COLUMN SIXTY-SIX, DECEMBER 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)
The time draws near. I sit
by the window in my room, in my space, my trench, waiting for him. She's
downstairs, waiting, too. I can
hear her moving around in the kitchen, cooking him his brunch.
She slaves to stay busy, to fend off reality, to remain productive and
useful for him.
I laugh inside at the difference in our waiting.
She awaits the arrival of a hard, disciplined lover. I wait for his black
Impala like a pal-bearer awaits the hearse.
Every Saturday is the same. She
gets up early, cleans the house like a soldier before inspection.
Then it's off to Thrifty's to buy cabbage, sausage, coffee, all the
things he likes.
When she gets back, she dumps the stuff on the counter, then pounds on my
door, yelling like a drill sergeant at reveille, "John!
Get up! I want you showered
and dressed! David will be here
I hate David. He's alive
and dead at the same time. I call
him Hans German behind his back, but I'm too scared to say it to his face.
I tighten up inside on rainy days when I hear the hiss of wheels passing
by on the wet pavement. It sounds
like meat frying, like pits of snakes, like the execution room after a man
dances in the electric chair. One
form of death or another rolls up our driveway and comes inside every weekend.
That black Impala rolls up the driveway and it's like I can feel him
breathing inside it, pulsing and throbbing, reptilian.
At the same time as he shuts off the engine, her footsteps thud across
the floor of the kitchen and down the hall to the door.
I'm not sure if they have this rehearsed, or if it's just his natural
predatory instinct telling him that the hare has left the warren.
He pushes the heavy car door open as she runs down the walk to greet him.
She laughs and claps her hands like an excited schoolgirl.
I watch him smile at her and those two rows of perfect white teeth never
fail to remind me of a tiger opening its jaws to consume a chunk of bloody meat.
He's an old tiger at that. Hans must be sixty-five if he's a day. He's balding and the hair
a Nazi to me
that he does have left is as white as snow.
He hides it under a black fedora. Hans
wears a black overcoat that stops just above the knees, black pants with
knife-edge creases, spit-shined shoes. All
of it is expensive and high quality.
Hans German looks like a Nazi to me.
Once, when I was a lot younger, I asked him if he was in the SS during
the war. He laughed so hard, I
thought he was going to fall over and have a heart attack. His eyes watered and his face turned a deep plum, then he
began to cough and choke.
I stood there, willing him to die, hoping with every pore of my being,
that he would just fall over stone dead, but then he coughed up a big lump of
yellow phlegm into his hand. "Boy," he said, wiping it off with a
handkerchief, "If I had been, you would be the last one to know."
With that, he gave me a sly wink.
As she approaches the car, he reaches into it, never taking his eyes off
of her. Each week, I think this
will be the time he'll pull the pistol from the bench seat and shoot her dead
on the front walk, before coming inside to finish me off.
I've imagined him so many times, storming up the stairs, teeth clenched
and gleaming, the black pistol gripped tightly in his strong hand, the door to
my room flying open, the bullets flying, my blood pouring out of me, while Hans
stands there laughing. Instead, he
brings out the brown paper bag containing the bottle of imported brandy and the
carton of cigarettes.
There are always brandy and cigarettes when Hans comes over.
She rarely drinks and never smokes, but he brings them anyway.
Maybe she reminds him of a whore back in the old country, some free and
easy fr?ulein with an itch to get scratched.
When they come up the walk together, I sit in my window and aim my pellet
rifle at his head, imagining that I am a French Resistance Freedom Fighter,
sniping down the elite SS invader.
Every time that I squeeze the trigger, I imagine the click to be the
loudest report, like the one witnesses said they heard when Kennedy got shot in
Once I had the window open during the summer when I did it.
Old or not, his hearing must be impeccable, because he looked up just as
I pulled the trigger, then he gently guided her in front of him just as I pulled
it again. Then he gave me the sly
wink. I thought that I was busted
for sure, but he didn't say a word to her.
