Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 25 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.
Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications.
“Binyamin?” Shabsi stuck his head into the room just as Binyamin’s balled-up socks landed in the laundry bag.
“What?” Binyamin yawned in response as he fluffed up his pillow.
“Oh, you’re on the way to bed already? Okay, I’ll find someone else. I came to you because you once asked me to offer you these types of jobs, remember?”
“Sure!” Binyamin jumped up. “They called you now?”
Shabsi nodded seriously. “You’re not supposed to be so excited,” he chastised Binyamin, whose hands were now deep in the laundry bag. “I know, after tonight you’ll be able to buy two good shirts, and start saving for a new hat, and maybe you’ll even have enough money left over for a bottle of Coke, but it would be nice to remember where we are going…” He concluded the sentence with a well-known singsong intonation.
“We have to remember that all our lives,” Binyamin agreed, ignoring the tingling at the back of his neck. It was a quarter to twelve at night. True, he was the one who had asked Shabsi if he could join him for these jobs. But that didn’t mean that the first time would be easy. “Oh, well, looks like all the socks in this bag are not really wearable. I’ll just take clean ones from my drawer.”
They walked together down the street, the streetlights casting macabre shadows of their figures every which way. But Binyamin just stared straight ahead. “What do I have to know?” he asked. His muscles were tense, and his shoulders felt pinched.
“Nothing special. With Tehillim and Mishnayos it’s one rate, and without them it’s another rate. But I’ll tell you that I always say Tehillim or learn. When it’s two of us, we can take shifts, with one of us going out to doze and the other staying in the room.”
“Where is it?” Binyamin remembered to ask.
“Rashi Street. The levayah is supposed to be tomorrow morning.”
“And they leave him in the house like that, for all these hours?”
“What does ‘like that’ mean? Can you think of something better for him now than having two yeshivah bachurim saying Tehillim at his side all night?”
“Um…I don’t know. Whatever.”