All Greeced Up
Shmuel was in Berlin, trying to dig a hole to China, as lots of little boys do. He was having a contest with his best friend, Bruno, to see who could get there first. Shmuel had been digging for almost six months now. He felt he might be getting close to China when…
All of a sudden, he felt himself falling deeper and deeper and then he saw the sky, before crashing into a cart of mangoes. He was then covered in sticky, sweet juice. He began licking his arms and legs to taste the new and delicious flavors, before realizing that he was being watched. "Who are these FREAKS!" he thought! Somebody watching made a weird noise, a mixture of shock and happiness. A cute little boy! Suddenly realizing where he was, he jumped out of the cart, and his butt was drenched in juice; the mangoes were squished and mushy. Shmuel was really embarrassed that people might think he peed himself in public, especially around these strange people.
Shmuel suddenly felt alone when the man that had made a funny noise approached him. "Oh no! A pedophile is coming to get me!" Although he was only ten years old, Shmuel had already been quite familiar with the terminology of these people, from stranger danger classes at school. Panic set in and Shmuel stood like a lazy lump in the market-which was apparently called an Agora. Right when he thought he was going to die or be abducted, the man smiled and spoke.
"Hi! I'm Pythagoras! Perry Pythagoras! I'm obsessed with math! I even have a theorem named after me!"
"Uh… what's a theorem?"
"Ah! I just fiddle around with right triangles!"
"Oh… I'm Shmuel. And I'm from Poland, but I now live in Berlin, I was digging to China, am I in China?
"No boy! You're in Athens, Greece, boy! China is 7629km from here! You're way off boy! Now where are ye' parents at?"
"Um, they are dead. They died in the Holocaust".
"Oh, you don't know what the Holocaust is?"
Shmuel's parents were killed in the Holocaust. Shmuel and Bruno had escaped the camp by grabbing an army tank and hijacking it and smashing down the gate. Bruno's mom and sister stopped the boys, but drove them to safety. Shmuel was wondering where "Buddy Ol' Bruno" was and if he was ok.
"You're coming home to my family"
Shmuel did not want to go home with this creepy old guy that talked about triangles nonstop. But, he did what he was told and took the creep's hand as he led him down the streets of Athens.
They arrived at Pythagoras' house a few minutes later. It was a decent looking place, with sunny lemon yellow exterior, hefty windows on the top floor, and vines of roses wrapping around the balcony. Shmuel was surprised. He was expecting a dump.
"Come on in boy! You can meet my wife and family!"
Shmuel had absolutely no clue what to expect. He had an older brother before the Holocaust, who was also presumed to be dead. They had gotten along until the move to the camp, and they had often fought. Now that he was dead, Shmuel often missed his company. He had Bruno and Gretel, but it just wasn't the same.
When Shmuel walked into the house, he was even more surprised by the woman standing at the sink, making a sandwich. She was a willowy woman, with blonde hair, and sparkling blue eyes. She did not look like anyone that he had seen at the market. The majority of the people he had seen were scrawny and filthy, although there were a few he had seen that were toned and well dressed. She turned around, smiled and told him that her name was Adela. Pythagoras went to wash himself off, while Shmuel stood awkwardly by the sink, staring at Adela, as she made another sandwich. She invited him to sit down at the table and wait for supper, or to walk around and look at the house. He opted to explore, which was an activity he and Bruno had done many times together. He was walking through what looked to be the living room, when he stumbled across many pictures of nude men. Shmuel was quite shocked; no one back home hung naked pictures on their walls. In each picture, there was the same guy. Too disturbed to explore the rest of the house, Shmuel went back to the kitchen.
When he returned, he was somewhat surprised to see that Adela was for once, not making a sandwich. He had only been in the house for a half hour, and already had the feeling she didn't do much. He took a seat at the table, and decided he'd ask her a question, but before he could, she spoke.
"You must be a friend of Andreas"
"Andreas? Who is Andreas? Please don't tell me I'm at HER house" cried Shmuel in his brain. He sat next to a girl named ANDREA in his history class, and hated it. She was quite rude to everyone, especially to Shmuel. She often picked on him in front of everyone, especially Scarlet, the girl Shmuel was madly in love with. Andrea liked to make fun of Shmuel's lack of hair and teeth, "something you'll never have", he was told by his dentist and doctor. Shmuel was quite sensitive to those jokes, and now he was dreading the fact that he may be in side that snot's house.
"Uh, I don't think I know any Andreas?" Shmuel said shyly, afraid of admitting he hated the girl, in case this was her house, although he didn't think her last name was Pythagoras.
"Oh! Well, are you a friend of Cyrus or Deacon?"
Shmuel was certain he was not in Andrea's house now; she was an only child, and awfully spoiled for that reason.
"No, I have no clue who you are talking about".
"Well, why are you here then?"
"You see, I was digging to China and I guess I fell here instead… In Athens. That creepy old man that came into this house picked me up and brought me in, after I fell into a cart of mangoes."
"Oh! My husband! He's a good man, a real good man, not a creepy thing about him!"
Shmuel did not regret calling the man a creep, as Adela continued to nag about her husband. When he snapped back to attention, he noticed three boys standing near him, looking at him, with large eyes. He assumed they must've been Andreas, Cyrus and Deacon, the kids Adela mentioned, probably her sons. Shmuel felt relief that he was not at Andrea's house, but still slightly nervous about this man. Pythagoras returned, looking washed and smelling juicy…almost like a mango.
