Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 1 of a new online serial novel, The Black Sheep, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.
Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications.
Nestled among Arab houses, both new and old, on the corner of the alley near the sea, was a house surrounded by an opaque fence. The gate was open, and a two-story structure with winding stone stairs around the side came into view.
The visitor, Gad Shimoni, crossed the neglected yard to the metal door on the ground floor. He set his black case down on the ground and knocked lightly. Aside for the echo of his knocks, there wasn’t a sound to be heard. He turned right toward the stairs, beneath which rested a pile of broken boards, bent out of shape due to the rains and humid, salty sea air. The smell of the sea blended with the faint smell of sawdust.
Shimoni climbed the stairs. The higher he went, the more he could see parts of the boardwalk across from him. The tiny area that separated the top step from the door of the apartment was covered in some type of cheap, synthetic grass, and the heavy door bore a modern-looking nameplate that said “Reiness.” Here, too, his knocks did not draw a live soul to the door.
He retraced his steps and had reached the bottom when he heard the gate open. He put on his most official and professional smile. Were the man and his boys coming back?
They met at the bottom of the stairs, but this was certainly not Elazar Reiness. “Oh, good evening!” the new arrival exclaimed when he noticed Shimoni. He stuck his hand out in a friendly gesture. “Did you also come to meet Reiness?”
Mr. Shimoni politely shook the man’s hand. He was clearly Arabic, and his face was familiar. “Yes, I did come for Rabbi Reiness,” Shimoni replied. “Do you know him?”
“A bit. Not much,” the Arab replied. “But I know you, Mr. Shimoni. Truant officer, aren’t you?”
“Yes, indeed, and you?”
“I’m Hussein Abu Abed Al-Alami, the principal of Abu Usmia. You’ve visited us in regard to a number of our students…”