Tamar opened the door to her apartment, pulled me inside with a hug.
“Baruch Hashem! Baruch Hashem!” she cheered. She led me to the dining room table where we played Gin-Rummy with Chinese playing cards. She held her fan of seven cards real close to her face. “Masha, stop looking,” she kept saying. Her mother soon entered with a casserole dish in hand, steam waving from its crust and her six or seven kids took their seats at the table. I took a seat diagonally across from Menachem, looked at him every now and then using only the corner of my eyes. He had grown into an attractive man, that Menachem. His face was quite youthful, all rounded edges, nice copper eyes that turned green in bad lighting. The only problem was his mouth which was rowed with these huge splint-sharp teeth. Teeth for a rodent, my mama once whispered to me with a laugh.
I didn’t want to stare at him so I tried to find something else to do with my eyes. I looked at my arm hair. I looked at the dog. I looked at Tamar, who was cutting her potato kugel into the shape of a star, swinging at the crust with these grand, seesawing motions, like she was sawing wood or something. She was no doubt about it soliciting for attention.
“Tamar,” I finally gave in, “What are you doing?”
“Its just, well you know… kugel,” Tamar’s face grew serious. “It's just so ugly, it's like...orphan mush. I’m just trying to make it more attractive.”
“You are so mental,” I said.
“She really is,” Menachem said, staring at his plate, already regretful. As he should have been. Menachem was a frum boy, mind you, and was weeding his way into conversation between two girls, one of whom was not related to him!—surely this meant our great solar system had kicked out of orbit. Surely this meant the planets were suddenly rotating the sun in the broken-wheeled motions of the hora instead of in its usual clean circuit. I mean surely.
My father once said that sins happen in clumps. You bee-bee-gun a bird for pleasure, enjoy the thuggish feeling of watching feathers blasting with blood and you begin killing animals higher up the kingdom. Shoot to the top, so to speak. I guess the same phenomenon was happening with Menachem. He began talking to me with longer and longer sentence and it was not long before he had curled his upper lip behind his gumline and smiled at me. It wasn’t some shy smile either but a giant comedian performance smile toppling over with all sorts of chemicals and romantic implications. I even spotted a matching wink in his left eye.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Short Story About a Hasidic Girl
Author Rachel Ament emailed me a link to a very good short story she wrote called I Am a Criminal. She says it's "very loosely" based on stories told to her by neighbors in Boro Park. Excerpt: