“I understand,” says Sheriff Tobin as he claps Mr. K on the back, “you had a wild adventure in Germany.”
“Much more than he anticipated,” says the Colonel. “Bullets riddling the automobile you’re driving does not fit any description of a relaxing vacation.”
Mr. K shakes his head. “We couldn’t set sail from Bremen, so we needed to cross into the Netherlands. There was a long line of automobiles at the border crossing, with little movement forward. Numerous automobiles were being turned back.”
“And you know how patient Otto is.” The Colonel winks at the Sheriff.
A musical at the Casino Club with the Wahrmunds has been marked on their calendars for weeks, but Otto is devastated by the events of the day.
Emma cannot even remember the last time the two of them have eaten alone. The couple always has social engagements or is surrounded by members of their extended family, drawn into the couple’s unspoken conspiracy to avoid this very circumstance.
Otto wheels her out to the back veranda. Brilliant orange and rose streaks paint a gorgeous sunset on the west. But the sky in the east is shrouded by the thick, dark smoke continuing to billow over the spot where the roundhouse stood. Otto stands with his hand on her shoulder, staring at that cloud.
“You never think of buttons much, Andy,” says Mr. K examining a small white one in his hand that should be attached at the collar of his shirt, “until one is missing.”
“I have a spare shirt for you in my office. Would you like for me to get it now or right before your lunch meeting?”
“After I meet with the Colonel will be fine,” answers Mr. K, still contemplating the button. “Iowa had a flourishing button industry. They carved pearl buttons from clamshells. Then the button workers went out on strike for a year or two. The shortage of those clam buttons made people realize the importance of the lowly button.”