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Full Measure: Chapter 3 Full Measure: Chapter 3
by Bohdan Yuri
2007-06-19 10:08:16
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The sun was losing its balm as a moist chill hovered from nowhere. Josef pulled out a neatly folded handkerchief, from his trouser pocket. He looked at the monogrammed “J.K.”. It always bothered him, he thought, that first use, a rape of decorum, and to snivel... But he unfolded it and used it anyway and in a way that a man usually declares his distaste for such infirmal undertakings. He then refolded the soiled linen and put it inside the outer pocket of his custom tailored tweed overcoat. He anticipated its use since he felt obliged to stand, waiting outside the cafe. The chill seeped deeper.

He remembered how young bodies heat themselves, by squeezing each drop of sensation from life's movement, insulated by maturing muscles. Now the bones trapped the icy breath of winter's dare. In one month he'll be celebrating his 75th birthday --- age, what a cursed prelude, a purgatory of its own design.

Myron was almost 80. Yet Josef always envied Myron's boyish nature. He couldn't understand how Myron always looked for the brightness of life, as if the next step was always closer to fulfillment. Certainly in Europe, during the war, Myron's life had passed by the foul aromas of exposed flesh. He'd seen how treachery and hatred awaited each passerby, and always enticing the ambitious. But Myron was a conductor and not a soldier. Josef knew that it was the killing that made the difference. No, Myron was not a soldier trained in the art of warfare.

Instead, Josef pictured Myron's passage to be confined in static timetables, carrying lost souls past their present. Eternity always ended at the last stop, only awaiting a return passage, not an escape. Myron's demeanor befitted the sociality of such mundane routines, having acquired a working class joviality that was effortlessly expressed by a rolly face that could easily make connections, and topped by a balding head whose dark silver covering was too few and short to distinguish its texture. All this was wrapped in a stocky frame that was slightly shorter than Josef's six-foot stature.

Anyway, Myron wasn't coming. Another betrayal. He suddenly wondered why the obvious might have eluded him once more. Myron --- Myron Melnyk? A thought arose to curse ... was Myron a Jew? Sam Melnick, the butcher on Second Ave., was a Jew, and a Russian Jew at that. They were the worst kind. No, he couldn't be; at worse, a Slav maybe. Yes, probably a Slav, subhuman, but better than a Jew. Relieved, he still felt the pangs of distaste for both people. And he cursed the Slavs, those that pushed his regiment back across that wretched country.

Normally his walk back to his apartment on East 10th St. would avoid going through the Ukrainian sector around 7th St. But this time he'd found an angered purpose to enter the enemy's lair, it was another mission.

His first year in the city, his strolls mostly reconnoitered; he'd passed by St. George Church, while his military failures were still scabbed. So the sight of a Ukrainian church, repulsed him. He'd spat at its imbedded inscription. Today he would do it again, for old time’s sake.


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