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Authors: Randy Ryan C.; Chandler Gregory L.; Thomas David T.; Norris Wilbanks

MalContents (7 page)

BOOK: MalContents
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The golem would drop the woman and become a statue and the rubes would applaud and cheer the little Jewish hero.

It wasn’t a bad show and most times it went off without a hitch. Yaakov was a master of makeup and a good enough actor to give Lon Chaney a run for his picture-show money. But then one night in a cesspit town not far from Kansas City, a group of brown shirts from the German American Bund happened to see the golem show and things got ugly in a hurry. That night Zelda was playing the part of the townie lady because she was on the rag and couldn’t dance the cooch. She was wearing glasses and had her hair in a bun so that she resembled a naughty librarian, a buxom schoolteacher. From the start the hick-town Hitler worshippers were rowdy, catcalling and shouting nasty things at Moses, things like: “Hey, you little Jew monkey, show us your monkey tail!”

Moses ignored them the best he could. He talked louder. He had a squeaky voice anyway and when he got loud he got shrill, which made him sound scared. This made the brown-shirted Bund boys bolder and things went from bad to worse in a whorehouse minute. Those homegrown Nazis were suddenly like sharks smelling blood in the water. They swam in for the attack, braving smelly waves of rustic townie rubes, men with jingling pockets and women with change purses that looked like wrinkled scrotums and snapped like snapping turtles when they shut them.

There were six of them. All but one had pencil-thin moustaches like Adolph Hitler himself. The one with the bare upper lip was a handsome blond-haired boy with pretty blue eyes. The smirk curling his lip was a hint of the evil in his heart. He was the one that grabbed Moses by the seat of his pants and snatched him off the little platform that passed for a stage for the low drama.

Yaakov the golem saw what was happening to his brother and he set Zelda down and turned to help Moses. He grabbed the one that had hold of Moses, freed his little brother and pounded that Nazi with his huge fist, smashing his nose so bad you couldn’t even see his lack of a Hitler moustache.

One of the brown shirts recognized Zelda as a cooch dancer from earlier in the week and he snatched her glasses off her nose and shouted, “Hey, this whore’s the strip dancer! She’s not one of us! She’s a phony. Hootchie cootchie cunt!”

Zelda shot back: “Keep your hands off me you toy soldier shit head.”

The rubes were not sure if this was part of the show or not. Either way, they were getting more than their money’s worth. Some of them, I’m sure, had no idea what a brown shirt was or who Hitler was. (I knew because Zelda made me read a newspaper at least once a week.) I was in the back of the crowd, cloaked in my mask and flop hat. When I saw the bastard lay hands on Zelda, I just about went ape-shit crazy. I drew my boot knife and pushed through the crowd to get to Zelda. I could see myself jumping on the guy’s back and jabbing my knife into the side of his neck. And that was exactly what I intended to do. I would have too, if a pistol-packing off-duty sheriff ’s deputy and his pal hadn’t stepped in to restore order and make the brown shirts leave. I slipped my knife back in my boot.

Moses and Yaakov stood together with their fists balled up, spitting mad. I don’t believe they had any idea how ridiculous they looked, giant golem and shrimpy midget side by side and ready to go down swinging against Jew-hating Nazis. There were threats thrown back and forth as the brown shirts departed, the kind of bluster you would expect. Everybody thought that was the end of it. Except me. I figured those Nazi thugs would be back for some payback. I didn’t know how right I was, or how bad things could get. I found out two nights later.

The golem was quite the ladies’ man. Yaakov was handsome in spite of his big crooked beak and close-set eyes. And he was big. His kosher sausage drove the women wild and he could always get it up for seconds and thirds. I know this because we had our moments in the sack. He was so big I thought that circumcised beast would split me wide open but he was so gentle with me that it hardly hurt at all. I’m telling you this to explain why I had feelings for the big Jew. You could say I loved him. Zelda did too, in her own way, though more like a sister loves a big brother. Knowing this, you can understand better why we did what we did after those phony Nazis left Moses for dead and took Yaakov the golem out into the hinterland to torture and kill him.

