The secrets of the park
It cost me a great effort to discover the hidden secret of the things, but soon I was seized with panic because without my realizing it, I lost the sense of their simplicity. On that very day I went to a park that I used to frequent in the past, one of those that were the pleasure and joy of my city, but this time without one of my favorite books, in which I could find the hidden secret of the things.
I sat simply on a wooden bench in the park, in the shadow of a tree, without any thought or contemplation bothering my mind, and let the panic vanish. I probably sat there for a long time since the cats in the park ignored my presence completely, the leaves of the tree dropped on me covering me, and my body became part of the park in its entirety.
A pair of lovers came into the park arm in arm without even noticing me. The young man knelt in front of his beloved and addressed her: “will you marry me?” She did not waver in her answer: “Yes, I am all yours, yours!”
Having witnessed this, the simplicity of the things came back to me and I was able to return to my favorite books.
The sooner the better
After having read the letter, there was nothing for him to do but burst out crying and shouting to give vent to his bitterness. The passers by in the noisy street paid no attention to him in spite of his distress. Had they known that he had nobody left in the world they would perhaps have stopped their activities for a moment to find out how they could help him.
The old man was so desperate that he had asked the “Hevra Kadisha” to transfer the burial site he had purchased with the money from his pension fund to the “destiny office”, in front of which he was sitting.
The wording in the copy of the letter, which for administrative reasons was sent to a relative of whom the old man knew nothing at all, was as follows: Dear senior, the destiny office has discussed your request and cannot comply, i.e. we cannot arrange for you to leave this world even one hour before you have fulfilled your destiny in this life. As for your second question – we saw fit to remind you that we are not in a position to reveal your destiny to you for reasons of public order and we thus inform you that any person guilty of transgression will be subjected to criminal law. Therefore, the only way open to you is to hurry up to fulfill your destiny…”
Now both of them were standing next to a tall ladder that was leaning against the front of the round house. Yalo looked at an undefined point on the steaming earth, hearing and not hearing the reprimands of the man in the brown suit. His thoughts wandered to distant lands, far and green; to a place where the sun does not blind the eye of the man gazing at it even though it is in the center of the sky, and to the stream with its clear waters that stroke the bathers. He longed especially for the moments that used to give him a feeling of unlimited freedom when he used to play with Zukit. The shouts of the man grew louder and louder and interrupted his thoughts: “I told you that if you did not pay your debt in time according to our contract, I will come myself and demolish that strange house of yours with my own hands”
Yalo knew there was no point in trying to answer the usurer who had taken off his jacket and started to climb the ladder. The usurer was known for his stubbornness but he was the only person who had agreed to lend him a sum large enough to realize his goal and for the lack of an alternative, Yalo had signed the draconian contract handed to him and had begun to build the house that he intended to serve as a lighthouse for people lost in the yellow wilderness.
A blow was heard close to Yalo. The usurer, now standing on the roof of his house, began shouting at him to keep away before a torrent of tiles hit him. The usurer continued to tear the tiles from the roof and after he had gathered a nice heap, he threw them on the ground with a visible expression of pleasure. “I should have listened to Zukit and not gone out into the blazing desert. What would she have thought of me had she seen what was happening?”
“Perhaps if you have to stay without a roof over your head in the blazing sun, you will understand why it is important to pay your debts in time”, the usurer shouted at him in a festival of madness. Yalo made a swift movement and thrust the tall ladder to the ground. The man remained standing on part of the roof of the house, dumbfounded, and on realizing the state he was in, began to wave his arms helplessly.
Now, after having borrowed the man’s car, Yalo was on his way again and that man was still standing on the roof like a lighthouse waving his arms.
I was busy writing this story and did not even notice that Noa, my partner, had come into my study, but I felt the touch of her delicate fingers very well. At first she pressed the center of my nape with one finger as if wanting to press a hidden point that would cause me to stop my writing and pay attention to her. When she realized that this was of no avail, she tried to cover my eyes with her shirt sleeves, longer than her hands, according to the European fashion.
“I cannot write when you are covering my eyes”, I said, trying to push her, with her long arms, away from me. “You don’t have to see in order to write, you can write with your fingers on my naked body as you used to do before.”
When she realized that I would not let her draw my attention away from what I was doing, Noa returned to her own affairs but she finally achieved her aim because the interruption of the electricity supply as a result of the stormy winter weather, compelled me to stop my writing and become immersed in thoughts about her touches and the way she had come into my life.
Noa, my neighbor, had knocked at the door of my consciousness politely, about six months ago, under the pretext that she needed a refuge where she could escape from her parents. She said, that being a soldier about to be released from service, all her conversations with them were accompanied by pressuring questions such as: Noa`le, have you already decided what you would like to study? Have you started to look for a course for the psychometric tests? Do you know that a journey to the Far East will only take you further away from your goal? As if she was not under stress anyway.
Her explanations and the desperate look in her face left me no options. After a short negotiation in my living room, we reached an agreement according to which the unoccupied room and all the facilities of the house would be placed at her disposal until she went on the trip to the Far East and in return she promised to help me with the household chores on a regular basis.
In spite of the electricity interruption in the candlelight I decided to take my pen and paper and continue writing the story. Soon I felt the touch of her fingers on my nape again and this time it was accompanied by the exciting smell of her wet hair fresh from washing. Small drops of water wetted the paper on which I was writing, and with a soft breath she put out the candle.
A game of honour
He is standing naked behind the closed door, waiting. Every Tuesday of the week, Eliezer surprisingly gets up from his bed in the evening and stands naked behind the closed brown steel door. His shadow, liberated from the obstacle of his clothes, could free itself from him and go on its way.
Now it was late at night. His shadow had already passed through the keyhole of the steel door, slid quickly down the staircase and gone out into the empty street and into the café, that was converted into a gambling club at night. Eliezer used to spend time there gambling regularly before the medical experts decided that he was mentally ill and had to be confined to his bed. His gambling friends in the club were careful to keep his seat at the table and place a few cards and his usual drink in the corner of the table in front of his chair. Eliezer’s honour, as the oldest player in the group and the arbitrator whenever a conflict appeared in the course of the game, hovered over them till the break of dawn.
On the next morning the nurse returned Eliezer from where he stood, to his room and during that time he told her all about the card game in which he had “participated” at night and about his old friends. His stories were very detailed up to the smallest details and anyone who happened to hear them would certainly have got the impression that Eliezer had spent the night playing cards just as he had done in the past. When they neared his bed the nurse dressed him in his pyjamas not before she had persuaded his shadow to come back and cling to his body.
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