The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 25

October 7, 2019

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.”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 24

September 16, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 24 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. 

Perhaps it is irritating to see a young woman who is still on cloud nine from her wedding, and forgets that somewhere there, down on earth, other people still exist. She talks only about herself, thinks only about herself, and is sure that aside for her and her new spouse, the world has stopped in its tracks. But it is far less pleasant to see that same woman shedding copious tears, blowing her nose over and over, and unable to utter a single word.

And to know that you’re to blame for it all.

With remarkable timing, Shmully woke up just then with a piercing wail, and Miri, who was so embarrassed she didn’t know where to put herself, forgot for a moment what to do with him. Pacifier? Bottle? Pick him up? She began to rock the carriage mechanically, peeking at Tzippy from the corner of her eye. Tzippy slid the album into a shiny bag that matched the leather cover. Her hands were shaking so violently that she could not grasp the zipper to close it.

What should Miri say now? “Tzippy, I want to invite you for Shabbos. Come, it will be nice; we’ll remember that we really are sisters who get along”? Tzippy would just glare at her with hard eyes. And besides, they were going to Yaakov’s parents this Shabbos. She couldn’t suddenly inform her mother-in-law that they were not coming.

Maybe, “Tzippy, I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to make you cry”? So what did you mean to do? Insult, scream, and say whatever you want to her, and then expect her to just keep on smiling?

Miri continued to rock the carriage vigorously, and soon the anger inside her—or perhaps it was the envy again—mounted and overpowered the resonant voice of her guilty conscience. Why should she have to pay rich Tzippy the measly one and a half shekels for a photo, when she lived in a hole in Pardes Katz, wracking her brains to figure out how to finish the month, while Tzippy—who had just been handed an above-standard wedding and all of sheva brachos on a silver platter—owned an amazing apartment in central Bnei Brak and was also receiving a monthly stipend, without her doing anything but sitting with her hands folded?! And all this simply because she happened to have been named Tziporah Genendel?!

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 23

September 16, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 23 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. 

 

The rain continued to fall outside, but that wasn’t why Gustav was trembling. He stood at the top of the stairs and stared at the knife peeling a long strip off the apple.

“I see that you’re dressed well.” The knife stopped. “The Jews are taking care of you, huh?”

Gustav nodded wordlessly as he scanned the last two stairs that remained and evaluated if he could break into a run, dash past Theodore, and continue outside.

“What’s his name? Walkin, huh? Where did he hide you when I came with the policeman?”

“You didn’t come there with a policeman,” Gustav whispered. “You didn’t come there at all.”

“I don’t know where they hid you that morning, but I came to the Jewish orphanage the morning after they abducted you. They didn’t tell you?”

“I’m not in a Jewish orphanage.” Gustav cautiously ascended one step.

“So where are you?”

“In a house.”

“With Edo?”

“Yes.”

“Emil kidnapped you, didn’t he? Is he a Jew?”

Gustav looked at the opening to the black void outside and remained silent.

Theodore assiduously chewed the piece of apple, swallowed it, and sliced off another piece. He offered it to Gustav. “Want?”

“No.”

“So what do you want?”

“To go.” The boy’s voice was low, but Theodore heard it.

“To go…” he repeated slowly. “You left here once already, right? I guess I only imagined that I once saved your life. But forget that; let’s not talk about it now. You left here already. So why did you come back?”

“I wanted to take something with me.”

“What?”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 22

September 9, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 22 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. 

 

“Good morning, Saba.” Miri pushed the carriage into the small room and entered. The carpet swallowed her footsteps, but Saba raised his head at the sound of her voice and smiled.

“Oh, Miri, hi, good morning!” Tzippy chirped. “You haven’t seen my album yet. We just got it last night, and we took it over to show Ima. So, what do you say about the layout design?”

“Design?” Miri took a step closer, parking the carriage in the corner. Ohhh, it was a digitally enhanced album, not an album with clear pockets that you slide the pictures in one by one, like hers. The tome was elegantly bound, made of glossy, gold-edged pages, and each photo was cleverly designed with various techniques.

“Here, look, there you are.” Tzippy hastily turned back a few pages. “Here are all the family photos from the beginning. And look how cute Shmully came out. It’s a good thing you brought him for the pictures!”

“Right.” Miri couldn’t help but smile as she looked at her son’s large eyes sparkling at her from the pages of the album.

