“PLEASE have a seat, fräulein.”

 

She tried to give the two men a smile, but could only manage to nod her head.  She sat in the chair indicated by the larger man’s arm.  The woman’s fingers squeezed the clasp of the small purse that rested in her lap.  She looked down at the purse.  

 

“Would you like coffee?  Tea?”  

 

“No.”  

 

Had the men heard a quieter no?  They noticed the style and age of her dress, her thin arms, her ordinary shoes.    

 

She looked up.  “The painting you have in the entry.  It is wonderful,” she said.  

 

“The mural?” said the director.  

 

“The mountains in the background.  They look so real.  And the clouds.”  The professor made a small smile at the director.  Each was aware of her strategy.  Compliment before you ask.  

 

“Thank you,” said the director.  “One of our former students did that. When did he do that, Franz?  Ten years ago?”  

 

“Nine, I believe.”  

 

“Yes.  Herr Klinghoffer.  He now teaches in America.  Very talented.”

 

The director of the institute sat in the chair behind his desk.  The professor remained standing.    

 

“What is the purpose of this visit?” he asked.  

 

She exhaled.  Her glance went to the floor, to the desk, to the vase on the desk, to the window.    

 

“Is this about your son?”  

 

“Yes.  When he applied he was certain of being accepted.  When you turned him down he was crushed.  He wants so much to be an artist.  He is good.  Very good.  All of our neighbors think highly of his paintings. Sketches.  And he tries so hard.  He would make an excellent student.  If you would please change your mind I would be so grateful.”  

 

“You must understand, fräulein, that we simply cannot accept everyone.  It is impossible.  We have only so many positions available,” said the director.    

 

She bit her lip.  “Yes, I understand.  But if it is possible just to make one exception.”  

 

“I’m sorry, but-”

 

She interrupted him.  “My son is destined to be great.  He has that in him.  Everyone who knows him says that.  If you were to accept him you would see also.  He could become the nation’s best painter.”  

 

The professor and director gave each other a secret, knowing look.  

 

She went on.  “He has been so despondent since you notified him.  He goes on walks.  Disappears for days.  Now he talks of doing something completely different.  Entering politics.  Becoming a leader.”  She laughed. “That is impossible.  The political world would kill him.  This is his only chance.”  

 

She stood.  “Please gentlemen.  Please take him.  You will not regret it.  The world will be grateful.”  

 

Each man looked away from her.  She waited for their no to turn into a yes.    

 

“I’ve always heard the Jewish people were generous,” she added.

 

Everyone waited.  Nothing happened.  

 

“Thank you for listening.  Good day, gentlemen.”  

 

She turned to go.  

 

The director spoke.  “Good day, Mrs. Hitler.”

 

 

 

 

Paul Bowman, a retired maintenance director, writes plays, novels, screenplays, and short fiction. No poetry. (Be thankful.) He has had six one-act plays produced. This is his fourth published story. The publishing industry ignores his brilliant novels; Hollywood, his awesome screenplays.

CHARACTER REFERENCE

Paul Bowman

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Fiction

September 2016

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Literary Juice