Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a yellow piece of cloth roughly cut into a six-pointed star. In the middle of the star was inscribed the word “Jude.”
“She did nothing!” he burst out. “I swear; she did not mean any harm! She only looked so lonely!”
His father’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
“She?” he asked.
Suddenly, his eyes widened. Roughly pushing back his chair, Mr. Keiler stood up, his statuesque form of authority bearing the full weight of the realization as he rushed from the room.
“I am sorry, I am sorry,” said Erich, beginning to cry.
An exclamation could be heard from the other room, followed by a small girl’s scream.
“Erich, what have you done?” gasped his mother, her face going white.
His father reappeared, this time roughly clutching a little girl by her arm.
Tears streamed down the girl’s face as she tried to pull away from his grasp. Long, dark strands of hair released from her braids clung to her tear-stained face
“Father, she was hungry and cold and alone!” said the little boy. “I was only trying to help!”
“Dietfried, you have to get rid of her,” said his mother, her eyes glancing about wildly. “She cannot be seen here— you have to take her away,” she said, her voice shaking in fear.
“I know, I know,” growled Mr. Keiler.
“Oh please, please do not get rid of her,” said Erich suddenly. “Where else will she go?”
“Be quiet, Erich!” yelled his father.
Mr. Keiler glanced at the little girl, who continued to sob in his grasp.
Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door.
Instantly, everything froze.
“Is everything all right, Mr. Keiler?” came the voice of their next door neighbor.
Silence seemed to extend for an eternity before Mr. Keiler responded.
“Yes Mr. Haswell,” he said. “We are all right. Just a little trouble with rats.”
“Rats?” said Mr. Haswell back through the door.
There was a pause.
“Kill them,” came back Mr. Haswell’s voice a moment later. “Kill them, just like those Christ-killers.”
His comment was met with silence.
The family listened, breath baited, as the older gentleman made his way back to his own apartment.
As soon as he could no longer be heard, life returned to the room.
“Frauke,” commanded Erich’s father, “get me my coat and cap.”
Mrs. Keiler stood up shakily, her face still pale.
“Hurry!” snapped Mr. Keiler.
A second later, the woman rushed from the room to comply.
Mr. Keiler turned to coldly observe his son, who still sat at the dinner table, tears running down his face.
“I will deal with you when I return,” he said before marching out of the room, the little girl, silent sobs racking her frame, dragged in tow.