They must’ve been watching the carnival with a spyglass from the dark surroundings. They knew right where to find the Munk brothers when they turned in for the night. The six of them busted in on them and beat them bloody with ball bats and chains. They left Moses on the floor of the jungle buggy with his head cracked open and they chivvied bloody Yaakov out and away in chains. Zelda just happened to see them leaving when she got up to go pee on account of another bladder infection. She came and yanked me out of bed and we piled into the flivver and tore out after them. Zelda raised the alarm before we went but we were the only carnies with a ready car, except for Boss Bizzle, and there was no time to wait on him to get up and moving his pork chops.

I sat with that Thompson machine gun across my lap. We had taken it out in the desert to see if we could shoot it our first season with the Americana so we knew how to use that Tommy. It used .45 slugs so we had no problem keeping the round drum full of ammo. Zelda was pretty good at hitting things with it. But she couldn’t beat me. I was a natural Tommy gun gangster with that baby. I could’ve given Machine Gun Kelly a run for his money, except that he was already doing time in Alcatraz for kidnapping some rich oil man.

Zelda drove like a maniac and caught up with them on a back-country road. She had the headlights off so they wouldn’t know we were on their tail. We knew no one else from the carnival would be coming because they wouldn’t know where we were, so it was up to us to rescue Yaakov Munk.

It was a clear night and the moon was fattening up to full like a big yellow tick feasting on rich blood. Zelda didn’t have much trouble keeping the car between the ditches. She had to slow down some when the Nazis turned off onto a dirt road that snaked through wooded landscape but she was able to hang far enough back to keep from being seen in their rearview mirror. We could see their taillights but they couldn’t see us. Unless the goons were leading us into a trap.

I had a pretty good idea how evil Nazis were on account of the tales Yaakov and Moses had told me. I didn’t think American brown shirts would be much different from their German brothers when it came to Jew-hating cruelty. I was not going to let these assholes hurt the man I loved. I was prepared to use the Tommy gun without hesitation. Somewhere in my head old Squid Face’s ghost was egging me on to do murder. Not that I needed any egging.

We followed them to a little hilltop where they popped out of their auto like the brown shirt clowns they were. All six of them and my beloved Yaakov in chains. There was a single tree on that hill and I saw right away it was a hanging tree.

Zelda had cut off our motor when they first stopped so they couldn’t hear us.

Two of the men had flashlights. One of them lit up a torch. Only thing missing was a pitchfork to make it like one of those monster movies Zelda for some reason loved.

When one of them threw the hangman’s noose over a low-hanging limb, Zelda said, “My God, they’re really gonna kill him. You ready to jack these goons up?”

I nodded and patted the Tommy.

“Let’s go then,” she said. “Kill ’em if you have to. Any one or all.”

We were at the bottom of the little hill, about forty paces away from the hanging tree. I glided up the grassy slope, moving fast and as silent as a gentle breeze. Zelda lagged behind, being plumper. Her ass was great for shimmy-shaking the cooch but it made her bottom-heavy and slow for uphill work. Didn’t matter because I had the machine gun and murder in my black heart.

Yaakov started talking in German. It sounded like he was cussing them but then the German tongue often sounded that way to me, harsh and pissed-off. That was when I saw the rifle. One of the Nazis shouted something in Yaakov’s face and then butt-stroked him under the chin with the rifle. Yaakov went to his knees and never said another word.

They put the noose around his neck then. And one of them came out with a gas can and started pouring gasoline over Yaakov’s head and shoulders, drenching him. They aimed to hoist him up and set him to burn.

By this time I was nearly to the top of the hill but they hadn’t seen me because I was outside the glow of their torchlight. I wanted to yell at them to stop, something like
Stop or I’ll shoot
but I didn’t trust my mouth to remember how to say words.

So I let loose with a Wolf Girl howl as I leveled the Tommy gun at the man with the torch.

Behind me, Zelda came through like a champ and yelled: “Stop! Right now! Or we’ll shoot you!”

