Lies My Father Told Me  

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Chapter XIX

   A taxi drives up Panet Street and stops beside the
courtyard gate. Harry Herman opens the door, pays
the fare, goes back into the cab, and comes out carry-
ing the sleeping Davie. Harry carries him through the
courtyard toward the Elias house. He carries him
through the kitchen, through the hallway, now fol-
lowed by Annie, into his room. He places Davie gent-
ly on his bed.

   Annie undresses him, very quietly, gently, not to
wake him. She tucks him in.

   It is still dark outside, but the first faint signs of
morning light the winter sky as I awake to look
around and see that I'm back home, to jump ecstatic
out of bed, and dress.
   I run through the hallway into the kitchen. Grand-
pa's door is closed. I run out to the balcony, the
stairs, the courtyard, the stable.
   Open the stable door.
   The stall is empty....
   The wagon isn't there! Ferdeleh isn't there! Every-
thing has changed, and where there was life and love
now stands a ramshackle secondhand truck. A sign
on it reads: "H. Herman, Antiques."

    I run from the stable, run through the courtyard
into the street.
   Panet Street is empty.
   I run back into the courtyard, toward my house.
My feet are running, running up the stairs. I race
across the kitchen and stop at Grandpa's door.
   Slowly, carefully, I open the door, my breath and
my heartbeat waiting.
   The bed is made... the room is empty.
   I turn with a start as Harry comes in.
   "Papa. Why did they go off without me? Didn't
they know I was coming home?"
   Harry, as gentle, as tender as he can be, sits down
and pulls me closer to him.
   "Davie . . . your grandfather and Ferdeleh have
gone away."
   My heart races. I'm panicked. "Away? Where?"
   "They've gone... far away... to heaven...."
   "You're telling a lie!" I scream. "They wouldn't go
without me. They wouldn't go without me!"
   Harry tries to explain. "Davie . . . Grandpa is
dead... so is Ferdeleh. They've both gone to heaven,
and they're never coming back."
   Sobbing, screaming, I attack my father. Hitting,
pummeling, pounding him. "You're lying! You're ly-
ing! They'll come back! They'll come back!"
   I run from the kitchen, from the balconies, from
the courtyard, into the street. I run down the long
narrow lanes, looking desperately for the wagon that
never approaches. How like a dream is this vision
of yesterday.
   I ran through the back lanes of Montreal searching
for the wagon, which never appeared. At last, in
exhaustion and despair, I made my way homeward,
and hid in the hayloft above the stable. Echoes of the
smell of my beloved.

   Above, in Mr. Elias' house, do I see them. My mother
and father.
   Annie is dressing to go out in the snow.
   Harry asks, "Where are you going?"
   "To a dance!" She is wan from mourning and sad-
ness. Her face seems tighter, and, too, she is feeling
her hatred and anger. "What did you tell him? Where
is he?" she asks.
   "He'll be back. Don't worry."
   "What did you tell him?"
   "I told him what a father had to tell him - that his
grandfather and the horse were dead. Don't worry
about it. I'll get him a puppy."
   "You'll get him a puppy!" Annie stares at the man
she has married, and then turns to the door.
   Harry clumsily tries to assume authority. "You're
not going anywhere. You're not running after him.
He's a big enough boy, and he'll come back." Harry
pauses, lets that sink in. "I'm running things now.
There are going to be some changes. Take off your
   "You couldn't control your joy when he died,
could you?" she says bitterly.
   "You're not going anywhere."
   "I'm going. Harry!"
   "There's going to be some changes around here
from now on!" he repeats.
   She pushes past him. Now it's her turn to scorn.
"Invent a new mirror. Harry, so you can take a good
look at yourself!"
   "I know what I look like! And I know who I am!"
   But she's gone, and he's shouting into nothing.

   Annie hurries down the stairs of the rear balcony,
and runs through the courtyard to the street, calling
for me. "Davie... Davie... Davie..."
   I don't answer. I lie in the hay and mourn.
   She looks up the empty street, and runs back into
the yard. Frantic.
   Mr. Baumgarten and Mrs. Champlain are standing
in the courtyard. Annie runs to them. "Have you seen
   They shake their heads.
   Annie starts calling again, and runs toward the
street. "Davie... Davie... Davie..."

   I lay huddled in the stable, in the hayloft, my face
tearstained, staring out through the half-open stable
doors, unable to comprehend what was happening.
   Grandpa wouldn't leave without telling me.
   I cried bitterly.
   Not for Grandpa and Ferdeleh. Because I knew
they would never do such a thing to me.
   But about my father. Because he had told me such
a terrible lie.


My grandfather stood over six feet high
As big as a mountain that fills the sky
And he sang me a song as grandfathers do
A song I feel I must sing to you.

Only love is the truth and the truth is love:
Everything else is a lie.