Short Story: Black Forest…in Bite-sized Bits
Bit 1: The Centripetal Force of Gunter
Herr Crankendinger cracked the switch on Gunter’s open hand. The lad, fourteen years old, the in-between of boy and man, clenched his teeth. He locked eyes with the scowling school master. Gunter had the urge to snigger. Not a good urge to have when the school master is beating his hand. Gunter pushed down the bubble of snigger rising from his beating chest. His stomach churned, and all fizzed up, the snigger with a mind of its own, rumbled in his throat and then slipped out of his curled mouth.
‘Dumkopf!’ Herr Crankdinger screamed. He hammered the boy’s palm again and again.
‘You will learn!’
‘Aber, the water in the bucket is held by centripetal force, not magic. The man at the Show is not the devil.’
Herr C’s face glowed red and his ice-blue eyes bulged. He stomped his one foot and peg-leg (a casualty of the Thirty Years War), and cried, ‘Heretic!’
In the candle-lit chapel, thirty-nine pairs of eyes stared at their castigated classmate, and the owners of those eyes froze on their cedar benches. One boy in the back row tittered.
Encouraged by the titter of support, Gunter continued, ‘Gravity, have you not heard of gravity? Have you not heard of Isaac Newton?’
‘Oaf!’ The teacher pointed at the door. ‘Witch! And don’t come back! Your education is finished. Understand?’
‘Never learnt anything here,’ Gunter muttered as he strode between the rows of school boys towards the heavy doors made of oak.
He pushed one open, squeezed through and then bolted. Pigeons fluttered as Gunter ripped through the town square, of his small Schwarzwald (Black Forest) village. First flush of spring made Gunter a bundle of nervous energy, especially when he saw three milk maids delivering their buckets full of cow juice to the stalls in the square. He looked at the blonde triplets in their puffy cotton sleeves and blue pinafore dresses, and he stumbled on the cobble stones.
The girls sheered away from him.
‘Oh, keep away from the plague,’ one said loud enough for him to hear.
‘Ugh, he smells like cow dung.’
‘No one would want to marry him.’
‘All he attracts is bugs and flies.’
And the three girls giggled.
‘You’re no beauties yourselves,’ Gunter muttered as he dug his hands in his pockets. He didn’t care it was bad manners to dig hands in pockets. Too bad, he thought, then tramped up the hill to his home.
On the way up, Gunter glanced in a pond. His nose like the Hochblauen dominated his dusky face, and pimples gathered in clumps like pine trees on his high forehead, square chin and of course, his mountain of a nose. He pulled his thick dark curls over his face to hide the awkward ugliness, and then with his head down and hands buried in his pockets, Gunter shuffled up to his home presiding over the village, a mansion crumbling with neglect.
How long before his home looks like those Roman ruins down the road? Gunter wondered. Another victim of the Thirty years war that had dominated life in the 17th Century. So close to the sanctuary of Switzerland, and yet…his father had to go and join the cause. So did his older brother Johann. How could Gunter as a boy keep the house and home together?
[…to be continued]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Black Forest up the Hochblauen © L.M. Kling 2014
Go on a reading-binge and discover the up close, personal and rather awkward relationship between Gunter and that nasty piece of cockroach-alien work, Boris in…
And for you faithful followers of The Lost World of the Wends…
Thank you for your likes and comments on this series. Now it is time for all good drafts to hide in the bottom of the file for a much-deserved rest. All part of the editing process for me, as the writer, to gain that much-needed objectivity to refine and polish the work before publication. ~ Lee-Anne Marie Kling