Chapter Thirty-Six+

 S/S/S

KNOW MORE/KNOW LESS.
This VaporBonus installment
also contains a detailed narrative
 of the SF Marina mere hours after
 the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.
Rewalk these rattled streets, or rock on…
____________________________________

“Taking it to the Bank and all,
expect a crosser word, not only
shaken, but stirred.”

          “Pull his head up, son…”

          “No, just leave him, he’ll be all right when it passes.”

          “But he’ll swallow his goddamn tongue before that.”

          “No, he won’t. It’s just a minor seizure…Jimmy, back off!”

          “He’s all choking and drooling already!”

          The big brother remained so calm and collected, having led his school of mentally challenged boys toward us on Divisadero Street, multi-racial and degrees of composure—special education to go—some more special than others. They were on their way back from a field trip to the nearby Exploratorium, meandering hand-in-hand to another MUNI bus stop under the steady guidance of this cross between Denzel and Samuel L.. He gathered his flock around one stricken younger teen, now curled fetally on the sidewalk before us, trembling and bucking as if party to an electrocution gone haywire.

          The teen still lay shuddering on a stretch of Bay Street sidewalk, outside a plain beige, corner apartment building, with a row of chalk-white garage doors—colorful throw rugs and comforters airing out over fire escapes four floors above. The group had semi-circled around him, midway between an olive green mail bin and young Bronze Loquat tree, planted and tri-pole braced by Friends of the Urban Forest.

          “Petit mal…I’ve seen Hank through it a hundred times. Norman, stop now, dig?!”

          “Call 911,” asked the neighborly kibitzer, a gum-chawing, retired bosun’s mate in a Navy blue fleet cap with yellow carrier group insignias and lettering, well known for yakking away his idle hours up and down Chestnut Street, never letting go of a good gift of gab with whomever he could stop, back slap and collar.

          “Relax, man,” said the teacher/therapist, rubbing the heaving boy’s shoulders, as he kept his six other, gangling pupils in check. “He’ll be up and over it before dispatch can 10-4 the call…”

          “B-but he’s gonna gag…”

          “Sir, I know what I’m doing, dig? Hank here and I have achieved a working agreement, understand? Haven’t we, Hank…”

          “Understand my ass, son…understand don’t feed the monkey…”

          “Look, admiral, be stupid, or be rude…just don’t be stupid, and rude, OK?! No, really, we were on a field trip over at the ‘Living, Breathing Brain’, exhibit. Everything was copacetic, but Hank must have been triggered by sensory overload…”

          “Bet those roaring motorcycles didn’t help.” Reese Paulen craned to observe the soccer-pullover-ed teacher’s confident demeanor—in essence, obligatory black on lean, laudable black.

          “Naw, man, Hank is a motocikin’ fool—plays ‘Grand Theft’ on his Xbox all the time. These episodes, they just come and go, dig—part of the epileptic cycle.”

          “A real handful, hey,” Paulen asked, with an air of professional familiarity, then nodded to me as the old salt muttered off toward Chestnut Street. “Must be part paramedic,” he said clinically, watching the young lad begin to temper down, glancing my way. “CPR, all that.”

          “Or a paraminder, with the patience of a saint,” I felt Hank’s trembles to the marrow, tongue in cheek, tongue down throat, frightened that my own triggers might be pulled again. Power of suggestion, tongue and a dissociative epileptic groove…synapses flashing on mom and me, mother, may I…those painful backyard blues. So I hastened to tune back in to the counselors steadying mien. “Just happens, right? Part of the cycle, comes and goes…”

          “Something like that,” said the teacher.

          “I mean, to stay so cool…more power to you, bro. Kinda makes me think of L.T.,” I took myself hostage back to Aquatic Parks muni pier, still teetering from that aching, epiphanic stretch. But now, as we turned away, the teacher pulled his tittering, hand-clasped brood together for a final leg over to the bus stop.

          “He rather reminds me of DeCole Lerndon…” Paulen shook his head as we fully separated from the destabilizing encounter, due west out Bay Street.

          “You know of ‘Trap’ Lerndon,” I asked, hyperlinking in the prefrontal cortex, to a dimly archived landing page, the mere sight of that petit seizure making me all the more temblor wobbly.

