a seller’s market. I don’t know what your mother is talking about. Tovah’s mind changed for the final time when she decided to never have children.” Having a baby out of marriage is the worst possible thing a person can do and Tovah was suddenly determined to do exactly that.28 - .“Told her what? What are you talking about? Tovah. During recovery and therapy she was reunited with her parents who became reacquainted and reunited with each other. Like most suicides she survived because her attempt was too timid. She started taking a preventive daily dose of penicillin. She was not aware how little that mattered to her father who she wanted to deprive of grandchildren. 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. Living full time with a passionate Latina was more than his constitution could stand. Her father was only concerned . it was an idea which eventually led to another abortion. She began meeting men of the worst type who never took her anywhere or talked about anything she cared about.
From her chair on a deck in lush upstate New York before the wide lawn shaded by elephantine trees Tovah created an aggressive. Tovah had written many excellent papers through college and happily took up a pen to write fiction. With a major publisher’s backing she was launched on a very successful.29 - . her work to help others.with Tovah’s brother. rub your nose in it. She questions the world and is charming about it and life never hands her any problems she cannot overcome. 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. . Sufficiently medicated words flowed. he must have a son to keep alive the family name. urban environment for a character radiating confidence and who is every girl. Therapy in the suicide recovery program included writing stories. She also has a gift for helping the people in her life. Those children were the only ones her mother cared about back when Tovah was growing up. 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. career.
She did not care however she no longer responded with. “Hello mother. a martini also helped. ‘Good. 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. Remember the Empire State . quivering lips. She gulped down a cold one that had been waiting in the shaker for that purpose. I hope he suffered. She loved to watch the expressions on their faces and with mother she could not see the grimace. It was painful to be probed by her mother who used vague associations and references from childhood. “Remember Max and Eva?” She hated when her mother opened a conversation like that.30 - . Even in retirement father set the clocks ten minutes ahead and mother never compensated for that.” This happened every six weeks since they moved to Florida. Tovah was happy that her calls were predictable.” 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. Cruelty was reserved for lovers. maybe a tear.’ As Tovah got older cruelty became too heavy a knife to pull on her mother. “Last night we almost lost your father.
It was all lies. a family with a foundation built on a set of lies. Max was a little man who took time from the store to be sociable. only a tragedy could unveil. Tovah regretted not being with her to scream back in her mother’s face. her mother’s Life magazine dream. The JWO settled the war refugees on cheap properties like farms.31 - .building? Remember the Liberty Bell? After learning her father had two families the golden book of childhood memories was down the toilet. Mother gave the impression that once she and her brother were cute and the family fit in at picturesque places. Struggling with a Dracula accent he was like a jester. she had wildness in her eyes and clear disassociation . “Now who’s dead?” Max. another of the immigrant families they used to visit. he made everything a joke but none of his jokes were funny. The familiar references made Tovah gag knowing her entire life growing up was a lie. empty store fronts and homes in poor rural towns. Eva. There was something definitely wrong with the wife. Eva and family lived in a box house off a mud road and mud driveway. All they have in common now is the memory of what once was. Tovah’s response was flat.
Tovah also recalled the kids. For a visit at lunch with the family Eva wore a shining gown and on her head a toy tiara. she pranced around making ludicrous affectations of a ballerina.” She heard her father’s voice in the background as mother dragged this news out. that’s Jerry and Annette.” Mother was an insufferable snob. Having a family secret like the old days made mother feel comfortable. “Of course I remember them. the chicken farm in Connecticut. These people are the Army Surplus store in Pennsylvania. the bland writer and little brother and a sister. That Tovah was successful fueled mother but Tovah living with a man without benefit of marriage was a family secret.32 - . A little retarded boy?” “No.from events around her. and despite having her own children she was one of those adults not trusted with them. They had the boy and a girl and another boy. Tovah hated that. That the mother was crazy was clear in Tovah’s mind. . There are no retards -as you put it in our family. If mom called surely the mother was dead. She spent her free time since retirement on the phone being superior with relatives. “For thirty years. a royal personage and an angel while serving tea.
Upon graduation Tovah fled Long Island for Manhattan.For thirty years how father lamented the anniversary of his mother-in-law’s death.33 - . The remainder of the year on the condo was paid and made their joint gift to her. The house left them broke most of the time. 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. so the story went. He was hopelessly under paid but being a Jew then he did not relish working in the greater community. Selling the house generated a big lump of cash which was like rocket fuel to the two parents. Everyone wants but no one wants to pay. Father was content to work in the extended family and admire past greatness. Obviously Tovah’s brother knew and half-brother George did not seem too traumatized by his visit. For thirty years. he turned his sales slips in and took a salary. Her parents did not even sit together at graduation. . They moved to a ghetto of Jewish millionaires but Tovah’s parents could not afford the amenities of living on Long Island. Those old Jews had some money. The furs were like fish. Lucky for Tovah Uncle Sol doled cash out to all the kids. they needed to be refrigerated.
Jonathan in his element made friends easily. or money. He was androgynous and Tovah thought his passion for her was from the desire he had to be a woman. 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 those incomes there were the monthly checks from the family trust that followed her after college.34 - . Language was a living thing she absorbed from lovers. He had no concern with his appearance. She dressed him soon after they met and they became a couple together in a fine house. Sex. Although he painted professionally he was a sculptor with her body. food. 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. she always had to remind him about the laundry chute after a day of painting.In addition to publishing she found work as an interpreter. and Tovah thought he was ideal for her. Jonathan was like no man she ever met. he seldom spoke and what came out were not sentences. Living together she came to realize how brain dead he was. painting and alcohol were all he needed. Hung over and stoned .
“it better not be in my home. To which he confided. 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. Tovah thought of it as the dog house. and she turned away from that culture by not marrying her man. I am in the Jewish mafia and I will have you killed.” That was as passionate as she could get. She never wanted to get the fur coat for infidelity.” she told him before she bought the house.” She almost made him move out on the spot.35 - . It was the second emotional response he ever evoked from her. After desire and possession there was nothing. “If you want to have an affair. Drinking was a mess but Tovah got used to it. “I’m afraid of motorcycles. His past was of no interest and should there be someone else she was there first. the first had been years earlier. It never bothered him to be dressed by her and clothes hung on him like a model. Even a dog knows when he’s got it good. The only work of his she liked was the stuff he did for money on guitars and custom vehicles. .Jonathan went out to his cabin and painted. Women were never a problem for Jonathan.
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. she and Jonathan found it at a flea market. “The boy used to write to me. it was worth as much as the original Shaker table it accented. Tovah’s hand went out to the center piece on the table. She had not been writing or selling much the last couple of years. a French bishop’s dinner plate it was confiscated by the French Revolution. Now with Jonathan around she no longer cared to take the chances with men like when she was younger. Hollywood did not want to make a movie out of any of her books. PhD work was deadly boring and lacking it limited her university career. he wanted to be a writer. 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. Jonathan suited her so well that it dulled her instinct for the hunt. The antique silver felt buttery. While a broken old man in the next room chants his ancient laments. Reluctantly she opened up her memory.Life was edging near the yawning abyss of complacency to accommodate approaching middle age. But I .36 - .
and even investing. “The next Johnny Tremain. manses from the gilded age in the small cities surrounding New York City. archery. tequila.” she was golden from then on. She learned to ski and drink wine from one. So who died?” Tovah could only describe her life as aimless determination. his breath and odor. how to drive stick from another. now this. Tovah did a lot of speaking and public appearances as a writer. homes larger than they could afford. He was too white bread. In college and grad school the most important things she learned came from her lovers. art. she dropped the phone and clenched her fists experiencing a deeply troubling and unexpected sensation of grief. he was trying too hard. Jonathan never had to work a job. In time she learned in addition to languages. Mother’s news was like falling down an elevator shaft. However after stepping into a university classroom she never sold another new work.37 - . As a couple they developed a tendency to buy big houses.couldn’t help him. a journey-woman who got lucky. He was arrogant and . Never had she imagined knowing anyone in the military. A reviewer in Texas called it. For ten years she wrote a series of children’s’ stories. With word of his death she could recall him now.
But he was so strange. now he is gone. The Army was his choice. He was just a child with childish dreams. “What if I had been more giving?” Tovah questioned herself. It was war. She did . they had no common destiny.38 - . Paul Newman. Curse Johnson and that war. 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. She continued thinking. she was even afraid he might develop a crush if she was too effusive with him. “How can I say I am apolitical? This is too close to home. even a senator. But that war. No. Clearly the Beatle phenomena and television had warped him. Her adult life was made up of numerous connections that strengthened over time. She could never be a protester. The US government was a good government and must have good reason to be there.thought he knew all the inside tricks to eventually fake his way to a showbiz niche and celebrity. Norman Mailer.” What if tomorrow I come into school wearing an antiwar button? She thought of her mortgages. Tovah thought that she was like every intelligent and reasonable person by being against war. When she was in the city she would avoid protesters and areas where there were rallies.
39 - . Attaching it to her coat lapel made displaying it optional. wore beads and had the peace button on the same necklace. Tovah. Dangerous fun. Mark. Turning it over in her mind Tovah decided to make it happen. This must be where the kids get them. This would be the chance to take someone under her wing and pass along her wisdom. she bought a small one. knowing Rachel was a white girl had few to pick from as passengers descended the bus steps. This isn’t supposed to be fun but being caught wearing a peace button was like a bedroom farce.not have tenure. 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. Paying the cashier she noticed between the packages of chewing gum and candy bars a cardboard display with several different style peace buttons. Now what’s his name’s sister could come through that door. it could be pulled closed if need be. a red circle with black lines making equal divisions and subdivisions. She . the poetry teacher from California.
The war had been over almost twenty years yet Rachel in her peasant outfit was clearly the child of Jewish refugees. Tovah had subdued the jealous resentment for the refugee families who mother had alleged only produced brilliant and genius children. She thought travel day might start with a shower. 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. She was surprised at the massive green army backpack the girl wore. If Tovah had met her once she did not remember. “I am so sorry about your brother.” Tovah was surprised by the agenda.” Tovah took both of Rachel’s hands. the twenty minutes spent in the bus terminal made Tovah feel gritty and . was also a great unpublished writer. The dead brother.40 - . Tovah pictured the Pennsylvania Dutch from one of the many trips she took as a girl visiting her mother’s people. Not even the gifted musician part rang a bell. “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. Aaron. A tiny girl in a long skirt that looked like it crossed the plains stepped carefully. Rachel adjusted her pack.should be wearing a straw hat.
Nothing you can buy is as good as she can make. Tovah had planned for Rachel to meet some of the students and faculty. “I was hoping to take you to lunch first but I don’t know where you can go dressed like that. “I think I hear people talking. “You drink the coffee.” “Coffee?” Tovah asked. “Thank you.Rachel had been riding since before dawn. Now it seemed like not the best idea.” “Please don’t ruin the illusion for me. we can do some clothes shopping for you.” “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.41 - . That’s where they make the food. no.” 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. Let‘s sit by the window. “Of course. “This is New York.” Tovah again suggested. her friends. You know my mother and clothes.” . not this girl. My mother thinks I’m not old enough.” Rachel said.
“This isn’t about college recruitment. 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.Tovah had not been aware of that. To which Rachel snapped.” Tovah’s plan had been overthrown. “this is about war resistance.” Rachel spoke with clarity.” Rachel’s back pack had several peace buttons on it.” “Help yourself. We don’t have to go clothes shopping. “May I?” Tovah asked plucking one off. . her easy amusement at simple things combined with a desire to overthrow the government of the United States. There are some people there I need to talk to.42 - . at home.” Leaving the automat the tiny girl lit a cigarette. 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. “I want to go to the campus radio station.” Tovah enjoyed Rachel. My plan is for us to visit the school tomorrow. “I have one on my coat. Tovah did not want to say anything to pop the little girl’s bubble.” “That’s fine. “Someday money will be worthless.
The school’s radio station was a switchboard connecting New York City radicals to small town war protestors. antiwar. peaceful. Tovah thought of the many times she too had said that when she was fourteen. “It’s my body. these kids were carefree. Tovah thought the familiarity strange that Rachel had with her students. parents. Being against America made them citizens of a different place. Tovah found these passionate and social minded young people to be unlike her typical students. Rachel explained how by listening to college radio she knew a lot of kids at the college. or narcs. like herself and others who are adults.43 - . They did not worry about their futures but were busy doing something. Tovah did not see her students as ‘kids’. They went to school in New York but they looked like hicks. Rachel separated people into kids. 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 . Tovah also lit a cigarette before starting the car and speeding up the avenue.“What are you doing?” Tovah asked. There was something to be cautious about dealing with people who renounce citizenship and have no respect for money.” Rachel replied.
Tovah’s rejection of marriage seemed picky by comparison with Rachel and her friends who are rejecting all western values. That no one requested she play her greatest rhetorical hit left her at loose ends. Surely it was a rule that educational staff could not or at least should not be in the student dorm rooms. 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. later Tovah felt coerced driving her new Volvo up and down garbage strewn streets of the lower east side.” Rachel happily explained how she immediately fell into the scene. In . They spoke a language of youth which Tovah could not fathom.marrying. she shifted gears too often and sloppily. Rachel even knew a so called ‘power’ handshake. We have a call in community.44 - . Everyone in the car marveled at a storefronts where a person could sell their blood and the barber colleges. Later they crossed over to Brooklyn. I already know everyone. In the quad and the dorm rooms everyone greeted Rachel while Tovah felt she was getting the cold shoulder. Now Rachel seemed less like a little girl. “I spend every night listening to those guys.
” she sighed. “Angels when they are sleeping. Tony Skeleton. He ruined a thousand dollar Persian rug last month. She picked up the wine bottles. These were mostly bearded beatniks and a few blacks who Rachel was dealing with. “Painters. But who cares if you sell paintings? One dealer said the rug just increased in value. a speaker and he promised to bring some musicians for the anti-war rally. his head near two empty wine bottles.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. Tony Skeleton agreed to be the MC. To me it looked . and the Bronx.45 - . He chooses his colors depending on what color he pukes. Brooklyn.” Tovah observed and spread a handy drop cloth over him. They reached the house late and few lights were on. What do I know? We were redecorating and I threw away a Picasso. Tovah was concerned that her niece gave these characters credibility. everything she planned for the day was postponed as they drove around bad parts of the Village. “Drunk is their natural condition. Tovah felt extraordinarily relieved to be home. Jonathan was asleep on the floor beside the couch. One of the tour guides through this level which to Tovah seemed only one floor above hell was the college DJ.
white with shock. In the kitchen Rachel stood near the sink. Oi.46 - . ” If Tovah was making light of something she used to think important. “I thought he was dead. that’s all.” “I’ve never seen anyone like that before. father even in sleep sheltering his precious wife. Oi.’” Tovah left him on the floor for the night. But I remember my father used to sing Ode to Joy. 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 .” “Doesn’t your town have a town drunk?” “My town only has one street. The only comparison was when she had seen her father and mother in bed. A drunkard is a goy. ‘Oi. the joke was lost on Rachel.” “Dead drunk. Rachel wondered if that was a flagrant violation of something. Mother protected by father. That’s why I am the writer of the family.like a cheap reproduction. “Another reason we’re not married.
Rachel explained. These women called themselves the Mobe. they too had been bourgeois until recently. That was the start of my auto-emancipation” Tovah could see the other girls did not understand Rachel. “I wish I was mobilized when I was your age. “Only a few years ago I was learning to sew gowns by my mother’s side.” Some of the other girls nodded their heads. When I was fourteen I was still bourgeois. Then it was becoming clear that my mother was not like other mothers. most in long army coats and smoking. One girl confessed. still children they organized marches and demos in the entire New York region. It was . Tovah was impressed that some of these girls were only in high school. After leaving the high school kids in Queens Rachel had Tovah next drive them to meet a group at Brooklyn College. Most were awkward and friendless overachievers. The older ones were impressed by her youth.47 - .corner. clearly freedom was the best thing for Rachel and Tovah offered it in abundance. Everyone they met was surprised that a person from so far away like Rachel was against the war. Tovah had made a lifelong study of the death camp survivors and their children.
but first she needed to find a headquarters to receive mail and deliveries. It was a point that opened Tovah’s awareness. During a quiet moment heading home Rachel pointed out that almost every group they met were mostly women. For years she thought the sexes were different but equal.the Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam.000 death benefit check from her brother’s life insurance. You’re like me. “If you can do that you are as good as any man. This political awareness put a lovely order to her world view. Despite all of the independence she had earned and the man she had. that men are all scumbags and women are all liars. Next week Rachel planned to bring home more stuff.48 - . Never before had she thought of women having political power and as a political force. “it’s you who deserves to pick and choose. Rachel explained to Tovah that she received the $100. 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 . The college girls smoked an awful lot of cigarettes. Let me tell you another thing.” Tovah was overjoyed to find a sister. she felt for the first time in her life the equal of a man. Tovah was very impressed by the cunning of a child.
. The expectation was that next weekend would be more of the same. “What are needs?” Rachel asked. not altruism. That would be an abrogation of her responsibility toward a young girl if she did not see her safely onto the bus. However she bit her lip. names and numbers. 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.” Listening to herself Tovah heard the outline of a new speech to shock and appall an audience. Especially for the daughter of survivors. expense items. Gas was an expense item not on Rachel’s list. and more things needed to organize a May Day rally in Middle America. 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. In a spiral notebook Rachel made lists. in the middle of nowhere.49 - . It was difficult for Tovah to give without the expectation of a return. That night Tovah lay in her still bed in the quiet house and heard Rachel’s bedroom door lock. It was almost mind boggling how much had been done. Capitalism was in her blood.
stick with your education.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. Rachel. And by the way I haven’t heard you play in a long time.” Rachel looked up and seemed to be thinking then she went back to her notebook and the lists. I was a lot older than you before I learned that the best revenge is living well. “We’ll work on this May Day event but let me tell you.50 - . There was only sky and cables above them.” Rachel corrected her. “What you’re doing is great. “But you are going to find doing things for others at your own expense like this will just leave you broke and feeling used. Save your money.” “You never heard me play.” Tovah had saved the talk until they were on the bridge to New Jersey. You have amazing organizational and leadership abilities. Save yourself from a lot of grief. I know several professional musicians and they play and practice a lot. Everyone says you’re a genius but I never saw you pick up an instrument. 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. financial loss and disappointment. slow down on this antiwar stuff. Tires whining on .
That this unlike good art which stirs people and makes an impact. If her feelings were hurt Tovah might have been successful at slowing Rachel’s anti-war passion. . She said that the very blandness of his work mutes unnecessary conversation. The only cheerful thought is for you when you get paid. Rachel as a rival for Tovah had been a person of his active disinterest and disdain almost from the first mention of her name. Karl Marx.51 - . she pronounced.the steel grate of the bridge oscillated in the silence that followed between them. what Rachel felt at the moment was unclear. 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. Happy to be included Jonathan was oblivious to the scorching analysis of himself and his works. would say his work only sold because when displayed in a business office they made it a more oppressive and stifling place. It was later during dinner with Jonathan when Rachel went on with a purpose about his unsold paints hanging around the house. Viewing one of his canvasses extinguishes creativity and produces only jealousy of what so called artists can get away with. She observed the blandness and predictability of his canvasses.
Tovah understood that this planned attack was in response to the critique of her activism. a manbo. Jonathan surprised them being awake and by his color. The worst of it was how it revealed the unspoken truth. The anger she felt toward herself for reaching out fueled the resentment she had toward her mother and the values implanted by her mother. a male bimbo. 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 could never take pity or show mercy. 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. There was mischief in his eyes and Tovah could tell he had not had much to drink. Tovah knew . So accurate was the counter attack that Jonathan looked like a completely innocent moron. It was like whipping an idiot child. The house lights were on. She couldn’t do that.52 - . Tovah had to concede a dirty victory to Rachel. she would be swinging a hammer. It pleased him to be noticed. receiving Rachel one last time was a grim obligation. far from being a martyr like her mother.
like any one of the dirty faced girls in long coats. he was not being spontaneous. “Looking at your work I find it hard to believe you use models. He should have consulted with me first. the ones the Nazis tried to kill. Despite all Tovah’s efforts Rachel remained a country girl the same as when she arrived without concern about the layer of road dust. His play for her was rehearsed and pathetic. Clearly Rachel embraced the old values. Tovah did not respect any of that brain washed sentiment.” Tovah was elated hearing her reject him. smoking like faux outlaws.his signs. . Stepping out of the room to hang her coat Tovah could hear him using a soft voice asking Rachel to pose. No different from the rest of the underground. Tovah was crushed hearing him proposition a fourteen year old. a cold intellect waiting for the best moment to shock those around her. Made worse because he waited up and stayed sober to do it. If Tovah truly wanted to take Rachel under her wing the first thing she should have told her is all men are pigs. The girl had a natural loyalty while Jonathan had none. Jonathan is what he is. Rachel had a furious purpose.53 - .
Tovah was an adult when she came to the painful realization that she was from the less desirable of her father’s two families. like so many brought up in a quasi-religious home. If the President himself came to her parents’ store with the flag. her lack of attraction or even curiosity about Jonathan’s proposition may have been from that lofty place that labeled everything unattainable as Unclean. She hated Rachel who must be so spoiled and pampered by her refugee parents. Rachel was smug as someone who thought it was her role to tell others how to think and feel. Young people die every day and she has no corner on it. she shook off the desire to know what God thought of her actions. Tovah’s mind became a set of confused emotions. A special pampered child who came to replace children thrown in the ovens. get over it. that would not have been enough for Rachel.54 - . . I lost my father and you lost a brother. In bitter opposition to her father after she witnessed his moral collapse the God of her father also fell. you have another brother.Rachel’s modest long skirt was not modern but from the old country. She did not want so-called God’s so-called blessings.
Later she might console Jonathan for the failure of his plan. what’s his last name? Father asked for a reason that only became obvious ten years later. unlike any decision her mother ever made. You will pay for any abortion from your bat mitzvah money. Sex must have been a painful stranger to her.55 - .” Her father said and it was the last word spoken about it in her parents’ home. Who’s the boy. It had been her decision. “Have him use protection. First Jonathan would be punished for having taken initiative when her back was turned. She needed to think of something… Chapter 3 . no wonder she could not keep her husband interested.Tovah was a young teenager herself when she announced at the dinner table that she was not a virgin. It was all her mother’s play but mom caved immediately.
Mother had dressed Rachel this morning and Rachel later had to make herself look normal.that simply does not happen. Being alone for the first time on a trip to New York made it special. 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. The town had Montgomery Ward. For Jews to have a bad marriage is common but divorce . “Watch what you say around Tovah. This trip would be free of embarrassing remarks from mother.” So armed Rachel would be able to have a wellplanned weekend with her cousin the university professor to whom she was not really related.56 - . .ON the way to the town to get a bus Rachel’s father prepped her. a young woman alone Rachel felt safe. her mother and father are divorced. She and mother often came to the town for things like fabric. She felt like a grown up in the world. Going with mother attracted stares and looks. Those days Dad stayed alone in the store and the girls had to stumble across the highway and wave for the bus to stop. shoes and glasses. Now.
A vegetable except for sex. This was like Paris overrun by students and the anarchist ferment which preceded each of the world wars. During the three visits it was expedient to pretend that they shared beliefs. 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.57 - . Her . 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. 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.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. In New York City she met others who felt that way too. assassination and war. And all governments are repressive and wrong. And her ideal stereotype boyfriend whose mind she molded and who was a total dependent.
his wife also had a singing career but said she preferred the role of educator. Her hoped for explanation of the new living arrangement went unuttered.” If that was what her mother said. 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. 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. Toby often referred to her as his rock and anchor in this world.58 - . The school frequently had rock stars show up to teach and hang out. The first year the algebra text books and publishers boxes of young adult . The Tyler name opened many performance opportunities for students. In the background she could hear the annoying electric bell as a customer entered.” Not “There’s a customer. 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.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. Mary. She wanted to end the conversation with “I love you.
