Personal Quirks and Fancies (part one of Robbie)

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This captive child, missed by no-one, caught his last glimpse of sunlight six months before his third birthday. Unable, to have ever seen his captor he had two unassailable weapons. One was his faith; the other his uncanny knack for research. From whence came this belief in Life, Love or Eternal Strength was not obvious, even to the most inquisitive; his parents were not in the habit of talking about spiritual matters. They did not pray before meals or utter brief homilies of “Thank God” as was the expression in those days whenever Fate smiled and chased the Clouds away.

But he seemed dauntless; it was as though he had not yet been introduced to Fear. That’s what I mean by faith; He appeared to rely on no-one. If a surprise event arose in his young life for which he had no solution, he simply stopped everything, focused inward and began to use his limited knowledge of related events and he thought; and he thought. And soon, at the slightest appearance of a possible solution he would spring into action, his spontaneity revealing a sharp contrast in personal quirks and fancies and within minutes, conditions would begin to change.

He was soon to learn a new skill; He would find it absolutely necessary to learn how to exercise patience. Given more choices he would surely have chosen any other; he was an impetuous lad.

Patience to Young Robbie meant spending whatever few minutes were required to discover a method for solving each new problem soon after its arrival. This newest challenge however, would require more than a minute or two; much more than a minute or two. Or three.

Today was June 12. The year was 1945. This was Robbie’s sixth birthday. He had been living with the aforementioned problem for over half his life. Though Robbie was being held captive, his conditions supported his inquisitive mind. He never saw his captor. A maid brought his meals, his quarters supplied him with all the amenities of a comfortable studio apartment with a library and a radio, writing implements and a tutor whose job it was to encourage Robbie in the skills of research and who brought the morning paper. Leon was his tutor’s name. Leon’s daily instructions for Robbie were limited to the most basic fundamentals of phonics and were occasionally sprinkled with German and Yiddish. On the round-topped dining table inlaid with parquetry, where Robbie was eating the blueberry pancakes brought to him a few minutes earlier by Maid Greta, there was now a newspaper and a birthday cake with six candles. There was no gift sitting there with a big bow. There was no Birthday card, no birthday greeting leaving the lips of either caretaker.

The Dallas Morning News front page banner bore headlines encouraging the readers to update their knowledge of the economic and social changes taking place in America as soldiers who had left home as little more than teenagers were returning now as men who had lost their naiveté on the killing fields of Europe and of the Pacific.

Robbie wondered what it would be like to endure the dangers of war.

He toyed with some of his ideas for escape, mentally checking his inventory of clues to the identity of his captor or captors. His hearing was sharp and had increased its acuity over the years as he listened to the sounds outside his door. Sounds which two years ago were muffled bits of rubbish were now as distinct as the sound of “Call for Philip Morris” shouted by the bellhop on the Sunday radio commercial sponsoring the Jack Benny Show on NBC Radio,

Every day he could hear the instructions coming from a male voice. By now he believed the owner of this voice to be in his mid-Thirties, at least six feet tall, a native of Germany and that the studio in which he lived took but a fraction of the floor-space contained in this three-story building. Naturally it was reasonable to assume that there was probably a large household staff in spite of an absence of hard evidence attesting to that possibility.

Every day Robbie planned his escape. This would be the year. This would be the month. Today was not the day, but soon…….

By Lee Broom

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