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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
Dino?” Dino said nothing. “Right. He always called him. my friend from across the street. I learned a lot. Aaron’s friend from across the street.” “Well I’m not going back if that’s your next question. “Well I think the war is wrong. “because I don‘t want to fight side by side with someone who doesn‘t want to be there.’ There was a firm handshake to Garth’s relief.” Garth said.” The half door from the entrance where coffee was sold swung open as Ruchel spoke. something he wanted to tell them that he could not say. “I was Aaron’s buddy. ‘Dino.” The little girl thrust herself among the adults.” “The war is wrong. You’re Dino. “It looks like you got out of there. It seemed to remove the dead fish curse left by Mr Miller. I can strip and clean -6- . The thoughts in his head ached.toward his buddy helped him hold back tears in front of Dino. I’m glad I went but I am sorry at the same time and I don’t want to go back. One tour just so I can tell everyone back home I did it. “That’s alright.” Garth said repeating how Aaron spoke.
Dino was a person who Garth immediately disliked. “The Army builds character. Aaron told me this was a quiet town. “It was nice to meet you. He licked his lips. Garth felt everything the opposite of why he came here.” Dino smiled to match Garth’s smile. Garth. he felt accusation and guilt and saw again in his mind things he hoped to forget. He was taken by the dullness and boring sameness of the farmland that surrounded him.” Dino had no desire to stay. That could save your life. Rachel. The broad empty streets seemed to darken and close in.an M-14 or a 50 millimeter blindfolded and I know how to disarm a booby trap. “See you later. “I am just happy to be out of there. Being away from the war was like bullet proof glass between him and the rest of the -7- . 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. thirsty and now tired of foreigners. Right?” Dino suggested meekly. Or if your leg got shot I could apply a tourniquet and field dress the wound in a snap.” He stepped out of the circle to look around. Mrs Miller.
-8- . “Maybe you know what this is?” He offered it timidly. first they want you to request the form. and seeing little disturbances to tender new growth.” But only after Mrs Miller insisted did he look at it. In the Army we call that hurry up and wait. This is the Army’s way of doing things. Garth felt the cold shiver. he was a smart boy. Aaron was real again. a letter from the Department of Defense. Instead of sending the form which you have to fill out. He was reading fresh clues of the enemy. an older brother. who is walking on my grave? He wondered. Garth explained. “It’s from the Army.world. so we don’t have to open any more Army mail.” He showed them the key information. He read the letter twice to make sense of it. It was all so nicely wrapped up for them. That’s what we went through everything for. “I guess he bought GI insurance. a bell on a spring rang when he opened the door to his family’s restaurant. not me. Dino crossed the street. trailing Dino with his eyes. Then Mr Miller produced from his pocket a familiar looking envelope. throw it away. Standing in front of Aaron’s family he read them like a spy. Ruchel’s protector. Between Rachel and Dino he studied the small looks and gestures.
The father. She looks like she has good handwriting. It amazed Garth that there seemed to be no alcohol around this town. Aaron was smart and never stopped talking and that was fine for Garth who listened on and off. Max. -9- .“This is what you ask for.” She looked like Aaron. stepped from the entrance and joined them on the sidewalk. What was sending his thoughts in this direction? Was it to rescue the girl from the lecherous boy next door? A girl her age where Garth lived wore make up and was planning her wedding. The Miller family was once whole. they had their mother’s face. 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. the last time he saw him it was hanging from his skull. Claim for Death Benefits… “Have your little girl do it. the brother who snuck out of the store did too. …form SGLV 8283. And the only person in the family they had in common is dead. I bet you do real good in school. Aaron’s face. Why was he bringing up old wounds? He wanted to blurt it out. Aaron dying ended that.” underlining with his finger. Do I want to return? If I can stand this I might as well go back.
In fifteen minutes he had bought two six-packs in the next little Pennsylvania town. They had roast chicken with cranberry sauce and side dishes that had numbers from the cans.10 - .Garth left them from there. Miller made a speech at the dinner table. Garth was a happy kid before he left home. back then everything ended with a joke and now every conversation ended in an argument. Garth could not control the tears. Aaron’s parents . He was not sure what the old man was saying. He saved his boots and uniform in the car trunk and after finishing one six pack got some shut eye at a truck stop. a fight or a challenge. the second six took him the rest of the way home. Soon he stopped talking to his old friends and his cousins. After they ate they gave him a place by himself to cry. an impromptu for the unexpected guest. Mr. 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. After his first summer back home He went uninvited to the Miller’s to mark his first Thanksgiving after the war.
When he got back from Jew Christmas Garth’s cousins told him what a wonderful day he missed. All they did was giggle. his father warned him but he was sick before the end of the night. Their stories haunted him.11 - .” Aaron’s little brother ate like he had been starving. he drove the long night home exhausted and sweat drenched. “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. Cousins and nephews were unavoidable. This time he brought a turkey. hearing of others having a good time caroling and drinking . When Christmas came Garth once more left his family.stood outside the door and were clearly talking about Garth in their language. he woke and left in the dark. Be careful. pies and KFC side dishes to the Millers. All those emotions without booze. 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. puking and crying after too much Cole slaw. In Aaron’s bedroom he cried until he slept.
Even the trash sparkled. “It’s just like the Jews to have piles of money and no food on the table.12 - .” His grandmother’s sure mouth and closed mind pushed him further to the edge. Escaping the house he . That he brought them a Christmas dinner because their table was bare. Instead his gifts were set aside like an offering to a spirit. He had killed so many times that the big flakes of snow on the highway reminded him of splattering brains. Days after Garth hesitated to open these underserved gifts. The only lights on the day after Christmas were at grandma’s. “Where did you go. Never again. Nervously Garth entered the overheated house. Under the small artificial tree on the kitchen table was a present for him. to be with a family who lost their son. Garth explained where he went. It was as though he too were dead and could not accept his present.” she asked quietly from the edge of the couch.and carrying on when he knew he could never join the fun. son? We missed you. Days later it still annoyed him to find wrapping paper stuck between couch cushions.
“Garth. what’s wrong with you?” they asked. Next weekend. Little kids. After a while he relaxed and recalled a wonderful conversation they had in the barracks. Once he told a couple of veterans. . when he pressed it to his cheek into view came a little gook family at the door of their hut. old man. The passage Aaron read to him. nephews and cousins complained how they had waited for this day and his return. “Uncle.” A sexual treat reserved for one of James Bond’s foes. He stayed home on the day hunting season opened.” He knew he was not only a soldier but also a murderer. 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 promised but he made no effort to get out of bed the next week.13 - . I am sick of hearing from you. For Christmas Garth got a new hunting rifle. it was junk next to what the army let him use.smoked and drank in his car. That’s more than all the Rebs and vets on both sides of the family. The sight and scope were cheap. That was what they would do. He did not like talking to the old timers much either.
He sat expressionless for hours at the strip bar. and he did not have to wait to see if it moved again or not. From his first patrol. they were birds to him. In action as others mowed the weeds and clipped trees he squeezed off kill shot after kill shot. He did not need to confirm kills. He tried to explain to himself his flat response to the flashing lights and jiggling flesh. he kept a silent count. Killing birds. birds who were shooting at him. Green troops were confused about whose bullets went where but not Garth.Since he was a kid with toy tanks and plastic soldiers he dreamed of being out there. He knew things he did were wrong. He usually sat far from the girls. No one questioned where he went alone every night. These were not the slight Asian girls whose . the dampness and body smells reminded him of bars in Nam but these are big white girls and a now and then a black. that’s all. It was a long drive to the nearest strip joint. Every night was a late one. he never hesitated to take a kill shot. Sitting alone in his room he punched himself in the head repeatedly.14 - . in the action. the enemies of America spreading communism. He had his own 22 rifle at 8 years old and with it could hit a bird in flight. he knew when he had hit someone in the brush.
he would never have a car that nice again. He put the cans of coins in a fruit box but the bottom came out. He made several trips. . 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.15 - . It was his disappointment with 1969’s celebration that moved him. The cans were heavy and the iron steps to his home above his grandmother’s garage were slippery. Falling did not concern him except for now he was carrying money. Looking for something familiar. The day before New Year’s Eve he gathered his resources. He had that feeling for most of the preceding year. He remembered burlap bags in the garage but the doors did not swing out with all the snow and ice pack. he watched dancers through mirror after mirror and coldly studied the audiences.graceful lines and wanton eyes he once studied. It was almost 1970 and Garth had a good feeling for the future that the new decade would bring. His car was there like frozen torture. Piece of shit. Snow left in the cold and sun turned to ice.
Glen Fiddich.” He told the owner with profound sadness. two cans of coins and two bottles of booze.” He said and remembered glossy ads that Aaron showed him. He had planned to do all his buying tonight so that he did not have to go out again tomorrow. His hand on his thigh he looked down then gathered his package. The package store owner cursed him to his face. “Here’s to you .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. The bank across the street closed at four. If this is short I’ll get you. Under the tree behind the light pole where the store owner could not see Garth tore open the bottle of Glen. the big one.16 - . sorry to himself for existing.” This was the only package store on the island but they did not like him here. “Victoria gin. or show his face. “I’m sorry. Two cases of beer seemed light and he cradled them in his arms. “I’ll be back tomorrow.” There was a brilliant symmetry. No one really liked him anywhere anymore.” Garth told the owner. “That’s the stuff. Garth laughed at the owner’s exclamation when he returned with more coins. He drank two beers and now spent wildly. the sadness was overtaking him. “Smart. sorry to bother him.” He said out loud to himself. “I know where you live.
But someone might see or hear . He picked up the empties around the little apartment. piece of shit.17 - . “Smooth. he laughed. Not that car. In this condition he was relaxed and thought everything is fine. From the top of the icy stairs he clearly saw three recycling barrels. Breathing hurt Up the stairs you piece of shit. all of them. the same place where he used to play when he was a kid. To be with his buddies. Falling onto the couch with a headache setting in Garth felt he had achieved his goal. His disability was alcohol which was also his medicine.” Kneading his thigh while catching his breath. In fact this might blossom into a three or four day bender. A car can’t go upstairs. Revived and momentarily jolly in his yard he spoke to himself and his car simultaneously then wondered which is which. Remarkably well done. green and amber glass drums too full to ever move again. clear. cause and effect? Garth wondered but that was a ruse because he knew exactly why he drank. He scraped his head on the slant ceiling as he cleaned.pal. During the night he went into unconscious drinking and at sunrise he became aware of the light and thought he was sober. he thought. Nowhere to go and I am never late. old Jew of mine.” Several long swallows followed. a fortunate coincidence or.
Before he took a second step his foot on the ice went out from under him. He burned his mouth on the coffee and stepped out for it to cool. He decided to make a cup of coffee and set the percolator on his hot plate. People around town did not understand how he could be paid by the US to stay home and drink. It was still early and he was going crazy. He left behind skin as he went on all fours and climbed . He brought the bag back into the apartment. To crash at midnight. If he did not make it to midnight he knew that would be a bad omen. Grandma gave him little jobs to give him cash. Instead he placed them at his feet until later when he would kick them down. He played the radio and danced like a wild man about his room.the sack of bottles. He was growing impatient with the many dark hours. The coffee splashed his chest and he slid backwards and sideways until he got stuck in the railing.18 - . He watched the pulse of water in the pot and the clock on the wall’s second hand. he watched a football game and then two more simultaneously. His wet hands stuck to the bare metal. Then he thought better of the idea as being lazy and stupid. Grandma bought the clock for him when he moved out of his grandparent’s home so he would never be late for work.
It was ten years ago. sometimes he tried to picture Rachel then and imagine her now. the memory made him feel wonderful and warm inside. His hope now was the surprise he had to bring Rachel. “Piece of shit. He used the toilet in the empty house next door. the expectation they once had for him as an oldest cousin and leader of his generation was forgotten by most of the others. today. Everyone in town had changed after he got back from Vietnam. if he had a manufactured home tucked in the woods but he banished . Upstairs the fridge and hot plate were both without power and the water had also stopped. He dug in like the cong.19 - . They might respect him more. It was like a Queen and Princess in a castle. Now the beautiful car he got with soldiers’ pay is an unrecognizable heap of rust covered with pine needles. Wrapping his bleeding hands in socks he fell on the couch to sleep.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. Fuck New Years.” he’d say out loud whenever his eyes fell on it.
its Princess and Queen welcoming him. a hunter. what’s safety? A buck startles and struggles in barbed wire with a bullet in the neck. The surplus store . Odd how utterly sober Garth felt now and he felt that way too the last time he visited Aaron’s family. “Cross now. “It was ten years ago today. He ached inside recalling that Jewish castle. A surprise now that he returned. Boarding the late bus the driver knew of the Millers and let him off at the hotel across the wide street. The boy who watches the great beast struggle watches as Garth struggles with the traffic. Garth rehearsed the introduction knowing if Mrs Miller stood in front of him he would not be able to speak. But like a splash of cold water in a drunk’s face.20 - . From the other side he sees the street again. He stood for several minutes since a new industrial park created a lot of traffic. A surprise even to himself although he had planned it. the effect is short lived.” Garth ran across six lanes. Land that was before corn fields are now small houses and little square yards. rifle loaded and trigger finger poised.” It was a child who called.any such ambition with thoughts of his worthlessness. he never really expected to live this long. Two trapped beasts. Tree buds hung everywhere. Mr. safety. It was himself a child once more crossing the great highway. shot by a boy.
” “Hello young man. 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.” This was not what he planned to say or the reception he expected. On a day like today ten years ago bullets from an unseen enemy cut your son to ribbons. it’s me. the family friend she first went to be with investigated but after attending Music High School with a . Broom in hand Max comes out of the darkness to the front but returns when she makes the machine work without help. she is at the cash register. Nearer he sees in the store window the animated smudge of deep black. “Hello Mrs Miller. Just like today. Max. They explained how Rachel had disappeared in New York. her hair. His heart secretly prayed they would kick him out and call the police. Tovah. Max Miller now shook his hand like an American. come look who is here. Her back to the front window.has expanded and a beauty parlor has opened beside the Greek restaurant. a beautiful day in spring.21 - . Garth waits outside and watches her make a lengthy credit card transaction.
Hours later at the Miller home Garth sucked down the wine strong and thick like coke syrup. It was Aaron except with a sunken chest and pot belly and the kid brother wore thicker glasses.22 - . Seeing the brotherly resemblance Garth felt once again that he did not deserve to live. When the boy came in it was as if Aaron returned to the living. Garth took a seat in the shoe department and read everything. “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. Garth jumped from the cushioned chair where he sat nervously.scholarship she disappeared in the summer of 1968. It had been too many hours between drinks. Rachel had grown into a fine woman like her mother. Like laughter and people pointing their fingers at him.” He touched the brother to test his reality. After ten years Garth could only think how he should have jumped first. the plastic cover sounded crisp like applause. Studying the pictures. The answer was over Garth’s head except it had to . Aaron was the leader but Garth knew what was about to happen. An FBI wanted poster of a small masked and unnamed woman was among the letters and clippings from Tovah’s search for Rachel.
just the right thing for you to do. Sexuality was proving so confusing to her that even his brashest lies went unquestioned. the plan waited twenty years.23 - .do with big deals in real estate. Why can’t everyone meet Jews like you?” The brother took a long thoughtful look at Garth before laughing. I wish Aaron could see you. she was an active adult before learning the truth about her parents. However fathering another child was more than an affair. he did not notice because his time was divided with another family. Father did not notice one of Mother’s furs was missing. Chapter 2 The plans for divorce were laid down in detail when Tovah was still in diapers. 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. It had to be her mother’s fault that he wandered. Always daddy’s little girl Tovah found it difficult to blame her father. She felt parenting had to be sacred. She felt . she sold it to hire a lawyer. “That’s great.
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.herself to be a premium piece for any man who could see more than her plain face and extra weight. When a good offer was made on the house they it sold while Tovah was still in college. she ran to get the door. who was always so disapproving of enthusiasm. share the cash and go their separate ways. A real man knows how a woman’s mouth looks is not as import as how it works.24 - . It was understandable since none of the children were at home. was in the room or if this was like a knock on her dorm room door things might have happened . She had just kissed her father thank you when there was a knock at the door. Part of mother and father’s plan was to sell the house. Her sexual knowledge was from reading and practice. During Christmas break their condo had a simple menorah and Hanukah was acknowledged with an envelope empty except for a hundred dollar bill. Inexplicably they leased a condo and that was where Tovah spent her vacations as a senior. For those few vacation days every year Tovah tried to spoil her father like when she was a little girl. If mother.
“Mom. together they took off in the car. most likely his real name was Jorge. She dried her hands and went upstairs. her father was overweight and almost 60.25 - . “Can you tell him George is here?” The young man looked like one of the workers in her family’s factory. But when racing across the room to please her daddy her natural defenses were lowered.differently.” Mother always had her hands in a sink full of bubbles. In her mind he was teaching her Spanish in bed. Mother at the sink was hiding something. something must be wrong at the factory. “Hello. She had never seen her father move that fast. “Did you see George?” Tovah was used to the two different worlds of her parents. her father an extrovert. Tovah followed. Mother seemed to wear a mask even at . 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. even for one dish. It worried her. I am looking for Murray. Father already had his overcoat on and was striding out of the door and away with George. Dad just left with George.
Twenty years ago your father had an affair with his secretary resulting in your brother George. Before Tovah could get defensive. A selfloathing grew like a fever or a rash traveling from her center making her body burn.home. Sitting on the edge of her single bed mother put crème on her hands and rubbed it in slowly and thoroughly. you might as well know now. Given the chance she would have fucked her own brother. his face was full and pleasant like that hot Haitian player for the Yankees. 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 . his eyes were brown. She wanted her current boyfriend to soothe her but he was with his parents in Massachusetts. “Did you look at him?” For years mother had been disapproving toward Tovah who made no secret of her romantic activities.” Tovah was torn between the twin disgusts she felt and could not hear what her mother was saying. Your father and I are getting a divorce.26 - . “Who does that boy look like?” He had a nice bulge. “You were going to find out next semester. curly and shining. thinking mom was questioning her desires. his hair was black. or like her father. she asked pointedly.
“It was only a small emergency. I will become so successful you will come around kissing my ass. at once and forever. I got your favorite. rich boy.incest came her father’s lies. Then I will tell you. there is someone else more important to me. Upstairs in the small and unfamiliar house she sat in a strange bedroom they called hers. . unaware. That’s right. Look. You will never see your grandchildren. ‘No. lox and white fish. Father returned past noon after being away three hours. I’ll show you.’” With that she exited the world of her parents. I told her.” “You suck. “What’s she talking about? Why is our daughter suddenly so upset with me?” He was continuing his role. Downstairs her parents talked and she heard every word. For the first time in years she straightened her spine. Tovah could compete with her mother for father but how could she fight an unseen woman and a son? The place she held in her father’s heart was not what he said it was and the loss of that love was devastating.” Mother’s tone was only conversational yet it was a louder voice than she ever used at home.27 - . he brought bagels. “I told her Murray.
I don’t know what your mother is talking about. Living full time with a passionate Latina was more than his constitution could stand. She was not aware how little that mattered to her father who she wanted to deprive of grandchildren. She even revealed herself to be an anti-Semite when she insisted he buy her a house in a seller’s market. Like most suicides she survived because her attempt was too timid. 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.“Told her what? What are you talking about? Tovah. She began meeting men of the worst type who never took her anywhere or talked about anything she cared about. it was an idea which eventually led to another abortion. On the surface the old family was together again. During recovery and therapy she was reunited with her parents who became reacquainted and reunited with each other. She started taking a preventive daily dose of penicillin.28 - . Her father was only concerned . Don’t be mad at me. Her birthday is in January and she was twenty-four the summer she tried to kill herself.
Therapy in the suicide recovery program included writing stories. urban environment for a character radiating confidence and who is every girl.with Tovah’s brother. She also has a gift for helping the people in her life. . 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. he must have a son to keep alive the family name. She questions the world and is charming about it and life never hands her any problems she cannot overcome. From her chair on a deck in lush upstate New York before the wide lawn shaded by elephantine trees Tovah created an aggressive. She liked her position of being successful in publishing but obscure enough that men were not threatened by it.29 - . With a major publisher’s backing she was launched on a very successful. career. Sufficiently medicated words flowed. her work to help others. Those children were the only ones her mother cared about back when Tovah was growing up. Tovah had written many excellent papers through college and happily took up a pen to write fiction. Her main character was a ten year old girl full of hope and expectation. rub your nose in it.
She gulped down a cold one that had been waiting in the shaker for that purpose. She did not care however she no longer responded with. maybe a tear. She loved to watch the expressions on their faces and with mother she could not see the grimace. Tovah was happy that her calls were predictable. “Last night we almost lost your father.’ As Tovah got older cruelty became too heavy a knife to pull on her mother. Cruelty was reserved for lovers.30 - . “Hello mother. a martini also helped. It was painful to be probed by her mother who used vague associations and references from childhood. I hope he suffered. “Remember Max and Eva?” She hated when her mother opened a conversation like that.Tovah got a regular call from her mother on Wednesday and always 10 minutes before the phone rates went down.” in a bored and bitter tone that was unchanged for many years. Even in retirement father set the clocks ten minutes ahead and mother never compensated for that. 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. ‘Good. Remember the Empire State .” This happened every six weeks since they moved to Florida. quivering lips.
he made everything a joke but none of his jokes were funny. empty store fronts and homes in poor rural towns. The JWO settled the war refugees on cheap properties like farms. All they have in common now is the memory of what once was. “Now who’s dead?” Max. Mother gave the impression that once she and her brother were cute and the family fit in at picturesque places. only a tragedy could unveil. Eva and family lived in a box house off a mud road and mud driveway. Max was a little man who took time from the store to be sociable. she had wildness in her eyes and clear disassociation . Eva. Tovah regretted not being with her to scream back in her mother’s face. Struggling with a Dracula accent he was like a jester.31 - . another of the immigrant families they used to visit. The familiar references made Tovah gag knowing her entire life growing up was a lie. her mother’s Life magazine dream. There was something definitely wrong with the wife. It was all lies. a family with a foundation built on a set of lies. Tovah’s response was flat.building? Remember the Liberty Bell? After learning her father had two families the golden book of childhood memories was down the toilet.
“For thirty years. she pranced around making ludicrous affectations of a ballerina.from events around her. Having a family secret like the old days made mother feel comfortable. A little retarded boy?” “No. These people are the Army Surplus store in Pennsylvania.32 - . They had the boy and a girl and another boy. There are no retards -as you put it in our family. that’s Jerry and Annette.” Mother was an insufferable snob.” She heard her father’s voice in the background as mother dragged this news out. and despite having her own children she was one of those adults not trusted with them. She spent her free time since retirement on the phone being superior with relatives. If mom called surely the mother was dead. For a visit at lunch with the family Eva wore a shining gown and on her head a toy tiara. the chicken farm in Connecticut. a royal personage and an angel while serving tea. . Tovah also recalled the kids. Tovah hated that. “Of course I remember them. That the mother was crazy was clear in Tovah’s mind. 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.
The remainder of the year on the condo was paid and made their joint gift to her. he turned his sales slips in and took a salary. Selling the house generated a big lump of cash which was like rocket fuel to the two parents. Her parents did not even sit together at graduation. they needed to be refrigerated. Father was content to work in the extended family and admire past greatness.33 - . Everyone wants but no one wants to pay. Those old Jews had some money. The house left them broke most of the time. They moved to a ghetto of Jewish millionaires but Tovah’s parents could not afford the amenities of living on Long Island. so the story went. Upon graduation Tovah fled Long Island for Manhattan. . He was hopelessly under paid but being a Jew then he did not relish working in the greater community. For thirty years. Obviously Tovah’s brother knew and half-brother George did not seem too traumatized by his visit. 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. The furs were like fish. Lucky for Tovah Uncle Sol doled cash out to all the kids.For thirty years how father lamented the anniversary of his mother-in-law’s death.
painting and alcohol were all he needed. or money. Sex. In addition to those incomes there were the monthly checks from the family trust that followed her after college. Hung over and stoned . food. He was androgynous and Tovah thought his passion for her was from the desire he had to be a woman. She dressed him soon after they met and they became a couple together in a fine house.34 - .In addition to publishing she found work as an interpreter. Living together she came to realize how brain dead he was. He had no concern with his appearance. Soon in the new house a few effeminate painters and some lesbian models came every morning and smoked pot with Jonathan before going to work. she always had to remind him about the laundry chute after a day of painting. and Tovah thought he was ideal for her. Although he painted professionally he was a sculptor with her body. Jonathan in his element made friends easily. 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. he seldom spoke and what came out were not sentences. Jonathan was like no man she ever met. Language was a living thing she absorbed from lovers.
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. Drinking was a mess but Tovah got used to it. 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. the first had been years earlier. Women were never a problem for Jonathan.35 - .” That was as passionate as she could get. “I’m afraid of motorcycles. It was the second emotional response he ever evoked from her. She never wanted to get the fur coat for infidelity. and she turned away from that culture by not marrying her man. The only work of his she liked was the stuff he did for money on guitars and custom vehicles. “it better not be in my home.Jonathan went out to his cabin and painted. I am in the Jewish mafia and I will have you killed. “If you want to have an affair.” She almost made him move out on the spot. His past was of no interest and should there be someone else she was there first.” she told him before she bought the house. To which he confided. . After desire and possession there was nothing.
While a broken old man in the next room chants his ancient laments. Reluctantly she opened up her memory. a French bishop’s dinner plate it was confiscated by the French Revolution.Life was edging near the yawning abyss of complacency to accommodate approaching middle age. Hollywood did not want to make a movie out of any of her books. Now with Jonathan around she no longer cared to take the chances with men like when she was younger. 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.36 - . PhD work was deadly boring and lacking it limited her university career. Tovah’s hand went out to the center piece on the table. But I . “The boy used to write to me. She had not been writing or selling much the last couple of years. Jonathan suited her so well that it dulled her instinct for the hunt. he wanted to be a writer. she and Jonathan found it at a flea market. 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. The antique silver felt buttery. it was worth as much as the original Shaker table it accented.
However after stepping into a university classroom she never sold another new work. In time she learned in addition to languages. a journey-woman who got lucky. A reviewer in Texas called it.couldn’t help him. Never had she imagined knowing anyone in the military.37 - . she dropped the phone and clenched her fists experiencing a deeply troubling and unexpected sensation of grief. Tovah did a lot of speaking and public appearances as a writer. “The next Johnny Tremain. As a couple they developed a tendency to buy big houses. art. He was too white bread. manses from the gilded age in the small cities surrounding New York City. and even investing. For ten years she wrote a series of children’s’ stories. Jonathan never had to work a job. In college and grad school the most important things she learned came from her lovers. He was arrogant and . homes larger than they could afford.” she was golden from then on. his breath and odor. he was trying too hard. She learned to ski and drink wine from one. So who died?” Tovah could only describe her life as aimless determination. archery. Mother’s news was like falling down an elevator shaft. With word of his death she could recall him now. how to drive stick from another. tequila. now this.