Stricken by senioritis Rachel would be gone from school most of the time during spring. Mary was a teacher who used a method where the students taught each other. Fortunately many of the students with a musical gift were also academic geniuses and they dragged up the school average.59 - . Rachel was one of those called on to teach. The Board of Education almost shut the school after its first year assessment. By the third year the place was called The Fire House and was a hip hangout. 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.literature arrived in stacks and waited to be opened. For the students handling an O-D became as essential as handling an oboe. Mary was a woman driven by passion and she told her passionate vision to her best students. She wanted the New York Music High School to graduate its first class in June 1968. Having toddlers and teens on the family side of the building that was all she could handle. 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.
had slipped from school to war and she joined others already in the fight who were preparing for Chicago. . Part of the magic Rachel experienced when hitching was to get picked up by someone who shared her interests and world view. She felt her jaw and lips in motion but had no idea what she was talking about. sometimes even going the same place. Something about LSD made Rachel fearless when hitchhiking. 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. “Are you going to Chicago?” The driver asked. 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. she believed. 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. Acid. LSD made it common to run into people who shared her entire mindset and point of view.60 - .
“Do you need help driving?” One of the girls asked. The next street was dark and Rachel split off with a group that way.“Are you tripping?” The driver asked before the two other girls were in.61 - . she had collected nozzle drippings when the pumps were turned off. those streets were blocked with paddy wagons and horses carrying pigs. “It was hairy before but things have quieted down.” Chicago streets were not familiar to her so she stuck with the mob. two ounces equal a stick of dynamite. A draw string purse in her bag held a small atomizer bottle filled with gasoline. I dropped about an hour ago. They could not run down streets with hotels on them. “I am. From the police side of the busses tear gas was fired which kept everyone running. they moved with one mind deciding all at once to divide the .” He had the look in his eyes which combined endless energy with serenity. 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 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.
Inside the TV caught her attention. black coal and white bones. the flames tearing through the Jewish ghetto and of the ovens. She disassembled the . The pigs chasing them had stopped once they were away from the convention center. She felt heavy and did not want to move until she thought this thing through.cops chasing them. The way it made her feel was confusing. It resembled the scenes she was so often forced to watch at home and in Hebrew school.62 - . And the gasoline bomb she intended to leave behind became a frivolous self-indulgence. Such ill-considered political action would only serve to turn masses against us. Every barroom entrance was protected by at least three pigs in riot gear and two more behind them with huge teargas grenade launchers. The street was lined with bars that were open while other businesses were closed. her conviction remained but it assumed a greater sense of reality. of huge fires at the Nazi rallies. 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. The small fires they made in the park looked ferocious against the night sky. No matter what she did between birth and death only her radical activities would matter. Rachel stepped out of the crowd who had slowed their run.
one of the ones given out in the park and kept running. It was not the same for this larger crowd to flee as it had been the night . More people in the street meant the crowd was tripping over their own feet. They could attack the pigs and flee because the streets were empty and the pigs offered so many targets. Tear gas canisters dropped around them. It was fun to street riot. On Saturday the crowd was larger and about equal in number to the pigs. It was someone else’s brick which went through that window and set the crowd back to running.bomb and on the way out chatted up the nearby pig holding a grenade launcher.63 - . 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. they arrived and gathered. Across the street some of the gang she had been running with were also watching themselves on TV from outside a bar. the first night. That night everyone seemed to know each other. they broke a lot of glass as police chased them across wide avenues and down narrow streets. Friday. Rachel put on the US Army gas mask. They ran like spirits to the edge of where the pigs black sticks swept at them.
She found a use for the gasoline when she doused a police car and set it on fire.64 - . It was a moment of revelation for her. The effect of continuous clashes was to confirm her decision to seek specific targets instead of any target in front of her. She almost didn’t take to the street the next day. The brick in Rachel’s bag came with the women’s selfdefense course given at the Fire House in the weeks before the convention. No one wanted to partner with Rachel not simply because she was small but because her demeanor was of one who is sickly. A simple . weak and frail. 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.before when the demonstrators were loose bands of individuals. That was satisfying since it diverted porkers from the job of clubbing the demonstrators. Running wild in the street made her feel insignificant and freed her mind to make plans for the rest of her life. her body aching after running from pigs on Friday. The injured began arriving as it got dark and the sight of blood made her want to rejoin the fight. She hoped to stay in the park while others fought. Also her mind was stuck in neutral from tripping the day before.
65 - . Although the claim was that they brought enough LSD to drug the Chicago water supply they mostly saved it for themselves. Mob rule can only work when the mob out numbers the police. She made no secret of her unquenchable thirst for revenge. Chicagoans who had been jovial and indulgent of the hippies coming to their town were no longer to be found. even bombs and guns fall short without the strength of numbers. In a psychedelic haze the tear gas became another part of the trip. She blamed her brother Aaron’s death on US capitalism. Locals thought the police in cracking skulls did a good job. . 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.conversation would likely show that Rachel was mentally strong and intellectually rigorous. opening quickly to whoever did not seem to be a pig or narc. 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. Blood flowed in all directions and formed patterns in the sky. Rachel and the others had to sneak out of the city and formed lines with thumbs out by the side of the road.
Melody parked the car near a stone bridge. They arrived having dodged dragons and helicopters and listening to the most intense accordion music. War resistors who were frustrated by lack of a political resolution went home to continue the struggle against the war in other ways. On the New Jersey side of the bridge they picked up friends and six of them filled the small car.66 - .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. King. disgust at the police violence was registered by only one senator. 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. The street fighters never reached the podium as they dreamed. . Monday morning Rachel walked aimlessly in the strange city. hits of crystal acid. Politicians offered no hope. Several had pot and one wore a poison ring that opened with hundreds of tiny beads at the bottom. Kennedy. now a few of them were bringing the blood home. and good old ‘Nam. she met a young woman who was crying. Melody was a high school student from Queens who distributed Mobe publications. Borrowing her mother’s car she and some friends took off for Chicago.
“We’ll be back home in a few hours. Leaving Chicago looked and felt like a pitiless defeat.She recalled walking to where they had seen people gathering. Everything about Chicago looked wrecked and menacing. They fell in with the others.67 - . and anyone long haired or radical looking. yippies. She was sure it was some one’s idea to use it. someone else started it and drove without the key. By Monday the jails were full of hippies. Saturday morning Melody had a vague memory of being talked into using her mother’s car for a barricade. Melody met a lot of people and talked a lot of revolution and radical clap trap. She had no idea it would get burned. “I’m afraid. A lot of the people waiting in the weeds were beaten and bandaged. “I don’t want to hitch hike. Melody and Rachel helped a couple get a ride. Melody didn’t mind using it to block the street.” Melody said when a lone guy in a car stopped for them. I am afraid.” . She fast walked to the bushes and someone else took that ride.” Rachel tried to be calming. the guy’s head in bandages.
” “Is that all?” Rachel said. On the way home Rachel screened rides and listened to Melody talk about her mother and sister. Especially when it’s a …” Melody’s voice choked.” “I can’t get in a car with a strange man. boys at her school. “I’ll check it out first. the father who she saw less often now than she used to. Getting into a strange car scares me. . “Maybe they’ll have some weed. It was clear that Melody was not a good person to hitch hike with.68 - . especially the ones she did not like.” That Melody was almost crying seemed irrational to Rachel. “My mother said if it was ever stolen she would buy a newer one.” Rachel saw no special risk in hitching. I guess this will be her chance. “What are you going to tell your mother about the car when you get home?” She said to get onto another subject.“You drove a thousand miles tripping your balls off and now you are afraid?” “I never hitch hike. “Don’t worry. she was afraid of everything.” Melody regained herself. It always has scared me.
Melody was a determined pacifist radical but Rachel was a warrior. paying printers and putting up postering all over the city than did the famous Chicago-8. Arriving in Manhattan after 1 AM Rachel rode the subway with Melody out to Queens.Both Rachel and Melody came from a mother and father and none of the families seemed very close. The trial of the Chicago 8 told Rachel that there is no justice in . going to meetings. the Moratorium to end the war. Rachel would remember more of Chicago over the days and the sensation of street fighting. The energy of Mobe was next seen as a group calling for students and workers to strike several days every month. He was a lone celebrant at the victory party. The Mobe office never reopened again except to serve as storage. It made Melody a person who had to overcome her fears to function while Rachel moved fearlessly. stuffing envelopes. “Thanks.69 - . To Rachel the arrests of the Chicago-8 could have included her. Joyous and happy Abby Hoffmann was on the news for a few days to proclaim a victory. The ones arrested were public faces but in terms of activity she spent more hours working on a phone. See you at the office.” Melody said at her stop. The trial was like the trials of her father’s youth.
Cigarettes being lit throughout the room became a signal and started meetings. or as far as she could run in two or three minutes. Music High was prestigious and touring with the school ensemble or smaller groups was a requirement. it paid her tuition. matches and matchbooks. She took her fascination a step further. An esoteric school’s musical travels made the fires she started appear random as it followed the performance schedule across three states.70 - . Flames had a fascination for her. Once the teepee starts burning she feeds it paper and plastic ware. Her sculptures when they erupt stink and belch smoke long after she leaves.America and when it became 7 that proved there is especially no justice for black Americans. 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. when in a restaurant she grabs an ashtray to build in it a teepee of butts. She toured the greater NY area. matches and a pack of cigarettes. . to facilitate her activity she carried numerous lighters. from a concert. more cigarette butts and finally lots of sugar.
Some Americans truly deserved to have something done to them like what they were doing to others. private security was not yet everywhere. Her parents were dupes.000 domestic bombings in 1969. Corporate heads of the war machine were located and targeted. She wanted to burn the homes of Americans and throw fire in their faces. She laughed at the title of the Final SDS Weatherman because she never went to college. Rachel did not get much attention at first. .Her use of fire came directly from TV broadcast images of napalm bursting on villagers. There were 10. Persistent and driven by her inability to forgive or forget she endured and became one of the last of the operating sixties radicals. more than most since they are immigrants and gave their son to the war.71 - . The first wave was already in upstate New York. Her parents were among those Americans. She stayed clear of groups with lofty sounding names because those groups attracted the pigs. for most it was dispersion to the rest of the country to dig in and fight on. While war resistance grew throughout the nation after Chicago the New York radicals drifted away. a logical step to Canada.
Often she found herself racing the sirens of the fire trucks back to the theater or church where she was to perform. she never thought of quitting. As others were arrested. Running was one way to reverse the health effects of smoking.Chapter 4 She wore the army surplus trench coats like the ones her father sold. Rachel embraced the . For many years being caught was a terrible fear because. When Rachel disappeared for five to ten minutes and returned stinking of tobacco it was not of any concern to the teachers who chaperoned. smoke masked the odors of accelerants and provided an excuse for going outside and carrying matches and lighters. as she later realized. some whose work she admired.72 - . 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. The kids at Music High were all prodigies and expected to be at least a little buggy. she had nothing to say.
She hated being a liar and she was relieved when he stopped . She tried not to think about it.73 - . She said she stood for all the killed and wounded and her fight was also for economic justice. 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. Rachel the musician was frequently cheered while the silent body count gave credit to the revolutionary Rachel. 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. The three years they were together it twisted and wrenched her every day.eventuality of being caught too and worked slowly on a capture speech of her own. After a fire in the police garage killed an officer Rachel stopped going to public rallies and redoubled precautions not to get caught. Pay back. 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. She ordered supplies from different catalogs and had PO boxes in three different boroughs. Being a soldier in a war became her reason.
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. In addition to shopping she shoplifted since she felt crime against store property was a requirement of every revolutionary. Violence became an outlet for the work of hiding in full view by adorning herself under the demanding New York fashion schedule. She saw his face last on a wanted poster. It was taken at an antiwar demo where they trashed a bank. In the fall she bought another like it.calling. The other musicians at the union hiring hall knew her for her playing and that if hired she would show up. they were together that day. china. She stole and destroyed in stores and galleries out of a compulsion which perceived the items. and certain paintings when displayed in the settings of wealth. The act of shopping kept her loathing for society constantly agitated. perfume.74 - . Rachel was motivated to work enough to keep her wardrobe up to date and ever changing. Her level of public activism went from an over coated . as pleading to be destroyed. She brought her so-called upper class look to her radical cell and soon found herself out of the inner circle. Howie’s image was cut out of a police surveillance picture. A wanted poster for her came out soon after his and she was covered from head to toe.
She had contempt for the war protester.” Howie seemed born with a cigarette curling smoke into the corner of one eye and a soldering iron in his hand. “Nice work. it helped radicalize others. pro-choice liberal. Immediately he went to the job. She was happy seeing the news films of innocent protestors being clubbed.75 - .anarchist tossing fire bombs at police in the sixties who by the mid-seventies was a well-dressed.” He complimented his own skill from the last visit and only . Still she missed the childish delight taken in the sound of shattering glass and exuberance of facing shielded police wielding clubs at peoples’ heads. humorless and edged with contempt. A protest was judged a failure if it did not make the TV news. 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. “This is the way it really is. He had come a second week to bring electricity to her hidden room. peaceful hippies. almost invisible in New York. The voice firm. students and straight people in business clothes. Attack and escape was the tactic as small cells broke out of peaceful anti-war marches and trashed banks and businesses.
Mary’s maternal strength sent forth the spirit and vibration of love and caring. “You look the same. Like everyone who met her.turned to speak when his hands were busy with wires and solder. . as an earth mother with bongo drums swinging under her tee shirt. Like Howdy Doody. I got home from washing dishes at 4 and there he was. I looked really young then. Howie’s brother had also died in Vietnam. his mother worked. Music flowed from the Firehouse as well as elements of the radical underground.” “I think we did only you don’t remember me. His father had a business in the Bronx renting out limos. The firehouse was sold.” She added with a flush of mirth. He avoided looking at me. “The FBI in a black car was watching my parents’ house. She distinctly remembered Howie who hung out with some of the radical kids who lived at the Firehouse. You were one of the Firehouse people? I’m surprised we never met before.76 - .” She added before she could stop herself. Howie remembered Mary Tyler. The hippie beat lasted until 1972 when after a divorce the couple moved to opposite ends of California. The Firehouse once served the NYFD but was retired and sold. His parents were divorced but both still used the house in Queens as a wardrobe.
They did not engage in any actions together but dated. Time would tell. He visited every Sunday for three years. Queens. June 3…” He lingered then leaned in toward her and out of his smoke. “Astoria.“What actions have you been in?” Rachel asked. They only had sex infrequently and afterward Howie went back to his parent’s home. That seemed unlikely. 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. Howie listed locations and dates. “bank robbery. He did not need to spell it all out.” He leaned back into his fog of tobacco and flux. He paused as Rachel decoded and realized that even before she was in high school Howie was at the front line. In addition to the indignity of living in a stairwell the family she rented from insisted on No Overnight Guests. Her passion was spent sneaking into cloak rooms .77 - . 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.
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 introduced her to LSD. Howie harbored a lot of guilt and fear for his revolutionary activities and LSD made . She and Howie sat in the park and looked at the ships in the yellow air of New York. She regarded the visions as beautiful and it seemed a fitting reward for the austerity of her life. Howie took the drug more often. talking idly about the imagined autopsy for the society they assumed to be dying as they applied pressure. later mailing wafer thin incendiaries that would smoke and combust in the faces of servants of the corporate giants. The drug made Rachel feel sentimental. The stress of her undercover work had an effect on her playing that Rachel did not notice. She enjoyed the experience of tripping and looked forward to their hallucinogenic trips. the visions haunted and challenged him and he could not turn away from the challenge. 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. She also rifled their coats looking for addresses.78 - . It reinforced her black and white world view.and destroying fur coats.
The post trip exhaustion left him without the energy to panic. 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.79 - . With barbeque and beer no . Howie did not care about her orgasm when they had sex and easily gave up his own. For days after sex she always suffered the symptoms of severe morning sickness until her period arrived. 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. The meal was a gift that she wanted to give him. Each time Rachel would find evidence for the startled conclusion that the rubber leaked and she would douche herself violently. Howie fit right in with the mix of straights and suburban phony hippies. They were not very romantically disposed and did it only with her reluctance after Howie would not drop the subject. The other bank robbers were Black Panther members and were all arrested soon after the robbery. Every knock on his parents’ door and creak of the house sent him out of his mind. She convinced Howie to sneak in for a good free meal.them go away. Since they did not kiss or hold hands it was not difficult for Howie to take his focus off sex.
” He said. “I heard someone playing a violin who sucked at it.80 - . “I never heard you play.” Under the table he chugged three and was into the fourth when he yawned and felt a delightful self-satisfaction before falling asleep. I didn’t think it was you.one begrudged anyone their look. “Ooooooooo. You suck playing. . Rachel and five other musicians stuffed themselves back in the car for the ride to Manhattan.” He bounced her on his knees as if he had said nothing. He must have heard because the food service with the long white table skirts was directly across from the bandstand. Afterward Howie. chosen because eight years ago she was a prodigy.” He groaned. He must have heard her since she was the soloist before the vows. “Quit it!” Her elbow plunged into his diaphragm. Rachel however loathed the phonies. “Where were you?” “I brought a bunch of beer bottles under the table and that’s where I stayed. Rachel sat on Howie’s lap.
Other interest occupied every cubic millimeter of her brain. She did not need the paranoid constructs. It would not require Howie to draw the FBI’s attention to her. The entire world being phony and controlled made her unwilling to compete in it. She knew because after graduating high school she did not even listen to herself play anymore. Like an assembly line robot she made motions that she learned when she was trying to master the instrument.81 - . living where she did black cars were always coming. “I am as good as I want to . She was never paranoid and at that time had no reason to fear getting caught. waiting and then going again. 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. It was adequate but barely so.It was true. 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. The decline of her playing was evidence that music was no longer a driving force. she sucked.
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. special gravy separators and a suburban housewife’s dream of Pyrex. They waited through the year in a box under her bed. Chapter 5 Rachel slowly selected through the most expensive birthday and holiday greeting cards.82 - . Like a good radical she had no bank account or credit card and had stayed off of almost all social institutions’ lists.” So it became her intention to make the money of a musician who played for a little extra income.be and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. To manufacture her special chemical devices she made stands and legs for the . a mediocre player. Fortunately the drafty stairwell carried the smells of her cooking out of the house. Rachel bought designer wine decanters. She made her purchases only on the coldest winter days when no one could dream of questioning a gloved hand.
The level of precision and patience was well worth it. some burned immediately and others with exposure to water. Later when scrubbed her laboratory equipment would return to cookware. not even clothing since fibers were a key evidence tool. A favorite from the cook book was Birthday Card Surprise. The separation was absolute between the bachelorette efficiency and her lab on the other side of the closet within a closet. specifically rich capitalists and those who served those at the highest level of power. Not just booted tyrants but the boot lickers too. Never so self-assured she always had her copy of The Terrorist Handbook in front of her. She would not let anything extraneous go between the rooms.kitchenware with wire hangers and used a camp cook stove. When the card was open. Another which unfolded in the recipients face dispensed a powdered accelerant that burned skin. the now dry interior is exposed to air and becomes a sheet of flame. The hidden middle management ones who expected lavish cards. The enemy was America. on . A night of cooking could mean several hours in the small space. She respected her chemicals and when the recipe called for it she wore a US Army surplus head and shoulder shield with respirator. She wanted the enemy responsible to feel her pain.83 - .
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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When the farm family in Ohio took her in there was another Mama there. even in the protected cell whenever the talk got around to Nazis she had to enforce her silence. a person handed off by someone she knew to someone he knew and soon she was forced to trust strangers. her parents’ and the life of Jews under Nazis would be stories she could only tell to herself. Once outside New York every tiny settlement at a highway intersection reminded her of her parents’ home.89 - . it overshadowed her and could be a clue to her identity. The mystery story that would explain her was in front of her but she could not see. The silence of years was not malicious but was because her mother lacked emotion. So much was her story the story of a child whose parents had that heritage. Immediately all of Rachel’s . Her life story. Underground and on the run she was a stranger. In a living room of trusted allies. That was the first family she needed to forget. Did they remember her? She wondered.Rachel would be living underground with strange families before it occurred to her what being a survivor like her mother could mean.
in the morning after breakfast Mama joined her and told Rachel that they were a self-sufficient farm family. “What a pretty banner. the Hindu sign of plenty.possessions were examined and she was instructed to dress in girls’ clothes on hand. She relied on her faux youthful personality as an out of touch love child. Together with Mama they selected from the Sears catalogue then waited for the clothes to be routed by hand from another city. They needed to keep Rachel out of sight. Rachel with great effort blocked the particulars of peoples’ politics as part of sheltering. walking before the TV cameras in handcuffs.” 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. She fingered the swastika on display with Hitler’s framed portrait. . 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. Talking politics would giveaway her identity. and yet one hundred years ago was the last time the Ohio farmer was able to compete in his own market. That the Ohio Valley fed all of America before the Civil War.
At times she wondered if she was feeling anything or ever had.91 - . 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 .An announcer speaks. and a secretary who was burned opening her boss’s mail. Rachel sat particularly fascinated by the prosthetic ear. “A dead policeman. She had learned much on the path of endless revenge but she never felt fulfilled. Rachel was told by Mama that a Canadian passport for her was on its way. a burned executive. With its timid lackeys under attack the war machine would lose its front line support. a burned professor. A soft focus on a smiling face that was not quite right who finally spoke. One program profiled her and showed the desolate street she grew up on and another examined the burned secretary and her reconstructive surgery. Overall it was a satisfying career. 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. appeased. a dead mailman. The secretary especially interested her because it was the precise target she wanted to terrorize. or even sated.” she knew there were more. She was at the moment intellectually receptive and wanted to learn if the woman’s hearing was also affected.
What others might call a tragedy was for me an opportunity that strengthened my relationship with the Lord.92 - . He would believe in me. 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. ‘Because I believed in Him. Forgiveness would not be offered in court.” Rachel sat appalled. But I reminded those doctors that miracles come from God. The doctors said it was a miracle they saved my eye. shaking the heavy wood frame portrait of Adolph Hitler. “I pray the love of Jesus can find her and raise her from her anger and suffering. Entering the sound proof shooting range she pounded her delicate fists.’ My life literally changed. She scoured .camera. hands that could weight minute quantities by feel. “When it first happened I cried. You have to do your best to overcome the challenge. He said.” Rachel snapped the TV off and paced the windowless game room in the large basement she had been told to stay in. ‘Why me. Forgiveness was a meaningless word that Rachel could not imagine using and a word she refused to accept from others. she beat the knotty pine. Lord?’ But when God chooses to test you it is His choice and not yours.
Hiding in plain sight was going to be good enough for her. locals adorned with kerchiefs dancing to accordion music. The way the family laughed shooting together and how only the mother made eye contact with Rachel was intensely scary. gypsies. she thought. Looking at a map the idea of Indiana coming before Illinois blew her mind. For the first time she became familiar with gunpowder as it is used in guns. She visualized a punishing eternity being surrounded by sheepherders. No. 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. In the dozen years she did not talk to her parents she did not want to. She learned a lot in the farmhouse basement. The family was surprised how adept she was at handling powder and reloading. now that it was not allowed she wanted to see them again. The plan. Prison itself seemed preferable to the life . The problem reminded her of her father’s thoughts on pork. as far as Rachel was told. And what would you do if you found a gun? The first days ran into weeks.the room for guns accidentally left in the open but found none.93 - .
of a farmhand’s wife. What they would buy after her sale was the main subject they talked about. She was going to be a human target in a hippie hunt. In that time Rachel made a stethoscope that listened to the family when they were upstairs. You got a foam cushion down there. As soon as they seemed to be well on . It was for more money than the family knew how to spend. It was still hard for her to live without hearing the subway. nice and legal. like her heart had stopped beating. the timing was perfect.” 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.94 - . It was still weeks as they would not let her out of the basement before the passport was ready. Through the grunts and banging noises she discerned the true plan. 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. “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.