          “Of course, ‘Honey Trap’, heard all about himBoulder’s a small town, remember? Greatest thing since Glenn Miller, best Buffs’ middle-linebacker ever—grew up near Rocky Flats. Then went into total seizure right on the 40 yard line after that spearing helmet-to-helmet hit. Folsom Stadium went into total shocked silence,” doc replied, searching in my direction. “But who is L.T.?”

          “Uh, nobody—yeah, Trap…now you’re talkin’so tragic that he had to hang his cleats up for good after that, a legendary hero all right,” I evaded, seeking a short change of conversational venue. “Then again, how about CU football since, huh—that whole men behaving badly thing. Catch me up on some of that juicy Boulder dish, why don’tcha…”

          “Would be delighted to, Herbert. Except that still wouldn’t explain your preoccupation with the Jews.”

          “Yeesh,” I said, unable to re-steer the course so easily. “It’s like with the whole Mideast thing—kind of an open sore, OK? What do you do with an open sore? You pick at it.”

          “But that’s not your sore, now is it…”

          “Oh, I’m not so sure. Not when Jewish people and Israel are so interesting—like with all the drama and everything. I mean, take your West Bank…”

          “Judea and Samaria.”

          “There, see?” Shuddering that my devil’s advocacy was once again in the details. Really, I had no dog in this fight, only detached retinas and pedestrian concern.

          “By everything, I suppose that’s as in pushy, obstinate, quarrelsome, unreasonably arbitrary, am I right?”

          “No, I mean animated, lively—you know, like, feisty…”

          “Feisty—for defending what is rightfully theirs,” Paulen asked, with notable irritation. “What has been their promised homeland since Biblical times, long before the Masada siege in 73CE. Where a thousand Jewish rebels perished in King Herod’s fortress rather than willingly lose Judea and Samaria to the Roman forces, who had already plundered the Second Temple? ‘Never surrender’ was their battle cry to the end. You may call it feisty. I call it blessed pride and devotion to that tortured legacy.”

sr dingbats

          Doc pointed up toward the baying front room window of an upcoming stucco Marina Spanish bungalow, the nearest of a mixed bag of Bay Street residences, mostly sharing subtle variations on an off-white theme. This home was a marginally more flamboyant, however—banana yellow with siena highlights, a recessed, mesquite San Miguel front portal, framed by coppices of florid bushes branching well out onto the ceramic-inlaid sidewalk. Out its open picture side windows thumped Mick Jagger’s demonic voice and Keith Richards’ electro-acoustic guitar licks from a remastered ‘Street Fighting Man’.

          “Hmph, people in attached houses shouldn’t play Stones.”

          “Especially Stones that ancient…” C’mon, get a grip, I stroked my spleen. The clock is ticking. This isn’t about you or the Glimmer Twins or that spastic kid; this is about moving his needle, remember? “Or throw stones, for that matter…”

          “What’s that supposed to mean,” Paulen took note of the quick opening and shutting of the dark-wood door’s black iron-hatched peephole, leaving a faint contrail of potent Merry Juanita. “Oh, we…I see where you’re going with this…”

          “No, hey—I was just thinking…like, in Hebron, the settlers, maybe. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…John 7:53-8:11, or something,” I stammered, as we ducked under the second of draping palms that bookended this inordinately rocking chichi bungalow. “That is, unless people have a legit cause.”

          “Cause? What cause, terrorists Arafat and Abbas stirring up their suicidal minions like the tit-for-tat tribal atrocities of the 1930s,” he looked at me askance. “Listen, your misnamed West Bank Palestinians are scarcely without sin themselves.”

          “I just see those pictures in the news,” I cast about to the Marina’s harmonious pastel tones, summoning little corresponding consolation. “Rocks versus IDF rifles—it seems so…unbalanced.”

          “Un-balanced? Unbalanced are the kids heaving those stones in the first place…”

          “But they are just kids, right? Hopeless kids, and rock, paper, scissors, it’s not.”

          “So they’re kids—so are the citizen security forces…”

          What was shakin’ with the insouciant bungalow? For one, it was among the Marina’s earthquake coming through largely unscathed, having escaped the post-Loma Prieta singularly intact, yet long numbed and apprehensive, until its survivor guilt was finally shed and buried with the liquefied muck and goo. Others, with their structurally uniform inferiority, had not been so happy go lucky.

          By virtue of reinforced ground floor garage spaces and skeletal retrofits, most had been resurrected rather quickly through hefty Federal and insurance policies, all right, yet still bore deep psychological, seismic scars. Like them, I had not quite escaped the wide-spread destruction—with no such coverage to fall back on or even to ideate in kind.

