The fingers, the little fingers waved in Pino's mind, and the mother of the sick girl, and the father who'd wanted his son saved. They'd gone to Auschwitz just a few weeks before. Are they dead? Poisoned and burned? OR are they slaves retreating toward Berlin?
Pino didn't know what that meant exactly, but he eagerly climbed behind the wheel. The Nazis can retreat, surrender, or die now, he thought. The war itself is dying. Only days now from peace and well, Americans!
The prelate went to his shelves, pulled down a book, and handed it to Mussolini. "It's a history of Saint Benedict. Repent your sins, and may you find comfort in this book in the sad days that are now on your horizon." Mussolini got a sour look about him, but took the book and handed it to his mistress. On the way out he said, "I should have them all shot."
With his gun aimed at General Leyers's head, Pino climbed into the backseat and shut the door. He put his forearm on the valise, as Leyers often did, and smiled, liking this role reversal, feeling like he'd earned it, that now, at last, there would be justice done.
"There are dead people lying in the gutters from revenge killings, and the Nazis and Fascists are trying to get out," Pino said. "The partisans are shooting at all of them. But the lights went on last night for the first time in years, and there were no bombers, and for a while it felt like the war was really over."
Mario was alive one second and gone the next. The randomness of his cousin's death had him shaking and shivering as he walked through the hot streets. Was no one safe?