The Last Flyer
Standing at the end of the block, twelve-year-old Werner turns to his best friend waving a stack of leaflets in his hand. “Bet you a soda I can get done before you can blink,” he says to Hans who smiles and takes a running stance, one hand on the street.
“Three, two, one,” Werner says, taking off at high-speed. He’s one of the fastest runners in his unit—fast enough to receive a commendation, making the rest of the boys work harder.
The boys run up and down the street pushing the notifications into door crevasses and mailboxes until they reach the end of the street. Hans speeds around the corner toward the shortcut to the soda shop. Werner follows suit, but comes to an abrupt halt when he sees about fifteen boys, his own age, less than pleased with what they see.
“Let’s get out of here,” Hans says, backing out the way he came. Werner follows and they walk at a quickened pace, leaving the gang of boys behind.
“Don’t move,” one of them says to the two who are sweating from tiny spigots turned on full blast. Werner and Hans remain silent.
Hans glances at him, releases a mischievous grin and tucks one more flyer into a nearby mailbox. The angry swarm of young men, receiving one too many blows to their hive, rush in a flurry at the delivery boys who take off at a full gait. Hans twists his ankle, staggers, yet regains his footing enough to duck into a darkened doorway, out of view.
The irate mob trails Werner as he runs to a nearby store, rattling the glass door. “Let me in,” he says, demanding as much as asking. A man inside approaches the door and places his hand on the glass, sticking the key inside before he sees the horde of boys approaching. Recoiling from the door, a smug expression of satisfaction washes over him before he backs away and watches the group seize Werner by the collar and drag him away.
Werner claws, bites and kicks until he escapes. He reaches another door, and another, beating on them with bruised and bloody fists, but none will open. Seeing a light blink on a few houses ahead, Werner makes a desperate run for it.
The sound of a buffalo stampede behind him grows closer. Their hot breath creeps up on him like a flame devouring its victim. A burning stab enters his kidney from behind, followed by a flow of warm fluid. “No,” he says, out of breath as he falls to the cobblestone street. They’re on him, kicking, hitting, and stabbing him, calling him names all the while.
Werner blacks out.
When he regains consciousness, his body is cold and achy. One eye is swollen shut and it’s all he can do to get enough air through his throat to breathe. Hans is long gone and Werner is left alone and disheveled. His clothes are a tattered bloody mess, but he isn’t dead. He drags himself to his knees. “I can make it,” he says, breathing heavy. The wounds suck in air, forcing blood from his lips and he crawls to the lighted window, waiting patiently a few feet away. “Help me,” he says, his wet fingers squeaking on the glass. The words are nothing more than a hoarse whisper as his blood-soaked hand slides down limp to land beside him.
A man opens the door and sees the boy, lying dead. The lad’s face is facing up to the heavens, his pale blue eyes staring wide into the night sky. The puddle of blood grows around his head. “The Reds killed one of the Nazis,” he says, a broad smile flickers before fading at his wife’s presence.
“God bless him,” she says closing the door.