She also put twigs in the ignition key slot to make sure they had time to breath. It was unfortunate that it had to end that way. They parked the car. 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. “We’re getting food.” One said. 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. While the boys were gone she pushed out the back seat.” Said the other.95 - . Stealing the car would have been more fun but Rachel did not know how to drive.the way Rachel urinated into the bag away from the cloth then sealed the bag and combined the urine with the chlorine soaked cloth. “We’ll bring you back something. She immediately got a ride to Kentucky from a truck driver gassing up an 18 wheeler. Once she opened the plastic bag there was no going back. Pulling out Rachel was . Inside the clear plastic bag was dripping with the yellow green color the Handbook told her to look for when making Mustard Gas. Kentucky is which way? She asked the counter man were the boys just eaten.
They would not be discovered for days. “a remote patch. The images formed in her mind were clear. she and her friends acted spoiled and disinterested but she was hanging on every word he said. The weather was mild and . Chapter 6 “Where Kentucky sticks its tongue at Arkansas. Penniless she straddled a line between truckers and hippies. Only the staggering humidity was a surprise. My ancestors refused to be coalminers and let out for the wide country. The truckers were all the same by degree. Missouri and Tennessee.” he said.barely able to see the boys sitting doubled over in the car. He spoke of the modest buildings that made up the little town. Each town’s hippie colony thought it was the only one in the state. She told people now her name was Mary.” That was Christmas day in the car in with him.96 - . I have a cabin in the swamp where I hunt and fish and the water that flows by is the Mississippi. Some only made her uncomfortable and others turned her out for refusing to perform on them.
his voice and the way he spoke. 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 quiet place to spend the night. Recalling the man’s name she changed her approach. 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. getting out of the rain. It had been like an acid trip.97 - . a ride. More than twenty years since last she saw him still she was sure she could recognize him. Back on the road she lived by her wits. Some towns closed after tourist season. The theatre was almost empty that day. Reality was what she sought and was grateful to find. a place to drink wine with the locals. It became clear as winter approached that the two strands of beach winding with the river had many cabins. things like food. Hippies always helped her find fresh clothes and a shower. She tested everything to find what is real.she needed to eat little and sleep was never an issue. A Thanksgiving and Christmas . they talked about him and laughed during the picture while imitating his accent. The cold northern winds blew and some of the fog lifted.
Waitressing in and around the snaking rivers she listened carefully for his accent in greasy spoons and fried catfish joints. Renamed as Mary she stuck with the last name Miller. How could he find a similarity. this place was clean. 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. places she went to inspect. freshly painted with people . The roofs were all black and the building messily white washed.98 - .went by without his surprise re-appearance and Rachel too was gone by the spring. looking for a human sign on uninhabited curlicues of land. Garth Green. She circled some regions on her highway map. a crossroad and some stores with plate glass made the center of the town. Until she reached the town of Green she had not made the significant association. it was plain enough as was the name she searched for. 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. Until a knot of trees rose from the distance then squat houses.
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. the old house. Undoubtedly this is where Garth caddied as a boy. 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. She could hear motor boats and smell fish frying. The overgrowth turned into grass and gravel which made the sun intensify on the streets of white houses. Across the street.sitting in a park. and as she got closer her expectation made her . set almost with the back steps in the river. 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. a notions store and several conspicuously anonymous buildings everywhere with ample parking selling booze in brown bags. two fish restaurants. 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. her town was a highway bypass.99 - . There was a small Piggly Wiggly. a ghost town.
A light flashed and she woke with a start. Approaching the residence she shook off fear. .100 - . a shadow of its former self. “Shit. 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.want to live if only to see this one thing. His car too. She sat on his chair in a clearing she made in the clutter near the tall window and watched the sky fill with stars. With little effort the door opened and something in the freshness of its horror told her to wait. he was a frequent uninvited guest at her home and that suggested he would not mind this possible surprise. She pulled the only kitchen chair up to the front window that was beautifully framed and ornate on the outside. She dreamed about robots when the iron steps outside clanked. a rusty bucket now – was the proof. She climbed the iron steps to his apartment over the garage.” He responded and Rachel knew it was him that second despite a clearly changed appearance even in the dim light. the one he drove the girls in. Close now she could see the house was abandoned but not long abandoned.
” 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. “I moved it over here. “Beer?” He popped a can for himself and looked confused.” He looked at her questioning. How are you? How have you been?” . you’re little what’s her name. “I changed my name to one more American sounding.” “That’s fine. He walked to the couch near her and sat.” He took a long drink from the new can before letting things settle. “is Aaron. My brother.“Did God finally send me a woman?” He scrutinized her from the doorway. undecided between ‘is’ or ‘was’.” as always her voice broke.101 - . “Mary. Doubting himself more than her.” “We met years ago.” “Oh.” He popped another. “Where’s my chair?” He drained one can. “Do I know you? I think I do. “It’s the last one from a set.
Took the job grounds keeping at the family course where I was a caddy a long time ago. a vague way of speaking that living on the road taught. Now. But I did settle down.” “After I got back all I did was party.” “Don’t drink?” He asked timidly. I don’t bring home more than I can drink in one night.” “I’m all right. “Store is open ‘til 8 if you’re thirsty. His love of the drink was evident and unashamed when they first met years ago. I’m 42 right now. Like vague suggestions made in the truck stop compared with what happens in the truck.” He stated his age like a child. I learned that lesson. thanks. his stricken face was . “I’m tired. and she hinted at the possibility of a social drink later.” She sensed his relief. Stopping speech he drained the can and clawed the six-pack.“I’ve been trying to relax. She would not judge him or make him uncomfortable. not tonight.102 - .” 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. her she had a line on him now while he had nothing on her.
Only beer the last few years yet it flowed. 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. After she had been hospitalized they asked in a way that he could not refuse. reminding him it . So intense was his relationship with alcohol that he had to enforce a limitation or know his body’s wrath for going too far. That was how he liked it.103 - . The challenge in life was to drink just the right amount. When drunk he thought he felt forgiveness. Only alcohol could reveal his tortured conscience and cure it. too little and one is returned prematurely to reality . his conscience. With enough he was like a well-tuned machine moving without effort and no thought.much to be avoided. In these quantities everything became sleepy and quiet. Despite sickness and insanity he went there again and again seeking forgiveness that freed him from pain.red as a rose in full bloom. Too much is sickening. an indication that Garth and alcohol had developed a long and faithful relationship. Chapter 7 Grandmother asked long ago that he live in the house with his mother.
was his Christian duty. The church ladies who brought her meals and nurses who bathed the old lady never seemed to notice him. Some of the married women in the family also helped out. he assumed any decision he would make to be the wrong one. He bathed daily in the swamp which as a hunter was the perfume he preferred. He joined a great tradition sitting. The offer of running water was something that was supposed to make him come around. He moved from the carriage house to a room in the old house. the women did not understand that he got along fine without it. Just like in Nam he stayed close to the ground. .104 - . It had been a long time since he exercised his will or voiced an opinion. 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. She did carry him eight or nine months and he had been raised in the church to be a humble servant. looking out for things and lifting the old lady on and off the chair in her room and emptying the bowl. He found her dead after giving her an hour to make one. Every family on the river had a man like him. The old lady was someone no one liked being around.
When he moved back to the carriage house the electric lines were gone. They said even though we ran out with our tail between our legs without you it would have been worse. How many did you kill? What is it like? . Mr Green. he looked and smelled like he had been dredged from the river. They made him wait until they got the waterproof wire cut for him. It had been years since he talked with anyone who knew him from high school. 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.” That was when recognition struck the cashier and a co-worker. “Oh. They could not stop having at him. Entering the hardware store he looked like a thief.105 - . The chatty people they only quieted because of him. “Charge it to Family Fun Golf. adding. that’s not what you want. They were pointing out all the reasons we should have won that war and congratulating him on his phenomenal number of kills. They did not recognize him although they watched him. At the register he said his name like when he was a kid. He scavenged the old house unable to find length of wire to toss out the window.
making him lead through the jungle every day.Vietnam was a secret he preferred kept within. There was an unwritten rule in the army about fuckups. Stay away from a fuck-up and if you run into one keep him down. He was just a dumb kid who liked to hunt and fish before joining the army. That combined with the skill he already possessed accounted for his ghastly high confirmed dead. his buddy. His personal aspiration before the war was to make enough money to buy a car with a big block engine. Everyone in Nam must have known about him. a simple rule. After a few weeks in the states he developed another constant fear of running into anyone from Vietnam. even the rawest draftee in the company learned first to spit in his direction. After Aaron died they put him on the point. a complete asshole who cost the gunner.106 - . one that everyone especially in combat knows. an old man over there. When he was a short timer. he was bad luck. He unconsciously counted but when a captain came out of his bunker to pin . his life. A fuck-up. Following that first day in the field he lived moment to moment attempting to avoid the treatment. And more than twice that number who did not get counted.
Mowing he said was for beer money and he had no ambition beyond that. The men in his company as well as the officers and noncoms glared at him through the ceremony. I’m the guy who lost the war.” He told Mary.a medal on him it was for forty confirmed and the number 83 popped into Garth’s head as the true body count.” 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. He confessed to having not even picked up a gun since returning. . Once the sun was up and the dew off the greens Garth sat on a tractor and mowed.107 - . “I was a famous fuck-up. “Everyone in Nam heard of me. Mary made the offer to cook for him but he turned her down. Singling him out for commendation did not remove the mark he wore for losing his buddy. No gas or water and only electric service only sufficient for an outside light and a small TV. To Mary’s relief since there was not one working kitchen appliance or utensil between the old house and the apartment.
” Still begging she silently indicated the house across the way while mouthing the word. all women. until I get my shit together. I’ll catch all kinds of shit from my family. it was not that he did not want her around. After so many weeks in a cold basement the warm air. “Just a few days. It was the presence of Mary as a woman that Garth found disturbing him much the same as grandma’s sister. he was afraid of what the neighbors would say.” She placed her hands together and struck an innocent and vulnerable pose. “I can’t have a woman here.108 - . He did not want talk about the family because it was important that the family runs a Christian golf course. “I need a place to crash bad. Garth said.” Although in her mind she was looking at staying longer. “I can live in the big house.” 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. Please. He found women shadowy and uncertain and women of any age scared him. .The question of Mary’s plans came up on the third day.
You can stay. “No matter what I decide it’s the wrong decision. Space in the rubble was cleared and beds thrown down. You worked hard.” She wanted to kiss him but his face was especially postulated that evening. “You eat it. He shook his head at the offer and held up a beer can.109 - . She earned money at a fried catfish shack washing dishes and decided to bring Garth some food up in the garage. some from fire others old and condemned.grass and sunshine that went along with the house captivated her. For a little while. The situation was not unlike ones she had been in at the beginning when she ran away from her parents to New York.” “Will you sit outside with me?” “Where? On the lawn?” . instead she hugged him. In the other house. Undaunted then she knew as an adult she would do things differently. Abandoned apartments. She fully embraced his rancid smell of cigar and cigarette stubs in his pocket along with beer breath and man sweat odor. cooking in one corner. While casting around for work she decided to avoid the golf club office since those were Garth’s relatives. bathroom somewhere else and garbage out the window.
it’s nice out. 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. He sat on the fender of his dead car and Mary in sunshine sat legs crossed near his feet. Garth groaned and complained as if it was killing him. a strong man who made himself king. nothing is real. A hippie who appreciated the palate widening possibilities of vegetarianism she still enjoyed a fried catfish sandwich slathered with mayo.” The sky was turning red as the shadows grew long.” Mary danced down the long stairs. It took a year before a member of Garth’s family approached her and Mary received her with slack jawed grace.” He observed piously.” Garth held a can to his lips and the rest in a plastic noose. “Can’t drink in the street. Garth asked nothing of her and Rachel as Mary went back to her LSD mind set. “There is something satisfying about meat that you don’t get anywhere else. This aunt explained since returning from Vietnam Garth frequently hurt and disappointed the family who .“Sure.110 - . “This is your backyard.
his sisters. When she was not filling in as a dishwasher Mary stalked mushroom. Memory of life in the basement left a residual desire to be in sunlight whenever possible. The drunken happiness and easy laughter masked his inner misery. Having had enough heart break they stood back to watch. It was a difficult decision for his family to send him to his first rehab. nieces and nephews were looking toward him and he faltered and fell before their eyes. in the . white bottoms of grass blades from the lawn and berries she gathered at the edge of the woods. the disconcerting smile was so odd to others that she fit with Garth’s life in the shadows. While he was fighting with alcohol addiction for his life those who loved him thought he was drinking to kill himself. Her tiny size and grey peasant skirt. cousins.111 - . Military service was supposed to mature him to be a leader of the family and the town. She could spend an entire day in the children’s park near the town green where along with mushrooms she grazed on the soft. They were long in deciding because some cousins meant to get rid of him for good while Grandmother wanted to keep this a secret. The old people.sent him off to war. The image of the troubled son with a woman at hand set up a frail and delicate hope.
His tee shirt was fresh. Three beers dangling from one hand and Mary in tow . “I’m thirtyfive. His legs bounced against the table accidentally. Crossing a bridge they came to a settlement of several fine white homes. “half way there.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.” She stood and adjusted her twisted skirt and bare footed she followed Garth at first thinking the family home was on the peninsula. it’s Sunday.112 - . Usually their paths did not cross or there was only a look when they did. with white garages and sheds. “The family wants you to come by today. It had been a long time since she thought about her age.” she thought rubbing life from her upper thigh to her lower leg. he held a bar of soap in one hand and a dirty towel in the other. 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. he winced then spoke.” She smiled and put the book down but found herself stiff when she tried to rise from the table. Coming up from the river Garth was unrecognizable.
“This is Mary. Looking up she caught his eye. most of the men wearing ties. “Let’s go. The family sat like semi-animated statues. Women still in church clothes.” Garth repeated several times and she followed him to the kitchen and the refrigerator where he placed his cans for the walk home. Garth headed for the bathroom and Mary stepped out the back door. he was a stranger to them and had not been to Sunday at Grandma’s in years. his eyes looked raw like he was crying. There was a circle of women with babies in a shroud of cigarette smoke. one surrounded by pickup trucks and cars.Garth walked up to the grandest of the homes. Not wanting to seem unfriendly Mary grabbed a chair in the sun and away from the smoke. Until she lit up. . When Garth appeared he looked different again. she offered him the chair and sat at his feet.113 - . She could feel what was going on. or specifically judge her since the judgment on him had been turned in years ago.” She whispered. They said hello and smiled. it was hard for her to believe they had not gathered to judge them. even children kept away. Others small talked and laughed but none of the little circles opened for Garth or his guest.
” From the head of the table came a strong voice and all eyes turned to Garth and grandma. Here he comes.114 - . He was my only friend in …” His voice trailed off. Here he comes. it is good to see you again. I served with her brother. he sipped. Here she comes. Taking her cues from Garth they waited until everyone was in the house before rising. the idea of going back to being Rachel and prison offered the possibility of escaping the web she now faced. In the slow procession she thought of a possible police ambush. a clear drink with bubbles running up the side. “This is Mary. With a lowing sound the assembled made their way to the house. my first born grandchild.He shook his head with firmness to his jaw she had not seen before. A sweaty silver glass tumbler was handed him discretely. Mary could hear the hot voices inside whispering. After more waiting Mary recognized the ring of a china bell. waiting. Inside the formal dining room the Sunday table ran into the adjoining room and eager relatives sat and with growing elbow friction. A woman in the doorway waited for their approach then disappeared into the house. “Garth. .
“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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” “Why.120 - .” She added. “And I am a radical revolutionary. little missy.” For the first time he walked by her side.” He seemed to accept it or did not care to question further what he heard. I have a past and that’s one place the police would be waiting for me. is dead. You don’t want to wait too long. Before it’s too late and one of them.” Had she said too much? She wondered. that’s your momma and daddy. “Grandpa can drink the beer. You got to go back.” “I wish I could go back that easy but I can’t. “I robbed a bank for money to feed starving babies in the ghetto.” “A dope dealer and what?” Long hair no longer meant anything. you can’t cut them off. “What did you do?” “I was a dope dealer. . the girl can give it to him. Rachel had not caught a wisp of cultural deviation in years.after so many years crossing the country I miss them and I thought you might have kept in touch with them. you know.
But everybody knows me around here. The memory of the time with Aaron’s family was once precious to him. Not like what I had to face here. “It meant a lot to me having turkey with your family. He recognized Rachel with depth. The memory overwhelmed the reality of sun drenched noon and the accursed road home.” “You have to wear a ski mask. Course I don’t have your problem.” “Whoa.“A policeman was killed.” The gin he drank in the house seemed to clear the way. I’d probably blow it at the dog track. You were a bank robber. But you shouldn’t go robbing banks. isn’t it? I thought about robbing my family’s bank many times. That was real Thanksgiving. So now I know. he was so impressed.” . That makes sense. “I killed eighty men and when I got home the town turned out.” “My father made a turkey for Passover that year.” His hand rested on her shoulder in a spidery way that made her blood run cold as never before in her life.” “Oh.121 - . killing people or robbing cousin Jeff’s bank and taking off. It’s tempting though. But I don’t think about it anymore. I got everything I want right here. Killed by me. And just to think when last I saw you you were a little girl. Someone is not going to be happy with you.
” There he paused. “Older than Aaron was.” Beer. Rachel discovered she too knew the tune well enough to hum along. before he got drinking down to a routine.” It was a timeless beer ad. his addiction supplied his sustenance and was also a source of entertainment as he sang another.“Your brother sure loved the Colonel’s coleslaw. energy without direction surfaced.” The time must pass easiest for Aaron. Like flag and country beer offered a culture and community. . “It was coming out his nose.122 - . “What’s the rush? I’m late for a date with a taste that’s true. Rachel could see by his sudden change. outlived by a baby brother. goes down smooth. 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. I believe I’ll have another brew. the oldest. “My brother is almost thirty now. the evidence that a few years back.” Rachel said and both laughed a little. “Master blended. Garth startled her as he sang a tune.” Rachel felt the wonder of time passing effortlessly for others while she sweated like a rat trapped in a sewer underground.
He did not know what he was going to say. Mary resumed her cross legged pose on the picnic table and picked up her thickly bound book. He thought about the ages of his life. “Crime and Punishment. The family was not willing to examine his condition and accepted him as a shut in like his mother. a link to . then blackouts and hospitalizations. “Don’t go away. later as a recluse he fancied himself a scrap aluminum speculator hoarding empty cans. For the moment his passion was about brand loyalty.Garth must have been an out of control drunk.123 - . challenges and fights with strangers. The first years back from the war were filled with days and nights of wild drinking. What he had in his hand he dredged from the muck at the back of the freezer in his broken refrigerator. 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 were when he still socialized and was a barroom buffoon. His descent on the steps was slow and hesitant.” From a matching library of public domain books covering one wall in the house. I got to show you something. A tower of crushed beer cans must have collapsed.
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 . It was the end of a little finger. where an ill looking greenishblack residue in a corner containing remains.124 - . Returning home alive he tried to carry out the promises and then had to continue living. I don’t think I looked at him since that day. The sniper shot it off and I retrieved it. He wanted to preserve the memory of Aaron being strong and protective coming from a perfect family as Garth imagined. 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. I held this in my hand for days like he was still alive and we would stay alive so long as I held him.” He had gentlemanly reverence for Aaron as a big brother of a sister. “I policed the clearing and put every little bit of him in the body bag to be sent home for burial.the past in a plastic bag. It was one of a sack full of promises he made should he live.” Without effect or emotion she studied what was in the bag.” He thrust it between her face and the book. a complete nail and a small bone. Then I wrapped him in some plastic and stuck him down in my pocket. “It’s his.
time stopped. The same was true for her too. it was always the afternoon and long night of that first day in combat. The tar at . “That’s what the war was all about. The morning sun came up like a red knife and the sniper slipped off. Now he remembered one last thing he felt unable to do. she had to respect that.” He sweated like he was back in the jungle and mopped his face with an unpleasant looking rag.edicts she had learned regarding the dead as unclean were dismissed as she felt the bone through the plastic. I waited undercover. They were not doing her a favor it was a way to make money. She could not be disappointed by criminals betraying her. 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. one more failing added to the others he promised in exchange for his life. Damn. Montana flew the Nazi flag however in New York and Pennsylvania they were secretly Nazis. He never got past the first day in country. The bugs and critters were already at him. The sniper picked him apart. 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.125 - .
I even remember throwing that finger and two others in the bag with him. the smaller guy with the lighter end. it was her brother’s. For his book. “How?” Garth shook his head. I let him.the bottom of the bag had once been skin and blood of her bright and ambitious big brother. Specialist. “I meant to give it to your dad. He wanted to be the first one to set foot in a combat zone. In the morning I didn’t want any part of him staying on that damn ground. It must have hurt coming off. Fuck-Up. I carried him inside the wire then put him on a jeep. that’s who I was in the Army. The bastard had me pinned and took practice on Aaron. I was a fuck-up from that day on. My end of the gun.” The curve of the nail. being dead he would not miss it.126 - . If I killed a thousand gooks I still couldn’t shake that name. I should be dead. is supposed to come out first. I came back without my buddy. Marksman. That was the worst day of my life. It didn’t matter what I did in the field and in combat. My entire life . He jumped first. I should be dead. It was a nail and it was human. I gathered him up real careful. she thought. on your brother. Instead of him dying. We were a team on the heavy gun. Out there I felt like I had the winged angel of death protecting me. “Clean off after he was already dead. a marked man.
“It was in the bottom of the jeep. 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.” “You’re right. somehow. All of it. Not to kill less but to kill more. already dead.” She deliberated on the possibility of a wasted life. But I lost my buddy. The freezer was working then but I don’t think it mattered after a year in my pocket in the jungle. Since then she frequently dreamed of herself being . It protected me. I wasted my life but at least now I have this. it must a fell out of the bag.” She cupped it in her hands. I couldn’t bring him back.growing up on the river hunting and fishing prepared me. It was a crazy comfort to me. I knew it wasn’t a good omen but I kept it anyway. This makes it real.127 - . It was all so stupid. It was what let the angel of death pass over me. “I feel connected. Their half assed irregular army was to me like hunting rabbits. no matter how many of them I killed. this part that is real. “Maybe the answer is not to stop killing. She brought it near her face. I never looked at it again and when I came here I threw it in the freezer. Those civilian eyes begging for mercy were like fish eyes to me.” He paused. You were in war and I was fighting at home. This thing. That brings him back to me.
” “Yes.128 - .executed. 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.” “My parents are store owners. if it’s not too late. They rely on the police. “No.” . That’s what I should have done in the first place.” “No. The government kills thousands representing the American people. they wouldn’t. classic middle class.” “Maybe I could still give it to your dad. We’re American people and we can make a statement by killing thousands on our own. The government executioner came and crammed her into a small space like that car but with many other bodies like the boys. that’s your parents you’re talking about.” “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 more killing. I’m sure the FBI talked to them and threatened them to report whatever they know. Or they’ll do to them what they did to the Rosenbergs. we have to hold a mirror up.
lean. that was who I could talk to. I must of.” He clowned but could not break the solemn moment.” He said reliving his barroom days when he had a filthy joke about everything. “Why do you drink so much?” He looked as if a car was about to hit him. I was a dead eye.” “When my brother wrote that you and him went out did you get drunk then?” “Sure. John Waynes. an alert soldier.“You didn’t really rob a bank. But After reeling it further back in his head he could see himself in a mirror practicing his salute. “To get shit faced. twenty years old. lonely bottles rolling in the wet street the next morning. the bar bottles. You’d topple over with a gun in your hand. we were real men back then. Cases stacked up by walls near every building. clean shaven. muscular. After I got to Nam I really started drinking. the whole camp hated me. I never shook back then. clear eyed.129 - . A shot then five or six tall boys. They were everywhere in Saigon. No one was talking to me. I could part the gooks’ hair. Aaron too. I’d feel great and I could still take on the world the next morning. did you? You’re just a little bitty thing. the long necks. “We used to get drunk every night they let us out. .