She could never be a protester. The US government was a good government and must have good reason to be there. they had no common destiny. She did . She continued thinking. “How can I say I am apolitical? This is too close to home. Clearly the Beatle phenomena and television had warped him. now he is gone. “What if I had been more giving?” Tovah questioned herself. But that war. Paul Newman. Her adult life was made up of numerous connections that strengthened over time. she was even afraid he might develop a crush if she was too effusive with him. He was just a child with childish dreams. 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. But he was so strange.” What if tomorrow I come into school wearing an antiwar button? She thought of her mortgages.thought he knew all the inside tricks to eventually fake his way to a showbiz niche and celebrity. No. Curse Johnson and that war.38 - . even a senator. When she was in the city she would avoid protesters and areas where there were rallies. Norman Mailer. Tovah thought that she was like every intelligent and reasonable person by being against war. The Army was his choice. It was war.
she bought a small one. Attaching it to her coat lapel made displaying it optional. 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. This must be where the kids get them.not have tenure. it could be pulled closed if need be. knowing Rachel was a white girl had few to pick from as passengers descended the bus steps. the poetry teacher from California. She . Now what’s his name’s sister could come through that door. Tovah. This isn’t supposed to be fun but being caught wearing a peace button was like a bedroom farce. wore beads and had the peace button on the same necklace. Mark. Turning it over in her mind Tovah decided to make it happen. Dangerous fun.39 - . a red circle with black lines making equal divisions and subdivisions. Paying the cashier she noticed between the packages of chewing gum and candy bars a cardboard display with several different style peace buttons. This would be the chance to take someone under her wing and pass along her wisdom.
” Tovah took both of Rachel’s hands. Aaron. If Tovah had met her once she did not remember.” Tovah was surprised by the agenda. The dead brother. She was surprised at the massive green army backpack the girl wore. Tovah pictured the Pennsylvania Dutch from one of the many trips she took as a girl visiting her mother’s people. Tovah had subdued the jealous resentment for the refugee families who mother had alleged only produced brilliant and genius children. “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. 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. The war had been over almost twenty years yet Rachel in her peasant outfit was clearly the child of Jewish refugees. Not even the gifted musician part rang a bell. was also a great unpublished writer. the twenty minutes spent in the bus terminal made Tovah feel gritty and .should be wearing a straw hat. Rachel adjusted her pack.40 - . “I am so sorry about your brother. She thought travel day might start with a shower. A tiny girl in a long skirt that looked like it crossed the plains stepped carefully.
” . no. “This is New York.41 - .” Rachel said. Now it seemed like not the best idea.Rachel had been riding since before dawn. Nothing you can buy is as good as she can make. That’s where they make the food. You know my mother and clothes. “Thank you. My mother thinks I’m not old enough. “Of course. “You drink the coffee. we can do some clothes shopping for you.” 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.” “Coffee?” Tovah asked. “I was hoping to take you to lunch first but I don’t know where you can go dressed like that. Tovah had planned for Rachel to meet some of the students and faculty.” “Please don’t ruin the illusion for me. not this girl.” Tovah again suggested.” “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. “I think I hear people talking. Let‘s sit by the window. her friends.
“May I?” Tovah asked plucking one off.” “Help yourself.” Tovah enjoyed Rachel.” “That’s fine. “I have one on my coat. her easy amusement at simple things combined with a desire to overthrow the government of the United States. “This isn’t about college recruitment.42 - . “I want to go to the campus radio station. 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.” Rachel spoke with clarity. My plan is for us to visit the school tomorrow. We don’t have to go clothes shopping. To which Rachel snapped. at home. 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. Tovah did not want to say anything to pop the little girl’s bubble. There are some people there I need to talk to. “Someday money will be worthless.Tovah had not been aware of that.” Rachel’s back pack had several peace buttons on it. “this is about war resistance.” Leaving the automat the tiny girl lit a cigarette. .” Tovah’s plan had been overthrown.
or narcs. these kids were carefree. They went to school in New York but they looked like hicks. Rachel separated people into kids. Rachel explained how by listening to college radio she knew a lot of kids at the college. Tovah thought the familiarity strange that Rachel had with her students. 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 . There was something to be cautious about dealing with people who renounce citizenship and have no respect for money.” Rachel replied. Tovah did not see her students as ‘kids’. They did not worry about their futures but were busy doing something.“What are you doing?” Tovah asked.43 - . Tovah thought of the many times she too had said that when she was fourteen. The school’s radio station was a switchboard connecting New York City radicals to small town war protestors. peaceful. Being against America made them citizens of a different place. antiwar. like herself and others who are adults. Tovah found these passionate and social minded young people to be unlike her typical students. parents. Tovah also lit a cigarette before starting the car and speeding up the avenue. “It’s my body.
” Rachel happily explained how she immediately fell into the scene. Later they crossed over to Brooklyn. “I spend every night listening to those guys. They spoke a language of youth which Tovah could not fathom.marrying. In . Everyone in the car marveled at a storefronts where a person could sell their blood and the barber colleges. I already know everyone.44 - . later Tovah felt coerced driving her new Volvo up and down garbage strewn streets of the lower east side. Now Rachel seemed less like a little girl. 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. Tovah’s rejection of marriage seemed picky by comparison with Rachel and her friends who are rejecting all western values. she shifted gears too often and sloppily. Surely it was a rule that educational staff could not or at least should not be in the student dorm rooms. In the quad and the dorm rooms everyone greeted Rachel while Tovah felt she was getting the cold shoulder. Rachel even knew a so called ‘power’ handshake. That no one requested she play her greatest rhetorical hit left her at loose ends. We have a call in community.
Jonathan was asleep on the floor beside the couch. everything she planned for the day was postponed as they drove around bad parts of the Village.45 - . 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.” Tovah observed and spread a handy drop cloth over him.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. They reached the house late and few lights were on. He ruined a thousand dollar Persian rug last month. One of the tour guides through this level which to Tovah seemed only one floor above hell was the college DJ. He chooses his colors depending on what color he pukes.” she sighed. She picked up the wine bottles. Tony Skeleton agreed to be the MC. Tovah felt extraordinarily relieved to be home. These were mostly bearded beatniks and a few blacks who Rachel was dealing with. his head near two empty wine bottles. To me it looked . Tovah was concerned that her niece gave these characters credibility. “Angels when they are sleeping. and the Bronx. “Painters. Brooklyn. “Drunk is their natural condition. Tony Skeleton. What do I know? We were redecorating and I threw away a Picasso.
” “Doesn’t your town have a town drunk?” “My town only has one street. A drunkard is a goy. Oi. Mother protected by father.46 - . that’s all.” “I’ve never seen anyone like that before. In the kitchen Rachel stood near the sink. father even in sleep sheltering his precious wife. That’s why I am the writer of the family. ‘Oi.like a cheap reproduction. ” If Tovah was making light of something she used to think important. The only comparison was when she had seen her father and mother in bed. 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 . the joke was lost on Rachel. white with shock.’” Tovah left him on the floor for the night. “I thought he was dead. “Another reason we’re not married.” “Dead drunk. Oi. Rachel wondered if that was a flagrant violation of something.
Tovah had made a lifelong study of the death camp survivors and their children. It was . The older ones were impressed by her youth. Rachel explained.47 - . Then it was becoming clear that my mother was not like other mothers. “Only a few years ago I was learning to sew gowns by my mother’s side. One girl confessed. After leaving the high school kids in Queens Rachel had Tovah next drive them to meet a group at Brooklyn College. they too had been bourgeois until recently. Most were awkward and friendless overachievers. clearly freedom was the best thing for Rachel and Tovah offered it in abundance.” Some of the other girls nodded their heads. “I wish I was mobilized when I was your age. That was the start of my auto-emancipation” Tovah could see the other girls did not understand Rachel. Everyone they met was surprised that a person from so far away like Rachel was against the war. still children they organized marches and demos in the entire New York region. When I was fourteen I was still bourgeois. Tovah was impressed that some of these girls were only in high school. These women called themselves the Mobe.corner. most in long army coats and smoking.
“it’s you who deserves to pick and choose. “If you can do that you are as good as any man.” Tovah was overjoyed to find a sister. that men are all scumbags and women are all liars. Rachel explained to Tovah that she received the $100. Despite all of the independence she had earned and the man she had. Never before had she thought of women having political power and as a political force. she felt for the first time in her life the equal of a man. 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. The college girls smoked an awful lot of cigarettes. This political awareness put a lovely order to her world view. but first she needed to find a headquarters to receive mail and deliveries.000 death benefit check from her brother’s life insurance. Let me tell you another thing. Not a lot of people admit this but it is rare for a man to satisfy a woman’s needs and that a woman in . Tovah was very impressed by the cunning of a child. You’re like me. Next week Rachel planned to bring home more stuff.48 - .the Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam. For years she thought the sexes were different but equal.
It was difficult for Tovah to give without the expectation of a return. “What are needs?” Rachel asked. not altruism. Gas was an expense item not on Rachel’s list.” Listening to herself Tovah heard the outline of a new speech to shock and appall an audience. .49 - . In a spiral notebook Rachel made lists. the reaction to the death of a loved one must have an incalculable effect on one so young. and more things needed to organize a May Day rally in Middle America. in the middle of nowhere. expense items. That would be an abrogation of her responsibility toward a young girl if she did not see her safely onto the bus.this society can and should have a variety of lovers. That night Tovah lay in her still bed in the quiet house and heard Rachel’s bedroom door lock. Capitalism was in her blood. The expectation was that next weekend would be more of the same. names and numbers. 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. However she bit her lip. It was almost mind boggling how much had been done. Especially for the daughter of survivors.
And by the way I haven’t heard you play in a long time. financial loss and disappointment.” “You never heard me play. Rachel. I know several professional musicians and they play and practice a lot. Tires whining on . There was only sky and cables above them.” Rachel looked up and seemed to be thinking then she went back to her notebook and the lists. Everyone says you’re a genius but I never saw you pick up an instrument. “What you’re doing is great. 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. I was a lot older than you before I learned that the best revenge is living well. slow down on this antiwar stuff. You have amazing organizational and leadership abilities. “But you are going to find doing things for others at your own expense like this will just leave you broke and feeling used. stick with your education. Save your money. “We’ll work on this May Day event but let me tell you.” Tovah had saved the talk until they were on the bridge to New Jersey.50 - .” Rachel corrected her.The prospect next week of going to see a printer in New Jersey was not appealing but anticipating that Tovah put together in her mind a talk for Rachel. Save yourself from a lot of grief.
would say his work only sold because when displayed in a business office they made it a more oppressive and stifling place. . She observed the blandness and predictability of his canvasses. Rachel as a rival for Tovah had been a person of his active disinterest and disdain almost from the first mention of her name. she pronounced. Karl Marx. what Rachel felt at the moment was unclear.51 - . That this unlike good art which stirs people and makes an impact.the steel grate of the bridge oscillated in the silence that followed between them. The only cheerful thought is for you when you get paid. If her feelings were hurt Tovah might have been successful at slowing Rachel’s anti-war passion. Happy to be included Jonathan was oblivious to the scorching analysis of himself and his works. Viewing one of his canvasses extinguishes creativity and produces only jealousy of what so called artists can get away with. It was later during dinner with Jonathan when Rachel went on with a purpose about his unsold paints hanging around the house. 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. She said that the very blandness of his work mutes unnecessary conversation.
Tovah could never take pity or show mercy. a male bimbo. a manbo. receiving Rachel one last time was a grim obligation. So accurate was the counter attack that Jonathan looked like a completely innocent moron. The house lights were on.Tovah understood that this planned attack was in response to the critique of her activism. It was like whipping an idiot child. Tovah had to concede a dirty victory to Rachel. It was late the next Friday by the time they got home after stopping for sandwiches on the Thruway.52 - . She couldn’t do that. she would be swinging a hammer. Tovah knew . Jonathan surprised them being awake and by his color. The worst of it was how it revealed the unspoken truth. far from being a martyr like her mother. It pleased him to be noticed. There was mischief in his eyes and Tovah could tell he had not had much to drink. 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. It was not the first time he had tried to pull something like this. The anger she felt toward herself for reaching out fueled the resentment she had toward her mother and the values implanted by her mother.
he was not being spontaneous. “Looking at your work I find it hard to believe you use models. Tovah did not respect any of that brain washed sentiment. the ones the Nazis tried to kill.53 - .his signs. The girl had a natural loyalty while Jonathan had none. Tovah was crushed hearing him proposition a fourteen year old. Jonathan is what he is. 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. Clearly Rachel embraced the old values. Stepping out of the room to hang her coat Tovah could hear him using a soft voice asking Rachel to pose. He should have consulted with me first.” Tovah was elated hearing her reject him. No different from the rest of the underground. Rachel had a furious purpose. If Tovah truly wanted to take Rachel under her wing the first thing she should have told her is all men are pigs. smoking like faux outlaws. His play for her was rehearsed and pathetic. Despite all Tovah’s efforts Rachel remained a country girl the same as when she arrived without concern about the layer of road dust. like any one of the dirty faced girls in long coats. .
She did not want so-called God’s so-called blessings. Young people die every day and she has no corner on it. her lack of attraction or even curiosity about Jonathan’s proposition may have been from that lofty place that labeled everything unattainable as Unclean.54 - . I lost my father and you lost a brother. Rachel was smug as someone who thought it was her role to tell others how to think and feel. Tovah’s mind became a set of confused emotions. get over it. . She hated Rachel who must be so spoiled and pampered by her refugee parents. If the President himself came to her parents’ store with the flag.Rachel’s modest long skirt was not modern but from the old country. In bitter opposition to her father after she witnessed his moral collapse the God of her father also fell. you have another brother. she shook off the desire to know what God thought of her actions. Tovah was an adult when she came to the painful realization that she was from the less desirable of her father’s two families. that would not have been enough for Rachel. like so many brought up in a quasi-religious home. A special pampered child who came to replace children thrown in the ovens.
It had been her decision. “Have him use protection. First Jonathan would be punished for having taken initiative when her back was turned. Sex must have been a painful stranger to her.Tovah was a young teenager herself when she announced at the dinner table that she was not a virgin. no wonder she could not keep her husband interested. She needed to think of something… Chapter 3 . You will pay for any abortion from your bat mitzvah money. unlike any decision her mother ever made.55 - . what’s his last name? Father asked for a reason that only became obvious ten years later. Who’s the boy.” Her father said and it was the last word spoken about it in her parents’ home. Later she might console Jonathan for the failure of his plan. It was all her mother’s play but mom caved immediately.
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. She and mother often came to the town for things like fabric. “Watch what you say around Tovah. .56 - . The town had Montgomery Ward.that simply does not happen. She felt like a grown up in the world.” So armed Rachel would be able to have a wellplanned weekend with her cousin the university professor to whom she was not really related. This trip would be free of embarrassing remarks from mother. Being alone for the first time on a trip to New York made it special. Going with mother attracted stares and looks. Mother had dressed Rachel this morning and Rachel later had to make herself look normal. For Jews to have a bad marriage is common but divorce . her mother and father are divorced. Those days Dad stayed alone in the store and the girls had to stumble across the highway and wave for the bus to stop. a young woman alone Rachel felt safe.ON the way to the town to get a bus Rachel’s father prepped her. shoes and glasses. Now.
And all governments are repressive and wrong. This was like Paris overrun by students and the anarchist ferment which preceded each of the world wars.57 - .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. 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. And her ideal stereotype boyfriend whose mind she molded and who was a total dependent. 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. A vegetable except for sex. In New York City she met others who felt that way too. 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. assassination and war. 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.
” If that was what her mother said.58 - . 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.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.” Not “There’s a customer. Mary. Toby often referred to her as his rock and anchor in this world. In the background she could hear the annoying electric bell as a customer entered. The first year the algebra text books and publishers boxes of young adult . Her hoped for explanation of the new living arrangement went unuttered. The Tyler’s also had fifteen adopted children and that was a number often reported along with mention of Toby’s voice which was clear and understandable to audiences of all ages. She wanted to 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. The Tyler name opened many performance opportunities for students. his wife also had a singing career but said she preferred the role of educator. She wanted to end the conversation with “I love you. The school frequently had rock stars show up to teach and hang out.
Fortunately many of the students with a musical gift were also academic geniuses and they dragged up the school average.59 - . Having toddlers and teens on the family side of the building that was all she could handle. Rachel was one of those called on to teach. Mary was a teacher who used a method where the students taught each other. the Tyler marriage was falling apart and to maintain the school and residence Mary partnered with a pot and LSD distributer from LA to use the school. For the students handling an O-D became as essential as handling an oboe. Her attention .literature arrived in stacks and waited to be opened. Stricken by senioritis Rachel would be gone from school most of the time during spring. 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. By the third year the place was called The Fire House and was a hip hangout. 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. The Board of Education almost shut the school after its first year assessment.
She felt her jaw and lips in motion but had no idea what she was talking about.60 - . 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. As an alternate reality flooded her mind in the form of leaf patterns. she believed. sometimes even going the same place. Acid. 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.had slipped from school to war and she joined others already in the fight who were preparing for Chicago. LSD made it common to run into people who shared her entire mindset and point of view. “Are you going to Chicago?” The driver asked. increases the ability to see previously unseen aspects of reality as well as increase ones empathy and ESP. Something about LSD made Rachel fearless when hitchhiking. It is the same when tripping only more so. . Part of the magic Rachel experienced when hitching was to get picked up by someone who shared her interests and world view.
“Are you tripping?” The driver asked before the two other girls were in.” He had the look in his eyes which combined endless energy with serenity. those streets were blocked with paddy wagons and horses carrying pigs.61 - . she had collected nozzle drippings when the pumps were turned off. “It was hairy before but things have quieted down. two ounces equal a stick of dynamite. “Do you need help driving?” One of the girls asked. 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. 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. they moved with one mind deciding all at once to divide the . They could not run down streets with hotels on them.” Chicago streets were not familiar to her so she stuck with the mob. From the police side of the busses tear gas was fired which kept everyone running. “I am. A draw string purse in her bag held a small atomizer bottle filled with gasoline. I dropped about an hour ago. The next street was dark and Rachel split off with a group that way.
the flames tearing through the Jewish ghetto and of the ovens.62 - . And the gasoline bomb she intended to leave behind became a frivolous self-indulgence. her conviction remained but it assumed a greater sense of reality. She disassembled the . Every barroom entrance was protected by at least three pigs in riot gear and two more behind them with huge teargas grenade launchers. The way it made her feel was confusing. She felt heavy and did not want to move until she thought this thing through. The small fires they made in the park looked ferocious against the night sky. The street was lined with bars that were open while other businesses were closed. Inside the TV caught her attention. black coal and white bones.cops chasing them. of huge fires at the Nazi rallies. The pigs chasing them had stopped once they were away from the convention center. Such ill-considered political action would only serve to turn masses against us. Rachel stepped out of the crowd who had slowed their run. It resembled the scenes she was so often forced to watch at home and in Hebrew school. No matter what she did between birth and death only her radical activities would matter. 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.
63 - . they broke a lot of glass as police chased them across wide avenues and down narrow streets. They ran like spirits to the edge of where the pigs black sticks swept at them. It was someone else’s brick which went through that window and set the crowd back to running. the first night. That night everyone seemed to know each other. If she turned she could see small campfires a few blocks away while in front of her on the screen because of the telephoto camera lens the flames looked as high as the trees. It was fun to street riot. one of the ones given out in the park and kept running. Tear gas canisters dropped around them. On Saturday the crowd was larger and about equal in number to the pigs. They could attack the pigs and flee because the streets were empty and the pigs offered so many targets. Rachel put on the US Army gas mask. It was not the same for this larger crowd to flee as it had been the night .bomb and on the way out chatted up the nearby pig holding a grenade launcher. 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. Friday. More people in the street meant the crowd was tripping over their own feet.
The injured began arriving as it got dark and the sight of blood made her want to rejoin the fight. The brick in Rachel’s bag came with the women’s selfdefense course given at the Fire House in the weeks before the convention. 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. her body aching after running from pigs on Friday.before when the demonstrators were loose bands of individuals.64 - . She hoped to stay in the park while others fought. The effect of continuous clashes was to confirm her decision to seek specific targets instead of any target in front of her. weak and frail. She almost didn’t take to the street the next day. She found a use for the gasoline when she doused a police car and set it on fire. No one wanted to partner with Rachel not simply because she was small but because her demeanor was of one who is sickly. That was satisfying since it diverted porkers from the job of clubbing the demonstrators. Also her mind was stuck in neutral from tripping the day before. A simple . It was a moment of revelation for her. Running wild in the street made her feel insignificant and freed her mind to make plans for the rest of her life.
even bombs and guns fall short without the strength of numbers. Blood flowed in all directions and formed patterns in the sky. She blamed her brother Aaron’s death on US capitalism. Locals thought the police in cracking skulls did a good job. Mob rule can only work when the mob out numbers the police. opening quickly to whoever did not seem to be a pig or narc. Chicagoans who had been jovial and indulgent of the hippies coming to their town were no longer to be found. 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. Although the claim was that they brought enough LSD to drug the Chicago water supply they mostly saved it for themselves. In a psychedelic haze the tear gas became another part of the trip. Rachel and the others had to sneak out of the city and formed lines with thumbs out by the side of the road.conversation would likely show that Rachel was mentally strong and intellectually rigorous.65 - . 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. . She made no secret of her unquenchable thirst for revenge.
Melody parked the car near a stone bridge. War resistors who were frustrated by lack of a political resolution went home to continue the struggle against the war in other ways. The street fighters never reached the podium as they dreamed. and good old ‘Nam. They arrived having dodged dragons and helicopters and listening to the most intense accordion music. Politicians offered no hope. Several had pot and one wore a poison ring that opened with hundreds of tiny beads at the bottom. On the New Jersey side of the bridge they picked up friends and six of them filled the small car.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. hits of crystal acid. 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. Borrowing her mother’s car she and some friends took off for Chicago. now a few of them were bringing the blood home. King. . Monday morning Rachel walked aimlessly in the strange city. disgust at the police violence was registered by only one senator. Melody was a high school student from Queens who distributed Mobe publications. she met a young woman who was crying. Kennedy.
and anyone long haired or radical looking. the guy’s head in bandages. Melody met a lot of people and talked a lot of revolution and radical clap trap. “We’ll be back home in a few hours. yippies. “I’m afraid.” Rachel tried to be calming. They fell in with the others. Leaving Chicago looked and felt like a pitiless defeat. Melody didn’t mind using it to block the street. By Monday the jails were full of hippies. A lot of the people waiting in the weeds were beaten and bandaged.67 - . Saturday morning Melody had a vague memory of being talked into using her mother’s car for a barricade.She recalled walking to where they had seen people gathering. Melody and Rachel helped a couple get a ride.” Melody said when a lone guy in a car stopped for them.” . She had no idea it would get burned. “I don’t want to hitch hike. Everything about Chicago looked wrecked and menacing. I am afraid. someone else started it and drove without the key. She was sure it was some one’s idea to use it. She fast walked to the bushes and someone else took that ride.
the father who she saw less often now than she used to. Especially when it’s a …” Melody’s voice choked.68 - . On the way home Rachel screened rides and listened to Melody talk about her mother and sister. “I’ll check it out first.” “Is that all?” Rachel said.“You drove a thousand miles tripping your balls off and now you are afraid?” “I never hitch hike. I guess this will be her chance.” Melody regained herself.” Rachel saw no special risk in hitching.” That Melody was almost crying seemed irrational to Rachel. boys at her school. “Don’t worry. “My mother said if it was ever stolen she would buy a newer one. “What are you going to tell your mother about the car when you get home?” She said to get onto another subject. especially the ones she did not like. It was clear that Melody was not a good person to hitch hike with.” “I can’t get in a car with a strange man. It always has scared me. she was afraid of everything. “Maybe they’ll have some weed. Getting into a strange car scares me. .
To Rachel the arrests of the Chicago-8 could have included her. the Moratorium to end the war. The ones arrested were public faces but in terms of activity she spent more hours working on a phone. Arriving in Manhattan after 1 AM Rachel rode the subway with Melody out to Queens. paying printers and putting up postering all over the city than did the famous Chicago-8. “Thanks.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 . Rachel would remember more of Chicago over the days and the sensation of street fighting. He was a lone celebrant at the victory party.” Melody said at her stop. The Mobe office never reopened again except to serve as storage. Joyous and happy Abby Hoffmann was on the news for a few days to proclaim a victory. Melody was a determined pacifist radical but Rachel was a warrior. The trial was like the trials of her father’s youth.69 - . going to meetings. See you at the office. It made Melody a person who had to overcome her fears to function while Rachel moved fearlessly. stuffing envelopes. The energy of Mobe was next seen as a group calling for students and workers to strike several days every month.
from a concert. Music High was prestigious and touring with the school ensemble or smaller groups was a requirement. Her sculptures when they erupt stink and belch smoke long after she leaves. to facilitate her activity she carried numerous lighters. more cigarette butts and finally lots of sugar. matches and matchbooks. matches and a pack of cigarettes. She took her fascination a step further.70 - .America and when it became 7 that proved there is especially no justice for black Americans. Once the teepee starts burning she feeds it paper and plastic ware. Cigarettes being lit throughout the room became a signal and started meetings. She toured the greater NY area. An esoteric school’s musical travels made the fires she started appear random as it followed the performance schedule across three states. 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. Flames had a fascination for her. or as far as she could run in two or three minutes. when in a restaurant she grabs an ashtray to build in it a teepee of butts. it paid her tuition. .
Corporate heads of the war machine were located and targeted. There were 10. more than most since they are immigrants and gave their son to the war. Her parents were dupes.000 domestic bombings in 1969. Persistent and driven by her inability to forgive or forget she endured and became one of the last of the operating sixties radicals. The first wave was already in upstate New York. . a logical step to Canada. Her parents were among those Americans. She wanted to burn the homes of Americans and throw fire in their faces. Some Americans truly deserved to have something done to them like what they were doing to others. Rachel did not get much attention at first. for most it was dispersion to the rest of the country to dig in and fight on.Her use of fire came directly from TV broadcast images of napalm bursting on villagers. She laughed at the title of the Final SDS Weatherman because she never went to college. She stayed clear of groups with lofty sounding names because those groups attracted the pigs.71 - . private security was not yet everywhere. While war resistance grew throughout the nation after Chicago the New York radicals drifted away.
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. As others were arrested. 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. some whose work she admired. as she later realized.72 - . smoke masked the odors of accelerants and provided an excuse for going outside and carrying matches and lighters. Rachel embraced the . The kids at Music High were all prodigies and expected to be at least a little buggy. she never thought of quitting.Chapter 4 She wore the army surplus trench coats like the ones her father sold. Running was one way to reverse the health effects of smoking. she had nothing to say. Often she found herself racing the sirens of the fire trucks back to the theater or church where she was to perform.
