Part 20

I keep trying to decide where the place with the thing with too many eyeballs was, what real thing you could recognize it was the back side of, but it seemed to be at an intersection of Whites Creek Pike and Clarksville Pike and, in real life, those roads don’t ever run into each other. Plus, there’s no cave and to get to the thing with too many eyeballs, you have to go into a cave there at the intersection, lower yourself down one slippery step at a time.

“I’m going to twist my ankle and not be able to get back up,” I told the cat. She was unmoved. She scampered on ahead and I followed, using my phone as a flashlight as we walked along in the wet dark.

This is the point where, if this were an H.P. Lovecraft story, there’d be something weird, but also kind of hard to be afraid of—like an alien elbow or a whole town full of your cousins, but they have frog eyes, or sleeping squid-headed gods. You know how it is. And this story is the same way. I turned the corner into a deep chamber and there was a gelatinous pyramid of eyeballs. At the bottom of the pyramid was a whole row of mouths all opening their red, lacquered lips. Tentacles—because why bring up Lovecraft if there’s not going to be tentacles—sprouted out from the top. Each eye blinked open and shut at its own rate, so the whole thing had the air of a Christmas tree on a bad circuit, lights flashing, but not quite at the right time.

Each eye was more disgusting than the last. Not in some gross medical-trauma-porn way, but just in that it seemed likely that the thing could squirt four or five eyeballs right in your mouth or something. I don’t know how I sensed that the pyramid might be a malicious eyeball flinger, but there was no doubt.

I wanted to turn back. But, as I crept around the side of the pyramid, a thousand tiny eyes and a few of the big ones all on me, tongues flickering in my general direction, I saw the dog. Rufus. My idiot.

He was wrapped in this tentacle horror’s tentacles and it was, with some of its mouths, eating him. He seemed oblivious. He was grinning and enjoying the head-scratches only a thousand tentacles can provide.

“Oh, shit,” I said and, though I cannot be sure, I swear Squeaky, still by my side, may have said, “Oh, shit,” as well.

Well, This is Some Kind of Exceptional

I feel like I have the general non-Jewish American feelings about Nazis. They are bad.

I remember watching Shoah in college and finding one part, where Lanzmann interviewed an old Nazi (secretly) who, in the grainy footage looked like he could be the brother of my grandfather. That grandfather.

Which means that, in my mind, the problem of what to do with men who were evil a lifetime ago is kind of linked both to historical evil and to familial evil (which, yes, are often the same things).

I, personally, don’t find even my parents’ belated admissions of ways they fucked up to be that satisfying. I don’t want my dad now to be sorry for standing idly by while I was stalked. I want my dad then to have stood up. To me, this is one of the great terriblenesses at the heart of living–that there is no real justice, no real restitution.

For me, seeing a 90 year old man discovered to be a Nazi in hiding in the U.S., even if he’s put on trial and lives out the rest of his life in prison, it seems to me so too little so too late as to be practically meaningless.

However, I am not all people and I am certainly not someone whose families were annihilated by people like that. So, my feeling on the matter is that, even if I would not find tracking down ancient Nazis satisfying, if that’s what even a few of their survivors want, then that’s what we should do. My feelings in this case are mostly beside the point.

If that’s what even a few of their survivors want, then that’s what we should do.

But, it turns out that we, America, are Nazi collaborators. After the war, the ones we thought would be useful we brought here and gave jobs. Not just in the space program, which we already knew, but as spies for the CIA and the FBI.

So, all those Nazis that we find living in the U.S. and make a big show, no matter their age, of deporting for trial, those are just the Nazis who aren’t our friends. It turns out that America faced an ethical question similar to the one I outlined at the beginning–if we don’t think it’s that bad to keep some Nazis around, is the anguish of their victims more important than our feelings?

And we decided, apparently, that, no, the anguish of their victims was not that important to us. We’d throw them a bone every so often by finding a Nazi every now and then who wasn’t useful to us, so that they’d believe we actually gave two shits about finding Nazis. But we’d keep our Nazis safe and sound.

I guess I’d find this less upsetting if we didn’t still run around acting like we have the moral high ground all the damn time. But we never look the terrible things we do in the face. We never say “Yes, we acknowledge these are our bad people, our wrong-doings, our evil.” We always make excuses and go back as quickly as we can to ignoring and pretending we are always on the side of right.