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. He was a fish with a big hook through his mental lip. They had come for one brother which left another brother at home she had to protect. like the US government’s napalm. When the letter came for her brother. like Garth. Cunt Shit Dick Fuck Bastard Ass. and they went off together to kill Asian communist. “Oops. it was the same thing.130 - . blast away some irregulars during the day suck up the beer and fuck their sisters at night.That was the routine. Her brother wanted to be like their Christian neighbors. Rachel’s weapons were chosen after the destruction shown nightly in her home. .” He had lost everything and still held on to a culture which viewed women as the delicate flowers of society. 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. she never felt any way about that but was saddened and felt pity over his discomfort.
He did not run over hoses and never once fell from the mower. he was proof everything the body needs to live is in beer.The soldiers who had come to the store that day left a folded flag in a box for display. It was years after that she realized Aaron was buried as soon as he arrived. 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. Mary could get a few hours washing dishes when the regular dish washer was out drunk. The dishwasher received an unexpected gift of a bottle of rye fell asleep drunk early the day before Christmas. this is war.131 - . He never looked well physically and was clearly not all there when someone spoke to him but he was near enough. The tiny tourist cabin he rented year round burned to the ground on Christmas Eve. People were still golfing as the winter approached and he mowed in a coat. Chapter 8 Garth had found a harmony on the river. A dishwasher meant nothing to her. She understood what it meant when Garth told her . She earned enough to live quietly as Garth’s neighbor. It was done in the morning on a school day without her.
Outside Garth was mowing in anticipation of the Forth. Money accumulated and it had to be hidden. cigarettes and several packs of matches. 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. She bought small quantities and then reduced them or distilled from them. 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.he had killed eighty soldiers and maybe twice that many civilians. She wore a typical long skirt . 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. and she carried only cash. 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. Her new PO Boxes where under three different names in three states. the greeting cards.132 - . 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 doubted he would ever know anything. Unwitting for his own protection. The next time they sat outside together in view of the old Mustang she might bring it up. 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. Now she was always shivering even if it was at the thought of cold. her heavy sweater was long and faded yellow. She was always a person who despised waste and inefficiency. it needed washing.that she might have worn to work. She had intentionally not bathed in preparation for this journey. Garth in a sleeveless athletic shirt was cause for a shudder. her hair was lusterless and hung flat down her chest and back. A country boy like Garth could never understand the revolution. She had reached the time in life when she was always cold. her business could be back just like the old days. It seemed that if Garth had a car he could help her on the far flung errands required in the tri state area. In New York under the stairs was warmed by open pipes in her living area. It was important to drop one device a month. especially the rear. But it would be possible only with Garth’s unwitting help.133 - .
husband’s salaries. Some distilling equipment they discovered went recognized as odd and attributed to the legends of the old . Cautiously the old lady opened the bounty of her family. there after young married women. 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. The Carter years were the calm between the storms. the sisters. Summer on the Mississippi with a southern farmer in the White House was a wonderful time and place to be a hippie. 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. As Mary she became the pleasant hippie girl once more. Like the competition over children. Grandma instructed them. 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.134 - . it might be shown that the way grandma raised Garth’s mother. Grandma had a special pity for Garth. around a speakeasy and a whore house made her into a wild woman who went to California. The girls crawled all over the old place to the extent that Mary feared exposure.
a favorite son. Mary became an avid student learning her new identity. They circled like sharks to learn more of her. that mysterious and desiccated flower of the Old South. Perhaps a blessing for her son. The war was so devastating on his nerves when Garth got home that he also had a regular room at the VA Hospital. But the condition was understood that she be there for Garth. Being a thoroughly supportive southern woman was a fine place to hide.days during prohibition and the old lady who last lived here. Aaron’s death in a lost war made Mary part of the fabric of strong women who kept alive southern culture. . Mary Miller could not hide her skeletal history. 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. 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.135 - . but they were easy on her as they understood and shared her loss. nursing her gave Garth something to do to help him settle down after he first returned. Mary learned a lot from the sister-in-laws.
A baby grand piano was sent and left by the movers covered with a waterproof tarp.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. to enter into the beast itself. 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. One sister’s husband was a mattress salesman and had delivered a lightly used demonstrator model from the family store. Not paying rent made a car easy to afford in Kentucky. 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. she thought. It took buying a car to make Rachel feel like an exploitative American whose lifestyle dripped with the blood of third world people. 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. Surprisingly cheap.136 - . She pulled up the string in the wall which was weighed down by a second wad of cash the size of a roll of . wobbly and mismatched with springs obscenely sagging out the bottoms.
Exploring possible ways to begin a conversation to manipulate him a variety of avenues of thought opened in her mind. . 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. followed by a visit to the post office. Near Nashville they found several beer gardens enough so they never became regulars anywhere. She was past thirty and for the first time using sex to influence a man occurred to her. The thought was repugnant. In one town she could buy a hamburger and he could drink Iron City on tap. She bought fabric one place and had her glasses adjusted. “I don’t know how to drive and I need to go to town to get stuff.toilet paper. blew the old spider shedding away and untied the string. She brought the twin wads of cash up from between the walls.137 - . She was still trying to get the plaster dust off the money when she handed it to Garth. The thought was also liberating but only after she put it down. You know what I mean. lady stuff.
Her mother’s taste forever affected by the depravity of prewar Europe. 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. . Rachel made a wedding dress she considered tasteful. no father and her mother was blind but they scratched a living from a patch of black land. beautiful but modest. simple. she was endlessly grateful. 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. not at all the sort of over articulated peek-a-boo dress that held the woman on display. All the children were poor but some looked especially shabby. both were sure Mary and her talents were sent by Jesus.138 - . 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. 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. She always knew how to make dresses as her mother taught her. modest and modern American for a girl who lived in hundred year old shed. Children grew and adults aged before her eyes.
“Hallelujah. The woman’s gratitude made Rachel’s heart swell with a sense of breathless flight. A place she had never experienced before. America finally was ready to surrender and change. Despite numerous LSD trips this was a feeling previously unknown to her. God or the third eye within her mind. Marx now suddenly seemed like a boy in a sand box making up rules and titles. Ruchel. She said something to Mary but Mary was suddenly in a distant realm.” Shouted the blind mother in a firm voice. she wondered if the time was for her to take the next step. Until that instant for her the divine order of things followed Marxist analysis and nothing greater.139 - . It was like being drawn into a river of life. Feeling she was no longer a single radical revolutionary in a wilderness but one of many who were hammering away at the Colossus. Her thoughts were confused. Hearing the word shouted and knowing its ancient origin. “Hallelujah!” Rachel entered the spiritual and religious realm of her mind. A region previously undisturbed opened to her. rough and tender her name echoed forever. . for her to announce herself and make a stand? All of this support and encouragement must mean popular support for the party program.
Waiting then was the third. final and logical step. And the other people. The desire for publicity passed as she remembered the FBI outside her old building.Now she was leading an army and not merely in a car with a map giving Garth directions driving around Nashville. the man Garth accused himself of killing. 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. The People will feed the Revolutionary. Hiding in the open validated her interpretation of Mao and Ho for fighting effectively in isolation.140 - . with that she already had their sympathy. 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. 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. Still wanting an apology from the US . ones who Garth introduced her to knew that her brother was Aaron. that along with poverty and a list of ills. But she was not an enemy of the same country that destroyed southern culture. to announce her program of resistance and clarify her response to the country who she blamed for his death.
She faced the woods and did not see the glow in the bathroom window. Chapter 9 It was a hot hazy night when Mary quit her cooking to let things dry for the next step in processing.government while not trusting anything any government might say. 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. 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.141 - . Fighting the fire she was more afraid of having to explain all of these dangerous chemicals to a fire marshal. fear of arrest motivated her more than fear of exposure to . 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. Mary relaxed by doing yoga on the relatively dry surface of the picnic table.
The drying rack in the bathtub was roaring. Why had this happened? She ran a finger down the ingredient list and looked at the labels.142 - . The ceiling was scorched but it was finally out. Revenge had now coupled with . 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. 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. There was no one she could blame.those chemicals and the toxic fumes should they burn. Her fate was like other domestic terrorist who worked steadily for years and are virtually ignored. Christmas was coming again which meant individuals as well as institutions would have their guards down. Years of work and a fortune in chemicals were gone. She remembered the Israelis murdered at the Olympics and was jealous at the around the clock concern of the world. She was losing the grasp she had on her original rationale for targeting the servants of greatness instead of the great individuals. it was an act of God or she had done it to herself. Since resuming her armed struggle she had mailed three cards and set two fires.
143 - . The smoke was not spotted. Like stories he heard stories as a child of how hard the family once had it in the mines. The Green family had escaped the mines. They drove away from the river and north through the valley. she suggested. With two six packs on the seat between them he was driving to the only place he felt at home since the war.it a desire for respect.” She was wide eyed. “You never mentioned a word. She wanted to hear some expression from a jury of her peers that her efforts were worthy. A nearby town. “Did I ever tell you about how I met your brother in the Army?” “No. They would have to leave this corner of Kentucky to avoid his family.” . Garth had never heard that command before. but one where they would not bump into any of his relatives. not meeting a Green in the town of Green was impossible. it just dissipated in the sky but everything was ruined. That night after the fire she wanted Garth to drive somewhere for ice cream.
Chapter 10 On the first day of training you will get a bunk and bunk mates on either side.” Aaron snapped back. If you never held a gun until today you are just lucky I’m lying over here. It is a sure bet that one of the two will become your best friend in the Army. shooting crows and other creatures who would mess the place.144 - . Aaron was impressed by the family’s golf course and Garth’s job from the age of eight. “Pennsylvania was a half Rebel state.” The stiff neck rebel boy in every Southern gentleman came out. If you want to make it through the Army you will need a buddy. read your history. Aaron admitted he never touched a gun before. “but my kills are my own. Get yourself a buddy.” .” “Okay. “I don’t know.” Aaron answered enthusiastically. “No wonder it was so hard for you Yankees to put us down.
exercise. he . Often at night Aaron talked out loud about what he would do to the enemy. When Aaron read James Bond half the barrack listened. He knew he did not want to pray with coloreds. Twisting the knife in someone’s belly is easy to say. listening to orders and snapping salutes.” “What?” It took time for a message like that to sink in after mind numbing days of running. “I was to church one time in my life. “I went to the Greek church when my friend’s family invited me to one of their weddings.” Aaron’s answer was like a cocked fist. I am a Jew. standing at attention.145 - . Garth who had carried little creatures to the fire pit tried not to think about that. Everyone at that stage of training was getting that way. Something Garth later tortured himself with is the thought that had he known about Aaron they would never have been buddies. Garth preferred sex to death. Garth had asked because after a week of looking forward to church he did not know what church would be like.Now with a buddy the Army process of breaking down the individual began. 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.
At parties with a couple of cheer leaders he said everyone on the team was getting it. After families went to church Garth changed into his caddy outfit. Now his buddy was suddenly a Jew. He was sure he and Garth would soon be getting some. Garth considered himself a gentleman back home and was always proper with girls. He learned after a bad experience not to mention that he had the job of killing for the golf course. Garth wore a white shirt and tie that was dug out of grandpa’s closet. he never talked to them in school but after church he talked to them. Oxbloods replaced his damp and dirty sneakers. Aaron was relaxed about sex. he was afraid of them. if he touched one she might break.146 - . The course had work for everyone.wanted a nice quiet church with a sermon he could use in the Army. It was no bullshit. Sunday was Garth’s favorite day when the entire family was together and the golf season was in full swing. A few had traveled the world. When they asked about him Garth only said he went to school. With his grandparents beside him he might shake a girl’s gloved hand. Garth was sure his buddy Aaron had done it. He also learned quickly not to mention his . some of the golfers were interesting.
Crows formed circles on the greens and a buzzard had been seen in the trees over the 9th hole.” his grandfather told him. Later that Christmas day he was shooting pest birds. to the quiet go the tips. The image of himself as a soldier straightened his spine like a reflex. Every man in Garth’s family served. A ball hit wild scared a grizzly pair who flew from rotten meat they were eating in the rough. Naturally it followed by early spring a noticeable foulness to the air out on the links.147 - . The men got out there and they found the remains of a small deer. “You’ll earn you’re stripes fast in combat. Word finally reached Garth’s town that the country was in a shooting war in Vietnam. the moment they saw that hairless pistol between fat writhing baby legs his future was known. until he got his first real rifle at 8. The family gathered for Christmas dinner and grandmother’s cakes and pies. That he would someday be in the Army was a point of pride from infancy. Like Jesus says. When Garth heard about it he was proud and told everyone it was his deer. it had been .family owns the place. With a real weapon came his first real job for the family. or a toy pistol gun belt set. Under the tree there was always a bee-bee rifle.
Didn’t you ever bring girls out on that golf course? Was all Aaron wanted to know.” . Like the rest of life.” “I can drink. Aaron knotted the tie for Garth. His uncle pulled up with a backhoe and dug a fire pit deep in the woods.eating the shrubbery. Suddenly Garth’s joy had become a chore. I could never be depressed around your brother.” “I can hold my liquor. He left a can of kerosene before he waved and drove off. except the part about being arrested by the military police. They were planning first to go where Aaron overheard a couple of corporals saying that there were whores. They planned to do everything they were told not to do in the lecture hall.148 - .” “So can I. Following that Garth was put on more personal terms with the pests he managed. After weeks of training the entire company got their first pass off the base. too. “I can drink.
grabbing beers and walking away.” Said Aaron. “We found it. The bar had no seats.” Garth raised the beer to his lips.” Aaron yelled a fresh can in his hand. The boys shuffled around until the first beer was gone and then got on a line to purchase another. It was not at all what he had imagined. opening his can. They stopped along the way for another beer. The closer to the address of the whorehouse the more MP’s they saw. “Let’s get out of here.” They walked several blocks before they got to the end of the men in the line for whores. The line of men in front of the whorehouse was long with a lot of familiar faces from the company in it. MPs scanned the men in line. We could buy something. There were bars open across the street from the line. On the street an MP eye balled them then gave a wag of his club as a warning. He pushed through the crowd and Garth followed. “Cheers.149 - . only poles and men in line.” Aaron said. “There are stores.As soon as they got off the bus they saw the MPs. . Garth would be ashamed to be seen in a line like that. Inside the bar was crowded with soldiers handing over dollar bills in exchange for cans of beer. “We’re drinking and it’s only 10:30 in the morning.
Eventually they walked up to a ticket counter for a movie theatre. He did not tell one favorite whore about another.“I don’t know. 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. inside they joined twenty other soldiers sprawled across seats. On the ride back to . “They’re soldiers like us.” Garth admitted. He tried to explain to Aaron how each one was different but Aaron did not seem to understand. Garth liked it so well he grew attached to certain whores. After all those men been sloppin’ around?” He said with distinct revulsion and shook his head. Garth was forever grateful that Aaron did not pressure him about the whores. “if I want to go in that place. They went whoring again another time when it was less crowded.150 - . Sometimes when he wasn’t around one he would have jealous fantasies. Certainly Garth was not saving it for someone special or for marriage he just was nervous about his first time. most of them asleep. he worshipped them. These girls were more to him than hair color and tit size. That evening a pair of MPs woke everyone up for the last bus back to camp.
One night there was a scream from the latrine. The doctors shook their heads at what level of pain he must have endured.camp Aaron talked about other things and Garth tuned out. They carried Garth out. He grinned in expectation first and then because he did not understand how Aaron held onto cash when he could be getting pussy.” He cried. Garth only put on a big grin for a reply. it was not the brig that scared him. No bank account or object compared with the feeling he got when he was with his ladies. It reverberated through the camp and OD’s came running. That money could buy it was the reason to spend money.151 - . “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. “Don’t you want to save your money for something else?” Aaron asked him. he feared not being able to have his girls. being inside of a woman was all that mattered. . The psychiatrist came and discovered he lived with pain not in fear of military discipline and confinement. “I’m pissing fire.
1.Resignation to Fate – when what was the worst choice becomes recognized as the only choice. Without whoring only one vice is left to a soldier. He was a ranger as he conquered each of the Six Peaks of Drunkenness. What made Garth . On a 48 hour pass he could get drunk five times.his list was often incoherent and punctuated by puking.152 - .” Knowing that getting caught again would land him out of the service and that would shadow him the rest of his life. reenlistment or returning to camp. it gave him the will power to cut out the women.Guilt.The unwritten rule for Army doctors is to let the first time slide with a stern warning otherwise the Army would have no men.Family Battle History – his was extraordinary even for a Southerner. Garth now spent all his free time drinking. As a public health risk this case presented a challenge to the doctors who ordered Garth sleep in the infirmary for a month. 4-Morbid Fascination . The doctors told him. A corporal who saw him doing it stood up as witnesses. 5. 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. 2Biblical recitations. Garth drank in the great imbibing tradition of military drunks. “If you return you will be dishonorably discharged.The Celebration of Life. 6.
Southern boys had been raised on a tradition grown out of defeat.153 - . Chapter11 Hearing the story Mary understood. Aaron’s eyes fixed on the choice strippers. They took up the bottle of defeat. She long understood the significance of the defeat before she could accept it for herself. Aaron was the first of many witnesses attesting to Garth’s capacity to get shitfaced. 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.exceptional is instead of returning to camp he would regain consciousness for more of the same military drinking. From a time when they saw the flags of their Confederacy in the dust an order was passed while a torch was extinguished. Her war too was over and lost. Talking about how drunk someone had been was an enlisted man’s main off duty activity while on base. even the boys who went to . Mary was accepting hers. 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.
our light. Miller broke in with a song. Miller was to see him. “We had a radio with a tall antenna and listened to music. he was bent like a U. In the doorway she still had that movie star glow but inside it was clear she had aged.” It touched Garth how happy Mrs. The ride grew bumpy and she could smell pasture and manure. “I don’t know if you know but Rachel.154 - . “Look who is here. 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. 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. disappeared from our lives over ten years ago. make-up did not hide it and she lost her dignity in the struggle to look young.” Mrs.” .Canada to avoid the draft had been allowed to go back home. Max carried a weight on his mind and body. The longest time was spent in the stillness during the visit.
his firm silence assured Max that Rachel was all right. Then too there were fine men like you and who like you who did not know what to do.” Garth had caught Max’s eye and said in the lowest voice possible.155 - .” 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. Max shuddered to think of her condition seeing his condition. why do you come to me like this? But I know why because I remember when I was a boy after the Big War. Miller. Max came so close that Garth was startled. “You know this? You’ve seen her? Then you know?” Max asked with a look and a grunt. They formed gangs and they joined the Nazis. “I know how to kill. isn’t she?” Max softly suggested. They walked around all day with nothing to do. Garth nodded. You have to sit down and do something.” . “She’s a little crazy.“Rachel is all right. what should I do?” “I was just asking myself. “Mr.
It was the place he imagined himself mowing. It would make him a hero because the family would prosper again.” Mr.” In his pride he repeated a jingle.” “Are you good at it?” Garth backed up. .“Ach. “Are you charging enough?” “It’s my family.156 - . The two men nodded their heads connected by one thought. You know what I dream about when I am up there.” That was all he thought about and had sculpted it in his mind over the last dozen years. He took offense.” Max nodded piously. What else?” “I take care of the greens. Miller made a noise. “You need outside customers. mowing? If we cut out another 9 holes it could bring more public. “Anyone can do that. “It is prize winning green. Garth felt like his mind had cracked open and it was wiggling like worms on the coffee table. maybe?” “I don’t like working with the people.
“What happened?” She asked after a few minutes driving.“You see.” He paused to drink. She heard Garth walk around the car get in and open a beer. I don’t want him to go to jail too. ‘use it to help me find you. “I have something for you. He and Garth spoke briefly until a door slammed.” His voice spoke and his eyes said. And then another.157 - .’ The FBI was there too but he didn’t give them anything. it wasn’t such a problem. What’s this? Is he giving someone a ride? Like a distant echo she heard the familiar voice. he said. whatever we do. I couldn’t tell him. “Your father brought out these shopping bags of stuff. I’m supposed to find you before the FBI does. jovial but sad and sweet.” . “Your mother offered me some of that sweet wine and my stomach did a flip flop.” Chapter 12 A car door opened. we must keep Rachel safe.
The next time she would see him too.Rachel could no longer wait and pushed out the car seat and slithered from the trunk. The blood drained as she turned it over in her mind. 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. 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. Along with two rounded grocery bags covered with newspaper was the familiar case from her childhood for her first violin.158 - . Her name painted on with nail polish of which she had once been so proud. This was exclusively the doing of her father and that supported her desire to keep . Do you still play?” “It’s been years since I put rosin on a bow. The first shopping bag contained silk flowers and stuffed animals from her old bedroom. should she share this with him? “He sent your old fiddle.” 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. It had been years since she thought of what now seemed a happy time of soothing her father with her music.
he wants to help you.” As if that reminded him Garth added. A full scale revolution could be fought for years with a resource like this.” She held up a band of bills. A tragic joke on him. “Your little brother.159 - . 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. one any Marxist revolutionary would come to. 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 .” “Where is he a lawyer? There must be a million lawyers named Miller. “My father sent us money. Imagine that? A lawyer and I saw him with KFC coming out his nose. Her instinct told her Garth was incapable of making the correct informed decision.this away from Garth. “Is that what was in that bag? I thought they were sandwiches when I carried it to the car. the Cole slaw kid is a lawyer now. She was the rational one and he was treating life as little more than a joke.
“You talked to my mother also?” Never in their years as neighbors had she ever seen him so struggle to gather his thoughts. “He comes Friday. Aged food was served while describing the furnishings and the details of the life of her family who lived in a world before Hitler. her hair was off her neck. Her family had a privileged life.160 - . your mother said. “Your mother wore a white dress. Her anger included Garth who probably heard her brother say Shabbat often enough but Garth would not dare say it himself. for shah-bo…?” “The Sabbath.” Rachel said with irritation at all the things now small which were once so significant. For superstitious reasons or the fear of looking cultured to fellow rednecks the word could not be dragged from his mouth. The people she remembered were wonderful and jolly. There were pony rides and a children’s house on . 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.” 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 story was like his own. 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. We heard you could get a blow job for a quarter in Saigon. foolish. 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. where they sang until everyone fell asleep and were carried to their rooms. “I made a promise to your brother I would not visit a prostitute until after we saw some combat. She was like the woman he would have married had he not been a fuck up in the army. 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.a summer estate. she did not mind and continued talking. a painted. Not only did she possess what made him notice a woman in the first place. and childlike woman.161 - . To his own surprise he said. She was his type. He only needed to look at her although he barely understood her.
“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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“I put it in the trunk.” she liked to say calling back. And she missed him and wanted to share that in a house where it was denied.an apology and barely got recognition. “I hees ya. Your father wants me to use that money. 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.” Garth’s hair was plastered down and he smelled of the river but was cleaner than this morning.” .167 - . you in?” Garth called from downstairs.” “Grandma invites you and me for dinner. “Yes’m. “Hey. we had a talk. He wants me to take care of you and give you the best life I can. “Why didn’t you say anything last night?” “Last night I was thinking about the idea he put in my mind. Between the freshly painted ceiling and the drop clothes Mary stood in light.” “Do you know the money is missing?” Garth appeared at the top of the stairs.
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. . Originally in her mind this place was a temporary refuge but she had now been here as long as she lived off Fifth Avenue. These years of hiding and joyless revenge might be read as a touching tribute but it was becoming more difficult.168 - . Her reasoning to carry on had become forced. He wants it to be better for you so he gave me the money. While here on the fertile banks of the Mississippi she still felt rootless.“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. yet she was still calling New York her home. 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.” 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.” “What did you tell him?” “Only that you contacted me.