Pay back. It shamed her because it made her feel good. She ordered supplies from different catalogs and had PO boxes in three different boroughs.73 - . She said she stood for all the killed and wounded and her fight was also for economic justice. After a fire in the police garage killed an officer Rachel stopped going to public rallies and redoubled precautions not to get caught. She tried not to think about it.eventuality of being caught too and worked slowly on a capture speech of her own. Rachel the musician was frequently cheered while the silent body count gave credit to the revolutionary Rachel. She described herself as a Marxist-Maoist who was using the gun to put down the gun. 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. Being a soldier in a war became her reason. She hated being a liar and she was relieved when he stopped . The three years they were together it twisted and wrenched her every day. She had only one lover and she still remembers passionate conversations with him about the insignificance of the individual during a revolution when her emotions almost made her reveal her activities.
they were together that day. Rachel was motivated to work enough to keep her wardrobe up to date and ever changing. 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. She brought her so-called upper class look to her radical cell and soon found herself out of the inner circle. She saw his face last on a wanted poster. Her level of public activism went from an over coated . as pleading to be destroyed. Violence became an outlet for the work of hiding in full view by adorning herself under the demanding New York fashion schedule.calling. It was taken at an antiwar demo where they trashed a bank. In the fall she bought another like it. The act of shopping kept her loathing for society constantly agitated. 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. The other musicians at the union hiring hall knew her for her playing and that if hired she would show up. 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.74 - . In addition to shopping she shoplifted since she felt crime against store property was a requirement of every revolutionary. perfume.
anarchist tossing fire bombs at police in the sixties who by the mid-seventies was a well-dressed. The voice firm. Still she missed the childish delight taken in the sound of shattering glass and exuberance of facing shielded police wielding clubs at peoples’ heads. 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. it helped radicalize others. A protest was judged a failure if it did not make the TV news. humorless and edged with contempt.” He complimented his own skill from the last visit and only . Attack and escape was the tactic as small cells broke out of peaceful anti-war marches and trashed banks and businesses. 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. “This is the way it really is. She was happy seeing the news films of innocent protestors being clubbed. Immediately he went to the job. peaceful hippies. He had come a second week to bring electricity to her hidden room. almost invisible in New York. “Nice work.75 - . students and straight people in business clothes. pro-choice liberal.
The firehouse was sold.turned to speak when his hands were busy with wires and solder. I got home from washing dishes at 4 and there he was. The hippie beat lasted until 1972 when after a divorce the couple moved to opposite ends of California. “You look the same. Mary’s maternal strength sent forth the spirit and vibration of love and caring. Howie’s brother had also died in Vietnam.” She added with a flush of mirth. He avoided looking at me. “The FBI in a black car was watching my parents’ house. I looked really young then. .” “I think we did only you don’t remember me. Like everyone who met her. His parents were divorced but both still used the house in Queens as a wardrobe. You were one of the Firehouse people? I’m surprised we never met before. Howie remembered Mary Tyler. as an earth mother with bongo drums swinging under her tee shirt. his mother worked. Music flowed from the Firehouse as well as elements of the radical underground. The Firehouse once served the NYFD but was retired and sold. She distinctly remembered Howie who hung out with some of the radical kids who lived at the Firehouse.” She added before she could stop herself. His father had a business in the Bronx renting out limos. Like Howdy Doody.76 - .
They only had sex infrequently and afterward Howie went back to his parent’s home. He visited every Sunday for three years.77 - . “Astoria. In addition to the indignity of living in a stairwell the family she rented from insisted on No Overnight Guests. bank robbery. He did not need to spell it all out.“What actions have you been in?” Rachel asked. That seemed unlikely. Time would tell. “bank robbery. June 3…” He lingered then leaned in toward her and out of his smoke. They did not engage in any actions together but dated. Howie listed locations and dates. Her passion was spent sneaking into cloak rooms .” He leaned back into his fog of tobacco and flux. she knew people well enough to realize a lot of young men in this movement made claims that had no truth to them. 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. Queens. He paused as Rachel decoded and realized that even before she was in high school Howie was at the front line.
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 regarded the visions as beautiful and it seemed a fitting reward for the austerity of her life. She enjoyed the experience of tripping and looked forward to their hallucinogenic trips. Howie took the drug more often. She also rifled their coats looking for addresses. It reinforced her black and white world view. The stress of her undercover work had an effect on her playing that Rachel did not notice. Howie harbored a lot of guilt and fear for his revolutionary activities and LSD made . Howie introduced her to LSD. She and Howie sat in the park and looked at the ships in the yellow air of New York. The drug made Rachel feel sentimental. talking idly about the imagined autopsy for the society they assumed to be dying as they applied pressure. the visions haunted and challenged him and he could not turn away from the challenge. 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. later mailing wafer thin incendiaries that would smoke and combust in the faces of servants of the corporate giants.and destroying fur coats.78 - .
She convinced Howie to sneak in for a good free meal. For days after sex she always suffered the symptoms of severe morning sickness until her period arrived. The meal was a gift that she wanted to give him. The other bank robbers were Black Panther members and were all arrested soon after the robbery. 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. 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. The post trip exhaustion left him without the energy to panic. Each time Rachel would find evidence for the startled conclusion that the rubber leaked and she would douche herself violently. Since they did not kiss or hold hands it was not difficult for Howie to take his focus off sex. With barbeque and beer no . They were not very romantically disposed and did it only with her reluctance after Howie would not drop the subject.them go away. Howie did not care about her orgasm when they had sex and easily gave up his own.79 - . Howie fit right in with the mix of straights and suburban phony hippies. Every knock on his parents’ door and creak of the house sent him out of his mind.
” He said. Rachel sat on Howie’s lap. “Quit it!” Her elbow plunged into his diaphragm.80 - . You suck playing.one begrudged anyone their look.” Under the table he chugged three and was into the fourth when he yawned and felt a delightful self-satisfaction before falling asleep. He must have heard because the food service with the long white table skirts was directly across from the bandstand. “Where were you?” “I brought a bunch of beer bottles under the table and that’s where I stayed. Rachel and five other musicians stuffed themselves back in the car for the ride to Manhattan. Afterward Howie. He must have heard her since she was the soloist before the vows. “I heard someone playing a violin who sucked at it. “Ooooooooo. chosen because eight years ago she was a prodigy.” He bounced her on his knees as if he had said nothing. “I never heard you play.” He groaned. I didn’t think it was you. Rachel however loathed the phonies. .
The entire world being phony and controlled made her unwilling to compete in it. The decline of her playing was evidence that music was no longer a driving force. 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. Other interest occupied every cubic millimeter of her brain. She was never paranoid and at that time had no reason to fear getting caught. She knew because after graduating high school she did not even listen to herself play anymore. waiting and then going again. She was committing no crime and in fact she was victim of a much larger crime. It was adequate but barely so. “I am as good as I want to . It would not require Howie to draw the FBI’s attention to her. She did not need the paranoid constructs. living where she did black cars were always coming. Like an assembly line robot she made motions that she learned when she was trying to master the instrument. she sucked. Her play was not yet so bad that she could not keep up with those musicians who were still striving.It was true.81 - .
” So it became her intention to make the money of a musician who played for a little extra income.82 - . To manufacture her special chemical devices she made stands and legs for the .be and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Fortunately the drafty stairwell carried the smells of her cooking out of the house. a mediocre player. She made her purchases only on the coldest winter days when no one could dream of questioning a gloved hand. special gravy separators and a suburban housewife’s dream of Pyrex. Travel and chemicals used everything she made. 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. Rachel bought designer wine decanters. Like a good radical she had no bank account or credit card and had stayed off of almost all social institutions’ lists. She favored those with pretty decorative envelopes and cards made of extravagant paper as well as ones that opened with origami folds.
on . She wanted the enemy responsible to feel her pain. A night of cooking could mean several hours in the small space. specifically rich capitalists and those who served those at the highest level of power.83 - . The hidden middle management ones who expected lavish cards. The enemy was America.kitchenware with wire hangers and used a camp cook stove. She respected her chemicals and when the recipe called for it she wore a US Army surplus head and shoulder shield with respirator. Not just booted tyrants but the boot lickers too. When the card was open. Later when scrubbed her laboratory equipment would return to cookware. not even clothing since fibers were a key evidence tool. Never so self-assured she always had her copy of The Terrorist Handbook in front of her. The level of precision and patience was well worth it. the now dry interior is exposed to air and becomes a sheet of flame. 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. some burned immediately and others with exposure to water. Another which unfolded in the recipients face dispensed a powdered accelerant that burned skin. She would not let anything extraneous go between the rooms.
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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Immediately all of Rachel’s . The silence of years was not malicious but was because her mother lacked emotion. When the farm family in Ohio took her in there was another Mama there. her parents’ and the life of Jews under Nazis would be stories she could only tell to herself. That was the first family she needed to forget. Her life story. even in the protected cell whenever the talk got around to Nazis she had to enforce her silence. In a living room of trusted allies. Once outside New York every tiny settlement at a highway intersection reminded her of her parents’ home. Underground and on the run she was a stranger. it overshadowed her and could be a clue to her identity.89 - . The mystery story that would explain her was in front of her but she could not see. Did they remember her? She wondered. a person handed off by someone she knew to someone he knew and soon she was forced to trust strangers.Rachel would be living underground with strange families before it occurred to her what being a survivor like her mother could mean. So much was her story the story of a child whose parents had that heritage.
possessions were examined and she was instructed to dress in girls’ clothes on hand. She fingered the swastika on display with Hitler’s framed portrait.” 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. in the morning after breakfast Mama joined her and told Rachel that they were a self-sufficient farm family. She relied on her faux youthful personality as an out of touch love child. 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. Talking politics would giveaway her identity. Mama was outraged about how the railroad subsidy before the Civil War was still impacting locally. the Hindu sign of plenty.90 - . Rachel with great effort blocked the particulars of peoples’ politics as part of sheltering. It was homey and beautiful. They needed to keep Rachel out of sight. walking before the TV cameras in handcuffs. “What a pretty banner. . Together with Mama they selected from the Sears catalogue then waited for the clothes to be routed by hand from another city. In her thirties Rachel still looked toward mothers and mother images.
a dead mailman.” turning the unsightly side of her face to the . Overall it was a satisfying career. With its timid lackeys under attack the war machine would lose its front line support. A soft focus on a smiling face that was not quite right who finally spoke. At times she wondered if she was feeling anything or ever had. She was at the moment intellectually receptive and wanted to learn if the woman’s hearing was also affected. for almost ten years she was sending one a month. a burned executive.An announcer speaks. a burned professor. The secretary especially interested her because it was the precise target she wanted to terrorize. appeased.” she knew there were more. One program profiled her and showed the desolate street she grew up on and another examined the burned secretary and her reconstructive surgery. “I only have forgiveness in my heart for the tortured soul who could do this to another human being. Rachel was told by Mama that a Canadian passport for her was on its way. or even sated.91 - . She had learned much on the path of endless revenge but she never felt fulfilled. Rachel sat particularly fascinated by the prosthetic ear. and a secretary who was burned opening her boss’s mail. “A dead policeman. Spending her time in the strange home doing nothing she began to look for herself on TV.
She scoured . “I pray the love of Jesus can find her and raise her from her anger and suffering. she beat the knotty pine. Forgiveness would not be offered in court.” Rachel sat appalled. He would believe in me.’ My life literally changed. ‘Because I believed in Him. He said. “When it first happened I cried.camera. 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. The doctors said it was a miracle they saved my eye. Lord?’ But when God chooses to test you it is His choice and not yours. Forgiveness was a meaningless word that Rachel could not imagine using and a word she refused to accept from others.” Rachel snapped the TV off and paced the windowless game room in the large basement she had been told to stay in. Entering the sound proof shooting range she pounded her delicate fists.92 - . What others might call a tragedy was for me an opportunity that strengthened my relationship with the Lord. shaking the heavy wood frame portrait of Adolph Hitler. ‘Why me. You have to do your best to overcome the challenge. hands that could weight minute quantities by feel. But I reminded those doctors that miracles come from God.
now that it was not allowed she wanted to see them again. she thought. Prison itself seemed preferable to the life . 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. gypsies. For the first time she became familiar with gunpowder as it is used in guns. The family was surprised how adept she was at handling powder and reloading. In the dozen years she did not talk to her parents she did not want to. locals adorned with kerchiefs dancing to accordion music. as far as Rachel was told. No. The way the family laughed shooting together and how only the mother made eye contact with Rachel was intensely scary. 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. The problem reminded her of her father’s thoughts on pork. The plan. Hiding in plain sight was going to be good enough for her.93 - . She visualized a punishing eternity being surrounded by sheepherders. She learned a lot in the farmhouse basement. Looking at a map the idea of Indiana coming before Illinois blew her mind.
It was still weeks as they would not let her out of the basement before the passport was ready. the timing was perfect. like her heart had stopped beating. It was still hard for her to live without hearing the subway. nice and legal. 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. She was going to be a human target in a hippie hunt. 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. You got a foam cushion down there. It was for more money than the family knew how to spend. Through the grunts and banging noises she discerned the true plan.” Taking all back roads for the first five hours until they needed a refill. In that time Rachel made a stethoscope that listened to the family when they were upstairs.of a farmhand’s wife.94 - . “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. As soon as they seemed to be well on . What they would buy after her sale was the main subject they talked about.
“We’re getting food.95 - . She immediately got a ride to Kentucky from a truck driver gassing up an 18 wheeler. While the boys were gone she pushed out the back seat. 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. Once she opened the plastic bag there was no going back. Inside the clear plastic bag was dripping with the yellow green color the Handbook told her to look for when making Mustard Gas. She also put twigs in the ignition key slot to make sure they had time to breath.the way Rachel urinated into the bag away from the cloth then sealed the bag and combined the urine with the chlorine soaked cloth.” Said the other. They parked the car. Kentucky is which way? She asked the counter man were the boys just eaten. “We’ll bring you back something. Stealing the car would have been more fun but Rachel did not know how to drive. It was unfortunate that it had to end that way.” One said. Pulling out Rachel was . One last time she struggled with the idea that they might let her go and not pursue her but the months locked in the basement were too traumatic.
“a remote patch. My ancestors refused to be coalminers and let out for the wide country. I have a cabin in the swamp where I hunt and fish and the water that flows by is the Mississippi. Penniless she straddled a line between truckers and hippies. The truckers were all the same by degree.” he said. Some only made her uncomfortable and others turned her out for refusing to perform on them.” That was Christmas day in the car in with him. she and her friends acted spoiled and disinterested but she was hanging on every word he said. She told people now her name was Mary. Missouri and Tennessee. Each town’s hippie colony thought it was the only one in the state. Chapter 6 “Where Kentucky sticks its tongue at Arkansas. The images formed in her mind were clear. The weather was mild and . They would not be discovered for days.barely able to see the boys sitting doubled over in the car. He spoke of the modest buildings that made up the little town.96 - . Only the staggering humidity was a surprise.
getting out of the rain. Recalling the man’s name she changed her approach. The cold northern winds blew and some of the fog lifted. Some towns closed after tourist season. they talked about him and laughed during the picture while imitating his accent. his voice and the way he spoke. She tested everything to find what is real. Back on the road she lived by her wits. The theatre was almost empty that day.97 - . a place to drink wine with the locals. A Thanksgiving and Christmas . It became clear as winter approached that the two strands of beach winding with the river had many cabins. 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. things like food. And things that were vital not but not material like meeting other peaceful transients with whom she could sit and share stories about the road. Reality was what she sought and was grateful to find. a ride. Hippies always helped her find fresh clothes and a shower. More than twenty years since last she saw him still she was sure she could recognize him. It had been like an acid trip.she needed to eat little and sleep was never an issue. a quiet place to spend the night.
Garth Green. 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. it was plain enough as was the name she searched for. Waitressing in and around the snaking rivers she listened carefully for his accent in greasy spoons and fried catfish joints. places she went to inspect. freshly painted with people . 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. How could he find a similarity.98 - . Until a knot of trees rose from the distance then squat houses. 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. this place was clean.went by without his surprise re-appearance and Rachel too was gone by the spring. She circled some regions on her highway map. Renamed as Mary she stuck with the last name Miller. looking for a human sign on uninhabited curlicues of land. The roofs were all black and the building messily white washed.
She could hear motor boats and smell fish frying. A tree shaded the back of the package store and starting on the other side of the tree a path was worn over a fallen fence that Rachel decided to follow. Undoubtedly this is where Garth caddied as a boy. her town was a highway bypass. and as she got closer her expectation made her . Across the street. There was a small Piggly Wiggly. a notions store and several conspicuously anonymous buildings everywhere with ample parking selling booze in brown bags. 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. The overgrowth turned into grass and gravel which made the sun intensify on the streets of white houses. two fish restaurants. set almost with the back steps in the river. In the heat the town seemed deserted.99 - . the old house. a ghost town. 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. 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.sitting in a park.
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. 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. a rusty bucket now – was the proof. His car too. She pulled the only kitchen chair up to the front window that was beautifully framed and ornate on the outside. “Shit.100 - . She dreamed about robots when the iron steps outside clanked. Close now she could see the house was abandoned but not long abandoned. Approaching the residence she shook off fear. the one he drove the girls in. She sat on his chair in a clearing she made in the clutter near the tall window and watched the sky fill with stars. the carriage house. .want to live if only to see this one thing. A light flashed and she woke with a start. a shadow of its former self. 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.
” “That’s fine. “Where’s my chair?” He drained one can.“Did God finally send me a woman?” He scrutinized her from the doorway.” 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. undecided between ‘is’ or ‘was’. He walked to the couch near her and sat. “Do I know you? I think I do. “Beer?” He popped a can for himself and looked confused.” as always her voice broke. Doubting himself more than her. “It’s the last one from a set. My brother. “I moved it over here. you’re little what’s her name.” He popped another.” He looked at her questioning.” He took a long drink from the new can before letting things settle.101 - . “is Aaron.” “We met years ago. How are you? How have you been?” . “I changed my name to one more American sounding. “Mary.” “Oh.
“Store is open ‘til 8 if you’re thirsty.102 - . I’m 42 right now. not tonight. Stopping speech he drained the can and clawed the six-pack. a vague way of speaking that living on the road taught. Now. I learned that lesson. “I’m tired.“I’ve been trying to relax. Took the job grounds keeping at the family course where I was a caddy a long time ago.” “I’m all right. her she had a line on him now while he had nothing on her.” She sensed his relief. I don’t bring home more than I can drink in one night.” “After I got back all I did was party. She would not judge him or make him uncomfortable. Like vague suggestions made in the truck stop compared with what happens in the truck. His love of the drink was evident and unashamed when they first met years ago. his stricken face was .” He stated his age like a child.” “Don’t drink?” He asked timidly. But I did settle down. and she hinted at the possibility of a social drink later. thanks.” 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.
red as a rose in full bloom.103 - . Only alcohol could reveal his tortured conscience and cure it. The challenge in life was to drink just the right amount. Despite sickness and insanity he went there again and again seeking forgiveness that freed him from pain. So intense was his relationship with alcohol that he had to enforce a limitation or know his body’s wrath for going too far. reminding him it . Chapter 7 Grandmother asked long ago that he live in the house with his mother. Too much is sickening. When drunk he thought he felt forgiveness. Only beer the last few years yet it flowed. In these quantities everything became sleepy and quiet. an indication that Garth and alcohol had developed a long and faithful relationship. his conscience. too little and one is returned prematurely to reality .much to be avoided. After she had been hospitalized they asked in a way that he could not refuse. That was how he liked it. 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. With enough he was like a well-tuned machine moving without effort and no thought.
He bathed daily in the swamp which as a hunter was the perfume he preferred. It had been a long time since he exercised his will or voiced an opinion. The church ladies who brought her meals and nurses who bathed the old lady never seemed to notice him.was his Christian duty.104 - . . He found her dead after giving her an hour to make one. Just like in Nam he stayed close to the ground. 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 joined a great tradition sitting. 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. The offer of running water was something that was supposed to make him come around. he assumed any decision he would make to be the wrong one. the women did not understand that he got along fine without it. Some of the married women in the family also helped out. He moved from the carriage house to a room in the old house. The old lady was someone no one liked being around. Every family on the river had a man like him.
They could not stop having at him. They did not recognize him although they watched him. adding. At the register he said his name like when he was a kid.” 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. Suddenly it was. 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.105 - . Mr Green. How many did you kill? What is it like? .When he moved back to the carriage house the electric lines were gone. “Charge it to Family Fun Golf. Entering the hardware store he looked like a thief. They made him wait until they got the waterproof wire cut for him.” That was when recognition struck the cashier and a co-worker. “Oh. he looked and smelled like he had been dredged from the river. He scavenged the old house unable to find length of wire to toss out the window. It had been years since he talked with anyone who knew him from high school. The chatty people they only quieted because of him. They said even though we ran out with our tail between our legs without you it would have been worse.
He was just a dumb kid who liked to hunt and fish before joining the army. His personal aspiration before the war was to make enough money to buy a car with a big block engine.Vietnam was a secret he preferred kept within. After Aaron died they put him on the point. And more than twice that number who did not get counted. That combined with the skill he already possessed accounted for his ghastly high confirmed dead. his life. he was bad luck. A fuck-up.106 - . his buddy. Stay away from a fuck-up and if you run into one keep him down. When he was a short timer. There was an unwritten rule in the army about fuckups. a complete asshole who cost the gunner. making him lead through the jungle every day. one that everyone especially in combat knows. Following that first day in the field he lived moment to moment attempting to avoid the treatment. After a few weeks in the states he developed another constant fear of running into anyone from Vietnam. He unconsciously counted but when a captain came out of his bunker to pin . an old man over there. Everyone in Nam must have known about him. even the rawest draftee in the company learned first to spit in his direction. a simple rule.
a medal on him it was for forty confirmed and the number 83 popped into Garth’s head as the true body count.” He told Mary. I’m the guy who lost the war. . “Everyone in Nam heard of me. Mary made the offer to cook for him but he turned her down. To Mary’s relief since there was not one working kitchen appliance or utensil between the old house and the apartment. Once the sun was up and the dew off the greens Garth sat on a tractor and mowed.107 - . No gas or water and only electric service only sufficient for an outside light and a small TV. Mowing he said was for beer money and he had no ambition beyond that. Singling him out for commendation did not remove the mark he wore for losing his buddy.” In the early morning Garth took Mary to check the traps but he stumbled around overgrown paths to traps that were now flat arrays of wire with plants hanging. The men in his company as well as the officers and noncoms glared at him through the ceremony. He confessed to having not even picked up a gun since returning. “I was a famous fuck-up.
it was not that he did not want her around. “I can live in the big house. He did not want talk about the family because it was important that the family runs a Christian golf course. Please. all women.” The enthusiasm she felt for this idea was not shared. Garth said. After so many weeks in a cold basement the warm air. . He found women shadowy and uncertain and women of any age scared him.” Still begging she silently indicated the house across the way while mouthing the word. until I get my shit together. “Just a few days.” Although in her mind she was looking at staying longer. His indecision was long and a look of searing pain crossed his face as he thought. I’ll catch all kinds of shit from my family. he was afraid of what the neighbors would say. “I need a place to crash bad.” She placed her hands together and struck an innocent and vulnerable pose. “I can’t have a woman here. It was the presence of Mary as a woman that Garth found disturbing him much the same as grandma’s sister.108 - .The question of Mary’s plans came up on the third day.
bathroom somewhere else and garbage out the window.grass and sunshine that went along with the house captivated her. He shook his head at the offer and held up a beer can. “You eat it. For a little while. some from fire others old and condemned. The situation was not unlike ones she had been in at the beginning when she ran away from her parents to New York. You can stay.” “Will you sit outside with me?” “Where? On the lawn?” . She fully embraced his rancid smell of cigar and cigarette stubs in his pocket along with beer breath and man sweat odor. In the other house.” She wanted to kiss him but his face was especially postulated that evening. You worked hard. “No matter what I decide it’s the wrong decision. While casting around for work she decided to avoid the golf club office since those were Garth’s relatives. Abandoned apartments. She earned money at a fried catfish shack washing dishes and decided to bring Garth some food up in the garage. instead she hugged him. Undaunted then she knew as an adult she would do things differently.109 - . cooking in one corner. Space in the rubble was cleared and beds thrown down.
This aunt explained since returning from Vietnam Garth frequently hurt and disappointed the family who . Garth asked nothing of her and Rachel as Mary went back to her LSD mind set.” Mary danced down the long stairs. it’s nice out.” Garth held a can to his lips and the rest in a plastic noose.” He observed piously. Garth groaned and complained as if it was killing him. “There is something satisfying about meat that you don’t get anywhere else. A hippie who appreciated the palate widening possibilities of vegetarianism she still enjoyed a fried catfish sandwich slathered with mayo. “Can’t drink in the street.” The sky was turning red as the shadows grew long. He sat on the fender of his dead car and Mary in sunshine sat legs crossed near his feet. It took a year before a member of Garth’s family approached her and Mary received her with slack jawed grace.110 - . a strong man who made himself king.“Sure. nothing is real. “This is your backyard. 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.
Having had enough heart break they stood back to watch. When she was not filling in as a dishwasher Mary stalked mushroom. They were long in deciding because some cousins meant to get rid of him for good while Grandmother wanted to keep this a secret. in the .111 - . Her tiny size and grey peasant skirt. The image of the troubled son with a woman at hand set up a frail and delicate hope. Memory of life in the basement left a residual desire to be in sunlight whenever possible. white bottoms of grass blades from the lawn and berries she gathered at the edge of the woods. Military service was supposed to mature him to be a leader of the family and the town.sent him off to war. his sisters. The old people. nieces and nephews were looking toward him and he faltered and fell before their eyes. She could spend an entire day in the children’s park near the town green where along with mushrooms she grazed on the soft. It was a difficult decision for his family to send him to his first rehab. The drunken happiness and easy laughter masked his inner misery. cousins. While he was fighting with alcohol addiction for his life those who loved him thought he was drinking to kill himself. the disconcerting smile was so odd to others that she fit with Garth’s life in the shadows.
His legs bounced against the table accidentally. Coming up from the river Garth was unrecognizable. he winced then spoke. “half way there. it’s Sunday.” she thought rubbing life from her upper thigh to her lower leg. It had been a long time since she thought about her age. “The family wants you to come by today. with white garages and sheds. Usually their paths did not cross or there was only a look when they did. he held a bar of soap in one hand and a dirty towel in the other.” She smiled and put the book down but found herself stiff when she tried to rise from the table. Three beers dangling from one hand and Mary in tow . 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. His tee shirt was fresh.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. Crossing a bridge they came to a settlement of several fine white homes.112 - . “I’m thirtyfive.” She stood and adjusted her twisted skirt and bare footed she followed Garth at first thinking the family home was on the peninsula.
he was a stranger to them and had not been to Sunday at Grandma’s in years. There was a circle of women with babies in a shroud of cigarette smoke.” She whispered. The family sat like semi-animated statues. Not wanting to seem unfriendly Mary grabbed a chair in the sun and away from the smoke.” Garth repeated several times and she followed him to the kitchen and the refrigerator where he placed his cans for the walk home. She could feel what was going on.113 - . one surrounded by pickup trucks and cars. Others small talked and laughed but none of the little circles opened for Garth or his guest. even children kept away. his eyes looked raw like he was crying. she offered him the chair and sat at his feet. They said hello and smiled. Women still in church clothes. Until she lit up. or specifically judge her since the judgment on him had been turned in years ago. it was hard for her to believe they had not gathered to judge them. “This is Mary. When Garth appeared he looked different again. Looking up she caught his eye. most of the men wearing ties. . “Let’s go. Garth headed for the bathroom and Mary stepped out the back door.Garth walked up to the grandest of the homes.
