Mount Pleasant, on the southern Atlantic coast, hosts a long-running German bakery. As the Second World War began, rumors were flying that German U-boats were spotted near the town’s shore. Neighbors also reported the light in the bakery staying on late night. “Germans must be coming to our town to get their favorite fruitcakes,” churned the ever-busy rumor-mills.
Recently, navy divers located several buried U-boats, miles off-shore. They found several yellow plastic fruitcake wrappers from that era within some preserved cabins. Nowadays, the inquiry “Who was the traitor supplying them cakes?” has been keeping the local bars profitable beyond their expectations.
I pull up an inch of hair and with a snip she tells me that her boyfriend dumped her. She stares into the mirror. I glance at her eyes. She’s so absorbed in herself. I drop the bit and snip some more.
I step in front of the mirror. She can’t see herself. She frowns. I say how terrible it is and she mumbles in agreement. I pick up wet bangs and make another cut.
I step away, and she looks in the mirror. She smiles, stands, and says thank you. I nod and look in the mirror. I frown.
The tall trees provide welcome shade from the hot sun. There is no sound except the distant drone of a moped toiling up the Apennine mountain road. The hollow where my father sometimes hid (and I now sit) is beneath a rock that juts out from the hillside like an aquiline nose above a dark moustache.
Peering over the rim, like a leveret from its form, I gaze through a gap in the leaf canopy and see below the old farm house, where an Italian family ignored the danger and risked their lives by sheltering an escaped prisoner of war.
I was once the owner of a regal Pitbull Terrier, named Atlas. Atlas had so much agility in his physical well being and personality. He easily discerned the making of people, both good and bad.
There is so much one can learn from a simple creature as my Atlas. He was always courteous, be it with a bark, wag of a tail or an attempt to bite. What I’ve learned from Atlas was his ability to quickly react to his gut instinct about people.
My question: Why do people tend to think we as humans cannot discern the same?
When he was a boy, his mother couldn’t see him when it was time to come home. But she knew he was wading in the creek behind their house.
She would call for him, but the rushing water drowned out her voice. She would have to go to the edge of their property and wave her arms.
“Why are you always down here?” she would ask.
“The water feels good on my feet.”
When he grew up, he went to work for a shoe company. Now he’s the C.E.O.
Most days, he works from home, so he can go barefoot.
Martha never recovered from the shock in his eyes as she plunged the knife into him. He had stated their affair was over and that his wife would be devastated if she knew.
Something snapped, hence he lay on the kitchen floor in a bloody heap. She buried him in the garden next to one of her beloved cats, yet he haunted her dreams. The guilt did not recede; the poisoned fog in her soul would not clear. Martha couldn’t tell the psychiatrists the reason for her depression.
She walked into the police station.
“I want to confess to a murder.”
Habitually she thought of others as she ate; today, she said to God, I am thinking of people who live with unintelligible horror. She grew still, yes, even a hundred years compared to eternity isn’t long, thinking this seems small compensation for those who suffer now. But the perpetrators? Yes, you showed us that evil can’t be flooded out of existence. But what about Korah and the rebels? she asked, longing for direct intervention. That wasn’t you? Oh, nature mutates, morphs according to our intentions? Our fates are mutually intertwined? You intend the earth, even angels, as our allies …