After several weeks at Out-With, Bruno sought new ways to entertain himself. He wanted to avoid going mad like one of his old Berlin neighbors, Herr Roller, who would walk around the neighborhood in tears with his hands on his head. Bruno recalled that Mother had once cautioned him not to make fun of Herr Roller. He had experienced a head trauma during the Great War, and Mother insisted that Bruno had no idea about what the young men had gone through at that time.
Bruno hadn’t thought about Herr Roller much in recent years, but when the man flashed into his mind Bruno, realized he needed to create a diversion for himself. He decided to hang a tire swing from an old oak tree. Bruno collected lengths of rope from the basement and brought them out to the tree. Then he sought out a tire.
Neither Mother nor Father was at home, so Bruno went to speak with one of the soldiers. He came upon Lieutenant Kotler, the young soldier he had seen in the house on the day of the family’s arrival. Lieutenant Kotler always dressed neatly, and he had impressively muscular arms, but he wore too much cologne. To make matters worse, Gretel had made a habit of flirting with him, laughing at everything he said. Gretel was speaking with Lieutenant Kotler when Bruno approached to ask about finding a spare tire for his swing. The soldier spoke patronizingly to Bruno, then over to a thin old man named Pavel, who came to the house every day to peel vegetables and serve dinner. Lieutenant Kotler barked at Pavel and repeatedly called him a name Bruno didn’t understand. In a voice that made both Bruno and Gretel uncomfortable, the soldier commanded Pavel to fetch a tire from the storage shed for Bruno.
Later that day, Bruno tried out his new tire swing. While trying to push himself higher, Bruno lost his grip and fell, knocking his head and scraping his leg. Pavel appeared and carried the boy to the kitchen, where he fetched a first aid kit and dressed Bruno’s wounds. Bruno worried he might die from his injuries, but Pavel insisted he’d be fine. When Bruno asked how he knew, Pavel said he used to be a doctor. Pavel’s revelation confused Bruno, who didn’t understand how a servant could also be a doctor.
Mother came home and Pavel quickly returned to his task. She asked Bruno what had happened to him, and he explained about the swing and Pavel. Mother told Bruno to go upstairs, and as he left the room, he heard Mother tell Pavel that if Father asked, he should say she attended Bruno’s wounds.
Bruno missed his grandparents, who remained in Berlin. He especially missed Grandmother, who in her younger days had toured Europe as a singer. Bruno recalled how parties at his house were always dominated by Grandmother’s singing. He also thought about how Grandmother used to devise short performances for Christmases and birthdays. She involved both Gretel and Bruno in these elaborate performances, which featured costumes and musical numbers.