He was my only friend in …” His voice trailed off. A sweaty silver glass tumbler was handed him discretely. In the slow procession she thought of a possible police ambush. Here he comes. Here she comes. With a lowing sound the assembled made their way to the house. Here he comes. “Garth. Taking her cues from Garth they waited until everyone was in the house before rising. After more waiting Mary recognized the ring of a china bell. it is good to see you again. he sipped.114 - .” From the head of the table came a strong voice and all eyes turned to Garth and grandma.He shook his head with firmness to his jaw she had not seen before. “This is Mary. Mary could hear the hot voices inside whispering. Inside the formal dining room the Sunday table ran into the adjoining room and eager relatives sat and with growing elbow friction. I served with her brother. the idea of going back to being Rachel and prison offered the possibility of escaping the web she now faced. a clear drink with bubbles running up the side. my first born grandchild. . waiting. A woman in the doorway waited for their approach then disappeared into the house.
“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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that’s your momma and daddy. you know.” He seemed to accept it or did not care to question further what he heard. You got to go back. is dead.” For the first time he walked by her side. I have a past and that’s one place the police would be waiting for me. you can’t cut them off. You don’t want to wait too long. little missy. “And I am a radical revolutionary. the girl can give it to him. “Grandpa can drink the beer. . “I robbed a bank for money to feed starving babies in the ghetto. “What did you do?” “I was a dope dealer.” “A dope dealer and what?” Long hair no longer meant anything. Rachel had not caught a wisp of cultural deviation in years.” “I wish I could go back that easy but I can’t.120 - .” Had she said too much? She wondered.” She added.after so many years crossing the country I miss them and I thought you might have kept in touch with them. Before it’s too late and one of them.” “Why.
I’d probably blow it at the dog track. You were a bank robber.” “Oh. So now I know. “It meant a lot to me having turkey with your family. It’s tempting though.” . I got everything I want right here. Someone is not going to be happy with you.” “Whoa. he was so impressed.” His hand rested on her shoulder in a spidery way that made her blood run cold as never before in her life.121 - . killing people or robbing cousin Jeff’s bank and taking off. That was real Thanksgiving. “I killed eighty men and when I got home the town turned out. He recognized Rachel with depth.” The gin he drank in the house seemed to clear the way. But everybody knows me around here.” “My father made a turkey for Passover that year.“A policeman was killed. That makes sense.” “You have to wear a ski mask. The memory overwhelmed the reality of sun drenched noon and the accursed road home. Not like what I had to face here. But I don’t think about it anymore. The memory of the time with Aaron’s family was once precious to him. Course I don’t have your problem. Killed by me. But you shouldn’t go robbing banks. And just to think when last I saw you you were a little girl. isn’t it? I thought about robbing my family’s bank many times.
the oldest. 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. outlived by a baby brother. his addiction supplied his sustenance and was also a source of entertainment as he sang another. I believe I’ll have another brew. “What’s the rush? I’m late for a date with a taste that’s true. energy without direction surfaced. “Older than Aaron was. Rachel discovered she too knew the tune well enough to hum along.” Beer. .” The time must pass easiest for Aaron. goes down smooth. Garth startled her as he sang a tune. “It was coming out his nose. Rachel could see by his sudden change. “Master blended.122 - .” It was a timeless beer ad.“Your brother sure loved the Colonel’s coleslaw. “My brother is almost thirty now.” Rachel said and both laughed a little.” There he paused. before he got drinking down to a routine. the evidence that a few years back. Like flag and country beer offered a culture and community.” Rachel felt the wonder of time passing effortlessly for others while she sweated like a rat trapped in a sewer underground.
“Crime and Punishment.Garth must have been an out of control drunk. For the moment his passion was about brand loyalty. later as a recluse he fancied himself a scrap aluminum speculator hoarding empty cans. From his apartment she could hear crashing and curses. What he had in his hand he dredged from the muck at the back of the freezer in his broken refrigerator. challenges and fights with strangers. then blackouts and hospitalizations. I got to show you something.123 - . His descent on the steps was slow and hesitant. a link to .” From a matching library of public domain books covering one wall in the house. “Don’t go away. The family was not willing to examine his condition and accepted him as a shut in like his mother. The first years were when he still socialized and was a barroom buffoon. A tower of crushed beer cans must have collapsed. He thought about the ages of his life. Mary resumed her cross legged pose on the picnic table and picked up her thickly bound book. He did not know what he was going to say. The first years back from the war were filled with days and nights of wild drinking.” The familiar poing-poing sound of his feet on the steps was rushed.
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’s his.” Without effect or emotion she studied what was in the bag.124 - .” He thrust it between her face and the book. It was the end of a little finger. Returning home alive he tried to carry out the promises and then had to continue living. He wanted to preserve the memory of Aaron being strong and protective coming from a perfect family as Garth imagined. a complete nail and a small bone. I held this in my hand for days like he was still alive and we would stay alive so long as I held him. “I policed the clearing and put every little bit of him in the body bag to be sent home for burial. where an ill looking greenishblack residue in a corner containing remains. It was one of a sack full of promises he made should he live. Then I wrapped him in some plastic and stuck him down in my pocket.” He had gentlemanly reverence for Aaron as a big brother of a sister. The sniper shot it off and I retrieved it. “Here. I wanted to turn it over to your parents that day but after carrying it for a year I could not let it go.the past in a plastic bag. I don’t think I looked at him since that day.
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. Damn. The sniper picked him apart. one more failing added to the others he promised in exchange for his life.” He sweated like he was back in the jungle and mopped his face with an unpleasant looking rag. The morning sun came up like a red knife and the sniper slipped off. “That’s what the war was all about.edicts she had learned regarding the dead as unclean were dismissed as she felt the bone through the plastic. Until now he was unsure if he could be a stand in big brother. she had to respect that. He never got past the first day in country. time stopped. The bugs and critters were already at him. Montana flew the Nazi flag however in New York and Pennsylvania they were secretly Nazis. They were not doing her a favor it was a way to make money.125 - . Nazi’s in their hearts. The tar at . it was always the afternoon and long night of that first day in combat. Mary could see that he was still in Vietnam. Now he remembered one last thing he felt unable to do. She could not be disappointed by criminals betraying her. I waited undercover. The same was true for her too.
I should be dead. It was a nail and it was human. Marksman. My entire life . being dead he would not miss it. I gathered him up real careful. For his book. “How?” Garth shook his head. My end of the gun. It must have hurt coming off. that’s who I was in the Army.126 - .the bottom of the bag had once been skin and blood of her bright and ambitious big brother. it was her brother’s. I even remember throwing that finger and two others in the bag with him. I carried him inside the wire then put him on a jeep. In the morning I didn’t want any part of him staying on that damn ground. He jumped first. the smaller guy with the lighter end. I should be dead. a marked man. on your brother. she thought. Out there I felt like I had the winged angel of death protecting me. “Clean off after he was already dead. “I meant to give it to your dad. I came back without my buddy.” The curve of the nail. I let him. Specialist. I was a fuck-up from that day on. It didn’t matter what I did in the field and in combat. Fuck-Up. We were a team on the heavy gun. He wanted to be the first one to set foot in a combat zone. That was the worst day of my life. Instead of him dying. If I killed a thousand gooks I still couldn’t shake that name. is supposed to come out first. The bastard had me pinned and took practice on Aaron.
no matter how many of them I killed. All of it. “It was in the bottom of the jeep. Those civilian eyes begging for mercy were like fish eyes to me. The freezer was working then but I don’t think it mattered after a year in my pocket in the jungle. Not to kill less but to kill more. it must a fell out of the bag.” She cupped it in her hands. This thing. But I lost my buddy. Since then she frequently dreamed of herself being . “Maybe the answer is not to stop killing. You were in war and I was fighting at home. I knew it wasn’t a good omen but I kept it anyway. somehow. 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.growing up on the river hunting and fishing prepared me. I couldn’t bring him back. I wasted my life but at least now I have this. It protected me.” He paused. That brings him back to me. I never looked at it again and when I came here I threw it in the freezer. this part that is real.” She deliberated on the possibility of a wasted life. Their half assed irregular army was to me like hunting rabbits. “I feel connected. It was what let the angel of death pass over me. This makes it real.127 - . It was all so stupid. It was a crazy comfort to me.” “You’re right. already dead. She brought it near her face.
No more killing.” “Maybe I could still give it to your dad. They rely on the police. We’re American people and we can make a statement by killing thousands on our own.” “Yes. The executioner and some unseen crowd seemed to think it a terrifying death but she looked forward to it and always woke from one of those dreams with a feeling of satisfaction. That’s what I should have done in the first place. I’m sure the FBI talked to them and threatened them to report whatever they know. “No.executed. if it’s not too late. that’s your parents you’re talking about. The government kills thousands representing the American people. classic middle class.” .” “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. Or they’ll do to them what they did to the Rosenbergs.” “My parents are store owners. The government executioner came and crammed her into a small space like that car but with many other bodies like the boys.128 - . they wouldn’t. we have to hold a mirror up.
But After reeling it further back in his head he could see himself in a mirror practicing his salute. the long necks. we were real men back then. A shot then five or six tall boys. You’d topple over with a gun in your hand. clean shaven. the bar bottles. lean. “Why do you drink so much?” He looked as if a car was about to hit him. clear eyed. muscular.“You didn’t really rob a bank. that was who I could talk to. I never shook back then. I must of.” He clowned but could not break the solemn moment. Aaron too. After I got to Nam I really started drinking. They were everywhere in Saigon. I could part the gooks’ hair. twenty years old. I was a dead eye. “We used to get drunk every night they let us out. an alert soldier. John Waynes. No one was talking to me. Cases stacked up by walls near every building. “To get shit faced. I’d feel great and I could still take on the world the next morning.129 - . lonely bottles rolling in the wet street the next morning. did you? You’re just a little bitty thing. . the whole camp hated me.” He said reliving his barroom days when he had a filthy joke about everything.” “When my brother wrote that you and him went out did you get drunk then?” “Sure.
A letter came to the house and as a result her brother is dead. Rachel’s weapons were chosen after the destruction shown nightly in her home. and they went off together to kill Asian communist. When the letter came for her brother.” He had lost everything and still held on to a culture which viewed women as the delicate flowers of society. she never felt any way about that but was saddened and felt pity over his discomfort. Cunt Shit Dick Fuck Bastard Ass. Her brother wanted to be like their Christian neighbors.130 - . Had her life been any different? She wondered. despite his pride in wearing the uniform. They had come for one brother which left another brother at home she had to protect. she chose fire. “Oops. like the US government’s napalm. He was a fish with a big hook through his mental lip. blast away some irregulars during the day suck up the beer and fuck their sisters at night. 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. like Garth. .That was the routine. it was the same thing.
She understood what it meant when Garth told her . It was years after that she realized Aaron was buried as soon as he arrived.131 - . It was one more thing that kept her away from her parents. 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. People were still golfing as the winter approached and he mowed in a coat. this is war. The dishwasher received an unexpected gift of a bottle of rye fell asleep drunk early the day before Christmas. The tiny tourist cabin he rented year round burned to the ground on Christmas Eve. He never looked well physically and was clearly not all there when someone spoke to him but he was near enough. Mary could get a few hours washing dishes when the regular dish washer was out drunk. He did not run over hoses and never once fell from the mower.The soldiers who had come to the store that day left a folded flag in a box for display. It was done in the morning on a school day without her. Chapter 8 Garth had found a harmony on the river. She earned enough to live quietly as Garth’s neighbor. he was proof everything the body needs to live is in beer. A dishwasher meant nothing to her.
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.he had killed eighty soldiers and maybe twice that many civilians. She bought small quantities and then reduced them or distilled from them. her handbag had been emptied of identification. She wore a typical long skirt . 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. Her new PO Boxes where under three different names in three states. Alone in the old house she fashioned things out of wire and lath.132 - . Outside Garth was mowing in anticipation of the Forth. the greeting cards. 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. Breathing life once more she made arrangements to travel to yet another city to dispatch her wishes. Money accumulated and it had to be hidden.
It was important to drop one device a month. She was always a person who despised waste and inefficiency. she doubted he would ever know anything. her heavy sweater was long and faded yellow. Unwitting for his own protection. She had reached the time in life when she was always cold. 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. . especially the rear. her hair was lusterless and hung flat down her chest and back. A country boy like Garth could never understand the revolution. But it would be possible only with Garth’s unwitting help. her business could be back just like the old days. Garth in a sleeveless athletic shirt was cause for a shudder. it needed washing. In New York under the stairs was warmed by open pipes in her living area. It seemed that if Garth had a car he could help her on the far flung errands required in the tri state area. She had intentionally not bathed in preparation for this journey.that she might have worn to work.133 - . The next time they sat outside together in view of the old Mustang she might bring it up. Now she was always shivering even if it was at the thought of cold.
134 - . it might be shown that the way grandma raised Garth’s mother. As Mary she became the pleasant hippie girl once more. Grandma had a special pity for Garth. Grandma instructed them. 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. The girls crawled all over the old place to the extent that Mary feared exposure. husband’s salaries. Summer on the Mississippi with a southern farmer in the White House was a wonderful time and place to be a hippie. there after young married women. Like the competition over children. Some distilling equipment they discovered went recognized as odd and attributed to the legends of the old . 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 sisters. around a speakeasy and a whore house made her into a wild woman who went to California.It was part of her determination to seem normal by blending in and getting along with the old woman who dominated the family. The Carter years were the calm between the storms. Cautiously the old lady opened the bounty of her family. and hairdo height.
Mary Miller could not hide her skeletal history. But the condition was understood that she be there for Garth. Aaron’s death in a lost war made Mary part of the fabric of strong women who kept alive southern culture. nursing her gave Garth something to do to help him settle down after he first returned. . The war was so devastating on his nerves when Garth got home that he also had a regular room at the VA Hospital. a favorite son. Mary learned a lot from the sister-in-laws. that mysterious and desiccated flower of the Old South.days during prohibition and the old lady who last lived here. Being a thoroughly supportive southern woman was a fine place to hide. Perhaps a blessing for her son. The cooking gave her something to do and not the whiff of a blintz or potato pancake ever left her kitchen since any attention would draw police. but they were easy on her as they understood and shared her loss. They circled like sharks to learn more of her.135 - . The one time she put mustard on her grits the way she would in a New York deli drew so many stares she could not sleep that night thinking she was hearing police. Mary became an avid student learning her new identity.
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.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.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 . an expression she once used freely on others. and a cigar smelling wing chair with a wine stained matching settee. 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. It took buying a car to make Rachel feel like an exploitative American whose lifestyle dripped with the blood of third world people. she thought. One sister’s husband was a mattress salesman and had delivered a lightly used demonstrator model from the family store. wobbly and mismatched with springs obscenely sagging out the bottoms. the very device that was causing all the destruction and was so easy to avoid while living in the city. Surprisingly cheap. Not paying rent made a car easy to afford in Kentucky. A baby grand piano was sent and left by the movers covered with a waterproof tarp.
. In one town she could buy a hamburger and he could drink Iron City on tap. The thought was repugnant. Exploring possible ways to begin a conversation to manipulate him a variety of avenues of thought opened in her mind. 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. She was past thirty and for the first time using sex to influence a man occurred to her. She brought the twin wads of cash up from between the walls.toilet paper. She was still trying to get the plaster dust off the money when she handed it to Garth. this became the moment when she would have to involve him. blew the old spider shedding away and untied the string.137 - . 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. followed by a visit to the post office. The thought was also liberating but only after she put it down. You know what I mean. lady stuff. Near Nashville they found several beer gardens enough so they never became regulars anywhere.
Rachel made a wedding dress she considered tasteful. They were living so fast while Rachel waited so long. both were sure Mary and her talents were sent by Jesus. beautiful but modest. she was endlessly grateful.To cover for her purchases Mary made dresses for the little girls who played nearby. She always knew how to make dresses as her mother taught her. no father and her mother was blind but they scratched a living from a patch of black land. Children grew and adults aged before her eyes. 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.138 - . simple. 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 like her mother’s gowns which were made for a woman so attention hungry she might as well be naked. modest and modern American for a girl who lived in hundred year old shed. Mary said she thought helping others was the only way to heaven. 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. Her mother’s taste forever affected by the depravity of prewar Europe.
A region previously undisturbed opened to her.” Shouted the blind mother in a firm voice. It was like being drawn into a river of life. Her thoughts were confused. Hearing the word shouted and knowing its ancient origin. rough and tender her name echoed forever. She said something to Mary but Mary was suddenly in a distant realm. . America finally was ready to surrender and change. Until that instant for her the divine order of things followed Marxist analysis and nothing greater.139 - . “Hallelujah!” Rachel entered the spiritual and religious realm of her mind. God or the third eye within her mind. Despite numerous LSD trips this was a feeling previously unknown to her. Feeling she was no longer a single radical revolutionary in a wilderness but one of many who were hammering away at the Colossus. A place she had never experienced before.“Hallelujah. she wondered if the time was for her to take the next step. for her to announce herself and make a stand? All of this support and encouragement must mean popular support for the party program. The woman’s gratitude made Rachel’s heart swell with a sense of breathless flight. Ruchel. Marx now suddenly seemed like a boy in a sand box making up rules and titles.
that along with poverty and a list of ills. with that she already had their sympathy. Waiting then was the third. final and logical step.140 - . the man Garth accused himself of killing. The desire for publicity passed as she remembered the FBI outside her old building. 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. But she was not an enemy of the same country that destroyed southern culture. And the other people. 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. 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. Hiding in the open validated her interpretation of Mao and Ho for fighting effectively in isolation. Still wanting an apology from the US .Now she was leading an army and not merely in a car with a map giving Garth directions driving around Nashville. to announce her program of resistance and clarify her response to the country who she blamed for his death. ones who Garth introduced her to knew that her brother was Aaron. The People will feed the Revolutionary.
Chapter 9 It was a hot hazy night when Mary quit her cooking to let things dry for the next step in processing. fear of arrest motivated her more than fear of exposure to . 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.government while not trusting anything any government might say. Mary relaxed by doing yoga on the relatively dry surface of the picnic table. She faced the woods and did not see the glow in the bathroom window.141 - . Fighting the fire she was more afraid of having to explain all of these dangerous chemicals to a fire marshal. 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. 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.
142 - . Obscure targets meant safety and safety meant a long time operating but after more than ten years she wanted something other than what she wanted when she started. Revenge had now coupled with . The ceiling was scorched but it was finally out. She remembered the Israelis murdered at the Olympics and was jealous at the around the clock concern of the world. Why had this happened? She ran a finger down the ingredient list and looked at the labels. Years of work and a fortune in chemicals were gone. 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. Christmas was coming again which meant individuals as well as institutions would have their guards down. Her fate was like other domestic terrorist who worked steadily for years and are virtually ignored.those chemicals and the toxic fumes should they burn. There was no one she could blame. it was an act of God or she had done it to herself. The drying rack in the bathtub was roaring. She was losing the grasp she had on her original rationale for targeting the servants of greatness instead of the great individuals. Since resuming her armed struggle she had mailed three cards and set two fires.
“Did I ever tell you about how I met your brother in the Army?” “No. The Green family had escaped the mines. not meeting a Green in the town of Green was impossible.it a desire for respect. The smoke was not spotted. That night after the fire she wanted Garth to drive somewhere for ice cream. Garth had never heard that command before. They would have to leave this corner of Kentucky to avoid his family. it just dissipated in the sky but everything was ruined.” . but one where they would not bump into any of his relatives. she suggested.” She was wide eyed. She wanted to hear some expression from a jury of her peers that her efforts were worthy. Like stories he heard stories as a child of how hard the family once had it in the mines. They drove away from the river and north through the valley. “You never mentioned a word.143 - . With two six packs on the seat between them he was driving to the only place he felt at home since the war. A nearby town.
” . Aaron admitted he never touched a gun before. Aaron was impressed by the family’s golf course and Garth’s job from the age of eight. shooting crows and other creatures who would mess the place. “but my kills are my own. “No wonder it was so hard for you Yankees to put us down. If you never held a gun until today you are just lucky I’m lying over here. read your history.” “Okay.” Aaron answered enthusiastically. “I don’t know. If you want to make it through the Army you will need a buddy.Chapter 10 On the first day of training you will get a bunk and bunk mates on either side. It is a sure bet that one of the two will become your best friend in the Army.144 - .” The stiff neck rebel boy in every Southern gentleman came out.” Aaron snapped back. Get yourself a buddy. “Pennsylvania was a half Rebel state.
he . If he were to pick death it would be the one that had something to do with the hero of the story. Garth had asked because after a week of looking forward to church he did not know what church would be like. Garth who had carried little creatures to the fire pit tried not to think about that. When Aaron read James Bond half the barrack listened. I am a Jew.” “What?” It took time for a message like that to sink in after mind numbing days of running.” Aaron’s answer was like a cocked fist. He knew he did not want to pray with coloreds.145 - . “I went to the Greek church when my friend’s family invited me to one of their weddings. “I was to church one time in my life.Now with a buddy the Army process of breaking down the individual began. Often at night Aaron talked out loud about what he would do to the enemy. Twisting the knife in someone’s belly is easy to say. standing at attention. Garth preferred sex to death. exercise. Everyone at that stage of training was getting that way. Garth learned when he asked Aaron if he was going to early or late church. Something Garth later tortured himself with is the thought that had he known about Aaron they would never have been buddies. listening to orders and snapping salutes.
if he touched one she might break. Oxbloods replaced his damp and dirty sneakers. After families went to church Garth changed into his caddy outfit. Aaron was relaxed about sex. Now his buddy was suddenly a Jew. Garth was sure his buddy Aaron had done it. A few had traveled the world. At parties with a couple of cheer leaders he said everyone on the team was getting it. The course had work for everyone. With his grandparents beside him he might shake a girl’s gloved hand.wanted a nice quiet church with a sermon he could use in the Army. When they asked about him Garth only said he went to school. He learned after a bad experience not to mention that he had the job of killing for the golf course. some of the golfers were interesting. He also learned quickly not to mention his . Garth considered himself a gentleman back home and was always proper with girls. he was afraid of them.146 - . It was no bullshit. he never talked to them in school but after church he talked to them. Garth wore a white shirt and tie that was dug out of grandpa’s closet. Sunday was Garth’s favorite day when the entire family was together and the golf season was in full swing. He was sure he and Garth would soon be getting some.
That he would someday be in the Army was a point of pride from infancy. Like Jesus says. A ball hit wild scared a grizzly pair who flew from rotten meat they were eating in the rough.” his grandfather told him. The men got out there and they found the remains of a small deer. When Garth heard about it he was proud and told everyone it was his deer. the moment they saw that hairless pistol between fat writhing baby legs his future was known. or a toy pistol gun belt set. Under the tree there was always a bee-bee rifle. Crows formed circles on the greens and a buzzard had been seen in the trees over the 9th hole.147 - . until he got his first real rifle at 8. With a real weapon came his first real job for the family. Later that Christmas day he was shooting pest birds. it had been . “You’ll earn you’re stripes fast in combat. The family gathered for Christmas dinner and grandmother’s cakes and pies. Every man in Garth’s family served. The image of himself as a soldier straightened his spine like a reflex. to the quiet go the tips.family owns the place. Word finally reached Garth’s town that the country was in a shooting war in Vietnam. Naturally it followed by early spring a noticeable foulness to the air out on the links.
Aaron knotted the tie for Garth. His uncle pulled up with a backhoe and dug a fire pit deep in the woods. Suddenly Garth’s joy had become a chore.eating the shrubbery. Following that Garth was put on more personal terms with the pests he managed.” .” “I can hold my liquor. He left a can of kerosene before he waved and drove off. too.148 - .” “I can drink. They planned to do everything they were told not to do in the lecture hall. I could never be depressed around your brother. Like the rest of life. Didn’t you ever bring girls out on that golf course? Was all Aaron wanted to know. except the part about being arrested by the military police. “I can drink. After weeks of training the entire company got their first pass off the base. They were planning first to go where Aaron overheard a couple of corporals saying that there were whores.” “So can I.
MPs scanned the men in line. The closer to the address of the whorehouse the more MP’s they saw.” They walked several blocks before they got to the end of the men in the line for whores. The boys shuffled around until the first beer was gone and then got on a line to purchase another. They stopped along the way for another beer.” Aaron said.” Aaron yelled a fresh can in his hand. There were bars open across the street from the line. “Cheers. We could buy something. . “Let’s get out of here. It was not at all what he had imagined. The bar had no seats. only poles and men in line.” Garth raised the beer to his lips. “We found it. opening his can. “There are stores. Garth would be ashamed to be seen in a line like that. On the street an MP eye balled them then gave a wag of his club as a warning.” Said Aaron. grabbing beers and walking away. Inside the bar was crowded with soldiers handing over dollar bills in exchange for cans of beer. He pushed through the crowd and Garth followed.As soon as they got off the bus they saw the MPs. The line of men in front of the whorehouse was long with a lot of familiar faces from the company in it.149 - . “We’re drinking and it’s only 10:30 in the morning.
On the ride back to . He tried to explain to Aaron how each one was different but Aaron did not seem to understand. They went whoring again another time when it was less crowded. most of them asleep. Eventually they walked up to a ticket counter for a movie theatre.“I don’t know. Garth liked it so well he grew attached to certain whores. “if I want to go in that place. inside they joined twenty other soldiers sprawled across seats.” Garth admitted. Garth was forever grateful that Aaron did not pressure him about the whores. These girls were more to him than hair color and tit size.150 - . he worshipped them. He did not tell one favorite whore about another. That evening a pair of MPs woke everyone up for the last bus back to camp. Sometimes when he wasn’t around one he would have jealous fantasies. “They’re soldiers like us. Certainly Garth was not saving it for someone special or for marriage he just was nervous about his first time. After all those men been sloppin’ around?” He said with distinct revulsion and shook his head. 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.
Garth only put on a big grin for a reply. being inside of a woman was all that mattered.151 - .” He cried. The psychiatrist came and discovered he lived with pain not in fear of military discipline and confinement. He grinned in expectation first and then because he did not understand how Aaron held onto cash when he could be getting pussy. One night there was a scream from the latrine. “Don’t you want to save your money for something else?” Aaron asked him. he feared not being able to have his girls. “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. “I’m pissing fire. The doctors shook their heads at what level of pain he must have endured. No bank account or object compared with the feeling he got when he was with his ladies. They carried Garth out.camp Aaron talked about other things and Garth tuned out. That money could buy it was the reason to spend money. . it was not the brig that scared him. It reverberated through the camp and OD’s came running.
2Biblical recitations. Garth drank in the great imbibing tradition of military drunks.” Knowing that getting caught again would land him out of the service and that would shadow him the rest of his life. 6. On a 48 hour pass he could get drunk five times. 3. 4-Morbid Fascination .The unwritten rule for Army doctors is to let the first time slide with a stern warning otherwise the Army would have no men. it gave him the will power to cut out the women. A corporal who saw him doing it stood up as witnesses. 5.Resignation to Fate – when what was the worst choice becomes recognized as the only choice. 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.his list was often incoherent and punctuated by puking. reenlistment or returning to camp.Family Battle History – his was extraordinary even for a Southerner. The doctors told him.Guilt. What made Garth . “If you return you will be dishonorably discharged. 1.152 - . Without whoring only one vice is left to a soldier. He was a ranger as he conquered each of the Six Peaks of Drunkenness.The Celebration of Life. Public Health hand cards were printed for MP’s to distribute to the town’s pimps and whores with Garth’s picture on it.
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. She long understood the significance of the defeat before she could accept it for herself. even the boys who went to . They took up the bottle of defeat. Talking about how drunk someone had been was an enlisted man’s main off duty activity while on base. 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. Mary was accepting hers.153 - . Aaron’s eyes fixed on the choice strippers. Her war too was over and lost. Aaron was the first of many witnesses attesting to Garth’s capacity to get shitfaced. Chapter11 Hearing the story Mary understood. Southern boys had been raised on a tradition grown out of defeat. From a time when they saw the flags of their Confederacy in the dust an order was passed while a torch was extinguished.exceptional is instead of returning to camp he would regain consciousness for more of the same military drinking.
our light. disappeared from our lives over ten years ago. he was bent like a U. Miller was to see him. In the doorway she still had that movie star glow but inside it was clear she had aged. Miller broke in with a song.” Mrs. “I don’t know if you know but Rachel.154 - .” . make-up did not hide it and she lost her dignity in the struggle to look young.” It touched Garth how happy Mrs. “Look who is here. The ride grew bumpy and she could smell pasture and manure. 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. Max carried a weight on his mind and body. “We had a radio with a tall antenna and listened to music. The longest time was spent in the stillness during the visit.Canada to avoid the draft had been allowed to go back home. 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.
Max shuddered to think of her condition seeing his condition. his firm silence assured Max that Rachel was all right. isn’t she?” Max softly suggested.” Garth had caught Max’s eye and said in the lowest voice possible.155 - .“Rachel is all right.” . Then too there were fine men like you and who like you who did not know what to do. You have to sit down and do something. “She’s a little crazy. 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.” 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. They walked around all day with nothing to do. They formed gangs and they joined the Nazis. “You know this? You’ve seen her? Then you know?” Max asked with a look and a grunt. what should I do?” “I was just asking myself. “Mr. Garth nodded. “I know how to kill.
” “Are you good at it?” Garth backed up.” Mr. mowing? If we cut out another 9 holes it could bring more public. . It was the place he imagined himself mowing. “It is prize winning green.“Ach.” That was all he thought about and had sculpted it in his mind over the last dozen years. “Anyone can do that.” In his pride he repeated a jingle. maybe?” “I don’t like working with the people. “Are you charging enough?” “It’s my family. You know what I dream about when I am up there. The two men nodded their heads connected by one thought. Miller made a noise. Garth felt like his mind had cracked open and it was wiggling like worms on the coffee table. He took offense. It would make him a hero because the family would prosper again. “You need outside customers.156 - . What else?” “I take care of the greens.” Max nodded piously.
I couldn’t tell him. He and Garth spoke briefly until a door slammed. “Your mother offered me some of that sweet wine and my stomach did a flip flop. “I have something for you.157 - . ‘use it to help me find you. he said. And then another. “What happened?” She asked after a few minutes driving. it wasn’t such a problem. She heard Garth walk around the car get in and open a beer.” . jovial but sad and sweet. I don’t want him to go to jail too.” His voice spoke and his eyes said.’ The FBI was there too but he didn’t give them anything. whatever we do.“You see.” Chapter 12 A car door opened. we must keep Rachel safe. “Your father brought out these shopping bags of stuff. I’m supposed to find you before the FBI does.” He paused to drink. What’s this? Is he giving someone a ride? Like a distant echo she heard the familiar voice.
Along with two rounded grocery bags covered with newspaper was the familiar case from her childhood for her first violin.” Answered the outside person while her hand moved with purpose inside the bag counting how many bundles of bills made one layer across the bag and then with the back of her thumb ticking off the layers. The blood drained as she turned it over in her mind.Rachel could no longer wait and pushed out the car seat and slithered from the trunk. Her name painted on with nail polish of which she had once been so proud. The next time she would see him too. should she share this with him? “He sent your old fiddle. The first shopping bag contained silk flowers and stuffed animals from her old bedroom. Under the dusty newspaper from the other bag revealed cash in bands that her father had marked for the bank but had been stashing secretly for years. It had been years since she thought of what now seemed a happy time of soothing her father with her music. Do you still play?” “It’s been years since I put rosin on a bow. This was exclusively the doing of her father and that supported her desire to keep .158 - . Even with the first of the miles growing and separating them she knew it would break her heart to be stuck in a trunk again.
the Cole slaw kid is a lawyer now.this away from Garth.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.” She knew her brother was stupid . “My father sent us money.” As if that reminded him Garth added. “Your little brother. A very typical goy he was likely to spend it all on drink or put it in the bank. A full scale revolution could be fought for years with a resource like this. Her instinct told her Garth was incapable of making the correct informed decision. A tragic joke on him. Imagine that? A lawyer and I saw him with KFC coming out his nose.” “Where is he a lawyer? There must be a million lawyers named Miller. one any Marxist revolutionary would come to.” She held up a band of bills. he wants to help you. She was the rational one and he was treating life as little more than a joke. “Is that what was in that bag? I thought they were sandwiches when I carried it to the car.
for shah-bo…?” “The Sabbath. For superstitious reasons or the fear of looking cultured to fellow rednecks the word could not be dragged from his mouth. “You talked to my mother also?” Never in their years as neighbors had she ever seen him so struggle to gather his thoughts. her hair was off her neck. Aged food was served while describing the furnishings and the details of the life of her family who lived in a world before Hitler. your mother said.” Rachel said with irritation at all the things now small which were once so significant. Her anger included Garth who probably heard her brother say Shabbat often enough but Garth would not dare say it himself. “He comes Friday.” 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. There were pony rides and a children’s house on .and was sure if he was a lawyer he must be a law and order Republican reactionary. “Your mother wore a white dress. Her family had a privileged life. The people she remembered were wonderful and jolly.160 - . many had candy and some came with gifts.
To his own surprise he said. She was his type.” . She was like the woman he would have married had he not been a fuck up in the army. “I made a promise to your brother I would not visit a prostitute until after we saw some combat. Many cousins gathered around and big fires at night which kept them warm. Not only did she possess what made him notice a woman in the first place. where they sang until everyone fell asleep and were carried to their rooms. We heard you could get a blow job for a quarter in Saigon. she did not mind and continued talking.161 - . 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. a painted. When he came back from Vietnam women were among many things he no longer thought about but Eva was a sharp reminder that he used to desire women although Garth was a gentleman about it. He only needed to look at her although he barely understood her. All she cared about was all he wanted a woman to care about before he left for the army. her story was like his own. foolish.a summer estate. and childlike woman.
“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.” Garth’s hair was plastered down and he smelled of the river but was cleaner than this morning. And she missed him and wanted to share that in a house where it was denied. “I hees ya. Between the freshly painted ceiling and the drop clothes Mary stood in light.” she liked to say calling back. 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.167 - .an apology and barely got recognition. we had a talk. you in?” Garth called from downstairs.” “Grandma invites you and me for dinner.” “Do you know the money is missing?” Garth appeared at the top of the stairs. “Hey. 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. Your father wants me to use that money. “Yes’m.
These years of hiding and joyless revenge might be read as a touching tribute but it was becoming more difficult. . 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. Originally in her mind this place was a temporary refuge but she had now been here as long as she lived off Fifth Avenue. Her reasoning to carry on had become forced. yet she was still calling New York her home.168 - . 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.“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. But this place now had her father’s blessing.” It now was impossible to imagine ever leaving this spacious home on a bend in the river.” “What did you tell him?” “Only that you contacted me. 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.
had she extended a childish tantrum for too long? American GI’s who fought in the war were now returning to Ho Chi Minh City. After dinner the men gathered and Garth lead the conversation about when he was a boy and every house had a new car out front. And marry girls whose fathers they killed. Mary went to her. Dinner was served when the meeting was concluded. Garth was not only not her type but how .” She shook her head. Humbly Garth stepped into the role he once shunned. They laughed together with Garth. Good days were about to return. You understand that. “Haven’t the two of you thought of marriage? People will talk and we don’t want anything to hurt business.169 - . of course you do. The invitation was to a weeknight family dinner.She never doubted the validity of the cause but with maturity came a question. That was part family and mostly family business.” “We’re not anything except neighbors. Bomber crews on mopeds tour cities they once bombed. When the sister-in-laws started clearing dishes grandmother caught Mary’s eye.
“Maybe it is something you should think about while you are both young. she was a playful equal. You have the unfortunate habit of wiping your hands on your hips.170 - . let’s see it.” Grandmother cupped Mary’s face. Mary had on her lips the old words her mother said after such a gesture. “You have such a pretty face. Affection was rare. competitor or loon. “This is a Christian golf course and we want to look our best for the families who come here after church.strongly she associated him with her brother made it seem unnatural. a Romanian phrase that she never understood except that it came out of her mother and touched her. Grandmother with a gesture dismissed Mary to help in the kitchen. And about your posture. rarely a mother.” She gathered all of Mary’s hair and took a pin from her own hair to set it back. She could run the store with father but with family she was like a person lost and desperate. .” Grandmother said.” “And if you are going to be serving guests here that skirt of yours needs some attention.
These women could be used to help her find direction in this country. The turn in Garth’s life was reflected in all of them. They opened the golf course as a patch of grass going out to a path leading to the still in a cave. Was marriage the way to make everything proceed smoothly? These women in their bright colors were especially untroubled tonight. Grandma and grandpa were both kids in 1920 when grandpa stole a car and grabbed grandma. if it meant nothing to her it would make all of these people so happy. The place got so popular they trucked in moonshine from the mountains and respectable .” Then they all spoke about Garth’s project like it was testament. Scraping dishes she listened in a new way.171 - . they left Harlan Kentucky and the coal mining life and come Prohibition they ended up here selling booze to people from the city. Once that improvement is done it will be like in the old days. “And before church and God willing instead of church. It was selfish of Mary to hold out from this formal next step in the procession from birth to grave.A cousin added. The first nine holes were added one at a time to keep suspicion off the operation. After dinner at twilight walking back through the brush Garth explained the family history.
172 - .couples with clubs arrived and left with the bottom of their golf bags loaded with hooch. Everything was top of the line and Christian.” She looked at him long before she spoke. Christian was a word used to avoid suspicion because Christians created prohibition and since then it stuck. Suddenly he sensed the possibility of sex after .” “I don’t mind.” Garth said as they reached their driveway. This was the first time for Mary but Garth had gotten that from grandmother before. “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. Let me look at you. “What are you going to do? Because she said something to me too. Uncle Billy’s Barbershop opens early. “Grandma says we should get married. Grandma’s got all the business sense.” “I’ll be seeing a whole new you.” Garth was startled by Mary. Starch collar types appeared who did not want to wander in the weeds so they opened a clubhouse. 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.
It sort of reminded me of the army.” . But we don’t have to tell anyone. She stepped in the shower before asking. Why don’t we just pretend to be married?” “That is what they think we’re doing now. “I don’t even have running water in my place. He been thinking he did not care about for about ten years. when you are happy not to be rained on for five minutes. That he no longer cared was immediately it put a lie. It always has been a Christian golf course.fourteen years without. Then hot showers on the base. “I had forgotten about hot water.” “Look at this.” “I need a change myself.” All of her clothes dropped to the floor. “What do you think of grandma’s idea?” “I think grandma’s right. The new respect others were giving him was having an effect. In the downstairs bathroom she looked at his red arm next to his pale white stomach. The family knows about … .173 - .” “That I am Jewish? If that’s the way you feel the wedding is off.” Garth called after he showered. I don’t want to sit in a chair in Uncle Billy’s smelling like the river.
. Maybe she would share their joy having never had any in her own childhood.174 - . She would be creating not more Jews but little Christians. and grandparents. the family knows everything they need to know. because like I was trying to say. Grandmother won and Rachel did not mind. in-laws. None of whom she could provide.” “We can have a civil marriage at town hall.” “You won’t stop them going to church with their cousins?” Garth asked. Suddenly she realized marriage like this was her ultimate defeat and extinction. They just talk and judge and judge and talk. I don’t want it in the papers. And our kids can pick their own religion. 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.” “They talk about us because that’s the way people are around here. She sensed herself becoming weak and pitiful. they don’t even know we live in separate buildings. a typical woman who is dependent on a man for both security and freedom.“But it will make a difference if we have a piece of paper?” “Yes.
he . took her old one and burned it. She bought some good shampoo and remembered to put on an apron in the kitchen. Until then Aaron’s sister was his sister. Mary made herself a few new skirts.175 - . Garth’s blinding white skin would be burned red and hot to the touch by the second day. whose insecurities allowed grandma to drive them like cattle. Garth belched diesel all around while Mary sewed together a handbag from the scraps and made a macramé handle. She did not envy the sister-in-laws. It was no longer a case of him keeping her safe. Jewish luck. In Garth’s mind Aaron’s sister was still naked and laughing at him. 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. But like Max told him.In the morning sister-in-laws brought lengths of fabric. 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. That was the luck of a survivor. He was wondering who would finish the project after he dies when in pain he staggering from the bulldozer. he was her prisoner and she was his. Returning to the carriage house with a shave and haircut Garth brought the material to fix the broken pipes to his place.
her butt.176 - . Her ass. “I have to be a man and not an animal. “Aaron’s sister or not she is a loose hippy chick free for me to screw. I could give her a baby. but it doesn’t have to be.” He touched his face that the barber cleaned bare with a hot towel and closely shaved and was now sunburned. Aaron. . the second. Garth’s mind began to leave him. Would that make things better for me? One life hardly made up for the hundreds I killed. The river was good for this and safer than going back to the house.” his stomach was rolling and he licked his lips. The heat of the sun ran up his shoulders and his head burned like a match. Take some aspirin and lay down. it might not for me but it might for her. He remembered how he had plunged into the many whores of his youth and the different ways he handled each one. One life to replace the one she lost. This might be rape. He needed quiet and he needed to think. Officially he had been working a day and a half when he turned off the machine.had to do something. her tiny tits. He was burned so bad it radiated to others. he thought trudging back home and leaving rivulets of water. Garth thought.
I have had plenty of burns myself and this helps. that’s all. It burned before it soothed. It’s a recipe from way back.” She held two fingers coated with goop. He was across his couch and she was dabbing his head with a cloth. It was her mission and it needed no cash infusion from outside.” She shook her head.” “I’m a French fry.” Garth yelled when the goop touched him. He brought her to church which was a place she never had been for fear of what might happen to her. “When everything was quiet I thought something might be wrong so I looked for you. Since the fire things had changed. .177 - . She thought it was an old fashioned hippie love-in when the congregants went to hugging one and another.” “I’m drunk. a secret fortress firing random salvos over the hills at unseen targets. “Let me put this on you. The upstairs laboratory was her independence. “It might sting but it will help you heal. In the kitchen of the old house she sat motionless as two weights pulled on her. It would be a while until Mary weakened but Garth was persistent.“Are you alright?” Mary’s face was rolling like a broken television. I think you have heat stroke.
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. Her actions in New York were from the heart but the lab in Kentucky was the lab she once wished she had. it could have been worse. Still having the means of escape and weapons at her disposal Rachel allowed for a ceasefire.178 - . So she surveyed her life. 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. and that went against everything she learned after leaving home. Yet her recent actions were like a career that had grown stale. But she stayed her own hand and told herself she wanted to see if they sent a picture of Aaron. If Americans could elect Reagan twice they hardly seemed worthy of her sacrifice. Maybe my old Honor Certificates too.Cold paternalism once more was trying to take over her life. Twenty years as . Her father had entrusted him. It made Garth seem different as he was suddenly charged with her care. she thought. Her mother was non-functional. but she was curious to see how father’s judgment will play out. She imagined a conspiracy between Garth and her father. She could not admit to herself that she also wanted to see what Garth would do.
it was just another route of escape for her. a pit into which she was falling. Rachel saw her life as a bottomless shaft. Even as she attempted calm breathing and other meditation techniques the anxiety of her life continued to build. something to put a boat on nothing more. . In the name of her love for humanity she had hurt and killed others. and he took no political stand yet with a few words and trust he was able to touch others and transform lives. she followed the charming and innocent hippie precepts whenever she could. 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.an anarchist bomber. If she could not say that she was a soldier in a revolutionary army then she had no identity. Maybe during a period of mourning but this was now a way of life.” It was for her a means of escape. She wanted to be more like her father who was not educated and the only cause he served was his family. going with the flow saved her life except for once when the flow had led to murderous Nazi’s. Life had cheated her but she felt at long last she could accept it. Of all the hippie ways the one she most used was “Go with the flow.179 - .
.Aaron was only a face she remembered but never got to know. damaged eyes. 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. and a pair of tortured forms slumped in a car. She labeled her actions as just and reasoned that she was better than American society and could judge it. Wasn’t Aaron looking for the same order and acceptance in the world by joining the army? Rachel had an equal force driving her.180 - . But it was over. it was internal but it justified everything. like waking from a dream. “Grandma thinks I should marry you. She was also following orders. That was until now when she saw herself as an imitator of the only society she knew. He did believe the army propaganda.” She tried to sooth his burn. Garth until now was a front to hide behind but the respect her father showed was reflected in how Rachel viewed him. Aaron now lacked dimension since she never knew him as an adult and barely remembered him. he might be a Republican if he lived. Letting go of violence was part of unraveling a thought process.
All you do is work. “Maybe I will someday. It was how I was after the war and they accepted me as that. drink and sleep. I would like to have children … But I can’t have children with you until you stop drinking.” Garth said tired of this old conversation. my mother was that way and so it was okay for me. It runs through the family.” “I’m not hurting anyone.” “Then you agree? You’ll quit?” Suddenly Garth sat bolt upright. “I thought about how I would quit drinking for a long time but no one ever asked me.“I know. Who can’t throw a ball to his kid.” “So why didn’t you stop?” .” “I think it’s time for me.” “Why do you want me to stop drinking?” “Look at yourself. I would rather have no husband than one who can’t get himself off the couch in the afternoon.” “I think it would make your father happy too. 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.181 - .
182 - . In addition to her brick she kept a special matchbox in which she had . she called it the handbag of truth. “When you’re sober I’ll give you that and more. That’s why I bought lottery tickets. “You’re not going to change your mind?” Returned to the couch he was both serious and helpless. “Because I do want to quit so I can better take care of you.” After a few seconds of quiet he opened one eye. I figured if I hit the lottery I would quit drinking but this is better. She avoided him but held him up so he would not fall. “I know it’s none of my business but are you a virgin?” Chapter 14 For many years Rachel carried the same handbag. “How about it?” He lurched with lips puckered toward Mary. When one wore out she made another like it.” Garth took steps toward her like he was dragging his own dead weight.” She guided him back. hand painted with eyes. made of canvas and capable of hold half a bushel.“I had no reason.
Walking stiff legged to the house Mary . She tried to tell herself to hide from the lack of enjoyment she felt previously.183 - . He needed one to get himself out to the bulldozer. an exploration. opened it quietly he drank it quickly. Years ago LSD was part of the ritual. His plan to quit was already failing. another one from the list of things they had been told not to do. Just one to start the day. This time with Garth it would be sanctioned sex. The idea of having sex again made her uncomfortable. When he got off the dozer he could barely move as ever nerve in his body screamed.saved enough hits of LSD that she believed it would last her entire life. The hairs were standing on the back of his neck for fear Mary might catch him. she and Howie had sex as an experiment. In the morning Garth found a hat and put on a long sleeve shirt then went for his first beer of the day. She could see by the appraising way he looked at her that he was going to be disappointed. By noon he was many beers behind and trembling. he waited until he was outside. he may be marrying a woman soon but he could not cheat on his beer. His happiness to be found inside of her body was more responsibility than she wanted.
Grandmother was familiar with the ordeal going on and sent Mary back to the house with a stinking dripping sack in a Tupperware container. These started the hell weeks as Garth transitioned from an alcohol based metabolism back to a food based one. You need to start eating food again. His body receiving proper nourishment was less painful. his swollen slit eyes opened and the light no longer hurt him. It was a poultice which had to be laid on his liver for exactly eighteen hours. The plate had a sandwich. his craggy red face seemed fuller. Mary became the silent focus of his anguish. What’s wrong? He explained to her how he felt and that he needed a beer if he was going to live.184 - . As the odor of death . Desperate that he did not die Mary went to grandmother. his affection and hatred both directed toward her as he focused on marriage while throwing up bile. Don’t move Mary told him setting him down near some water under a tree. Somehow with Mary’s help he made it through a transition that was so difficult he could not imagine himself getting through it. She ran off and returned with a familiar can and something strange on a plate. he could stand tall. Without booze he changed.met him.
” She held out the open matchbox. I promise. This is something I want you to do for me. which had not happened since he returned from the war.” .dissipated his presence lost the offensive edge which triggered in others a natural aversion. His thoughts of pleasure had nothing to do with alcohol. the sacrament of the new age.185 - . She wanted him to wait. This will open your eyes to see things as they truly are. What is this stuff?” “It’s LSD. After 21 days Garth had been back to work a week and decided to once more bring up the subject. When he went to visit family members they once more asked him into the house. “Put one of these on your tongue. When it was getting dark and it seemed right he put his hands around Mary’s tiny. a million times better. it will make sex a thousand times better. It’s an old tradition. “I know this will sound funny because I asked you to stop drinking but that was for our future children. oriental waist. He had been relaxed and feeling good all day. Don’t be afraid.” “From what I remember I don’t think you have to improve on the original formula. Put one under your tongue.
None of that stuff is any good for me. Garth thought as he lay on her bed and listened to her talk about politics and light patterns.” “No. right under your tongue. He wasn’t angry and like any man who really does not expect to get laid. it’s all no good for me. weed. I’ll do mine. It can damage chromosomes. . She stood by me.” Greedy after so many years she slid a tiny square of paper under her tongue. Here.“I heard about this stuff. Intimidated by the potency of their equipment they heaped on the foam and protection so that little of what they felt was mutual. I have to accept things the way they are or I will start drinking again. LSD was expanding their minds at the expense of their genitals which grew small and dry. LSD. right?” “Only the chromosomes in your mind. This was an approximation of the foreplay she had as a lost youth.186 - . I can’t. “If I do this it will undo the entire last month. Garth had a different set of expectations and found Mary’s condition of cold lips and hands to be a turn off.” “I’ll do it by myself. The dispassionate examination of genitals like she and Howie did as two over ripe children. Beer.” Garth said. he was only slightly disappointed.
piss your pants.187 - . At Christmas the old man pulled a sign from the dust and stood it in the store window. He could not walk out on their first night together but as the sky got light and Mary beside him continued thrashing it seemed like the waste of a day. he is crazy. He did not want to get bored looking at her. Together they slept until noon when they awoke to make their first night together an official one. He hoped this never happened again. Season’s Greetings. 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.She had been naked at first but he insisted she wear something. He could go on for hours nonstop just on his old man and the crummy army surplus.” Elliot had them in stitches. . He made it sound so funny how the cheap old man squeezed extra pennies from every dollar. He found her sexy but not when tripping. 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.
Otherwise he could pass for any plump and prosperous small town lawyer.she called him. Lee. When the kids were little they went to Hershey Park every weekend. Among the first things he bought with his earnings as a lawyer were guns. It was not for the family but so guest might feel comfortable. the jewelry around his neck. Elliot put a white plastic tree up on the credenza from Thanksgiving until New Year’s over the objections of his wife who was also Jewish and his daughters who he sent to a Hebrew day school. In a suburban circle of homes that Elliot developed. Often he had to offer a chuckling apology . They were close with her family but Elliot rarely spoke of his. Together with his wife. for the office. for the house and a piece for personal pleasure. 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. They enjoyed life. Elliot demanded a further look at the rings he wore.188 - .The comic lead in obscured him. his tie and hanky all of which showed the Star of David. Elliot quieted family objections with cash. Anti-Semite or Jew was not clear. When denied smoking a cigar Elliot without thinking could sit across a table from other attorneys and flick candy wrappers in their direction. they went to restaurants and spent money on things for the house and themselves. He dressed well. unlike the war generation they were not happy merely to be alive. He thought his father’s generation should have had guns. he and his wife tried to be the imitation of their parents’ Judaism with some exceptions.
He promised all sorts of cooperation to the FBI but had none to offer.189 - . Help yourself and then your kids is how he saw it. The FBI approached Elliot at his office to discuss Rachel. He thought of police as the equivalent of sewer workers and he was of the opinion that they were corrupt and lazy liars. He had just flown in from an airport Hilton weekend setting dentists up in strip malls. Elliot considered himself a Law and Order man and he voted for Nixon every chance he got. Mother and the girls went to temple regularly. “Okay. He attended temple for 15 minutes once a year however the girls lit candles and recited prayers on Friday night. Over paid and over authorized police were the necessary instruments of law and order. the FBI men stood and he did not invite them to sit. Elliot chuckled inside at the cop who . Elliot was known in airport Hiltons all over the eastern US. On his desk was a house built of losing scratch off tickets. Most lawyers were paid once for the same services as Elliot’s group aggressively marketed. They ran ads for investment opportunities in medical journals and received ongoing percentages from property investors.when a ball of foil was well placed. He did not believe in charity either. Elliot smiled as he let the man drop it on the desk with the rest of the trash.” he said dismissing them. The agent who did the talking offered a business card.
he wondered. “I’ll call 911 if I think of anything. Elliot was eight years old when she went off to join him.190 - . who he was immediately happy to be relieved of. He walked them to the outer door past the secretary’s desk which had no phone or chair as he had no secretary. We are at Yale to make money. he had to mule that one around. He put himself at the center of everything and made sure to make himself known. . 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. Aaron. 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. in his heart he rejoiced when he learned his top competition was gone for good. The police wanted Rachel. Rachel had not crossed his thoughts for years. Later. With the old man’s money he became a lawyer. What. Being Jewish was an asset in the world of winning investor confidence.thought he was important enough to need a business card.” he quipped. if we wanted to write law we would be at Harvard. he attended the prestigious Law University and made valuable connections to last his lifetime. 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.
