The Bookkeeper: A Serialized Novel, Page 88
Two women, separated by decades; one a Mossad agent, trailing a war criminal in Central America, the other a prisoner in a concentration camp, trying to survive, bound together by one man: the Bookkeeper.
“Look, I think this game has gone on long enough, I don’t see the sense in continuing this…”
“Kurt Schroeder, Born 1914 in Vienna, Austria moved to Germany when he was eighteen. Trained as an accountant in Munich, Germany, where you lived until the war. Early supporter of the Nazi party, joined up in the military right after the invasion of Poland. Caught up in all the excitement of overrunning a few thousand Poles on horses, I suppose. Worked for military intelligence, enlisted into the SS a year later. Assigned to a concentration camp on June 15th, 1942. Bookkeeper for the camp until the end of the war, at which time you disappeared into the Italian Alps. Stop me when any of this is sounding familiar.” Schroeder’s face was hard during her whole speech, unreadable.
“An interesting story, but I still don’t see how it applies to me.”
“Then try this on for size.” Isolde slapped down the smudged photo of a fifty years younger Schroeder. Schroeder looked down at his doppelganger, his brow furrowed for just a microsecond and then was gone, but it was long enough. He had a good poker face, so good in fact she had started to doubt herself, but that little flicker buoyed her confidence.
“An old blurry photo…”
“How about this description? The distinctive birthmark on the left side of your neck, the one I can see below your collar there. There’s also the matter of the tattoo on your left side.” Schroeder opened his mouth to object. “I know you don’t have a tattoo there anymore, but you do have the conveniently located scar where you used to have the tattoo. Tell me, did you cut it out yourself? Did you have the nerve to do that, or did you pay somebody to do it for you. It’s hard to picture a butcher such as yourself being squeamish, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, absently scratching the left side of his rib cage. Unlike the prisoners in the camps, who were tattooed on their wrists, the guards had been tattoed on their ribs, just below their armpits. Just about where Schroeder was scratching himself.
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On Reading and Writing (Jane Eyre)
After being abused by the other Bronte sister, I picked up Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. Every page of Wuthering Heights had been tooth-ache excruciating. But I was pleasantly surprised by Charlotte’s Jane. Similar to Austen’s Liz, Jane spoke her mind and had a quick wit. Young Jane spends the early part of the novel either sparring with her evil aunt, cousins, and the hierarchy at her boarding school (which she is sent to after fighting with her aunt a little too much). The book lost steam for me when she left the school to go and work for Rochester. By this point, she had lost some of her youthful exuberance and I was concerned that we were venturing into Heathcliff territory with the surly and withdrawn Rochester. But her new boss slowly warms to her charms and attempts to charm Jane. In probably the strangest section of the novel, he dresses as a fortune telling gypsy in attempt to find out if she like-likes him. In the background of their growing affection is a woman who lives in the manor and alternately acts strange and attempts to set Rochester on fire in his sleep. And nobody seems to think it is strange. All I can say is that the Bronte family must have lived in a wacky neighborhood. Following what is now the standard format of a romantic comedy (although probably more of an original conceit at the time), something must come between the happy couple before they can come back together in the last ten pages. In this case, it turns out that the pyromaniac shut-in is actually Rochester’s wife. After running off, Jane ends up with a family who are coincidentally her cousins, comes into a small fortune, and then finds her way back to Rochester. Rochester’s wife is now dead, he’s mostly blind from a fire, and they can now be together. Jane Eyre is really a Jane Austen novel for masochists. If Darcy was run over by horses and left with hemiplegia at the end of Pride and Prejudice, it would have been pretty much the same novel. Which is a long winded way of saying that I liked it overall. The middle of the book dragged for me, but I really enjoyed the beginning and the end. Jane is a strong character who negotiates her relationships on her own terms, which is nice for a book of that time (or now, really),
Starting second draft
Just playing around
More practice sketches