A short story written for the WriteOn prompt “Flag”, April 16, 2016
I gently pushed aside Mama’s calico curtain and peeped out, my breath leaving a fog on the frosty glass. An automobile was stalling on the curb, smoke curling from the exhaust pipe like a cigarette and turning our snowy yard into black slush. I narrowed my eyes and stared at the driver, who was making trips from the back of his vehicle into the house beside ours. Yes, it was just as I thought; our new neighbor was one of those “Semitic intruders” I heard Papa talking about. Or at least he looked like one, with black, tightly curled hair and olive-tinted skin.
I looked backwards at the cuckoo clock above the fireplace, and carefully counted the time until Papa would come home. Three hours. I could keep an eye on the Semitic until then; after all, I was almost nine years old. Soon I would join the Jungvolk and learn to carry a gun and flag for Der Fuher, just like my father.
When I looked back out the window, the stranger was facing my direction. I ducked below the window before he saw me, my heart pounding, and the clock ticking in my ears. An eternity later, I carefully raised my head – now the stranger was looking at me, and smiling. He waved in my direction, and I went down again.
Mein, mein! A smiling Jew. Papa never told me they could smile. But why was I cowering beneath the window? A true soldier does not bow. I would teach that man a lesson or two; I sprang up and out the nearest door, the wet snow soaking through my stockings. Mama would not be pleased.
The man had disappeared when I arrived on the lawn. But his car trunk and house door stood open, so he must have gone inside with another load. I glanced towards his truck, and noticed mostly business suits on hangars, a leather satchel with papers and pen spilling out, and a little radio. Strange, everything looked normal. Nothing Jewish, not even a dreidel!
A voice startled me. “Hello, young friend. Are you looking for something?”
I whirled around. That man was standing behind me. “Who are you?” I demanded, making a stern face like Papa’s, “We do not want your kind here!”
The brash man smiled. “My name is Jacob, Jacob Kaplan,” He held out his hand, “And what is yours?”
I backed away and clasped my hands behind my back. Puffing out my chest proudly, I said, “My name is Friedrich Weber.”
“Weber?” Jacob put both hands on my stiff shoulders, “Is your father Henrico Weber?”
“Yes, you know him?”
“He is a dear friend of mine,” Jacob turned to his trunk again, lifted several suits, and draped them over his arm. “He is bringing some of my furniture here tonight.”
I caught a glimpse of the bottom suit on Jacob’s arm, and my mouth dropped open. A dark blue uniform with the scarlet swastika on the arm. From the gold bars on the collar, he was an officer.
I straightened up, blushing, and gave the best salute I could. “Heil, Hitler!”
He repeated the gesture. Then, looking at me carefully, he said, “Here, I have something for you.”
His hand slid into his overcoat pocket and grabbed a tiny brown book. Two golds words glittered on the front: Mein Kampf.
I beamed at my new best friend. “Thank you, sir!”
Officer Kaplan smiled. “Now, get inside before your mother sees your wet feet.”
I blushed again, and ran into the house with my treasure, not stopping until I was in my special place between the window and the fireplace. Once there, I rubbed my cheek against the cool leather cover, enjoying the richness. I never had a book of my own before, and this one was mine, all mine.
I opened the first page, listening to the crackle of brand-new pages. The words were in English instead of German, but I knew some of them, and could learn the rest. I sounded out the first sentence:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…”
Terrified, I closed the book. It was a Jewish Bible, hidden beneath Der Fuher’s cover! I had found one of those smugglers – an officer, no less! Papa would be so proud of me.
I wanted to run and tell Mama, but something held me still. Jacob’s smile came to memory. I mindlessly reopened the book, and turned another page:
“So God created humankind in his own image; in the image of God he created him…”