The reward for arson and murder was enough to buy matching his and her Cadillacs. There was no entry area for him in this. The Wanted posters on the clip board had no dust on them. he knew her. When his parents lit the candles both . 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. But a murder charge put her on a pedestal. Or that people love a circus even if it is only pictures of clowns. he nodded his head. The loser had turned winner after all. She was a money pit. Elliot came to learn was a holiday best left to school. Elliot tried to bring the customs of his wife’s family to his parents. By the curve of her back or the set of her feet or something more obscure. Even if he cared to outbid the US government there was also a matter of the law. He chuckled and thumbed through more. Even wearing a shawl and from a distance and grown an inch since the last time he saw her. When Elliot thought about his brother and sister he had an identical hatred for both. Hanukah.Surveying the Post Office with the pointed casualness of a potential buyer. Immediately he knew her. He flipped the pages. 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.191 - . it was a non-starter. They were suckers. like the ones who come to the hotel meetings. he took it as sign of a brisk market.
His parents were there with nine others in the rabbi’s chapel where Elliot received a Thursday bar mitzvah. On instructions from home Elliot was kept late after school and sent to the little chapel across from the Rabbi’s study. he was the one who was cheated. the mud. He felt cheated because he did not even get a dime. For their teary eyes he could never stand to look at his parents. Other families held parties when their boys turned thirteen. The other kids humiliated him over the pen when he got back to class. after all. 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. He had not been told and never asked who died? It was just the way it was in his home.cried. His parents and their copious tears of joy were better left to themselves. Thursday was reserved for those whose bar mitzvah fell during a year of mourning. Helping gynecologist put up fifty nominally standard box houses in an old cow pasture reminded Elliot of his old home. the flimsy construction was so reminiscent that for a shuddering moment even though he lived in a mansion it seemed for a tiny and . He first realized then his father is a cheap Jew. The cow flops.192 - . 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. They ate jelly candy in tears and father said it was because they were so happy.
He told himself putting people in crap housing was his revenge for the true stupidity of smug doctors. With the addition of a well-timed wink he could say he thought . When he smiled at someone they smiled back unsuspecting that his sentiments might be completely opposite those of any civilized human being. lazy. Something from his deep inside was breaking through. 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. His father sold crap to poor stupid people. the doctors left the table feeling good about what they would make putting a 60 month roof on a poor person’s house. Even when he did an income tally in his head of everyone in the room he was joyless. His contempt circled the room like butter melting on a hot pan.193 - . But something about the arrangement poked at him. The partners could not imagine where Elliot found roofing that thin. He was making the most only told him things are as they should be but gave him no cheer. greedy. Understanding eluded him like a blob of mercury but he knew everyone at this conference table was feeling good except himself. The doctors who bought into the plans where stupid.transient instant that he was making money the same way as his father but on a different scale.
The murder of nurses in Chicago completely absorbed him for . He thought that made it seem sane. With his ostentatious gold and silver stars and rings he also carried guns. his parents had never given him the details. To kill a fellow human was a drive in Elliot’s adult mind. Self-protection was a name to disguise a secret desire. Around eight or nine. His claim was because he wanted to see how it felt and see if he had the nerve like his brother in the army. he kept it a secret but he kept moving toward it. they were absorbed with Aaron’s death and Rachel’s disappearance and said little in the decade when Elliot was small. but that was only the tip of the iceberg. His father who grew up in Berlin confirmed what he suspected.” Armageddon. when history repeats itself he would have weapons and he would tell them. “You are being killed by a Jew. He had the hope to someday use his guns on a person. It was something he wanted to do beyond curiosity or desire that could not be settled vicariously.194 - .blacks and whites were equal in a way that was an insult to both. the age when some reality began seeping in around the edges of the cartoons he watched. He became caught by the magnetic attraction of violence and suffering in the many shows about World War 2. war and the holocaust were the obvious exceptions to Thou Shalt Not Kill. That was only an excuse to cover natural blood lust. Then Elliot decided.
Back at the hotel Elliot was the first to observe that the tribal council looked more like the Rainbow coalition. and in a final blaze of glory. he thought but could not see doing anything to get himself dirty. Elliot and his partners developed a team of lawyers from the St.195 - . And so Elliot carried on. 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. He told them how sure he was that the Devil is the ruler of this world. Dream big. 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. That was why Elliot went south every chance business could bring him. almost thirty victims. hanging around hicks gave him plenty of stories to tell his partners. But like the happily married man who daydreams of girls Elliot was not likely to do anything. The Texas tower sniper won his respect. Having landed some Missouri Indians who wanted to open a casino on the Mississippi seemed like a prospect with exceptional humorous potential. Louis area by faxing contracts without . There he talked to whites about blacks and blacks about whites. that’s the way to go. The question of eternal soul would be answered quickly.days. He would kill everyone this time except the Jews. Elliot had no patience. Always he insinuated the corrupt and negative as he spoke in what he believed to be their language. armed to the teeth. Elliot listen and held back his laughter.
The Jews are their best friends. They said they would honor all contracts. Fried food. “These Natives are some strange birds. With the arches in his rearview Elliot headed south. of all people would single him out. women piling their hair to the moon. open racism. they just wanted him barred. Maybe I’ll buy some riverfront. They would only come down to the conference room if Elliot was removed. The possibility of accidently hiring an aggressive independent or loose cannon was always a threat. He could not believe it. He could not believe the insult. that Native Americans. “I hope no one offered the chief a few extra beads. Elliot laughed first but not for long. His partners in the room said they would smooth it out.196 - .” Elliot said in his belittling way as the planned casino was also to be called Riverfront. raw peanuts. Phone calls requesting the tribal lawyers had been unreturned. “Cool off.” He tried to look innocent slicing another bagel.” Elliot observed frequently before a message was received. Jangling the keys in front of his team of attorneys he laughed. “Hotel is making a fortune on feeding us. “I’m going on vacation. all made Elliot’s short list of . When the council delayed the meeting Elliot said.” Returning to the buffet table.meeting some of the people. go for a ride.” One pressed the rental car keys into his hand.
The whitewash boards shined for that minute in Elliott’s mind. is that miniature or full size?” pointing to a sign.” The man answered. “That golf over there. 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. The days of slavery must have been grand. Elliot nodded. “I drove from St Louis today. his thoughts turned from the links to the clubhouse restaurant. “Full size.southern virtues. 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. Cement sidewalk. He liked the little towns and made frequent stops to sample ice cream. He drove by the cultivated land and plants in rows. “Hey boy. Now I’m going to play me some golf.” The other man had walked off.197 - . granite stairs. . He drove slowly by the white shacks with black roofs. 27 holes. he slowed for the kids playing basketball on red clay. When he saw the cows hypnotically moving toward the barn he wanted to eat a steak. put the air conditioning on and lit another cigar. he wanted them to see his luxury car. this place once had been something. Most likely floods here every year. So this is what people do who have no money.” he said to a man older than himself.
is he black?” Elliot laughed savoring the moment. “The Green family. “Give them my card. “Mary’s white.” “That’s great. Elliot stood and walked into the kitchen. It was late Tuesday and golfers and families kept a steady trade. Here. Elliot now wanted the order to go. Tell grandpa. Elliot laughed and ordered a milkshake and a double portion of bacon wrapped shrimp.” “We have a Miller here.5% tip. He picked a booth and adjusted the table from where it had been nailed for fifty years. give me a call. Elliot did not trust a stool with his weight. old but solid. “Who owns this dump?” He asked. “You must go to college.The tile floor was high quality and had stood up better than the mica countertop and ice cream parlor stools that were heavily taped. The waitress asked what was wrong.” “Elliot Miller” The waitress read the card. call me if he wants to make some money.” “They have a number?” With the bill she handed him a takeout menu and pointed to the number. Seeing the server’s face was like candy after desert.198 - . Clutching his food and drink he exited and slipped into the dark where he could examine the building foundation and .” Elliot then dropped his customary 2.” “Sorry baby. Grandma and Grandpa. The place was isolated yet the people came.
And I think you should leave. I do. Through the woods he saw shacks. only a few had lights on. Here is my card. “Just admiring the property. The driveway behind the parking lot led to a house and separate garage with a pair of cars in front. That asshole was a real redneck. “Howdy crackers.” Elliot walked back in the direction of the restaurant parking lot. he laughed.” Elliot said.” “Nothing is for sale.other possible assets.” Elliot stopped and turned slowly. “remember that name. “This here is private. the owners aren’t interested and I expect you to go back to the restaurant. This area is private.” “Well you tell the owners I can make them some money.” He said merrily out of habit to the first white couple he passed.” “Thank you but do you know who owns this?” “Yes. If Elliot had shot him he would have been a trespasser.199 - . unless the other guy shot first.” “This is not a social call and I am not selling anything. Arriving at the car his heart slowed its beat. Defending land was not the same law . It seemed like that confrontation was close to going ballistic.” After waiting Elliot returned the card to its case. The facilities are up that way. a murder. “I like you. “Can I help you?” An aggressive voice came from behind. you remind me of me. Miller.
as defending one’s home. Flashing keys and rings for years in the ghetto had done nothing but win him respect. The partners broke the news to Elliot over drinks. “Downtown at a pawnshop I could trade the two of you for a color TV.” But he could not stay angry because a used TV or stereo would be hideous while a weapon increased in beauty and value with age. Ironic that it was a racist white cracker in the south who would give Elliot the sense that he was ready. saying she was returning the call from the Family Fun and Golf Center. Only a camera or Jewelry could match a gun for size and expense and nothing equaled a gun’s awesome power over men. he looked at them and he was disappointed in them and in himself. Sucking up the milkshake sweat poured into his eyes. at the time of the confrontation he was carrying a greasy bag of shrimps and a drink.” He talked to his guns.200 - . In addition to the trespassing and murder charges on his mind. “Or a stereo. It was a relief to be told he was off this one. The first call he took at his office was a lady calling herself Grandma. Primitive emotions awoke in him while driving back to the hotel. Oh my God. Next time. How could he draw a weapon with hands full? He placed two of the three weapons he carried on the car seat. he could draw his weapon and shoot to kill. he was tantalized by . sucker. For once he was happy to leave the charm of the south. There was something about the lilting and clear telephone voice that called to Elliot.
They did look like the Village People. he thought in his own defense. Elliot had something he wanted to prove and these slices of white bread seemed only to be waiting for him to toast. I’m Elliot Miller.201 - . He rubbed his palms in his eyes and put his feet on the desk. quipped mind you. You won’t forget me. did she want to increase the business or sell it. that a Jewish Indian is called a Shmo -Hawk.” Elliot’s double talk about what he could do for her was inspired as he sounded her out. he would regret it. It was half the reason he wanted the deal. .the concept of Christian recreation which she kept stressing. Still smarting from the insult by the Native Americans he had to latch onto something. Elliot laughed at his own joke even now because he had been waiting to use that one for years. and it lit a fire inside him. The Indian thing was a big embarrassment. make the name unique or standardize a franchise? Maybe attract the PGA tour? Whatever the Fun Family wanted Elliot was sure of one thing . he said.Whoever that little asshole is who chased him from the yard. “Amen to that. Elliot tried to circle in on what he said. 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. He echoed her enthusiasm for Christian recreation while the contempt ran in his blood like hot oil but his voice was full of honey. The partners he was sure were laughing at the Natives and at him right now.
We’ll phony up something so big. He needed to return south and soon. he needed more scratch tickets. he told himself. the children… He stopped at the door to try and compose himself. I am known in Hilton’s and that puny reject has the nerve to tell me to get off. the house. The times they argued and when he asked himself why had he done all of this. 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. Any resort that has a loudmouth peasant lurking must have enemies. be cool. this was the moment he feared more than death. His hurt pride and desire for revenge swelled up like that. Elliot rose from his desk and touched the lucky coin in his pocket. Cool. People open their doors to me. I am going to blow that place off the map. He rested comfortably knowing an old business like that one must have made a few enemies.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.202 - . Chapter 16 Garth came charging up to the house. I pity him for what I am about to do. He was shaking worse than . his hands moved from his eyes.
Now it is over. Before as an angry anarchist Rachel roamed the world like it was her own. keeping the girls company while they washed dishes. home schooling. They forgave the government and the army. As phony as when they had cleansed themselves by going in the water where the children were baptized.when he quit drinking. They had laid aside their anger and guilt. 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. The years were everything and more. Mary was in the kitchen. It was a dream and it wasn’t real. Spanish. teaching the girls math. chemistry and writing.203 - . Mary was as beautiful as Garth dreamed and much to his surprise she also had a brain. Inside the house he was still trembling. chess. As in her previous life controversy found her when she joined other homeschoolers in a lawsuit against the state board of ed. . memories and threats. Garth forgave his family for being who they are and Mary forgave Aaron for believing all the dope about the army. “Mary?” “Si?” She was always playful and happy. His heart held the moment knowing it could be their last one together as a family. in her house-bound condition she brought the world to her home by home schooling the children. They were lovers and buddies.
along with the belief that she was having an impact. Having found peace with the past and being surrounded by other women having children. She always had arsenic on hand but never for that reason. After the destruction of society what follows would be The Hippie Way. Ruining lives was a criticism that hurt. “You are trying to ruin my life by teaching me at home and dressing me like this. Always living for the hope that a new day that was coming. Death being a sort of ultimate trip.In the beginning of their life together they decided if the pigs came for her that Mary would not go. a world based on tolerance. From the upstairs master bedroom she sat up on her pillows and could see swaths of green through the trees. “What?” . Unfortunately the baby grew up.204 - . she loved to watch things burn and blow up.” Said her emotional ten year old. Mary finally conceded the point and allowed one to come through her. and sharing. When Garth left for the bathroom she could feel the egg being fertilized. The idea of peaceful death did not appeal to her any more than going down in a hail of police bullets. Her desire to live was strong. recently she was not so sure things would turn out that way.” Garth returned to the room. equality. “I can’t leave my baby. At the time of the pledge she was sincere and would do it if Garth did it with her.
No one is going to take me away from my children. I won’t allow it. She stepped back. I am sure of it. “I feel like finally I can bring a child into this world.“You caught me at the peak of my cycle.205 - . What should we do?” She looked in Garth’s face. I am not a criminal and I won’t be treated as one.” “Garth. I will go down fighting. except for the things I did. I watched until he drove off. He was poking around and I asked him what he wanted. My child will know I stood for something.” It was a pause Garth could not fill. She pushed away. are you alright?” “There was someone outside and he was looking for you. He told me to remember that name.” “Was he a cop?” “It was one man all alone. honey.” It sounded like hippie mumbo jumbo but he was agreeable and tried to hold her. He said Miller.” . “I need to activate the land mines. My parents lost their parents and look at them. “If they come for me I won’t go like my grandparents. she was resisting the urge to go into his arms.
The idea of home as a fortress surrounded by land mines had worked for them until now and it was still working for them. “Dad?” “Daddy?” The girls called. If it meant keeping Mary free and the family intact they would kill the solitary bounty hunter. Part of the life they shared had been the process for both of them of coming out of combat mode.“No. the room was dark and he was watching. He knew and understood Mary’s past. A thought shared by both minds. “I’m fine. Maybe he’s looking for me because he doesn’t know you’re here. . He sat down heavily and let his head loll. Hand in hand they entered the kitchen. just tired. It was only one man. He had pulled a chair up to the bedroom window. They also told the girls not to use drugs or alcohol. half a minute later Mary followed.206 - .” The girls were taught US History from a Marxist point of view but were never told their mother was an active revolutionary. wait. Garth excused himself and went upstairs. He might be a bounty hunter we might be able to buy him off. Preparing for this day was a way of separating combat from normal life.” Garth’s sentence ended but not the thought. 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.
do you remember where we buried those land mines?” Now pointing out the window. “Daddy. nobody did. unhappy. “Nature’s law is not to kill. She was miserable. plus I was the oldest cousin. I’m a wanted felon. There will be no rest until justice is served. I moved back to the carriage house.” She walked over and sat in his lap. she had the dirt on everybody.” .“I nursed my mother in this house for the last two or three years of her life. you and the girls aren’t. Don’t worry no one is coming to take this away. We’ll always have fun together. I was glad when she died. All I had for a father was her stories about what a piece of crap he was. In a high quizzical voice. “Number one is over there. always complaining.” The silence was long before she spoke. She went to California and came back home with me.” “You wouldn’t have liked her. It’s still a blur. I won’t let them take you. …. the last vestigial behavior of a hippie child.207 - . Do you remember when we buried it? I was pregnant then. When I came back from the war their little faces never looked the same to me.” “You brought my life back. That’s why when I was little I spent most of my time at my grandparents. it was fun. The pigs know I haven’t mailed a bomb in fifteen years. They had watched the parking lot lights go out and the last dish washer’s headlights disappear in the night.” “I’m sorry I never met your mother. her getting finished drinking herself to death and me just starting down that path.
“If I eat it now you have no evidence. Chapter 17 “You have to pay for that.” They laughed and both breathed easier. Garth washed away any trace of explosives with a garden hose. “I’ll miss you.” she said No one came and during the days of waiting Garth took down the claymore mines disguised as birds’ nests in nearby trees.” “Mr Pasquale!” The boy yelled the name of the man who owned the fruit store. The massive lanterns in front of the house were filled with gunpowder and ball bearings and wired to explode. they too were cleaned out.” The teenage boy at the register meekly informed Elliot who slipped a banana in his pocket. “I think it’s good for the soil.” Still no one came. haven’t you?” “Every woman needs a few brews she can whip up.208 - . .“You’ve taught our girl’s. “Please? Who will care about one banana a hundred years from now?” Elliot brought the banana from his suit pocket and began peeling it.
So well-known and well liked Elliot frequently thought politics might be in his future. “He ate a banana without paying. Now that the boy knew Elliot it was one more person who held him in high regard.” “This is Mr Miller. Elliot exited feeling good about himself and the tenant.“Why you bother me? What is it?” Mr Pasquale came to the front and greeted Elliot like a long lost brother. With ten mil he never need to work again and could get into politics. “One more zero. Something he had been telling himself from the time his total net worth hit a million. Both men laughed heartily. “Keep the extra for a down payment on a house. .209 - .” he thought. Compared to some of these locals he was like a god. getting their vote should be no problem. Pasquale paid on time and had few complaints. the place for the zero following the one.” “This cover it?” Elliot emptied a hill of change on the counter. He wanted a more prestigious career and told himself he would change as soon as he hit ten million. He’s our land lord.” Pasquale’s pointed explanation to the boy. He can have anything he wants.
210 - . He also got kickbacks from builders. 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.‘Get the most from each customer’ was another motto he lived by. . 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. he also tried to always get the most as a partner. He could sell a 5 dollar watch for 50 if he can convince the buyer the watch is stolen. He approached three or four contractors in a strange city. He capitalized on the idea that everyone wants to be on the wrong side of the law at least a little. He especially liked salvage yards where he found many building supplies. 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. jealousy and fear others might beat them to it is what Elliot used to seal the deal. 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 never took from his two fellow partners or got more than a third.
Canadian bananas. 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. Investments were painted for them as money making machines. overstated person who would never be a guest in their home yet they accepted his guarantee of riches from the podium. Elliot was the sort of loud. urban sprawl.211 - . chicken burgers. and vacation/retirement developments in the Deep South. He made clear for them he would become their surrogate pig. strip malls. a chain of restaurants. These included. worm farming. . a chain of motels.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. “and the Kangaroos?” Miles of city streets were paved and no houses built on land one of them bought for pennies and sold for thousands to investors. or whatever posh neighborhood was local. Where are the camels now? Often he wondered. elite schools. Elliot and his partners were responsible for most of the closed zoos along secondary roads throughout the US. The research and leg work had all been done to come up with sure fire investments.
Elliot by then had explained to the original investors in the dream. 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.212 - . With offers of no more than minimum wage the partners handed out all the executive positions. Anti-union rhetoric and the promise of profit sharing is what lured them.But the most pathetic were also the most costly. that capitalism is a system of risks. He would get down on his knees and if he had to beg for the investor’s faith and . The workers went from home owners to squatters and then the people invariably moved on. Elliot made it seem like communism but it was really religion. These problems wasted time which was Elliot’s second most valuable asset. At some point Elliot with the partners would have to explain in some school auditorium to hostile workers clutching worthless guarantees and to tell management drones who built homes based on fantasy projections. Like a promise from your mother. Even the most over funded enterprises had to be manned by workers after they were built. Grosses had to be higher than heaven before there would be profits to share.
chatting idly. past the auto mile. When they were born he collapsed in the corner where he also stood during his wife’s screaming. He could not say to them it was hard work when all he did was make phone calls and go to hotels. He did not want to be around dirty diapers especially baby girls in diapers.” he often said. On the far end of town. He easily justified being away. Elliot often reminded himself.confidence. “I have to work. 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. then. He would do whatever it takes because money has no conscience. As his personal wealth piled up he wanted to do something good with his money. seeking out interesting restaurants and bakeries. Sometimes it was a chore to find places to be other than home. But he never could find the moment to spring the thoughtful and expensive gift on them. Part of his day was spent killing time. A deduction. for his family. Despite the money he had and things he and his wife did Elliot found it hard to provide more for his children. That and a cup of their strong coffee . he found a donut shop that made crawlers which were crunchy and topped with caramel.213 - .
What could he say if anyone ever saw him going into a place like that? Some of them were even wearing suits.214 - . It had to be a curse to have that kind of a need. it reopening as a XXX theatre. . The only one in town and Elliot studied it between crunchy and gooey bites. I don’t need that stuff I have a wife. He needed to find out who owned the building. The beige building had recently been repainted red and black. It amazed him to watch the patrons who went into the dark entrance. 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. Nothing good was associated with a porn theatre and any neighborhood where they are found has already collapsed. The theatre was built years before as a bold attempt to franchise small movie theatres which failed. 200 pounds ago for him and a hundred for her. Interesting to Elliot was what was going on next door. Yet this small theatre was now succeeding when previously it had failed.had Elliot laughing to himself about nothing by the time he finished. Today what the couple considered satisfying held no risk of pregnancy. Years ago Elliot and his wife conceived children.
215 - . A few of the lower classes rise above to run things and then there are people like Elliot who see trends and take cues from the masses. He considers himself among the most honest of men although he believes all men are thieves and liars. He truly felt that by selling unique investments which offered distinctive opportunities to . It is the same advice he gives away at the donut shop. care about sports and who now watch porn. But like his religion he knew his idiosyncrasies were not reflected everywhere. all of the empty theatres in America will be reopening as Adult Entertainment. At times he was his own inspiration. Elliot could hardly sleep for the excitement of his new idea. Much the same as how he had to constantly remind himself to pretend to like sports.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. The world to Elliot is made up of mostly lower class people who sweat at work. shopping and chauffeuring the girls the wife was already asleep. He directed his clients for a price because free advice is not valued. Having spent a busy day at home. He would never consider sitting in one of the theater seats for fear of AIDS and other diseases.
fleece the rich and stupid he was making this a better world by supporting his family. They rode and ate in the car for hours driving to the country fair. 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. But unlike the pathetic figures that went to porn movies Elliot knew how to keep his queen happy. he looked at the local country girls in shorts and bikini tops. Recently the girls started eating salads and Elliot had some. eating fried dough.216 - . They had tried horseback riding a few weeks earlier and after Elliot’s horse collapsed there was a moment of family self-examination. thoroughly tanned. he liked to add bacon bits. 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. It made him feel a tremor in his heart for his . It did not matter to Elliot because he wanted the girls to do whatever made them happy. At the fair. The family was always amusing to him. Like a king in his castle he was fully aware that his presence would not be tolerated except for the Queen.
make-up and bodies.daughters who wore long florescent shorts and oversized tee shirts. The two brothers fought whenever they met. used open hand slaps to rule over the one television as long as Elliot could remember. It was their world one that he as a man. Just to confound people on weekends he wore a jogging outfit. his older brother. paid for. Lacking a goat or wet nurse he was fed formula. As a toddler he had a fear of the toilet and had to hold a parent’s arm when sitting on the bowl. fashion. 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. Aaron. He worked and provided everything and anything for them. Native . 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. a good man. Large enough to give an impression of being a dominant power he still fit a typical executive office chair. America is a land of suckers and getting bounced out of that casino development deal was proof. Elliot was a big man who used his size.217 - . Starting with the subject of periods it spiraled out to encompass.
beads were worth more then. That was Elliot’s good luck. a top shelf investment with the three local commercial banks that should top 200mil. On the far side of the mountains.Americans might as well have stickers on their foreheads. that they barred him from the conference table. min! . When he said something like that out loud it was followed with a wink. Just assimilate and forget about it. not in view of any city. He laughed at the chief’s dignity. they would launch a project so large the three partners projected payments to their great grandchildren. 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 also asked the chief if he liked wearing city clothes. Two hundred mil. He smeared the insult by trying to include himself with the listener. This dream investment required at least a fifty million dollar ground floor investment. Not small change like Quonset hut motels or Honeytree Farm franchises. 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. This would be the most lucrative percentages for the partners.218 - . Jews don’t go to Germany to even the score. ever.
Millions are the small stepping stones before Billions. By college he was a slumlord and always walked around with twenty or thirty C notes in his pocket to sooth his nerves. . But now all he could think about was that hick as he dialed into the conference call. Now they could begin to make the island a prison.Mils excited him and made his adult heart flutter the way a K did in college. Journals and let the comments fly. 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. it stood on a mountain top. or. they hid behind their Wall St. Inside he was like a child happily skipping to a birthday party. wearing a cape and surrounded by cupids blowing trumpets. In another time they might have been pirates. criminal defense lawyers. Old Grandma Green had agreed to a 99 year lease on the land. Soaring one liners assailed their teachers and the world.219 - . Dare he and the partners dream about a percent of One Large? A Billion dollars had a majestic ring. A Billion dollars. At the campus coffee house the five of them spread out over several nearby tables.
Dressed in those snappy semi military uniforms they would be federally regulated but working for a private paramilitary company. They dreamed of news vans choking the roads to cover all the executions they would be holding. it became the local duty to host a maximum security prison. Elliot’s to destroy. work for all. those with money. The small banks sold shares to the town’s own people. The rural community had stars in their eyes. The prison industry association shipped in a bunch of happy workers to testify at the meetings. With all the bonds sold to locals it was like owning the entire town.There followed meetings in rooms like swamps. Elliot and his partners came here already knowing that by borrowing so much they would own these small banks.220 - . None of the lowly townies knew anyone involved in the project beyond the teller at the bank where they made payments. Having invested so much in a super max for . Hungry for something everyone wanted a part of. To the public it was all about Jobs Jobs Jobs. School children drew men behind bars as their parents talked of good government jobs. The ones from Texas talked about executions they personally worked on. there was not a Hilton for a hundred miles. In a uniform it is easy to kill an evil doer during a day’s work.
they don’t work this slow up north. That tickled Elliot. There seemed to be a lot of people leaning on shovels. When these people voted down completion insurance from Lloyd’s they made a blunder. The town’s people cheered when the highest guard tower was finished. Elliot could not imagine what these hillbillies could be thinking. 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. Elliot kept that to himself as he passed among the goobers gawking. The union operators up north are paid twice as much but they get the work done. the trucks turned red clay up everywhere and as it dried in the sun the island was enveloped in an orange cloud. From the other side of the river people looked. concrete trucks wore out the oiled town roads. . Like they were seeing the Sears Tower in Chicago get topped off. He laughed out loud at the thought.221 - . no one came to play golf and the Family Fun sign was covered with dust. Now it could take forever to build and their return on the investment would shrink to nothing.their town they all stood together watching it go up. Knowing his part in all of that Elliot whistled a happy tune.
