Lies My Father Told Me  

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Chapter XIV

   I saunter out of the shed and down the stairs, curi-
ously, to the Bondy balcony. A gaggle of children
has gathered there, huddling up to the window, "sh-
ing" and silent, with suppressed glee and naughty ex-
citement, looking in through Mrs. Bondy's bedroom
window. I go over to join them, and push through to

   Mrs. Bondy's shade is drawn, but not quite. There
is a gap of maybe three inches left between the bot-
tom of the shade and the sill. The children are gath-
ered to peer, some on tiptoes to reach up, some
crouching to reach down, to see. I need to do neither:
it's just at my level, and I squeeze through to peek.
   Mrs. Bondy, her side to the window, sits on the
bed, nude from the waist up, enjoying Mr. Vernier's
   Mr. Vernier, still in his apron, but without his leather
cap, has his head against her chest, caressing the soft
round fullness of her breast, and her rosy nipple, with
his lips.
   The children watch with varying attitudes. Some
are curious, some are delighted. Some sneer, some leer,
some smile, or just look puzzled. Most puzzled of all
is me.
Grandpa and Annie say that only babies suck at
breasts. Grandpa doesn't lie.
   Grandpa doesn't lie. But this isn't just "a difference
of opinion."
   Grandpa does... Grandpa, Zaideh, has lied!
   Mr. Vernier moves his face in its rapture to the
other succulent breast.
   The children are smiling, and the children are bored,
and I am incensed.
   Mr. Vernier, still completely absorbed in the bounty
of Mrs. Bondy's soft mother orbs, happens to raise
his wide, dreaming eyes. And sees.
   His mouth moves from the breast. But remains
open. Sees eyes, the children's eyes, staring. He starts.
   Mrs. Murphy jumps, covers herself with her arms,
desperately looking around for her blouse.
   Mr. Vernier makes a lunge for the shade, to close
off the room. He grabs at the string, and the shade
flies back up, spinning around its axle pole. The whole
room is exposed. Mrs. Bondy flurries. Mr. Vernier
quickly goes for the shade again. And succeeds. The
view is sealed.
   Mrs. Bondy fixes her blouse and her hair. She
doesn't know whether to laugh or cry, especially
with Mr. Vernier sitting on the bed, holding his head
in his hands, rocking back and forth, moaning, "Oh,
my God."
   "I'll call the doctor to examine my chest, and I'll
say it was the doctor they saw, and they made up the
whole story. Did you recognize any of them?"
    "All of them," the grocer answers disconsolately.

    I am disillusioned. Shattered.
I huddle in the stable, lost in morose thought. Even
my grandfather has lied to me. There is no one to
trust in this world, except Ferdeleh, and Cleo, and .
one can't always be sure about Cleo, who is crouch-
ing there too, waiting for a sign.
   I heave a loud painful sigh, and walk toward the
   "Mama and Grandpa lie, just like Papa. Mr.
Vernier is not a baby. I won't listen to another thing
Grandpa says. They're all liars."
   I crouch again, very thoughtful. An idea, a deter-
mination crystallizes, as I see ... fresh horse manure.
   I turn to look at Cleo, who waits. "I don't care
what Grandpa says. Come."
   I get a shovel and fill it with a huge pile of fresh
dung. Cleo, with a small shovel, does the same. We
sneak out into the courtyard with our gift of life.
   And after the die is cast? And even while it's fall-
ing? Wondering. The future is now fated; a door is
closing; the consequences are sealed, will flow. But
no matter what fate befalls me, I have acted as I must.

Chapter XV