Startled, the Bund boys all froze and then turned toward us, peered through the gloom to see who’d dared to call them out. Flashlight beams found us and half blinded me. If I fired a blind burst I might hit Yaakov. Zelda must’ve been thinking the same thing because she said, “Get those lights off us. She’s got a Tommy gun and she’s already pissed off. She hates bright lights.” I didn’t but it was the right thing to say because those lights left us in a hurry. They’d been on us long enough for the assholes to see Wolf Girl with a machine gun. I figured a sight like that would pucker any sonofabitch’s asshole a little. Even a Jew-hating Hitler ass-kisser’s.

“Fuck you, you wolf-ass freak!” said the one with the torch. “This Jew boy’s goose is cooked.”

And with those words, he touched his flickering fire to my Yaakov and Yaakov went up in flames, writhing and screaming and cursing in German. The torchbearer laughed and poked his torch into Yaakov’s groin because it hadn’t yet been engulfed in flames.

I cut his laughter off with a long angry burst of Tommy gun fire. The man’s laughter died with him. I cut him in two at the waist.

Two of the other Nazi pricks bumped into each other as they tried to run away in panic and they both ended up on the ground. I shot them where they sat and they flopped over dead on that little hilltop.

Yaakov was burning brighter so I had plenty of light to shoot by. I tagged another target as it made a dash for the Nazi clown car, just cut his legs out from under him and then put a three-second burst into his noggin as I walked forward, slow and in control, feeling the Tommy gun bucking against my shoulder each time I tickled the trigger. Shooting men down was a lot like working a loud-as-hell meat grinder. And those .45 slugs were damn good at grinding up living meat. I chopped those punks down and ground them up.

Now there were just two left standing. One of them put his hands in the air and said, “I surrender!”

If I’d been a talker I would’ve said, We don’t take no prisoners, but I wasn’t so I just shot him up and put him down with a snap of a happy trigger finger.

The last one made it to the car. Zelda yelled, “Don’t let him get away, hon!”

He cranked the engine and I raked that auto back and forth like a kid playing with a water hose, breaking glass and ripping holes in metal and Nazi flesh. The motor died. So did the driver.

By this time Yaakov had realized his only hope of not burning to death was to roll on the ground until he put himself out. Problem was, he was on a hill and he ended up rolling down the hill before Zelda or I could get to him to help him beat out the flames. He’d been drenched in so much gasoline that it would not have its fire quenched as easy as that. The fire was putting up a fight and Yaakov Munk was losing.

Zelda went tumbling after him, making me think of Jack and Jill. Naturally, no? Except that Jill didn’t have to gun down a gaggle of goose-stepping Nazis when she went up the hill and Jack wasn’t on fire when he fell down it.

I was still vibrating all over, all through me, from giving the Tommy gun its head and letting it do what it does. The small patch of ground on the hilltop where Yaakov had had his gasoline baptism was still burning, as was Yaakov, near the bottom of the hill now, where he’d stopped rolling, tangled in the hanging rope. Zelda was slapping him with both hands, beating out the last of the stubborn fire. I wanted to stand over each one of my kills to make sure they were dead. To see what I had done to them, up close. But I knew Yaakov needed me. I could feel his soul reaching out to me like a ghost’s creeping hand, wispy and cold. I went to him.

The smell of singed hair and scorched flesh was nearly more than I could take. I knelt down by him. In the dark I could see the glint of one of his eyes. The other eye was blackened, fried to a shriveled raisin-looking thing, eyelid burned away. His lips were like burnt sausages left too long on a griddle, split open and leaking juice. And they were moving. He was trying to speak.

“Those fucking bastards,” Zelda said under her breath.

Smoke came out of Yaakov’s mouth as he said, “
Mein Bruder
. . . Max . . .”

“Don’t you worry, he’ll be fine,” Zelda said, though she couldn’t know that then.

Then Yaakov looked at me with his good eye and whispered, “
Mein kleines Wolfmädchen
.” He’d called me that once before. It meant “My little wolf girl.”

Then Yaakov died. And I learned what it really means to give up the ghost. I felt his brush by me like a soft, warm wind. It lingered on my face a moment like a lover’s gentle kiss, then it was gone forever, leaving a tingle on my skin. Then that was gone too.

BOOK: MalContents
8.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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