Elliot labeled him an obvious retard as the man progressed. “How’s business?” But seeing Grandma and Grandpa Green having breakfast in a booth he went to sit with them.Except that guy kept bothering him. it was squat and ugly surrounded by the dust. The old golf course was no longer visible.” .222 - . “One delay after another. Driving further the prison loomed again. After concrete came the flatbed trucks loaded with iron for inside the prison. “Looking well. He thought he had seen him a couple of times. with satisfaction Elliot’s attention drifted and he got out of the car to get a milkshake.” He slid next to grandma since the attendant was helping grandpa. The broad shoulders of the main prison building loomed from the bridge but the turn off was thick with sticker bushes. the house and golf course were the first and second places after the bridge. Inside the Family Fun ice cream bar he asked the counter girl. 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. If I had a job like that I would shoot myself in ten minutes. going in and out of sight. Mr Green. This guy with the rest of them are going to pay.
Because once the buyer takes a loss the possibility of friendship is gone.” To Elliot they were an especially unfortunate couple since they took the lease money and invested it in the Prison bonds. People were always coming up to be friendly and say nice things to the old couple. now that the dust has settled.223 - . Not me. Elliot wanted to get to know them now because soon they would likely not want to talk with him. They must think of themselves as Rockefellers. It was like an entire world in . As a salesman he first creates a good feeling between them. “It is a beautiful day sir. “It is a beautiful day. The Greens bought bonds to help the town. That is the work. Elliot laughed about something else with everyone at the table. it had not been easy gaining their trust. They spoke about pride in their town and a place for the young people. were the only ones destined to make any cash from this. The entire place was laughing along with the clattering of dishes. Mrs Green. and his partners who loathed being here.Nothing broke the rhythm of his feeding. To Elliot the pattern was familiar. It was as if he.” Grandma’s cordiality revealed nothing.
His mother’s answers could not be understood. In her answer Grandma went on.a snow globe.” like a child. in essence she did not know who was riding the mower but you can rest assured it was one of her sons or grandsons. “He’s doing a great job. he killed a hundred commies in Vietnam. She was a total air head. Maybe he would like to be an Officer once the prison opens. “That’s my grandson. If he wanted to know an answer he had to go to his father.” Elliot could not be dragged into the subject of the Vietnam War.” 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. His older brother went off and that was it. When she opened a coffee can she always said ‘’whoosh. He’s proud. The mower sound approached the restaurant. He always hated .224 - . He was probably in high school before he asked about Aaron.” Grandpa glared around the table before his attention returned to the nurse feeding him bacon and eggs. “I can see he is proud. “Who is that mowing?” Elliot asked.
” His father told him years ago. The culture there was so isolated that when they asked about pizza they were told there was no Italian restaurant on the island. “When will we see him?” His father did not answer. 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. Often he thought he dreamed up his brother Aaron along with the rest of his life before college where he began making connections. One thing he knew was that he never shed one tear. She told him.asking him anything since every answer somehow got back to the monster with the ugly little mustache. was what made all Jewish men able to endure. In his way Elliot gathered information indirectly by deflecting the subject out of the conversation. “He is in Vashingmachine. That formula.225 - . His parents must have thought he was too young and forgot to tell him. Elliot did not understand and he could not figure it out from father’s silence. he asked his sister. The Family restaurant’s 1930’s . Elliot believed. 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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” . Aaron had been taking notes that first day. ” “Write about us. I plan to beat him.231 - .” They bunked next to each other. Some of these guys. You can use my real name.” “Am I in it?” “Yeah.“Vietnam is what everyone is going to want to read about. World War 2 is old news.” Garth said trying to sound tough.” He held out a pocket notebook. “What are you doing?” “Writing.” Aaron looked around then shook his head. He was published by age twenty five. I think you and I are going to do good.” “Writing your novel?” “Notes. Mailer had the best seller about World War 2. “The Army is a big racket.” John – a friendly country guy “That’s great. “I would stay clear of some of them. I am sick of hearing about them. look. “I changed your name to John.
The eye was his favorite kill shot for both. he was too cold blooded. Shit.“Thanks.” Garth offered. Despite the situation he came from Garth always felt he had an average white life but in Vietnam. Men in the company found it unnerving and just another reason to stay clear. Nothing falls out of a tree like a VC. Garth was cool and intent on making every round count while other men fired blindly and made themselves targets and others ran or trembled in the bush giving themselves away to the enemy. Simmons and the other drill sergeants. Smith. that’ll make it easier. Simmons Sgt.” 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. The gook eye is black like crows’ eyes. Garth found cleaning out the Cong was the same as the job he did back home since he was small. I’m calling Sgt. . “I’ll use that in the dialogue. under combat conditions in the field he saw that he was different.232 - .” “Sgt. Garth used to shoot birds through the eye.
something he had been feeling his entire life. he thought at the time. rescued by America yet he does not want his son to serve. they were buddies. they whored and drank together through training. . It was like a Jew. As his buddy Aaron won back Garth’s loyalty.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. The voices from Garth’s upbringing faded. By making him a man the Army helped Aaron get over his shame at being a Jew.233 - . 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. Aaron made peace with another gentile as he had done since high school. For his unpatriotic parents Garth saw Aaron like a man missing a limb and was amazed that he could get along so well. He had grown up hearing bad things about Jews and now was the proof.
She was keen on it too. “The fuse is lit. With Garth they prepared the nest.234 - . Against all warnings she sun bathed it in the summer until it kicked and she was gathering a pool of sweat around her. pregnant only in her imagination. On her slight frame it stuck out like a bowling ball after a month. allegedly had a larger member than Garth was likely to have. From where the fairway ran next to the road they laid mines that were operated by remote control. After each of the few times with Howie she was in hysterics to have an abortion. stroking it idly and frequently coating it with hippie exotica. She had less to fear with Garth since her only other lover. For . Now she no longer feared pregnancy but looked forward to it like acid kicking in.Chapter 19 Secretly she had been looking forward to sanctioned sex in the hope that the experience would improve. Howie. Near the house where the white picket fence had trees over hanging they placed claymores with wires running to triggers in the house. After a few tries with her husband she looked at the clock near the bed to mark the exact time of conception.” She told Garth as she felt change begin.
Despite her politics and without missing something she . He seemed to have a strange understanding and something about that irritated her. Having a baby was the deepest of deep hiding. Garth moved to another room. The inside of the house passed muster as competitive with any of the sisters’. Garth brought home a pair of AK-47’s from a gun show in Nashville. When in later years her unhappy teen daughter accused her of making her favorite foods only to keep her home. She hid from the world while having a world of her own around her. 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. Rachel inside had to agree. The child might be real but the role of mother was a disguise. After a second one was born Rachel once more found the act unpleasant and gave up sex. It proved the cliché about a woman’s love and Rachel watched Garth’s transformation with contempt for how he followed programmed male behavior. The nest was secure. A father only contributes one tadpole.235 - . Even home schooling was part of a selfish screen.the walkway up to the house they packed the concrete lamp posts.
it was not a punishment for having hurt others. That the sister in laws seemed to be enjoying their sex lives also bothered her. Sex should be like breathing but it wasn’t.never desired she only wished to understand why she was not like the women around her. from baking pies to singing in the church choir. Was sex clear to others? It confused her and she was this way from the start. Chapter 20 Laughing so hard he had to put the hamburger back in the plate. by their laughter life was like an orgy to them. Rachel as Mary considered herself to be sane and rational but unlike those women she did not go through existence laughing. Grandma had to explain about being a . She was not jealous but angry about her inability to understand. The sister in laws enjoyed everything. He had asked Grandma “What is that story they all tell about you?” A common ruse Elliot used to flatter old people. The waitresses who were teenagers had never heard the story she told. She was frustrated by not being able to study such an individual response.236 - .
reached them before he did. to be immersed in their old time lives. By . finishing his large burger. Ask his wife to ask his parents or ask himself. “Grandma.o. 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. he took big bites. This was too complicated to convey. Elliot could not read his father or his wife and this stranger was suddenly blocking him too. This was why he came here. He knew there is a separation between himself and them but for moments like this the wall became glass. The smell of cut grass and b. he would have to do it himself. The fellow on the mower could be heard far away before Elliot isolated how he might know him. The dust is still raising hell with the filter. He had just gotten off a mower and was mopping his face with a bandana.flapper. There were only two ways to find out for sure. Then that man came to the table. What was wrong? Elliot pondered. Good talk. good food. I got to take Becky to the doctor about that rash and get some parts for the pool filter. Is there anything you or grandpa need in town?” He courteously nodded at Elliot. It was the stranger from that night.237 - .
Was it a cook who visited us? “Your brother Aaron. from the Army. eating so . This could be good for a laugh.” Now he remembered him. His father still denied it.his parents schedule the store was slow from one o’clock until two. Of course they had never had Christmas in their house but with so few visitors over the years Elliot could peel back the layers with his father.” He denied ever having Christmas in his house. From Can-tuck. thick gravy. “That wasn’t Christmas it was a visit. mashed potatoes.238 - . He listened to it unfold. But then Elliot’s thoughts went to the other place. he’ll think twice before he’s rude to me again. He wished one day his father would put a bandage around his mother’s mouth. he did not look that old. the family in Romania and the peasants on the family estate decorating the town. It made him dizzy. his friend. As always his mother answered the phone. the possibility they once had Christmas in their home. her pointless questions leading to a story. In his hotel room Elliot could smell the turkey of thirty years earlier and those KFC sides which he lusted for ever since.
Food that satisfied something more than hunger. “Garth Green. “If you every need anything. The mower guy soon passed his way again. “Is the mower yours or are you still making payments? Everything okay? You’re pretty quiet. No one knows.immersed in food he could not get air.” Elliot smiled and winked. He did not fade into the background he was the background.239 - . “Everything okay now. The tractor stopped as the man took the card. superficial and quickly withdrawn. And the memory of his first time… No longer could he hate that man but neither could he respect him. consumed in a way that built his present largeness and the power he radiated. In the daylight he could see this guy was a nothing.” Elliot offered a politician’s hand clasp. You look like you’re doing pretty good for yourself. . right?” Elliot could not resist spooking anyone who presented themselves as skittish.” “Elliot Miller. a nobody who had the sort of face that made you forget his name. looked at it and stuck it in his pocket.” Elliot extended his card. Then he extended his hand.
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. Elliot laughed.He mowed on.240 - . which was also family. . He was old enough to know other men in sexless marriages and respected his wife for not trying to do something when clearly she had no talent. he had his memories. Like a proud rooster on his riding mower he cruised over the realm which had been given a new life by his efforts. unlike the hundreds of whores of his youth he did not pursue her. “Now I’ve got you. he removed the live bombs from the golf course. Because he did not want his family life interfering with the life of his business.” He said out loud knowing in fact that he had nothing. Chapter 21 Garth accepted things. 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 walked toward the construction site to annoy some steel workers.
Becky was a teen now and Maggie would be soon. playwrights. 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. looked. 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. Every driver who approached slowed.241 - . now it was full of women and that was daunting for Garth. It just rolled into the big ball of strangeness that Garth figured all men go through in one manner or another. From pressure to become women scientist. 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. judged and sped on. . Becky insisted much of what her mother was teaching her was wrong. scholars. It was intensely strange not to have the child’s seemingly healthy mother waiting. Once it was a house full of girls. The first few mornings Garth and Becky waited for the bus by the side of the road.
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. the family even prospered yet it was done without having her heart in it. She never answered the phone and would not allow cable TV in the house. He was a wreck and had nothing to offer her and she gave everything and became part of his life and his family.242 - . she could never wait with her children for the bus. She may have killed people and set fires but that was what they had in common. putting the card down in his pocket he had no intention of mentioning him . With both girls being educated elsewhere Mary started sleeping late and staying up reading all night. Other marriages had cheaters. He remembered when she dropped her clothes in front of him in the weeks before they got married. but she was loyal to him and their home. drunks and abusers.It became another one of those things Garth accepted. Garth fingered the business card. She feared standing on the side of the road because a trooper might recognize her. She had things that would never be shared but the way she gave herself to him was like a dream.
In recent months as the the island was turned into a construction site he only closed his eyes but did not sleep. he had expected this or something like it. he did not look at women. The lacquer letters on the textured card shined at Garth. lately that temptation was strong. Life sober was becoming unbearable.243 - . But he must have dreamed it. Something she did while others slept. But he was not sure and the card was a test. he did not think she had been there long. But as usual he emptied his pockets on the kitchen table so Mary could file the receipts. Garth had not been sleeping well lately. was there any life left in the old girl? . In the dark while he waited for her to come upstairs he thought he saw a flash and heard that single muffled report. In fact if he thought about it Garth only slept well in the Army where his exhaustion was total. Her tiny silhouette in the doorway. his arm froze at the thought to throw the card away and he left it on the table.to Mary. she was not the suicidal type and would inflict herself on others a thousand times before putting the pistol in her own mouth. what tempted him would be spending one or more years drunk. Going to bed he made sure to leave the door to his room open.
it was not to be. “I just need to lay low. His heart was pounding and he was alive again as he answered her questions. 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. As a neglected and unwanted child. As an adult he never experienced unconsciousness without a tendril still looking for missing sustenance and affection. 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. Now she reminded him of the days when he was happy she had come along. “This is my brother. Living with a disaffected wife who asks buggy questions offered some moments of comfort since it fit the world he knew.He wished she were dead both to end her suffering and to free him.244 - . I just won’t . Let’s put a locked gate in our driveway. early life offered Garth no contentment.” She concluded.
” “If that’s the way you feel you should have said so years ago. Texas.” The sun was up before she returned to her bed and Garth was getting up to get the girls ready for school.245 - .go out until I can be sure.” “I thought that’s what you were saying. He could not forget his loyalty to Aaron and the debt he owed for letting him jump first. They can read license plate numbers with satellites now.” Garth did not realize she felt that way. California. He ticked off a few places. I’ve done worse. There is no place left to hide. She wrapped herself in her blanket and looked up at him. Mexico. often he thought he was the only one who loved them. Canada. “We can go for one last car ride…” He offered diplomatically. A year?” Her lip curled as she spoke. “If he’s not looking for me he has to have an FBI tail on him. With two children he felt at first he knew the answer. “What am I going to do? Where am I going to go?” was all he could hear. “I burned a nursery school to kill a senator’s . Every stranger is my brother and my own brother is a stranger.” “I would kill my brother to save my family.
they raised me to never shed a tear. . “Maybe it is better if I go away.granddaughter. Killing my brother has got to be wrong. That’s why I don’t sleep with you. I made children orphans. Yet that is all I can come up with. 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. she was. I have no ability to feel. Not even for my own brother.246 - . She could still kill without remorse and that would destroy them all. Our daughters no longer need me. My parents never imparted feelings in me and as a result I never developed them on my own. After all these years it was no longer the world that was the threat to the family. I knew everything I wanted to feel but I never felt anything. I blinded people. It was obviously her. the faceless shape in a thirty year old wanted poster.” “If you shot him or poisoned him. 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. I killed a dishwasher to get his job. how are you going to get rid of the body?” Mary seemed aged. the thought to kill him and the means. The little 14 year old Rachel had not grown inside but was withered.
. It will work. you and me. denying it like a proper woman would deny a desire for sex. that and once more she needed him. a plan from years ago when he was actively thinking about that stuff. Never again. mister and misses. We tell the girls to sleep at their cousins’ and in the morning make some calls for no one to look for us.247 - . The grocery bag of money was restocked long ago waiting to be used. She did not know she needed him and would not admit it. Then his feelings toward Mary were different.“I mean that is a heck of a body to dispose of. He remembered how much he once wanted a type of woman who she reminded him of. 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.” “We’ll go out together. But helping her was the only thing that made him want to go on. but he would rescue her once more.” “I am not going to leave my home riding in the trunk of a car.” Garth pulled that out from the back of his mind. She was still beautiful to him but she did not know how to use it. Before she tired of what she called being a cookie cutter robot like the rest of the women.
After fiddling with the radio he got the all-news station from Chicago. he could not even sleep until he was far from the smell of the island and the river. anticipating being back at the room and removing his shoes and peeling off his socks. Hilton’s little sister. He found a Hampton. the call home. 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. He removed the soggy nylon strap from around his back. In the peaceful moonlight passing abandoned share cropper shacks he listened through . Dinner. he removed his leather holster and directed the AC blower at it. Such is the life. The Family Fun motel was too decrepit for him. By the time he got there he was dry again. supervising these hillbillies was a job.248 - . with horse stables. He considered building a mansion on the hill for his family. room service and a movie. he talked to hick bankers and went to Rotary meetings. he thought.Chapter 22 Elliot spread the parts of his gun across the car seat.
249 - . . He turned giving nothing. spaghetti served in bathtubs just for him. Elliot found intermittent tipping got the best response if he was going to need service for a while. But that was yesterday before he saw the face that had so haunted him. Usually no more than $5 for a male valet and tenner for a woman. Dozens of pizzas with all kinds of toppings. The concierge had his mail and key ready for him and she got eleven dollars. He knocked out red sand in heaps on the floor. his breathing evened and his mind stopped racing. Mercantile prices suddenly fascinated him. Even as he dreamed it on the hotel bed the center of his chest became calm. milkshakes in the one gallon size. He shoved the mail in his pocket and untied his shoes in the elevator.stories about murders in Gary to get to the New York stock prices. The valet was there and Elliot toyed in front of him with a one dollar or a ten dollar bill. He had trout almandine last night that would not have satisfied a cat so tonight he had planned to take out the car and dine at a local pizza joint. was Elliot’s motto. No place is too far to go to get something for nothing.
it’s just old age. “I wish you would not call because at 6 in the morning it bothers your mother. He had not eaten last night yet he felt surprisingly good this morning.He opened his eyes in bed and looked at the time. 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. He put his shoes back on and left the hotel.250 - . 3:54.” .” “Is mom feeling all right?” “Your mother is fine. maybe she’s not well. we’re both fine. too late to go back to sleep and too early for room service. His car was not far and in the cool of the morning he did not mind walking.
I know.” “I’m doing fine where I am.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. ” “Maybe we should talk in the house. “Do you need a job? Once the building is finished we need to hire a staff. I remember you. 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 . we all know that. “If you don’t know me Mower-man you are going to wish you did.” Elliot’s comment hung suspended and was deflected by silence.251 - .” “Let’s drive up. It will be to your regret if you don’t remember me. unless Lincoln offends you. I have an air conditioned Lincoln.” “You are Grandma’s boy.
a lot of mower jockeys served.” . your brother. The only way out of the lot was to drive past him so he waited.” “Well.” “I know your parents. Come on up to the house.” Garth got off the tractor and approached the car. Maximum security is something I want to share with the world.” Garth watched him. cracker!” Elliot pressed the pistol into Garth’s face.252 - . don’t forget we’re hiring. “Back. “I served with Aaron. Move back. Of course not all concrete is created equal. I don’t know who you think you are or think that you know but I am going to get in my car and go back to the hotel and forget this ever happened.” Elliot laughed heartily. There’s someone for you to meet. he moved fast for a big man. The window rolled down and Garth leaned in.” “Listen wacko.wire on top of concrete walls. “Move that fucking mower and let me pass. Knowing bad guys are where I can keep an eye on them gives me a stiff one. that’s enough. “Back up. I went to them for Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It looks great on a resume. I said. that’s nothing.
When did you last see your sister?” Elliot stood from the car and offered the gun with both hands.” “Come to the house. . Meet your nieces. They need me.So this is what the avenging angel looks like.253 - . Garth judged Elliot to be in a state of terror.” And handed it backed. “It’s safe now. boy. “It is you. Tell me if the safety is on.” If his approach could so terrify her brother he worried how to tell Mary. I married your sister and we have two little girls. “I know I deserve to die but please don’t kill me. Catch your breath. a frightened fat man sweating through his business suit. They had two children on the iron clad promise that the children would never know their mother was wanted for murder. “Slow down.” Garth moved the tab to cover the red dot.” “What?” Elliot’s attention turned from the safety switch he was fumbling with. “It’s too dark. The door began to open and gave Garth time to speak.
Who the hell is he to call me a cracker? That was what Aaron also called southerners. Now this. Likewise Uncle Elliot was of no interest to them until he told them he had twin girls who were sixteen. Having been homeschooled they were far ahead of their age mates in the public school. If the story ever got as far as one time music great Toby Tyler the girls were thoroughly bored. . The girls made clear to Elliot that they were excellent students. 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.254 - . He wanted to scream out his guilt but now the conditioning of years left his face and demeanor unchanged. Being a school night the girls were in the front room doing homework together.With the name of Elliot Miller popping up more frequently on the island it was becoming more than they could stand. 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. Cracker.
“Mary. When he entered her room she was asleep with the Collectors’ Copy of Wobbly’s Weekly on her chest. She still had mail drops they visited seasonally and she subscribed to various socialist magazines. she threw her magazine away.” He said as he sat where he used to sleep. For the first few years they slept together after they stopped having sex but it was the memory of this as the room where he tended his mother before she died that drove him to sleep on a couch downstairs and eventual back upstairs to his own tiny room.” he whispered. “Elliot is here. He was about to say your brother is here but halted thinking of Aaron. he knew she had spent the day in bed reading by the condition of the house. . Mary was still caught up in his sexual thoughts and at this moment the room reminded him of that.255 - .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. gasping as she sat upright. With one motion she shook off the lethargy of years.
this would be a Jew family reunion.” “Twin’s…” Mary repeated. It’s fine. He has two girls.” Elliot rose from his chair and followed his sister into the kitchen where they sat facing each other across the table. twins. Close the door and let me get dressed. “There were twins on my mother’s side of the family but I don’t think the father has anything to do with that. “Elliot? Look at you.“I invited him. What happened?” “I guess when you and Aaron went away they had no one else to feed so they stuffed me. The construction project was just a coincidence for him to be here.” It was something she would have never done for Garth’s family. “They’re both still alive?” . He knew she always enjoyed shocking them with her dishevelment and clothes from India. the same age as our girls. Years ago the sisters prevailed on Mary to have her hair done. She even wore make-up a few times. Come downstairs. she rouged her cheeks for church.256 - . or ever again. Garth doubted he would see that today. it seemed to amuse her.
Too much to quit…” Elliot ended.” Mary picked it up. the picture is me but they have no proof.257 - .“They’re alive but they are still not living life. I was a war protester back then and they wanted to silence me. “If you saw the picture then you know it could be anyone. They never change.” After the girls went to bed Elliot described what he saw in the post office. More than ever now. The government has already convicted me. Dad said they will carry him out. to every old customer who walks in. “…but not enough to retire. “He still says that. He still is selling shoelaces from boxes older than I am. I admit it. To collect the reward someone only has to turn you in.” “You don’t have to be guilty.” “Have they sold the store yet?” “That will never happen. Under that condition how could anyone get a fair trial?” . He’s making too much money. all of us.” “That’s right.
258 - . Sheepishly Elliot produced a second from his jacket pocket and with some difficulty reaching down for it. “Nancy Reagan carries one of these. “Now this is the woman I love.” Garth produced a revolver from the drawer next to the refrigerator.” Garth was glad it was him holding the gun and not her. “Lay your weapon on the table. you’re on his side? I’m your brother. the mother of my children.” . Garth?” “He pulled a gun on me in the parking lot. Anymore?” She demanded. For someone.“That reward money is still a nice pile of change.” He shook his head and laughed but was laughing alone. “Because I don’t want anything happening to her I want to know. Honest. a third. I need for him to make his intentions clear. “That’s all.” Mary drew the weapons to herself and individually admired them. to me it’s not worth the paper work. But some of these crackers might jump at the price.” “Rachel. what have you got on your mind?” “What are you doing.
“Because of Dad.” “That’s why I had to get away. You know why I carry them. Hitler that.” “He couldn’t understand why our brother wanted to join the army.” “Was this a plan? Why are you carrying all these?” “No plan. this cousin died there and your other one was put in slave labor. Everything about them said victim. Oi God! If you don’t study and get all A’s then your family died for nothing.” Garth did not know what they were talking about. I put mine in my sock.” “That’s right.” “Hitler this.” “Every night the same stories.259 - .” “But he couldn’t do that there.“She keeps hers in her purse. 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.” “It was so brutal. .” “He wanted to be an American and a menche.
That shouldn’t be too hard to live with.” “I tell myself I could do it without hesitation.” Garth agreed. “It’s life after that’s hard.” He remembered himself and made like he had spared Garth’s life.” Elliot looked up.” “Killing a human being is easier for some of us.” Garth consoled him.” “It’s easy to pull a trigger. “I don’t want to shoot you now. Ask Garth. To show the ghosts who are everywhere that you learned the lesson from their deaths. “But killing shouldn’t be easy.260 - .” She said and added quickly what she was learning.” “That’s why I carry them. I’m glad I didn’t. So you do what you do now to prevent the next Hitler.“You just want to reach out and kill someone but Hitler’s been dead and the war’s been over forty years. . “You’re not a killer. 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. I was shaking. I couldn’t see straight.” “For me it is. But I never shot anyone. his tone changed.
do you?” “Why?” “The front of your house is orange. “It would be more dangerous if it wasn’t.“I’m not your enemy.” Elliot’s expression turned serious.261 - .” . I block out traffic noise. “Do the girls know?” “Elliot. I swear it never came up. “Was that loaded?” Elliot asked.” Garth returned his gun to the kitchen drawer. The biggest thing I worry about is my apple pie crust.” Garth sat in the kitchen chair next to his wife. “That’s it?” Elliot asked.” “You don’t get out much. It’s so beautiful out here. by the God of our father’s.” Garth could see his wife’s face become twisted with a painful memory. “That’s it. Don’t you notice all the trucks?” “For eight years I rented an apartment under iron stairs a block off 5th avenue. “I guess I’m finally meeting Mary.
Prize money. But you can tell him that his granddaughters escaped the family curse and are going to have happy lives. We wanted to eat and we had to wait for the fight to end. Don’t say a thing to him about where I live. All I remember is you and our parent’s screaming at the Shabbat table.” Elliot alone smiled.” “So you don’t mind if I tell dad?” “I’m an adult and I don’t care what you do. not a day of rest. we all block everything out.“I know Rachel.” “What do you mean?” “It’s says fifty grand. Religion makes people hypocrites.” “You are so stupid. That wasn’t what it was. It was supposed to be Shabbat but we waited long past sunset on Shabbat.” “What are we going to do about that reward money? There are post offices everywhere. . Cash reward. 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. Don’t tell him that you found me. The fighting between you and dad was always bad but Shabbats were the worst.262 - .