“What do you say, Saba? The photographer did a great job, didn’t he? Look, he took the curtain that was in the hall and turned it into a background on all these pages. Then, for the pictures at the seudah, he played the same game with the centerpieces. See how it looks like they’re actually behind the photos? And he also used this feature to make a shadow effect.”

Saba nodded solemnly.

“You think he’s really interested?” Miri muttered as she bent over from behind them to look at the album.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 21

September 2, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 21 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. 

 

Senica, Czechoslovakia – 5708/1948

 

Ulush struggled with the window, but was unable to close it.

“It’s a little bit broken.” Her hostess’s pleasant voice came from behind. The young woman turned around, slightly embarrassed at the sight of the tray that had been placed on the round table.

“Just some coffee,” said Tessa Lieber as she poured milk into a cup of boiling water. “You haven’t eaten a thing since you got here.”

“Thank you,” Ulush said, and tried not to inhale the odor of the cows that wafted into the room together with the darkness and the cold. “But…I can’t really drink right now.”

“You have to,” Tessa insisted. “You don’t plan to fast, do you? You mustn’t!”

“I’m worried.” Ulush took the cup of coffee with trembling hands. “And you are so nice, welcoming in two people who just knocked at your door with no advance notice…”

“The pleasure is ours. We love having guests.” Tessa sat down on the edge of the bed in the small room. “And the fact that my husband knows your husband from before the war gives us a very good feeling. Drink, Ulush.”

“I’m so worried. And the smell of the cows bothers me. And I miss Edo…” And suddenly, Ulush burst out crying, and put the full cup back on the tray. A few drops splattered onto the floor.

“Who is Edo?” Tessa asked, rising to draw the curtain. If the window didn’t close, at least the curtain could filter out some of the smell that bothered her guest.

“It’s the child who was with us for four days. I helped smuggle him out of a gentile institution. He’s so small…and alone…and now, after Gustav suddenly disappeared on him, we also did!”

“I imagine that you had no choice,” Tessa said, trying to make sense of what Ulush was saying, despite not understanding much of it.

“It’s true. The risk was too big after Gustav disappeared.”

“And who is Gustav?”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 20

August 26, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 20 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. 

 

“What does that mean, he disappeared?” Rabbi Walkin stopped abruptly en route to his chair.

“When my wife returned from a shopping trip, she found only Edo at home. He told her that Gustav told him that he had to go, and he just went. And he hasn’t come back.”

“How many hours have passed since then?”

“Now it’s already almost two o’clock, so it’s a bit more than four hours, I think. We looked for him in every possible place. I asked Rothstein to even sniff around in the municipal hospital, but we’ve turned up nothing.”

“Did he leave you a note? A message? Did he say something yesterday or this morning?”

“Nothing.”

“Do you think he was kidnapped?” The orphanage director pressed his hand to his forehead.

“No. I’m afraid that he went back there of his own accord.”

“Back? To that other place?”

“Yes.”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 19

August 19, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 19 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. 

 

Bayla Stockhammer walked into Peretz’s empty room and opened the ironing board. How many shirts was she supposed to iron for him ahead of time? She’d be happy to iron all twelve of his new shirts, but in recent years, ironing had become increasingly difficult for her. She couldn’t do it sitting down, and when she stood to iron, it didn’t take long for her legs to begin protesting. If she could have spread the ironing over a few days, that would be one thing. But the wedding was in less than a week, and she had so many errands to do, and it was the aufruf this Shabbos… Maybe she would just give everything to a professional ironing lady.

She didn’t even plug in the iron. Instead, she went to find the most recent advertising circular that had arrived in her mail. If she wasn’t mistaken, there was an ad every week for just this type of thing.
The circular was waiting on the mail table in the hallway, and just as she found the ad and was about to make the call, the phone rang.

“Hello, is this Mrs. Stockhammer?”

“Yes, it is,” she replied, sinking into her favorite old armchair.

“This is Attorney Rosenblit. Your receipts have arrived, but we cannot file them because Peretz did not sign them.”

“What?”

“I called a day after our meeting to let you know that my client is requesting the signature of the chassan and kallah on each of the receipts.”

“Ah, yes, now I remember,” she murmured. “I didn’t really like that directive, which is probably why I didn’t remember it.”

“Could be.” He was very courteous, but remained firm. “I’m sending them back to you with a courier so Peretz can sign them immediately, and the courier will bring them back to me. Alright?”

“Fine…oh, but one minute. Peretz is only coming home the day after tomorrow, on Friday. He’s in yeshivah now.”

“So be in touch with me when he comes home, and we’ll set up a time for him to sign everything.”

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