Torn

By John-Paul Marciano 

    Kriminalinspektor Gerhard Engel was searching for an empty trash can in the refuse storage shed when he detected movement out of the corner of his eye.  He looked in the direction of the movement but didn’t see anything.

    “Maybe a feral cat in search of scraps,” he thought to himself.

    Gerhard resumed his search, going down the line of trash cans one by one.  Again he detected movement and again he saw nothing.  It had been a long day and he was tired and he was beginning to wonder if his mind was playing tricks on him.  But, as he leaned forward to put his bag of trash in a half-empty trash can, he saw the faint glow of an eyeball in the back corner of the shed.  He closed the lid of the shed gently and hesitated for a moment.  He shook his head and returned to his third floor apartment.

    When Gerhard reached his apartment he went into the kitchen.  He took the loaf of sunflower seed bread from the bread box and cut off a chunk.  He opened the refrigerator, extracted a sausage and placed it on the counter next to the bread.  Next he went into the sitting room, grabbed his copy of Das Schwarze Korps (the weekly paper of the Schutzstaffel) and tossed it on the counter next to the bread and sausage.

    Gerhard stood with both hands palm down on the counter looking at the tops of his shoes in thought.  He was torn.  Why should it matter to him what happens to a Jewish kid he doesn’t even know?  It was his sworn duty as a Kripo officer to turn the child over to the Gestapo and let them deal with the problem.  But on the other hand, what the hell has this kid ever done to warrant being sent to a KZ?  If the wrong person found out he could be sent to a KZ himself if he was unlucky enough to live that long.

    His hands shook as he lit a cigarette.  He took a deep drag on the cigarette and held the smoke in his lungs before he exhaled.  He smoked the entire cigarette and then stubbed it out in the sink.  Taking a deep breath, he wrapped the bread and sausage with the front page of the paper.  Who knows?  If the kid can read she’ll take the hint and find another hiding place.

    Gerhard took the package out to the refuse storage shed and pretended to look for space in one of the trash cans.  When he saw the glint of an eye he took the package and dropped it behind the closest trash can.  After closing the lid of the shed he sighed and shook his head.  He looked up at the stars, then went back upstairs.

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