” Taking off his shoes he stretched out. Adding. When a black Lincoln goes by at 100 miles an hour the cops back off. They know I’m someone important.” “It took us eight. “I drive home barefoot.“You would send me to jail for fifty thousand? Your own flesh and blood?” To witch Elliot replied with a noncommittal wink.263 - . 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. It was sixty three little rubber band packs of twenty dollar bills. “That’s the way I drive.” Garth said for the sake of conversation.” He looked around the room.” “Our father gave us a bag of money to help us. if you don’t tell the police. it takes me five hours most nights. “This is how I do business.” . Garth and dad got along instantly.” “He sent me to Yale and gave you cash. “Do you have fifty thousand on hand? In case I was serious.
that’s what I tip the guy who mows my lawn. 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. Sorry. 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. I had no father and my mother threw me away. “My parents were refugees from Hitler’s Germany.264 - . The room had the pungency of perpetual habitation and rotting books.” Elliot said good night and shoved his small weapons and variety of ammo into his front coat pockets. you hold onto that in case a bounty hunter can get past your withering gun fire. It had been a while since he had been upstairs to see her.” She dropped her current notebook on the pile of notebooks that she slept with.“No. No. .” “What are you talking about? My parents never loved anything but that little store of theirs. You had two parents who loved you. I would never. “It’s funny how we started out so different. No longer was Garth stalked by the fat man.
one generation after the next. And that he loves you.” “It would seem pointless to you.” “But don’t you want to get up and get out?” He came around the bed to sit on a corner.You have no idea what that can do to a person. I still have Elliot’s phone number. You’ve had a happy life going in little circles.” “Are you crazy? The way they tap phones in this country? You might as well just push me out into the road. But people like me live in a maelstrom around the eye of cataclysmic events. maybe your parents could go to Elliot’s office at a certain time and we could call them. I .” “You think I’m happy? Maybe for a little while until I was 8 years old and they stuck a rifle in my hands. A window needed to be open.265 - . The events of my life would have no meaning if they weren’t recorded. Mary picked up a notebook and held it in front of her chest.” “I thought your father was wise and kind. 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.
“There’s scrambled eggs and toast downstairs for you. his intention was asking her for a New Year’s date and now he just wanted to find some beer and hit the road. Their adult daughters broke off from them when they learned their mother had not been honest.” Garth said with all the calm he could drag to the surface and got up from the edge of her bed. Maybe I am not as miserable as you but don’t write in your little books that I am happy. He struggled with his urge.266 - . Wasn’t all this expansion his idea?” “That must be it. He might give you some direction. The children she raised questioned everything. He shook his head and took a chair alone at the kitchen table. . Garth felt all was lost he was almost sixty and the comfortable family he grew up with was dead nearby or living far away.” Once or twice before he felt like this. After so long it still called to him.thought you and I had a shot at being happy but that didn’t happen.” “You go and talk to my father. 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. to grab some beers and hit the road.
The paper was turned to compressed lint having been sweated through for many years.” He clasped his hands in prayer. . The lacquer letters and numbers in disarray were stuck to his thumb.” He said to himself. “Grant me the courage to change that which can be changed. He pulled out his wallet and unpeeled Elliot’s card from behind the bills.267 - .“Grant me the serenity.
Born in Pennsylvania and relocated to Kentucky at 14 where she became a child bride known as Mary. She knew that was a lie and there was no one she could trust. Rachel. In court she learned her arrest was the result of an anonymous tip to the FBI.268 - . The tips were callous and desensitized her fingers came to blunt ends like the trucker drivers and stevedores she met in New York. . She demanded to speak with an attorney and once given one she had nothing to say to him. The most sensitive parts were wearing leathery caps and they offered no help judging temperature or texture.Chapter 24 The Trial of Rachel Miller Upon arrest she immediately admitted to once having been Rachel Miller but not to any other residence. They only spoke after she was brought to court and fully charged. she fumbled with wire strands and tweezers for the small quantities her volatile mixtures required. 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 only relief she knows is by picking up the violin and bow and playing for an hour. And she would have.269 - . 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. 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. People are basically good was one idea stuck in her head which inspired her most of her life. But that is not possible in prison where the authorities are not inclined to ease her stay. The repetitive movement that caused the injury also soothes it. Rachel was segregated from the prisoner population for fear she might spread her pacifist beliefs. Her elbow twinges and her shoulder ached and sometimes it was the other way around.Gentle detachment. Peers not in the musical world but the ones who marched to the militant beat where she was known as a . She was also denied the company of others.
At peace. In a melodic thrall until the violin plays the pizzicato and his eyes reopen and a genuine effortless smile comes to his lips. Music made him another person. she saw him finding peace. Before that she watched her father’s head loll with heaviness when he listened to the Texaco Hour. Her father in that way inspired her to play the violin. 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.270 - . . under a musical spell his face relaxed from the jester’s mask he made of it in the store. not an obliging small-town merchant. 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. 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.white radical to the police and as a sister in the local community.
They were another face of the enemy like the cops and the army. It was a world dense with high school age kids and a few older people in their twenties.271 - .She was a young runaway living in a radical commune in the lower east side of Manhattan and there a boy from Queens showed her the chapter he was writing for ‘The Terrorist Handbook’. The same men who made and sold porn also printed the revolutionary newspaper and made duplicates of the war film from Hanoi which were sent throughout the country. They swaggered and licked their lips. all armies. challenged her belief that all people are good. That there was no single word or phrase that could explain it. the distributers. She searched for the one word she could throw back at any argument. to talk with those guys about the revolution she had to put up with a lot. In a desolate tenement she learned how to put together a newspaper and live in a community without laws. In her heart she was always sure . After a celebrity made a trip to Hanoi upon her return there was an influx of newsreels from the North. Porn and the people she came to associate with it. The President is the same as the guy who offered her wads of cash to make a movie. It was the same aggressive hunger in all these men.
sunny and beautiful but she could not share it any more than she could express it.” Her father observed. My father’s was a brilliant surgeon. And our homes. She said they would go to Aryan children in the special home for Hitler’s Kinder. Hitler took our toys. raped to death by Hitler’s men. and he would accuse her of sharing responsibility. He could have sent the same German soldier out to fight four or five times after being wounded.272 - . “Hitler’s jealousy was such that it would destroy the world it was building. Adding.” At which point he laughed. It drove her to spend hours with her dictionaries. . My parents were no more Jews than we are.” She searched during most of her youth for a word that could deflect the Hitler argument. She came to isolate one day.that life still was pleasant. The Hitler argument disallowed any counter discussion or else her father would bring to bear the shattered limbs of his big sister. 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. My mother thought because my father was a famous doctor we would be safe. “My sister had a shelf full of porcelain dolls that she liked to dress. “Very pretty.
Other times when she was asked she explained that she had no interest in sex. Learning its desires and feeding it while maintaining an A average and learning new music for the school tours. Her mind was occupied analyzing the constant rage she felt. This was not a line but a fact. 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. Her deeper anger had more to do with her mother’s bright lipstick and the artificial mole she adorned herself with. 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. It was a wall of resistance toward what her mother wanted . and shout about. When the war was raging then being anti-war was something she could talk. She fell like one of so many cut daisies for the charismatic Christians and their peaceful ways. They promised each other to remain friends and did. At fourteen in 1966 she could justify her reluctance.273 - .It was the music of the Beatles arriving in time to rescue Rachel when they offered her and her generation a new meaning to the world.
274 - . to be a cultured tease. Rachel’s brothers did not know or care and father smiled and nodded. 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. The dream of a coquette was all that remained. Her grandmother did not have her wig when the Germans came was something Rachel heard from her mother many times. spat on by the neighbors. who at parties and balls would infuriate the young men as she coyly played with them. 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. Where these balls were being held in western Pennsylvania was a mystery but it was her mother’s dream. to protect and provide for the . a toxic dream.for Rachel. he found the fantasy agreeable. He would not save her. Reassured by father’s presence mother worked in the family’s store and in the evening they formed circles. 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. a coquette. Max took care of Eva who together formed a crippled parent’s outer circle. servants and even friends.
two separate circles. The police.275 - . In jail she finally felt proud of herself for having been an inexperienced young girl alone on the road. She reasoned that the party was always under the FBI’s thumb while the mob did whatever it wanted. When she slipped the FBI that day she really slipped them. She knew the guys who printed her newspaper were in with Mafia. While her parents brought the kids to the meetings of death camp survivors it did not sink in to Rachel or the other children that they were not alone. The effect among the kids at these gatherings was to reinforce how strange all the parents were. were confusing her for the activist Rachel who by coincidence shared Mary’s Maoist-Marxist philosophy. Mary considered herself a . Especially so Rachel thought for her family. The Mafia sold her to American Nazis as a live hippy for a hunt in Wyoming. It was her decision not to use the Communist party underground.children’s circle. After the meeting kids went to their scattered homes still feeling desperate and alone with reclusive parents living in their private world. All of the criminal charges were for actions before 1978 while living in New York. she could claim.
Clearly whoever turned her in possessed the most difficult of minds to liberate. She wanted to examine the driving forces in the greater culture. Rachel had hoped for a podium. 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.276 - . To identify one or more specific weaknesses of mind in several individuals will help to elicit why these people have become docile puppets. Her legal strategy was to rip through every witness. her plan was not to talk about herself but to begin the conversation among the masses to abolish war. how advertising and consumerism were enabling neurotic narcissism in women and the culture of endless war in American men. She wanted to understand not only who and what but also why. Of the millions of . God himself might expect to be called on to explain creation. Ideas she had been honing in her notebooks would be her tools used to expose a basic flaw in the human race. She wanted to put all of society on trial.teacher and intellectual.
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. The women who opened up as they washed dishes or waited tables together would convince a jury that she was sympathetic and understanding. But when she . For thirty years a tiny woman. threatened the foundations of the republic because she was a war protester.277 - . Rachel wanted to prove that she was singled out and planned to prove her innocence by indicting everyone else in the photograph. These were the people who knew she was sober and reliable. The picture was a cut out. Although when another waitress robbed her tips she could say nothing for fear of a fight breaking out and the police being called. “I want to kill my husband. including the tourists who were in that picture. 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.people who saw this in the tens of thousands of post offices. anyone so dressed. only a handful could point a finger at her.” was something with which she could identify. She wanted the jury to see the entire photograph of the hundreds of others.
children against parents. Except for the matter of steel bars in front of her face it would seem she had all the evidence against the little town. Out doing neighbors and trying to get ahead was the number one topic of conversation. parents against each other. selfish and self-centered.278 - . People want things and buy things for themselves then they worry how to pay for them while wanting the next thing. While she scanned the horizon for the police they had their heads bowed nurturing their lawns.learned the girl’s grandfather worked in a hardware store then a bomb was sent to her grandfather’s store. 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. In a little town everyone seemed to have problems. and parents secretly against children. But all of the people of the town were slaves to their work. They understand their jobs but are mystified by their families. The locals go to church but have no Sabbath. The entire town was evil. Entire families were in division. She felt that work is unacceptable and only passion is acceptable as the motivation. No day of rest to reflect on creation and give thanks. The day of . That was the first thing she noticed.
War is always wrong. except one and she had not been charged with that one. it would have saved his life. Rachel learned to eat pork in Kentucky and there came to see the special consideration toward taking a human life. She lost feeling in this world and tried to wring more from meager memory of the past. . In shacks where beer and hard liquor was served the boys fought each other but never to death. to be near Garth and hear him tell what he saw as he did long ago. Passion motivated that too. She should have seen that before. She knew the war was wrong the day she learned Aaron died. It felt like she had spent a lifetime beating her head against a wall. And her hands which once held his became like ghosts to her. She could run down a list of how flagrantly American culture disregarded the Ten Commandments. But her actions were revenge and politics.rest is Monday after an exhausting weekend. She wanted to hear of her brother who often held her hand when she was a little girl and was shot to pieces. To tell how the sergeant with hand on his side arm forced him and Aaron to jump outside the wire.279 - . Rachel in the course of her antiwar struggle regarded taking a human life like other Jews claimed to not eat pork at home.
She saw the rich and the poor living side by side. was there when the soul of her brother departed his body. Garth. her father’s family stayed in Berlin. Garth’s lack of interest or ambition made for a comforting quiet. It took time before his presence was felt other than as a sack of booze. the animals she helped feed that were later served family style in the restaurant. Garth’s drinking made her apprehensive. She could see how like her father there was a day everything changed. It was the other way round for Garth. She never liked alcohol. She remembered in the evening he swatted imaginary flies . Aaron’s buddy. Garth was the first alcoholic or drunk person Rachel had to deal with. But historically millions of Jews came to the New World. Doesn’t that mean something? Living quietly on the river awoke in her the value of life. With garden fresh peas she picked.280 - .Some people don’t have lives with pain. Proper alcohol use as illustrated in popular culture says beer time only arrives at dusk. 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. Used to be he’d drink from morning until early afternoon before he could hold a civil conversation. her family had pain for generations.
Aaron’s internment at Arlington was not an honor to his family. despite neighbors and taverns nearby Garth drank alone. There was a knowing wink at the mention of Grandma and Grandpa every Sunday. Korea and Vietnam at rest. Some of that money went to build the town’s only church. Everyone doesn’t have to know you’re Jewish. Even the worst things these people did seemed bathed in sunshine. Rachel could imagine her parents tossing her body in a hole the same way. For them it was easy to value life that was not miserable. of all people. He. who was an attraction for miles around as the . While most people will become happy and sociable after one drink or two. Their sacrifice was not disputed. She learned the principle subject of gossip as it was repeated in various corners of the small town. That was the big lie her father told her and the family.281 - . The cemetery had some twenty and twenty one year olds from ww2. it was mostly about Garth’s family who made barrels of cash during the depression with booze. dope and whores.while watching television above the garage without curtains. Max had used the flag to wipe away Aaron’s footprints.
Rachel wondered. his special numbers could be seen inside his sleeve on a hot day. 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. A Jewish man. 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. 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. He was not a child as he appears on first impression. That one then beat Max until bones were heard snapping. 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. Rachel was taught in Hebrew school that except for their sect’s unique interpretation of the Five .282 - . 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. And his scars.local Jewish merchant. Max rarely went in the sun and throughout his life his scars remained pale and fresh. The Greeks across the street celebrated their version of Christianity.
At home he was a devoted spouse and in love. He thought that was another reason to go to into the Army. as a girl she suggested that maybe he was so good a doctor the Germans let him live. he joked in broken English with delivery men and customers all day long until he arrived home. . He saved many lives. “I only run a store but my father was a great doctor. We should go to Berlin and look. for a chance to be a hero like our late President. Jewish existence is to suffer and die was Max’s philosophical response to her. But mother was also a rival as she did and said things which took her and Max away. She thought Aaron could be the first Jewish president. It was Aaron who first got Rachel interested in politics.” For the eternity of youth she tried to infect her father with optimism.Books of Moses the rest of the world is wrong and will be punished when they die. But most of the time Max was happy. But he only became bleak about that. Rachel and Aaron made Elliot the slave.283 - . When Aaron was left in charge the family felt half normal. Father would put Aaron in charge of the family for days at a time taking mom to different hospitals and rest homes.
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.Other than Hebrew school and the store her time was spent in her heavily doll and doily adorned room. . The stand was only open a few hours in the morning before the Greek restaurant across the street opened. waited for her father to approach. from her seat in the window. Her father would see that she was the boss and it was Max who did the peasant work. He was off in the woods directing his crew the day the SS and Romanian Nazis took the other Jews away. Rachel did the books then got on her own bus to school. She spent hours sewing dresses while waiting at the cash register. Eva. The Barbie’s were imitation dolls with no flexibility. Mother sewed at the counter on a high stool from where she could oversee the store and where father could always find her. Rachel and her mother brewed coffee which they sold along with snacks and newspapers to the commuters who took the bus. The exception was hospitality.284 - .
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. Rachel was embarrassed for her mother as she would be for a dumb kid in class. It was the only skill she had to transmit. Rachel taught her mother how to make change. At the age of nine Rachel lost the fascination and stopped sewing with her mother. She was thankful when the rabbi sent a note home about the subject. it was to enflame the male for the wedding night. Aaron got out of the Hebrew school system and was in the . the clothing her mother made for her to wear was changing.285 - . Rachel resisted becoming the kind of woman her mother was poised to make her.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. Her mother explained to her about the slits and use of see threw material. tight skirts and bright colors brought all kinds of unwanted attention to Rachel. They cut and sewed doll wedding dresses. Rachel in a long fur coat mother made from unfashionable salvage. Maybe that was why she was so adamant that she teach Rachel how to sew.
She planned to do like her brother. American kids did not know how to study. “Maybe your beautiful older sister who was dragged behind the house and raped to death is sick of you bringing up her story. You would have been better off dying to save her.always a slave of Hitler. Overall she agreed with Aaron except when he fought with their father. He expected to do well in the army and Rachel wanted to follow him there until she learned more about courant events.” Aaron despised their father’s wisdom. the challenge for Aaron must have been not to go too far but finally. Every blow was unfair and dirty. You have Hitler on the brain. The time between when he signed up and actually went in was one brutal fight after another. Father saw any uniform as a Nazi uniform.” If the family was always quiet they were at one time warm toward each other but no longer.local public high school. “Once a slave of Hitler . Just as Elliot was kept under the couch fights about the army crushed her father. she did not like what the army was up to. Aaron said being in public school was like being back in kindergarten. Her brother .286 - .
A knock on the head and he is drafted. He was glad to go and the tension at home was relieved when he left. Rachel’s ability to be taken up with the passion for her music became intermittent. a secret spy during the war. literal and cast in stone.entered the army under a curse. She was too stiff necked to be instructed by teachers who were not on her plane in terms of feeling each note. “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. Even if the answer was more practice.287 - . she needed someone whose playing she respected before she would accept instruction and .” Rachel corrected him.” She had the memory of an ancient religious scholar.” With Aaron away it became a joke again.” Father said. “This is exactly what I predicted when he went to the public school. Music under the pressure that it must deliver her away made it like playing with weights tied to her arms. Recording the words of a man who often said the numbers on his arm were for the Germans to keep track of him. A Jew waits until they come for him. “Only a goy joins the army. “No. he was a valuable man.
At nineteen she had a lover and was in love. America! The arrangement was that a cell member knew only fellow members of the cell. . Alone in Manhattan she spent years in a concrete and steel bunker putting together her own ordinance. Her brother going to public high school opened the door for Rachel to attend a music school. If she thought about it she had a very normal life for an underground resistance fighter. Only one thing in her life surpassed the unbridled energy of her playing. to be effective in this modern revolution Rachel dug herself in for the long haul. 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. For that she needed to go to New York City. a fellow soldier. he had to go away.288 - . breathing hard. They did all the cliché things but for Howie. Just as the first American Revolution began in 1776 it was not over until the British left in 1783. She knew what she was doing and exactly why. Happy Holidays. running from a fire.practice more. Rachel however was a cell member as well as a cell by herself hiding her actions she disassociates from other radical groups and individuals.
Rachel loved chemistry and Howie was the same about everything electrical. she watched people with purpose walking by and at that moment decided to end any further activity bringing people into the cause. Because he was making money rewiring a house after school he was not hanging around the Panther Party headquarter and was not arrested. Having dismissed the obligation of party members to bring others along she was free to pursue endless revenge without cluttering ideology. she was elated that these things which might have tempted her were now impossible for her to obtain. She could not open a bank account. Locked out. Her only identifications were a few student discount cards. a Musicians’ Union card and a NYC Library card. .289 - . No one wanted her support and Rachel did not need any. She bought bomb making supplies in person for cash in New Jersey. After the meeting she drank black coffee alone at a restaurant counter. That was when Howie took flight and she realized how stuck she was in an unregistered apartment behind a stairwell. get a credit card or make a major purchase.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.
It went good with a cigarette.290 - . 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. just like the sniper who killed her brother. He doesn’t have to know the reason his little nephew was blinded. it pushes people out of its way. Rachel did not want to be one of them. Her books could be published now although a revisionist would teach them. he was nice but his penis was not at all like ones she glimpsed growing up. Only Rachel has to know. She had to revise her estimation of sex. her entire life was an exercise of the people’s right to attack and kill members of the state. it doesn’t say excuse me. Had the revolution been won she would have a chair at a college instead of this chair. At that time. It blares. right after high school. She believed in the electric chair.She liked the scream of a siren pushing through to a fire. it seemed like the radical men were either headed towards eventual heroin addiction or ones like Howie who stuck with pot and LSD. If a police captain makes a remark in the Daily News or the Times she doesn’t like she adds him to the list and begins her research. . With Howie it seemed abnormal.
291 - . Becoming pregnant made sense but having kids and being around them all the time was enough to drive her crazy until she fought back. Instead she imagined living on an isolated farm in the Urals where snow fell ten months a year. After one child it became worse. Once her mind was made up to conceive she became astonished by her receptivity. Soon they only . She became their school teacher. she did not want the children to grow attached. Like a narcotic addict she could not begin her day without it and at night could not stay away from it. It was the kindest thing to do. Of course by this point in her life she once imagined herself heading a government bureau but the good old Soviet Union was gone. 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.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. She was their teacher and she was a mean teacher. She bubbled like a volcano. Despite the stress of creating two average scholars it gave her a reason to get up. Where ever they are now no one needs to know who their mother is.
When she learned of her father’s death she was disappointed by how easy it was for her not to shed a tear. She figured Elliot owned a few old age homes.saw each other at meal times and eventually not even that. The village will now have to get by with only one Jew. exploiting male weakness had been Eva’s . Often when fantasizing about hearing of her father’s death she wondered what would become of her mother. she thought like a cold race theorist. Garth received a letter post marked Philadelphia. the family Christmas card showed only the girls. She was satisfied to be the woman with a secret in the old house.292 - . MM b1922-d1997 Rattling in the envelope was one of Elliot’s obscenely expensive business cards. a typed note. Garth’s family was prolific and cousins moved away until it became the thing to do.” she thought. Over the years she made sure she was not photographed. “the wealthy widow will remarry. It took her father’s actual death to provoke her imagination. When she saw her parents so unmoved by the death of her brother she made a promise to herself. “Of course.” It was so clear.
She was glad his suffering was over. “You are dreaming. sewing and telling stories about her father and Romania. a Latin based Yiddish that made the kids uncomfortable. At least her brothers shared a room but Rachel was all alone until sometimes she prayed her mother would go back to the hospital.293 - .” Father would speak softly. where she is a little girl and her father was expected home momentarily. men of the world. Aaron always had the living room TV tuned to sports.twisted message. as loud as it could go. it broadcast to all rooms. it was such a dark and grim house. a strange language was spoken between her parents. You are safe with me. Stories often took her to bad places. Father came home late and ate at night and as most nights had that shrill Yiddish conversation with mother. Then Rachel’s mother’s thin eyebrows would arch and her face freeze and mother did not recognize her children followed by the silent scream. “You are dreaming. ww2 or the news.” . Then father had to hold her with one hand over her mouth. You must wake up. Look Out! “I’ll never know. A deep breath was all she allowed and that was for her mother.” She wiped away what she assured herself was a tear of laughter. Eva was good at laundry.
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 used to be worse.294 - . Father traveled half the Jewish world before finding her again. Rachel promised herself any tears shed would be shed for others. for the generations lost. But tears at that point are viewed as self-pity. her mother got what she deserved. The secret information carried down by the family was how much worse she used to be until she had shock therapy. She hoped to live that long but with her father’s . so great was their love it made an island for the two of them in a sea of pain. Recapturing that moment of innocence and love was what they lived on and it must have allowed them to ignore cruel death.” Father always said when it was over. and the pain of strangers who are dust but what about Rachel’s pain. Their own pain. It seemed with the end of her father’s generation they would hear the end of stories about death camps and Nazis. the pain of the living? Prison seemed very inviting as a place to shed tears. At her best she was a spoiled little girl who smiled at Max from the Women’s side handing towels like Max did to new arrivals from the train who were told they are about to shower.
Her books were full of reasons but alone in a cell she had but the one root to her anger. “headset and microphone” then swirled his finger meaning “tape recorder. “The old lady is nuts. When her mother arrived she rushed to the cell.” And mimed.” Elliot said entering behind a guard who tapped Eva on the shoulder. Her program was simple. That was what she hoped to speak about. He said. embarrassed. Her goal as a radical revolutionary was to increase the pressure by targeting servants of the people with all the power. I wish I could hug you.actual death she saw it was not over and as much a cult as ever. Elliot looked like the pope in his flowing suit and adorned with gold.295 - . “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.” . “Oh sister. her mother excused herself. “Is this how you want people to see you?” Is roughly what her mother said. He wore a trimmed beard that came to a point.
” Sitting straight adding loudly. “How are you holding up?” He asked her..” Elliot looked happy. I want to see my husband. I’ll prove to them you are only trying to save yourself. How about a kiss?” Their lips were separated by half an inch of steel. He sat like a farmer tugging at his pant knees. Help Elliot get me out of here. “They know I have money and I draw a lot of water here.” Garth was sheepish around the dark corner.296 - .”he looked around and whispered. “I know you like your time alone and I was waiting to hear who. “Are you and mom the only ones? Bring Garth up here. “Where were you. I build prisons in this state.. “I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my daddy. You’re my hero. “who snitched?” “Well then. “You did it for my father’s money and the reward. why didn’t you come to see me? Have the girls sent word?” Garth was relaxed. You wanted a divorce for years. he was the only one to pull up the chair in the corner.“I already hired you a big shot Philadelphia criminal lawyer. She whispered.” He laughed. I’m so glad I married you. We’ll counter sue everyone.” .
She could not rely on loyalty. Garth could be seen through a small window doing his job on the prison grounds. It proved he was loyal to a place and maybe to her again someday. He did not want to help her because he did not want to be implicated. ever. 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.297 - . He said he would take the case only in the hope of saving her from the electric chair. she was a weight around his neck and she knew it. She wondered how hard could it be to stretch her history to thirty? Fairly difficult because she refused to sign anything. Rachel told Elliot she saved him a bucket of money after firing the big shot Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer.She did not know who turned her in but she had to have some grip on the situation. he never again came to visit. Her hope to get Garth to falsify documents faded. The jury would see her as sociopath. To live she had no choice but to throw herself on the mercy of the court. She had lived in the town 20 years. When she asked to mount a political defense he told her the sadistic delivery method could only indicate one .
War is wrong and it had to be said. Insanity. Facing death with the wish for peace on her lips was her choice. 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. When an American child burns his fingers on a toy in a pile that a war contractor paid for that is my way of bringing the war home. War is wrong and I am a fighter in a campaign for peace. Rachel Miller/Mary Miller Green . men and women it must not be viewed as a tool of sane politicians. War is cancer indiscriminately killing old and young.298 - .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.
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