Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Kislev 5766 - December 28, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

by Gita Gordon

Serializing a new novel.

Chapter 8 New York (July 2000)

We leave Dean at the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, and return to Fred Smith who has plotted to send Dean's parents to the Amazon on a trip from which they will not return.

That muggy July day had begun badly for Fred Smith. He woke up late. It took a long time to get a cab to stop for him. Now at last he was at the apartment block. He was about to cross the road when he saw the charade played out before him. A familiar figure came out from the service entrance and seemed to be there one moment, gone the next. A bus began filling up with young men. Moments later, two security men appeared from the main lobby rushing to opposite corners and then down the street.

Something felt bad. Something felt wrong. He thought back to Brazil. The helicopter pilot, Pedro, had said he would contact him on his return, but he hadn't. Why? Was the man unreliable?

Now Fred began to think along different lines. Maybe Pedro too had "disappeared."

Was that why these "disappearances" never came to the attention of the law? Were the witnesses, people like himself and Pedro, eliminated after they had played their part?

Fred thought for a moment, then turned and walked rapidly in the opposite direction. He hailed a cab. He would leave immediately for Switzerland. He would draw the money from the bank. He had the number of the account. There was nothing to stop him. Then he thought of the fact that the people he was dealing with weren't stupid. If he didn't appear at the meeting they would head for the airport and look for him there.

He needed to do two things. He needed to change his appearance and to head for a different airport. Fortunately, he had his passport with him. These days he went nowhere without his passport. In spite of all the assurances he had been given, he expected the police to discover his role in Brazil and to come for him. At the first hint of trouble he was prepared to flee.

So he went around always with his passport and enough dollars for a ticket to Switzerland. Now he was grateful for these precautions.

Fred walked away from the corner. The gunmen were nowhere to be seen, but he felt vulnerable there, so near to the apartment block where he was supposed to attend a meeting. He hailed a passing cab. "Macy's," he said.

Some time later, he was dropped off in front of the department store. First he made his way to the cash withdrawal machine. He took out credit card after credit card, tapped the numbers, and gave a sigh of relief as each time the money came sliding out.

Next he folded the bills carefully into his inner suit pocket. He went first to the camping department and bought a large rucksack. Then he walked from counter to counter selecting casual clothing, Levis and checked shirts and a rugged looking sweater, until the once-empty bag was filled with a variety of clothing and camping needs. He completed his purchases with a large, floppy canvas sunhat.

A well-dressed city man walked into the changing room; a hitchhiking student walked out. Once, years back, he had traveled by Greyhound bus. Now he was about to do it again.

They may look for me at the airport, he thought to himself, but on a Greyhound bus? No, that wouldn't occur to them.

Once on the bus, he looked around at the other passengers with their battered belongings and realized what was wrong. Everything looked too new. He lay low in his seat and pretended to be asleep as the bus filled up and took off for Boston.

Five hours later, as the skyline of Boston was silhouetted against a scarlet sky, the bus pulled into the station. A cab took him to Boston's Logan airport.

Fred walked to the ticket counter. He remembered his friend talking about taking a year off and traveling around the world. "I've bought a special ticket," he had told him. "It starts in the States and ends here, but allows for a year of travel. All that is necessary is to give four countries and the rest can be filled in as you go."

That sounded a good idea. He could go to Switzerland, draw the money, and then immediately leave for another country.

The clerk was less than helpful. He was used to selling tickets at the last moment to one, or maybe two, destinations. This type of ticket was usually bought well ahead of time, and at a travel agent. Then, too, he was surprised as the ticket was paid for from a stack of dollar notes. However, he worked his way stolidly through all that was required, as a long, impatient queue built up on his counter.

Later, sitting squeezed into a tourist class seat, Fred thought to himself, "Less comfortable than first class, but also less conspicuous."

When the announcements had been made and the drinks trolley was rattling down the aisle, he began once again to think of the day's events. What had been the meaning of the men with guns? What was happening?

"Meet at the apartment eleven sharp," he had been told. "From there we'll go to the firm's lawyers to sort things out."

Something had gone wrong, that was for sure and he wasn't staying around to find out what. Only a week ago, his future seemed so secure: a top job as well as three million in a Swiss bank. Instead he was traveling to a strange place, with a minimum of belongings and cash, and no idea of what lay ahead.

Fred forced himself to make plans. As soon as he arrived in Switzerland he would change into his business suit and draw the money. Then he would change back into the casual camping gear and leave. He would take the first plane out. Once he had the money there would be no point in hanging around. He patted the money belt that he had strapped below his clothing. Now it had a few hundred dollars. Soon it would contain three million.

He thought of how this would mean he would never again see his family in the small town outside Boston. The idea was oddly pleasant. His old man had beaten him regularly when his school results had been unsatisfactory.

"They have scholarships at this fancy school I work in. You have to pass these exams. Once you are there, the sky's the limit. Look, there are even two Jew boys there. If they can get into the school, then why shouldn't you? If you want to be rich one day, then you must pass the exams. See? First get in there, mix with those rich kids and one day you will be able to help your old Dad."

Fred didn't know if it was the beatings — or his determination to get away from them — that had spurred him on, but he had succeeded. He became a scholarship boy. He had stayed in the boarding school, in spite of the taunts about his father being the school gardener. Anything was better than his father's belt lashing down on him.

Well his father had been correct. The school had led him to riches, though not quite in the way he had envisaged. One thing was sure. The money was for him, not for a brutal old man who loved the bottle.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.