Sunday, December 17, 2006
From the hilarious to the serious
e.a. monroe's madcap itinerary of our trip to Mexico is such a gas that I am three feet off my chair here. What an imagination. Hilarious!
To the right is my picture of my current reality here.
That being said, I'd best put in another part-chapter of my Black Icon.
THE BLACK ICON
Chaper 11 (continued)
NAZIS HAD COMMANDEERED SOPHIA'S HOUSE, ALLOWING HER TO STAY IN A TINY BEDROOM WITH HER CHILDREN. A SERIES OF DISPATCHES FROM THE UKRAINIAN FRONT SOON HAD THEM HEADING OUT, LOCK, STOCK AND CANNON.
SOPHIA'S HOUSE, OR AT LEAST A SEMBLANCE OF IT, WAS NOW HER OWN--AT LEAST UNTIL THE NEXT FRONT WENT BY.
Sophia looked out into her front yard and saw that everything, wires, equipment and cannon had been moved during the night. She looked arund her ravaged house. All the windows were shattered. Daylight showed through two of the outside walls. But at least the house still stood. The tile roof had kept the house from burning like the surrounding straw-roofed cottages. Only the previously well-off were lucky to be housed now. The poorer cottages' straw roofs had long since gone up in flames. Only their walls stood, smoking and blackened in the white sunlight.
Here and there, a cluster of people stood outside their houses and wailed. Others were just crawling out of their cellars, squinting unbelievably at the carnage. Some stayed in their cellars never to emerge, direct howitzer hits tumbling metre upon metre of dirt and debris over them.
The sight of Michael's and her own lost labours began to stiffen Sophia into an outraged gesture of revulsion. She began trembling and spots dance before her eyes. Only one thing could preserve her sanity now: work: habit. Absently, she picked up a broom and begans sweeping away the less bulky scraps of debris inside the house.
The steady rhythm of work began to calm her and in about half an hour she stopped trembling and began thinking practically, about how to clean up the mess and patch up the the holes in the walls. Fortunately it was spring and newspapers could be used to shore up the windows. There was a pane or two of glass left here and there, and that would allow some light to get in.
Genyk and Katerina, meanwhile, were so excited by the change in the village that they could not stay indoors.
While Sophia was wrapped in her womb of work, the children crept out of the house to explore the stark wonders of the battle-mutated village. Katerina went off to her girlfriend's house, which was in sight and still stood unharmed, judging by the smoke rising from the adobe chimney. Genyk went off to see if his friend Martin was still around.
But only a charred hulk remained of Martin's house, and Genyk saw two figures huddled nearby in a hastily improvised lean-to made of a blown barn roof. Martin's mother seemed dazed and barely recognized Genyk as he lamely asked if Martin could go out and play. She said nothing. Martin looked at her for affirmation but all he got was an uncomprehending stare before the woman burst into tears. He tried to comfort his mother, but she wailed and moaned to the point where it was starting to frighten the boy. After an hour of this, Martin caught Genyk's eye and made motions suggesting the the two of them should sneak off. Pity yielded to the proposition fo adventure in the gutted village. There were tanks, half-tracks and assorted war machines all over the settlement and Martin could not resist the temptation to see what wonders lay just a few hundred yards away. Martin was a wide-eyed dark, intelligent child.
Martin and Genyk quickly made for the highway as the sobs and wailss of Martin's mother-- "What will we eat now?"--became distant behind them.
Arriving at the highway, the boys found it littered with smouldring trucks, tanks and discarded equipment. A large panzer, its cannon pointing towards the sky lay like some supplicating wounded beast. Other small boys were here already and they, like Genyk and Martin, also delighted in the manner of small boys upon a war scene in any age.
One of the lads stood atop the turret of a disabled tank while another one was inside, judging from the muflfled comments.
"It's dangerous in there," said the boy topside.
"So it's dangerous in here," answered the explorer fearlessly.
"But it'll burn."
"So I'll burn."
"But it'll explode you."
"So let it explode me."
Soon the boys inside the tank began throwing out food, pots and pans, and then ammunition.