When they get inside, there is more thumping and laughter as she hustles
double-time to hang up his coat and hat, then make it back to the kitchen to
turn the bratwurst over before it burns.
Once I asked her if she liked being a servant so much, why doesn't she
become a maid? She just laughed and
patted me on the head. "David
likes things just so," was all she would say.
The next step in her day is to come and yell at me again.
"John! Come down here!
David is here!"
I used to delay coming down the stairs for as long as I possibly could,
but it only brought more yelling and demands.
So now I go downstairs and sit at the table with him, waiting for food
that already smells like farts and body odour.
Hans never talks to me unless he has to. Otherwise, he speaks of me in third person, as if I wasn't
even there in the room.
He peels the first package of cigarettes from the carton and opens it. Lighting one, he
hate him, I steal the cigarettes
one pack at a time
through the week
goes over to where she is serving up the food on to our best plates.
As much as I hate him, I steal the cigarettes one pack at a time through
the week. She must be retarded.
The cigarettes disappear and every week, he brings more.
By now, there should be basement full of cartons.
She doesn't say anything. Maybe
she thinks he takes them with him.
I watch him laugh with her, swat her bottom when she comes too close.
She shrieks in shock and he laughs a different laugh, one that's
deeper, more sexual, I guess. She
will bat him away, claiming that I shouldn't see these things, that I'm only
fourteen, that "you-know-what? is still beyond my years.
Hans says the same thing every time.
"John knows sex from books," he'll say, leering and making
"David!" she'll exclaim in mock horror.
"What do you think the boy does all day up there in his room, besides
daydreaming? Why are those sheets
tucked in so tightly, if there is nothing to hide? Maybe you should have a look Paula," he replies, looking at
me with those Gestapo eyes.
I've tried to stare him down, but I always lose.
Those blue eyes pierce you to the very core.
They are eyes that defy the liar. They
see all. She brushes it off every
time. She doesn't have the time
to get involved, or maybe she thinks this is how we should bond, or something.
We eat in silence---sort of. Hans
gulps down his food, chews with hearty, open-mouth lip smacks, then washes it
all down with slurps of coffee laced heavily with brandy...
When I eat with them, I want to stuff the sausage down his throat like a
giant cock and choke the life out of him, then stab her to death with the fork
he eats with. In the silence that
would follow, I would douse them both with the brandy, light a cigarette from
the carton, drop it on them and watch them burn to ashes.
"Isn't that how Hitler went out, Hans?
Huh? Was it?? I'd scream, kicking his blackened skull off the walls
of the kitchen.
When Hans is finished his meal, it's time for sex.
Again, I used to drag my heels, taking a long time to leave the house -
that is until he started paying me money. At
first, it was ten or fifteen bucks and a, "Why don't you go see a movie,
John?? But lately, it's been fifty or a hundred - American.
Not chump change in the least.
Maybe he thinks I'll just go away and never come back.
That would be great for him. No
one to get in his way then.
The worst part is when he gives me the wink as he hands me the money, as
if there is some sort of agreement between us.
So in effect, I become the pimp.
I leave and walk for miles, in good weather or in bad, until it's too
dark and cold to go any farther. I
call a cab, ride back to the house in the back seat, saying nothing to the
driver, other than the directions and, "Could you please crank the heat??
I come home to his car sitting like a tombstone in our driveway.
I sneak inside and up to my room. I
undress and sink under the sheets naked. Many
times they are still fucking. I
hear everything. The only thing
keeping our heads from touching is the thin plaster of the wall.
Her bedsprings keep time for them. Her
moans hit the ceiling, hit my walls, hit those hidden spots in me and many times
I get hard and pull it along with them, sweating, grunting, until I come hard
against the sheets.
She thumps on the door. He's
here. She's not my mother.
She's a whore to me too, a sound-based whore I can fuck in my daydreams.
Maybe this time, I'll take him up on his wink and disappear into the night for good, hit California, Texas, maybe Mexico. I heard brandy and smokes are cheap there? ##
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