“Some Country” by Jacqueline Freimor
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Jacqueline Freimor teaches a lesson to a Nazi war criminal in New York. Next week, ID Smith takes us to London, where murderers can pop up in unexpected places.
In the open side door of the school, Koenig leaned on his broom and watched the junior high children stream from the building at the sound of the bell. Line after line, they spilled through the front doors like cockroaches from the drains in the basement. He pictured a colony of roaches wearing yellow Star of David armbands and laughed.
“Something funny, Koenig?” Banaszek said. “Get back to work.”
Koenig—that also was funny. Nobody knew his real name. The fools at Ellis Island had stamped his forged papers without comment and motioned for him to move along, thinking him one of the hundreds of real refugees, DPs, sweating and stinking, the dirt of their razed villages caked into every crevice of their skin. He remembered the stench of the bodies in steerage all these months later; it could still make him gag. And even so—even so—those vermin had been allowed to leave the ship, to foul this new place as they had the Fatherland. He shook his head. America. It was some country.
“Hey!” Banaszek said. “You deaf? Get a move on.”
Koenig resumed sweeping until Banaszek went downstairs to look at the boiler. Then he leaned on his broom again, watching. Most of the children had gone, scurrying west toward the squat brick buildings on Broadway in groups of threes and fours, but a few lingered in the heat and glare of the schoolyard. Jews. He heard them talking about going to the automat for pastry or the candy store for egg creams. Later, he knew, they’d be playing stickball in the street until their fat mamas whistled them home for supper. They all lived in the same neighborhood, those Parasiten; they called it Frankfurt on the Hudson. The first time he’d heard that, eating a sandwich at the luncheonette counter, he couldn’t believe he’d heard correctly, but the man had repeated it, laughing. Koenig had stood, ready to strike him, when he remembered not to attract attention. He’d thrown down his money and stalked out.
Now he looked up and down the avenue. Maybe the Shamrocks would be going Jew hunting again today. He remembered what he’d seen them do to that Judenschwein two weeks ago, that Irish boy Jimmy and his friends, beating up the Yid and calling him a filthy Jew, a dirty Jew. Then the Yid had said, “Jimmy! Why are you doing this? You know me!” So Jimmy smashed his face with a pipe and left him motionless and bleeding on the sidewalk. It had been something to see: strong, proud Irish boys, with their pure Nordic blood, fire in their eyes, a warrior race. They understood what had to be done.
Koenig watched and waited until the children drifted away before closing the school door and returning the broom to the janitor’s closet. Then he strode from the building, walking east toward Amsterdam. The sun was brutal, beating down on his bare head. Sweat ran into his eyes. He stopped to mop his face with his handkerchief.
They rounded the corner then, four youths wearing rolled-up dungaree pants and soiled white singlets, Irish Jimmy leading the way. Each boy had something in his hand: a baseball bat, a chain, a broken bottle, a pipe. Koenig looked around him. The few people who had been on the street were suddenly gone.
Jimmy stopped in front of Koenig and looked him up and down. He smiled. “What have we here, then? A Jew?”
Koenig moved to step around him, but Jimmy blocked his way. “That is absurd,” Koenig said. “Let me pass.”
“First answer me question. Are ye a Jew?”
“I will not answer. Get out of my way.”
Jimmy’s smile broadened. “I think ye’re a Jew. What do you think, boys?”
One of the boys said, “Sure smells like a Jew to me, Jimmy.” He walked slowly around Koenig until Koenig couldn’t see him. The other two boys moved to flank Koenig on either side. Koenig willed himself not to turn around.
“Sounds like a Jew, too,” Jimmy said, moving closer. His eyes glittered.
“I am German!” Koenig said. “German!”
“So’re they,” Jimmy said, and shrugged. “Doesn’t stop ’em from being dirty, stinking Jews, now does it?”
Koenig had no time to answer. The pipe, when it struck, told him it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
JACQUELINE FREIMOR’s short story “Strangle, Strangle” won first place in the Mystery Writers of America’s Golden Mysteries Short Story Competition in 1995. Since then, her stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Red Herring Mystery Magazine, Crimestalker Casebook, Murderous Intent, and Blue Murder. In 1997 and 2000, two of her stories received honorable mention in The Best American Mystery Stories. She is working on her first crime novel.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Dec 15, 2014
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