Center of Center (16)
a serialized novella-in-flash by Chris Wiewiora
These are new rocks, Roger says outside my bus. I place my finger in Selected Poems and eye him. His mustache twitches into a smile. Several other drivers stand behind him.
Through my front door, I see Roger bend over by the pile poured around one of the lamppost planters in the Alumni Center parking lot. My bus ticks, the engine off, but the power on with the electricity coursing through the hull, parked in a line of extras waiting for their runs all linked by two radio channels.
I uncross my feet on the tally counter and set them down to stand up. Roger selects a few rocks. Round, dense-looking, the size of a fist. He holds one, peers out into the empty eastern lot, and hurls it at one of the poles topped with a banner.
Rocks lay scattered across the lot.
The Cossacks came on horses. They invaded, but they didn’t torch the Poles’ cottages. The thatched roofs didn’t burn with flames that crackled up, blackening the sky. Instead, they brought in teachers who taught in Russian.
Josef had taught Polish and he was just married to Basha, an orphan girl who used to clean the school. The Cossacks believed Josef would join the Polish resistance. Several men came to the cottage for Josef. The men blocked the door, the only way in or out. They took Josef outside and made him dig a body-sized hole and shot him and made Basha bury him.
After, they grabbed Basha. They grabbed her hand. They opened her fist. They put her fingers in the doorframe. They asked who she pledged allegiance to.