"We're having a war." Mother seemed to be trying as hard as I to sort out her thoughts. "Although we weren't having a war." She bumped into me as she slid from a crouch into a sitting position. She didn't raise her voice enough for me to hear the rest of what she said.
"This is how a war is," I think she said.
I didn't bother to ask her anything else. I blocked my ears, as Father had suggested, and it's possible I shrieked from time to time. I know I wanted to shriek, and when I relive that morning I can still remember the shrieks welling inside me. I no longer remember how they felt, but I can remember feeling them.
The linen closet smelled of sheets and towels and sun and soap and lavender. My mother's shoulder trembled against mine as we sat there in the dark. After a while there were no more thundering crashes, just planes humming back and forth overhead like huge angry hornets, and bullets clattering against the walls and roofs of the houses. I unblocked my ears. Every now and then I could hear Mother moan a little, then carefully stop, the way she did one time at the beach when she sprained her ankle. Once, in a passing effort to comfort me, she said we were playing hide-and-seek, and I suppose that was as good a name for it as anything. It meant more to me than the word "war," and it probably did to her, too. In the strange new world of the morning, she was struggling to clarify things by grasping for some plausible fragment out of the familiar past, because nothing about the present was familiar to either of us. Even the smell of sun and soap and lavender had a strangeness about it, because it had no meaning any longer, although it remained the same
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...