          “OK, forget about a blame game,” I replied. There, getting a rise, taking his temperature under fire, making note. “What about an end game?”

          “Ask the Palestinians,” Paulen huffed, passing a pair of frugal Italian widows in humble cloth coats. Arm in arm they were, backs crooked like little question marks…Marina natives, an endangered species, to be sure. “When are they going to stop with the violence and bloodshed?”

          “But you can’t deny their frustration, right?” If reading our thermometer, we would have both been running a degree or two above normal about now. “I mean, ultra-nationalist settlers torching their mosques and Korans—hell of a price tag.”

          “Hmph, that’s just part of their whole grievance and victimization narrative—like their slander that the Jewish state only came about because of Holocaust guilt.”

          “And they would say, tell that to the 48ers…”

sr dingbats

          On-shore breezes were kicking up, though not strongly enough to take the heat off, or to chill down phantom traces of the North Point/Diviz inferno—at least to my mind. I wanted to blurt out an offhand ‘what say we turn back?’, but couldn’t get a grip on that. B-bam! Then the mildest of aftershocks shook me loose, the concrete sidewalk jiggering out from under me like a wave-swept boogie board, sending me momentarily back to Loma Prietaland…in something of a self-induced seismic…seizure:

          Sure enough, had to be here—although it wasn’t all that easy to see at first glance. Had to have been there, was there myself, gone up in smoke and soaked, smoldering debris, nearly 20 long, Richter-light years ago…

             Re-picturing that very next morning, October 18, wandering downhill into the District after a long, eerie, simmering night before, overviewing a blacked-out city under a nearly full-blown hallow moon. I’d nibbled a half-tin of stale Pringles while Doyle Drive backed up from the lone bridge out of town, headlights chain-beaming along Lombard Street, the Golden Gate towering in the hellacious backflow of the iconic Divisadero blaze, a 50-foot wall of flames. My home-fires calmed, damage controlled up in Pacific Heights, I had nosed my way past traffic cordons and cop barricades, slogging leerily down here amid snaking Marina side streets in tumult and ruin, not knowing what I might find.

           Assured he would be taking care of her—like he always said, he was fully capable of looking after things—would have it all, as it were, under control, that she’d be shielded and otherwise spared, like Blackie Norton shielding songbird Mary Blake from Market Street before and after the Flood Building. But such psychic reassurance and retrievalizations soon began dissolving like the Marina landfill.

          For this hollowed ground we all walked on yet today was originally mere ballast and Bay dredgings poured in for the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Expo, a makeshift sand and sledge dump too voluminous to be twice removed. What better a foundation to build on, asked some early Depression Era hustler/developers: yessir, slap up a whole new neighborhood of tacky Mediterranean-style tinderboxes on the stuff, call it the Marina, being that it was down here atop the bay. Something of a flotilla of pseudo-villas with seedling gardens, crammed single-by-multi-unit along curvaceous side streets with thematic names like Prado, Retiro, Alhambra and Rico Way—no daylight nor breathing room between them—sort of pieds-a-tiramisu, all spongy and aquiver from the start. An answer came with crushing dispatch, some 60 years later, at 5:04 pm.

          Local seismologists had labeled it a strike-slip quake after the fact, would that they had actually described it: Pacific coastal and continental plates nudging along the gaping San Andreas faultline, epicentering at Dark Hill, over 50 miles south of San Francisco. Richtering in at 7.1, the Loma Prieta Quake lasted less than 30 seconds, rippling out concentrically over the entire Bay Area, the Marina no less included, no cheap shots hereabouts, on the western bend of the Pacific ring of fire…

          “And just what do you know about the 48ers, Herbert?”

          “Well, that they’re not a pro football team, that much I know,” I replied. All right, hold on, sack up, buck up—hit the hot pedal here, and now push him in maddening counterpoint. “But I think I read somewhere that they’re the Arabs who, amid Israel’s birth, were displaced from much of historic Palestine, their indigenous land…”

          “TransJordan, such as it was,” doc said dismissively.

          “Anyway, I think I’ve read how underground Jewish militiamen hounded Arabs out of their shops and houses with loudspeakered truck threats—even raping and pillaging by Zionist gangs…”

          “There you go again, trying to turn Zionism into a pejorative,“ doc said, with an exasperated wave of his hand. “Look, Arabs largely left their so-called property of their own free will. And many have been peaceably absorbed into the state of Israel. As if Jews hadn’t been scattered then, as well.”

