Serializing a new novel.
Chapter 25: Eli and Fay Tell their Story — Part
Daniel has met his parents in Jerusalem, and now they have
gotten together with his wife Esther and Rav Dov to catch up
on what has happened. Fay has been looking through Esther's
sketchbook, and she suddenly spots a sketch of Fred
Esther had gone out of the room momentarily to bring in fresh
coffee. She saw the trio gathered around the sketchbook. She
saw their expressions.
"I know my drawings aren't much good — but are they so
bad?" she said and gave a brittle laugh.
"Esther, where did you draw this last picture?" Daniel said
in a strained voice.
She looked at him trying to work out what she had done wrong
and then said, "Yesterday, when I took the money to the bank.
You know, next to that big department store there is a cafe.
That young man is always there, sometimes alone, sometimes
talking to a friend. He has such a strange expression. He
sits in such a tense way. So yesterday, after I passed by him
and while I was waiting in the queue at the bank, I drew
this. Why? What's the matter?"
Events moved rapidly. Rav Dov now stopped being a silent
listener and began to act. A police inspector was called.
"This must be acted upon immediately," they heard the Rov say
over the phone. "Remember the times you have called me and I
have helped immediately. Well this must be done now, by you,
and not passed on to someone else."
The arrival of a police car very soon showed that the words
spoken by the Rov had been taken seriously. Daniel and his
father accompanied the police in order to make sure the
correct man was apprehended.
A short time later a young American man was being hustled
away in custody on charges of dealing in forbidden drugs. He
protested noisily. Esther, in her innocence, had drawn a
packet being handed over but had not understood the
However when Eli and Fay, together with Daniel, walked into
the small cell-like room an hour later, Fred Smith suddenly
stopped his vocal protests and went white and silent. After
some moments he said, "I want a lawyer".
Daniel waited with his parents while a lawyer was contacted.
Fred Smith refused to say anything until legal counsel
arrived. Two ferret-faced men came in to the police station,
with an offer to bail out the young American whom they had
seen arrested a short time ago.
When they were taken to the prisoner, his reaction was
unexpected. "No, I don't want bail. I don't want a lawyer.
Take them away."
Only Daniel, quietly watching from a corner, understood his
reaction. He murmured some words in Hebrew into the ear of
the policeman nearest to him. Moments later, two very angry
men were being questioned about the guns with silencers which
had been found in their pockets. Soon the gunmen, whom Daniel
had feared for so long, were being taken into custody.
The appearance of these two men seemed to loosen the tongue
of Fred Smith. He began to talk rapidly and clearly of past
events. The tape recorder whirred on and his words were
recorded on them. Eli, Fay, and Daniel listened to the
complex tale of greed that lay behind their ordeal.
Rav Dov had not gone to the police station. He had to give
his weekly shiur. He had parents of a bochur
waiting to meet him.
However, he had returned to the yeshiva in a happier frame of
mind. There was a sense of relief from thoughts that had
plagued him all through the night. He had not made a terrible
mistake after all. He had done exactly as he had believed. He
had helped a fine young man through troublesome events.
It was later in the day as he listened to Daniel and his
father in his office, accounting the events of the day, that
he suddenly realized what it was that had been worrying him
all along. He noticed that both Daniel and his father were
rubbing the cloth on their trousers between their fingers. It
was clearly a nervous habit shared by father and son. But it
was also a habit that, Rav Dov suddenly recalled, he knew
from a long time ago.
He thought back to the Kesubah that Daniel had shown
him on the very first day, here in the same office. "Your
father, whose apartment you kept in Brooklyn — I
remember on the kesubah that his name was Boruch Ben
Yitzchok Chaim. Do you know if his friends by any chance knew
him as Berele? Was he a tall thin man with a slight limp?"
Rav Dov asked in a strained voice.
"Yes, but how could you know?" said Eli.
"Oh, but I remember Berele. I even remember when he was ill
once and they despaired of his life and they added the name
Chaim. I remember when he chased some antisemitic hooligans
in the street and slipped and broke his leg. It never healed
properly and after that he limped.
"But most of all I remember how, when he was under pressure,
he used to rub the cloth of his trousers between his fingers,
just as you both have been doing this past few moments as you
told of the time in the police station."
He looked at them and chuckled as they moved their hands
Rav Dov continued, "I certainly remember our neighbor, my
father's friend, Berele. He had a certificate for Palestine.
It was in 1939. He gave it to my father. He said he had
family in America and he would go there instead. After we
arrived here in safety — my father, my mother, and I
— my father agonized, wondering if he had also gotten
out safely. We tried for so many years to find him. My father
always felt he had a debt to repay."
"Well, now you have repaid it in full" said Eli. "You cared
for our son when he was alone and friendless. What would have
happened if you had not been here to guide him?"