You understand that. of course you do.She never doubted the validity of the cause but with maturity came a question.” “We’re not anything except neighbors. Mary went to her. Bomber crews on mopeds tour cities they once bombed. 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. When the sister-in-laws started clearing dishes grandmother caught Mary’s eye. That was part family and mostly family business. Good days were about to return. The invitation was to a weeknight family dinner. Garth was not only not her type but how .” She shook her head.169 - . And marry girls whose fathers they killed. Dinner was served when the meeting was concluded. “Haven’t the two of you thought of marriage? People will talk and we don’t want anything to hurt business. 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. They laughed together with Garth. Humbly Garth stepped into the role he once shunned.
” Grandmother cupped Mary’s face. competitor or loon. She could run the store with father but with family she was like a person lost and desperate. “You have such a pretty face.170 - . And about your posture. You have the unfortunate habit of wiping your hands on your hips.” “And if you are going to be serving guests here that skirt of yours needs some attention. . rarely a mother. “Maybe it is something you should think about while you are both young. Affection was rare.strongly she associated him with her brother made it seem unnatural.” She gathered all of Mary’s hair and took a pin from her own hair to set it back.” Grandmother said. let’s see it. Mary had on her lips the old words her mother said after such a gesture. “This is a Christian golf course and we want to look our best for the families who come here after church. she was a playful equal. Grandmother with a gesture dismissed Mary to help in the kitchen. a Romanian phrase that she never understood except that it came out of her mother and touched her.
” Then they all spoke about Garth’s project like it was testament. After dinner at twilight walking back through the brush Garth explained the family history. Was marriage the way to make everything proceed smoothly? These women in their bright colors were especially untroubled tonight. They opened the golf course as a patch of grass going out to a path leading to the still in a cave. they left Harlan Kentucky and the coal mining life and come Prohibition they ended up here selling booze to people from the city. Scraping dishes she listened in a new way.A cousin added. if it meant nothing to her it would make all of these people so happy. “And before church and God willing instead of church. Once that improvement is done it will be like in the old days. The first nine holes were added one at a time to keep suspicion off the operation. Grandma and grandpa were both kids in 1920 when grandpa stole a car and grabbed grandma. It was selfish of Mary to hold out from this formal next step in the procession from birth to grave.171 - . The turn in Garth’s life was reflected in all of them. These women could be used to help her find direction in this country. The place got so popular they trucked in moonshine from the mountains and respectable .
Uncle Billy’s Barbershop opens early. “What are you going to do? Because she said something to me too. This was the first time for Mary but Garth had gotten that from grandmother before. Everything was top of the line and Christian.” She looked at him long before she spoke.” Garth was startled by Mary.” Garth said as they reached their driveway.172 - .” “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’s got all the business sense. Suddenly he sensed the possibility of sex after .” “I don’t mind. 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. Starch collar types appeared who did not want to wander in the weeds so they opened a clubhouse. “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.couples with clubs arrived and left with the bottom of their golf bags loaded with hooch. “Grandma says we should get married. Let me look at you.
He been thinking he did not care about for about ten years.173 - . It always has been a Christian golf course. It sort of reminded me of the army. “I don’t even have running water in my place. “What do you think of grandma’s idea?” “I think grandma’s right.” “That I am Jewish? If that’s the way you feel the wedding is off.fourteen years without.” “Look at this.” “I need a change myself. The new respect others were giving him was having an effect. Why don’t we just pretend to be married?” “That is what they think we’re doing now. That he no longer cared was immediately it put a lie. Then hot showers on the base.” All of her clothes dropped to the floor. She stepped in the shower before asking. when you are happy not to be rained on for five minutes. “I had forgotten about hot water.” .” Garth called after he showered. But we don’t have to tell anyone. The family knows about … . In the downstairs bathroom she looked at his red arm next to his pale white stomach. I don’t want to sit in a chair in Uncle Billy’s smelling like the river.
the family knows everything they need to know. She sensed herself becoming weak and pitiful.” “They talk about us because that’s the way people are around here. in-laws. And our kids can pick their own religion. Suddenly she realized marriage like this was her ultimate defeat and extinction. None of whom she could provide. . Maybe she would share their joy having never had any in her own childhood. and grandparents. they don’t even know we live in separate buildings. She would be creating not more Jews but little Christians. 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.174 - .“But it will make a difference if we have a piece of paper?” “Yes.” “We can have a civil marriage at town hall. a typical woman who is dependent on a man for both security and freedom. because like I was trying to say. Grandmother won and Rachel did not mind. They just talk and judge and judge and talk. I don’t want it in the papers.” “You won’t stop them going to church with their cousins?” Garth asked.
That was the luck of a survivor.175 - . 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. he . Returning to the carriage house with a shave and haircut Garth brought the material to fix the broken pipes to his place. he was her prisoner and she was his. Mary made herself a few new skirts. She did not envy the sister-in-laws. whose insecurities allowed grandma to drive them like cattle. Garth’s blinding white skin would be burned red and hot to the touch by the second day. It was no longer a case of him keeping her safe. Jewish luck. But like Max told him. took her old one and burned it. She bought some good shampoo and remembered to put on an apron in the kitchen. Garth belched diesel all around while Mary sewed together a handbag from the scraps and made a macramé handle.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. 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. Until then Aaron’s sister was his sister. In Garth’s mind Aaron’s sister was still naked and laughing at him.
“Aaron’s sister or not she is a loose hippy chick free for me to screw. Take some aspirin and lay down. Garth’s mind began to leave him. Officially he had been working a day and a half when he turned off the machine. Garth thought. Would that make things better for me? One life hardly made up for the hundreds I killed. He was burned so bad it radiated to others. “I have to be a man and not an animal.176 - .had to do something. her tiny tits.” his stomach was rolling and he licked his lips. but it doesn’t have to be. 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. the second. He needed quiet and he needed to think. Aaron. One life to replace the one she lost. it might not for me but it might for her. This might be rape.” He touched his face that the barber cleaned bare with a hot towel and closely shaved and was now sunburned. I could give her a baby. her butt. . The river was good for this and safer than going back to the house. he thought trudging back home and leaving rivulets of water. Her ass.
He brought her to church which was a place she never had been for fear of what might happen to her.” She shook her head.” She held two fingers coated with goop. It would be a while until Mary weakened but Garth was persistent. that’s all. She thought it was an old fashioned hippie love-in when the congregants went to hugging one and another. “When everything was quiet I thought something might be wrong so I looked for you.” “I’m drunk. It was her mission and it needed no cash infusion from outside. I think you have heat stroke. The upstairs laboratory was her independence. “Let me put this on you. “It might sting but it will help you heal.“Are you alright?” Mary’s face was rolling like a broken television. Since the fire things had changed. a secret fortress firing random salvos over the hills at unseen targets. I have had plenty of burns myself and this helps. .” “I’m a French fry. In the kitchen of the old house she sat motionless as two weights pulled on her. It burned before it soothed. It’s a recipe from way back.177 - . He was across his couch and she was dabbing his head with a cloth.” Garth yelled when the goop touched him.
Maybe my old Honor Certificates too. It made Garth seem different as he was suddenly charged with her care. and that went against everything she learned after leaving home. 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. Yet her recent actions were like a career that had grown stale. 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. Her actions in New York were from the heart but the lab in Kentucky was the lab she once wished she had. If Americans could elect Reagan twice they hardly seemed worthy of her sacrifice. Still having the means of escape and weapons at her disposal Rachel allowed for a ceasefire. it could have been worse.178 - . She could not admit to herself that she also wanted to see what Garth would do. So she surveyed her life. Her father had entrusted him. She imagined a conspiracy between Garth and her father.Cold paternalism once more was trying to take over her life. but she was curious to see how father’s judgment will play out. she thought. Her mother was non-functional. Twenty years as . But she stayed her own hand and told herself she wanted to see if they sent a picture of Aaron.
” It was for her a means of escape. . Rachel saw her life as a bottomless shaft. something to put a boat on nothing more. In the name of her love for humanity she had hurt and killed others. a pit into which she was falling.an anarchist bomber. going with the flow saved her life except for once when the flow had led to murderous Nazi’s.179 - . Life had cheated her but she felt at long last she could accept it. If she could not say that she was a soldier in a revolutionary army then she had no identity. 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. Of all the hippie ways the one she most used was “Go with the flow. and he took no political stand yet with a few words and trust he was able to touch others and transform lives. 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. it was just another route of escape for her. she followed the charming and innocent hippie precepts whenever she could. She wanted to be more like her father who was not educated and the only cause he served was his family.
like waking from a dream.” She tried to sooth his burn. it was internal but it justified everything. That was until now when she saw herself as an imitator of the only society she knew. damaged eyes. She was also following orders. he might be a Republican if he lived. . and a pair of tortured forms slumped in a car.Aaron was only a face she remembered but never got to know. She labeled her actions as just and reasoned that she was better than American society and could judge it. Garth until now was a front to hide behind but the respect her father showed was reflected in how Rachel viewed him. Letting go of violence was part of unraveling a thought process. Wasn’t Aaron looking for the same order and acceptance in the world by joining the army? Rachel had an equal force driving her. But it was over. Aaron now lacked dimension since she never knew him as an adult and barely remembered him. He did believe the army propaganda. “Grandma thinks I should marry you.180 - . 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.
” “I’m not hurting anyone. “Maybe I will someday. “I thought about how I would quit drinking for a long time but no one ever asked me.” “I think it’s time for me.” “Then you agree? You’ll quit?” Suddenly Garth sat bolt upright.181 - . 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. I would rather have no husband than one who can’t get himself off the couch in the afternoon.“I know. Who can’t throw a ball to his kid. All you do is work.” Garth said tired of this old conversation.” “I think it would make your father happy too. my mother was that way and so it was okay for me. drink and sleep.” “Why do you want me to stop drinking?” “Look at yourself. I would like to have children … But I can’t have children with you until you stop drinking.” “So why didn’t you stop?” . It was how I was after the war and they accepted me as that. It runs through the family.
hand painted with eyes. “Because I do want to quit so I can better take care of you. made of canvas and capable of hold half a bushel. “When you’re sober I’ll give you that and more. she called it the handbag of truth.” Garth took steps toward her like he was dragging his own dead weight. I figured if I hit the lottery I would quit drinking but this is better.” After a few seconds of quiet he opened one eye. “You’re not going to change your mind?” Returned to the couch he was both serious and helpless. “I know it’s none of my business but are you a virgin?” Chapter 14 For many years Rachel carried the same handbag.“I had no reason.” She guided him back. She avoided him but held him up so he would not fall. “How about it?” He lurched with lips puckered toward Mary. In addition to her brick she kept a special matchbox in which she had .182 - . That’s why I bought lottery tickets. When one wore out she made another like it.
She tried to tell herself to hide from the lack of enjoyment she felt previously. Just one to start the day. The idea of having sex again made her uncomfortable. In the morning Garth found a hat and put on a long sleeve shirt then went for his first beer of the day.183 - . he may be marrying a woman soon but he could not cheat on his beer. another one from the list of things they had been told not to do. By noon he was many beers behind and trembling. She could see by the appraising way he looked at her that he was going to be disappointed. Walking stiff legged to the house Mary . he waited until he was outside. He needed one to get himself out to the bulldozer. When he got off the dozer he could barely move as ever nerve in his body screamed. an exploration.saved enough hits of LSD that she believed it would last her entire life. His happiness to be found inside of her body was more responsibility than she wanted. she and Howie had sex as an experiment. Years ago LSD was part of the ritual. This time with Garth it would be sanctioned sex. opened it quietly he drank it quickly. His plan to quit was already failing. The hairs were standing on the back of his neck for fear Mary might catch him.
Mary became the silent focus of his anguish.184 - . These started the hell weeks as Garth transitioned from an alcohol based metabolism back to a food based one. Desperate that he did not die Mary went to grandmother. His body receiving proper nourishment was less painful. What’s wrong? He explained to her how he felt and that he needed a beer if he was going to live. It was a poultice which had to be laid on his liver for exactly eighteen hours. The plate had a sandwich. Without booze he changed. Don’t move Mary told him setting him down near some water under a tree.met him. his affection and hatred both directed toward her as he focused on marriage while throwing up bile. his craggy red face seemed fuller. Somehow with Mary’s help he made it through a transition that was so difficult he could not imagine himself getting through it. his swollen slit eyes opened and the light no longer hurt him. Grandmother was familiar with the ordeal going on and sent Mary back to the house with a stinking dripping sack in a Tupperware container. You need to start eating food again. he could stand tall. She ran off and returned with a familiar can and something strange on a plate. As the odor of death .
which had not happened since he returned from the war. “I know this will sound funny because I asked you to stop drinking but that was for our future children. the sacrament of the new age. This is something I want you to do for me. Don’t be afraid. a million times better. It’s an old tradition. oriental waist. When it was getting dark and it seemed right he put his hands around Mary’s tiny. I promise. it will make sex a thousand times better.” “From what I remember I don’t think you have to improve on the original formula.” She held out the open matchbox. After 21 days Garth had been back to work a week and decided to once more bring up the subject. This will open your eyes to see things as they truly are. Put one under your tongue. When he went to visit family members they once more asked him into the house. His thoughts of pleasure had nothing to do with alcohol.185 - . She wanted him to wait.dissipated his presence lost the offensive edge which triggered in others a natural aversion.” . What is this stuff?” “It’s LSD. He had been relaxed and feeling good all day. “Put one of these on your tongue.
” Greedy after so many years she slid a tiny square of paper under her tongue. it’s all no good for me. “If I do this it will undo the entire last month. I’ll do mine. he was only slightly disappointed.” “No. The dispassionate examination of genitals like she and Howie did as two over ripe children.” “I’ll do it by myself. Beer. LSD.“I heard about this stuff. She stood by me. It can damage chromosomes. I can’t.186 - .” Garth said. He wasn’t angry and like any man who really does not expect to get laid. Intimidated by the potency of their equipment they heaped on the foam and protection so that little of what they felt was mutual. right under your tongue. . Garth thought as he lay on her bed and listened to her talk about politics and light patterns. right?” “Only the chromosomes in your mind. None of that stuff is any good for me. Here. This was an approximation of the foreplay she had as a lost youth. LSD was expanding their minds at the expense of their genitals which grew small and dry. weed. I have to accept things the way they are or I will start drinking again. Garth had a different set of expectations and found Mary’s condition of cold lips and hands to be a turn off.
Season’s Greetings.She had been naked at first but he insisted she wear something.” Elliot had them in stitches. he is crazy. 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 did not want to get bored looking at her. He found her sexy but not when tripping. He made it sound so funny how the cheap old man squeezed extra pennies from every dollar. piss your pants. 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. At Christmas the old man pulled a sign from the dust and stood it in the store window.187 - . . He could go on for hours nonstop just on his old man and the crummy army surplus. 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 hoped this never happened again. Together they slept until noon when they awoke to make their first night together an official one.
Elliot demanded a further look at the rings he wore. Among the first things he bought with his earnings as a lawyer were guns. In a suburban circle of homes that Elliot developed. for the office. 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. When denied smoking a cigar Elliot without thinking could sit across a table from other attorneys and flick candy wrappers in their direction. the jewelry around his neck. They were close with her family but Elliot rarely spoke of his. they went to restaurants and spent money on things for the house and themselves.188 - . he and his wife tried to be the imitation of their parents’ Judaism with some exceptions. Often he had to offer a chuckling apology . 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. unlike the war generation they were not happy merely to be alive. Lee. Elliot quieted family objections with cash. Otherwise he could pass for any plump and prosperous small town lawyer.she called him. When the kids were little they went to Hershey Park every weekend. Together with his wife. Anti-Semite or Jew was not clear. for the house and a piece for personal pleasure. It was not for the family but so guest might feel comfortable. They enjoyed life. He dressed well.The comic lead in obscured him. He thought his father’s generation should have had guns. his tie and hanky all of which showed the Star of David.
He had just flown in from an airport Hilton weekend setting dentists up in strip malls. They ran ads for investment opportunities in medical journals and received ongoing percentages from property investors. Help yourself and then your kids is how he saw it. The FBI approached Elliot at his office to discuss Rachel. He did not believe in charity either.” he said dismissing them. He promised all sorts of cooperation to the FBI but had none to offer. Elliot smiled as he let the man drop it on the desk with the rest of the trash. Elliot chuckled inside at the cop who . He thought of police as the equivalent of sewer workers and he was of the opinion that they were corrupt and lazy liars. He attended temple for 15 minutes once a year however the girls lit candles and recited prayers on Friday night. Mother and the girls went to temple regularly.when a ball of foil was well placed. The agent who did the talking offered a business card. On his desk was a house built of losing scratch off tickets. Over paid and over authorized police were the necessary instruments of law and order. Elliot was known in airport Hiltons all over the eastern US. Most lawyers were paid once for the same services as Elliot’s group aggressively marketed. “Okay. Elliot considered himself a Law and Order man and he voted for Nixon every chance he got.189 - . the FBI men stood and he did not invite them to sit.
. “I’ll call 911 if I think of anything. He put himself at the center of everything and made sure to make himself known. We are at Yale to make money. Being Jewish was an asset in the world of winning investor confidence. 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. With the old man’s money he became a lawyer. Rachel had not crossed his thoughts for years. He walked from his building up to the old granite Post Office. He waited a minute until he saw them cross the street for the parking lot then he headed out. Later. he wondered. in his heart he rejoiced when he learned his top competition was gone for good.thought he was important enough to need a business card. The police wanted Rachel. he attended the prestigious Law University and made valuable connections to last his lifetime. if we wanted to write law we would be at Harvard. he had to mule that one around.190 - . What. Elliot was eight years old when she went off to join him. 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. Aaron. He walked them to the outer door past the secretary’s desk which had no phone or chair as he had no secretary.” he quipped.
His brother and sister were the people who believed the bullshit and joined the Army or like her thought politics could change things. He thought of his sister with pure envy. When his parents lit the candles both . he nodded his head. Or that people love a circus even if it is only pictures of clowns. There was no entry area for him in this. Even if he cared to outbid the US government there was also a matter of the law. The loser had turned winner after all.Surveying the Post Office with the pointed casualness of a potential buyer. The Wanted posters on the clip board had no dust on them. Even wearing a shawl and from a distance and grown an inch since the last time he saw her. he knew her. Elliot tried to bring the customs of his wife’s family to his parents. Immediately he knew her. They were suckers. He flipped the pages. Hanukah. Elliot came to learn was a holiday best left to school. When Elliot thought about his brother and sister he had an identical hatred for both. like the ones who come to the hotel meetings.191 - . it was a non-starter. But a murder charge put her on a pedestal. He chuckled and thumbed through more. 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. She was a money pit. By the curve of her back or the set of her feet or something more obscure. The reward for arson and murder was enough to buy matching his and her Cadillacs.
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. On instructions from home Elliot was kept late after school and sent to the little chapel across from the Rabbi’s study. Other families held parties when their boys turned thirteen. For their teary eyes he could never stand to look at his parents. he was the one who was cheated. He felt cheated because he did not even get a dime. 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. after all. the mud. the flimsy construction was so reminiscent that for a shuddering moment even though he lived in a mansion it seemed for a tiny and . Thursday was reserved for those whose bar mitzvah fell during a year of mourning.192 - . The other kids humiliated him over the pen when he got back to class.cried. They ate jelly candy in tears and father said it was because they were so happy. He first realized then his father is a cheap Jew. He had not been told and never asked who died? It was just the way it was in his home. Helping gynecologist put up fifty nominally standard box houses in an old cow pasture reminded Elliot of his old home. The cow flops. His parents and their copious tears of joy were better left to themselves. His parents were there with nine others in the rabbi’s chapel where Elliot received a Thursday bar mitzvah.
With the addition of a well-timed wink he could say he thought .193 - . the doctors left the table feeling good about what they would make putting a 60 month roof on a poor person’s house. Something from his deep inside was breaking through. Understanding eluded him like a blob of mercury but he knew everyone at this conference table was feeling good except himself. But something about the arrangement poked at him. The partners could not imagine where Elliot found roofing that thin. Even when he did an income tally in his head of everyone in the room he was joyless. The doctors who bought into the plans where stupid. lazy. This was not a spot of gas either. 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. 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. 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. 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. greedy.
That was only an excuse to cover natural blood lust. He had the hope to someday use his guns on a person. Then Elliot decided.194 - . Around eight or nine. It was something he wanted to do beyond curiosity or desire that could not be settled vicariously. when history repeats itself he would have weapons and he would tell them.” Armageddon. Self-protection was a name to disguise a secret desire. but that was only the tip of the iceberg. he kept it a secret but he kept moving toward it. His claim was because he wanted to see how it felt and see if he had the nerve like his brother in the army. war and the holocaust were the obvious exceptions to Thou Shalt Not Kill. they were absorbed with Aaron’s death and Rachel’s disappearance and said little in the decade when Elliot was small.blacks and whites were equal in a way that was an insult to both. His father who grew up in Berlin confirmed what he suspected. He thought that made it seem sane. the age when some reality began seeping in around the edges of the cartoons he watched. To kill a fellow human was a drive in Elliot’s adult mind. With his ostentatious gold and silver stars and rings he also carried guns. his parents had never given him the details. The murder of nurses in Chicago completely absorbed him for . “You are being killed by a Jew. He became caught by the magnetic attraction of violence and suffering in the many shows about World War 2.
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. And so Elliot carried on. that’s the way to go. He told them how sure he was that the Devil is the ruler of this world. Dream big.days. The Texas tower sniper won his respect. But like the happily married man who daydreams of girls Elliot was not likely to do anything. Having landed some Missouri Indians who wanted to open a casino on the Mississippi seemed like a prospect with exceptional humorous potential. almost thirty victims. Elliot had no patience. Elliot listen and held back his laughter. There he talked to whites about blacks and blacks about whites. Elliot and his partners developed a team of lawyers from the St. Always he insinuated the corrupt and negative as he spoke in what he believed to be their language. He would kill everyone this time except the Jews. armed to the teeth. and in a final blaze of glory. he thought but could not see doing anything to get himself dirty.195 - . The question of eternal soul would be answered quickly. 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. Louis area by faxing contracts without . 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. hanging around hicks gave him plenty of stories to tell his partners.
“I’m going on vacation. “Hotel is making a fortune on feeding us. “Cool off. They would only come down to the conference room if Elliot was removed. With the arches in his rearview Elliot headed south. He could not believe it. Phone calls requesting the tribal lawyers had been unreturned. raw peanuts. “I hope no one offered the chief a few extra beads.meeting some of the people.196 - . Fried food. The Jews are their best friends.” Elliot observed frequently before a message was received. go for a ride. all made Elliot’s short list of . Elliot laughed first but not for long. of all people would single him out. they just wanted him barred. His partners in the room said they would smooth it out. “These Natives are some strange birds. The possibility of accidently hiring an aggressive independent or loose cannon was always a threat. Jangling the keys in front of his team of attorneys he laughed. They said they would honor all contracts. He could not believe the insult. When the council delayed the meeting Elliot said. open racism.” One pressed the rental car keys into his hand.” Returning to the buffet table. women piling their hair to the moon.” Elliot said in his belittling way as the planned casino was also to be called Riverfront. Maybe I’ll buy some riverfront. that Native Americans.” He tried to look innocent slicing another bagel.
He liked the little towns and made frequent stops to sample ice cream. When he saw the cows hypnotically moving toward the barn he wanted to eat a steak. He drove slowly by the white shacks with black roofs. Nice thing about coloreds is you don’t have to put on any airs for them. Tossing the bottom of the cone out Elliot then raised the windows. his thoughts turned from the links to the clubhouse restaurant.” The man answered.southern virtues.” he said to a man older than himself. He drove by the cultivated land and plants in rows. “That golf over there. Most likely floods here every year. “I drove from St Louis today. Now I’m going to play me some golf. Cement sidewalk. . granite stairs. “Full size. this place once had been something.197 - . he wanted them to see his luxury car. 27 holes. Elliot nodded. he slowed for the kids playing basketball on red clay. “Hey boy. 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. put the air conditioning on and lit another cigar. The days of slavery must have been grand.” The other man had walked off. The whitewash boards shined for that minute in Elliott’s mind. So this is what people do who have no money. is that miniature or full size?” pointing to a sign.