          “Though the displaced Palestinians left with their keys and deeds in hand, right? Fully expecting to come back to their homes before long,” I was unable to avoid that gemstone of his. Didnt I recall a green one? But this ring was not jade green at all. In this sunlight, it was deep sapphire black or blue. “Instead, many became permanently uprooted, or were pushed by one-time refugees into those campsviolating Geneva conventions on forced transfer, no less.”

          “Sorry, there never have been any such Right-of-Return promises made,” Paulen said, as if sensing my growing/creeping instability. “Besides, your so-called West Bank was fully in Arab hands until 1967, yet no Palestinian state ever came of it back then.”

          “Maybe so, but the trouble is, its prospects of regaining a national homeland keep getting smaller all the time.” Yeah, let’s really get down to cases, steadying as she goes. “I mean, by ’67, Israel had seized control of the West Bank altogether, and has occupied it ever since—with no retreat in sight.”

          “Aha, the spoils of a war Israelis didn’t actually provoke in the first place—with no hope of border or bodily security ever since.”

          Naturally, San Francisco Bay reclaimed the Marina’s vulnerable gellulite landfill in short order, water table rising, sandy soil lifting, jerking, falling violently. The District’s rickety structures, garage door where solid walls should be, were no match for the resulting liquefaction, rolled by Loma Prieta’s temblor and its 4-point aftershocks, soft-story foundations and first floors folding quicker equity theater on such shaky ground. Mid-block Spanish bungalow homes imploded, corner Deco-detailed apartment buildings hula danced, tipped on over—suddenly everything went trapezoidal and rhomboid—total local blackout as the whole outside series crowd was watching worldwide. Stunned Giants baseball players milled about homeplate as if they’d just been collectively bean-balled; A’s teammates looked to jack one another out of the yard, squad cars converging around the infield of a panic-rocking Candlestick Park celebrating its 29th year. Meanwhile, Marina sewers spit up, water mains ruptured, gas lines snapped like pretzel sticks: Then came the flames.

           By this morning next, the damage and detritus of nature’s blindside fully registered, and hit like a sickening deathblow. Bulging platelets, post-tectonic shifts: Once past wedged police squadrols and makeshift metal barriers, I witnessed a usually trim, well broom-swept Mallorca Way in staggering disarray. Dwarf trees were trampled, garbage cans upended, planter crocks shattered and spilled, façade ivy torn away, as though a pod of killer whales had submarined on through like a colonoscopy gone a crapper. Crowds already milled around in stupefied dismay from a mammoth drunken spree to right homes about, schlepping any precious belongings they could grab.

         Mallorca ahead was a tight tan jumble of bay-style window wells and broken tile rooflines of only marginally varying heights, soon curving westward into far, far worse. Such stiff, wood-frame structures seemed increasingly precarious, as if struggling to hold one another up, straphangers on a lurching subway train. Anguished cries of discovery echoed off the corrugated homefronts, as did the wail of emergency sirens: ambulances, fire trucks still racing into and out of this emerging disaster area. And around the curve toward Alhambra Street, it became clearer what a few seconds of seismic flexing had arbitrarily wrought.

          That’s about where I began spotting the unhinged, flapped-out garage doors and collapsed brickface foundations, narrow arching doorways, recessed garage ports, scrawny Urban Forest trees, fire-escape ladders scissoring downhouse after building unable any longer to support the sinking stories above. City blocks of Marina structure—more tans and tints flagged and pitched like Slinky toys—Moorish detailed apartment houses twisted downward like accordions left to their own devices on a thumping beer hall stage. Jello soil and cheesy construction: What a decidedly unappetizing combination…

          “Still and all, Mideast maps show how dramatically the Palestinian territory has shrunk since 1967,” I said, “let alone 1947.”

          “Yet Arabs continue to make upwards of 80% of the West Bank population to this day.”

          “Really, have you checked out those detailed West Bank maps in the newspapers?  They look like bad acne or a pinball maze full of bumpers, trap doors and firewalls,” I said. Several nicely dressed women approached in passing, lifetime devotees of the Pat Steger society crowd once removed.

          “Those road blocks and checkpoints you see serve an entirely legitimate purpose, Herbert. They’re essential for security and surveillance, peacekeeping and public order overall.”

