Richard Parr


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Richard Parr on Smashwords

Faceless Intruder

Copyright (C) 2011 by Richard Parr

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Austro-Hungary, 1899

I, Benjamin Wirtz, at the age of thirteen years, hereby testify to the terrifying events of last winter in Salzburg. I remember the horrible feeling of my first day at school; I remember dreading my first haircut; I remember knocking over and shattering mother’s antique garden lion statue and hiding in my bedroom, waiting for my father to return from work to discover what I had done. I remember how his creeping footsteps made their way upstairs as he prepared to hand out my punishment. These frights were only surpassed by the sheer scale of horror I encountered near the city of Salzburg.

On the morning of the twelfth of December 1898, our teacher Herr Hoffner had taken a lengthy absence from the classroom. The students became increasingly anxious the longer it lasted, and we began to wonder what was happening. After a while, Herr Hoffner returned and called me to the front of the class. Disturbed and expecting to be in trouble for carving my name into one of the benches just outside the school grounds, I expected to see a policeman and a witness waiting outside the classroom. I rose from my seat and watched as every boy’s head turned to follow me to the front. I remember trying to hurriedly adjust my waistcoat before Herr Hoffner noticed my messiness. On leaving the room, I didn’t see a policeman or a witness. Instead, I was greeted by the anxious face of my father, and by his side, Lena, my animated younger sister. Father told us to gather our things because we were leaving immediately. When I asked where we were going, Herr Hoffner dragged me back into the classroom and accompanied me to my desk while I collected my books, pens and paper, and then he escorted me out of the room and returned me to my father’s side. I asked Lena where we were going, but she said that father kept it a secret and then when I asked her again she told me to keep quiet or father would get annoyed. Father looked happier once we had left the school and climbed into the waiting coach. Once inside, he removed his hat and placed it in the space next to him, and with a smile, one of his more pleasant and comforting ones, he told us that he had said to Herr Hoffner there had been a bereavement within the family, and because of this emergency, we were allowed to go home early. Lena told me that bereavement meant someone had died, but father corrected us and said nobody had really died. He said nothing more until we got home.

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