Men were around the tank too, not caring much agout the danger to either the children or themselves and they walked among live ammunition, hand grenades and mines. It was food they were after.
Genyk and Martin walked along, enjoying the strange scene. Soon Genyk picked up an innocent looking pellet some two inches in diameter. One of the men, seeing him handle thae pellet said "Throwit it away son. It might be a bomblet. It's liable to explode and kill you."
Genyk trhrew it away. There was no explosion.
"And don't handle anything strange looking. I saw a boy het his head blown off just this afternoon, the man shouted to the pair. They turned away.
Now the wrecks of motorcycles and staff cars caught their eyes. A number of youths were driving a damaged, tireless vehicle. Genyk had never seen a car bofore and marvelled at it.
"You mean that thing goes all by itself--no horses?
"Sure, you dummy," Martin answered. "It's just got a motor."
Genyk was told all about motors while he and Martin walked along the moonscape that was once a highway.
Sohia, in the meantime, had managed to clean up what she could of the house and was now dusting off the remains of a the broken glass and detrius.
The windfall of food would last the family for a week and that problem was solved for a while. With everything now as secure as possible, Sophia was finished. Now she put on her shawl and made for the house of Ann Podolan, Martin's mother.
She caught sight of Ann's charred house. It made her bread into a run.
"Anna," she shouted almost in a panic, "Anna are you here? Are you all right? Ann stumbled out of the leanto and walked towards Sophia like a robot. Hre eyes were glazed; dirt-smudged her small face. She stared at Sophia, first without recognition. But then the merciful faucets of her grief opened wide once again, and hot tears revived her life. Sophia embraced her and the two women loosed their grief for a full half hour.
Finally, they both regained their composure.
"You might as well move in with me, Ann, since you couldn't possibly live in this leanto," Sophia said. "Come on, let's get your things together and we'll got into my house. There's lots of food to last the five of us for a while, then we can go and steal from the depot like we used to."
They began to pick up the remains of Ann's belongings just as their sons came back with armfuls of booty from the battlefield.
"Where did you get all this junk?" Sophia asked.
"Up on the highway, mother."
"Well you go and throw it into the bushes."
No nonsense now. Go and throw it away."
"Come on Martin," Genyk said, making for the hedges.
"And come back here and help us with this tuff. Martin and his mother are going to stay with us for a couple of days," Sophia commanded.
The boys returned from the clump of hedges and helped pick up Ann's meagre efffects. The little group then walked towards the road.
In front of them, on a distant rise, they saw something glinting in the sun.
. "Wonder what that can be. It's awfully bright," Sopiha remarked to Ann.
Five minutes later, they were nearer to the dazzling point of light.
Soon, they approached the spot. A dead man, his face blackened by the sun, was lying on the dusty road. His mouth, opened against the sky, expesed an an excellent set of teeth which had so sparkled in he sun.
"Yes, I see him...terrible, isn't it, Ann?"
"Ugh...I hope someoned gives him a proper burial."
They walked on and soon forgot the dead man. Sophia's house loomed up before them and presently the group stood in the yard. Genyk and Martin helped the women dispose of Ann's belongings. Afterwards, the boys stole out.
By themselves again, out in the yard, they found all sorts of treasure: Wire. Bits of bazooka, where some hopless tank hunter had no doubt blown himself up, and hundreds of shiny brass cannonshell casings.
A staff car full of German officers roared by on the road in front of the house.
"You're right, Martin...These things actually go by themselves...and see all the men in it..,do they ever look sharp!"
"I used to be like that when I was big," Martin said.
"What do you mean when you were big?"
"When I was big."
"You start off small, then you ge t big, you dummy not the other way around."
"No, no, I was really big before. I was an officer too. And I had a staff car like that and lots of men to tell what to do."
"No, I'm not. It's just that I'm small again now and will have to wait to grow up...but I was really big once."
Genyk could not make heads or tails of this and now dropped the argument.
"Say, let's piss against the fencepost.
Just before they peed, Genyk had a kid's erection, which almost caused him to saok his face, bringing a large laugh from Martin.
THE DEATH OF THE VILLAGE IDIOT.
..............end Eleventh part-chapter, THE BLACK ICON