“Play him a song, Peter,” Sylvia coaxed. Baby Lilly, Peter’s rosy-cheeked one-year-old sister, sat in a play area in the corner. The butcher shop was truly a family business.
Peter went into the back of the shop and came back with his beloved violin. Once he placed it under his chin, he felt transformed into another person, a bold person of great confidence and emotion. He could imagine doing great and daring things when he played the violin. His small hands orchestrated the melodies that were born from wood, string, and the depths of his soul. The music gave him a feeling of unfettered freedom and unsurpassed bravery, neither of which he felt like he had in real life.
He played a tune called “You Are Not Alone.” It was a song his mother sang to him at night. It helped him go to sleep, kept away his nightmares of the monsters hiding in the corners, and banished that terrifying feeling of hurtling through darkness with no direction and the fear of what would happen when it stopped.
Sylvia smiled and nodded. “That’s my Peter. His music will change the world someday,” she bragged to Frank.
Peter turned away, hiding his face as he continued to play. His face flushed with embarrassment, but he couldn’t hide his smile or the dance of his nimble fingers over the strings.
Frank nodded at the small maestro. Bruno, entranced, thumped down on his hind legs, with his huge tongue hanging out, and watched Peter’s bow seesaw across the violin. The dog’s ears, which always looked like they were saluting, twitched. He was a dog in a dinner jacket that appreciated good music and meaty bones.
Henry, in his white butcher’s apron, leaned on his meat counter. “Maybe your music will save the Jews from Hitler,” he said, smiling at Peter.
A shadow crossed the storefront window where the weekly meat specials were advertised. Frank looked over.
Policeman Karl Radley stood looming in the store window, blocking the sun as he glared at them. Radley, a tall man, about the same age as Henry and Frank, had short blond hair and a very small, thin, turned-up nose that always made him look like he smelled something foul.
As Radley stared through the window, he pointed at Henry and made a slashing gesture across his throat. He turned abruptly and stomped away.
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