          “To whose benefit? The Palestinians?”

          “Why, for the benefit of Arabs and Israelis alike, of course,” doc said.

          “Good luck with that…Palestinians pay taxes to Israel, and get nothing for their troubles,” I prodded, throwing up my own arms for schematic effect. “C’mon, that patchwork labyrinth is more like an obstacle course. From what I gather, there are almost 700 of those roadblocks jockeyed around all the time—meaning no free movement of Palestinians and their goods.”

          “The checkpoints are positioned according to flare-ups of Hamas-sparked violence and terrorism. The PA provides security there, too, I’ll have you know.”

          “Yeah, but in the process, IDF security breaks Palestinian territories into, like, ten half-assed connected enclaves, right?” That’s it, keep pushing those buttons, looking out for shocks and sparks. “How can Palestinians maintain an economy with all those travel restrictions?”

          “Please, they are issued I.D. cards and all sorts of special permits. If they follow the traffic rules and behave themselves, they’re largely good to go. Besides, Israel helps the PA with public health, education and sanitation—only to get more violence in return.

          “Until they’re pulled over in a gauntlet of mobile shakedowns, getting detained by the IPS or deported by Shin Bet—with their junkheaps taken away, isn’t that so?

          “Only if they are deemed suspects—only when they’re on a watchlist or packing contraband,” doc said heatedly. “After all, these are people sworn to destroying the Israeli state, drive it into the sea.”

          “So what kind of existential threats are posed by Palestinians’ olive groves and Roman trees? I hear about Israeli troops burning them up and plowing them down… ripping out their measly hyssop plants and plundering other natural resources while bulldozing houses. Sounds like Old Testament cruelty to me. So much for a decent GDP—no wonder kids have to dig out a living through settlers’ trash.”

          “Utter rubbish, Herbert—Arab media agitprop at its worst—sounds as though you’ll buy any inflammatory fabrications they’re serving up these days. Must be your latent predilection again…”

sr dingbats

          I flowed with the early morning crowds toward the inner District, and it seemed the further we probed away from Chestnut Street’s boarded-over store windows, the more acute earthquake-inflicted wounds were exposed. An air of utter destruction emanated from all directions. A first worst sign hit me at the Alhambra corner. Morbid curiosity had me gazing rightward in the diagonal direction of Cervantes Boulevard, but police in full riot gear patrolled mid-block with ‘move on, nothing to see here’ glares. Begging off any further copfrontations up in this part of town, I advisedly followed a grim procession dead ahead to Capra Way, and what quickly proved to be the rest of the worst.

          From there west, once-tidy homes stood stricken and reeling, plate glass crumbled, cracked windows pushed open, fine drapery hanging out front room casements like laundry out a Chinatown window. Some leaned sideways, others slid forward off their slapdash slabs, creaking and cracking, plumbing for any sort of settlement. Before them, pavement split, twisted and buckled, gray mud oozing up through the breaches. Power remained out, running water down, would remain so for weeks; seismic-shocked residents paced furiously amid clumps of shed stucco and terra cotta tiles, desperate to regather and reorder fragments of their shattered, gut-punched lives. By certain measures, these were the fortunate ones…

          “Don’t psycho label me like that, OK,” I tried to thread a needle with a close eye on the yarn. “And what about those West Bank settlements? All the restricted super roadways leading up to them?”

          “It’s an evermore dangerous neighborhood. Try living next to Fatah gangs, Hamas terrorists and Al Aksa suicide bombers, before you start throwing your stones.”

          “Who says I don’t—in the San Francisco variety? Point is, I know what I read, and when it has to do with the settlement movement, which began in earnest under Begin. What I read is pretty hard to stomach.”

          “Religious fringe activity, by and large,” Paulen shook his head. “However, I can say with some confidence that 67% of Israeli settlers live on barely 4% of pre-1967 land, and most settlement activity occurs on relatively unproductive parcels mainly in Area C, at that.”

          “Hey, I’ve seen the pictures,” I spouted, though wary of venturing a bitch too far. “All those Miami-style condo blocs cropping up on West Bank hilltops. They ring and hover over supposedly Palestinian cities like Nablus and Hebron, construction cranes everywhere…fueled by interest-free government loans, of course.”

