Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Cheshvan 5766 - November 23, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 5 — Part 2

Brazil, June 2000

Fay and Eli are supposed to be going on a business trip to South America to investigate a charity that is trying to save Amazonian rainforests. They have many questions about the need for the trip, arranged by Eli's assistant Fred. In the middle of the trip, when Fay decides she wants to go back to the hotel, their guide pulls out a gun and insists that they must go onto the helicopter that is waiting to take them.


Pedro looked discomfited but walked towards the helicopter. Manuel motioned to Fred. Together they forced the couple aboard. Manuel kept the gun in his hand as Fred bound them firmly to the seats. The helicopter began its ascent.

There was a stunned silence as the helicopter lifted off from the ground. Then Fay said in a slow and careful Portuguese, choosing each word carefully, "Pedro, you seem like a good man. Why are you doing this thing?"

The pilot concentrated on the controls. At last he said. "Business has been bad. I owe money. If I refuse to do this thing then they kill me."

"You refused to shoot us, as Manuel wanted, but you have agreed to leave us in the jungle where we will perish. What about your immortal soul? What will you suffer for this bad deed?" Fay asked.

She had worked with the poor Spanish immigrants of New York for many years. They had all been deeply religious people. She hoped that this man had not discarded his faith.

Pedro replied, "Manuel is powerful. He will kill me if I don't obey. It is true I fear for my soul. I am caught with no way out. It is bad luck for me that the river is so low. If not for that, I would not have become involved."

"Fay, stop jabbering away and tell me what is going on," said Eli. He listened as Fay explained that the pilot had been paid, not to take them to an eco village but to deposit them in a lonely place in the jungle and leave them there. The argument that Fay had listened to had been Manuel's instructions to kill them and then push them out of the aircraft. Pedro had refused, saying that he had agreed to leave them in the jungle but not to do any actual killing.

Eli listened and then said. "Tell him that they will kill him anyway. Tell him that there is no way that they will leave a witness to these killings. Tell him to take us to a place where we can all hide in safety. I will arrange for him to come to work for us in America and I will reward him with a fine house and a new helicopter."

Fay slowly translated these words. The pilot listened but gave no clue as to his thoughts. Fay watched as Eli struggled furiously with the rope but was unable to pull his hands free. They glanced at each other, trying to find the courage to face their coming ordeal. Below them the forest unfolded, but the green dense lush scenery now spelled death, not beauty.

Two hours later, Pedro pointed to a small clearing below. He motioned towards it and slowly brought the aircraft down to land in the center.

The helicopter edged onto the space. Pedro took out of his pocket a small knife and cut their cords. He said to Fay, "Get out now. I need time to think. Tell your husband not to think of harming me. Without me, you will die in the forest."

Next, Pedro threw their luggage out, so it fell roughly onto the mossy floor of the forest. Then he said. "Quick, help me cover the machine with these leaves. Tell your husband to help."

Pedro began stripping green foliage from the surrounding vegetation. Eli had, however, already understood what was required. In a strained voice he said, "We will do as he says."

After that Eli concentrated on the task but didn't talk. He seemed to be listening for something. Every now and then he looked upwards, through the canopy of trees, skyward. Fay thought to herself. "Does he really think that help will come? This isn't the movies. How can he think like that?"

They had just completed the job when the drone of an airplane was heard. "Fay, tell him to run, now, as far from the plane as possible! Quickly, both of you follow me!"

Fay repeated the instructions to Pedro. After a moment's hesitation, first looking up quizzically at the sound of the noise above, he followed the instructions.

Moments later they stood behind the trunk of a large tree and watched as a series of explosions came from the helicopter and smoke rose from it. Then the plane made a swooping low circle above the scene of destruction before flying off.

Together they walked a few paces and stood looking at the smoldering wreckage of the helicopter.

"You were correct. They did not want me to live," said Pedro. "They found us though I took a different route from that which I had originally planned and discussed with them. The plane was hidden by the time they arrived. How did they find us? "

Eli spoke in a strained voice to Fay and she translated. "My husband says this, `I was thinking. Why should they trust you? These men, they rarely trust their colleagues, so why should they trust you? Not only that. Manuel placed something below your seat just before he closed the door on us. At the time I couldn't think why he did it so furtively. Then when we landed I realized that it was probably a device to enable them to track the helicopter wherever it went. I helped you cover the plane, but all the time I was worrying in case they had followed us. I was listening for it.' "

"We are alive. They think we are all dead. If I had followed their plan and not listened to your plea, I too would be dead. We will hide," said Pedro.

He led them down a barely discernible path. Above them, tall trees screened out most of the sunlight. Creepers encircled the broad stems of the trees. The path was just visible through the ferns that grew on it. The sounds of the jungle echoed around them as they walked, the screeching sounds of parrots and cockatoos, the chattering of monkeys. But in the gloom of the forest, no animals were visible and their sounds provided a frightening backdrop to an already ominous situation.

Then, quite suddenly, they were in a large clearing with a scattering of broken down buildings.

Now Pedro spoke, "Once, this was an eco village hotel that was used for tourists. But it was too far and things did not go well here, so they closed it. We will not be disturbed here. We will rest. We will eat. See there, bananas on that tree and a stream of pure water runs not far away. I remember also that they left stores of food here. It was too expensive to take everything away when they abandoned the site. I remembered these things and for this reason I came here. Wait. I will return."

Fay translated for her husband and then she said, "What now, Eli?"

There was a long silence. Then he said, "We have been in tough spots before, but nothing like this. I should have listened to you . . . Fred Smith! You were against me hiring him right from the start. I should have listened to you."

"We have to get back Eli. What will Danny think when we don't return as planned next week?" Husband and wife looked at one another. For the sake of their son, there rose in both of them a determination to somehow escape from this dire situation and return home.

Pedro reappeared. He was carrying a broken clay pot and water was dripping from it. "Now we eat and drink and rest. Tomorrow we think what to do. Yes?"


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