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This article is taken from PN Review 61, Volume 14 Number 5, May - June 1988.

Moth Gert Hofmann

That Sunday when our butcher, Herr Netzer, has to take his daughter to the asylum - she'd tried to set fire to his shop - we all get up early and put cushions across the window-ledge and lean far out. People are watching from other windows too, other people on Mutschmannstrasse. They call out to us that all night his kitchen light has been on. Now lights are being switched on in the rooms that look out on the street. One of us thinks he can see a face. Hers or his? we ask. Hers, he says, she's crying. Well, she hasn't got much time left for crying, at ten she's due at the asylum, we say, and look at the clock. And we're impatient. We've taken over Czechoslovakia, now we want Danzig too. Then someone walks through all the rooms switching off the lights, one after another. We go into the kitchen and make coffee, then we look across again, but we don't see much.

All the better for hearing: our room is perfect for hearing from. In the summertime, when Netzer's windows are open, we can hear every word. The wind carries to us not only his voice, quiet and deep, a real butcher's voice we think it is, but also the young, shrill, now often tense voice of his daughter. Then we simply draw the curtain so nobody wil see us listening. And we hear Netzer warning his daughter not to make such an ...


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