          “That growth is purely the product of immigrant influx, especially from Russia, and increasing birthrates, with official Israeli policy responding accordingly. You see, Israel still welcomes a minimum of 1/8th of Jews from all over the world, per its Law of Return.”

          “Law versus Right, while settlements grow by the day. But Palestinians and others say a lot of this stuff is illegal, much of the world does too—especially the hodgepodge settlements and squatter outposts springing up,” I replied, pressing the issue. “It’s not just for all the pollution and traffic congestion they bring, but that the PA has little or no say in this steamrolling growth, getting sliced and diced into deprivation.”

          “I’ll have you know there are some very handsome houses being built, as well,” doc said, stepping aside a woman with a severe late-term baby bump who drifted toward us, driven to T-Mobile transaction distraction while her husband pushed their pram. “What’s more, the so-called settlements provide a good deal of work and living wages for many Palestinians.”

          Coming upon Avila, then Scott Streets, it became a matter of following the firehoses, splayed like penne pasta—block upon block, curb over curb, hydrant to bone-dry hydrant. Word was pressure had so weakened fighting last night’s blazes, fireboat Phoenix moored in Marina Green harbor (yes, that Marina Green) to pump bay water from several blocks away. But most post-quake fires had been doused by now, including that gas-fed inferno at Beach and Divisadero, where hot trolley wires were dangling, the Moorish pink Claire Lilienthal School had long been evacuated.

          Parched crews in neon-striped turnouts fought that five-alarm wall of flames for more than four hours, eventually pumping in water from as far away as the Palace of Fine Arts pools. Absent such valiant department and volunteer efforts, had there blown the usual late-day breezes, gawkers, ankle deep in firewater and goulashed debris kibitzed, the entire damn District would be toast. Not that what was salvaged here was much consolation come the next light of day.

          Trodding this main four-block strike zone, the gathering crowds’ shrieks and gasps erupted with every devastating revelation. Sparks, ashes, cinders and embers coarsened the air as weary fire crews continued hosing down smoldering ruins, yet couldn’t douse the depth and enormity of this post-tectonic destruction. Here, the Marina looked to be somewhere between a grotesque landscape by Dali and Gehry’s Bilbao—tilted and distorted, angled and askew. Helmeted cops bullhorned bewildered residents and interlopers alike around the smoky, teetering rubble at Scott and Beach Streets, the dusty three-story collapse job at North Point and Divisadero, the pancaked house near Jefferson and Broderick. Early guesstimates had more than six structures fully down, but who was counting? It was all a body could do to stoically absorb the tragic imagery and gruesome details that lay before us

          “All I know is there’ve been over 300,000 Jewish settlers so far, 120 settlements, 40% of the West Bank and counting—with government-approved plans for at least 500 more homes for Israeli Jews in places like Maskiot—violating international law in the process.”

          “And may I remind you that Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld this expansion…”

          “Or is it just a matter of rubber stamping the land grabs,” I stoked, though feeling I was reaching a conversational speed bump. “But it’s not just the construction, it’s the tactics involved. “Faking deeds and leases, overrunning Palestinian homes, firebombing and forcing evictions at gunpoint. Rampaging Orthodox settlement kids from Brooklyn are one thing; tear gas and blitz raids by helmeted Israeli troopers something else altogether…”

          “Look, in many cases, those authorities are pursuing Islamic Jihad militants, or common Arab thugs hiding in villages such as Jabaa and Dura al-Qar.”

          “When the IDF isn’t hovering and riding herd over Nablus and Hebron,” I fixed on a thicker collar of fog frothing in over the Presidio trees ahead. “Not to mention that bulldozing massacre at Jenin.”

          “The place was infested with terrorists. Pelting Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, for godsakes. What on earth was…”

          “How about not eating up land indigenous Palestinians claim for their future state? How about not sealing that potential state off into disconnected Palestinian cantons, walling them off like the Warsaw Ghetto?!”

          “There, we…I knew it—don’t try playing the moral equivalence card, Herbert, don’t you dare attempt to equate that so-called ‘occupation’ with the Holocaust! They’re not the same, not even close,” Paulen wagged his finger at me. “See, with people like you, Israeli Jews and their ‘rogue Zionist regime’ can do nothing right!!!”

          “Wrong—that’s wronger than you know…”

          “Oh?  How so?”

          “If you only knew…”

Care for more?

Chapter Thirty-Seven. Problems
issued, staggering toward solutions.
But not without weathering
shock after aftershock…