” “We have a Miller here. call me if he wants to make some money. Elliot did not trust a stool with his weight.” “Sorry baby.198 - . Grandma and Grandpa.5% tip. give me a call.” Elliot then dropped his customary 2. “Mary’s white. Here. is he black?” Elliot laughed savoring the moment. “Give them my card. Clutching his food and drink he exited and slipped into the dark where he could examine the building foundation and . “Who owns this dump?” He asked. “You must go to college.” “That’s great.The tile floor was high quality and had stood up better than the mica countertop and ice cream parlor stools that were heavily taped. It was late Tuesday and golfers and families kept a steady trade. “The Green family. old but solid. Elliot now wanted the order to go. Elliot stood and walked into the kitchen.” “Elliot Miller” The waitress read the card. Seeing the server’s face was like candy after desert. The place was isolated yet the people came. Elliot laughed and ordered a milkshake and a double portion of bacon wrapped shrimp. Tell grandpa. He picked a booth and adjusted the table from where it had been nailed for fifty years. The waitress asked what was wrong.” “They have a number?” With the bill she handed him a takeout menu and pointed to the number.
Here is my card.” Elliot said. Arriving at the car his heart slowed its beat.” After waiting Elliot returned the card to its case.” He said merrily out of habit to the first white couple he passed. “remember that name. “Just admiring the property. “Howdy crackers. This area is private. “Can I help you?” An aggressive voice came from behind. Miller. The driveway behind the parking lot led to a house and separate garage with a pair of cars in front.199 - . Defending land was not the same law . only a few had lights on. If Elliot had shot him he would have been a trespasser. It seemed like that confrontation was close to going ballistic.” “Nothing is for sale. I do. Through the woods he saw shacks.” Elliot walked back in the direction of the restaurant parking lot. the owners aren’t interested and I expect you to go back to the restaurant. unless the other guy shot first. he laughed. you remind me of me. That asshole was a real redneck. “I like you.other possible assets. “This here is private.” “Thank you but do you know who owns this?” “Yes. The facilities are up that way. a murder.” “This is not a social call and I am not selling anything.” “Well you tell the owners I can make them some money. And I think you should leave.” Elliot stopped and turned slowly.
he was tantalized by . “Downtown at a pawnshop I could trade the two of you for a color TV. at the time of the confrontation he was carrying a greasy bag of shrimps and a drink. Flashing keys and rings for years in the ghetto had done nothing but win him respect.” 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. Sucking up the milkshake sweat poured into his eyes. For once he was happy to leave the charm of the south. It was a relief to be told he was off this one. Only a camera or Jewelry could match a gun for size and expense and nothing equaled a gun’s awesome power over men. “Or a stereo. The first call he took at his office was a lady calling herself Grandma. How could he draw a weapon with hands full? He placed two of the three weapons he carried on the car seat.” He talked to his guns. Oh my God.200 - . Next time. saying she was returning the call from the Family Fun and Golf Center. he looked at them and he was disappointed in them and in himself. sucker.as defending one’s home. Primitive emotions awoke in him while driving back to the hotel. In addition to the trespassing and murder charges on his mind. he could draw his weapon and shoot to kill. There was something about the lilting and clear telephone voice that called to Elliot. Ironic that it was a racist white cracker in the south who would give Elliot the sense that he was ready. The partners broke the news to Elliot over drinks.
that a Jewish Indian is called a Shmo -Hawk. Still smarting from the insult by the Native Americans he had to latch onto something. It was half the reason he wanted the deal. 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. “Amen to that. he would regret it. Elliot had something he wanted to prove and these slices of white bread seemed only to be waiting for him to toast. You won’t forget me. quipped mind you. The Indian thing was a big embarrassment. he said.” Elliot’s double talk about what he could do for her was inspired as he sounded her out. He rubbed his palms in his eyes and put his feet on the desk. Elliot tried to circle in on what he said. and it lit a fire inside him. I’m Elliot Miller.Whoever that little asshole is who chased him from the yard. . did she want to increase the business or sell it. He echoed her enthusiasm for Christian recreation while the contempt ran in his blood like hot oil but his voice was full of honey. he thought in his own defense. Elliot laughed at his own joke even now because he had been waiting to use that one for years.201 - .the concept of Christian recreation which she kept stressing. make the name unique or standardize a franchise? Maybe attract the PGA tour? Whatever the Fun Family wanted Elliot was sure of one thing . The partners he was sure were laughing at the Natives and at him right now. They did look like the Village People.
Any resort that has a loudmouth peasant lurking must have enemies. Cool. People open their doors to me. this was the moment he feared more than death.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. I pity him for what I am about to do. He was shaking worse than . be cool. His hurt pride and desire for revenge swelled up like that. We’ll phony up something so big. his hands moved from his eyes. I am known in Hilton’s and that puny reject has the nerve to tell me to get off. He rested comfortably knowing an old business like that one must have made a few enemies.202 - . he needed more scratch tickets. 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. the house. he told himself. I am going to blow that place off the map. Chapter 16 Garth came charging up to the house. He needed to return south and soon. 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.
The years were everything and more. Mary was in the kitchen. “Mary?” “Si?” She was always playful and happy. Before as an angry anarchist Rachel roamed the world like it was her own. chess. Inside the house he was still trembling. chemistry and writing. .203 - . memories and threats.when he quit drinking. he could hear her. 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. It was a dream and it wasn’t real. His heart held the moment knowing it could be their last one together as a family. Now it is over. keeping the girls company while they washed dishes. Mary was as beautiful as Garth dreamed and much to his surprise she also had a brain. They were lovers and buddies. home schooling. Spanish. They had laid aside their anger and guilt. They forgave the government and the army. teaching the girls math. As in her previous life controversy found her when she joined other homeschoolers in a lawsuit against the state board of ed. As phony as when they had cleansed themselves by going in the water where the children were baptized. Garth forgave his family for being who they are and Mary forgave Aaron for believing all the dope about the army. in her house-bound condition she brought the world to her home by home schooling the children.
she loved to watch things burn and blow up. Mary finally conceded the point and allowed one to come through her. Having found peace with the past and being surrounded by other women having children. Death being a sort of ultimate trip. a world based on tolerance. Her desire to live was strong. From the upstairs master bedroom she sat up on her pillows and could see swaths of green through the trees. recently she was not so sure things would turn out that way.In the beginning of their life together they decided if the pigs came for her that Mary would not go. “I can’t leave my baby. The idea of peaceful death did not appeal to her any more than going down in a hail of police bullets. equality. When Garth left for the bathroom she could feel the egg being fertilized.204 - . “What?” . “You are trying to ruin my life by teaching me at home and dressing me like this. and sharing. along with the belief that she was having an impact. Always living for the hope that a new day that was coming. After the destruction of society what follows would be The Hippie Way.” Said her emotional ten year old. She always had arsenic on hand but never for that reason. Ruining lives was a criticism that hurt.” Garth returned to the room. At the time of the pledge she was sincere and would do it if Garth did it with her. Unfortunately the baby grew up.
She pushed away. No one is going to take me away from my children.205 - . He was poking around and I asked him what he wanted. are you alright?” “There was someone outside and he was looking for you.“You caught me at the peak of my cycle. honey. I am sure of it.” It was a pause Garth could not fill. He told me to remember that name. “I feel like finally I can bring a child into this world. I watched until he drove off. she was resisting the urge to go into his arms. I will go down fighting. My child will know I stood for something. except for the things I did.” “Was he a cop?” “It was one man all alone. He said Miller. My parents lost their parents and look at them. “If they come for me I won’t go like my grandparents. I won’t allow it. What should we do?” She looked in Garth’s face. “I need to activate the land mines.” It sounded like hippie mumbo jumbo but he was agreeable and tried to hold her.” . She stepped back. I am not a criminal and I won’t be treated as one.” “Garth.
He knew and understood Mary’s past. They also told the girls not to use drugs or alcohol. A thought shared by both minds. The idea of home as a fortress surrounded by land mines had worked for them until now and it was still working for them.” Garth’s sentence ended but not the thought. Maybe he’s looking for me because he doesn’t know you’re here. He might be a bounty hunter we might be able to buy him off. “Dad?” “Daddy?” The girls called. just tired. “I’m fine. Part of the life they shared had been the process for both of them of coming out of combat mode. 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.“No. Preparing for this day was a way of separating combat from normal life. half a minute later Mary followed. the room was dark and he was watching. Garth excused himself and went upstairs.206 - . wait. . It was only one man. 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. Hand in hand they entered the kitchen. He had pulled a chair up to the bedroom window.” The girls were taught US History from a Marxist point of view but were never told their mother was an active revolutionary.
she had the dirt on everybody.” “You brought my life back. They had watched the parking lot lights go out and the last dish washer’s headlights disappear in the night. it was fun.” The silence was long before she spoke. plus I was the oldest cousin. “Number one is over there. unhappy. “Daddy.” “You wouldn’t have liked her.” “I’m sorry I never met your mother. I won’t let them take you. When I came back from the war their little faces never looked the same to me. In a high quizzical voice. All I had for a father was her stories about what a piece of crap he was. I was glad when she died. her getting finished drinking herself to death and me just starting down that path. She was miserable. The pigs know I haven’t mailed a bomb in fifteen years. do you remember where we buried those land mines?” Now pointing out the window. …. We’ll always have fun together. nobody did. Don’t worry no one is coming to take this away.“I nursed my mother in this house for the last two or three years of her life. I’m a wanted felon. That’s why when I was little I spent most of my time at my grandparents. It’s still a blur. “Nature’s law is not to kill.” . Do you remember when we buried it? I was pregnant then. the last vestigial behavior of a hippie child. I moved back to the carriage house. She went to California and came back home with me. There will be no rest until justice is served. always complaining. you and the girls aren’t.207 - .” She walked over and sat in his lap.
” she said No one came and during the days of waiting Garth took down the claymore mines disguised as birds’ nests in nearby trees. “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.” The teenage boy at the register meekly informed Elliot who slipped a banana in his pocket. Garth washed away any trace of explosives with a garden hose. .” Still no one came.” “Mr Pasquale!” The boy yelled the name of the man who owned the fruit store.“You’ve taught our girl’s. “If I eat it now you have no evidence.” They laughed and both breathed easier. haven’t you?” “Every woman needs a few brews she can whip up. they too were cleaned out. Chapter 17 “You have to pay for that. The massive lanterns in front of the house were filled with gunpowder and ball bearings and wired to explode. “I’ll miss you.208 - .
209 - . . “He ate a banana without paying. So well-known and well liked Elliot frequently thought politics might be in his future. He wanted a more prestigious career and told himself he would change as soon as he hit ten million. Both men laughed heartily.” “This cover it?” Elliot emptied a hill of change on the counter.” Pasquale’s pointed explanation to the boy. Compared to some of these locals he was like a god. “Keep the extra for a down payment on a house. He’s our land lord.” he thought. Something he had been telling himself from the time his total net worth hit a million. Now that the boy knew Elliot it was one more person who held him in high regard. the place for the zero following the one. Pasquale paid on time and had few complaints.“Why you bother me? What is it?” Mr Pasquale came to the front and greeted Elliot like a long lost brother.” “This is Mr Miller. With ten mil he never need to work again and could get into politics. “One more zero. Elliot exited feeling good about himself and the tenant. He can have anything he wants. getting their vote should be no problem.
He approached three or four contractors in a strange city. He could sell a 5 dollar watch for 50 if he can convince the buyer the watch is stolen. he also tried to always get the most as a partner. He told them who he was and for a price he could get them the contract. Elliot liked to be able to act as a supplier. 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. . He also got kickbacks from builders.210 - . He never took from his two fellow partners or got more than a third.‘Get the most from each customer’ was another motto he lived by. He especially liked salvage yards where he found many building supplies. He capitalized on the idea that everyone wants to be on the wrong side of the law at least a little. jealousy and fear others might beat them to it is what Elliot used to seal the deal. It was not reason that convinced the intelligent customer to take the risk. After a builder is picked Elliot returns the funds to the builders who were not selected. 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.
Canadian bananas. and vacation/retirement developments in the Deep South. These included. 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. chicken burgers. urban sprawl. worm farming. elite schools. a chain of restaurants. Investments were painted for them as money making machines. a chain of motels. overstated person who would never be a guest in their home yet they accepted his guarantee of riches from the podium. or whatever posh neighborhood was local. . strip malls. “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.211 - . Elliot and his partners were responsible for most of the closed zoos along secondary roads throughout the US.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. The research and leg work had all been done to come up with sure fire investments. Where are the camels now? Often he wondered. Elliot was the sort of loud. He made clear for them he would become their surrogate pig.
Elliot by then had explained to the original investors in the dream. Anti-union rhetoric and the promise of profit sharing is what lured them. Elliot made it seem like communism but it was really religion. Even the most over funded enterprises had to be manned by workers after they were built. Like a promise from your mother. He would get down on his knees and if he had to beg for the investor’s faith and .But the most pathetic were also the most costly. With offers of no more than minimum wage the partners handed out all the executive positions. 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. that capitalism is a system of risks. 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. These problems wasted time which was Elliot’s second most valuable asset.212 - . Grosses had to be higher than heaven before there would be profits to share. The workers went from home owners to squatters and then the people invariably moved on.
Despite the money he had and things he and his wife did Elliot found it hard to provide more for his children. then.confidence. He could not say to them it was hard work when all he did was make phone calls and go to hotels. for his family. When they were born he collapsed in the corner where he also stood during his wife’s screaming. past the auto mile.” he often said. “I have to work. Part of his day was spent killing time. Elliot often reminded himself. As his personal wealth piled up he wanted to do something good with his money. A deduction. Sometimes it was a chore to find places to be other than home. He did not want to be around dirty diapers especially baby girls in diapers. On the far end of town. He easily justified being away.213 - . That and a cup of their strong coffee . 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. he found a donut shop that made crawlers which were crunchy and topped with caramel. chatting idly. He would do whatever it takes because money has no conscience. seeking out interesting restaurants and bakeries. But he never could find the moment to spring the thoughtful and expensive gift on them.
It amazed him to watch the patrons who went into the dark entrance. Years ago Elliot and his wife conceived children. Yet this small theatre was now succeeding when previously it had failed. The only one in town and Elliot studied it between crunchy and gooey bites. . it reopening as a XXX theatre.had Elliot laughing to himself about nothing by the time he finished. Nothing good was associated with a porn theatre and any neighborhood where they are found has already collapsed. It had to be a curse to have that kind of a need.214 - . 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. Today what the couple considered satisfying held no risk of pregnancy. 200 pounds ago for him and a hundred for her. Interesting to Elliot was what was going on next door. I don’t need that stuff I have a wife. 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. He needed to find out who owned the building. What could he say if anyone ever saw him going into a place like that? Some of them were even wearing suits.
But like his religion he knew his idiosyncrasies were not reflected everywhere. It is the same advice he gives away at the donut shop.After so called sex he mentioned a new idea to fill up empty buildings and make a steady income. He struggled to work it into an investment strategy but he still believed in the outcome. all of the empty theatres in America will be reopening as Adult Entertainment. Much the same as how he had to constantly remind himself to pretend to like sports. He considers himself among the most honest of men although he believes all men are thieves and liars. The world to Elliot is made up of mostly lower class people who sweat at work. Having spent a busy day at home. 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. At times he was his own inspiration. He truly felt that by selling unique investments which offered distinctive opportunities to . He directed his clients for a price because free advice is not valued.215 - . Elliot could hardly sleep for the excitement of his new idea. shopping and chauffeuring the girls the wife was already asleep. care about sports and who now watch porn. He would never consider sitting in one of the theater seats for fear of AIDS and other diseases.
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. It did not matter to Elliot because he wanted the girls to do whatever made them happy.216 - . Recently the girls started eating salads and Elliot had some. It made him feel a tremor in his heart for his . 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. They had tried horseback riding a few weeks earlier and after Elliot’s horse collapsed there was a moment of family self-examination. At the fair. eating fried dough. But unlike the pathetic figures that went to porn movies Elliot knew how to keep his queen happy. he liked to add bacon bits. They rode and ate in the car for hours driving to the country fair. thoroughly tanned.fleece the rich and stupid he was making this a better world by supporting his family. he looked at the local country girls in shorts and bikini tops. The family was always amusing to him.
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.daughters who wore long florescent shorts and oversized tee shirts. Long ago he had bowed out of any interest in lady things. As a child he had never seen his mother without her clothing and makeup on. Aaron. used open hand slaps to rule over the one television as long as Elliot could remember. Large enough to give an impression of being a dominant power he still fit a typical executive office chair. a good man. America is a land of suckers and getting bounced out of that casino development deal was proof. Just to confound people on weekends he wore a jogging outfit. Native . fashion. his older brother. He worked and provided everything and anything for them. Lacking a goat or wet nurse he was fed formula. Starting with the subject of periods it spiraled out to encompass. It was their world one that he as a man. As a toddler he had a fear of the toilet and had to hold a parent’s arm when sitting on the bowl. make-up and bodies. paid for.217 - . Elliot was a big man who used his size. The two brothers fought whenever they met.
Not small change like Quonset hut motels or Honeytree Farm franchises. beads were worth more then. that they barred him from the conference table.218 - . On the far side of the mountains.Americans might as well have stickers on their foreheads. a top shelf investment with the three local commercial banks that should top 200mil. When he said something like that out loud it was followed with a wink. Two hundred mil. they would launch a project so large the three partners projected payments to their great grandchildren. This would be the most lucrative percentages for the partners. not in view of any city. Just assimilate and forget about it. min! . 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. He smeared the insult by trying to include himself with the listener. 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. suckers looking for revenge. He laughed at the chief’s dignity. He also asked the chief if he liked wearing city clothes. ever. This dream investment required at least a fifty million dollar ground floor investment. Jews don’t go to Germany to even the score. That was Elliot’s good luck.
Now they could begin to make the island a prison. At the campus coffee house the five of them spread out over several nearby tables. it stood on a mountain top. Soaring one liners assailed their teachers and the world. Dare he and the partners dream about a percent of One Large? A Billion dollars had a majestic ring. But now all he could think about was that hick as he dialed into the conference call. criminal defense lawyers. wearing a cape and surrounded by cupids blowing trumpets. Journals and let the comments fly. In another time they might have been pirates. 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. . Old Grandma Green had agreed to a 99 year lease on the land.219 - . A Billion dollars. Inside he was like a child happily skipping to a birthday party. By college he was a slumlord and always walked around with twenty or thirty C notes in his pocket to sooth his nerves. they hid behind their Wall St. or. Millions are the small stepping stones before Billions.Mils excited him and made his adult heart flutter the way a K did in college.
To the public it was all about Jobs Jobs Jobs. Having invested so much in a super max for .220 - . None of the lowly townies knew anyone involved in the project beyond the teller at the bank where they made payments. With all the bonds sold to locals it was like owning the entire town. those with money. The prison industry association shipped in a bunch of happy workers to testify at the meetings. School children drew men behind bars as their parents talked of good government jobs. The rural community had stars in their eyes. there was not a Hilton for a hundred miles. Elliot and his partners came here already knowing that by borrowing so much they would own these small banks. The small banks sold shares to the town’s own people.There followed meetings in rooms like swamps. work for all. Dressed in those snappy semi military uniforms they would be federally regulated but working for a private paramilitary company. Elliot’s to destroy. it became the local duty to host a maximum security prison. 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. The ones from Texas talked about executions they personally worked on. Hungry for something everyone wanted a part of.
221 - . Elliot could not imagine what these hillbillies could be thinking. . they don’t work this slow up north. When these people voted down completion insurance from Lloyd’s they made a blunder. From the other side of the river people looked. The union operators up north are paid twice as much but they get the work done. Elliot kept that to himself as he passed among the goobers gawking. Knowing his part in all of that Elliot whistled a happy tune. no one came to play golf and the Family Fun sign was covered with dust. Like they were seeing the Sears Tower in Chicago get topped off. Now it could take forever to build and their return on the investment would shrink to nothing. The town’s people cheered when the highest guard tower was finished.their town they all stood together watching it go up. That tickled Elliot. 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. the trucks turned red clay up everywhere and as it dried in the sun the island was enveloped in an orange cloud. There seemed to be a lot of people leaning on shovels. He laughed out loud at the thought. concrete trucks wore out the oiled town roads.
Driving further the prison loomed again.” . With the excuse that he was counting trucks Elliot sat one morning watching the guy ride a lawn mower. sitting like it had just fallen from the sky. After concrete came the flatbed trucks loaded with iron for inside the prison. it was squat and ugly surrounded by the dust.Except that guy kept bothering him.” He slid next to grandma since the attendant was helping grandpa. “Looking well. The broad shoulders of the main prison building loomed from the bridge but the turn off was thick with sticker bushes. Inside the Family Fun ice cream bar he asked the counter girl. going in and out of sight.222 - . the house and golf course were the first and second places after the bridge. If I had a job like that I would shoot myself in ten minutes. Elliot labeled him an obvious retard as the man progressed. with satisfaction Elliot’s attention drifted and he got out of the car to get a milkshake. “One delay after another. He thought he had seen him a couple of times. The old golf course was no longer visible. Mr Green. This guy with the rest of them are going to pay. “How’s business?” But seeing Grandma and Grandpa Green having breakfast in a booth he went to sit with them.
“It is a beautiful day sir.” To Elliot they were an especially unfortunate couple since they took the lease money and invested it in the Prison bonds.Nothing broke the rhythm of his feeding. People were always coming up to be friendly and say nice things to the old couple. and his partners who loathed being here. were the only ones destined to make any cash from this. Mrs Green.” Grandma’s cordiality revealed nothing. now that the dust has settled. They spoke about pride in their town and a place for the young people. Elliot laughed about something else with everyone at the table. Elliot wanted to get to know them now because soon they would likely not want to talk with him. “It is a beautiful day. The Greens bought bonds to help the town. The entire place was laughing along with the clattering of dishes. They must think of themselves as Rockefellers. It was like an entire world in . That is the work. it had not been easy gaining their trust. Not me. To Elliot the pattern was familiar. It was as if he. As a salesman he first creates a good feeling between them.223 - . Because once the buyer takes a loss the possibility of friendship is gone.
“I can see he is proud. he killed a hundred commies in Vietnam.” Grandpa glared around the table before his attention returned to the nurse feeding him bacon and eggs. He was probably in high school before he asked about Aaron. She was a total air head. Maybe he would like to be an Officer once the prison opens.224 - .” 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. “That’s my grandson. He’s proud. If he wanted to know an answer he had to go to his father. in essence she did not know who was riding the mower but you can rest assured it was one of her sons or grandsons.” like a child.” Elliot could not be dragged into the subject of the Vietnam War. “He’s doing a great job. His mother’s answers could not be understood. The mower sound approached the restaurant. In her answer Grandma went on.a snow globe. His older brother went off and that was it. “Who is that mowing?” Elliot asked. He always hated . When she opened a coffee can she always said ‘’whoosh.
Elliot did not understand and he could not figure it out from father’s silence. was what made all Jewish men able to endure.” His father told him years ago. One thing he knew was that he never shed one tear. 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. The Family restaurant’s 1930’s . “He is in Vashingmachine. “When will we see him?” His father did not answer. he asked his sister. That formula.asking him anything since every answer somehow got back to the monster with the ugly little mustache. Elliot believed. She told him.225 - . In his way Elliot gathered information indirectly by deflecting the subject out of the conversation. His parents must have thought he was too young and forgot to tell him. The culture there was so isolated that when they asked about pizza they were told there was no Italian restaurant on the island. The two other partners could not stand the little town of Green.
