Guns and Sabres

   (Author's Note: This is not the Guns and Sabres chapter, since I will not be posting the novel sequentially. Rather, I will hop around and publish snippets that  may be of some interest and readability. Thank You.)  

       Roman had, of course, another person to see.

      He could no longer ignore the urgent pull of his love for Mira.

     He knew that the Jews of Warszawa had been moved to a central district, but was surprised to see high walls as he rode the tram to the gates at Grzybowska Street. Atop the high barricade was embedded broken glass and barbed wire.

      He'd already decided to pretend he had been daydreaming and missed his tram stop if challenged, but the Polish policeman who manned the empty car was lost in thoughts of his own, and Roman was soon beyond the walls.

     The streets were busy, moreso than even downtown, but Roman saw nobody of his age. As he wandered aimlessly, looking up and down streets of any sign of Mira or her parents, he saw an old Jew in rags, standing by a basket of what looked like shrunken potatoes. Two German soldiers were taunting him, asking him to dance. One poked him gently with his rifle butt.

     The old man fell to the ground, and the other soldier kicked his basket, sending a half-dozen potatoes skittering along the sidewalk. The Jew slowly stood up and began a little dance, staring down in shame.

     The soldiers laughed and clapped in mock applause. Then as they walked away, they carefully stepped on each and every one of the old man's puckered potatoes.

     Roman walked quickly away, and stopped a dozen Jews to inquire if they knew of the whereabouts of Schweistein, the silversmith. With their dismissive waves or quick pensive thoughts and wagging fingers, his hopes began to wane.

      Disoriented by streets that ended at the wall and uncomfortable in the cramped hubbub, he turned finally to make his way back to the gates when he spotted Mrs. Schweistein entering a squat stone building down the street. He called her name and ran, bumping into two black-clad men with ringlets and long beards. He didn't understand their words, but understood the tone to be cursing.

     Inside the building, there was no answer at the first two doors he knocked on, but it was Mira's's mother who ventured a timid "Yes?" on the third.

     "It's Roman. Please," he pleaded, and the door opened wide.

     Mrs. Schweistein tried in vain to suppress a smile, and then stepped aside while repeating kindly that he was a stupid, stupid boy.

     There was only one room, and Mira sat on a balding cushion to his left, reading,

     She rose when she saw him, and ran into his outstretched arms with a happy squeal. Her mother turned away, and found a smudge on the window that needed immediate attention. They kissed. Hurriedly. Noiselessly. Scandalously.

     They both spoke simultaneously, and her mother coughed and turned. She apologized that she had nothing to offer, and that she needed to check on an ill neighbour. 

      "I will be gone five minutes," she said at the door. "Five minutes." She shook her head slowly, smiled wistfully, and closed the door behind her.

     In great gulping sobs that clashed with her smile and bright eyes, Mira spoke rapidly about the hardships of their new environment. Her father, she said, was less than a shadow of his former self. He paced their sector from dawn until dusk, she said, without any idea of what he was looking for. There was no money, no food, no work.

     "Thank you for coming to me. Thank you," she cried, and Roman was overjoyed at hearing her voice restored. He related quickly how he'd been far away, running from the Gestapo and thinking of her every day and night.

     They were clasping each other tightly, swaying slightly to an eternal tune that only they could hear when her mother returned with a great noisy fumbling at the door.

     "My husband returns soon," she said sternly. "This will not do. You must go, Roman."

     His eyes locked on Mira's, which dimmed and misted over as she nodded assent; then looked to the floor.

     "I will be back in a couple of days," he declared. "I will bring food."

(Author's PS: Though I never rate my own postings, I have made an exception today and assigned myself a Four. This is meant to save some time for my faithful shadow, who was going to do it anyway. TAS)

The End

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