Salinger olmus. Issiz acun hakikaten simdi kaldu.
|IT WAS twilight when I drove back to Stiefelstrasse. I parked the jeep and entered my old house. It had been turned into living quarters for field-grade officers. A red-haired staff sergeant was sitting at an Army desk on the first landing, cleaning his fingernails. He looked up, and, as I didn’t outrank him, gave me that long Army look that holds no interest or curiosity at all. Ordinarily I would have returned it.
“What’s the chances of my going up to the second floor just for a minute?” I asked. “I used to live here before the war.”
“This here’s officers’ quarters, Mac,” he said.
“I know. I’ll only be a minute.”
“Can’t do it. Sorry.” He went on scraping the insides of his fingernails with the big blade of his pocketknife.
“I’ll only be a minute,” I said again.
He put down his knife, patiently. “Look, Mac. I don’t wanna sound like a bum. But I ain’t lettin’ nobody go upstairs unless they belong there. I don’t give a damn if it’s Eisenhower himself. I got my—” He was interrupted by the sudden ringing of the telephone on his desk. He picked up the phone, keeping an eye on me, and said, “Yessir, Colonel, sir. This is him on the phone…. Yessir…. Yessir…. I got Corporal Santini puttin’ ‘em on the ice right now, right this minute. They’ll be good and cold…. Well, I figured we’d put the orchestra right out on the balcony, like. Account of there’s only three of ‘em…. Yessir…. Well, I spoke to Major Foltz, and he said the ladies could put their coats and stuff in his room…. Yessir. Right, sir. Ya wanna hurry up, now. Ya don’t wanna miss any of that moonlight…. Ha,ha,ha!…Yessir. G’bye, sir.” The staff sergeant hung up, looking stimulated.
“Look,” I said, distracting him, “I’ll only be a minute.”
He looked at me. “What’s the big deal, anyhow, up there?”
“No big deal.” I took a deep breath. “I just want to go up to the second floor and take a look at the balcony. I used to know a girl who lived in the balcony apartment.”
“Yeah? Where’s she at now?”
“Yeah? How come?”
“She and her family were burned to death in an incinerator, I’m told.”
“Yeah? What was she, a Jew or something?”
“Yes. Can I go up a minute?”
Very visibly, the sergeant’s interest in the affair waned. He picked up a pencil and moved it from the left side of the desk to the right. “Cripes, Mac. I don’t know. It’ll be my skin if you’re caught.”
“I’ll just be a minute.”
“Okay. Make it snappy.”
I climbed the stairs quickly and entered my old sitting room. It had three single bunks in it, made up Army style. Nothing in the room had been there in 1936. Officers’ blouses were suspended on hangers everywhere. I walked to the window, opened it, and looked down for a moment at the balcony where Leah had once stood. Then I went downstairs and thanked the staff sergeant. He asked me, as I was going out the door, what the devil you were supposed to do with champagne—lay it on its side or stand it up. I said I didn’t know, and left the building.
J.D.S., A Girl I Knew‘un kapanisi.