Andy Solomon  

Selected Shorter Pieces                                            

Vanish Away Like Smoke

Mr. Aronson locked his hands behind his back and paced in front of our seventh grade Sunday school class. "Und sooooooo..." he droned, "Ve haf efry reason to belief dat Columbus vas a Jew."

I paused in the sketch I was drawing of a new 1957 Ford Thunderbird and glanced around the musty classroom.  The other students, like me, were all within months, one side or the other, of their twelfth birthdays.  Their eyes spoke an interest I could not believe was real.  It was Sunday, 11 a.m., and like me they must have wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere but there.  I put the rubbery-tasting eraser end of my pencil in my mouth and gazed around at the girls' chests to see if any needed a larger bra than the last time I'd looked, a half-hour before.

I never much minded that week after week I sat sweating in this overheated room, listening to what seemed myths, wishes, legends, and lies related as fact.  I minded only that their truth seemed so damned important to Mr. Aronson, the bald teacher with the grating voice.  The World War had ended the year I was born, and I had been told to accept on faith that a German Jew like Aronson had suffered in a way I could never understand, told by my father, to whom the lies seemed equally crucial, who had said often that he too had suffered, been denied that job, that neighborhood, because his name was Solomon.....

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