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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Some of these guys. I plan to beat him.” He held out a pocket notebook. I am sick of hearing about them. “I would stay clear of some of them.” .” Aaron looked around then shook his head. look. “The Army is a big racket.231 - .” “Am I in it?” “Yeah. He was published by age twenty five. “I changed your name to John. ” “Write about us.” Garth said trying to sound tough.“Vietnam is what everyone is going to want to read about.” “Writing your novel?” “Notes.” John – a friendly country guy “That’s great. Aaron had been taking notes that first day. Mailer had the best seller about World War 2. World War 2 is old news.” They bunked next to each other. You can use my real name. “What are you doing?” “Writing. I think you and I are going to do good.
” Garth offered. Shit. I’m calling Sgt. Simmons and the other drill sergeants. Despite the situation he came from Garth always felt he had an average white life but in Vietnam. Garth found cleaning out the Cong was the same as the job he did back home since he was small. Simmons Sgt. Garth used to shoot birds through the eye.232 - . The eye was his favorite kill shot for both. Nothing falls out of a tree like a VC. The gook eye is black like crows’ eyes.” “Sgt. he was too cold blooded. . under combat conditions in the field he saw that he was different. that’ll make it easier. “I’ll use that in the dialogue. Smith. Men in the company found it unnerving and just another reason to stay clear. 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.” 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.“Thanks.
For his unpatriotic parents Garth saw Aaron like a man missing a limb and was amazed that he could get along so well. By making him a man the Army helped Aaron get over his shame at being a Jew. Aaron made peace with another gentile as he had done since high school. The voices from Garth’s upbringing faded.233 - . something he had been feeling his entire life. rescued by America yet he does not want his son to serve. . he thought at the time.Garth could not understand how Aaron’s family could be against him going in the Army. But it was too late for anything like that to come between them. they were buddies. they whored and drank together through training. He had grown up hearing bad things about Jews and now was the proof. As his buddy Aaron won back Garth’s loyalty. 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. It was like a Jew.
Near the house where the white picket fence had trees over hanging they placed claymores with wires running to triggers in the house.234 - . pregnant only in her imagination. She was keen on it too. With Garth they prepared the nest. Howie.Chapter 19 Secretly she had been looking forward to sanctioned sex in the hope that the experience would improve. Now she no longer feared pregnancy but looked forward to it like acid kicking in. allegedly had a larger member than Garth was likely to have.” She told Garth as she felt change begin. After each of the few times with Howie she was in hysterics to have an abortion. “The fuse is lit. From where the fairway ran next to the road they laid mines that were operated by remote control. After a few tries with her husband she looked at the clock near the bed to mark the exact time of conception. On her slight frame it stuck out like a bowling ball after a month. For . stroking it idly and frequently coating it with hippie exotica. 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.
The child might be real but the role of mother was a disguise. The inside of the house passed muster as competitive with any of the sisters’. The nest was secure. After a second one was born Rachel once more found the act unpleasant and gave up sex. A father only contributes one tadpole. 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. She hid from the world while having a world of her own around her. Garth moved to another room. It proved the cliché about a woman’s love and Rachel watched Garth’s transformation with contempt for how he followed programmed male behavior. He seemed to have a strange understanding and something about that irritated her. Having a baby was the deepest of deep hiding. Even home schooling was part of a selfish screen. Rachel inside had to agree.the walkway up to the house they packed the concrete lamp posts. When in later years her unhappy teen daughter accused her of making her favorite foods only to keep her home. Despite her politics and without missing something she .235 - .
by their laughter life was like an orgy to them. She was frustrated by not being able to study such an individual response. The waitresses who were teenagers had never heard the story she told. He had asked Grandma “What is that story they all tell about you?” A common ruse Elliot used to flatter old people. She was not jealous but angry about her inability to understand.never desired she only wished to understand why she was not like the women around her. The sister in laws enjoyed everything. it was not a punishment for having hurt others. Grandma had to explain about being a .236 - . Was sex clear to others? It confused her and she was this way from the start. That the sister in laws seemed to be enjoying their sex lives also bothered her. Sex should be like breathing but it wasn’t. from baking pies to singing in the church choir. Chapter 20 Laughing so hard he had to put the hamburger back in the plate. Rachel as Mary considered herself to be sane and rational but unlike those women she did not go through existence laughing.
Elliot could not read his father or his wife and this stranger was suddenly blocking him too. good food. There were only two ways to find out for sure. This was too complicated to convey. finishing his large burger. By .o. The smell of cut grass and b. What was wrong? Elliot pondered. The dust is still raising hell with the filter. He had just gotten off a mower and was mopping his face with a bandana. to be immersed in their old time lives. he would have to do it himself. reached them before he did.flapper. Ask his wife to ask his parents or ask himself. Then that man came to the table. This was why he came here.237 - . he took big bites. Good talk. The arrogant ass Elliot was now poised to grind under the steel track of a bulldozer. Elliot considered himself a master of reading faces but he could not read this one. I got to take Becky to the doctor about that rash and get some parts for the pool filter. The fellow on the mower could be heard far away before Elliot isolated how he might know him. It was the stranger from that night. He knew there is a separation between himself and them but for moments like this the wall became glass. Is there anything you or grandpa need in town?” He courteously nodded at Elliot. “Grandma.
the family in Romania and the peasants on the family estate decorating the town. His father still denied it. He listened to it unfold. He wished one day his father would put a bandage around his mother’s mouth. thick gravy. her pointless questions leading to a story. his friend.” Now he remembered him. Was it a cook who visited us? “Your brother Aaron. From Can-tuck.his parents schedule the store was slow from one o’clock until two. eating so . “That wasn’t Christmas it was a visit. he’ll think twice before he’s rude to me again. It made him dizzy. mashed potatoes. As always his mother answered the phone. In his hotel room Elliot could smell the turkey of thirty years earlier and those KFC sides which he lusted for ever since. But then Elliot’s thoughts went to the other place.” He denied ever having Christmas in his house. he did not look that old. 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. from the Army. This could be good for a laugh.238 - . the possibility they once had Christmas in their home.
” Elliot offered a politician’s hand clasp. Then he extended his hand.” Elliot extended his card. right?” Elliot could not resist spooking anyone who presented themselves as skittish. In the daylight he could see this guy was a nothing. consumed in a way that built his present largeness and the power he radiated. And the memory of his first time… No longer could he hate that man but neither could he respect him. He did not fade into the background he was the background. “Is the mower yours or are you still making payments? Everything okay? You’re pretty quiet.239 - . You look like you’re doing pretty good for yourself. No one knows. looked at it and stuck it in his pocket.” Elliot smiled and winked. Food that satisfied something more than hunger.immersed in food he could not get air. a nobody who had the sort of face that made you forget his name. superficial and quickly withdrawn. The tractor stopped as the man took the card. “Everything okay now. “If you every need anything. . “Garth Green.” “Elliot Miller. The mower guy soon passed his way again.
Because he did not want his family life interfering with the life of his business. 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.” He said out loud knowing in fact that he had nothing. which was also family. Chapter 21 Garth accepted things. 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 mowed on.240 - . He walked toward the construction site to annoy some steel workers. he had his memories. he removed the live bombs from the golf course. Elliot laughed. unlike the hundreds of whores of his youth he did not pursue her. Like a proud rooster on his riding mower he cruised over the realm which had been given a new life by his efforts. “Now I’ve got you. 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. .
Once it was a house full of girls. It just rolled into the big ball of strangeness that Garth figured all men go through in one manner or another. It was intensely strange not to have the child’s seemingly healthy mother waiting. playwrights. now it was full of women and that was daunting for Garth.241 - . 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. . The first few mornings Garth and Becky waited for the bus by the side of the road. 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. 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. scholars. Becky insisted much of what her mother was teaching her was wrong. looked. Every driver who approached slowed. judged and sped on.Becky was a teen now and Maggie would be soon. From pressure to become women scientist.
She may have killed people and set fires but that was what they had in common.242 - . Garth fingered the business card. She feared standing on the side of the road because a trooper might recognize her. Other marriages had cheaters. but she was loyal to him and their home. With both girls being educated elsewhere Mary started sleeping late and staying up reading all night. drunks and abusers. 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. Except for cooking dinner she was disappearing from the family. He remembered when she dropped her clothes in front of him in the weeks before they got married. He was a wreck and had nothing to offer her and she gave everything and became part of his life and his family. She never answered the phone and would not allow cable TV in the house. putting the card down in his pocket he had no intention of mentioning him . she could never wait with her children for the bus. She had things that would never be shared but the way she gave herself to him was like a dream.It became another one of those things Garth accepted.
The lacquer letters on the textured card shined at Garth. But he was not sure and the card was a test. Going to bed he made sure to leave the door to his room open. Life sober was becoming unbearable. lately that temptation was strong. But he must have dreamed it. he had expected this or something like it. he did not think she had been there long. Her tiny silhouette in the doorway. what tempted him would be spending one or more years drunk. In recent months as the the island was turned into a construction site he only closed his eyes but did not sleep. his arm froze at the thought to throw the card away and he left it on the table.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. Garth had not been sleeping well lately.243 - . he did not look at women. she was not the suicidal type and would inflict herself on others a thousand times before putting the pistol in her own mouth. Something she did while others slept. In fact if he thought about it Garth only slept well in the Army where his exhaustion was total. But as usual he emptied his pockets on the kitchen table so Mary could file the receipts. was there any life left in the old girl? .
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. when the girls left for public school the distance between them grew.244 - . Living with a disaffected wife who asks buggy questions offered some moments of comfort since it fit the world he knew. it was not to be.” She concluded. 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. “I just need to lay low. early life offered Garth no contentment. His heart was pounding and he was alive again as he answered her questions. I just won’t . As an adult he never experienced unconsciousness without a tendril still looking for missing sustenance and affection. “This is my brother.He wished she were dead both to end her suffering and to free him. As a neglected and unwanted child. Let’s put a locked gate in our driveway.
California. He could not forget his loyalty to Aaron and the debt he owed for letting him jump first.” “I thought that’s what you were saying. Every stranger is my brother and my own brother is a stranger. Texas. There is no place left to hide. “I burned a nursery school to kill a senator’s . He ticked off a few places.go out until I can be sure. “What am I going to do? Where am I going to go?” was all he could hear. I’ve done worse. They can read license plate numbers with satellites now.” “If that’s the way you feel you should have said so years ago.” “I would kill my brother to save my family.” Garth did not realize she felt that way. Canada. often he thought he was the only one who loved them.” The sun was up before she returned to her bed and Garth was getting up to get the girls ready for school. “We can go for one last car ride…” He offered diplomatically. “If he’s not looking for me he has to have an FBI tail on him. A year?” Her lip curled as she spoke. She wrapped herself in her blanket and looked up at him.245 - . With two children he felt at first he knew the answer. Mexico.
the thought to kill him and the means. she was.” “If you shot him or poisoned him. It was obviously her. . “Maybe it is better if I go away. the faceless shape in a thirty year old wanted poster. I knew everything I wanted to feel but I never felt anything. After all these years it was no longer the world that was the threat to the family. Our daughters no longer need me. I killed a dishwasher to get his job. 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. She could still kill without remorse and that would destroy them all. I have no ability to feel.granddaughter. Killing my brother has got to be wrong. That’s why I don’t sleep with you. Not even for my own brother. I blinded people.246 - . Yet that is all I can come up with. they raised me to never shed a tear. how are you going to get rid of the body?” Mary seemed aged. The little 14 year old Rachel had not grown inside but was withered. Because my body is my own and I don’t want to lie to you. All because of my parents. She had guided Garth back to sanity but clearly she was insane. My parents never imparted feelings in me and as a result I never developed them on my own. I made children orphans.
mister and misses. Before she tired of what she called being a cookie cutter robot like the rest of the women.” “We’ll go out together. 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.” Garth pulled that out from the back of his mind. But helping her was the only thing that made him want to go on. The grocery bag of money was restocked long ago waiting to be used. but he would rescue her once more. We tell the girls to sleep at their cousins’ and in the morning make some calls for no one to look for us. a plan from years ago when he was actively thinking about that stuff.“I mean that is a heck of a body to dispose of. that and once more she needed him. He remembered how much he once wanted a type of woman who she reminded him of. you and me. denying it like a proper woman would deny a desire for sex. It will work. . She was still beautiful to him but she did not know how to use it.” “I am not going to leave my home riding in the trunk of a car. Never again. She did not know she needed him and would not admit it. Then his feelings toward Mary were different.247 - .
anticipating being back at the room and removing his shoes and peeling off his socks. Dinner. After fiddling with the radio he got the all-news station from Chicago. room service and a movie. the call home. he removed his leather holster and directed the AC blower at it. he talked to hick bankers and went to Rotary meetings. He found a Hampton. 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. By the time he got there he was dry again. supervising these hillbillies was a job. He considered building a mansion on the hill for his family.248 - . In the peaceful moonlight passing abandoned share cropper shacks he listened through . with horse stables. Hilton’s little sister.Chapter 22 Elliot spread the parts of his gun across the car seat. he thought. Such is the life. The Family Fun motel was too decrepit for him. He removed the soggy nylon strap from around his back. he could not even sleep until he was far from the smell of the island and the river.
Dozens of pizzas with all kinds of toppings. Even as he dreamed it on the hotel bed the center of his chest became calm. 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. Usually no more than $5 for a male valet and tenner for a woman. The valet was there and Elliot toyed in front of him with a one dollar or a ten dollar bill. was Elliot’s motto. his breathing evened and his mind stopped racing. But that was yesterday before he saw the face that had so haunted him. 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.249 - . He turned giving nothing. Mercantile prices suddenly fascinated him. 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 knocked out red sand in heaps on the floor. The concierge had his mail and key ready for him and she got eleven dollars. . milkshakes in the one gallon size.stories about murders in Gary to get to the New York stock prices.
maybe she’s not well. it’s just old age. “I wish you would not call because at 6 in the morning it bothers your mother.He opened his eyes in bed and looked at the time. He put his shoes back on and left the hotel. He had not eaten last night yet he felt surprisingly good this morning. we’re both fine. He would follow the traffic he had seen from his room and stop at the first greasy spoon. 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.” “Is mom feeling all right?” “Your mother is fine. too late to go back to sleep and too early for room service.250 - . 3:54.” .
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. 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 . It will be to your regret if you don’t remember me. I have an air conditioned Lincoln.” “You are Grandma’s boy. “If you don’t know me Mower-man you are going to wish you did. “Do you need a job? Once the building is finished we need to hire a staff.” Elliot’s comment hung suspended and was deflected by silence. I remember you. ” “Maybe we should talk in the house.” “Let’s drive up.251 - .” “I’m doing fine where I am. unless Lincoln offends you. we all know that. I know.
” Garth got off the tractor and approached the car.252 - . “Back. he moved fast for a big man. I went to them for Thanksgiving and New Year’s. cracker!” Elliot pressed the pistol into Garth’s face. I said.” “Listen wacko. “Back up. a lot of mower jockeys served. The only way out of the lot was to drive past him so he waited. that’s enough. 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. Knowing bad guys are where I can keep an eye on them gives me a stiff one.” Elliot laughed heartily. Maximum security is something I want to share with the world.wire on top of concrete walls.” . The window rolled down and Garth leaned in. don’t forget we’re hiring.” Garth watched him. Of course not all concrete is created equal. “I served with Aaron. There’s someone for you to meet. “Move that fucking mower and let me pass. It looks great on a resume.” “I know your parents. Come on up to the house. that’s nothing. Move back.” “Well. your brother.
Catch your breath.So this is what the avenging angel looks like.” Garth moved the tab to cover the red dot. boy. Garth judged Elliot to be in a state of terror. When did you last see your sister?” Elliot stood from the car and offered the gun with both hands.” “What?” Elliot’s attention turned from the safety switch he was fumbling with.” If his approach could so terrify her brother he worried how to tell Mary. The door began to open and gave Garth time to speak.” “Come to the house. They need me. “It’s too dark.253 - . They had two children on the iron clad promise that the children would never know their mother was wanted for murder.” And handed it backed. “I know I deserve to die but please don’t kill me. . “It is you. I married your sister and we have two little girls. “Slow down. Meet your nieces. Tell me if the safety is on. a frightened fat man sweating through his business suit. “It’s safe now.
. If the story ever got as far as one time music great Toby Tyler the girls were thoroughly bored. Being a school night the girls were in the front room doing homework together. Suddenly Elliot tried to answer all the questions about his daughters while Garth went upstairs to notify Mary. Mary never mentioned her family except that she ran away at 14 to become a musician in New York City. He wanted to scream out his guilt but now the conditioning of years left his face and demeanor unchanged.254 - . 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. Who the hell is he to call me a cracker? That was what Aaron also called southerners. The girls made clear to Elliot that they were excellent students. Cracker. Likewise Uncle Elliot was of no interest to them until he told them he had twin girls who were sixteen.With the name of Elliot Miller popping up more frequently on the island it was becoming more than they could stand. Now this. Having been homeschooled they were far ahead of their age mates in the public school.
He was about to say your brother is here but halted thinking of Aaron.” He said as he sat where he used to sleep. “Mary. “Elliot is here.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. With one motion she shook off the lethargy of years.” he whispered. Mary was still caught up in his sexual thoughts and at this moment the room reminded him of that. . gasping as she sat upright.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. When he entered her room she was asleep with the Collectors’ Copy of Wobbly’s Weekly on her chest. he knew she had spent the day in bed reading by the condition of the house. She still had mail drops they visited seasonally and she subscribed to various socialist magazines. she threw her magazine away.
the same age as our girls.“I invited him. Years ago the sisters prevailed on Mary to have her hair done. Close the door and let me get dressed. she rouged her cheeks for church. It’s fine. What happened?” “I guess when you and Aaron went away they had no one else to feed so they stuffed me. He knew she always enjoyed shocking them with her dishevelment and clothes from India. “There were twins on my mother’s side of the family but I don’t think the father has anything to do with that. this would be a Jew family reunion.” It was something she would have never done for Garth’s family.” Elliot rose from his chair and followed his sister into the kitchen where they sat facing each other across the table. Come downstairs. it seemed to amuse her. “They’re both still alive?” . Garth doubted he would see that today.” “Twin’s…” Mary repeated. The construction project was just a coincidence for him to be here. or ever again. twins. He has two girls.256 - . She even wore make-up a few times. “Elliot? Look at you.
257 - . He’s making too much money.” “That’s right. all of us. The government has already convicted me.” After the girls went to bed Elliot described what he saw in the post office. “If you saw the picture then you know it could be anyone. To collect the reward someone only has to turn you in. He still is selling shoelaces from boxes older than I am. Too much to quit…” Elliot ended. I was a war protester back then and they wanted to silence me. They never change. Under that condition how could anyone get a fair trial?” . to every old customer who walks in. “He still says that.” Mary picked it up. “…but not enough to retire. More than ever now.” “Have they sold the store yet?” “That will never happen. the picture is me but they have no proof.” “You don’t have to be guilty. Dad said they will carry him out.“They’re alive but they are still not living life. I admit it.
” “Rachel.” Garth produced a revolver from the drawer next to the refrigerator. Anymore?” She demanded. Honest.” Mary drew the weapons to herself and individually admired them. a third. “Now this is the woman I love.” He shook his head and laughed but was laughing alone. “Lay your weapon on the table. But some of these crackers might jump at the price.” . to me it’s not worth the paper work. Sheepishly Elliot produced a second from his jacket pocket and with some difficulty reaching down for it. the mother of my children. you’re on his side? I’m your brother. “Nancy Reagan carries one of these. For someone. “Because I don’t want anything happening to her I want to know. “That’s all. Garth?” “He pulled a gun on me in the parking lot. I need for him to make his intentions clear.258 - . what have you got on your mind?” “What are you doing.” Garth was glad it was him holding the gun and not her.“That reward money is still a nice pile of change.
.” “He wanted to be an American and a menche.” Garth did not know what they were talking about.“She keeps hers in her purse.” “Hitler this.” “Was this a plan? Why are you carrying all these?” “No plan. Everything about them said victim.” “That’s why I had to get away. 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.” “But he couldn’t do that there. I put mine in my sock.” “Every night the same stories. Hitler that.” “He couldn’t understand why our brother wanted to join the army.259 - . Oi God! If you don’t study and get all A’s then your family died for nothing. “Because of Dad.” “That’s right. this cousin died there and your other one was put in slave labor.” “It was so brutal. You know why I carry them.
So you do what you do now to prevent the next Hitler.” “Killing a human being is easier for some of us.” “That’s why I carry them. “It’s life after that’s hard.” “I tell myself I could do it without hesitation.” “It’s easy to pull a trigger.260 - . To show the ghosts who are everywhere that you learned the lesson from their deaths. Ask Garth. “I don’t want to shoot you now.” Garth consoled him. his tone changed. I couldn’t see straight.” She said and added quickly what she was learning. “You’re not a killer. “But killing shouldn’t be easy. .” He remembered himself and made like he had spared Garth’s life. I’m glad I didn’t. But I never shot anyone.” “For me it is.” Elliot looked up.” Garth agreed. I was shaking. That shouldn’t be too hard to live with.“You just want to reach out and kill someone but Hitler’s been dead and the war’s been over forty years. 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.
” Garth returned his gun to the kitchen drawer. “Was that loaded?” Elliot asked.” Garth sat in the kitchen chair next to his wife.“I’m not your enemy.” “You don’t get out much. I block out traffic noise. by the God of our father’s.” Garth could see his wife’s face become twisted with a painful memory.261 - . “I guess I’m finally meeting Mary. It’s so beautiful out here. “It would be more dangerous if it wasn’t. The biggest thing I worry about is my apple pie crust. “That’s it. do you?” “Why?” “The front of your house is orange. Don’t you notice all the trucks?” “For eight years I rented an apartment under iron stairs a block off 5th avenue. “That’s it?” Elliot asked.” Elliot’s expression turned serious. I swear it never came up.” . “Do the girls know?” “Elliot.
” “What are we going to do about that reward money? There are post offices everywhere. We wanted to eat and we had to wait for the fight to end. The fighting between you and dad was always bad but Shabbats were the worst. Don’t say a thing to him about where I live. Don’t tell him that you found me. .262 - .“I know Rachel.” Elliot alone smiled.” “What do you mean?” “It’s says fifty grand. Cash reward. Religion makes people hypocrites. not a day of rest.” “You are so stupid. All I remember is you and our parent’s screaming at the Shabbat table.” “So you don’t mind if I tell dad?” “I’m an adult and I don’t care what you do. 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. Prize money. we all block everything out. That wasn’t what it was. But you can tell him that his granddaughters escaped the family curse and are going to have happy lives. It was supposed to be Shabbat but we waited long past sunset on Shabbat.
Garth and dad got along instantly.” . it takes me five hours most nights.” “Our father gave us a bag of money to help us. Adding. It was sixty three little rubber band packs of twenty dollar bills. “Do you have fifty thousand on hand? In case I was serious.263 - . if you don’t tell the police. “This is how I do business.” “He sent me to Yale and gave you cash.” Garth said for the sake of conversation. They know I’m someone important. When a black Lincoln goes by at 100 miles an hour the cops back off.” Taking off his shoes he stretched out.“You would send me to jail for fifty thousand? Your own flesh and blood?” To witch Elliot replied with a noncommittal wink.” “It took us eight. “That’s the way I drive. “I drive home barefoot. 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.” He looked around the room.
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. “It’s funny how we started out so different.” Elliot said good night and shoved his small weapons and variety of ammo into his front coat pockets. I had no father and my mother threw me away. that’s what I tip the guy who mows my lawn. No. .” “What are you talking about? My parents never loved anything but that little store of theirs. “My parents were refugees from Hitler’s Germany. The room had the pungency of perpetual habitation and rotting books. No longer was Garth stalked by the fat man. It had been a while since he had been upstairs to see her.“No.264 - .” She dropped her current notebook on the pile of notebooks that she slept with. I would never. you hold onto that in case a bounty hunter can get past your withering gun fire. You had two parents who loved you. 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.
