Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Assassination

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Assassination

Article excerpt

1948

Leif and me are playing under the bushes. Leif has made a tunnel of sticks and had me put grass on the ground for a rug. He has muddy knees and his shorts are torn. I tell him he has muddy knees. "Mommy will scrub you hard" I say. I always try to make Leif get scared but it doesn't work. I tried to make him scared of that big black dog in the back yard. I told him it was a ghost. He just said "You don't know anything, Katie. Ghosts are white." I'll keep trying though. I want him to feel scared so I can make him feel better afterwards. I pull up my socks so my legs won't get scratched. The bushes are called "honeysuckle" and they're right under the windowseat inside. They're thick though so no one can see you. We scared Jerry when he was climbing the apple trees and didn't see us. We jumped out like Tigger maybe. Jerry plays with us some times but he can't be out this late because only his grandmother takes care of him. "D'you know what we're making, Katie?" Leif asks me. "A house to live in?" "It's a bomb shelter" Leif says looking at me like he's a teacher tho' we're twins and in the same grade. "Like in school when we get under the desks so the bombs won't hit us. Now we need to make rooms to store things to eat if we have to stay in the bomb shelter a long time." Leif tells me to start digging a hole. "We put stuff that has to stay cold in the hole." "Who is going to bomb us?" I ask. I think a bomb would go right through the honeysuckle bushes but I don't tell Leif that or he'll get mad. When he gets mad he puts his hands around my neck like he's going to choke me. I don't like that. "The Reds. Dad says it's the Reds." I sit down and cross my arms. "Are they people painted red?" I think of Indians but I thought all the Indians were dead, ghosts maybe, except the one in the park and he's made out of stone and a stone man has tied him up. The stone man is General Sullivan Dad says who got rid of all the Indians so we could be safe. "Are they people painted red?" Leif crawls to the door of the bomb shelter and looks at the grass and the apple trees. The leaves of the apple trees all are sharp because the sky is a real brightish blue like it gets sometimes just before there's a sunset. "Katie you ask too many questions" Leif says like he's Mommy. "They're red 'cause they're bad. Maybe they're angry."

From the door of the bomb shelter you can look up and see Mommy reading on the window seat some times. Sometimes she's crying. She can't see us. "Maybe there are some Reds out there now." Leif is trying to scare me this time but I don't believe in Reds. All I see is the apple trees and Mommy's flowers and Daddy's garden with the tall corn and the tomato vines and at the back the row of black pine trees. On the other side of the pine trees are the people with the strange name. I don't think they are Reds. Their skin is real dark. Of course they could hide in the pines and we wouldn't know. But we'd hear them crunching on the pine needles. The only person who hides in the pine trees is Hector. Hector is our cat. He's a black cat. We also had a white cat named Helen but she was hit by a car, and Dad buried her somewhere under the big apple tree in the center. He won't say where. Dad says the first Helen wandered away and got in trouble too. He says she started a war. I don't know what he means. We hear the Dutch door open the top, a sound like wood, and Mommy calls "Leif, come out of the bushes, dear. I have dinner for you." Mommy always calls Leif and not me. Maybe she thinks we are both one person since we came out at once. But she puts girl clothes on me and boy clothes on Leif. "You are muddy" Mommy says with the squint in her eye. "Wash your hands and face. There is a meat loaf on the table." I hate meat loaf. "Don't run up the stairs" Dad calls from the living room. Dad always writes stuff while Mommy makes dinner. He writes on a big board across his lap. He says he's figuring the "stock market" and that it will make us lots of money. …

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