Trading in His Shelter for Danger (Tahoma)

Font: Tahoma

Year created: 1994

Chapter: “Trading in His Shelter for Danger”

Book: And Jakob Flew the Fiend Away (original working title: And Jakob Limped)

Written: Probably April 2012

Computer created on: 2008 15-inch MacBook Pro

File format: Word 2004

I’d originally written and scheduled my T post to cover “The Torch Passes,” Part XVI of Cinnimin, but I decided to move that into my drafts folder and go with something a bit more recent and polished. I also love the title of this chapter. Bonus points if you know the song I got the title from!

“Trading in His Shelter for Danger” begins at the end of June 1943, when 17-year-old Jakob officially joins his friends’ partisan group, which specializes in assassination and sabotage. Though Jaap still has a heavy limp at this point, he’s very enthusiastic about his service. During this chapter, he finds his loyal dog Ben and has his first meeting with the girl who later becomes his wife.

Some highlights:

Jakob tossed his bag on the bed and began rolling up his clothes.  Many years ago, Ruud had taught him that clothes took up less space when they were rolled instead of folded.  He gently stroked the pair of pants Luisa had sewn a patch on, and the shirt she’d sewn up a tear in.  He was glad none of his shirts had any noticeable holes or yellow stains on them from having had those hideous yellow stars sewn on for almost seven months.

“Yes, Meneer.  I don’t mind spending days or weeks just sitting around playing cards and spying, so long as I still get to kill Nazis and NSBers.  Quality counts more than quantity.”

Jakob called to mind the ugly, evil faces of Ruud’s three assassins as they walked towards the road as though nothing were amiss.  In spite of the hot weather, they were wearing long lightweight jackets to cover the weapons in their holsters.  If one of Ruud’s assassins were among the enemies in the car or at the hotel, all he’d have to do would be to reach under the jacket, aim, and shoot.

“And remember, it’s not real murder,” Leendert said. “Only real murder is forbidden by the Ten Commandments.  Killing in time of war or in self-defense is allowed in the Bible.  God doesn’t want us to be pansies who don’t defend ourselves.”

Leendert noticed his discomfort and linked his arm through Jakob’s. “I’ll be your crutch on the right side, and you hold onto the banister with your left hand,” he whispered. “Just hop up on your good foot.  You can do this.  After we’re through here, you won’t have to navigate stairs for a long time, probably.”

The doorknob began rattling and two voices began shouting in German.  Leendert pulled out his gun as he got the door.  Jakob got up and lunged towards the fat one, squeezing his hands around his neck, pushing him onto a bed, and holding his knife against his throat.  With his other hand, he patted him down and felt no weapons.

Jakob looked up and saw Leendert had the other resident backed up into a corner at gunpoint.  This was sure enough the liver-spotted Nazi who’d ripped up the ter Avests’ picture of Princesses Juliana, Beatrix, and Irene.  The richness of the choice overwhelmed him.  Should he choose the easier target, the fat cougher, or make a name for himself by choosing the liver-spotted Nazi?

“That’s for what you did to my mother, you piece of sewage.” He put the smoking pistol back in his holster and limped towards the dying body to kick it in the head and kidneys several times. “I bet you never thought you’d someday meet your death at the hands of one of your intended victims.”

“I think he likes you,” Dries smiled as the dog licked Jakob’s face. “I’m not much into superstition, but I think it’s probably true that animals have a sixth sense and know when they’re around someone who loves animals.”

Jeronymus laughed. “Methinks the gentleman protests too much.  We won’t think you’re less of a man if you admit you liked the girl.  I’d actually think less of you if you’d never liked a girl by your age.  Did you ever have a sweetheart or do anything with a girl before we met you?”

Second Campaigner Challenge (Three for the price of one)

Rachael Harrie’s Second Campaigner Challenge of her Fourth Platform-Building Campaign is a bit of a challenge. There are one text prompt and four picture prompts, and a number of different ways to do the challenge. One can write a pitch or logline for a book, write an unconventional poem, write a flash fiction piece of under 200 words, write a 5-sentence story, or write a poem or flash fiction piece describing one of the pictures without using key identifying words. For an added challenge, one may complete at least three of the challenges and tie them together with a theme, write in a genre one doesn’t normally do, and ask for a writing critique.

I was originally starting out with a flash fiction piece starting with the picture of kids in a garbage heap, during the first day my character Clementine Kevorkian (one of Cinnimin and Violet’s mutual granddaughters, born 1987) has in Nepal during her time in the Peace Corps (which would start in 2009). Then I realized it wasn’t going in the direction of a self-contained piece of microfiction, but read more like just part of a much longer scene, so I picked another of my characters to write the flash fiction about. Then I went back and used Clementine’s story for the 5-sentence story. For the poem, I decided to try my hand at writing a freestyle haiku.

My first story shows Jakob DeJonghe and his friend Dries Quackenboss in Holland during WWII, while they’re still just partisan fighters, probably sometime in 1944, which would make Jakob about 18. Jakob, a survivor of Westerbork, leapt from a train taking him and his mother to Poland, and landed so hard on his right ankle that he got himself a limp. He was found by Dries and three other young men in the partisans, nursed back to health, and accepted into their ranks after his recovery, even in spite of having a limp. In early 1945, Jakob and his friends are made official soldiers in the Princess Irene Brigade of the Dutch Free Forces, and Jakob earns the rank of a lieutenant, eventually rising to Major. After the liberation of Holland, they’re sent to fight the Japanese in the Dutch East Indies. By the time Jakob is honorably discharged, he’s been awarded a Bronze Lion and an Order of Orange Nassau. Dries and two of their friends receive the Order of William, the oldest and highest honor of Holland.

***

Jakob leaned against the rusty excuse of a support system for the bombed-out concrete bridge, his hair wet from sweat.  At least this time it was Dries and not Jakob who’d injured his leg.  Jakob didn’t know what he’d do if he hurt his gimpy leg again, or if he injured his left leg and had no stronger leg left.

“I don’t even know what cut me,” Dries gasped as Jakob liberally doused his wound with iodine. “I didn’t see any sharp objects or glinting metal when we were digging through the remains of that traitorous NSBer’s house.  All I was expecting to find were incriminating documents, money, stuff we could use.”

Jakob’s gaze drifted upwards. “Only a few years ago Emilia and I were playing kickball on top of the bridge.  I can still see my little sister in her shiny new red coat, running to kick the ball back to me.  Then after we got home our mother served candied pears to us on fancy wooden spoons.”

Dries fanned the iodine over his wound to try to get it to dry quicker and stop stinging, then pulled out his kaleidescope. “At least these patterns will distract me.”

***

Watching half-dressed ragamuffins digging through a garbage heap was not Clementine’s idea of a welcome to her Peace Corps assignment in Nepal.  They’d never known a carefree childhood like she and her siblings, had never just played ball on a beautiful promenade overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  Nor had they probably eaten healthy food like pears, apples, oranges, or tempeh.  As she followed her team leader to her new living quarters, she averted her eyes from two more children sitting under a partly-collapsed bridge, one of the children with a rather serious leg wound.  She could hardly wait for nightfall, when she’d be able to use her new portable telescope, a college graduation present from her gadget-loving uncle Robert, so she could gaze up at the beautiful, peaceful galaxies and try to forget she’d been stationed in the slums of Nepal.

 ***

Kaleidescope pear

Garbage heap under a bridge

Boy chases a ball