265 - .” “You think I’m happy? Maybe for a little while until I was 8 years old and they stuck a rifle in my hands. You’ve had a happy life going in little circles. Mary picked up a notebook and held it in front of her chest. And that he loves you. All I saw were the scars. “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.” “But don’t you want to get up and get out?” He came around the bed to sit on a corner. A window needed to be open.” “It would seem pointless to you.You have no idea what that can do to a person.” “I thought your father was wise and kind. I . maybe your parents could go to Elliot’s office at a certain time and we could call them. I still have Elliot’s phone number. The events of my life would have no meaning if they weren’t recorded. one generation after the next. But people like me live in a maelstrom around the eye of cataclysmic events.” “Are you crazy? The way they tap phones in this country? You might as well just push me out into the road.
Garth felt all was lost he was almost sixty and the comfortable family he grew up with was dead nearby or living far away.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. 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. After so long it still called to him. He shook his head and took a chair alone at the kitchen table. He struggled with his urge. The children she raised questioned everything. . Maybe I am not as miserable as you but don’t write in your little books that I am happy.” Once or twice before he felt like this. “There’s scrambled eggs and toast downstairs for you.” Garth said with all the calm he could drag to the surface and got up from the edge of her bed. Wasn’t all this expansion his idea?” “That must be it. to grab some beers and hit the road.” “You go and talk to my father. his intention was asking her for a New Year’s date and now he just wanted to find some beer and hit the road.266 - . He might give you some direction.
” He said to himself.267 - . “Grant me the courage to change that which can be changed.” He clasped his hands in prayer.“Grant me the serenity. The lacquer letters and numbers in disarray were stuck to his thumb. . 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.
She knew that was a lie and there was no one she could trust.268 - . She demanded to speak with an attorney and once given one she had nothing to say to him. In court she learned her arrest was the result of an anonymous tip to the FBI. Rachel. The tips were callous and desensitized her fingers came to blunt ends like the trucker drivers and stevedores she met in New York. They only spoke after she was brought to court and fully charged. . she fumbled with wire strands and tweezers for the small quantities her volatile mixtures required.Chapter 24 The Trial of Rachel Miller Upon arrest she immediately admitted to once having been Rachel Miller but not to any other residence. 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. Born in Pennsylvania and relocated to Kentucky at 14 where she became a child bride known as Mary.
Her elbow twinges and her shoulder ached and sometimes it was the other way around. 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. But that is not possible in prison where the authorities are not inclined to ease her stay. And she would have. Rachel was segregated from the prisoner population for fear she might spread her pacifist beliefs.Gentle detachment. The repetitive movement that caused the injury also soothes it. Peers not in the musical world but the ones who marched to the militant beat where she was known as a . The only relief she knows is by picking up the violin and bow and playing for an hour. She was also denied the company of others. Her inquisitive and sharing nature made her stand out among her peers. 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.269 - . People are basically good was one idea stuck in her head which inspired her most of her life.
Her father in that way inspired her to play the violin. 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. or a survivor. 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. . That was years ago. 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. 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.270 - .white radical to the police and as a sister in the local community. 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. not an obliging small-town merchant. Before that she watched her father’s head loll with heaviness when he listened to the Texaco Hour. At peace. she saw him finding peace. Music made him another person.
all armies. It was the same aggressive hunger in all these men. She searched for the one word she could throw back at any argument. In a desolate tenement she learned how to put together a newspaper and live in a community without laws. It was a world dense with high school age kids and a few older people in their twenties. to talk with those guys about the revolution she had to put up with a lot. 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.271 - . They swaggered and licked their lips. In her heart she was always sure . the distributers. challenged her belief that all people are good. The President is the same as the guy who offered her wads of cash to make a movie.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’. Porn and the people she came to associate with it. After a celebrity made a trip to Hanoi upon her return there was an influx of newsreels from the North. That there was no single word or phrase that could explain it. They were another face of the enemy like the cops and the army.
Hitler took our toys.” At which point he laughed. My father’s was a brilliant surgeon. 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. “Hitler’s jealousy was such that it would destroy the world it was building. The Hitler argument disallowed any counter discussion or else her father would bring to bear the shattered limbs of his big sister. He could have sent the same German soldier out to fight four or five times after being wounded. Adding. She came to isolate one day. It drove her to spend hours with her dictionaries. “Very pretty. . and he would accuse her of sharing responsibility.that life still was pleasant. “My sister had a shelf full of porcelain dolls that she liked to dress.” Her father observed. raped to death by Hitler’s men.272 - . My parents were no more Jews than we are. sunny and beautiful but she could not share it any more than she could express it. She said they would go to Aryan children in the special home for Hitler’s Kinder.” She searched during most of her youth for a word that could deflect the Hitler argument. My mother thought because my father was a famous doctor we would be safe. And our homes.
It was a wall of resistance toward what her mother wanted . At fourteen in 1966 she could justify her reluctance. She fell like one of so many cut daisies for the charismatic Christians and their peaceful ways. and shout about. This was not a line but a fact.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. Other times when she was asked she explained that she had no interest in sex. She convinced herself too that all she needed was Love but she kept that to herself because of love’s other meaning. Like her comforting thoughts of societal love she also internalized the rage she had felt since before her brother went to the war. When the war was raging then being anti-war was something she could talk. 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. Her deeper anger had more to do with her mother’s bright lipstick and the artificial mole she adorned herself with. Her mind was occupied analyzing the constant rage she felt. They promised each other to remain friends and did. Learning its desires and feeding it while maintaining an A average and learning new music for the school tours.273 - .
a toxic dream. He would not save her. to protect and provide for the . a coquette. Her grandmother did not have her wig when the Germans came was something Rachel heard from her mother many times. who at parties and balls would infuriate the young men as she coyly played with them.for Rachel. 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. spat on by the neighbors. he found the fantasy agreeable. The dream of a coquette was all that remained. 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. Rachel’s brothers did not know or care and father smiled and nodded. to be a cultured tease. servants and even friends. 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. Max took care of Eva who together formed a crippled parent’s outer circle. 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.274 - .
Especially so Rachel thought for her family. She knew the guys who printed her newspaper were in with Mafia. It was her decision not to use the Communist party underground. All of the criminal charges were for actions before 1978 while living in New York. 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.children’s circle. She reasoned that the party was always under the FBI’s thumb while the mob did whatever it wanted. After the meeting kids went to their scattered homes still feeling desperate and alone with reclusive parents living in their private world. Mary considered herself a . The police. two separate circles. In jail she finally felt proud of herself for having been an inexperienced young girl alone on the road. The Mafia sold her to American Nazis as a live hippy for a hunt in Wyoming. The effect among the kids at these gatherings was to reinforce how strange all the parents were.275 - . she could claim. were confusing her for the activist Rachel who by coincidence shared Mary’s Maoist-Marxist philosophy. When she slipped the FBI that day she really slipped them.
teacher and intellectual. Her legal strategy was to rip through every witness.276 - . God himself might expect to be called on to explain creation. Clearly whoever turned her in possessed the most difficult of minds to liberate. Of the millions of . She wanted to understand not only who and what but also why. She wanted to examine the driving forces in the greater culture. 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. To identify one or more specific weaknesses of mind in several individuals will help to elicit why these people have become docile puppets. 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. She wanted to put all of society on trial. her plan was not to talk about herself but to begin the conversation among the masses to abolish war. Ideas she had been honing in her notebooks would be her tools used to expose a basic flaw in the human race.
including the tourists who were in that picture. only a handful could point a finger at her. Although when another waitress robbed her tips she could say nothing for fear of a fight breaking out and the police being called. The women who opened up as they washed dishes or waited tables together would convince a jury that she was sympathetic and understanding. She wanted the jury to see the entire photograph of the hundreds of others. These were the people who knew she was sober and reliable.people who saw this in the tens of thousands of post offices. But when she . threatened the foundations of the republic because she was a war protester. The picture was a cut out. anyone so dressed. “I want to kill my husband. 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. Rachel wanted to prove that she was singled out and planned to prove her innocence by indicting everyone else in the photograph. For thirty years a tiny woman.277 - . 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.” was something with which she could identify.
Out doing neighbors and trying to get ahead was the number one topic of conversation. The day of . But all of the people of the town were slaves to their work. While she scanned the horizon for the police they had their heads bowed nurturing their lawns. and parents secretly against children. That was the first thing she noticed.278 - . She felt that work is unacceptable and only passion is acceptable as the motivation. They understand their jobs but are mystified by their families. In a little town everyone seemed to have problems. parents against each other. 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. No day of rest to reflect on creation and give thanks. The entire town was evil. The locals go to church but have no Sabbath. People want things and buy things for themselves then they worry how to pay for them while wanting the next thing. children against parents. selfish and self-centered.learned the girl’s grandfather worked in a hardware store then a bomb was sent to her grandfather’s store. Entire families were in division. Except for the matter of steel bars in front of her face it would seem she had all the evidence against the little town.
Rachel in the course of her antiwar struggle regarded taking a human life like other Jews claimed to not eat pork at home. 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 should have seen that before. She lost feeling in this world and tried to wring more from meager memory of the past. She wanted to hear of her brother who often held her hand when she was a little girl and was shot to pieces. And her hands which once held his became like ghosts to her. In shacks where beer and hard liquor was served the boys fought each other but never to death. it would have saved his life. to be near Garth and hear him tell what he saw as he did long ago. It felt like she had spent a lifetime beating her head against a wall. She knew the war was wrong the day she learned Aaron died. except one and she had not been charged with that one. To tell how the sergeant with hand on his side arm forced him and Aaron to jump outside the wire.rest is Monday after an exhausting weekend. War is always wrong.279 - . Passion motivated that too. She could run down a list of how flagrantly American culture disregarded the Ten Commandments.
She saw the rich and the poor living side by side. Doesn’t that mean something? Living quietly on the river awoke in her the value of life. 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. her father’s family stayed in Berlin. She remembered in the evening he swatted imaginary flies . Aaron’s buddy. With garden fresh peas she picked. It was the other way round for Garth. It took time before his presence was felt other than as a sack of booze. her family had pain for generations. She never liked alcohol. Garth’s drinking made her apprehensive. was there when the soul of her brother departed his body. Garth’s lack of interest or ambition made for a comforting quiet. the animals she helped feed that were later served family style in the restaurant. Proper alcohol use as illustrated in popular culture says beer time only arrives at dusk. Garth was the first alcoholic or drunk person Rachel had to deal with.280 - .Some people don’t have lives with pain. Garth. She could see how like her father there was a day everything changed. Used to be he’d drink from morning until early afternoon before he could hold a civil conversation. But historically millions of Jews came to the New World.
There was a knowing wink at the mention of Grandma and Grandpa every Sunday. Rachel could imagine her parents tossing her body in a hole the same way. Aaron’s internment at Arlington was not an honor to his family. despite neighbors and taverns nearby Garth drank alone. dope and whores. who was an attraction for miles around as the . Their sacrifice was not disputed. That was the big lie her father told her and the family. Even the worst things these people did seemed bathed in sunshine. For them it was easy to value life that was not miserable. Everyone doesn’t have to know you’re Jewish. of all people. Some of that money went to build the town’s only church. it was mostly about Garth’s family who made barrels of cash during the depression with booze. While most people will become happy and sociable after one drink or two.while watching television above the garage without curtains. She learned the principle subject of gossip as it was repeated in various corners of the small town. Max had used the flag to wipe away Aaron’s footprints.281 - . Korea and Vietnam at rest. The cemetery had some twenty and twenty one year olds from ww2. He.
That one then beat Max until bones were heard snapping. 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 was taught in Hebrew school that except for their sect’s unique interpretation of the Five . 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.282 - . his special numbers could be seen inside his sleeve on a hot day. A Jewish man. 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. Max rarely went in the sun and throughout his life his scars remained pale and fresh. He was not a child as he appears on first impression. The Greeks across the street celebrated their version of Christianity. How. Max’s father was also a short man and he was a famous surgeon. he was often pointed as an example of Jewish inferiority. Only the completion of the train tracks and the mass arrival of more victims saved Max’s life. both now and back in 1938 to the Germans who grabbed him.local Jewish merchant. And his scars. Rachel wondered.
Rachel and Aaron made Elliot the slave.Books of Moses the rest of the world is wrong and will be punished when they die. as a girl she suggested that maybe he was so good a doctor the Germans let him live. But he only became bleak about that. “I only run a store but my father was a great doctor. for a chance to be a hero like our late President. She thought Aaron could be the first Jewish president. . When Aaron was left in charge the family felt half normal. It was Aaron who first got Rachel interested in politics. He saved many lives. But most of the time Max was happy.283 - . Jewish existence is to suffer and die was Max’s philosophical response to her. We should go to Berlin and look.” For the eternity of youth she tried to infect her father with optimism. He thought that was another reason to go to into the Army. he joked in broken English with delivery men and customers all day long until he arrived home. At home he was a devoted spouse and in love. But mother was also a rival as she did and said things which took her and Max away. Father would put Aaron in charge of the family for days at a time taking mom to different hospitals and rest homes.
He was off in the woods directing his crew the day the SS and Romanian Nazis took the other Jews away. Mother sewed at the counter on a high stool from where she could oversee the store and where father could always find her. . The stand was only open a few hours in the morning before the Greek restaurant across the street opened. Eva. The exception was hospitality. She spent hours sewing dresses while waiting at the cash register. 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. Her father was a wealthy land owner who sawed down whole forests and ran the wood through saw mills he owned.284 - . from her seat in the window. Her father would see that she was the boss and it was Max who did the peasant work. Rachel did the books then got on her own bus to school. The Barbie’s were imitation dolls with no flexibility. Rachel and her mother brewed coffee which they sold along with snacks and newspapers to the commuters who took the bus. 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 mother explained to her about the slits and use of see threw material.Scratching and rooting for every commercial opportunity was the essence of how they survived. That was also the time Rachel began to feel alien in her own home. Rachel was embarrassed for her mother as she would be for a dumb kid in class. They cut and sewed doll wedding dresses. She was thankful when the rabbi sent a note home about the subject. Rachel taught her mother how to make change. Rachel resisted becoming the kind of woman her mother was poised to make her. Rachel in a long fur coat mother made from unfashionable salvage. It was the only skill she had to transmit. At the age of nine Rachel lost the fascination and stopped sewing with her mother. Father and Aaron were constantly at odds then too. She remembered herself and her mother on nights 15 below with wind howling off the lake selling coffee from an open door. the clothing her mother made for her to wear was changing. it was to enflame the male for the wedding night. Maybe that was why she was so adamant that she teach Rachel how to sew. Aaron got out of the Hebrew school system and was in the . tight skirts and bright colors brought all kinds of unwanted attention to Rachel.285 - .
286 - .” If the family was always quiet they were at one time warm toward each other but no longer. The time between when he signed up and actually went in was one brutal fight after another. “Maybe your beautiful older sister who was dragged behind the house and raped to death is sick of you bringing up her story. Her brother . He expected to do well in the army and Rachel wanted to follow him there until she learned more about courant events.always a slave of Hitler. Father saw any uniform as a Nazi uniform. the challenge for Aaron must have been not to go too far but finally. You would have been better off dying to save her.” Aaron despised their father’s wisdom. 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. Aaron said being in public school was like being back in kindergarten. You have Hitler on the brain. She planned to do like her brother. she did not like what the army was up to. Overall she agreed with Aaron except when he fought with their father.local public high school. “Once a slave of Hitler .
literal and cast in stone.” With Aaron away it became a joke again. Music under the pressure that it must deliver her away made it like playing with weights tied to her arms.entered the army under a curse. Even if the answer was more practice. she needed someone whose playing she respected before she would accept instruction and . “This is exactly what I predicted when he went to the public school. “you said he would become a goy and marry one. Listening and visualization then mechanically reproducing were enough to bring her to the top among small town musicians.” Father said. “No. a secret spy during the war.” Rachel corrected him. She was too stiff necked to be instructed by teachers who were not on her plane in terms of feeling each note. Recording the words of a man who often said the numbers on his arm were for the Germans to keep track of him.287 - . “Only a goy joins the army. He was glad to go and the tension at home was relieved when he left.” She had the memory of an ancient religious scholar. Rachel’s ability to be taken up with the passion for her music became intermittent. he was a valuable man. A knock on the head and he is drafted. A Jew waits until they come for him.
Alone in Manhattan she spent years in a concrete and steel bunker putting together her own ordinance. a fellow soldier. breathing hard. At nineteen she had a lover and was in love. She knew what she was doing and exactly why. Rachel however was a cell member as well as a cell by herself hiding her actions she disassociates from other radical groups and individuals. Only one thing in her life surpassed the unbridled energy of her playing. America! The arrangement was that a cell member knew only fellow members of the cell. For that she needed to go to New York City. to be effective in this modern revolution Rachel dug herself in for the long haul. If she thought about it she had a very normal life for an underground resistance fighter.288 - .practice more. Her brother going to public high school opened the door for Rachel to attend a music school. . Just as the first American Revolution began in 1776 it was not over until the British left in 1783. running from a fire. he had to go away. Happy Holidays. 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. They did all the cliché things but for Howie.
She could not open a bank account. Rachel loved chemistry and Howie was the same about everything electrical. Having dismissed the obligation of party members to bring others along she was free to pursue endless revenge without cluttering ideology. get a credit card or make a major purchase.289 - . she watched people with purpose walking by and at that moment decided to end any further activity bringing people into the cause. Her only identifications were a few student discount cards. After the meeting she drank black coffee alone at a restaurant counter. she was elated that these things which might have tempted her were now impossible for her to obtain. a Musicians’ Union card and a NYC Library card. Because he was making money rewiring a house after school he was not hanging around the Panther Party headquarter and was not arrested.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. Locked out. . She bought bomb making supplies in person for cash in New Jersey. 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.
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. It went good with a cigarette. he was nice but his penis was not at all like ones she glimpsed growing up. With Howie it seemed abnormal. Her books could be published now although a revisionist would teach them. right after high school. 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. Only Rachel has to know. Had the revolution been won she would have a chair at a college instead of this chair. Rachel did not want to be one of them. It blares. it pushes people out of its way. She had to revise her estimation of sex. it doesn’t say excuse me.She liked the scream of a siren pushing through to a fire. her entire life was an exercise of the people’s right to attack and kill members of the state. She believed in the electric chair. just like the sniper who killed her brother. it seemed like the radical men were either headed towards eventual heroin addiction or ones like Howie who stuck with pot and LSD.290 - . . At that time.
Becoming pregnant made sense but having kids and being around them all the time was enough to drive her crazy until she fought back. Where ever they are now no one needs to know who their mother is. Like a narcotic addict she could not begin her day without it and at night could not stay away from it. she did not want the children to grow attached.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. Soon they only . After one child it became worse. Once her mind was made up to conceive she became astonished by her receptivity.291 - . 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. 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. Despite the stress of creating two average scholars it gave her a reason to get up. She was their teacher and she was a mean teacher. She became their school teacher. She bubbled like a volcano. Instead she imagined living on an isolated farm in the Urals where snow fell ten months a year.
“Of course. a typed note.saw each other at meal times and eventually not even that. she thought like a cold race theorist. When she learned of her father’s death she was disappointed by how easy it was for her not to shed a tear. “the wealthy widow will remarry. exploiting male weakness had been Eva’s .292 - . Often when fantasizing about hearing of her father’s death she wondered what would become of her mother. She figured Elliot owned a few old age homes. When she saw her parents so unmoved by the death of her brother she made a promise to herself. Garth’s family was prolific and cousins moved away until it became the thing to do. It took her father’s actual death to provoke her imagination. Over the years she made sure she was not photographed. She was satisfied to be the woman with a secret in the old house.” she thought. The village will now have to get by with only one Jew.” It was so clear. the family Christmas card showed only the girls. Garth received a letter post marked Philadelphia. MM b1922-d1997 Rattling in the envelope was one of Elliot’s obscenely expensive business cards.
Then father had to hold her with one hand over her mouth. “You are dreaming. Stories often took her to bad places.” She wiped away what she assured herself was a tear of laughter. a strange language was spoken between her parents.293 - . “You are dreaming. 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.twisted message. She was glad his suffering was over. a Latin based Yiddish that made the kids uncomfortable. it was such a dark and grim house. where she is a little girl and her father was expected home momentarily. sewing and telling stories about her father and Romania. Look Out! “I’ll never know. Eva was good at laundry. At least her brothers shared a room but Rachel was all alone until sometimes she prayed her mother would go back to the hospital.” . ww2 or the news. as loud as it could go. You must wake up. Aaron always had the living room TV tuned to sports. men of the world. Father came home late and ate at night and as most nights had that shrill Yiddish conversation with mother. it broadcast to all rooms. You are safe with me.” Father would speak softly. A deep breath was all she allowed and that was for her mother.
for the generations lost. so great was their love it made an island for the two of them in a sea of pain. The secret information carried down by the family was how much worse she used to be until she had shock therapy.294 - .“She used to be worse. Father traveled half the Jewish world before finding her again. Recapturing that moment of innocence and love was what they lived on and it must have allowed them to ignore cruel death. But tears at that point are viewed as self-pity. Their own pain. and the pain of strangers who are dust but what about Rachel’s pain. 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. She hoped to live that long but with her father’s . the pain of the living? Prison seemed very inviting as a place to shed tears. her mother got what she deserved. Rachel promised herself any tears shed would be shed for others.” Father always said when it was over. It seemed with the end of her father’s generation they would hear the end of stories about death camps and Nazis. 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.
” And mimed. Her program was simple. I wish I could hug you. “headset and microphone” then swirled his finger meaning “tape recorder. When her mother arrived she rushed to the cell.” . That was what she hoped to speak about. embarrassed. Her books were full of reasons but alone in a cell she had but the one root to her anger.actual death she saw it was not over and as much a cult as ever. He said.” Elliot said entering behind a guard who tapped Eva on the shoulder. Elliot looked like the pope in his flowing suit and adorned with gold. Her goal as a radical revolutionary was to increase the pressure by targeting servants of the people with all the power. “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. the capitalist nation which wages unchecked war must fall. the pressure on her generation to bring peace to the world. “Is this how you want people to see you?” Is roughly what her mother said. her mother excused herself. “Oh sister. “The old lady is nuts.295 - . He wore a trimmed beard that came to a point.
I build prisons in this state. You’re my hero. Help Elliot get me out of here.” . “I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my daddy. I’ll prove to them you are only trying to save yourself.” Garth was sheepish around the dark corner.” Elliot looked happy.” He laughed. “who snitched?” “Well then.296 - . She whispered. “How are you holding up?” He asked her. “I know you like your time alone and I was waiting to hear who... I want to see my husband. “Are you and mom the only ones? Bring Garth up here. You wanted a divorce for years. I’m so glad I married you.“I already hired you a big shot Philadelphia criminal lawyer. he was the only one to pull up the chair in the corner. We’ll counter sue everyone. “They know I have money and I draw a lot of water here. He sat like a farmer tugging at his pant knees. why didn’t you come to see me? Have the girls sent word?” Garth was relaxed.”he looked around and whispered. “Where were you.” Sitting straight adding loudly. How about a kiss?” Their lips were separated by half an inch of steel. “You did it for my father’s money and the reward.
He said he would take the case only in the hope of saving her from the electric chair. It proved he was loyal to a place and maybe to her again someday.She did not know who turned her in but she had to have some grip on the situation.297 - . To live she had no choice but to throw herself on the mercy of the court. he never again came to visit. Garth could be seen through a small window doing his job on the prison grounds. The jury would see her as sociopath. she was a weight around his neck and she knew it. When she asked to mount a political defense he told her the sadistic delivery method could only indicate one . Her hope to get Garth to falsify documents faded. ever. She could not rely on loyalty. 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. 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. She wondered how hard could it be to stretch her history to thirty? Fairly difficult because she refused to sign anything. She had lived in the town 20 years.
War is wrong and it had to be said. men and women it must not be viewed as a tool of sane politicians. War is wrong and I am a fighter in a campaign for peace. Rachel Miller/Mary Miller Green . War is cancer indiscriminately killing old and young. 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. Facing death with the wish for peace on her lips was her choice.thing. 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.298 - . Insanity. 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.
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