Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 51 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.
“Will you come up to us for a cup of coffee, Abba?” Elisheva joked as they walked slowly down Chazon Ish Street. The joke was not about him actually coming up, but more about the cup of coffee, because Elisheva did not recall the last time she had seen her father drinking coffee. However, she was rather doubtful about the visit as well.
“Perhaps,” her father replied, surprising her.
“How nice! This is a route that you can walk, and the doctor recommended that you walk as much as possible.”
“Taxi.” Without meaning to, Elisheva found herself talking tersely, like her father. She smiled, and so did he. He must have also noticed.
“We’ll see,” he said. And they continued walking slowly.
“Everyone will be thrilled to see you, Abba, and for my part, we don’t even have to order you a taxi for the way back; you can stay with us. I think the nursing home is really wondering why you are still there. It looked like Emmanuel was really angry at me, as if—” she smiled bitterly—“as if he wants to get you out of there, so he persuaded you to buy the raffle tickets.”
“Maybe.” He smiled.
“You think so?” Her smile morphed into a laugh. “Because I simply can’t imagine that there is anyone in the world who would want to get rid of my father from anywhere! Besides, it’s one thing to persuade you to buy the tickets, but I don’t think he was also able to arrange for you to actually win.” She continued walking in silence alongside her father, watching his cautious steps.
“I…” she began again, but then fell silent. “The truth is…” She just could not organize her thoughts into a coherent sentence.
Abba continued walking patiently. He appeared to be studying the busy traffic on the road to his left, but Elisheva knew that he was listening to her every word.
“It sounds strange,” she said finally. “But what would you say, Abba, if I would tell you that I have a feeling deep down that this apartment that we won…well, it’s not really true?”
He turned to look at her.
The words crammed into one another in Elisheva’s throat for a few seconds. “How many tickets did you buy?”
“Fifty. One for Miri, one for Tzippy, and forty-eight for you.”
“So statistically, we did have a chance.”
“Yes,” he said, after a pause, and then turned to look at a tall group of buildings at the end of the block. “And it worked.”
“Right, it worked.” She also fixed her gaze on the large porch whose glass wall was gleaming in the setting sun. Their porch. “Just like it worked out with Tzippy and Peretz’s wedding, and with the silver yad that someone planted in our kitchen, and the sale of the cuckoo clock…”
He looked thoughtful, and then sighed.
“Is it hard for you to walk, Abba?” she asked quickly.
“Because we’ll be there in a minute.”
He didn’t sigh anymore, but he also didn’t say anything. They walked the rest of the way at a slower pace, then went up the elevator and entered the bustling house. Only once her father was seated at the table, leafing through a school report that Esty was showing him, did he suddenly raise his head and say, “Strange.”
“What’s strange?” Esty asked in alarm. “It was the best report in the whole class, Saba!”
He smiled at her for a minute, but then turned his gaze to his daughter. Elisheva set down a bowl with finely diced vegetable salad, seasoned with lemon juice and salt. She looked back at him.
“You were answering me, Abba, right?”
“Yes,” he said somberly. “It’s strange.”
“That’s what I’m saying. So of course, it is definitely possible that it’s just an amazing string of coincidences. Obviously I know that there are no real “coincidences” in the world; all I mean is that it’s possible that Hashem sent us all these things in the most natural way, without any people getting involved. The question is if that is really the case.”
“And if not?” he asked as he looked at the salad. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. And if not? Well…I would want very much to know what the motivation of the people who did it is.”
“Did what, Ima?”
Surrounded by her children, Elisheva preferred not to speak openly. She looked at her father, and he gazed back at her with understanding. Then he made a brachah and began to eat.
Only when he went down to the taxi that they had ordered for him did he raise the subject again. “Should I speak to Emmanuel?” he asked.
“Yes, thank you, Abba,” she said. “I thought about it a lot since Pesach, and I want to try and probe a bit more into who this Korman fellow who passed away was. We checked into him quickly at the time, but maybe it wasn’t enough. We pretty much trusted the lawyer who reached out to us.”
“And the cuckoo clock? And the yad?”
She spread her hands. “I don’t have a way to check those things out now. But if,” here her eyes suddenly sparkled, “we suddenly get another mysterious gift, I will work very hard to find out exactly where it is coming from. For some reason, I have a feeling that that would also be connected to Emmanuel, and to Attorney Rosenblit.”
The taxi honked loudly even before it came to a complete stop.
“Why it would be connected to the two of them?”
“No, why you would want to find this out.”
She opened the door for him. “I don’t want handouts, Abba,” she whispered.
“I gave him a check for thirty thousand; I’m sure they will do good things with it,” Gideon said on the plane as he reclined his seat. “Baruch Hashem, we’re going home. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep, but I will try.”
“Don’t you want to eat something first?” Blumi asked, glancing at the meals that had been placed in front of them. “In case you didn’t notice, you haven’t eaten a thing since four o’clock. The gabbai came, and then we left to the airport. Later there will be the whole tumult of landing, and you won’t find time to eat.”
He glanced at the food and chose an apple and two tangerines.
“You can eat this processed hamburger, Batsheva.” He smiled at his daughter. “And take mine as well. Anyway,” he turned back to his wife, “I also gave him money for the Halabi minyan in Be’er Sheva. He said he knows them.”
“Your mother will think it’s irresponsible to transfer money like that.”
“My mother will be happy that I gave them money; it doesn’t matter how,” Gideon said. “But I’m sure he’ll give it over. He’s totally fine.”
“I don’t trust anyone anymore,” Blumi said, with a trace of bitterness. Batsheva’s eardrums tensed. She sat up straighter and glanced at her mother out of the corner of her eye.
“No one at all?”
“Well, not exactly no one, but…but certainly not people who look perfectly fine even though I really don’t know them at all.”
“Nu. I got to know him already. And besides, I have his name and address.”
Blumi fell into a long, somewhat sorrowful silence.
Batsheva made note to herself: someone had violated her mother’s trust. Someone whose name and address she did not know. She wondered what it was about.