an excerpt

The Polite One


A number of homes were visited, but not all. It wasn’t possible. The conversations went something like this:

Hello. I am sorry to disturb you. I am here to inquire as to the number of children residing here. Three? Thank you.

May I ask what are their names? Thank you.

Magda is female? Have I pronounced it correctly? And Yanek? And… Ahna. Thank you.

Forgive my pronunciation. May I ask their ages? Me? Oh, I am sorry. I’m with the military. Yes, under Elam, Governor of Etruria. He was appointed this territory. Well, by Vitrus, of course. You’ve heard tell of Vitrus? Yes, we all have, haven’t we? In the house beyond the next, about a half-mile from here. Where the older couple live. No no, better to ask and know than not ask and wonder, we say. Do you say it too? How interesting. A small world, this. We may speak differently, but we think similarly, perhaps.

Forgive me. I do thank you for answering these questions. Just one more and I will leave you in peace, for now. What is the height of Yanek, how tall is he? He is? Would it be too much trouble to have him on the doorstep in the morning? We are in need of boys of his stature. Well I can’t say. I don’t know why, it’s thought he could be of service. Good. In the morning, yes. Thank you.

Also… Magda. Is she registered? It would be helpful to have her registered, in these troubled times. So many of the men needed elsewhere for the war, or for labor. For the labor of the war, yes, ha ha. You understand, thank you.

Could we arrange to have her register tomorrow? We will be here for Yanek, and… No, she would need to travel there, but we could take her. Would you mind? I’m so sorry. Thank you. Thank you so much. Our men will call on you tomorrow. Thank you. What was your name? Migal. Have I pronounced it correctly? Thank you.

Good day to you, Migal.

27 thoughts on “an excerpt

  1. The end was powerful. Goodness. I like the humor in the beginning. I pictured the fat man perfectly—he’s a great character.

    I’m working on a new site, by the way. I’m mentally spent lately, and not much is coming out. I guess I need a break for a while. But I’m lurking in the shadows.

    I’ll let you know when I get up and running again. In the meantime, more spoilers, please.

    Very nicely done, Walt.


    • Thank you for your comment about the end, Ms Mildred. I think you might be one of the few who made it that far. But 4000+ words is asking a lot, probably too much, for most, and I knew that going in. Definitely let me know when you get a site back up. I will be there. I already miss the old one. I actually miss the occasional gloom and darkness of it. I found it refreshing. Does that sound weird? Probably. Anyhoo, thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Already in love with Winstrop – his name is great (strop means noose in Dutch). His struggle is somehow something I think everybody can identify with because of the way you describe it. And his goal well… I can only hope he’s slowly but carefully tying a noose for someone.


  3. Love it. Love Winstrop – that whole idea of the person of low stature being sooo much brighter than the one in charge. Love a piece of writing that opens – ‘he was seated on a stool, sharpening a sword’. Cracking. Love the fat, greasy governor too. Just from this exchange, we know exactly who these people are, what their relationship is like. When’s it set? Makes me think Napoleonic War period – not sure why. Imagining lots of braid and epaulettes, shiny boots and pointless cavalry charges.
    The right words are miraculous – with so few, I’m imagining the whole world …
    Looking forward to the next installment.


    • Thanks, Lynn, I respect your opinion. Glad it worked for you. You know, it feels later than I wanted it to. I intended more of a fantasy feel but it didn’t come out quite that way.

      There will be at least one cavalry charge. Hopefully not too pointless. Next installment is a ways off though. Thanks for reading and for the feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

      • A pleasure to read and feedback! Could just be my perception, the periods I have in my head. Worth checking with others – it may just be me who has that impression. Will look forward to reading more when you’re ready 🙂


  4. Well, there you are. As breath fogs a window pane and one rubbeth, so the images appear. I can’t help but compare this to other pieces you’ve written, and in so doing, I will say it is my favorite; it is clean, seems fully conceived, and I care. I’m hooked. It doesn’t feel like a joke or piece of satire I won’t get, it feels like there’s something deeper here. (One of my favorite phrasings is the old couple as a carving, among many others.)
    It seems to me your knack for dialogue is more controlled in this piece than others; in other words, the breaks between exposition and dialogue are more balanced, less self-conscious, just more natural and confident. I like to see the restraint in that. I like that you put yourself out there with your intention to write a book and I thought, albeit a bit snarky, I sure hope you want to read it because the truth is, we wind up reading our own goddamned books or writing more than anyone else likely ever will, so I sure hope we do like it — ha! And I am hoping you’ll share more, or put me on your Gold Club membership to receive special notifications or what have you. Well done, Walt. – Bill


    • I continue my practice of ripping off others, and I add now the practice of ripping off myself from previous pieces. Saves work, don’t you know. Glad you care and took the bait, too. Or the other way around. You get a lifetime gold club membership, I’ll send you the card once you sit still in one place for more than a few days.

      Thanks for taking the time with such thoughtful comments. I appreciate the feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: small bite from a big piece | waltbox

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