One day years later a guy shows up.…”
by brian doyle
Here’s a story. Once there was a guy
Named Daniel Pavletich. He lived in
San Francisco and had a sweetheart
Named Nedjelka. She lived on Turk
Street. He lived on Eddy, not far from
Jefferson Square. This was 1941. She
Was eighteen. He was almost twenty.
They both loved messing around with
Radios and car engines and such. Her
Sisters teased her about this and called
Her a grease monkey and greaser girl
But she didn’t care and she and Daniel
Bought an old Hudson for ten dollars
From his uncle and worked like crazy
On that thing to make it sing so they
Had a car in which to kiss and cruise,
Which the sisters didn’t, so there! as
She liked to shout as they drove away.
When the war came and he went she
Made him a tiny radio he could carry
In his pocket which he did from Libya
To Malta to Sardinia to Slovakia where
The Nazis caught him and sent him to
Mauthausen, from which no one returned,
But one day years later a guy shows up
On Turk Street and hands Nedjelka the
Tiny radio and tells her how when Daniel
Heard the Gestapo at the door he knew he
Was done and he tossed his radio to a kid
Who hid it behind the stove until the war
Was over and he was twenty and could
Return it as he promised Daniel he would.
(illustration: kurt eisenlohr)
Brian Doyle is the author of six books, most recently THE WET ENGINE, about hearts and all. It’s not bad. Among his awards and such are (a) a woman married him, (b) the Coherent Mercy granted them three children, and (c) he was named to the 1983 all-star team in the Newton Massachusetts Men’s League, which was a really tough league, you drove to the hole in that league you lost fingers, one time a guy drove the lane and got hit so hard his arm came off, but he was lefty anyway and hit both free throws. Supposedly he then left his arm in a toll booth basket on the Mass Pike but that might be apocryphal. More from Brian Doyle can be found in the Vault of Smoke. (bio/2005)
Brian Doyle was the author of many books, including the sea novel The Plover, which has, no kidding, music printed in it, not to mention Mink River, Martin Marten, The Wet Engine, and more than we can recall. He won the 2017 John Burroughs Medal for distinguished nature writing for Martin Marten, which was plenty cool and much deserved. Brian passed away peacefully at his Lake Oswego home on May 27, 2017.
More, much more, from Brian Doyle can be found in the Vault of Smoke.