"Hey boys, this is Shmuel, and he's going to stay here for the night, while we try and find his family! Ok boys?"
The boys solemnly agreed, and Shmuel had already taken a dislike to them. They didn't seem like the type that would want to explore.
The other boys sat down and continued to stare at Shmuel, who was starting to question if they were just fascinated with him, or were idolizing him. Shmuel felt a little uncomfortable as he shifted in his seat, especially when Pythagoras decided to start grinning at him, without blinking an eye. "They really are freaks" he thought, as he realized he was late for dinner back home, and surely they were wondering where he had buggered off to.
Just as he was supposed to say he had to go home, Adela brought the sandwiches to the table.
"Mooooooom! I'm so tired of sandwiches!" whined one of the boys.
"Shut up Deacon; eat what is put in front of you!"
"Yes Deacon, you're mother worked hard making that sandwich for you, she was in the kitchen all day preparing supper, while I was at a wrestling match"
"I'm always in the kitchen all day" mumbled Adela. Her husband chose to ignore her comment, as he gazed at Shmuel, eating his asparagus and octopus sandwich. He didn't really like the taste, he found it too salty and eating asparagus reminded him of a fact he learned in class the year before; eating asparagus makes your pee smell funny. The taste of the mangos still lingered and when no one was looking, he began to lock his arms again, savoring every bit of the stickiness he could.
Pythagoras told Shmuel that he had to wake up at the crack of dawn tomorrow. "You're going with us tomorrow into the village, to start your wrestling training!" Shmuel just nodded his head, as the day had started to wear down on him. He was tired and confused and missing Bruno, and even Gretel, who was like an older Andrea, with the beauty of a Scarlet.
Shmuel awoke the next morning, after having a series of nightmares. He went downstairs, to find Pythagoras and the boys, naked in the kitchen, each eating a plum and tuna sandwich. "Pytee" (as he began to call Pythagoras, because the name was too long), was going to take Shmuel somewhere "special" today. Shmuel didn't really want to know where this "special" place was, or what it was.
"Morning boy! We're off to town to practice our wrestling for the Olympics!"
When Pytee said "Olympics", he felt relieved. Watching the Olympics was one of his favorite things to do when they were on. He loved almost any sport.
When the boys got to the arena to practice, a tall man with bulky muscles grabbed Shmuel's pajamas and ripped them off of him. Being a shy boy, he didn't say much, but he did look around, to see that every other boy around was also naked, but that didn't make him feel any better. In class, they had learned about ancient Greece, and about their sports, but he must've missed the class where they learned that their sports were done naked. He felt extremely awkward being naked in front of strangers; he felt strange around almost anyone now, ever since the war. The arena was packed with people, making Shmuel feeling even more awkward, being the shy boy he is.
"Pytee, how many people are in here?"
"Well boy, I don't know how many people are in this arena, but I do know that there's about 140 000 people in the city in total!"
Shmuel had never been in such a large community (he didn't exactly count the camp as a community, because most people died anyway, it was just a miracle he had managed to escape). He was called over to the side, where he was put in a lineup with little seven year old boys that were apparently "beginner wrestlers". "Gotta start your career at some point" said an older man, who patted his shoulder, a little too affectionately. A few minutes later, Shmuel was brought into the ring, to face off against a younger boy named Leon. Leon lunged forward to grab Shmuel, and all Shmuel thought to do, was to kick Leon square in the face. Leon cried with pain and fell over. Shmuel could've kicked in places that would hurt more, but because he was the new kid, he chose not to. All this naked wrestling stuff was making him want to get back to Berlin even more. "Surely there's a plot back home to find me", he thought, out of depression.
He had another night of bad sleep. He was getting genuinely homesick, and was contemplating an escape back to Berlin. He had been digging to China, when he fell through his hole and into that cart of mangoes. "Mmmmmmmmmmmmm" he thought, desiring something that tasted better than today's plum and tuna sandwich. The smell of tuna made him absolutely revolted, and he had a hard time keeping the sandwich down, especially after Adela said something about "a special ingredient" that morning. He thought about getting a map and walking back, but he remembered that it was a very far distance; something like 7000km. Shmuel couldn't even count to 7000, let alone 100. He was supposed to be starting school in a couple of days, and he was dreading it. School in Berlin was already a struggle for him, and he had little to no friends there, let alone he would be the new boy here. He detested learning how to write and stuff; the only relief was that there was not much emphasis on math.
Suddenly, he awoke, on the bedroom floor; the bedroom in Berlin. He was extremely confused. Was he dreaming, or was he hallucinating, or what?
"Shmuel, Shmuel, are you alright darling! That was a loud thud you made!"
"Why am I in my room? I thought I was in Athens, standing in front of creepy old men, naked!"
"No! You've been sleeping for two days straight; I put you to bed because your temperature was high! You kept mumbling about creeps and mangoes and digging every time I came to check on you! Bruno is very excited to finishing digging the hole with you!"
Shmuel didn't feel like digging any holes for a while. He was still a little dazed from his dream, but extremely comforted to be in his bed, with Bruno, Gretel and Mother, and not some creepy naked family. For once in his depressing, short life, he was relieved to be sick and not abducted.