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January 2015

The Jewish Gal On The Way To Dachau

I once received a post card from Auschwitz, saying: “Wish you were here.”  From a friend with a ‘certain’ sense of humour. Yes, I know we choose our friends as opposed to our families, but I probably would have done the same. Irreverent humour is but one response to that which is beyond response.

As it was, the post card took me back to my university days, when I worked on a farm in Germany in lieu of getting into a Goethe Institute. Not particularly taxing farm work. I could relate the painting of apple trees or escaping from the midst of a herd of bulls after breaking my whip on one of their backs – but I won’t. If I ever get to my memoirs however . . .

After the farm I travelled through Germany and parts of Europe,  mostly by train.  One of my stops was Munich where, as often as not, I stayed in a Youth Hostel. And there I met the Jewish gal on her way to Dachau. She was from the US and not on a work experience as was I. Dachau was the specific destination for her.

She either borrowed postage stamps from me, or I from her – I don’t remember, though I know we exchanged them.  We had the part of two days together (no – no nights) and then she was on her way. I don’t remember if she asked me to accompany her to Dachau, but I think not. Although I was going to Britain to visit relatives, I believe I would have taken that extra day.

As it was, we exchanged addresses and, upon our return to North America, we wrote letters. And, as it was, we arranged a visit to my New Brunswick home from her New England home. That was quite a leap for less than twenty-four hours together. I picked her up after dark at the closest airport. During the drive I stopped in the middle of forest for two hitch hikers. She must have been a bit concerned, but she said nothing. I remember the deep smell of pine from their clothes, as they had been working in the woods.

She stayed with my parents and I for four days (no nights there, either). She told me that when her mother was talking to her grandmother on the phone about the trip, she heard her grandmother bellow across the room “IS HE JEWISH?”

Thus does memory flow from a post card.

I don’t, alas, remember her last name (this being decades ago). At the time she was studying to be an air traffic controller. Whether she  became one, and whither she went, I do not know. When I last communicated with her she was attending Brown University. She did not discuss Dachau with me.

Perhaps my creative stream is bubbling away

I did not plan a New Year resolution. What I had planned was to write something on my current novel the first day of the new year.

This is also not planned, but – so far – I have written every day of the year except two – one a travel day, and one a deliberate ‘take-a-day-off-day’. I am two or three chapters from the end of thisThriller. I have not written fiction so steadily for months. I hope it keeps on.

This is the part which I do nor know is related to my writing situation.

I have never dreamt about any of my writing – never. I know many artists dream about their work, get ideas about their work in dreams and such, but not me. So, I did not have a dream about my writing. However, I recently awoke from a dream where I was talking to my publisher. She said I should do another book of short stories about the Elephant. Is that close?

And, finally, the incident below. On Twitter, I came across an announcement of a restaurant/bakery in Calgary. The Corbeaux. This means The Ravens. They have a store sign which has noted similarities to one which I have described in a manuscript. And you can see their sign in this photo.

https://fbexternal-a.akamaihd.net/safe_image.php?d=AQCKukhRj63heHlL&w=470&h=246&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftoquesandtruffles.files.wordpress.com%2F2014%2F12%2Fimg_8531.jpg%3Fw%3D1200&cfs=1&upscale=1

And then you can read what appears in my unpublished second Satan novel, where ravens play an important part.

Perhaps my creative stream is bubbling away.

From Places Of Evil

Mr. S. does rehearse what he plans to say to Breeze, both while he waits for the taxi, and then in the twenty minute ride to her restaurant. He is surprised Dorkas and Caleb made as such little protest. He suspects they agree with his concerns about the twins, even if not enthusiastic with his solution.

Mr. S. has the taxi stop a couple of blocks from the restaurant. Breeze has installed a new sign, and she wants his opinion of how effective it will be attracting customers. Although he helped – at her insistence – to choose the design, he has yet to see the finished object.


He walks along the street, pretending to be someone looking in shop windows for a gift. He actually wants to purchase Breeze a celebratory present, but that is for later. He tricks himself enough, that when he finally does look up at the sign, it is with a degree of surprise.

Breeze has not purchased a painted sign, as he had supposed. The design is similar to the ones they discussed, but she has not chosen an image imposed upon a wooden background. Instead, there are carved and painted shapes jutting from the front of the building, parallel to the wall.

A thick piece of wood, chiseled into the shape of a tree top, is attached over the lintel. Two branches sprout from the trunk of the tree, which tapers to an uneven and jagged tip. At the very top, a life-sized carved raven sits, its head tilted up. On each of the protruding branches sits another raven, their bills open as they look at each other.

Nailed to the bottom of the tree, a metal chain hangs to the door, holding a wooden sign printed in Old German script. It announces the name of the restaurant: The Hungry Ravens.

“As black as black can be.”

Mr. S. hums as he walks across the narrow street. He has reservations about her sense of humour, with this reference to the ravens. Their unfathomable connection to the work of the Organization, and their role of `familiar’ to Satan’s intentions, are beyond – in his opinion – the wryest of humours.


As he steps toward the front door, he notices a more subtle change. Breeze has sand-blasted the brickwork facing the street. The dark red hue enhances the outline of the tree and its occupants. They look as if they are silhouetted against a sunset.

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