Monday, November 14, 2011

From the latest novel, The Saints of Los Vientos, due for publication in Spring/Summer, 2013 by Simon and Schuster.



Petras Zilius was taken at gunpoint across green fields to an area behind the slaughterhouse where a mass grave had already been dug.  The butcher was amongst the men whose hands were tied behind his back.  The soldiers went from man to man, taking their jewelry and identification.  “Get on your knees.”  Most of the Lithuanian men knew Russian, but they didn’t obey.  The soldiers prodded them with rifles.  They whacked them in the backs of their legs, making them fall to their knees.  The men faced the hole.  There were no cigarettes and no blindfolds, and it’s doubtful that, as much as Freddie Zilius would like to think his grandfather had a song in his head playing through his fingers, that Petras Zilius was thinking anything, but “My family.  Oh my God!  My family!”  Petras Zilius and eighty-three other Lithuanian men were shot in the backs of their heads and booted face first into the mass grave.  A few were still alive, but the dirt came just the same.  It covered ministers and machinists.  It dusted blacksmiths, accountants and doctors.  It fell in rich clumps over lawyers, shop clerks, poets, teachers and musicians.  It didn’t discriminate.  The rich Lithuanian soil tended by its people was being used to hide their deaths. 
            Frederikas ran from house to house in search of help.  He was not at home when his mother was carried away and forced into a cattle car.  He was not at home when his sisters were killed or when the youngest, just sixteen, ran into the forest, digging a saucer of dirt to hide.  To be a turnip or a bird.  Rooted or free.


*I'm making shrinky dink necklaces based on my characters.  "Ti-i-i-ime is on my side with you."  Have a fabulous Thanksgiving.  XO Shel

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