Petr’s skin is ivory pale in the orange wash of street light. His thick, disorderly hair tickles the side of his face. He’s wearing sandals; his toes are ghostly.

Jacob, beside him, is as dark as nutmeg: not African, as many locals think, but American.

Holding Jacob’s hand in front of the Baroque church on Resslova Street, Petr stares at a constellation of bullet holes in the gray stone façade: machinegun splatter.

“Nazis,” Jacob says. “But I don’t know the whole story.”

They’d kissed earlier. Arousing warmth lingers. “They saw the future,” Petr says. “They were shooting at us.”




J.C. Howell is a fiction writer living in the Chicago area with a few short works published in small-press local anthologies. He has taught English as a Second Language in the Czech Republic and much of his current work draws inspiration from Central- and East-European literary traditions and history.